Alaska/Pacific Coast

IN BRIEF – Alaska Crab Fishery: 30-Day Comment Period Open on RFM Draft Assessment Reports
Fis.com-  November 17, 2017
The Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification draft reports for re-assessment and initial assessment of the following Alaska crab fisheries are now available for registered stakeholder comment
http://fis.com/fis/worldnews/search_brief.asp?l=e&id=94788&ndb=1

Measures to Boost Salmon Are Working, but Some Fear They Could Backfire
Despite an increase in the number of Chinook salmon in California this year, some fishers are worried that methods to truck and barge hatchery fish will lead to long-term problems for the restoration of ecosystems and fisheries.
News Deeply by Alastair Bland – November 20, 2017
Last spring, the outlook for California’s 2017 Chinook salmon fishing season was dire. Years of drought had taken a toll on the rivers where salmon spawn, reducing them to lukewarm trickles. As a result, the number of adult fish was seriously depleted, reported scientists with the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/11/20/measures-to-boost-salmon-are-working-but-some-fear-they-could-backfire

Massive Recruitment Event Shows Up in Alaska Sablefish Stocks
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – November 20, 2017
The 2017 surveys and the age data from 2016 of Alaska sablefish resulted in a very large estimate of the 2014 year-class of sablefish in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, triggering a recommendation for a 14% increase in allowable biological catch (ABC) for 2018.

This recruitment year class is higher than scientists have ever seen.  Further, the 2017 data shows a potential for two or more year classes being exceptionally strong now. Scientists described the recruitment as “ten times higher than average.”

The 14% increase would put the ABC at 14,957 mt for 2018, up from this year’s ABC 13,083 mt.  This year’s total allowable catch (TAC) was set at 13,083 mt. Catch as of November 15 has reached 12,195 mt.

Scientists had expected a larger than average 2014 year class based on preliminary data, but the unprecedentedly high estimate would have indicated an 87% increase in ABC. Because trends prior to this year’s surveys have indicated a slow decrease in total biomass of Alaskan sablefish since 2003 and a leveling off of the amount of spawning biomass in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, a precautionary approach was needed.

The 2014 year class estimate is 10 times the long-term average and it is 2.5 times higher than the next highest, which was in 1977. Scientists calculated what ABC would be if this year’s data of the high 2014 recruitment was equal to the 1977 year class, “which was 4 times the average of the then-current estimate,” explained Dr. Dana Hanselman, lead author of the sablefish stock assessment.

That calculation resulted in a 14% increase, much higher than the 1% increase that was predicted for 2018 last year, but below the 87% increase if one looked at the one-year survey and age data alone.

An increase in sablefish trawl landings and increased whale depredation were also noted in the 2017 stock assessment. Orca whales and sperm whales now take about 550 mt of sablefish a year.

The commercial fishery’s catch per unit of effort (CPUE) and the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s longline survey — which uses consistently sized hooks — were both down, but these surveys were only through 2016. Trawl gear in both surveys and in the commercial fisheries indicated a much higher presence of younger sablefish in Alaskan waters.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1083203/Massive-Recruitment-Event-Shows-Up-in-Alaska-Sablefish-Stocks

 

Environment/Science

Endangered orcas compete with seals, sea lions for salmon
Associated Press by Phuong Lee – November 20, 2017
SEATTLE (AP) — Harbor seals, sea lions and some fish-eating killer whales have been rebounding along the Northeast Pacific Ocean in recent decades. But that boom has come with a trade-off: They’re devouring more of the salmon prized by a unique but fragile population of endangered orcas.
https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/ap_news/endangered-orcas-compete-with-seals-sea-lions-for-salmon/article_154c84dd-c8e8-5315-9169-b0cac30ca9d1.html

 

Federal Government Asked for Help in Addressing Transboundary Mining Concerns
SitNews – November 16, 2017
The Alaska Congressional Delegation has joined together with the State of Alaska to urge U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to address the downstream risks that mining in British Columbia may pose to Southeast Alaskan communities and habitats surrounding transboundary rivers.

The joint letter emphasized the “potential catastrophic effects on Alaska’s communities” from upstream mining activities in British Columbia (B.C.) and urged the U.S. federal government to “help protect overall U.S. interests in this situation.” The letter also called the Tulsequah Chief “an example of an inadequate response by the B.C. government.”
http://www.sitnews.us/1117News/111617/111617_transboundary.html

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Exchange of Flatfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 11/20/2017
NMFS is exchanging allocations of Amendment 80 cooperative quota (CQ) for Amendment 80 acceptable biological catch (ABC) reserves. This action is necessary to allow the 2017 total allowable catch of flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area to be harvested.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/11/20/2017-25121/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-exchange-of-flatfish-in-the-bering-sea-and

 

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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November 21, 2017