NPFMC wrestles with halibut bycatch in Bering Sea Fisheries managers hope to approve an abundance-based prohibited species catch plan for Amendment 80 fleet Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - October 27, 2020 Federal fisheries managers aiming to limit incidental halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea are moving forward with alternative options to resolve allowable bycatch based on abundance of the species. https://www.thecordovatimes.com/2020/10/27/npfmc-wrestles-with-halibut-bycatch-in-bering-sea/ Alaska Board of Fisheries faces backlog of issues after pandemic delays Anchorage Daily News by Laine Welch - October 27, 2020 Many Alaska fishermen are likely to be involved in regulatory meetings next spring instead of being out on the water. And Alaska legislators will be distracted by hearings for hundreds of unconfirmed appointments as they tackle contentious budgets and other pressing issues. https://www.adn.com/business-economy/2020/10/27/alaska-board-of-fisheries-faces-backlog-of-issues-after-pandemic-delays/ West Coast So Far, So Good: Early Tests Show Promise for California Crab Season SeafoodNews.com by Susan Chambers - October 27, 2020 As the West Coast prepares for another winter Dungeness crab season with new rules, a little bright spot has appeared: very low domoic acid levels in California crab. The California Department of Public Health released testing results last week that showed only one crab off of San Francisco with a level higher than 30 parts per million, at 46 ppm. More areas have yet to be tested. Still, the results are good news for fishermen and processors hoping for a Nov. 15 start for the Central Califorinia or "San Francisco" crab season that has been delayed weeks or months in past years. "More and more crab pots are showing up each day on the piers," Alioto Lazio Fish Co. said in an email to their customers. "Fishermen are scurrying around to get their boats and pots ready to go once they are given the green light." At the same time, crabbers will have to abide by new rules to decrease or avoid whale entanglements. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, conservation groups and fishermen have been working on the rules for the past few years, since elevated entanglements became an issue. The regulations go into effect Nov. 1 and require closures or reductions of the number of traps in certain Dungeness crab fishing areas when higher concentrations of whales or sea turtles are present. Areas can also be closed due to confirmed whale or sea turtle entanglements. A form of electronic monitoring must also be in place by 2023. Fishermen can also test and, if approved, use alternative fishing gear that may lower the risk of entanglements. One of those types is “pop-up” gear, to be used in areas closed to conventional gear, according to a press release from the conservation group Oceana. “We commend these new regulations as a significant step toward preventing tragic entanglements of whales and sea turtles while still supporting an incredibly important fishery and providing opportunities for all of us to enjoy fresh crab here in California,” Oceana Senior Scientist and California Campaign Director Dr. Geoff Shester said in a press release. Shester is also a member of the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group that advises fishery managers on management measures and gear innovations to prevent entanglements. “These new regulations will help make sure that while trying to catch crab we’re not also harming whales and sea turtles. We welcome the new opportunity to test and expand innovative pop-up gear to allow for safer and more sustainable crab fishing in the future. Sadly, gear entanglement occurs everywhere in the world’s oceans, and if we can solve the crab pot line problem here, we could help provide solutions to prevent entanglements around the world.” Pop-up fishing gear—sometimes called “ropeless” gear—involves systems where lines remain with the trap on the ocean floor instead of hanging unattended in the water for days connected to a surface buoy. In some pop-up methods, a signal from a fishing boat releases a flotation device connected to the trap on the ocean floor, and fishermen can retrieve the trap upon arriving. Since 2018, Oceana has been partnering with Dungeness crab fishermen to conduct initial tests of pop-up gear off California. The California Ocean Protection Council approved funding for pop-up gear testing in the upcoming crab season with support from the California Dungeness crab working group. Crab pots, with vertical lines in the water to each pot, have historically been the most common gear type connected with whale entanglements. Warmer waters in recent years have resulted in whales feeding closer to shore for their prey, overlapping in areas where crabbers set their gear. “Whales and sea turtles swim thousands of miles each year to find food off our shores, and recently too often they’ve found themselves tangled up in fishing lines instead,” said Shester. “We are working together with fishermen, scientists, disentanglement teams, and fishery managers to find ways to protect these incredible animals while maintaining a vibrant crab fishery.” The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released final regulations after an extensive stakeholder process involving public input from Californians through their Whale Safe Fisheries program. Oceana recently released report on whale and sea turtle entanglements off the U.S. West Coast that can be found here: https://usa.oceana.org/sites/default/files/2020/10/26/oceana_whale_safe_oceans_report.pdf . Washington and Oregon also are instituting new crab rules to reduce entanglements for the 2020-2021 crab season. Some of those rules include gear marking, hot spot closures and more. The states also are working with NMFS for an incidental take permit for their state crab fisheries. All three states will begin testing for Dungeness crab meat recovery rates according to Tri-state agreements. Washington conducted an optional early round of meat recovery testing that showed a Westport pick-out rate of 19.6% and a Chinook-area pick-out rate of 18.7% -- both far below the 23% necessary for opening. The season in Northern California, Oregon and Washington can open Dec. 1, if meat recovery rates and domoic acid levels allow. All three states will do additional testing in November. https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1183896/So-Far-So-Good-Early-Tests-Show-Promise-for-California-Crab-Season International Chinese consumers shifting seafood-buying preferences from foodservice to retail Seafood Source by Mark Godfrey - October 27, 2020 Imported seafood has taken a confidence hit in the minds of Chinese consumers, Mike Vinkenborg, project leader at Beijing-based market research agency Daxue Consulting. Numerous outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to imported seafood, and now vendors must work hard to win back consumer trust, Vinkenborg told SeafoodSource. https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/supply-trade/chinese-consumers-shifting-seafood-buying-preferences-from-foodservice-to-retail Environment/Science High tech weather buoys boost level of maritime safety in PWS Partnership between NOAA and PWSRCAC enhances environmental protection efforts Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - October 23, 2020 New weather buoys deployed at the Port of Valdez to promote environmentally safe operation of the busy Valdez Marine Terminal and associated tankers are also being hailed as a safety asset for a variety of other maritime users in Prince William Sound. https://www.thecordovatimes.com/2020/10/23/high-tech-weather-buoys-boost-level-of-maritime-safety-in-pws/
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