Alaska/Pacific Coast

King fishing over, trollers near end of summer season
KCAW by Robert Woolsey – September 12, 2016
The second summer troll opening for king salmon in Southeast Alaska is finally over.
The 22-day opening was the second-longest on record for the fishery, which is scheduled by the Department of Fish & Game only after it’s gotten a handle on the number of fish landed during the first summer troll opening on July 1st.
http://www.kcaw.org/2016/09/12/king-fishing-trollers-near-end-summer-season/

NGOs Sue NMFS to Protect West Coast Whale Populations from Entanglement on Sablefish Pots
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – September 13, 2016
Conservation groups today filed a notice of intent to sue NMFS to protect endangered whales from mile-long drift gillnets and strings of sablefish pots off the West Coast.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network submitted the 60-day legal notice. The groups noted two years of record reports of whales entangled in fishing gear off the West Coast — more than 60 in 2015 alone — 40 whales were reportedly entangled as of June 30, putting 2016 on pace to break records again.

The lawsuit was filed just as the gillnet season is getting underway, where whale entanglements in both the fisheries likely already exceed the number allowed in the expired permits the groups said in a press release.

The sablefish pot fishery consists of strings of approximately 35 pots or traps on the bottom of the ocean with weighted line between the traps. Whales get entangled in the ground line between the traps and in the line from the buoy to the traps.

“We can’t stand by and watch as whales tangle up and die in fishing gear. It’s just not right,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center. “The situation has gotten worse in recent years, and it’s frustrating that the federal government hasn’t done what’s needed to protect whales along the West Coast.”

The groups said any entanglement of an endangered whale in gillnets or pots violates the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“Killing endangered whales to catch swordfish off the California coast is a crime against nature and needs to stop immediately,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “It is unfathomable that the National Marine Fisheries Service is willfully violating federal law and allowing this to happen, and we will do what it takes to stop it.”

Last week the Fisheries Service finalized a decision to change the Endangered Species Act status of many humpback whales, downlisting the Mexico population that feeds off California and Oregon from “endangered” to “threatened.” But the Fisheries Service cited increasing entanglements as a reason why the recovering Mexico population was not being stripped of all its Endangered Species Act protections, as originally proposed, saying current protections will remain in place. The Central America population remained listed as “endangered.”
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1033393/NGOs-Sue-NMFS-to-Protect-West-Coast-Whale-Populations-from-Entanglement-on-Sablefish-Pots

National

Majority of US Seafood Producers Call to Stop Undermining Magnuson with End Run for Marine Monuments
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – September 13, 2016
Washington DC. – The US has one of the most highly successful systems for managing living marine resources in the world.  Under the Magnuson Act, stakeholders come together to determine fisheries management policy, guided by the best available science.  The result has been a huge rebuilding of US fish stocks, and the protection of essential habitat.  Many tradeoffs have been made to create closed areas, and to preserve fishing rights where coastal conditions support them.

The keys to this success are first, the decision process is completely open and transparent.  Every argument and decision is made in open forums, and according to the best available science.  This limits the ability to use fisheries resources to score political points.

Both Canada and Europe’s fisheries suffered greatly as governments for years abused their authority by trading fishing privileges for other political favors; with the result that these stocks have been significantly overfished. Only in the last few years has this process begun to be reversed.

Use of the antiquities act to create marine monuments, although legal, makes an end run around both state and federal management systems, and in short trades monument designations, made without public review,  for political gain.

Today, in advance of the “Our Oceans” conference being held later this week at the State Department, the National Coalition for Fishing Communities (NCFC) delivered a letter to the White House calling on the President to refrain from designating new marine monuments under the Antiquities Act. Copies of the letter were also delivered to the offices of Senators representing the states of the signers. (Letter)

The letter has over 900 fishing industry signers and is supported by 35 fishing organizations that together represent a significant majority of domestic seafood producers  It urges the President to conserve marine resources through the federal fisheries management process established by the bipartisan Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management Act (MSA).

“The federal fisheries management process is among the most effective systems for managing living marine resources in the world,” the letter states. “The misuse of the Antiquities Act to create a marine monument is a repudiation of the past and ongoing efforts of almost everyone involved to continue to make Magnuson-Stevens management even more effective.”

The NCFC members join an ever-growing list of fishing organizations and individuals opposing new ocean monuments via use of the Antiquities Act. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Council Coordination Committee, and over two dozen individual fish and seafood industry trade organizations have previously written to the White House asking for the MSA continue to guide fisheries management.

Mayors from major East and West coast ports have previously expressed their concerns with monument designations in letters to the White House. NCFC members have also spoke out in opposition to designating a monument off the coast of New England, which would hurt the valuable red crab, swordfish, tuna, and offshore lobster fisheries.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1033312/Majority-of-US-Seafood-Producers-Call-to-Stop-Undermining-Magnuson-with-End-Run-for-Marine-Monuments

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 09/13/2016
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council submitted Amendment 47 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) to NMFS for review. If approved, Amendment 47 would exempt eastern Chionoecetes bairdi Tanner (EBT) and western C. bairdi
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/13/2016-21824/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-bering-sea-and-aleutian-islands-crab

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Exchange of Flatfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 09/13/2016
NMFS is exchanging unused rock sole Community Development Quota (CDQ) for yellowfin sole CDQ acceptable biological catch (ABC) reserves in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2016 total allowable catch of yellowfin sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area to be harvested.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/13/2016-21941/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-exchange-of-flatfish-in-the-bering-sea-and

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 13, 2016