Alaska Fisheries Report – Nov. 29, 2018
KMXT by Maggie Wall - November 29, 2018
The International Pacific Halibut Commission took center stage this week. We’ll have a look at stocks, landings and prices.
Fishing Communities Urge Action on Sustainable Fisheries Policy
Fishermen's News - November 28, 2018
Members of the Fishing Communities Coalition will ask the 116th Congress in January to defend sustainable marine fisheries management and conservation gains under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
State removes Kenai from ‘impaired’ listing, citing lack of data
Alaska Journal of Commerce by Elizabeth Earl - November 28, 2018
The Kenai River has again escaped being labeled as an impaired water body because of turbidity, though there are other issues on the horizon.
Council OKs Trial Program That'll Employ 4 Prison Inmates At UniSea
KUCB by Laura Kraegel - November 28, 2018
Thanks to a policy reversal, prison inmates will be allowed to work at UniSea's fish processing plant as early as January.
Industry Letter to NOAA's Gallaudet Stresses Need For Full Surveys in Alaska
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - November 30, 2018
Earlier this month a coalition of diverse fishing and processing groups banded together to urge Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet to support -- at the level of a ‘national priority’ -- full funding for fisheries surveys in Alaska.
The surveys cover the federal waters of the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Five vessels are used for the research, which is a fundamental source of data for stock assessments on two dozen species, changes to habitat, ocean conditions, and fish distribution as well as abundance. Budget cuts are threatening to drop the number of vessels available to three or four.
The surveys are executed for NOAA Fisheries by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
Last June, AFSC Deputy Director Jeremy Rusin came to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to ask members of its Science and Statistical Committee to prioritize survey work in the face of an expected shortage of one or two research vessels.
“At that time, it appeared that sufficient funding would not be available to fully support the typical five vessels for trawl surverys in the Alaska region” said a report from a joint meeting between the SSC and the AFSC held last September.
At the September meeting the scientists set priorities but noted the need for more surveys, not fewer.
“It was noted that these surveys...are considered to be the highest priority level for the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council,” the minutes from the September 10 meeting reported.
“Recent rapid changes in environmental conditions and fish abundance and distribution in response to the marine heat wave accentuate the need to maintain current effort levels, if not increase them,” the scientists stressed.
The Gulf of Alaska has seen the most catastrophic change in productively recently as a result of the so-called Blob -- a massive area of ocean that maintained extremely high heat levels from 2014-2016. It is considered a main cause of a 70% drop in Pacific cod biomass in the area. Research on the heat wave’s impact on other species traveling through or spending part of their lives in the Gulf is still being done.
The Gulf is surveyed every odd year, so that area is up for a full survey in 2019. Also on the schedule for the odd-year surveys is the Northern Bering Sea Shelf and the Eastern Bering Sea Shelf (EBSS). The EBSS is surveyed annually.
Every even year, so next in 2020, surveys are scheduled for the Eastern Bering Sea Slope (as well as the shelf) and the Aleutian Islands.
Cost of the odd-year surveys is approximately $6.2 million. Cost of the even-year surveys is approximately $5.3 million.
In October, industry organizations representing everyone from small boat fleets to factory trawler groups as well as processors throughout Alaska recognized the urgency of fully funding the surveys. They signed on to a strongly-worded letter and sent it to Dr. Gallaudet in early November.
In the letter, the industry described AFSC’s surveys as “...increasingly important, as we have seen significant changes in the populations and distributions of key stocks as well as changing ocean conditions. Providing the resources needed to obtain these data is our highest priority for NOAA’s budget.
“These surveys provide vital information utilized in setting optimal, sustainable catch specifications, and they generate valuable data on species distribution, life histories, and environmental conditions necessary for supporting sound, science-based management.”
The letter also pointed out that “given the value of Alaska fisheries to the economy and food security of the Nation, and the relatively small cost of surveys relative to the value of these fisheries, securing a stable source of funding should be a national priority.”
Dr. Gllaudet had acknowledged receipt of the letter as of last week, but no specific response has yet been made.
ASMI Could Get Millions In Federal Grants to Offset China Trade Impact
Undercurrent News by Jason Smith - November 29, 2018
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, US -- The damage being done to Alaska's seafood sector by the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China is still being tolled but the state-run seafood marketing body is hoping for a boost of as much as $9 million over three years to offset some of the damage.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) has applied for that amount through the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP), funds that would come in addition to the $4.5m in federal funds it expects to receive this fiscal year. Federal funding has become an increasingly important part of the group's budget, which was set at $20.5m for fiscal year 2019, as the contribution from the state's general fund has been eliminated.
In an Oct. 28 letter to ASMI's board of director's, Hannah Lindoff, the group's international programs marketing director, said that a pool of $200m in ATP funding will be available to groups "that demonstrate adverse impacts" from the trade dispute.
An award can be applied to projects over a three-year period and require 10% match.
"We do not expect to receive this amount in full but also have very little information about what kind of award to expect. Funding awards will be made available sometime in the new year and the program will begin July 1, 2019," she wrote.
Jeremy Woodrow, ASMI's communications director who is also standing in as executive director, told Undercurrent News that the organization has not identified precisely how any award will be used but the group is "hopeful" that funds will be available to mitigate the trade dispute's impact.
"Any additional funding granted will be applied to ASMI’s ongoing efforts to raise brand awareness and increase consumer demand internationally. Specific efforts will be identified once the amount of funding available is known," said Woodrow, who is taking over as interim executive director from Alexa Tonkovich, who announced earlier this month that she would be leaving ASMI after three years to pursue a masters degree in international business.
The potential award comes as ASMI's International Committee met last month as part of the group's "All Hands" meeting in Anchorage to discuss the group's marketing efforts abroad.
Flora Zhang, an ASMI overseas marketing representative in China, told the committee that despite the trade issue, the country remains a promising market for Alaskan seafood.
"“Even if we have a small volume going to China now because of the trade issue we still need have some exposure, some activities in place to tell the consumers we are still here, especially telling the traders we are still supporting the market," she said.
Traders, she added, are largely absorbing some of the tariff costs, for now.
That has led ASMI to work more closely with traders to give them “more confidence” in the future of the Alaska seafood trade, she added.
“At this delicate stage they are doing their best to still have Alaska seafood present in the market," she said.
Traders are more worried about the possibility of anti-US sentiment being stoked among Chinese consumers," Zhang added.
“If the media intervenes and posts some not very cooperative images of the US and China and this trade war, a lot of consumers will be influenced by the media and they will kind of boycott US products”
Until now, this hasn’t happened.
“Consumers in China, they still like Alaska seafood products. They will still choose Alaska seafood. They will not have this anti-US kind of attitude," she said.
A few ASMI committee members said that they did not share Zhang's "optimism" and wondered if, in the future, the group would be wise to divert marketing efforts elsewhere.
However, Zhang said that assuming the tariff issue can be resolved relatively soon, there are several trends favoring the consumption of Alaska seafood in China. These include the Chinese government's increasing willingness to accept imported food products to satisfy burgeoning demand from the middle class.
“In the last two years China has signed a lot of protocols allowing food products from overseas into the China market. The frequency and number of the protocols signed in the last two years has far exceeded those in previous years," she said.
Additionally, the overseas marketing representative cited the recent visit of Alan Turley, the US Commerce Department's deputy assistant secretary for China and Mongolia, to the region as a signal of potential progress to resolve the tariff issue.
“On the way back from Mongolia to the states, he actually stopped by Beijing and stayed for all three days. During these three days, he met with some of the reps from US companies and also joined meetings with the China tariff committee,” she said.
The visit could signal talks going on behind the scenes to resolve the issue.
“We know that in the history of China and the US there are a few of these secret, special stop-by visits. Each has marked an improvement in the relations between the two countries,” she said.
Labeling and Marketing
Alaska Pollock Protein Noodles are a hit
Trident, Tai Foong seafood products take top Symphony honors
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - November 29, 2018
Wild Alaska Pollock Protein Noodles, by Trident Seafoods, was the judge’s choice for the top retail entry in the 2018 Alaska Symphony of Seafood. (Photo by Julie Decker, executive director, Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation)
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