Alaska/Pacific Coast

Copper River Harvest Grows Under Clear Skies, Temperatures in 60s
Fishermen’s News – May 26, 2015
Wild salmon harvests in Prince William Sound’s Copper River district have reached an estimated 110,827 sockeyes, 6,626 kings and 2,950 chums, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists said May 26.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2015/05/copper-river-harvest-grows-under-clear.html

The Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT.ORG – May 28, 2015
Coming up this week, the Marine Stewardship Council is optimistic the big salmon packers will be welcomed back into the fold, but will it be in time for this year’s catch to be certified? A ship most fishermen never wanted to see will soon be going to the bottom itself, and good news: there was crab at Crab Fest this year. We had help from KMXT’s Kayla Desroches in Kodiak and Annie Ropeik, late of KUCB Unalaska.
http://www.kmxt.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6552&Itemid=2

Three Openings allowed on Copper River this week as Escapements Are Double Forecast
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – May 28, 2015
The Copper River Sockeye fishery is approaching its peak, as escapements have surged to more than double the forecast for this date, and catches are rising also but still below forecast.

According to ADF&G, escapements to the upper Copper River are now around 183,869 fish as of May 26th, vs a forecast amount of 79,048 for this date.

Harvests to date for sockeye are 248,832 fish.  For the latest opening on Monday May 25th, which was 36 hours, total harvest was 138,000 sockeye, vs a preseason estimate of 177,000 for this period.

The two charts below illustrate the surge in escapement; and the fact that the peak for 2015 may be later than average, and also later than last year.

ADF&G announced two 24 hour openings, one today (Thursday) and another Saturday (May 30th).

The charts are first, the current run timing chart for Copper River Sockeye, which includes up to statistical week 22, which is May 24th this year.  The second chart show escapement, which has surged to much higher than forecast, at least through the current week.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/977144/Three-Openings-allowed-on-Copper-River-this-week-as-Escapements-Are-Double-Forecast

Politics

Alaska Board of Fish Will Hear Pcod Proposals in Winter Meeting
Fishermen’s News – May 26, 2015
Commercial fishing proposals on the Alaska Board of Fisheries agenda regarding harvesting of Pacific cod within state waters will be heard during the Nov. 30-Dec. 7 meeting of the board in Anchorage.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2015/05/alaska-board-of-fish-will-hear-pcod.html

International

Cod Comeback: How The North Sea Fishery Bounced Back From The Brink
NPR – May 28, 2015
Cod love the icy cold waters of the North Sea — and British people love eating cod.
But a decade ago, it looked like people were eating the fish to the brink of collapse. Now the trend has turned around, and the cod are coming back.
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/28/410319950/cod-comeback-how-the-north-sea-fishery-bounced-back-from-the-brink

Environment/Science

More Attention Needed on Climate Change Effects on Fisheries
The Fish Site – May 26, 2015
GLOBAL – Scientists need to better understand the impacts of climate change on aquaculture if we are to meet future seafood demand, says a paper submitted by WorldFish to UN climate talks.
http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/25711/more-attention-needed-on-climate-change-effects-on-fisheries/

FYI’s

Lawyer argues in New York court that chimpanzees have same rights as humans
The Associated Press – May 27, 2015
NEW YORK — A lawyer seeking to free two chimpanzees from a state university told a judge Wednesday that their confinement for research purposes is akin to slavery, the involuntary detention of people with mental illnesses and imprisonment.
http://triblive.com/usworld/nation/8453141-74/rights-confinement-wise#axzz3bRn3cDNE

6 Steps to Eating Healthier, More Sustainable Seafood
Outside Live Bravely by Tim Zimmermann – May 27, 2015
The questions to ask, the apps to download, and the labels to seek out if you want to sustainably enjoy nature’s finest source of protein
Wild or farmed? Caught on a hook or with a net? As ocean stocks plummet, the question of which fish belongs on our plates is more confusing than ever. Let these six rules be your guide.
http://www.outsideonline.com/1984681/6-steps-eating-healthier-more-sustainable-seafood

New Juneau business to bring salmon skin wallets, crab shell shirts to the masses
KTOO by Elizabeth Jenkins – May 27, 2015
A small Juneau business launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to crowdsource funds for a unique line of apparel and accessories. Tidal Vision is hoping it’s onto the next big thing: garments sewn from discarded salmon skin and crab shells.
http://www.ktoo.org/2015/05/27/new-juneau-business-bring-salmon-skin-wallets-crab-shell-shirts-masses/

Opinion Articles on Halibut Bycatch

Halibut bycatch cap reduction should reflect what we know about the resource
Alaska Dispatch News by John Gauvin – May 28, 2015
As a fishery scientist who has worked for more than 20 years with trawl fishermen to reduce salmon, crab and halibut bycatch, I find the recent rhetoric around proposed North Pacific Fisheries Management Council changes to the Bering Sea halibut bycatch cap very frustrating. In particular, I hear media campaigns underwritten by environmental NGOs claiming, “It’s been 20 years since the halibut bycatch cap was last reduced,” implying that this has created a conservation issue.
http://www.adn.com/article/20150528/halibut-bycatch-cap-reduction-should-reflect-what-we-know-about-resource

Halibut bycatch issue: A poster child for complex fisheries policy in Alaska
Alaska Dispatch News by Shirley Marquardt – May 25, 2015
What a conundrum. How does the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council respond to the proposed 50 percent reduction of halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands groundfish fishery requested by halibut fishermen in the region, without significantly impacting the Amendment 80, Trawl and Freezer Long Line vessels in their stead?
http://www.adn.com/article/20150525/halibut-bycatch-issue-poster-child-complex-fisheries-policy-alaska

Fears Mount over NPFMC halibut by-catch quota vote
Alaska Business by Andrew Murphy – May 19, 2015
I have been an Alaskan since 1996. I live and work in Dutch Harbor and have built a labor and equipment company providing services to the Amendment 80 vessels.  The North Pacific Management Council is meeting in June to decide whether to adjust the Amendment 80 fleet’s allowable halibut by-catch.  The Council’s decision is likely to cost Alaskan jobs.
http://www.akbizmag.com/Fisheries/OP-ED-Fears-Mount-over-NPFMC-halibut-by-catch-quota-vote/

Letters: Halibut Owner Challenges Idea that Bering Sea Bycatch Reduction is not a Conservation Issue
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [Letters]  May 12, 2015
The letter below is from Paul Clampitt, a halibut quota owner, and owner of the F/V Augustine.  As part of our committment to transparancy on this issue, both Peggy and I had comments:

Peggy Parker: “It is a conservation issue to anyone who uses the layman’s definition of conservation, but not to a scientist, whose definition is much narrower.  Because the bycatch removal amount is a fixed number, and that number is subtracted before the quotas are set for the directed fishery, a scientist/biologist cannot say that there is a conservation issue. The removal is accounted for in the allocation, even though the allocation is getting smaller and smaller for the directed fishery, which reflects a decline in the resource.”

John Sackton: My concern is with making an apples to apples comparison.  There is an equity issue that is clearly stated – that the bycatch cap has not been changed while the biomass has fallen.  But I don’t see this as a conservation issue, because many halibut taken outside the Bering Sea also are killed before spawning, which mostly occurs around 32 inch length.  So it is fair to say that all mortality of under 32 inch halibut is from fish that will never spawn, and in that case, the Bering Sea should not be considered in isolation. But it is likely that the Bering Sea does account for a high percentage of this mortality of under 32 inch fish.”

Dear Editor,

The trawl interest in the Bering Sea are asserting that the move for a halibut bycatch reduction by their fleet is not a conservation issue but an allocation grab by the halibut longline industry.

This meme has been repeated by NMFS staff namely in a recent video where Mr. Chris Oliver, Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management stated that the request for halibut bycatch reduction was not a conservation issue because the halibut resource is stable.

This is not correct, the International Pacific Halibut Commission has steadily reduced the directed halibut catch limits over the last 14 years as a necessary conservation measure in response to a declining halibut resource. The IPHC would not do this if it were not to conserve the resource.

At the same time the trawl halibut bycatch cap has not changed, but remains the same as it was fixed 20 years ago when halibut was abundant. On top of that the trawl industry is killing juvenile halibut and thus reducing the possible yield that these fish would contribute to the fishery, especially since these fish will never spawn or have a chance to migrate into the Gulf of Alaska  and beyond which would support the fishery all the way to California.

This is definitely a conservation issue. The halibut longline fishery is doing everything it can to conserve this fishery, and now it is the trawl industry turn to step to the plate.

Mr. Oliver asserts that the halibut biomass is steady, but the fact is the halibut biomass has gone down from 400 million in 1990 to 217 million pounds of spawning biomass today.

He also asserts that the trawl industry dramatically lowered their bycatch voluntarily, but the fact is the bycatch mortality has gone up steadily since 2011 in 4CDE, and any bycatch reduction in the rest of the Bering Sea is most likely due to the reduction in the halibut biomass.

Halibut bycatch overall is up in the Bering Sea since 2011, from 5.6 million lbs to 5.8 million lbs. (source:IPHC )

In conclusion:

It’s time for the trawl industry to do their fair share in conserving the halibut resource by reducing their bycatch by 50%. This resource has been harvested by the longline fleet for over 100 years, which has given the American public access to this wonderful fishery. If we don’t start curtailing the trawl industry’s bycatch not only will this resource be destroyed but so will all the other fisheries that hard on bottom trawling effects. We can’t allow the North Pacific fisheries to end up like the New England fisheries, as a meager shadow of a once vibrant industry.

Sincerely,

Paul Clampitt
Member FVOA
Owner, F/V Augustine
http://www.seafoodnews.com/SearchStory/8W__BGzMz__1yERjiI9yI0qGKItOEp6PHHjZ2PcbkGokk=/975244

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May 29, 2015