Alaska/Pacific Coast

Halibut fishery extended two weeks due to unfilled quota
This is the first time an extension has been granted
CBC News –  September 1, 2017
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has granted an extension to the halibut fishing season for the first time.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-halibut-fisheing-extension-1.4271947

National

MSC Wants Industry Input on Major Changes to Their Certification Process
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – September 5, 2017
The Marine Stewardship Council is soliciting comments from the public on several proposed changes to the certification process, a process that has been criticized recently for allowing vessels in a certified fishery to fish using unapproved methods and, keeping those fish separate, deliver a part-certified, part non-certified load.

Industry and the environmental NGOs have called out inequities in the certification process for years, but they are key components of MSC’s business model. MSC relies on licensing fees and royalties for use of its ecolabel — the well known blue checkmark. The more clients that have certification and thus have earned access to the label (although cannot legally use it until the fees are paid), the more revenue for MSC.

So from the beginning MSC has allowed their certification to be purchased by clients who fish part of a fishery, creating a steeply sloped playing field for other fleets, catching and processing the same fish in the same area with the same gear, during the same time but without the ecolabel. MSC had to change the meaning of “fishery” to make their concept work, but other problems developed over the years as a result of that decision.

However, MSC changing its business model is not part of their request on September 1 for comments on changes to their certification process. Still, these real-world problems will be part of input they get.

Already a coaltion called On the Hook have petitioned MSC not to certify a tuna fishery in the Pacific because of the use of fishery-aggregation-devices (FADs), which are not sustainable or allowed, during the same trip that tuna are caught without using FADs, which is sustainable and allowed. (See story.)

MSC’s response to On the Hook, which is part of the document they’d like feedback on, offers three  main options as a solution. this is under the component called Unit of Assessment (UoA):

1. Require better reporting from the vessels to verify which tuna was caught sustainably and which not, although they offer no plan to verify the accounting;
2. Require the client to enter into a Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP), which could eventually result in a full certification of that fishery, although because of excessive complexities and the liklihood it would result in a new assessment process, it was not recommended, and
3. Require that all activity on a single trip must be certified.
The discussion following these and other proposals illustrates the difficulties in matching MSC’s standard with real world managing of fish stocks. The fishing industry is a study in evolving sustainability patterns (ecosystem fisheries management is replacing managing individual species, for instance) but it is also a place where individuals make choices to fish unsustainably, sometimes even illegally. In the real world, those individuals are prosecuted. Their behavior is not allowed as part of a certified fishery.

A big part of what MSC’s efforts are aimed at, and which have been successful, is to recognize and reward sustainable fishing practices, influence the choices people make when buying seafood, and work with partners to expand the share of sustainably managed seafoods in the market.

Another contentious issue besides Unit of Assessment, and likely more controversial and far-reaching proposal is to extend MSC’s Chain of Custody and requirements for traceability to the individual fishing vessels.

“The MSC requirements covering the movement of fish from vessels into the supply chain normally results in Chain of Custody certification beginning at the first sale of certified fish on-shore,” the discussion document explains. “The first CoC certificate holder is most often an on-shore entity that buys certified fish from a vessel or member of the fishery client group.”

In order to make sure only certified fish are in the supply chain, MSC requires fisheries to segregate certified from non-certified  so that traceability can go back to the client.

However, traceability risks in fisheries are different and are handled differently in MSC’s assessment.

So MSC proposes to put all fisheries in three categories of risk assessment:

• low risk – requiring description of risks and mitigation in the fishery report, but no verification,

• medium risk – requiring basic independent verification of traceability systems, or

high risk – requiring a version of CoC certification adapted for use with at-sea activities (“Fisheries CoC”).

Other proposals range from harmonizing overlapping certified fisheries, changes in the suspension of a certificate process, streamlining the assessment process, auditor personnel competencies, and traceability for ingredients regarding fish feed.

The comment period will run from 1st to 30th September and can be accessed via improvements.msc.org.

The revisions to the MSC Fishery Certification Requirements and Chain of Custody Standard will be released in late 2018.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1074477/MSC-Wants-Industry-Input-on-Major-Changes-to-Their-Certification-Process

NMFS Relaxes Some Gulf IFQ and Dealer Reporting Rules in Wake of Hurricane Harvey
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – September 5, 2017
The National Marine Fisheries Service is relaxing some individual fishing quota (IFQ) program reporting and dealer reporting programs in the Gulf of Mexico due to catastrophic conditions related to Hurricane Harvey.

Between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15, specific to the commercial reef fish and coastal migratory pelagic fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, the NMFS Southeast Regional Administrator determined that Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic conditions in coastal and adjacent counties in the state of Texas, and Cameron and Vermilion parishes in Louisiana. Consistent with those regulations, the administrator has authorized any dealer in the affected area who does not have access to electronic reporting to delay reporting of trip tickets to NMFS, according to the Federal Register notice. The administrator authorized IFQ participants within the affected area to use paper-based forms, if necessary, for basic required administrative functions, e.g., landing transactions, during the same timeframe.

“This temporary rule announcing the determination of catastrophic conditions and allowance of alternative methods for completing required IFQ and other dealer reporting administrative functions is intended to facilitate continuation of IFQ and dealer reporting operations during the period of catastrophic conditions,” the FR notice said. NMFS will continue to monitor the situation and publish additional notices, if needed.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25. Strong winds and flooding affected communities throughout coastal and eastern Texas and southwest Louisiana, resulting in power outages and damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. As a result, the administrator determined catastrophic conditions exist in all coastal and adjacent counties of Texas and in Cameron and Vermilion Parishes, Louisiana.

The notice said that even though NMFS is allowing dealers to delay landing reports, they should report all landings as soon as possible. Assistance for Federal dealers in effected areas is available at the Fisheries Monitoring Branch, 1-305-361-4581.

Many IFQ dealers likely already have paper forms for use when NMFS declares the existence of catastrophic conditions. Paper forms are also available from the region upon request. The electronic systems for submitting information to NMFS will continue to be available to all participants, and participants in the affected areas are encouraged to continue using these systems, if accessible.

The administrative program functions available to fishermen and dealers in Texas and part of Louisiana will be limited under the paper-based system; IFQ shares or allocation transfers will be unavailable during that time. Assistance in complying with the requirements of the paper-based system will be available via the Catch Share Support line, 1-866-425-7627 Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1074535/NMFS-Relaxes-Some-Gulf-IFQ-and-Dealer-Reporting-Rules-in-Wake-of-Hurricane-Harvey

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 09/05/2017
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amount of Pacific cod from vessels using jig gear and catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet (18.3 meters) length overall (LOA) using hook-and-line gear to catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 meters) LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2017 total allowable catch of Pacific cod to be harvested.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/09/05/2017-18733/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-reallocation-of-pacific-cod-in-the-bering-sea

FYI’s

Course aims to produce future seafood leaders
Cordova Times – September 1, 2017
Applications are due by Sept. 30 for the sixth Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute, a program developed by Alaska Sea Grant for employees with the potential to move up the ladder in the processing sector of the industry.
http://www.thecordovatimes.com/2017/09/01/course-aims-produce-future-seafood-leaders/

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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September 5, 2017