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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Alaska Peter Pan unveils new look, plans value-added product launches Seafood Source by Christine Blank - December 21, 2021 Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.A.-based Peter Pan Seafood is unveiling a new brand identity and logo, and is planning to launch several value-added products in 2022. Alaska fishing organization receives federal grant aimed at developing workforce and seafood access KINY - December 21, 2021 Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The U. S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a Regional Food System Partnership grant to the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association. The grant is part of the department's Local Agriculture Marketing Program.\ Senators Sullivan and Murkowski Introduce Bill Creating Task Force to Prioritize Salmon Research by Peggy Parker - December 21, 2021 With nearly all salmon runs in Alaska performing below historic averages — with the notable exception of Bristol Bay — Alaska’s U.S. senators introduced a bill last week that will prioritize research that may ultimately reverse that trend. If passed, the Alaska Salmon Research Task Force Act would form a panel of Alaska’s salmon stakeholders and research experts to study Pacific salmon trends and create a coordinated research strategy for Pacific salmon in Alaska to support salmon management. “It is difficult to overstate the importance of salmon to Alaska, our communities, our economy and our traditional way of life,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “Over the past several years, Alaskans in some parts of the state have witnessed strong, historic runs of salmon, while Alaskans in other regions have seen shocking and unprecedented declines. Our existing management system, with the state’s authority to manage Alaska’s salmon harvest and the federal government managing federal fishery salmon harvest and much of the at-sea research, has created a clear gap in research and research prioritization that urgently needs to be addressed. “This crisis warrants the combined attention of our state and federal governments, and the expertise of our greatest scientific minds, as well as the indigenous communities that have harvested salmon for millennia. With this legislation, we would establish a body to expand our understanding, identify knowledge gaps, and ultimately drive us toward concrete policies and management decisions that we hope will bring increased abundance and stability to our salmon stocks for the benefit of all Alaskans,” Sullivan said. The Research Task Force would be made up of 13 or more members who will conduct a comprehensive review of Pacific salmon science on understanding and managing salmon returns in Alaska. One year from convening, the Task Force will publish a report with “identifying knowledge and research gaps and further research priorities for salmon in Alaska.” “It has been said that the summer season doesn’t arrive in Alaskan coastal and in-river communities until the salmon do. In some regions we are seeing not just a decline in salmon runs, but a crash that is damaging to not only the local economies but to the culture and spirit of the people in the region," said Murkowski. "It is clear we must further our understanding of salmon and their ecosystems in these times of rapid change. I am proud to join Senator Sullivan on the Alaska Salmon Research Taskforce Act as we seek to identify and bolster the necessary science to chart a path forward to ensure these critical species thrive. “I also continue to welcome feedback from affected community members and groups on how best to target research funding and craft policy to identify and mitigate the drivers of these declines and ensure the vitality of Alaska’s salmon fisheries for future generations,” Murkowski said. With U.S. Congressman Don Young, the Senators hosted a Salmon Roundtable last week to bring together stakeholders to better understand the root cause of the salmon declines and to identify data gaps to help guide solutions. The roundtable generated lively discussion among salmon researchers and concerned Alaskans. Murkowski said she wants the conversation to continue and has dedicated a line for oral comments and a questionnaire for written comments. Murkowski asked those who have oral comments to preface them by noting that you attended the Alaska Congressional Delegation’s Salmon Roundtable and have suggestions. The portal will be open until January 14, 2022. The Research Task Force would be composed of between 13 and 19 members, with the secretary of commerce appointing a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the U.S. section of the Pacific Salmon Commission. The secretary would also appoint between two and five representatives from Alaska covering the wide array of state fisheries stakeholders, including subsistence, and commercial or recreational users. The bill also calls for the secretary to appoint five academic experts in salmon biology, management, and ecology, or marine research. The governor of Alaska would appoint one representative of the state. The bill directs the Research Task Force to establish a working group specifically focused on salmon returns in the AYK region of Western and Interior Alaska, where salmon return failures have had devastating impacts, and provides flexibility for the Research Task Force to establish other geographically-focused working groups. Within one year from convening, the Task Force will submit to the Secretary of Commerce, three committees in the Senate and a committee and a subcommittee in the House, as well as the Alaska State Legislature and the general public. East Coast Boston announces vaccine requirement for indoor spaces, including Seafood Expo North America Seafood Source by Cliff White - December 21, 2021 The city of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. has implemented a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for indoor spaces including the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the host location of the 2022 edition of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America. National US WIC program may add seafood to more food-assistance packages Seafood Source by Christine Blank - December 21, 2021 U.S. Department of Agriculture is updating the parameters of its federal assistance program for women and children, and is considering adding more seafood to its offerings ... *Requires subscription International Russia considering barcode requirement for all seafood products to combat counterfeiting Seafood Source by Ivan Stupachenko - December 21, 2021 The Russian government is considering new regulations making barcoding seafood products mandatory for traceability purposes – with a particular focus on sturgeon products, including caviar *Requires subscription All At Sea: Battle Against Illegal Mexican Lanchas Off Coast Heats Up SeafoodNews from The Monitor by Rick Kelley - December 20, 2021 The fruits of the sea are in high demand and consumers just can't seem to get enough. It seems to be especially true of the delectable, firm-fleshed red snapper, perhaps the most highly sought fish along the Texas gulf coast. And where there's demand, there's money to be made, and legal niceties don't apply. U.S. Coast Guard officials say they interdicted 78 Mexican lanchas, 20- to 30-foot open boats powered by outboards, fishing illegally in U.S. waters last year. For some perspective, in 2010, Coast Guard interdictions totaled 10. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens partner with the Coast Guard enforcement effort, and in the past two years have chased 45 lanchas fishing illegally off the Texas coast back into Mexican waters. Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Ippolito commands Coast Guard Station South Padre Island, and he's the tip of the spear when it comes to the war against illegal fishing. He says the past three years "have been record-breaking years." "It can threaten our security, our sovereignty, and we can't let that go unchecked," Ippolito said. "And then environmentally, too, some of the nets they use wouldn't pass any standard we would hold for our fishermen. There's a lot of bycatch in those nets — sea turtles, dolphins and shark just get caught up and are deceased by the time we pull them up." Impact on fishery Red snapper in Texas and U.S. waters, which begin nine miles off the Texas coast, are highly regulated and have been the focus of a long-running effort to rebuild stocks for both recreational and commercial fishing in U.S. waters. Just how much impact illegal Mexican fishing is having on red snapper stocks here is anybody's guess. "The biggest problem is the amount they're taking is unknown, because they don't report it," said Mark Fisher, science director for TPWD's Coastal Fisheries Division. "So we really have a hard time assessing the true impact, because we don't know the magnitude." "Red snapper is what they seem to be targeting and those are under strict limits on this side of the U.S. border," he added. "While they're healthy, there's been an attempt over the past several years to rebuild the stocks and they're in really good shape right now. But that's because of these strict limits, and they're just running roughshod over that." David De Leon is president of the Rio Grande Valley Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, and he's seen first-hand the cultural differences between the United States and Mexico when it comes to husbanding natural resources. "I was in Tampico, Mexico, two years ago and I actually got to watch the fish market," he recalled. "We were there to buy some shrimp, and I was just blown away by the quantity of fish that they pull out of the water, no matter what size it is, no matter what species it is, there are no regulations in Mexico." "And they sell everything they want to sell, everything from snook that were oversized here in the United States to baby snook that were no more than a few inches long all the way to red snapper, redfish, to trout, shrimp, they had it all there," he added. "It was very interesting but it was also very sad." Lanchas The Coast Guard and Texas Game Wardens are on constant lookout for the low-profile lanchas which enter U.S. waters to set gill nets and long lines that can be up to a mile in length and are known as indiscriminate killers. The boats the Mexican poachers use are relatively simple, open craft with fiberglass hulls powered by an outboard motor. The hulls can be purchased for roughly around $3,000, and outboards are anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. As watercrafts go, they're relatively cheap, an important consideration since if they're caught by the Coast Guard or TPWD, they are taken ashore and destroyed. For the financiers of the Mexican crews fishing illegally in U.S. waters, that's just part of the cost of doing business, some say. "My assumption is they've got to have some kind of financial backing," De Leon said. "The guys who are coming across to catch fish, they're being paid by somebody to do that. Those people that are paying them have got to have some kind of money where they're re-investing into this boat, into this motor, into the gear, the fuel, to go back out once they're caught, and do it again." They may be carrying more cargo than just fish, which may be a factor in their financing. "The lanchas since I've been here it's all been fish," said Ippolito. "However, those types of vessels have been known to smuggle drugs and people in the past." Home port One of the most frustrating aspects for law enforcement is, after being apprehended by the Coast Guard or game wardens, the suspects are released to the U.S. Border Patrol and taken to a port of entry, where they are released back into Mexico with no real consequences. Their only losses are their boats and a couple days' work. Then they make their way back to their home port, which is Playa Baghdad, nine miles south of the mouth of the Rio Grande, to start the whole process over again. It's a spot which also is known as a staging area for drug cartels to ship their product north. Here's how a National Public Radio reporter described the place in a story last summer. "Four hundred fishermen live here in wooden shanties. Marine rope and gill netting is strewn about. Yellow curs chew on fish guts. Fiberglass boats — white with blue hulls — are pulled up on the sand." The 1982 UN Law of the Sea Convention stipulates foreign fishermen caught in a nation's waters, even if arrested for fishing illegally, must be released and returned to their home country. "It is very frustrating that this happens, and there's really nothing we can do on our end," De Leon said. "We've crippled the Coast Guard; we've crippled the Border Patrol and Customs agents and the Texas Game Wardens, everybody that mans that coastline." "I'd like to see, if it's possible, to make it harder for these guys to come across," he added. Pursuit Capt. Chris Dowdy is a Texas Game Warden who has nine wardens assigned full-time in Cameron County to the battle against Mexican vessels fishing illegally. Dowdy says hunting for lanchas in U.S. waters isn't as easy as it might look. "They're difficult to spot from the sea, for sure," Dowdy said. "You usually have to be within a mile or mile and a half to actually be able to see them. If an aircraft is up, they have the ability to see them better than we can on the water, obviously." TPWD doesn't have any of these aircraft to deploy, but the Coast Guard's Air Station Corpus Christi does. Dowdy is grateful for the close partnership between Coasties and game wardens because it's "almost like having a whole other group of game wardens for marine enforcement." In addition to turning back 45 lanchas in the past two years, Texas Game Wardens have seized 32.23 miles of gill nets and longlines that were illegally set. "A typical interdiction of a lancha is usually a several mile pursuit on water and they end up getting back to international waters where we can't do anything to them," Dowdy said. "We will try to mark where we first saw them and try to call Coast Guard and see if maybe somehow we can get a unit that can cut them off before they get back to international waters." "But if we actually are able to get close enough to apprehend, that's a different story altogether," he said. "We hail them to shut the motor down and stop, and depending on what vessel we are in, we sometimes will get right up alongside of them and tie off to them and stop them that way." Dowdy said the wardens have a special operations group with techniques to foul the outboard motor's propeller on the illegal boat, stopping it dead in the water. "I will tell you a couple of weeks ago we made an apprehension of four suspects, or four fishermen, that were coming back from just north of Highway 4 on Boca Chica, and our boat did apprehend them, actually ran them aground is pretty much what happened, on the first bar, and my wardens were able to make the arrest …," Dowdy said. "They had been apprehended the same week by Coast Guard about four days earlier in a different boat," he added. Diplomatic stalemate Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which regulates fishing in U.S. waters, wrote Congress saying that due to continuing illegal and unregulated fishing in U.S. waters, it was issuing a formal sanction which means Mexican fishing vessels are restricted from using U.S. ports. It will hardly slow the speedy lanchas, which don't enter U.S. ports anyway. But it could mean eventual sanctions on Mexican seafood exported to the United States, although diplomatically that seems unlikely. And what about U.S. consumers with a taste for the white-fleshed gulf red snapper? Well, the joke may be on us. Commercial red snapper fishing in U.S. waters, as well as Texas waters, is highly regulated, consisting of a complex licensing and quota system which seems to be working since the red snapper population in U.S. waters is thriving. The legal take in U.S. waters is about 6.5 million pounds annually. Yet red snapper is in such demand that Mexico exported 7.5 tons of the fish to the United States last year, worth about $50 million. U.S. fisheries officials are pretty certain that some of that imported frozen snapper, and maybe a lot of it, was poached by Mexican lanchas right here in the waters off the Texas coast. Table fare And it isn't just snapper coming back across the border. "I will tell you that the volume last year alone, the volume of illegally imported aquatic products just in the passenger lanes, we seized nearly 10,000 pounds of stuff coming across the POEs (ports of entry) illegally," Dowdy said. "It was snook, trout, redfish, snapper, oysters, shrimp, you pretty much name it, and they were bringing it." "The real fear for me is the oysters coming across the POEs because they're coming from unknown areas that we have no way of knowing whether they're healthy or not healthy," he added. "We know that a bunch of people have gotten sick, and we know that people have died in the United States from bad oysters. … I get it, they're cheap. But is your life worth paying half-price for an oyster?" 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.


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