Politics
As Session Draws to a Close, Legislature Fails to Pass Salmon Habitat Protection Bill

Alaska Native News by Emily Tallman – May 11, 2018.
JUNEAU – The Alaska Legislature will gavel out in the coming days, leaving the widely supported House Bill 199, the “Wild Salmon Legacy Act,” stalled in the House Fisheries Committee where the bill will die with the end of the second session. The bill, which updates one of the state’s oldest laws, would have strengthened salmon habitat protections at a time when foreign mining companies are ramping up operations in the state and Alaskans are bracing for numerous fishing restrictions due to declining salmon runs. Over the course of the session, support for the bill from tens of thousands of Alaskans flooded into the state capitol.
https://alaska-native-news.com/as-session-draws-to-a-close-legislature-fails-to-pass-salmon-habitat-protection-bill/34799/

International

Russia Plans to Lift Restriction on Bering Sea Pollock, Cod Catch This Year
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Eugene Gerden – May 14, 2018
Russia plans to increase its total allowable catch of pollock and cod in the Bering Sea this year, due to the increasing volumes of production by the U.S. fishermen, according to sources in the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency (Rosrybolovstvo) and Russian scientific institutions in the field of fish and aquaculture.

So far, the imbalance between Russia and the U.S. in terms of pollock catch in the region has already reached 1 million tons. Russia’s total allowable pollock catch in the Bering Sea has been stable, primarily due to the ongoing decline of the Russian commercial stock and simultaneous growth of the U.S. Pollock population.

According to data of Rosrybolovstvo, the total commercial stock of cod and pollock in the West Bering subarea is currently estimated at 1.2 million tons.

Commenting on the situation on cod, Russian Research Center in the Field of Fisheries (TINRO-Center) Deputy Director Igor Melnikov said pollock and cod are cross-border fish species that travel from U.S. waters to Russia waters to feed.

“We do not have data on these fish species from the U.S., and therefore we apply a cautious approach,” Melnikov said. “The Russian waters and the U.S. waters in the Bering Sea are closely related. If we increase catch of both cod and pollock, [they] will not spawn.”

According to previous Russian legislation regarding fishing, migratory fish was not a subject of total allowable catch limits; however, in recent years the situation has changed. In order to compete with U.S. fishermen, Russian fish producers have already called on the national government to lift all the restrictions, particularly the allowable catch on pollock and cod catch in the Bering Sea.

Rosrybolovstvo data shows the total whitefish catch of U.S. fishermen in the Bering Sea is three times higher than that of the Russian industry. In 2017, almost 1.56 million tons were caught by the U.S., while in 2018 it is expected to reach 1.8 million tons. At the same time, Russian production varied in the range between 400,000 to 430,000 tons.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that due to the small size of Bering Sea pollock, many Russian fishermen simply discard them. The same situation is observed in the Okhotsk Sea during the Russian herring fishery
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1101845/Russia-Plans-to-Lift-Restriction-on-Bering-Sea-Pollock-Cod-Catch-This-Year

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Deep-Water Species Fishery by Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 05/15/2018
NMFS is opening directed fishing for species that comprise the deep-water species fishery by vessels using trawl gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the 2018 groundfish total allowable catch specified for the species comprising the deep-water species category in the GOA.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/15/2018-10326/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-deep-water-species-fishery-by-vessels-using

FYI’s

Sea otter numbers
Alaska Public Media by Charles Wohlforth – May 4, 2018
Most people love sea otters. But many of us also love clams, crab, and other shellfish too. On the next Outdoor Explorer, we’ll talk about otters and try to understand how they may have changed the coastal ecosystem. We’ll also meet a tribal leader in Sitka who is doing something about it, with a sea otter hunt that also provides furs for Native handicrafts, which seems to be bringing back shellfish.
https://www.alaskapublic.org/2018/05/04/outdoor-explorer-sea-otter-numbers/

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May 15, 2018