Alaska/Pacific Coast

Togiak purse seiners to close Saturday
KDLG by Dave Bendinger – April 29, 2016
Size of fish, not quota or lack of fish, will end seiners’ 2016 effort. How close will they get to 20,000 by Saturday noon, and what effect will more catch have on take home price?

Togiak Herring Landings At 50% of Quota Twelve Days into the Season
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – April 29, 2016
The Togiak herring season started April 17, the earliest opening in history, and as of yesterday landed a cumulative total of 10,480 mt. That is just over 50 percent of the total purse seine allocation of 20,148 mt in 12 days.

The Dillingham office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, operating under a minimal-to-zero budget for the herring season, reports no gillnet harvest to date. Last year’s herring fishery in Togiak landed 20,374 tons in a season that started April 27 and ended May 10, 2015.

Landings this year began on April 17 but were not reported until at least three processors began buying and reporting deliveries. By April 22, a cumulative harvest of 3,815 tons had been landed. Roe percentages were 11.8% and the reported average fish size was 404 grams.

The purse seine harvest for April 25 was 252 tons, for a cumulative of 7,741 tons. The average size of the fish was 379 grams with an average roe percentage of 12.6%.

On April 26, the purse seine fleet landed 2,250 tons. The average size of the fish was 367 grams with an average roe percentage of 13%. The cumulative harvest was 9,991 tons.

Yesterday, Fish and Game reported a relatively small harvest of 489 tons on April 27, for a cumulative of 10,480.

In their announcement, Fish and Game management biologist Tim Sands wrote: “Because of the different uses fish are being harvested for we will no longer report average fish size and roe percent. Previously reported roe percent information was representative of fish harvested for sac roe and does not represent the overall harvest.”

The other uses are Dutch Harbor food and bait, and Togiak spawn on kelp.


Evaluating the Report Card: What’s Behind NOAA Fisheries Annual Status of the Stocks
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – April 29, 2016
The just-released annual report about the status of the nation’s fish stocks gives Congress a sustainability report card on 546 species of commercial importance within the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone.

NOAA Fisheries’ intensely summarized report comes from thousands of management reports, stock assessments, fisheries management plans, rebuilding initiatives and other programs used to manage the nation’s seafood resources. It gives lawmakers who determine budget levels for NOAA Fisheries a high-level assessment of how sustainably managed U.S. stocks are in the U.S.

The report’s best news is that for the most part, the principles of the Magnuson-Stevens Act which guide fish management, are being applied successfully. We know what constitutes a sustainably managed fishery. We know how to rebuild stocks that have been overfished. We understand what management tools will improve sustainability. Every day, the federal regional Councils across the nation grapple with balancing the benefits of those tools with the drawbacks.

The top line presented to Congress, however, highlights changes over the year (2014 to 2015) in Overfished and Overfishing Lists. “Overfished” means the stock has been fished to a point where the population size is too small to replenish itself under current management. “Overfishing” means the annual catch rate is too high.

The Overfished List, which could be seen as mistakes made by management in the past, increased by one stock last year.  Two stocks were removed from the list (blueline tilefish from the South Atlantic and canary rockfish from the Pacific) and three were added (hogfish from Southeast Florida, yellowtail flounder from Southern New England, and Mid-Atlantic winter flounder from Georges Bank.)

The Overfishing List, which is management erring under current plans, increased by two stocks. Eight stocks were removed from the list and ten were added. Just listing the stock species and location — identical species are managed separately in different areas — illustrates the complexities in summarizing the nation’s fisheries report card.

With all these moving parts, it’s not surprising this year’s report got something wrong. Rod Moore of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association was the first to point out that the report lists the Eastern Pacific Swordfish as having overfishing occuring, and categorizes it as a U.S. stock.

“There is a major error in the list of fisheries subject to overfishing,” Moore wrote the agency on April 20. He pointed out that “not only are the data uncertain and out of date by four years but the Eastern Pacific population of sworfish is not under US jurisdiction!”

Pacific swordfish is divided into the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) and the Western and Central North Pacific stock. The latter stock is harvested by a fleet out of Hawaii and is managed by the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council in Honolulu and, under the Highly Migratory Species plan by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in Portland, OR.

“I think the confusion comes from somebody who assumed that the EPO stock extends north to the EEZ off the west coast; it does not,” explained Moore. “The stock that is ‘managed’ by the Pacific Council under its HMS FMP is the Western and Central North Pacific stock.

“So, bottom line, swordfish under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Council is not overfished, nor is overfishing occurring on that stock,” he wrote.

Alan Risenhoover’s response was a roadmap to the different management plans and assessments involved with each separate stock. Risenhoover is director of the Office of Sustainable Fisheries in Washington, D.C.

“In June 2015 the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) stock of swordfish was determined to be subject to overfishing based on the results of the most recent stock assessment conducted in 2014 by the International Scientific Committee (ISC),” explained Risenhoover.  He noted that the Eastern Pacific stock is included in specific management plans of both the Pacific Council and the Western Pacific, even if U.S. fleets take little or no swordfish from that stock.

Then Risenhoover points out “However, page 43 of the March 2016 Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species indicates that EPO swordfish is not subject to overfishing” and cites the 2010 stock assessment.

Risenhoover concludes, “The overfishing status for EPO stock will likely not trigger fishery management measure changes for the domestic fleets as only a very small amount is landed by our fleet.

“However, we are still required under Section 304(i) of MSA to work with the PFMC, the WPFMC, and the State Department to recommend management measures to the WCPFC and IATTC for stocks listed as overfished or subject to overfishing,” he stated.

“Based on this we will revise the overfishing map to list ‘Swordfish – Eastern Pacific’ under the ‘Pacific and Western Pacific’ heading on the map to better represent its management internationally and under both the Pacific Council’s Highly Migratory Species FMP and the  Western Pacific Council’s Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries.  We’ll include a note about this change so those that saw an earlier version of the map will understand,” Risenhoover concluded.

But the Pacific Council may need to update their documents. According to long-term stakeholders in the process, the Council assumed that US fishermen caught EPO swordfish, which meant the Council had jurisdiction over it, even after scientists at Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) determined EPO swordfish were a separate stock that never ventured north of 5 degrees south latitude. So when the 2014 stock assessment came out that said EPO swordfish were subject to overfishing, NMFS looked at the Council website, determined (based on incorrect information) that the EPO stock was subject to the Council’s jurisdiction, and labelled it as subject to overfishing.

NOAA Fisheries Status of the Stocks Report accurately expresses the big picture to Congress and the industry, however. We are making some progress in terms of sustainability, but as more stocks are assessed, the picture changes.

The increase in both Overfishing and Overfished Lists are of concern, but both lists represent only small fractions of the total number of stocks managed. The Overfishing List is only 9 percent of all managed fish stocks. The Overfished List is only 16 percent.

The good news is that two more stocks were added to the Rebuilt List, meaning regional management councils implemented more restrictive management tools that resulted in stocks rebuilding themselves over time.

The Status of the Stocks report shows a map of the U.S., plotting which species in what area are suffering the most. There are only a few species that are both overfished and where overfishing is occuring. This is the worst possible scenario prior to a fishery being shut down. Those species are Pacific bluefin tuna under the jurisdiction of the Pacific and Western Pacific Councils; blacknose shark, blue marlin, ducky shark, white marlin, and scalloped hammerhead under the jurisdiction of various Atlantic Councils; Atlantic cod in both Gulf of Maine and George’s Bank, witch founders, yellowtail and winter flounders under the New England  and Mid-Atlantic Councils; and hogfish and red snapper under the South Atlantic Council.

Labeling and Marketing

Tesco Strikes New Sustainable Seafood Partnership
Food Ingredients First – April 29, 2016
Tesco has struck a new deal with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), in a move which will see it source more seafood in a sustainable way.

Federal Register

Fisheries Off West Coast States; West Coast Salmon Fisheries; 2016 Management Measures and a Temporary Rule
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 05/02/2016
Through this final rule, NMFS establishes fishery management measures for the 2016 ocean salmon fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California and the 2017 salmon seasons opening earlier than May 1, 2017. The temporary rule for emergency action (emergency rule), under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), implements the 2016 annual management measures for the West Coast ocean salmon fisheries for the area from the U.S./Canada border to Cape Falcon, OR from May 1, 2016, through October 28, 2016.


The Brilliant Red Salmon That’s Worth the Splurge
New York Times by David Tanis –  April 29, 2016
At the Pike Place Market in Seattle, it’s the glistening, freshly caught salmon piled high that you’ll notice first. The fishmongers are jolly, and sales are brisk.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
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May 2, 2016