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Monday, June 14, 2021

Alaska Copper River Opens For First Time in Three Weeks by Peggy Parker - June 14, 2021 Cordova’s ADF&G management biologists opened the Copper River fishing grounds this morning after a three-week closure when most of the fleet fished Prince William Sound. Harvests in PWS have reached nearly 38,000 sockeye from the June 9 opener, compared to nearly 53,000 sockeye caught on the Copper River Flats in the previous three weeks. The closure on the Flats was due to low escapement, the number of salmon that “escape” the nets on the fishing grounds at the mouth of the river and go up river to spawn. Achieving escapement to ensure sustainabilitiy for these stocks is why in-season management is so important in Alaska. Escapement numbers were running only a fraction of what forecasters had expected this year in the early fishing days at the Copper, until June 3. On that day, 15,848 salmon passed the sonar counter in the river, just over the predicted 15,174 fish. Every day since then, the fish have been surging: 21,000 on June 4, to a high of 33,721 on June 8, compared to a prediction of 13,218 salmon on 6/4 and 12,581 salmon on 6/8. Escapement numbers are still ahead of predictions, with 10,675 salmon past the counter on June 12, compared to 8,878 salmon projected. No word yet on prices in the state’s first salmon fishery, which historically informs all other prices. Last month, prices for Copper River chinook were $20/lb, with sockeyes being sold for $12.60/lb. The Copper is open today for 12 hours today, starting 7 a.m. local time. In the Sound, Eshamy, excluding the Main Bay Subdistrict and Main Bay Hatchery areas, will open to commercial gillnet harvest for a 24-hour period starting at 8:00 am. Preliminary harvest estimates from the 24-hour period that started on Thursday, June 10 were 4,800 chum and 1,400 sockeye salmon with 105 deliveries reported. Total harvest in PWS/CR area is 6,769 Chinook salmon, 90,580 sockeye;sockeye; and 4,261 chum salmon for a total of nearly 100,700 salmon. Purse seining for pink and chum salmon is also open in the Sound in the Montague District and the Southwestern District. You can see the full report from ADF&G here. In Cook Inlet, the following places in the Southern District are open to purse seiners for 16-hour periods today, Wednesday, and Friday of this week: Halibut Cove Subdistrict, the Tutka Bay Subdistrict, the Neptune Bay Selction, and China Post Sections. In Southern Cook Inlet, seining has been Subdistrict, the Paint River Subdistrict, and the Kirshner Lake SN. ADF&G announcement, including a partial opening of Chenik Lagoon, is included on Lower Cook Inlet Salmon Fishery News Release #3. In Kodiak, fishing continues with a total catch so far of 51,000 sockeye salmon. The South Peninsula has been doing well with landings of 339,000 sockeye, 414,000 pinks, and 101,000 chum salmon as of a few days ago. The Bristol Bay season is just getting underway no landings posted yet. It's safe to say that while fishermen get thier boats in the water and prepare the gear, the big issue is whether Cordova's stratospheric ex-vessel prices will portend well for ex-vessel prices in Bristol Bay. National CDC Updates Guidelines as Mask Mandate Now Lifted for Commercial Fishermen Urner Barry by Ryan Doyle - June 14, 2021 Commercial fishermen are now able to remove masks aboard vessels as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a federal order updating mask guidance on June 11. Thanks to the recent amendment, fully vaccinated commercial fishermen are able to remove masks while outdoors on a vessel or at a transportation hub. “Accordingly, mask wear in outdoor areas of maritime transportation conveyances and hubs is no longer required,” a U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) said. "Though the CDC is no longer requiring mask wear in outdoor areas, operators of conveyances and transportation hubs, at their discretion, may require masks to be worn in outdoor areas." An outdoor area on a vessel is defined as “a space that is permanently open to the weather on one or more sides and, if covered by a deck or canopy, any spot on the overhead is less than 15 feet from the nearest opening.” The Coast Guard bulletin did note that this guidance does not supersede federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations that still require the wearing of masks in outdoor areas of conveyances and while outdoors on transportation hubs. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) commented on the rule change, telling the Associated Press, “This updated guidance is welcome news for fishermen in New Hampshire and across the country, and I urge the CDC and Coast Guard to continue to update guidance based on the science.” Hassan was one of a number of politicians pushing for updated mask guidance for commercial fishermen. In May, Hassan visited New Hampshire’s Yankee Fishermen’s Cooperative where fishermen broke down their concerns with wearing masks while working. Hassan and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) wrote in a letter to the CDC, “It is worth noting that wearing a mask on a fishing vessel may increase safety risks for operators and crew. Fishing vessels frequently use loud motors or machinery that can make it difficult for crew members to hear one another, so they may rely on lip-reading to improve communication and work together safely.” Maine representative Jared Golden also pushed for updated mask guidance earlier this month. Golden heard from Maine fishermen who have been stopped by the Coast Guard and had received a warning for not wearing masks aboard boats. "I write in response to feedback from Maine fishermen who report that the U.S. Coast Guard is enforcing a mask mandate on commercial fishermen that applies at all times when they are onboard a fishing vessel," Golden wrote in his June 2 letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the CDC and Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the US Coast Guard. "Updating the guidance to clarify that it does not apply to small commercial fishing vessels would ease an unnecessary compliance burden on fishermen, free up USCG resources, and help maintain public trust that COVID-19-related public health mandates are science-driven and necessary," Golden wrote. Find more on the updated mask mandate from the CDC here. Labeling and Marketing Reintroduced bill calls for clear labeling of GE salmon Murkowski: Americans must be enabled to make informed choices Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - June 10, 2021 Legislation calling for clear labeling of genetically engineered salmon is now back before the U.S. Senate, in a continuing effort by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to ensure that consumers are aware the product is not wild Alaska fish. Federal Register Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology Amendments to the Fishery Management Plans for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, Scallops, and Salmon A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/14/2021 The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) submitted Amendment 51 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP), Amendment 17 to the FMP for the Scallop Fishery Off Alaska (Scallop FMP), and Amendment 15 to the FMP for the Salmon Fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Off Alaska (Salmon FMP) (collectively Amendments). If approved, these Amendments would add to or modify language in the Crab, Scallop, and Salmon FMPs to more transparently reflect and align the FMPs with the way bycatch is currently reported in the fisheries managed by the Council. These Amendments are intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act); the Crab, Scallop, and Salmon FMPs; and other applicable laws. FYI’s NOAA seeks comment on Cook Inlet EEZ salmon fishery proposal Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - June 11, 2021 NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment through July 6 on a proposal from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to amend a Cook Inlet fishery management plan to prohibit commercial salmon fishing in federal waters off the Inlet.

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