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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

*********************************** SeaShare donations are in demand at nations food banks and throughout AK One in six children are predicted to experience food insecurity this year. You can help get nutritious seafood into food banks by donating during our WEEK OF SEAFOOD GIVING! Seafood contains the building block nutrients (omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, selenium, Vitamin D, Zinc) critical for all ages to maintain a healthy lifestyle and immunity. For every $1 donated to SeaShare, we’re able to provide 8 seafood servings to food banks. We need to fund 80,000 seafood meals this week — the end of Hunger Action Month and beginning of National Seafood Month — to feed to those in need. Donate today so that food bank clients, especially children and the elderly, can have healthful seafood as an option.

*********************************** Alaska Crab Plan Team Recommends Models to Science Advisory Panel at North Council SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - September 24, 2021 In the first of several steps to reach total allowable catches (TACs) for Bering Sea crab, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s Crab Plan Team reported recommendations to the next set of scientific eyes to assess the shocking decline in crab in the Bering Sea. The CPT is made up of more than a dozen scientists and was attended by, at times, more than 200 industry members. The stark numbers from the summer trawl survey tells the overall story. "In the 2021 survey, snow crab legal male abundance declined by 69% from the 2019 estimate, preferred size males [approximately 4 inches carapace width] were down 56% from the 2019 estimate, mature female abundance declined 70% from the 2018 estimate, and immature male and female abundances were down 96% and >99%, respectively, from the 2018 estimates,” the report read. The survey noted that older males appeared to be shifting northwest, but older females were sitting tight. Immature male and female abundances were shifting north. There seemed to be a higher number of old shell crab in the overall population of snow crab, indicating a shifted population dynamic. There was also a higher prevalence of bitter crab syndrome in snow crab, a disease caused by a parasite that can be fatal to crab. Finally, an increasing overlap with Pacific cod and other groundfish stocks was noted. None of these dynamics were identified as to why almost all of the immature female snow crab — a loss of 2.6 billion animals (many of them quite small) — could disappear from the survey area in three years. The hypothesis offered was that it was a combination of factors. First, the premise that they ‘disappeared’ is within the context of the survey, which covers only a portion of the eastern Bering Sea. Outside of the survey area, specifically northwest of St. Matthews Island, near the Russian maritime boundary, catches in the commercial fleet and experimental catches in the survey vessels (not included in the survey data) showed much higher catches in this area. This is on the Continental Slope of the Bering Sea, which continues beyond the U.S./Russian boundary, so could indicate that the bulk of crab have moved to Russian waters. Scientists are currently pursuing this hypothesis by reaching out to their Russian counterparts. If it were true, it would have the same impact to the crab managers as a mortality event. That is what the CPT is calling it for their report to the Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Council. Although they cannot identify the cause, they note that “[g]iven the estimated Mature Male Biomass (MMB) for 2021 is below the Minimum Stock Size Threshold (MSST), the stock meets the criteria in the BSAI Crab FMP for an overfished stock.” If the SSC agrees, it will automatically trigger a rebuilding plan — more management tools to protect the remaining stock — which the Council will begin to address at the October and December meetings ahead. The scientists offered a combination of three factors as the likely reason for the population crash: Bitter crab syndrome is killing more snow crab, Pacific cod is eating more (mostly larval or juvenile) snow crab, and the combination of no cold pool which impacts nutrition and increased temperatures which stress the animals and increase disease. “This decline of snow crab in the 2021 survey is all the more unexpected because the EBS trawl survey had been tracking one of the largest recruitment pulses on record for five years to the 2019 survey,” the report said. “It was noted that abundance of this recruitment pulse had declined markedly in the 2019 survey, but still remained very abundant compared to the historical record. There was no 2020 trawl survey due to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating what turned out to be a critical gap in the ability to track snow crab abundance,” the stock assessment author added. In the end, the CPT recommended a model that uses a precautionary control rule and take into consideration high uncertainty. Early next month, after receiving the recommendation of the SSC, the North Council will adopt the Allowable Biological Catch (ABC) limit and the Overfishing Limit (OFL). Those will be submitted to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who will determine the Total Allowable Catch, if any, for the snow crab season in 2021-2022. The Tanner crab TACs in the Bering Sea will follow a similar process. The season ended this year with only 62% of the TAC being caught. “The estimates of male and female biomass from the 2021 NMFS EBS survey were slightly higher than the corresponding estimates from 2019 (there was no 2020 NMFS survey) but the industry preferred male (125mm) biomass estimate was substantially lower than in the 2019 survey,” the CPT reported this week. “Overall, there has been a declining trend in male biomass since 2014. The CPT notes that the recent survey length-frequencies have included high densities of small crab but that several of these cohorts have not remained in the population,” they concluded. New numbers for OFL and ABC will be determined in early October, followed by the ADF&G’s TAC for the 2021-22 season. https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1208779/Crab-Plan-Team-Recommends-Models-to-Science-Advisory-Panel-at-North-Council NOAA grant aims at bycatch reduction Cordova Times - September 25, 2021 A new project underway by the International Pacific Halibut Commission aims to identify potential methods for protecting hook-caught fish from whale depredation, plus catch protection designs for use in current longline fishing techniques. https://www.thecordovatimes.com/2021/09/25/noaa-grant-aims-at-bycatch-reduction/ Pandemic leads to record breaking Dungeness crab prices KFSK by Angela Denning - September 27, 2021 Record breaking prices were paid for Southeast Alaska’s Dungeness crab this summer. The harvest was close to average but the value of the crab was exceptional. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports: https://www.kfsk.org/2021/09/27/pandemic-leads-to-record-breaking-dungeness-crab-prices/ National Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program PerishableNews - September 27, 2021 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the publication of a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Seafood Processor Pandemic Response and Safety (SPRS) Block Grant Program. The SPRS grant program will provide approximately $50 million in assistance to seafood processing facilities and processing vessels through block grants to State agencies. USDA allocated funding to certain U.S. states and territories based on a formula that considers economic activity as demonstrated through commercial fisheries landings, as detailed in the RFA. This program is funded by the Pandemic Assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. https://www.perishablenews.com/seafood/seafood-processors-pandemic-response-and-safety-block-grant-program/ International Coast Guard conducts joint exercise with Japanese military near Dutch Harbor KMXT by Dylan Simard - September 27, 2021 The waters near Dutch Harbor were host to some special guests last week. According to a Coast Guard press release from Saturday, the Japanese Military Special Defense Force training vessel Kashima conducted a joint exercise with the Coast Guard cutter Kimball. https://kmxt.org/2021/09/coast-guard-conducts-joint-exercise-with-japanese-military-near-dutch-harbor/ FYI’s USDA Now Accepting Applications for the Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute - September 27, 2021 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced the publication of a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Seafood Processor Pandemic Response and Safety (SPRS) Block Grant Program. The SPRS grant program will provide approximately $50 million in assistance to seafood processing facilities and processing vessels through block grants to State agencies. USDA allocated funding to certain U.S. states and territories based on a formula that considers economic activity as demonstrated through commercial fisheries landings, as detailed in the RFA. This program is funded by the Pandemic Assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. https://www.alaskaseafood.org/news/usda-now-accepting-applications-for-the-seafood-processors-pandemic-response-and-safety-block-grant-program/ Pacific Seafood Processors Association 1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119 Phone: 206.281.1667 E-mail: admin@pspafish.net; Website: www.pspafish.net 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.

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