Alaska/Pacific Coast

Another record high harvest of Yukon coho
KIYU by Tim Bodony – September 6, 2016
For the third year in a row, a record high number of coho salmon have been caught in the lower Yukon commercial fishery.
http://www.alaskapublic.org/2016/09/06/another-record-high-harvest-of-yukon-coho/

The Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT by Jay Barrett – September 8, 2016
Coming up in this edition, we look north to the coho run on the Yukon and to fish in the increasingly accessible Arctic Ocean. They don’t mess around trying to protect Columbia River salmon, and, there ain’t nothing like hands-on training. We had help from KIYU’s Tim Bodony in Galena, Alaska Energy Desk’s Zoe Sobel in Unalaska, KUOW’s Cassandra Profita in Seattle, KMXT’s Kayla Desroches in Kodiak and KTOO’s Jermey Hsieh in Juneau.
http://kmxt.org/2016/09/alaska-fisheries-report-8-september-2016/

Groundfish Industry Voices Frustrations About Catch Shares Program
SEAFOOD.COM by Susan Chambers – September 9, 2016
The West Coast trawl catch shares program five-year review kicked off with a series of public hearings and already some common themes have emerged: the non-whiting shoreside sector is underutilizing its allocation, monitoring costs are affecting both processors and fishermen; and sablefish has become a constraining species.

“We’ve worked hard to bring this program together,” Coos Bay Trawlers Executive Director Steve Bodnar told state and federal fishery managers at a Coos Bay, Oregon, hearing Thursday, “but it hasn’t treated all of us fairly.”

Bodnar said the at-sea whiting sectors, the catcher-processors and motherships, seem to be doing OK. Captains of some whiting catcher vessels testified to that fact in California and also indicate they were doing better than they had during the pre-catch shares management regime.

That leaves the shoreside sector, with more than 30 species of groundfish covered under the quota program, to struggle with high catches of some species, like petrale and blackcod, while making very low catches of others with large volumes available to harvest.

For example, said Mike Okoniewski of Pacific Seafood, being able to access more sablefish could increase the Dover sole harvest. That could mean an additional $15 million in the pockets of fishermen, processors and coastal communities – not to mention state and federal agencies.

Under the catch shares system, a provision was implemented that would allow trawlers to make use of “gear-switching,” to catch blackcod using fixed gear instead of trawl nets. An unintended consequence of that regulation resulted in large amounts of sablefish quota going for a directed fixed-gear fishery, instead of blackcod being used as a directed fishery plus access to deepwater stocks like Dover sole and thornyheads.

“Blackcod should be done with a trawl net,” said Bill Allen, captain of the F/V Cape Foulweather, at the Coos Bay meeting.

Other processors and Charleston Harbormaster John Buckley spoke to the direct economic consequences of the quota program.

Buckley said he sees fishermen struggling financially almost every day and advocated for a change in the program.

The Port of Coos Bay is facing an increased number of derelict vessels, Buckley said. Some fishermen opt to just walk away because they can’t maintain their boats or pay their moorage fees or other bills. And those costs are increasing: fuel, moorage rates, infrastructure costs all are trending upward.

“It’s been difficult for some fishermen to adapt,” he said.

Hallmark Fisheries’ Crystal Adams said the Charleston processor had 21 filleters prior to the quota program; now she has six.

“We lost 46 jobs over the last five years that aren’t coming back,” she said, adding that the plant has gone 24 days without receiving any groundfish.

Okoniewski added that in Pacific Seafood’s plant in Eureka, Calif., had 40 filleters and now is down to 13. That plant, too, has had long stretches in between groundfish landings.

“We lost every filleter we have,” said Tom Wright, the dock manager at Bandon Pacific, in Charleston, “and I haven’t unloaded a drag boat in six months.”

Any groundfish that is delivered is trucked directly to Pacific Shrimp, in Newport, for processing. Shoreside whiting boats that used to deliver to Bandon Pacific daily during the summer now deliver directly to Newport. The captain of one of the local vessels that delivered whiting and groundfish to Bandon Pacific now leases all of his quota to other boats. He now fishes for pink shrimp and crab instead.

Bodnar also mentioned that fishermen have chosen to pursue other fisheries because they couldn’t make a living in groundfish anymore, urging the state and federal managers in charge of the hearing to make improvements to the program quickly.

“We have done everything we can to rebuild the stocks,” Bodnar said. “… When can we start having steaks at night instead of bologna sandwiches?”

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will hold more hearings throughout September, accept public comment at its September meeting in Boise, Idaho, and also appoint a Community Advisory Board to discuss the program and develop potential remedies.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1033066/Groundfish-Industry-Voices-Frustrations-About-Catch-Shares-Program

Outlook is dismal for B.C.’s wild salmon
Vancouver Sun by Randy Shore –  September 10, 2016
Wild B.C. salmon may be on its way to luxury item status.
“We are seeing prices beyond what I ever expected it to reach,” said Guy Dean, vice-president of Albion Fisheries. “King salmon (Chinook) are going for $13 or $14 a pound in whole form, not even filets. It’s starting to become a luxury item.”
http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/what-is-the-future-of-bcs-iconic-fish

Labeling and Marketing

3MMI – Our Advice to Buyers as Large-Size Pollock Fillets Still Scarce In Alaska
TradexFoods –  September 12, 2016
3-Minute Market Insight:
Alaska Pollock Continues to Land Small During C Season. Larger sized fillets may not be available until closer to January or February, caution many West Coast vendors. Our advice for buyers leading up to the new year is to…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn_V5TQXv_c

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management in the Gulf of Alaska Trawl Fisheries; Amendment 103
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 09/12/2016
NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 103 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). Amendment 103 and this final rule allow NMFS to reapportion unused Chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) within and among specific trawl sectors in the Central and Western Gulf of Alaska (GOA), based on specific criteria and within specified limits. Amendment 103 and this final rule do not increase the current combined annual PSC limit of 32,500 Chinook salmon that applies to Central and Western GOA trawl sectors under the FMP. Amendment 103 and this final rule promote more flexible management of GOA trawl Chinook salmon PSC, increase the likelihood that groundfish resources are more fully harvested, reduce the potential for fishery closures, and maintain the overall Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Central and Western GOA. Amendment 103 and this final rule are intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/12/2016-21808/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-chinook-salmon-bycatch-management-in-the-gulf-of

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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September 12, 2016