Alaska/Pacific Coast

Commercial fishing for Southeast red king crab to open this fall after six years
KFSK by Angela Denning – September 22, 2017
Southeast Alaska will open to commercial fishing for red king crab this fall for the first time in six years. As KFSK’s Angela Denning reports, the crab population has seen a steady increase, according to state surveys.
https://www.kfsk.org/2017/09/22/commercial-fishing-southeast-red-king-crab-open-fall-six-years/

Chignik fishermen slay record six million humpies
The unexpected banner pink year filled a gap after the sockeye run came in well below expectations, and helped push the Chignik salmon fishery past and estimated $15 million in ex-vessel value.
KDLG by Dave Bendinger – September 26, 2017
An incredible pink salmon run helped the Chignik salmon fishery rebound, after the sockeye run fell well below expectations. The fleet landed just over six million pinks, double the previous biggest harvest since statehood.
http://kdlg.org/post/chignik-fishermen-slay-record-six-million-humpies

National

Rep Young’s Magnuson Bill to Move Ahead with Input from Calif. Rep Huffman; Aim is No Poison Pills
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – September 27, 2017
Alaska’s Representative Don Young closed Tuesday’s hearing on four fisheries bills, by remarking to the panel, “We are going to use the vehicle of [HR] 200. I’m going to work with Mr. Huffman and see if we can’t come to some conclusion.

“The basic skeleton of the Magnuson Act … we’re going to keep the skeleton whole. Get those comments and suggestions to us, because we’re going to try to get something moving by October or November this year,” Young said.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced a discussion draft called “Strengthening Fishing Communities through Improving Science, Increasing Flexibility, and Modernizing Fisheries Management Act.” The discussion paper includes sections on Council transparency, flexibility in rebuilding fish stocks, Saltonstall-Kennedy Act reform, red snapper cooperative research and others.

Rep. Jared Huffman said after the hearing Tuesday that Democrats and Republicans have many agreements when it comes to fishery regulations and management.

However, he said previous attempts in recent years to amend and reauthorize the law have stalled because of “poison pill” riders that would exempt fisheries from conservation policies such as the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Protection Act.

“Instead of making meaningful improvements to our most important fisheries statute, this process has focused on weakening fundamental environmental protections in place of making meaningful improvements to our important fisheries management framework,” Huffman (D-San Rafael) said in his opening statement at the committee hearing. “This partisan process does a disservice to hardworking fishermen across the country including those in my district.”

Members from both sides of the aisle were in agreement that the law — known as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 — has worked to prevent overfishing and replenish overfished stocks as was intended upon its passage.

Two other bills were discussed and commented on at the hearing by invited witnesses. HR 3588  and HR 2023 are focused on modernizing recreational fisheries and managing red snapper in regional ways, respectively.

The hearing was before the Water, Power, and Industry Subcommittee of the larger House Committee on Natural Resources.

Witnesses included Chris Oliver, Director of NOAA Fisheries; Mayor Johnathan Mitchell of New Bedford; Mike Merrifield, Southeastern Fisheries Association; Susan Boggs, co-owner of a charter operation out of Alabama, and others.

Chairman Doug Lamborn (WY) opened the hearing saying “Many of you here today probably consider this to be a fishery hearing, but I assure you it is much more than that. …whether we are talking about a commercial, recreational, or charter boat operation, the working waterfront that provides shore side support, a boat manufacturer or your local mom and pop bait and tackle shop, today’s hearing is about supporting American small business. It’s my hope today that we will create a strong, bi-partisan MSA that supports jobs and our fishermen, and that supports the science data and process used in federal fisheries management.”

Jonathan Mitchell, Mayor of New Bedford, pushed back on the concept of “flexibility.”

“The term “flexibility” should not be understood as a euphemism for deregulation,” Mitchell said. “The councils are in the business of finely calibrating decisions in light of relevant environmental and economic data, and their own experience and expertise.

“In the discharge of their duties, they tend not to win friends either in the fishing industry or in the conservation community, and given the goals of Magnuson-Stevens, that’s probably the way it should be,” Mitchell said.

Susan Boggs, co-owner in a charter boating operation in Alabama, supported the current MSA.

“I am here today to tell you that MSA is working. This law was written to bring fisheries back from collapse, to ensure long-term sustainability for future generations, and to provide a conduit for stakeholders to be a part of the management process.

“There are several species of fish that are critical to the charter/for-hire sector in the Gulf of Mexico, but perhaps none more than red snapper. Since 2007, when annual catch limits became a requirement, the recreational sector’s quota for red snapper has tripled. MSA has worked for us.

“A suggestion that I would offer to this committee that would have a meaningful impact on the management of this fishery would be a Federal Red Snapper angler license,” she said.

“No one can tell you how many anglers target Red Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. This license does not have to be cost prohibitive. Even a $10 fee would provide better data on the number of anglers targeting this species and could generate millions of dollars that could be used for cost recovery, stock assessments and better landings data which should include more real-time reporting using current technology from private anglers.”

Chris Oliver listed challenges to NOAA, nationwide and how MSA can tackle them.  “We face formidable challenges managing recovering stocks to benefit both commercial and recreational user groups with fundamentally different goals and objectives, and who are experiencing increased fish interactions due to the strong management measures that have improved historically overfished populations.

“Together with our partners, it is essential that we continue to explore innovative, science-based management approaches and regional management tools. We must remain dedicated to exploring ways to maximize economic opportunities from wild-caught fisheries for commercial and recreational fishermen, processors, and communities. We are committed to working with Congress on the bills put forth by this subcommittee, to ensure that annual catch limits, accountability measures, stock rebuilding, and other aspects of our management construct are working, while protecting the overall, long-term conservation and sustainability of the nation’s fishery resources.”
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1077113/Rep-Youngs-Magnuson-Bill-to-Move-Ahead-with-Input-from-Calif-Rep-Huffman-Aim-is-No-Poison-Pills

Opinion

Opinion: Wild Alaska Salmon: A Resource to Celebrate
Morning Consult by Robin Samuelsen – September 21, 2017
When I travel outside of Alaska, friends are surprised when I ask a server if the salmon on the menu is wild or farmed, and whether it is from Alaska. For many non-Alaskans, salmon is salmon. They never stop to consider where it comes from or how it was raised.
https://morningconsult.com/opinions/wild-alaska-salmon-resource-celebrate/

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
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Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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September 27, 2017