Alaska/Pacific Coast

West Coast Catch Share Program Failure Keeps Vessel Off Fishing Grounds for 2016 Season
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by Susan Chambers – March 21, 2016
Criticism that the West Coast catch shares program is underperforming came to the forefront recently at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Sacramento.

West Coast trawlers have been operating in fear of a “disaster tow” or “lightning strike” of a choke species since the beginning of the individual quota program in 2011. And for the F/V Seeker, a disaster tow of 47,000 pounds of canary rockfish – a species at the time listed as overfished — in November 2015 will prevent it from fishing for all of 2016.

The Seeker’s misfortune is an extreme example of the program’s failure, particularly for those fishing in the non-whiting sector.

Jeff Lackey, who manages the vessel, testified to the PFMC the vessel is in a bind and already has made plans to fish in Alaska for most of 2016 and return to fishing off the West Coast in 2017. The Seeker fishes in both the non-whiting shoreside sector and in the whiting mothership sector.

The Seeker is a victim of several features of the current regulatory system in the West Coast individual quota program.

First, current vessel limits prohibit the Seeker from acquiring enough quota to solve its deficit.

Second, canary rockfish was listed as overfished for more than a decade but an assessment accepted by the council in 2015 shows canary rockfish has been rebuilt.

And third, the PFMC’s management process operates on a two-year cycle, with no way to change annual catch limits (ACLs) mid-cycle.

“[The F/V Seeker] is not the only one,” Pete Leipzig, director of the Fishermen’s Marketing Association, told the Council. Other trawlers have come up against vessel limits for other species that have prevented them from fishing for some time, but none have been confronted with the extremity of the Seeker’s situation.

The vessel limits were designed to prevent consolidation of the fleet. Bycatch of choke species have prevented many vessels from capturing target fish. Fear of a disaster tow — one so extreme that a quota pound deficit cannot be covered in the existing fishing year — has limited trading of quota as fishermen hoard these species to cover their fishing operations for the year.

The biennial management cycle only complicates matters. Several years ago, the PFMC instituted two-year management cycles to streamline the management and regulations process, with stock assessments being conducted in off-year cycles. For instance, the council and the National Marine Fisheries Service set annual catch limits for 2015 and 2016 at the same time. Stock assessments are done and presented to the council for acceptance in odd years.

The council accepted the canary rockfish assessment in 2015. ACLs could double for the species were it not for the two-year management cycle.

There is no mechanism to allow the council or NMFS to increase the 2016 annual catch limits for canary in 2016. If higher ACLs would have been allowed this year, the Seeker’s deficit could have been covered and it would be fishing this year.

The Seeker is a member of the Newport, OR based Midwater Trawlers Cooperative. The organization proposed a solution to the Seeker’s problem: use an alternative compliance option that was eliminated during the development of the catch shares program. It would have been available for overly restrictive events, such as the Seeker’s, but still hold fishermen accountable. The council opted not to move forward with examining that option at this time.

This is the new reality of the West Coast individual quota program: rebuilding species will be encountered more frequently and fishermen could be held to conservative annual catch limits for a year or more if they experience an infrequent disaster tow and have insufficient quota to cover their deficit.

“As the regulations are currently written, any vessel that experiences the same situation would likely have to sit out of the shoreside trawl program for several years … . This seems overly punitive and raises equity concerns,” Heather Mann, executive director of the MTC, wrote in a public comment letter to the council.

Although the Council took no action to try to remedy the situation in March, the issue is sure to come up again as the Council begins the five-year program review in June.

Between 2011 and 2015, the non-whiting shoreside quota program has harvested only between 20 and 35 percent of its annual quota. The industry has identified several dozen changes it would like to see implemented in an effort to make the program work.

Blaze destroys three Kwik’Pak buildings at Emmonak
Schultheis Nothing is affecting our processing and production facilities
Cordova TImes by Margaret Bauman – March 21, 2016
A fire in Emmonak on March 19 that ultimately consumed three buildings owned by Kwik’Pak Fisheries will not affect processing and production for the upcoming fishing season, says Jack Schultheis, general manager for the company.

Board of Fish adjusts Bristol Bay setnet boundaries
Bristol Bay Times by Molly Dischner – March 20, 2016
Months after the issue was first raised, the state Board of Fisheries made a decision on setnet sites affected by erosion.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Sablefish Managed Under the Individual Fishing Quota Program
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/21/2016
NMFS is opening directed fishing for sablefish with fixed gear managed under the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program and the Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program. The season will open 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 19, 2016, and will close 1200 hours, A.l.t., November 7, 2016. This period is the same as the 2016 commercial halibut fishery opening dates adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The IFQ and CDQ halibut season is specified by a separate publication in the Federal Register of annual management measures.


Seafood Nutrition Partnership Gets Grant to Continue Heart Healthy Campaign in Boston
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – March 22, 2016The Boston Scientific Foundation awarded a grant to the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) to conduct its Eating Heart Healthy nutrition-intervention program in the Boston area this year.

The program will be conducted on-site at Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, an affordable-housing community for low- and moderate-income families, in conjunction with YMCA Boston.

“We’re proud to support Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s innovative program to help Boston families eat healthier through education and hands-on food preparation,” said Maureen Murray, Director, Boston Scientific Foundation. “What is truly remarkable about the program is the strong focus on behavior change and impact.”

Eating Heart Healthy is a program that teaches underserved women how to improve their heart health by adopting a seafood-rich diet. The program was originally developed in partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and piloted at Roxbury Tenants of Harvard in 2014.

According to the SNP, the program has effectively motivated behavior change towards healthier eating habits. Surveys and measurements taken one year after the pilot program demonstrate that the healthy nutrition habits learned by participants have been sustainable.

“It’s an honor to receive support and recognition from an organization as respected as The Boston Scientific Foundation. This is a testament to the effectiveness of Eating Heart Healthy in proving that eating healthy can be delicious, affordable, and easy to maintain,” said SNP Executive Director Linda Cornish.


Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail:; Website:
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March 22, 2016