Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT by Kayla Desroches – August 31, 2017
On this week’s show, lawmakers and members of the fishing industry attended a Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act reauthorization hearing in Soldtona. There, they tackled fleet consolidation, limited access fisheries, and an extended pie analogy.
http://kmxt.org/2017/08/alaska-fisheries-report-august-31-2017/

A Surprising Amount of Pink Salmon are Filling Kodiak’s Waters
KMXT by Mitch Borden – August 30, 2017
Kodiak fishermen are having a great pink salmon season compared to last year’s run. There are not only plenty of fish, but the run’s lasting longer than expected.
http://kmxt.org/2017/08/surprising-amount-pink-salmon-filling-kodiaks-rivers/

PWS pink salmon harvest is shy about 15 million fish
44 million humpies counted to date in harvest
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman – September 1, 2017
With just a week or two left until season’s end, the common property harvest of pink salmon in Prince William Sound stood at around 41 million fish, with another 2.9 million brought in for cost recovery at hatcheries through Aug. 30.
http://www.thecordovatimes.com/2017/09/01/pws-pink-salmon-harvest-shy-15-million-fish/

Politics

Alaska Gov. Walker to call legislators back for 4th special session of year
Alaska Dispatch News by Nathaniel Herz – August 31, 2017
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker plans to call the state Legislature back to Juneau in October for its fourth special session of the year, his administration told lawmakers Thursday.
https://www.adn.com/politics/alaska-legislature/2017/08/31/alaska-gov-walker-to-call-legislators-back-for-4th-special-session-of-year/

Environment/Science

Ninth Circuit Offers No Help to Steller Sea Lions
Court House News by Julie St. Louis – August 31, 2017
ANCHORAGE (CN) — Environmentalists failed to prove that increased industrial fishing in the Aleutian Islands will hurt endangered Steller sea lions, the Ninth Circuit said this week in affirming summary judgment for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
https://www.courthousenews.com/ninth-circuit-offers-no-help-steller-sea-lions/

Latest NOAA Surveys Off West Coast Spell More Bad News for Salmon
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – September 1, 2017
Another NOAA Fisheries survey team has finished their spring and summer surveys off the coast of the Pacific Northwest with little evidence of juvenile coho or chinook salmon and ocean conditions that portend low abundance in the coming years.

For two decades, fisheries biologists from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle have been studying the ecology of young salmon as they first enter the ocean. They monitor biological and physical conditions in the Northern California Current (NCC), focusing on how they impact juvenile salmon.

This year’s data had several surprises, much like the survey work done in June off the coast of Oregon.

Brian Burke, a NOAA Fisheries research biologist at the Estuarine and Ocean Ecology Program is the Ocean Team Lead for the surveys. The data they’ve gathered is not yet complete, but the anomalies were so many and so extreme, they sent a “heads-up” memo to Michael Tehan, Assistant Regional Administrator, Interior Columbia Basin Office a few weeks ago.

“Basically, we wanted to let people know that ‘the blob’ might be gone, but the biological response to it can happen for many years after,” Burke said.

The ‘blob’, a mass of warm water that started in the Gulf of Alaska in late 2013, extended all the way to the California coast and other parts of the Pacific during most of 2015 and into 2016. Some temperatures readings at its peak were more than 10°F above average.

Ocean temperatures in that area have cooled somewhat today, Burke says, with current temperatures closer to normal or just slightly warmer than normal.

Still, the survey data “follows on the heels of unusually warm surface temperatures (‘the warm blob’) and a strong El Niño event,” the memo notes.

“There is a high potential for these adverse conditions to negatively impact salmon returns to the Columbia River over the next few years,” it states.

In the past, the scientists have correlated the survey catch per unit effort (CPUE) of juvenile coho and Chinook salmon during the June survey with adult return rates.

This year, CPUE was the lowest observed in the last 20 years.

But it wasn’t just salmon that were scarce.

“Catches of almost all of the species we regularly catch were low,” Burke notes in the memo. “This includes many forage fish species, such as herring, anchovy, and smelt.

“If prey fishes such as anchovies and smelt were scarce, predators may have been forced to feed at higher rates on salmon. For avian predators, such as common murre and sooty shearwater that aggregate just north of the Columbia River mouth, an increased reliance on salmon might have resulted in substantial mortality for juvenile salmon just as they entered the ocean.”

Although the sea surface temperatures are now about average, the survey caught “warm water fish species such as Pacific Pompano and Jack Mackerel (a potentially important salmon predator) …  regularly in our trawls over the last few years,” the memo states.

At the other end of the food web, more anomalies.

“Chlorophyll, which is a proxy for phytoplankton, was at the lowest levels we have observed in 20 years,” Burke and his colleagues wrote.

“Pyrosomes, which are colonial tunicates usually found in warmer and offshore waters, were in extremely high abundance this year, often to the point of interfering with scientific and commercial fisheries.

“The biomass of the northern species of copepods (that correlate well with high growth and survival of salmon) has been low since mid-2014. And for the past 3 years, the jellyfish community has shown a complete shift from predominantly Pacific sea nettle to the much smaller water jelly,” the biologists wrote.

The correlations that have been made over 20 years of collecting survey data are upended in the face of such anomalies.

“We have made correlations between the ecosystems conditions and salmon growth habits, for instance,” says Burke. “The dynamic has really changed in the last few years. Those correlations are gone; they’ve just disappeared.”

The spring and summer survey results are still preliminary. More metrics on the sampled fish, like growth hormones and stomach contents, will be taken.

Final results will be integrating with oceanographic data derived from satellites and ocean buoys. The team will corroborate their results with surveys further north, such as the Gulf of Alaska, where Columbia River chinook are often caught.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1074321/Latest-NOAA-Surveys-Off-West-Coast-Spell-More-Bad-News-for-Salmon

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason Adjustment to the 2017 Gulf of Alaska Pollock Seasonal Apportionments
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 09/01/2017
NMFS is adjusting the 2017 C seasonal apportionments of the total allowable catch (TAC) for pollock in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) by re-apportioning unharvested pollock TAC in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 of the GOA. This action is necessary to provide opportunity for harvest of the 2017 pollock TAC, consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/09/01/2017-18575/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-inseason-adjustment-to-the-2017-gulf-of-alaska

FYI’s

Public Welcome To Attend Review Of Kuskokwim Fishing Season
KYUK by Anna Rose MacArthur – August 30, 2017
On Wednesday, the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission is leading a review of the fishing season behind us, and preparing for the one coming next summer.
http://kyuk.org/post/public-welcome-attend-review-kuskokwim-fishing-season

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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September 1, 2017