Alaska/Pacific Coast

Pacific Halibut Reference Point Used to Set Catch Limits Drops 20 Percent for 2018
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – November 29, 2017
At this week’s Interim Meeting for the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), scientists released preliminary data that suggest a 20 percent drop from last year’s total removals would be needed to stay within the IPHC’s harvest policy.

The reference point is called Total Constant Exploitation Yield or the halibut removals that will maintain a 46% Spawning Potential Ratio. SPR is another reference point that supports sustainability for the current biomass of Pacific halibut.

The TCEY referenced by the scientists last year was 35.41 mlbs, which would have meant about 26 mlbs in commercial fishery landings. But more fish were taken than that (about 32 mlbs), because the final TCEY adopted by the Commission was 40.7 mlbs.

The Commission is not required to accept the advice of their scientific staff. They are reviewing their harvest policy through the Management Strategy Advisory Board, and are getting risk assessments for setting removals higher or lower than the TCEY. They also get extensive feedback from stakeholders throughout the fish’s range, from California to the Bering Sea.

The final decision will be made January 26, 2018. The commissioners will weigh the trade offs between increasing catch and changes in the stock’s trend, the population status, and the fisheries’ trend. It is also informed by political considerations in the U.S. and Canada.

One of the reasons for the decrease, noted IPHCs senior scientist Ian Stewart, was that survey weight was down by 10% from last year, and that survey numbers were down 24%.

“What that means is is that there is a decrease in the relative numbers of young, small fish disproportionate to fish that are large enough to be caught by commercial fleets,” Stewart said. In other words, little to no recruitment.

The numbers provided at the meeting yesterday are preliminary and do not reflect end of the year totals in some categories. Those numbers will be updated for the IPHC’s Annual meeting held January 22-26, 2018, in Portland, OR.

Disappearance of wild salmon hurts local economy
Chinook salmon populations may have dropped to as little as 10 percent of their historic numbers.
The Seattle Times by Dukes Seafood and Chowder – November 20, 2017
Salmon and the Pacific Northwest used to go hand in hand, right? Not anymore. Back in the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of naturally spawning salmon and steelhead could be found in Puget Sound each year. Today there are only tens of thousands. This is an alarming change, for our environment and local economy.

Commercial fishing crews harder to find
The Daily Astorian by Katie Frankowicz – November 27, 2017
ASTORIA, Ore. — John Corbin remembers tent cities in Alaska in the 1980s during the booming king crab seasons. The commercial fisherman said upward of 50 guys a day would walk the docks looking for work.


Climate change a hot topic for Alaska seafood leaders
National Fishermen by Jessica Hathaway – November 28, 2017
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute kicked off its annual All-Hands meeting at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage Tuesday morning with an emphasis on state budget constraints and the effects of climate change on the state’s fishery resources.

Science Center for Marine Fisheries Announces Funding For New Research Projects
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – November 28, 2017
The Science Center for Marine Fisheries announced on Monday that their Industry Advisory Board has allocated $26,467 in funding for two research projects.

The Independent Advisory Team for Marine Mammal Assessments – Phase V, as well as the Stock Assessment Team, were granted the funding during the Industry Advisory Board’s Fall 2017 meeting in Cape May, New Jersey, earlier this month. The Independent Advisory Team for Marine Mammal Assessments – Phase V “addresses uncertainties in slow growing marine mammal populations and the interactions between marine mammals and fishing operations.” Meanwhile, the Stock Assessment Team provides “external support to NMFS for benchmark assessment working groups with a focus in 2018 on Atlantic herring.” Both projects were funded by the Science Center for Marine Fisheries because they represent the organizations broad mission to “address urgent scientific problems limiting sustainable fisheries.”

Labeling and Marketing

Positive trends highlighted in fall sockeye market analysis
McDowell study, commissioned by the BBRSDA, highlights high value of Bristol Bay’s 2017 catch, hints that next year is looking good so far, too.
KDLG by Dave Bendinger – November 28, 2017
Bristol Bay’s commercial fishing industry had a smashing good season in 2017. The massive forecast for next year has stirred a lot of excitement, and drift permit prices are up around $140,000. Now an annual analysis of the sockeye market suggests wholesale and retail prices are up, worldwide supply is down, and farmed salmon producers are still struggling to rebound. Only the prospect of Pebble Mine filing for permits has seemed to dampen the mood of Bristol Bay fishermen this fall.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Several Groundfish Species in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 11/29/2017
NMFS apportions amounts of the non-specified reserve to the initial total allowable catch (ITAC) of Aleutian Islands (AI) Greenland turbot, AI “other rockfish,” Bering Sea (BS) sablefish, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Alaska plaice, BSAI northern rockfish, BSAI “other flatfish,” BSAI shortraker rockfish, BSAI sculpin, BSAI skates, and Central and Western Aleutian Islands (CAI/WAI) blackspotted/rougheye rockfish in the BSAI management area. This action is necessary to allow the fisheries to continue operating. It is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan for the BSAI management area.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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November 29, 2017