ADF&G Commissioner Addresses Disaster Relief, Cook Inlet Closure, Large Salmon Forecast for 2021
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - March 31, 2021
Alaska's Governor Mike Dunleavy has received 11 requests for fisheries disaster declarations, said Doug Vincent-Lange, Alaska's Commissioner of Fish and Game, in an update at the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce's ComFish Expo.
Noting the good news of over half of Alaska's population now vaccinated, and shots now available for anyone over 16, Vincent-Lange said, "I don’t see why you wouldn’t all be able to fish this year.”
However, the poor returns on salmon and lower abundance on crab and Pacific cod resulted in requests for disaster declarations from 11 areas around the state.
"Many fisheries had poor returns," Vincent-Lange said. "We had bad ocean survival across the north Gulf. We have received disaster declaration requests for the salmon fisheries of 2020 Norton Sound, Yukon River, Kuskokwim River, Chignik, Upper Cook Inlet, PWS, and Southeast Alaska salmon fisehreis, 2018-2020 Copper River salmon fisheries, 2018 Upper Cook In let inside Set net fishery, the 2020 Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod fishery, and the 2019-2020 Bering Sea tanner crab fishery."
The governor forwarded the requests for disaster declarations to the Secretary of Commerce this month. The Secretar will decide which fisheries may be eligible for disaster relief, the Commissioner said.
"There is currently no federal funding available for new disaster declarations but we are also working with our Congressional delegation on ensuring that there’s adequate funding for the requests," Vincent-Lang said.
"I sent a letter to our Congressional delegation in March of this year informing them of the request that has been sent and the need for funding. Disaster requests are not quick fixes. I know there’s a lot of frustration on the length it takes to get money out the door."
Vincent-Lange told participants that new funding from "Pacific Salmon Treaty money" will fully fund commercial fisheries "research and management infrastructure under the gov’s proposed budget this year."
"On the federal front, we are making significant progress on our state priorities at the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. We have a great team there, lead by Rachel. We are poised to take action on the halibut abundance based management, Bering Sea rationalization, observer coverage and cost containment, halibut RQE programs, the last of which requires Congressional action," he said. "We are considering opportunities for initiating assessments of the Gulf cod and pollock fisheries."
The Commissioner updated industry on the Cook Inlet salmon fishery which had been managed by the state with the permission of the federal managers in federal waters, then was part of a legal challenge to get the federal authorities to manage the fishery under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, then was dropped by both the state and the federal managers last year when the Council agreed to take no action on the issue. That regulation has not yet been promulgated, but is expected to be later this year so will likely be implemented in 2022.
"The state was not willing to accept the delegation for the National Marine Fisheries Service to prosecute a state commercial drift gillnet fishery in the federal waters of Cook Inlet," Vincent-Lange said. "Simply put, I was not comfortable in having state management authority under the annual scrutiny of the NMFS and the new federal bureaucracy that resulted.
"This was not an easy decision. But accepting federal oversight simply opened the doors for federal involvement in sound fisheries that I was not comfortable with. Once this decision was made, the federal government had a choice to independently manage the federal water fisheries which they chose not to do. The only option left on the table was to close the federal waters.
"The council vote was unanimous, including all Alaskans and Outside council members with the exception of the NMFS who abstained," ADF&G's Commissioner said.
"We are now working with the Congressional delegation to insure that these waters can remain open and managed by the state without federal oversight. It is my hope that Congress will fix this and that we can reopen these waters under state management. This year the waters will remain open until the federal regulation is finalized," he said.
In a Q&A session after his presentation, Vincent-Lange noted that this year's salmon fishery will take place under state management, as it was prior to the court case. Once the federal rule is finally adopted, the fishery will close unless there is a work-around from Congress.
In a rundown of current fisheries, Vincent-Lange reported that the "groundfish fisheries are off and running with some Covid-related hiccups.
"Multiple plant closures resulted in a 30% decline in pollock harvest volumes in 2021 with the impacts concentrated on the inshore sector. Pollock production data in January /February suggest lower roe yields compared to previous years. This aligns with reports that early closures unfortunately coincided with peak roe conditions. That said, pollock surimi prices are up 32% in January of 2021 compared to the same month last year.
"Overall cod TACS are down 12% for 2021 although the return of the directed Pacific cod fisheries in the Gulf [of Alaska] is a bright spot for some," he added.
Herring's sac roe fisheries are underway with three openings in Sitka resulting in about 5,000 ton harvested to date and another 10,000 tons expected.
"The Kodiak sac roe herring fishery will open April 1 with a GLH [Guideline Harvest Limit] of nearly 7,900 tons, the highest on record," he said. "Togiak's herring fishery will open in May with a 42,632 ton pre-season forecast."
New records have been set for Dungness crab harvest at 11.5 million lbs this year. Tanner crab is at lower abundance levels throughout Alaska.
"In the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, eastern Aleutian golden king crab fishery ended with a full TAC being harvsted," Vincent-Lange said. "The western AI golden king crab fishery is open until April 30 and about 15% of TAC will go unharvested. We’ve received a request to extend that season to May 31.
"The Bering Sea snow crab fishery is ongoing with about 70% of the TAC landed thus far. The fishery will close May 15 in the eastern area and March 31 in the west," he added.
The Western Bering Sea tanner crab fishery closes today with about 40% of the tac has been taken, he noted, adding that ADF&G has received a request to extend the season two weeks, which they are considering. "However, we do have concerns on the overlap of tanner crab matting and molting season," he said.
Finally, the 2021 salmon forecast is 190.1 million fish, which is comprissed of 269,000 Chinook, 46.6 million sockeye, 3.89 million coho, 149.2 million pinks, 15.3 million chum. That is 63.5 million more pink salmon that last year; 203,000 more sockeye salmon; 6.7 million more chums, and 1.4 million more coho.
Alaska Fisheries Report April 1 2021
KMXT - April 1, 2021 Alaska
On This Week’s Alaska Fisheries Report with Terry Haines: Balancing Nushagak KIng Salmon Escapement with the Sockeye Harvest, plus Herds of Herring!
Alaska to acquire habitat along Kasilof River via US grant
AP News - April 1, 2021
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — Alaska will acquire about a half square mile (1.3 square kilometers) of habitat along the Kasilof River through a federal grant.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/02/2021
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council's (NPFMC) Ecosystem Committee will meet April 20, 2021.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Pollock in the West Yakutat District in the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/02/2021
NMFS is opening directed fishing for pollock in the West Yakutat District of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the 2021 total allowable catch of pollock in the West Yakutat District of the GOA.
Peter Pan Seafood Adds New Faces to Executive Team After Announcing Barry Collier's Departure as CEO
Urner Barry by Amanda Buckle - March 31, 2021
Peter Pan Seafood is making some more executive changes just a few hours after announcing that CEO Barry Collier would be stepping down and transitioning to a senior advisory role. Three new faces are joining the team at Peter Pan—Mark Foster, Steve Minor and Jonathan Thorpe.
Mark Foster, who has previously held a consulting position with the company over the last few months, will be serving as Peter Pan’s new Chief Financial Officer. He previously served as the CFO of Anchorage School District before starting his own consulting company.
“When I can go to big box and national retail stores and buy Peter Pan product, knowing all the people behind that product and the work they put into it, that’s special,” said Foster. “What made me excited about joining the team is that there are already a lot of talented people here throughout the organization, and the new ownership group who are passionate about seafood as an industry because of what it can do for people—from the people who eat seafood because it’s a healthy choice to the people who work in this industry because it’s a good job.”
According to a press release from the company, Foster will be working alongside Steve Minor, who will be taking on the position of manager of business development. Minor has a rich history in Alaska seafood, previously serving as president of the Saint Paul Fishing Company, Chairman for the Communications Committee of the Marine Conservation Alliance, and Executive Director of the North Pacific Crab Association. For the past five years he’s been serving as a Benchmark Committee Member for the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI). In his new role Minor will be exploring the potential development of new resources, community development and more.
“It’s an exciting time at Peter Pan. It’s a world-class company recently back under U.S. ownership, and not just U.S. but Alaska ownership,” said Minor. “I really believe the next stage of development in the industry in Alaska is more value-added products being produced here, and the new ownership group believes in that too. I’m excited to be working alongside so many other smart and talented people committed to development within an industry with such a storied history.”
Rounding out the new hires is Jonathan Thorpe, who will be working to increase access to swimming resources through investment, strategically aligned partnerships and direct sourcing, in addition to developing downstream products and customers. Having grown up in Alaska, Thorpe also has a rich history in seafood. He got his first job commercial salmon fishing though family and friends before going on to serve as CFO and Chief Investment and Strategy Officer for the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association. More recently he’s served as the Executive Vice President of Market Development for Blue Harvest Fisheries, and Vice President of Resource Development for Mark Foods.
“I’m excited to be part of this team,” said Thorpe. “In the seafood industry, people and businesses earn their history, Peter Pan is one of those great stories. That, coupled with the new ownership group, made up of creative thinkers coming together to say, ‘How can we be different, do something unconventional, let’s grow past where we are today.’ It’s great to see. I’m really looking forward to how this new team can use our diverse knowledge and experience to let this opportunity flourish. There are already many good, hard working people here that are ready to thrive. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
It’s been a big year of changes for Peter Pan Seafood. News broke in early November that the company’s long-time owner, Maruha Nichiro, would be selling a major portion of the assets to an American holding company made up of Northwest Fish Company and McKinley Capital. The sale was finalized on December 31, 2020. Following the sale the company made some personnel changes, hiring former Silver Bay Seafoods COO Jon Hickman to serve as their new Executive VP of Operations, and Kevin Larsen, who previously worked at Bornstein Seafoods and Icicle Seafoods, to serve as their new VP of International Sales and Business Development.
As mentioned above, CEO Barry Collier is stepping down to transition to a senior advisory role, but Rodger May is set to continue leading the company as President and Chief Growth Officer.
* New Contact Information: BarryCollierBDC@gmail.com, Cell 206 399 4286
A new Netflix Original titled, Seaspiracy, premiered 24 March. In an effort to help reinforce considerations and dialog based on appropriate scientific rigor and facts, we will be highlighting several blogs from www.sustainablefisheries-uw.org over the next several days.
Here is a good one from September 2020:
Having our fish and eating it too: Maximizing food production and biodiversity using good management
Managing the trade-off between food production and biodiversity is a major part of conservation and sustainability—crops and pasture have long replaced wilderness as the dominant landscape on Earth—managers need to find solutions that feed everyone while minimizing environmental impact. Fisheries are no different. Scientists and managers need to find the right balance between seafood harvest and biodiversity impacts like bycatch.
A paper out this month entitled, The trade-off between biodiversity and sustainable fish harvest with area-based management (open access), shows how regulating fishing effort by area and gear can produce a win-win solution for food production and biodiversity.
Ray Hilborn, one of the lead authors on the study (and founder of this website), said: “Our paper shows that it is possible, or even quite easy, to maintain high levels of biodiversity without sacrificing much food production or fishing profit. The key is stopping fishing practices that impact biodiversity in areas of high biodiversity importance, for example, bottom trawling where there are high densities of corals and sponges.”
The paper goes on to critique the global effort to ban fishing in 30% of the ocean saying that a more nuanced approach, using well-designed, science-based gear restrictions would be a more effective approach: “It seems unlikely that no-take areas are necessary to protect biodiversity if gear and area-specific regulation of fishing effort can be implemented… The closure of the large portions of the Aleutian Islands to bottom trawling has protected much of the most sensitive benthic communities and streamer lines in longline fisheries have been much more effective at protecting marine birds than setting aside 30% of the area as a no-take area.”
The full article can be found here:
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