Alaska/Pacific Coast

Public battles over drift fishing corridors at fish board
Peninsula Clarion by Elizabeth Earl – February 25, 2017
To be or not to be is the question for the Upper Cook Inlet drift gillnet fishing corridor.
http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-02-25/public-battles-over-drift-fishing-corridors-fish-board

Alaska Asking US Supreme Court to Overturn Decision Giving Cook Inlet Salmon Management to Feds
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Alaska Dispatch] by Suzanna Caldwell – February 28, 2017
The state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision putting the federal government in charge of the salmon fishery in Cook Inlet rather than Alaska.

The case began in 2013 when two commercial fishing groups — the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund — sued the National Marine Fisheries Service. They argued that the state had not adequately managed the fishery and that the federal government should exercise more control as designated in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

A U.S. District Court judge initially ruled in favor of state management. But in September, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government — not the state — should exercise management of the Cook Inlet salmon fishery in federal waters.

A prepared statement Monday from the Alaska attorney general’s office said the state was asking the Supreme Court to accept its appeal.

The state noted that Alaska has managed the fishery since statehood. It said that if the appeals court decision stands, Alaska will no longer be able to manage the fisheries.

United Cook Inlet Drift Association said the state had failed to properly manage the fishery beginning in the 1990s. It said Alaska should only be allowed to manage the fishery base on sustainability standards in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1052443/Alaska-Asking-US-Supreme-Court-to-Overturn-Decision-Giving-Cook-Inlet-Salmon-Management-to-Feds

Truth in numbers: Board of Fisheries debates sockeye escapement, increases inriver goal
Peninsula Clarion by Elizabeth Earl – February 27, 2017
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the Board of Fisheries changed the upper tier of the inriver goal from 1.3 million to 1.1 million.
Significantly behind schedule and deep into the mathematical weeds, the Board of Fisheries spent most of its first day of deliberations on one proposal to amend the escapement goals for Kenai River late-run sockeye.
http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-02-27/truth-numbers-board-fisheries-debates-sockeye-escapement-increases-inriver

National

Executive Order on Regulations Will to Have Less Fisheries Impact than Feared
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – March 1, 2017
When President Trump first announced an executive order calling for two regulations to be repealed for everyone enacted, many in the commercial seafood industry feared chaos, since every regulated fishery in the US and all US IFQ quota licenses are managed with new regulations each year.

The issue was further confused by the sixty-day regulatory freeze, which meant some federal register rules from NOAA, for example starting the Alaskan halibut season, were delayed for a short time.

In a letter to the White House in early February, the ranking democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, Raul Grijalva, said the 2 for 1 rule could jeopardize NOAA’s ability to adjust fishing seasons, to change quotas and issue IFQs, or to adopt new management plans.

However, it appears the issue is now more manageable, as several sources have confirmed that most fisheries regulations will not be impacted by the order.

The Ellsworth American in Maine reported that Drew Minkiewicz, a Washington fisheries attorney with Kelley, Drye, and Warren, who represents both the fisheries survival fund and the scallopers from New Bedford, said Trump’s executive order “is not going to impact or delay the operation of fisheries management at all.” Minkiewicz spoke before the White House announced the President’s latest executive order.

According to Minkiewicz, the administration’s Office of Management and Budget has determined that the executive order applies only to “significant actions” as defined in another executive order issued during the Clinton administration.

“More than 99 percent of NMFS regulations are not deemed significant,” he said. “There could be maybe one rule in the next four years this (the recent executive order) applies to.”  Significance is measured in terms of economic impact, and most fishery regulations are too small to meet the minimum threshold.

This view was reaffirmed in the conference call among the regional council executive directors this month, where the consensus was also that virtually all the routine NOAA fisheries regulations were going to be exempted from the rule because they would not be deemed significant.

NOAA has begun issuing needed permits, such as halibut IFQ permits.

John Bullard, regional manager for NMFS Greater Atlantic Region, consisting of New England and the Mid-Atlantic, said NOAA was working with OMB to make sure necessary regulatory actions proceed.  “We have urged both councils in our region not to delay any actions during this period of transition,” he said, in an email to council officials.

Minkiewicz said that he did not anticipate problems with the one or two NMFS regulations in a given year that may meet the threshold.  Each new regulation is added on top of an older, existing one that has become obsolete.  “There will be plenty of low-hanging fruit,” he said.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1052596/Executive-Order-on-Regulations-Will-to-Have-Less-Fisheries-Impact-than-Feared

FYI’s

Have You Seen This Seal? Unalaska Responders Search For Stranded Marine Mammal
KUCB by Laura Kraegel – February  28, 2017
A search is underway for a young ring seal that came ashore Sunday in Unalaska.
The stranded marine mammal was first spotted near the Kloosterboer facility at the Port of Dutch Harbor, but Melissa Good said it made its way to the Alyeska seafood plant before disappearing back into the water Monday night.
http://kucb.org/post/have-you-seen-seal-unalaska-responders-search-stranded-marine-mammal

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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March 1, 2017