Alaska/Pacific Coast

43 Million Pink Salmon Forecasted for Southeast Alaska Harvest in 2017
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – November 9, 2016
Yesterday the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Southeast released their harvest forecast of 43 million pink salmon for Southeast Alaska in 2017, just weeks after Governor Walker sought federal disaster relief for the fishery’s low harvest this year.

The latest harvest figures for 2016 of 18.4 million pink salmon in Southeast compare to ADF&G’s prediction last year of 34 million pink salmon harvest.

This year’s forecast is based, as it has been for several years, on a two-step process that first looks at trends in harvest over the past 50 years, then adjusts that with current survey data provided by NOAA Fisheries.

The first step includes giving recent harvests more weight in the analysis (the older the data, the less influence it has on the analysis) than long-ago harvests.

NOAA’s annual trawl survey to assess juvenile pink salmon abundance takes place every June-July in upper Chatham and Icy Straights in northern SE Alaska.  Last year, the survey results ranked 13th out of the 19 years it’s been done.

This year, results ranked 6th out of the 20 years of data, indicating a higher abundance of juvenile pink salmon. That result helps to correct what ADF&G called a “forecast error”, and in this case, added 5 million fish to the forecast.

The forecast range for 2017 is 27-59 million fish at the 80 percent confidence level.

Since 2015, Southeast pink forecasts have noted unusally high sea surface temperatures found in the Gulf of Alaska.

“Perhaps the largest potential source of uncertainty regarding the 2017 pink slamon return is the anomalously warm sea surface temperatures that have persisted throughout the Gulf of Alaska since fall 2013,” wrote Andy Piston and Steve Heinl, co-authors of the forecast and management biologists from ADF&G’s Ketchikan office.

“Pink salmon that went to sea in 2014 and 2015 returned in numbers well below expectation and pink salmon that went to sea in 2016 (and set to return in 2017) may have experience similar conditions,” they wrote.

ADF&G will manage the 2017 pink salmon fishery as always with inseason management based on the strength of the entire run. Aerial escapement surveys and fishery performance data will be key components in making inseason decisions.

The full forecast can be found at here.  The department will discuss their forecast at the December 1 meeting of the Purse Seine Task Force in Juneau.

NOAA’s Auke Bay Laboratory staff, who also calculate forecasts for the pink season in Southeast Alaska, will present their 2017 forecast at that time.

Last year, NOAA’s pink forecast for SE Alaska was 30.4 million pink salmon, just 4 million less than the state’s forecast.

California’s Dungeness Fishery to Start as Scheduled on November 15; OR and WA Optimistic
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – November 9, 2016
The crab gear is nearly ready, vessels are in good shape and crabbers are scrambling with last-minute details in anticipation of a good Dungeness season.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday the Dungeness fishery will open Nov. 15 from Point Reyes in Marin County, north of San Francisco, south. State health official recommended the Dungeness fishery remain closed between Point Reyes and the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the north.

Nov. 15 is the traditional opening date for the Central California or “San Francisco” Dungeness crab fishery. Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to keep the commercial Dungeness crab fishery closed north of Point Reyes (38°00’ N. lat.) and to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point (37°11’ N. lat.). .

This year, the Bodega Head test area, north of Point Reyes, has shown the toxin present for three tests, with the highest result being one crab at 65 parts per million. The most recent test at Russian River showed no signs of domoic acid present. Crab from the south Crescent City site and Trinidad, both in northern California, showed domoic acid levels were within acceptable ranges.

The management decision this year has the effect of closing approximately 60 miles of coastline to commercial Dungeness crab fishing that otherwise would have opened on Nov. 15. The fishery north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line is not scheduled to open until Dec. 1 — the traditional season opening.

However, it also means a sort of gold rush is on. Word spread quickly among California and Oregon fleets that several boats were headed to San Francisco for the early opening.

In the meantime, San Francisco processors and sellers anticipate good sales, after a loss of consumer confidence last year.

“Customers are already placing their orders,” Alioto-Lazio Fish Company’s Angela Cincotta said. “We are all very excited.”

Managers also are optimistic.

“Given the very difficult season endured by commercial crabbers and their families last year, we were hopeful to open all areas on time this year,” Director Bonham said in a press release. “Fortunately, domoic acid levels are much lower than this time last year and, despite this action, we are optimistic we will still be able to have a good season.”

Washington and Oregon fisheries managers are in the process of doing quality and toxin testing prior to a traditional Dec. 1 season opening. Quality tests out of Long Beach and Westport, Wash., showed recoveries of 23 and 22.9 percent, respectively, on Oct. 30. The recovery threshold is 23 percent in Washington, so it’s likely crabbers will be able to start fishing when the season traditionally opens if toxin tests are OK.

Brookings was the only port in Oregon that had crab delivered for quality testing.

“Because of weather, most of Oregon was delayed on testing,” Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Executive Director Hugh Link said today. “We’re expecting most of them to get out today and do testing on Veterans Day.”

Link is optimistic about the season.

“The crab from Brookings looked excellent — full and lively,” he said.


Seafood’s new normal
California’s coastal ecosystem — and the fisheries that depend on it — are in the grip of a huge disruption
San Francisco Chronicle by Tara Duggan – October 2016
In the shallow waters off Elk, in Mendocino County, a crew from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife dived recently to survey the area’s urchin and abalone populations. Instead of slipping beneath a canopy of leafy bull kelp, which normally darkens the ocean floor like a forest, they found a barren landscape like something out of “The Lorax.”

No more sewage dumping in Puget Sound, new Ecology rule proposes
Under a new rule, Puget Sound would no longer be a toilet for the region’s vessel traffic.
Seattle Times by Lynda V. Mapes – November 7, 2016
Puget Sound would no longer be a toilet for vessels dumping raw or partially treated sewage overboard under a regulation proposed by the state Department of Ecology.


Upcoming state meeting addresses finfish
Cordova Times – November 4, 2016
Forty-seven proposals regarding Lower Cook Inlet finfish are on the agenda for the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at the Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor Center in Homer.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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November 9, 2016