Alaska/Pacific Coast

Conditions Favor California Dungeness Season; Warm Blob Could Affect Oregon, Washington
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – October 5, 2016
It was all good news, hopeful news, for the California Dungeness crab industry Tuesday in Bodega Bay. For Oregon and Washington crabbers though, a warning: it’s too early to tell what might happen.

California Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Northern Calif., chairman of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, opened a crab season outlook and modern aquaculture hearing in Bodega Bay, Calif., by saying he believed the worst is behind us, referring to the devastating presence of domoic acid in crab last season. Crabbers in California were delayed for months from setting their gear and the seafood market as a whole suffered from the bad news.

Witnesses from California state agencies and the University of California – Santa Cruz, testified that so far, all signs favor environmental conditions for lower domoic acid levels in crab this year.

“Toxicity may have peaked in September, said Dr. Raphael Kudela, Lynn Professor of Ocean Health at UC-Santa Cruz. As we transition in to winter, it may just go away, he added. Ocean temperatures off of California already are cooling, resembling a more normal weather cycle.

This year, Pseudo nitzschia, the organism responsible for producing domoic acid, was spatially more variable, not nearly as prevalent as it was this time last year. Cooler waters and upwelling have helped disperse it. Those algal blooms also are pushed further offshore this year, Kudela said.

“That’s really good news for crab …,” Kudela said. That could change if those waters get pushed back onshore, but he doesn’t expect that to happen.

Patrick Kennelly, chief of the Food Safety Section of the California Department of Public Health, said the agency started testing earlier this year than last year. So far, he said, levels have been dropping. Much of the crab has been tested clean so far.

“We’re continuing to see that improvement,” Kennelly said, noting he’s cautiously optimistic fishermen will be able to drop their gear in November and December.

Kennelly said the agency does routine bivalve testing and that razor clams have been holding onto domoic acid and not getting rid of it – and that’s different. Similarly, some of the rock crab in Half Moon Bay and Bodega Bay never did resolve their levels of domoic acid.

Oregon recently closed all razor clamming and mussel harvesting statewide due to domoic acid levels.

Everyone generally agreed this year would be better for California, not just in terms of whether the industry can harvest and process the crab, but also in terms of how to deal with it: potentially closing areas so fishermen in some districts can fish, better testing protocols, etc.

“We did learn a lot,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Program Manager Sonke Mastrup said. “We are better prepared than we have ever been for what’s coming.”

Mastrup said the agency is working to be more flexible and respond to the needs of the industry while keeping consumers safe.

“Our goal is to create as much opportunity for them to fish as we can,” he said.

Warm water anomaly in the Pacific Northwest

While the science so far seems to support a favorable California season, the prognosis for seasons in Oregon, Washington and coastwide seasons in 2017 are fuzzy.

McGuire asked UC-Santa Cruz Professor Kudela whether the warm water conditions largely responsible for the harmful algal bloom last year was still present.

“Actually, we’re cooler than normal,” Kudela said, but scientists are tracking a warm patch of water in the Pacific Northwest. Kudela said that blob of warm water has the ability to change weather patterns, potentially eliminating the upwelling that brings cooler waters to the surface. It also could change the jet stream. If winter storms are relatively weak this winter, that blob may not dissipate and warmer conditions could return in the spring.

McGuire picked up on Kudela’s train of thought and asked whether Oregon and Washington crabbers will have challenges this season.

“Quite likely they will have impacts,” Kudela said. A persistent drought in the West has shut down the Columbia River plume that acts like a barrier in the ocean and keeps harmful algal blooms from reaching the coast.

More than likely, we’ll see these blooms hitting the coast, Kudela said.

Kudela added that looking beyond this year, these weather patterns and the warm water anomaly in the Pacific Northwest are very similar to recent activity.
This looks like it did prior to 2015, he said.

The Central California commercial crab season could open on Nov. 15 if testing continues to show crab are clean. Northern California, Oregon and Washington seasons typically open on Dec. 1, if domoic acid levels are low, meat content meets standards and fishermen and processors have negotiated opening prices.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1036596/Conditions-Favor-California-Dungeness-Season-Warm-Blob-Could-Affect-Oregon-Washington

Bristol Bay red king crab TAC cut by 15 pc
Fis.com – October 5, 2016
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have announced that the 2016/17 Bristol Bay red king crab total allowable catch (TAC) is 8.4 million pounds, implying a 15 per cent decline from last year’s TAC (9.97 million pounds).
http://fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&country=0&special=&monthyear=&day=&id=87460&ndb=1&df=0

Set Netters Discuss Possible Fleet Reduction
KSRM by Catie Quinn – October 4, 2016
Roughly 80 fishermen gathered last night to discuss whether the East Side Set Net fishery should voluntarily reduce the number of permits and sites to the kinds of numbers seen in the 1980’s. Supporters say the move would compensate fishermen fairly while creating a leaner fishery.
http://www.radiokenai.us/set-netters-discuss-possible-fleet-reduction/

National

Seafood Nutrition Partnership Pushing Seafood Health Benefits During National Seafood Month
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – October 5, 2016
The Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) is taking advantage of National Seafood Month this October by promoting the health benefits of including more seafood in daily diets.

The SNP is asking Americans to take its Healthy Heart Pledge and eat at least two servings of seafood each week in an effort to raise awareness around seafood’s health benefits. The Healthy Heart Pledge is the SNP’s ongoing campaign to urge more US consumers to increase their seafood eating.

“National Seafood Month is the perfect time to celebrate that seafood is a super food, with tons of health benefits, especially for your heart,” says Linda Cornish, executive director of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership. “There’s no better way to celebrate than by taking the Healthy Heart Pledge and incorporating more seafood into your diet.”

The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recoomends eating at least two servings of seafood each week.

“National Seafood Month is the perfect time for people to incorporate more seafood into their diets,” says Judith Rodriguez, Ph.D., RDN, director of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership. “We’re excited to promote National Seafood Month in such an interactive way by encouraging people to take the Healthy Heart Pledge and participate in our recipe sweepstakes. Celebrating National Seafood Month has never been easier and tastier while also enjoying all the health benefits seafood has to offer.”

As part of National Seafood Month, the SNP has created and curated a variety of seafood recipes to encourage consumers to buy and prepare more seafood meals. The Partnership is also conducting a recipe sweepstakes that has individuals share their favorite seafood recipes on Twitter or Instagram made with five ingredients or less for a chance to win $250.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1036595/Seafood-Nutrition-Partnership-Pushing-Seafood-Health-Benefits-During-National-Seafood-Month

Environment/Science

Coastal Imaging Program Arms Experts with Tools to Protect Alaska’s Coastal Resources
Seward City News by Steven T. Fink – October 4, 2016
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — Alaska’s extensive marine coastlines are important habitat for fish, marine mammals, and the communities that depend on ocean resources. The coastal fringe of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest is in constant flux due to erosion, sea level change, shifts in the nature of large storms, retreat of tidewater glaciers, landslides, and development projects. Observing and documenting detailed changes over large areas in some of the most remote places on Earth is increasingly possible using ShoreZone.org.
http://sewardcitynews.com/2016/10/shorezone-in-alaska/

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 10/04/2016
NMFS apportions amounts of the non-specified reserve to the initial total allowable catch (ITAC) of Bering Sea (BS) Pacific ocean perch, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Kamchatka flounder, BSAI “other flatfish,” BSAI northern rockfish, BSAI skates, BSAI sculpins, and BSAI squids 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.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/10/04/2016-23969/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-several-groundfish-species-in-the-bering-sea-and

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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October 5, 2016