Alaska/Pacific Coast

Tribal group outlines new strategy for Kuskokwim king salmon
Alaska Dispatch News by Lisa Demer – March 4, 2017
BETHEL — A tribal fishing group for the part of Alaska most dependent on wild salmon is urging a new strategy to manage fishing this year.
https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/rural-alaska/2017/03/02/tribal-group-outlines-new-strategy-for-kuskokwim-king-salmon/

Crab fishery faces identity crisis
Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – March 4, 2017
Is it a bairdi Tanner or is it an opilio Tanner snow crab? Or is it something in between, a hybrid?
http://www.thebristolbaytimes.com/article/1709crab_fishery_faces_identity_crisis

Board of Fish adds 1 district-wide opener for Inlet drifters
Peninsula Clarion by Elizabeth Earl – March 3, 2017
Upper Cook Inlet’s drift gillnet fleet will get another 12 hours of fishing time in July, but no one is 100 percent happy about it.
http://www.alaskajournal.com/2017-03-03/board-fish-adds-1-district-wide-opener-inlet-drifters#.WL2E9RBOFA4

2017 Pacific Halibut Rule Released: Season Opens on March 11 as Planned
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – March 3, 2017
The long awaited word arrived from both the State Department and the Commerce Department late yesterday that the Pacific halibut season would open on time this year.

Harvesters, processors, and buyers throughout the distribution chain were concerned that the season may be delayed due to a rule-making Executive Order and a regulatory freeze issued by the Trump administration. NOAA Fisheries administrators and staff were optimistic that the season would not be impacted, but could offer no guarantees.

The Juneau office of NOAA Fisheries began issuing permits to halibut IFQ (individual fishing quotas) holders earlier this week, a move that was several days late but welcomed by harvesters and processors.

Late yesterday, U.S. Commissioners of the International Pacific Halibut Commission received a letter from Assistant Secretay Judith Garber.

“On behalf of the Secretary of State, after consulting with and obtaining the concurrence of the Department of Commerce, I accept on behalf of the United States all of the recommendations proposed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for the 2017 Pacific Halibut fishery….,” she wrote.

Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), who is chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, announced the “regulatory solution” this morning.

“I am pleased to announce this important news for Alaska’s fishermen. My staff and I have been working to help resolve this issue for weeks, and the urgency of it was reinforced throughout my travels in Southeast Alaska last week, including my visit with the United Fishermen of Alaska in Juneau, and especially during my time at the Chamber of Commerce dinner and community coffee in Petersburg.

“Earlier this week I spoke with our new Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross about this issue, and later today I will be speaking with him again to express my thanks on behalf of Alaskan fishermen,” he said.

“The Trump administration has been clear; they are laser focused on strengthening the economy, and cutting burdensome regulations are a critical part of that effort. But today’s news demonstrates that routine measures that empower our fishermen – Alaska’s quintessential small businessmen – will proceed as needed so they can continue to deliver a quality product to Americans’ dinner plates, and create the jobs that support our coastal communities,” Sullivan said.

The regulations adopted by the IPHC last January must be accepted, separately, by both treaty members Canada and the U.S.  Delays or problems with the rules in one country do not affect the other.

The regulations include catch limits, allocations, season dates, and changes to earlier regulations.

2017 catch limits for both Canada and the U.S. are 31.4 million pounds, higher in all areas except 4A and 4B (the Aleutian Islands and southeast portion of the Bering Sea) compared to 2016.

The highest increase from last year was Area 2A, Washington and Oregon, where 2017 catch limits are 1.33 mlbs compared to 1.14 mlbs, a 17% increase.

British Columbia’s (Area 2B) catch limit, which includes sports and tribal limits along with commercial, is 7.45 mlbs, up 2% from last year’s 7.3 mlbs.

In 2C, Southeast Alaska, harvest limit is 5.25 mlbs., up 6% from last year’s 4.95 mlbs. That limit also includes a charter boat allocation and wastage allowancees in both the charter and commercial sectors. Wastage is calculated from incidents of lost gear, discarded fish, etc.

In central Alaska, Area 3A, the catch limit is 10 mlbs., up 4% from last year’s 9.6 mlbs. This total also includes a charter allocation and wastage estimates in both fisheries.

The second-highest increase in catch limits is in Area 3B, the Western Gulf of Alaska, where this year’s limit is 3.14mlbs, up 16% from last year.

In 4A, the waters north and south of the near Aleutian Islands, the limit is 1.39 mlbs., no change from 2016.

Likewise in 4B, further out on the Aleutian Chain, the limit is 1.14mlbs, identical to 2016.

For Area 4CDE, the Bering Sea, catch limits total 1.7 mlbs, up from last year 1.666 mlbs by 2.4%.

The season will open March 11 and close Nov. 7, 2017.

Charter allocations in Southeast will increase slightly in 2C with a catch limit of 915,000 lbs.

In Southcentral Alaska, charter operators will have more restrictive measures to meet an allocation of 1.89 mlbs.

The rule also includes a March 11 start date for vessels using longline pot gear to harvest IFQ sablefish in the Gulf of Alaska, will be required to retain halibut in 2C (not including inside waters), 3A, 3B, and that portion of 4A west of Area 3B and east of 170 degrees W longitude. The rule requires retention of halibut caught incidentally in longline pot gear subject to current retention requirements for the halibut IQ program (i.e. legal size only, and only if the fisherman owns IFQ).

Other regulatory amendments and management measures can be found in the rule here.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1052961/2017-Pacific-Halibut-Rule-Released-Season-Opens-on-March-11-as-Planned

Politics

Resolution critical of GM salmon
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman – March 3, 2017
Legislators have under consideration House Joint Resolution 12, urging Congress to enact legislation to require prominent labeling of genetically engineers products with the words “genetically modified” on packaging of the product.
http://www.thecordovatimes.com/2017/03/03/resolution-critical-of-gm-salmon/

International

Countries Agree to Joint U.S.-Canada Whiting TAC of 597,500 mt for 2017
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – March 2, 2017
Both U.S. and Canadian whiting industries will enjoy a higher total allowable catch of Pacific hake in 2017, whether they catch it all or not.

The U.S.-Canadian Joint Management Committee agreed to a 597,500 mt TAC Thursday, 100,000 mt more than agreed to in 2016. The 2017 TAC includes 15 percent carryover from each country’s TAC from 2016. The total bilateral TAC in 2016 was 497,500 mt.

The key drivers for the higher TACs are strong 2010 and 2014 year classes, according to the stock assessment. The assessment also noted those classes should drive the fishery for the next few years. This year’s high TAC is still far shy of the potential of almost 970,000 mt that could be harvested while keeping the stock healthy.

The Canadian portion of the adjusted TAC is 156,067 mt; the U.S. portion is 441,433 mt.

The U.S. portion of the TAC will be further broken out according to tribal treaty agreements and to various commercial sectors. In 2015, the tribal fishery received 17.5 percent of the U.S. TAC; if the National Marine Fisheries Service and tribes follow the same formula this year, the tribal fishery could receive 77,252 mt.

Set-asides for research and bycatch were 1,500 mt in 2016; if they remain the same this year, the resulting allowable catch for the commercial trawl sectors would be 362,690 mt.

Of that allowable catch, the catcher-processor sector would be allocated 34 percent, or 123,315 mt; the mothership sector, 24 percent, or 87,046 mt; and the shorebased trawl fleet, 42 percent, or 152,300 mt.

The U.S. figures are preliminary until the National Marine Fisheries Service works with tribes, brings the initial figures to the Pacific Fishery Management Council for review and publishes proposed and final rules.

The only U.S. sector to come close to harvesting its allocation in 2016 was the catcher-processors: The CP vessels caught 108,786 mt of their 114,149 mt allocation, or 95 percent. The motherships and their catcher vessels harvested 65,035 mt of their 80,575 mt allocation, or 81 percent. The shorebased trawl sector fared the worst, harvesting only 85,123 mt of its 141,007 mt allocation for only 60 percent.

Scientists noted the Canadian research vessel W.E. Ricker that has done the Canadian portion of the whiting acoustic survey is out of commission. To that end, the domestic industry is supporting the use of U.S. research vessels to do both the Canadian and U.S. portions of the acoustic survey to keep the stock assessment current with the best scientific information and to inform the 2018 management process.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1052884/Countries-Agree-to-Joint-US-Canada-Whiting-TAC-of-597500-mt-for-2017

Labeling and Marketing

3MMI – Sole Offers Extremely Limited, Strong Demand, What Buyers Should Know
TradexFoods –  March 6, 2017
3-Minute Market Insight:
Directed fishing for Yellowfin Sole and Flathead Sole is open year-round with active fishing typically March to November, and January to April, respectively. Here’s what we see for the market.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQW8Ga-gXUw

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday
8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

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March 6, 2017