Alaska/Pacific Coast

Marine Conservation Alliance Releases ‘Principles of Sustainability’ Website
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – November 29, 2016
The Marine Conservation Alliance has launched a new interactive website highlighting the sustainable, ecosystem-based fisheries management in the North Pacific.

The site is titled ‘Conserving Alaska’s Oceans in the 21st Century’ and describes seven ‘Principles of Sustainability’ that are vital to healthy fisheries and oceans.

Further information on the principles, listed below, are available at ebfm.marineconservationalliance.org. Information on harvest strategies, forage fish protections, selective fishing techniques, Steller sea lion trends and more are included within them.

– Do managers have the jurisdiction and data required to control fisheries that affect the ecosystem?
– Do managers prevent overfishing on both target and non-target species?
– Do managers protect habitats and life on the seafloor?
– Do managers protect non-fish species from fishing impacts?
– Do managers limit fishing effects on marine foodwebs?
– Do managers adjust fishing rules when environmental change affects stocks?
– Do managers consider social and economic needs?

The site also contains an interactive map that shows areas of the North Pacific that are closed to fishing with explanations on when and why the closures were enacted. All topics include references to background materials for those wanting more information.

The project was undertaken to help fisheries stakeholders, managers, communities, and the general public understand some of the complexities of how federal fisheries off Alaska are managed.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about commercial fisheries,” says MCA President Anne Vanderhoeven. “In the North Pacific, there are tight regulations based on years of scientific findings. The website covers fish, mammals, habitat, communities and more. It helps explain why there are no overfished groundfish species in this area, unlike other parts of the world.”

Lori Swanson, Executive Director of MCA, echoes Vanderhoeven’s comments. “There is nothing else out there that provides this kind of comprehensive review of what makes North Pacific fisheries among the best managed in the world.”

A demonstration of the website will be available during the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel from December 6th to the 13th.

The project represents over a year of intensive work between MCA and Brad Warren at Warren & Co Publishing, with GIS mapping by Scott Smeltz of Alaska Pacific University and programming and design by Pol Stafford of CeltTech.

For more information, contact the Marine Conservation Alliance at (360) 626-1140, or visit the organization’s website at www.marineconservationalliance.org.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1042352/Marine-Conservation-Alliance-Releases-Principles-of-Sustainability-Website

Jump in Alaska Pollock Biomass Should Have Little Impact Say Sellers, Because of 2 Mln ton Cap
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – November 28, 2016
European consumers who care about fisheries conservation are about to get their clearest lesson yet in the immense differences in managing pollock between Alaska and Russia.

The pollock market has been weak this year.  A stronger dollar, higher catches in Russia, and lackluster markets for pollock roe have meant that the traditional Alaskan offshore sector producing frozen at sea blocks and surimi has been struggling.  Prices for pollock blocks shipped to Europe have been dropping for four years.

Source: Seafood Datasearch based on US Customs Data

Now, after a modest rise in TAC from 2015 to 2016 of 30,000 tons in the Bering Sea, the biomass and allowable catch for Alaska Pollock has exploded.

According to the data that will be presented to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council at their December meeting, the biomass of Alaska pollock in the Bering Sea will increase to 13 million tons in 2017, the overfishing level will be 3.64 million tons, and the Allowable Biological Catch, ie the amount that can be sustainably caught with other factors being equal, will be set at 2.8 million metric tons, or more than double the actual catch of about 1.35 million metric tons in 2016.

If the US pollock fishery was managed as in Russia, most of this increase in allowable catch would be caught, and possibly as much as 1 million additional tons of pollock would flood the market, resulting in significant destabilization of pricing.

However, Alaska has a unique conservation feature:  a 2 million ton cap on total groundfish removals from the Bering Sea.

Since this applies to all species including pollock, cod, yellowfin sole, rock sole, arrowtooth flounder and others, it is not possible to increase the pollock TAC significantly without reducing the catch levels of other species.

Source:  SAFE Report, North Pacific Fisheries Management Council  (Note the 2017 and 2018 TACs are estimates by SeafoodNews, not official numbers.)

For the chart, the 2017 and 2018 Pollock TAC was estimated at 1.4 million tons.  However, the council has not yet made any decision regarding the total allowable catch. This will be done at the December meeting, starting on Tuesday, Dec 6th, but most observers are expecting a small increase.

There is some wiggle room and historically the various fleet sectors have negotiated around the cap.  But even with less Pacific cod or flatfish, there simply is not room under the cap for the pollock TAC to increase very much, despite the huge increase in biomass.

This is an outcome that should be celebrated in Germany, as it shows unquestionably that Alaska pollock is the world leader in conservation of fisheries.  Yet this news will likely be buried so long as the German consumers look only to the MSC label as their criteria for buying, as the MSC treats the Alaskan and Russian fisheries as the same.

The net result is that despite the huge increase in pollock biomass, total availability of Alaska Bering Sea pollock – the primary source of single frozen blocks –  will only increase slightly, and that should be celebrated, not denigrated, by buyers.

Taking all of Alaska production into account, including the Gulf of Alaska, the total TAC could conceivably decline.  This is because the Gulf of Alaska biomass has declined by about 25% from 2016 levels, to 1.4 million metric tons, and as a result, the Allowable Catch in the Gulf has come down from 264,000 tons in 2016 to 213,000 tons in 2017.  This will likely lead to a smaller TAC in the Gulf.  In 2015 the TAC was 200,000 tons, with the biomass at a comparable level.  If the Council moves in this direction, there will be about a 50,000 ton decrease in the TAC for pollock in the Gulf in 2017.  This may offset some or all of the projected increase in the Bering Sea pollock TAC.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1042274/Jump-in-Alaska-Pollock-Biomass-Should-Have-Little-Impact-Say-Sellers-Because-of-2-Mln-ton-Cap

 

International

Biggest Russian Quota Holder Karat Plans $250 Mln investment in Barents Sea and Distant Water Fleets
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Eugene Gerden – November 29, 2016
Karat, Russia’s leading fish producer, owned by the local fishing tycoon Vitaly Orlov, plans to expand its producing and processing business during the next several years, according to the company.

This will be achieved through the investment of funds in further development. While the planned volume of investments is currently not disclosed, according to some sources close to the company, they could be in the range of US$250-300 million.

This is the type of investment being encouraged by the Russian government as part of its push to allocate quotas to those companies that invest in modernizing the Russian fleet.

Since 2007 Karat has invested US$600 million in its development in the Russian market, which allowed the company to become Russia’s largest holder of quotas for pollock, herring and cod and it has plans to continue implementation of its investment policy for the coming years.

According to Orlov, the majority of funds for the implementation of the company’s investment program will continue to be allocated from Karat as well as Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank and the biggest lender of the company.

A significant part of the funds will be invested in the acceleration of fishing activities of the company both within the Russian territorial waters, (and in particular in the north-west of Russia as well as Far East), along with far-abroad countries, among which are the North Atlantic, the west coast of Africa and the Pacific Ocean.

Some in the Russian ministries have longed to go back to the distant water days of the USSR, when huge russian factory fleets produced fish in every corner of the globe.  Such operations are no longer possible despite being held up by politicans and bureaucrats as a worthy goal.

According to Orlov, at present the Russian fishing industry remains heavily underinvested. This is reflected by the annual volumes of fish and seafood production in the USSR, which varied in the range of 10-11 million tonnes, compared to 4 million tonnes in the case of Russia.

Karat wants to pay particular attention  to the development of logistics,  marketing and more active promotion of the products. According to Karat, the underdeveloped infrastructure, as well as poor logistics and marketing currently remains one of the major features of the Russian fishing industry. The situation is aggravated by the existing high tariffs on the supplies of fish from the Far East to the European part of Russia, the region, which remains the biggest consumer of fish in the country.

Currently the level of profitability of the company is varied in the range of 25%-35%, depending on type of the fish, however, Karat plans to further increase these figures in the coming years.

Orlov believes that cheap loans from Western banks to the domestic fisherman would have significantly improved the current situation in the Russian fishing industry, however, due to existing Western sanctions, they are not available.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1042404/Biggest-Russian-Quota-Holder-Karat-Plans-250-Mln-investment-in-Barents-Sea-and-Distant-Water-Fleets

Environment/Science

Protecting habitat networks helps build climate change resistance
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman – November 25, 2016
For the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest Alaska, the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, strength lies in a network of habitat diversity, says Daniel Schindler, a University of Washington professor who has spent years researching the area.
http://www.thecordovatimes.com/2016/11/25/protecting-habitat-networks-helps-build-climate-change-resistance/

Climate warming and melting sea ice impacts on Arctic whales
Environmental Research News – November 25, 2016
FAU Harbor Branch study shows the relationship between changing sea ice and beluga whale migration and habitat patterns of several populations over two decades of dramatic sea ice changes in the Pacific Arctic.
http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/yournews/67076

FYI’s

Group releases study on fishing, tourism dollars from Southeast Alaska rivers
KFSK by Joe Viechnicki – November 22, 2016
Three major rivers that flow out of Canada into Southeast Alaska could provide a combined one billion dollars in value for tourism and fisheries on this side of the border over the next three decades. That’s one of the findings in a new study commissioned by a group seeking to highlight potential impacts to those rivers from the mining industry in British Columbia.
http://www.kfsk.org/2016/11/22/group-releases-study-on-fishing-tourism-dollars-from-southeast-alaska-rivers/

Alaska Board of Fisheries To Meet In Homer
KBBI by Shahla Farzan – November 23, 2016
The Alaska Board of Fisheries will meet Nov. 30 through Dec. 3 at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer.
http://kbbi.org/post/alaska-board-fisheries-meet-homer

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Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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November 29, 2016