Alaska/Pacific Coast

Snow crab are going slow
Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – March 4, 2017
Fishermen are having the toughest time in the past five years finding snow crab, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in Unalaska.
http://www.thebristolbaytimes.com/article/1709snow_crab_are_going_slow

Western Alaska fish plant won’t open again this year

Alaska Dispatch News by Lisa Demer – March 4, 2017
BETHEL – A fishing group set up to benefit Western Alaska villages announced on Thursday that it won’t open its fish processing plant in Platinum for the second year in a row.
https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2017/03/02/fish-plant-in-platinum-wont-open-in-2017-no-buyer-or-processor-on-tap-for-goodnews-bay-or-quinhagak-fishing-districts/

Lack of coho data complicates fish board discussions
Peninsula Clarion by Elizabeth Earl- March 5, 2017
Although coho salmon populations have played an important role in many of the decisions made at the Board of Fisheries’ Upper Cook Inlet meeting so far, one evident detail is that there’s a lot of data missing.
http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-03-05/lack-coho-data-complicates-fish-board-discussions

Bumper harvest as herring return to Strait of Georgia in great numbers
Vancouver Sun by Larry Pynn – March 5, 2017
FRENCH CREEK — The commercial roe-herring fishery opened with a flourish over the weekend as the gillnet fleet took its share of what the federal government predicts to be “near-historic” returns to the Strait of Georgia.
http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/commercial-fleet-begins-harvest-of-bumper-herring-returns-to-strait-of-georgia

Alaska Sea Grant program “hopeful but not confident” funding won’t be cut
Alaska Media by Elizabeth Jenkins – March 6, 2017
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) received a surprise on Friday: The Trump administration is proposing deep cuts to the organization, which focuses on fisheries and climate science. As reported in the Washington Post, NOAA’s could lose 26 percent of its overall budget. The Sea Grant program, with more than a dozen projects in Alaska, could be hit particularly hard.
http://www.alaskapublic.org/2017/03/06/alaska-sea-grant-program-hopeful-but-not-confident-funding-wont-be-cut/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+aprn-news+%28APRN%3A+Alaska+News%29

Politics

White House proposes steep budget cut to leading climate science agency
Washington Post by Steven Mufson, Jason Samenow and Brady Dennis – March 3, 2017
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via AP)
The Trump administration is seeking to slash the budget of one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/03/white-house-proposes-steep-budget-cut-to-leading-climate-science-agency/?utm_term=.d91e5cb97c7f

Lawmakers likely to fight proposed budget cuts
E&E News by Emily Yehle – March 6, 2017
For years, the Obama administration proposed cuts to a Pacific salmon recovery program — and for years, Congress ignored the request and fully funded the program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That tug of war represents a common disconnect between the executive branch and Congress on spending, even under unified party rule. With reports that the Trump administration wants to cut 17 percent from NOAA’s budget, the question now is: How far is Congress willing to go?

According to The Washington Post, the Commerce Department is tasked with finding $990 million in cuts to its budget. Among the targeted programs are congressional favorites; for example, the National Weather Service, slated for a 5 percent proposed cut, is often given a budget larger than the president’s request.

Other suggested program reductions would hit at lawmaker districts. If the National Marine Fisheries Service, for example, eats a 5 percent cut, what happens to the Pacific salmon program?

Environmentalists are banking on lawmakers — and their constituents — to make a fuss.

“Members of Congress will hear from those constituents,” said Jeff Watters, director of government relations at the Ocean Conservancy. “These cuts are not theoretical. They’re not just numbers. These are actual, on-the-ground services that people in coastal communities rely on and depend on.”

As an example, Watters pointed to the National Sea Grant College Program, which the Trump administration has proposed eliminating, according to the Post. The program — which supports research at 33 universities — is popular among both Republicans and Democrats.

When the oyster industry in Florida’s Apalachicola Bay suffered a steep decline in 2012, the state turned to the Florida Sea Grant program to figure out how to restore harvests.

“When everyone was floundering, it was the local sea grant university program that they went to try to pull together a report,” Watters said. “A Republican governor relied on their local sea grant program to figure out an on-the-ground, very real set of environmental challenges.”

New York Rep. José Serrano, the top Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, agreed that the “practical impact” of cuts will harm both red and blue states.

“NOAA is one of the areas where we must maintain bipartisan support,” Serrano said in an email. “It is too important for our environment and for future generations. I will fight to protect this important funding — ensuring sufficient investments in basic research and weather forecasting is too important to let these proposals be implemented.”

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), chairman of the subcommittee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But last week, he praised NOAA’s work on cleaning waterways — and called marine sanctuaries “national treasures.”

Of the House’s 435 lawmakers, 93 represent coastal districts — each with its own reliance on federal programs for everything from fisheries research to algal bloom forecasts. At a “Members’ Day” hearing, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) urged Culberson and the rest of the subcommittee to fully fund NOAA, emphasizing the economic importance to coastal communities.

“I strongly urge this subcommittee to invest in our nation’s largest natural resource: our ocean,” he said. “It is important that we not only protect our oceans for recreational purposes but for our $282 billion ‘blue economy.’ … These programs help educate our youth, protect our seafood that reaches our tables, preserves the marine environment and employs thousands of Americans along our coasts.”

In recent years, the House has proposed cuts to NOAA while the Senate has supported boosts. Neither chamber has suggested cuts as deep as 17 percent — partly because of bipartisan support for full funding of NWS and weather satellites, which take up much of the agency’s budget.

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) recently criticized the focus on such programs in NOAA’s budget — but only to suggest that more funding should go to fisheries programs.

“Fishery surveys and other basic fisheries research, in addition to stock assessments, have been inadequately factored into NOAA’s annual budget requests. The result: use of outdated or inadequate data, more regulations, rules, and closures, and ultimately, loss of jobs and severe economic impacts to coastal communities,” Bishop wrote in a document outlining his views on environmental budgets for fiscal 2018. “Better data and stock assessments are necessary for the sustainable management of fishery resources that provide the economic underpinning of many of the nation’s coastal communities.”
http://www.eenews.net/greenwire/stories/1060051001

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/07/2017
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amounts of the Aleut Corporation’s pollock and the Community Development Quota directed fishing allowance from the Aleutian Islands subarea to the Bering Sea subarea directed fisheries. These actions are necessary to provide opportunity for harvest of the 2017 total allowable catch of pollock, consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/03/07/2017-04435/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-reallocation-of-pollock-in-the-bering-sea-and

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher/Processors Using Trawl Gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/07/2017
NMFS is opening directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the A season allowance of the 2017 total allowable catch apportioned to catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/03/07/2017-04446/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pacific-cod-by-catcherprocessors-using-trawl

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March 7, 2017