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Friday, November 19, 2021

National MSA reauthorization debated in US House of Representatives Seafood Source by Steve Bittenbender - November 18, 2021 Two bills that would reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act received a hearing on Tuesday, 16 November, in the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/environment-sustainability/msa-reauthorization-debated-in-us-house-of-representatives Environment/Science EPA Extends Deadline to Consider New Data in Long-term Protection of Bristol Bay SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - November 18, 2021 Yesterday the regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office in Seattle extended a deadline from November 29, 2021 to May 31, 2022 to consider a “substantial volume of new information” since the initial Proposed Determination (PD) to protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine was first issued under the Obama Administration in 2014. The announcement is the latest twist in a nearly two-decade long struggle to enact permanent protections for the world’s largest wild salmon run and the environment it needs to survive. During the Trump administration, EPA reversed its own 2014 decision saying it had not determined that the development or operation of the mine posed a threat to the watershed or the salmon runs. This year, despite lower than expected salmon returns in many parts of the state, Bristol Bay delivered over 60 million salmon to the area, including 41 million salmon to market and nearly 20 million to lay eggs in upriver nursery areas, beginning new generations in the Bay’s five river systems. "The Bristol Bay Watershed supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world and highlights the essential benefits that clean water provides to the environment and to communities across the country," said EPA Region 10 Acting Regional Administrator Michelle Pirzadeh. ”Today's announcement underscores EPA's commitment to making science-based decisions to protect our natural environment, prevent pollution, and protect a sustainable future for all Americans.” In the summer of 2020, President Trump’s son came to Bristol Bay on a fishing trip and later Tweeted that he urged his father to protect the area. On Oct. 29, 2021, the Alaska District court ruled in favor of EPA's request to remand and vacate the agency's Aug. 30, 2019 withdrawal of its 2014 PD. That ruling reinstated the 2014 PD, reinitiated the CWA Section 404(c) process, and triggered regulatory deadlines, including a final determination "within 30 days after the conclusion of the public hearing.” The deadline is now May 31, 2022. If a CWA 404(c) determination is finalized, the agency said, it would help protect waters over the long term that are essential to commercial, subsistence, and recreational fisheries, and other activities that support Alaska Natives and communities in the state. "Our Tribes look forward to engaging in this critical process for Bristol Bay. The EPA’s commitment to transparency and Tribal consultation helps restore our trust in the process," said United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley. "After almost twenty years, all the parties want certainty. We are pleased EPA is moving forward in a science-based and transparent manner, and with a schedule that can allow for resolution by next summer, consistent with the wishes of our Tribes and Alaskans.” Bristol Bay Tribes first requested Clean Water Act protections in 2010, after years of working to protect the region from the threat posed by Pebble Mine. “After several years of study, EPA issued a science-based recommendation for protections in 2014 that was stalled by politics despite overwhelming public support. Today’s commitment makes clear that the agency intends to follow the law and listen to science in resuming this work,” the group said. EPA acknowledged that Bristol Bay supports commercial, subsistence, and recreational fisheries worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year, creating thousands of jobs. The salmon run in Bristol Bay has supported a subsistence-based way of life for Alaska Natives for over 4,000 years. Calling the region “an area of exceptional ecological value with salmon fisheries unrivaled anywhere in North America” the agency described the essential habitat needed to support all five species of Pacific salmon found in North America: coho, Chinook, sockeye, chum, and pink. “The salmon populations are critical to the health of the entire ecosystem, which is home to more than 20 fish species, 190 bird species, and more than 40 terrestrial mammal species, including [black and brown or grizzly] bears, moose, and caribou,” the announcement read. The regulatory process to allow mineral extraction is part of The Clean Water Act and requires a Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to authorize a discharge of dredged or fill material into certain streams, wetlands, lakes, and ponds. That same section of the CWA requires EPA to develop the environmental criteria used to make permit decisions. USACE authorizes thousands of Section 404 permits every year, and EPA works with the Corps and developers to resolve environmental concerns so that projects can move forward. EPA has used its Section 404(c) authority sparingly, the agency said, issuing final determinations only 13 times in the CWA's 50-year history. https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1212792/EPA-Extends-Deadline-to-Consider-New-Data-in-Long-term-Protection-of-Bristol-Bay Federal Register Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher/Processors Using Hook-and-Line Gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 11/19/2021 NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher/processors using hook-and-line (HAL) gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the annual allowance of the 2021 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific cod by catcher/processors using HAL gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/11/19/2021-25217/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pacific-cod-by-catcherprocessors-using Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Several Groundfish Species in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 11/19/2021 NMFS apportions amounts of the non-specified reserve to the initial total allowable catch (ITAC) of Bering Sea (BS) Pacific ocean perch, BS trawl sablefish, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) shortraker rockfish, BSAI skates, BSAI sharks, and Central Aleutian Islands and Western Aleutian Start Printed Page 64828 Islands (CAI/WAI) blackspotted/rougheye rockfish. This action is necessary to allow the fisheries to continue operating. It is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan for the BSAI management area. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/11/19/2021-25308/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-several-groundfish-species-in-the-bering-sea-and FYI’s Expo Friday preview: Whale avoidance, Symphony of Seafood, Ocean Plastics National Fisherman - November 17, 2021 Pacific Marine Expo’s Friday sessions kick off at 10:30 with a Coast Guard presentation on the Arctic Shield program out of Anchorage. https://www.nationalfisherman.com/west-coast-pacific/expo-friday-preview-whale-avoidance-symphony-of-seafood-ocean-plastics OSU researchers aim to turn seafood byproducts into source of nutrition Eastern Oregonian by George Plaven, Capital Press - November 16, 2021 ASTORIA — A research project led by Oregon State University has the potential to reduce food waste by utilizing seafood byproducts as a cheap, high-quality source of protein. https://www.eastoregonian.com/news/northwest/osu-researchers-aim-to-turn-seafood-byproducts-into-source-of-nutrition/article_08e2e51f-72ea-5281-b1a1-0487f85e7a4d.html Opinion EDITORIAL: It is Time to Recognize and Celebrate Responsible Federal Fisheries Management Seafood News by Heather Mann and Brent Paine - November 18, 2021 Last month, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended the establishment of a new Limited Access Privilege Program (LAPP), or a Catch Share plan, for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Pacific Cod trawl catcher vessel fishery. It is time to celebrate responsible federal fisheries management and the public process that resulted in final action on a muchimproved management system for the BSAI trawl catcher vessel cod fishery. The vessel owner members of Midwater Trawlers Cooperative (MTC) and United Catcher Boats (UCB) applauds the Council for their leadership and action on this important program. After more than two years of development undertaken in an open and transparent public process, the NPFMC voted unanimously to create a cooperative-style rationalization program for the trawl cod fishery that occurs in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Because the Bering Sea cod fishery is a federal fishery, the Council actions are guided by the Magnuson Stevens Act and must meet the 10 National Standards included within the Act. The new management program was created using the best scientific, social, and economic information available and the thorough analysis of the impacts of this program were vetted in a 500+ page document discussed and reviewed at several Council meetings. Based on the analysis, and the recommended choices of the various elements of the program, we know that this program will positively benefit harvesters, processors, Alaskan communities (and the State of Alaska) and provide net benefits to the nation. Participation in the cod fishery has soared in recent years, escalating a dangerous race for fish during the A season which begins on January 20th. A fishery that would last a few months in the past has been reduced to just days with vessels racing to catch fish in often-times treacherous weather. Several injuries and near-death situations have occurred in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea during the winter A season cod fishery. The cooperative program adopted by the Council is directly responsive to National Standard 10 which requires management measures promote the safety of human life at-sea. The program will eliminate the race by allowing coop members to fish when it makes the most sense – so Captains can stay tied to the dock in unsafe conditions, undoubtedly saving lives. In addition to safety, improving management and eliminating the race for fish has several other benefits. More time to harvest the fish allows the harvesters and processors to work together on increasing the value of the fishery by increasing quality and allowing for value-added products, which in turn provide more revenue to the State of Alaska. Under a cooperativebased catch share program, fishermen can take their time to decide where and when to set their nets and harvest their share of the cod fishery. They also will be able to cooperate with other fishermen, rather than compete with others, in the harvest of the entire cooperative’s cod quota. One of the main tools afforded to the new harvester cooperatives under this new catch share program is the ability to manage Incidental catch of other non-target species. The trawl catcher vessel coop’s members can minimize incidental catch of halibut and crab under the cooperative plan. In addition, the plan requires 100% monitoring of fishing activity. Requiring 100% observer coverage for this fishery will allow for individual vessel accountability and provide the federal managers with the highest quality harvest information. Over the last decade the trawl cod catcher vessels had already reduced their interactions with halibut voluntarily by over 68% - meaning fishermen left over 5.7 million pounds of halibut in the water, which could have been incidentally harvested along with cod. The Council took action to reduce the incidental take limit for halibut an additional 25% in the LAPP program, bringing the total regulatory reduction to 40% for this fleet, when combined with the 15% cut taken by the Council in 2015 meeting the Council’s goals to reduce halibut interactions significantly. This component is responsive to National Standard 9, which requires bycatch to be minimized to the extent practicable. The Council left out a gear-switching provision primarily due to the high crab bycatch in fixed gear fisheries shown in the observer data and the analysis, which is responsive to the crab industry’s pleas to take bold action and reduce incidental take of crab considering reduced stock statuses for Bristol Bay Red King crab and opilio crab. National Standards 4 and 8 are critically important for federal fisheries management. Discrimination between participants from different states is not allowed by law. The continued participation of fishing communities must be recognized and accounted for. This program recognizes participants from Newport, Oregon to Dutch Harbor, Alaska and on to Kodiak. The Council chose to leave the cod “C” season unrationalized to recognize the non-trawl participants who rely on cod rollovers to their fixed gear fisheries later in the year. The Council focused attention on protecting shoreside processing infrastructure in rural Alaskan communities and allocated a portion of the cooperative harvesting shares to seafood processors, ensuring a steady supply of cod across the docks in the places it has traditionally been delivered. The Council took action to ensure an amount of cod would be available to be delivered into Adak in the years when a plant is operating in that community, requiring the intercooperative to ensure this harvest occurs. Lastly, the Council made sure to protect fishermen in unrationalized fisheries from negative impacts and they included control and use caps to prevent excessive consolidation within the cod catcher vessel fishery. Today’s trawl cod catcher vessel boat owners and the captains and crew are forward thinking, they are technologically savvy, they care deeply for our natural resources and minimizing incidental catch – they are thankful to the Council for the opportunity to transition to a safer fishery which functions properly, meets the National Standards and provides value to the harvesters, processors, communities and the nation where trawl caught seafood is an integral part of delivering healthy protein to regular citizens and underserved communities alike. The Council process worked exactly as it was intended to do so – resulting in a responsible federal fisheries management action that we can all be proud of. https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1212778/EDITORIAL-It-is-Time-to-Recognize-and-Celebrate-Responsible-Federal-Fisheries-Management

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