top of page

Monday, November 22, 2021

Alaska Fishery Facts, Not Fiction Published in by Stephanie Madsen - November 22, 2021 A persistent trickle of misinformation about our region’s fisheries has recently become a flood. From the opinion pages of the Anchorage Daily News to the corridors of power in Washington, DC, we’re seeing a deliberate campaign of mischaracterizations and lies about North Pacific trawl fisheries. Enough is enough. C/P Northern Hawk is owned and operated by Coastal Villages Regional Fund, one of the six Community Development Groups in Alaska. I am Stephanie Madsen. For more than 40 years I have lived in coastal Alaska, in communities that depend upon fisheries for their survival. My whole career has been spent advocating for sustainable fisheries — to help ensure that those communities have a future. I operated an air taxi from the Tom Madsen Airport in Unalaska with my late husband for nineteen years, and then worked for the shoreside processors that are central to the economy of coastal communities. I now work proudly with the catcher processor fleet that participates in the Bering Sea Alaska pollock fishery — the largest fishery in the United States and the largest seafood fishery in the world. The Bering Sea Alaska pollock fishery has set the bar for fisheries management and sustainability for decades. It is certified sustainable by two independent certification bodies with some of the highest sustainability ratings of any fishery on Earth. Here are some of the reasons I am so proud to work with this fleet. · We are accountable. All of the fishery’s catcher processor vessels pay to carry two Federal observers who measure and report everything that comes aboard on every trip. Scales and multiple cameras are also used to ensure that everything caught in our nets is counted and documented. There is no other fishing fleet, anywhere, that is more closely monitored and more accountable for their operations. · We are transparent. Every April since 2000, we have reported to the public through the North Pacific Fishery Management Council the precise amount and type of species caught by each vessel. All of those reports are available on the NPFMC website (see Pollock Conservation Cooperative and High Sea Catchers’ Cooperative). The catch data is also available to the public during the season on the National Marine Fisheries Service website. · We follow the science. The North Pacific has invested heavily in climate science and sophisticated models to address the changing climate. This includes local and traditional knowledge. The process to include LKTK is being improved, so that before any actions are taken we have all the available science. This region is known for having adopted precautionary principles early in the history of the Council, and we continue to improve on the ecosystem-based fishery management that has long been a hallmark of the region. · We work hard to minimize incidental catch. All fisheries encounter non-target species. Our fleet goes to great lengths to target pollock and avoid other marine life. As a result of these efforts, more than 98 percent of what our vessels catch is pollock. · We have dramatically reduced incidental catch of Chinook salmon. Since 2010, our fleet has operated under a Chinook salmon hard cap, which would shut the fishery down if exceeded. When the Western Alaska stocks are low our cap is lowered, which has been the case for the last several years. Our fleet has worked to not only stay under the cap, but also to further minimize incidental catch of salmon by investing in extensive gear and technological innovations, including underwater cameras, salmon lights, and salmon excluders. We also pay to access and share detailed historical and current spatially explicit catch data across the entire fleet, and we analyze these data in real time to help inform time and area fishing decisions to avoid salmon. As a result, incidental catch of Chinook salmon by our vessels has declined by 89 percent since its peak in 2007. · We support salmon science. Salmon encountered by our vessels are counted and sampled so that ecosystem impacts can be understood. Every tenth Chinook salmon encountered is sampled to determine its genetic makeup. Every thirtieth chum salmon is also sampled. Those samples are processed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the stocks of origin of those salmon are publicly reported. The science shows us that a majority of chum salmon encountered in the Bering Sea pollock fishery come from hatcheries outside the United States. · We donate salmon to help those in need. Regulations require all salmon to be retained and counted by the Federal observers. Our companies donate eligible salmon to regional foodbanks through our non-profit partners Sea Share, to serve those in need. · Incidental catch by trawl fisheries is not the cause of declining salmon runs in Western Alaska. Declining salmon runs in Western Alaska are devastating to see, and the impact on Western Alaska communities is heartbreaking. We should do everything possible to understand the causes of these declines and address them through science-based policy responses. Genetic sampling and adult equivalent (AEQ) modeling of incidental catch makes clear that trawl fisheries are not the cause. In the case of Chinook salmon, the best scientific information indicates that the current impacts of incidental catch on total run estimates for Western Alaska rivers has been less than three percent in every year since 2009. Incidental catch impacts to Upper Yukon Chinook runs average close to 1 percent. · Our fleet is inextricably linked to Western Alaska communities. The companies operating these vessels partner or are owned in whole or in part by the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Groups. In fact, as envisioned by the late Senator Stevens, who helped establish the CDQ program, the ownership share of CDQ groups in this fishery continues to increase. Revenue from the Bering Sea pollock fishery provides critical resources to Western Alaska communities in need. Folks who characterize our fleet as “outsiders” are incorrect, and are pitting Alaskan against Alaskan. · We support habitat protections to ensure a healthy Bering Sea ecosystem for future generations. Every five years, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the North Pacific Council looks at impacts to habitat by fisheries. If the science, including a fishing effects model, indicate that impacts are more than temporary and more than minimal, mitigation measures are developed. · We are providing low-cost, low-carbon protein that helps feed the world. Alaska pollock is a low-cost, high-nutrition seafood. It feeds millions of Americans in need, through affordable retail and food-service offerings, and through the National School Lunch and food bank programs. It also serves consumers around the world, providing one of the most climate-friendly options of any widely-available protein. Its CO-2eq per kg of protein is 3.77kg — compared to 12.5 for chicken, 19.65 for pork, 20.83 for plant-based meat, and 115.75 for beef. All food production has an environmental footprint. We are proud that ours is one of the most modest of any protein source on Earth. Our industry welcomes debate about responsible management of our natural resources. It is critical that such a debate be grounded in science and proceed based on facts. Those who are spreading false information about trawl fisheries are doing nothing to help our communities or our environment. Rather, I urge those who care about these issues to join us in advancing solutions that are based in science and fact. We strongly support efforts to further study and address declining salmon runs in Western Alaska; we welcome science-based efforts to minimize incidental catch in all North Pacific fisheries; and we are committed to improving the resiliency of the precious Bering Sea ecosystem through management that responds to and incorporates climate change. I encourage you to join us in those efforts. Econ 919 — Local biz joins statewide seafood competition KDLL by Sabine Poux - November 19, 2021 Seattle catches some of the best bites from Alaska's fisheries each year at the Symphony of Seafood — an annual competition put on by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation to promote the state’s value-added seafood products. After two rejections, Sitka Tribe’s third herring proposal narrowly passes ADF&G Advisory Committee KCAW by Robert Woolsey - November 19, 2021 The Sitka Fish & Game Advisory Committee has voted to support a third herring management proposal submitted by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska — but only by the slimmest of margins. An effort to reconsider two earlier tribal proposals, however, was voted down. ADFB forecasts 75M+ run of Bristol Bay salmon in 2022 Cordova Times - November 20, 2021 State fisheries biologists are forecasting a run of 75.27 million sockeye salmon into Bristol Bay in the summer of 2022, 44% more than the most recent 10-year average for the world’s largest red salmon fishery and 111% greater than the long-term average of 35.73 million fish. 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. FYI’s Alaska Symphony of Seafood: Winners Announced at Expo National Fisherman by Jessica Hathaway - November 19, 2021 The Alaska Symphony of Seafood held its first round of judging in Seattle this week and unveiled the results at Pacific Marine Expo on Friday, Nov. 19. Pacific Seafood Processors Association 1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119 Phone: 206.281.1667 E-mail:; Website: Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday 8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. *Inclusion of a news article, report, or other document in this email does not imply PSPA support or endorsement of the information or opinion expressed in the document.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page