News Analysis: West Coast Orca Situation Will Impact Salmon Fisheries for Years to Come
SeafoodNews.com by John Sackton - March 8, 2019
The letter NMFS regional administrator Barry Thom sent March 6th to the Pacific Seafood Management Council will have reverberations for many years. The basic facts are that due to the continued decline in the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, NMFS is revisiting the EIS it completed on the orcas in 2009. At that time it concluded that under the terms of the Endangered Species Act, council fisheries, specifically the West Coast chinook salmon fisheries, did not jeopardize the survival and recovery of the orcas.
In the letter, NMFS announces that due to new information and better scientific data, they will re-initiate an ESA consultation on West Coast fisheries in 2019. The primary target will be interactions between the Chinook salmon fishery and Orcas, but the review will also consider impacts of fisheries that have bycatch of salmon, such as the whiting fishery.
It will likely take several years to complete a new EIS, if that is required, and then the plan could be subject to court challenges.
The most analogous situation is that with Steller sea lions in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. After initially finding that pollock fishing did not impact the Steller sea lion population, new research showed that there could be a localized food depletion factor, and that some protections were warranted. Around 2012 NMFS began a new impact assessment.
The science was very controversial, and NMFS was forced to redo its EIS. After several years, a consensus emerged that introduced closed areas around various Aleutian Islands, and took other measures to protect sea lions. NMFS also imposed interim emergency measures prior to the permanent restrictions.
Similar to the Orcas, there was conflicting evidence about how much of a factor fishing was in the population decline, but the language of the endangered species act requires action if any harm is occurring. It does not have to be the major cause of harm to the populations.
In Thom’s letter, he said that they would give "extra weight to salmon runs that have high overlap spatially and temporally with orcas (SRKW), and have been documented as part of their diet, especially during winter when the whales may have a harder time finding sufficient food.
Several of the high priority Chinook salmon stocks currently identified in the framework contribute substantially to Council fisheries, including lower Columbia River, Sacramento River, and Klamath River fall-run Chinook salmon stocks. Identifying high priority Chinook salmon stocks for SRKW is an important step to assess impacts and prioritize management and recovery actions that will benefit the whales."
Because the full study will not be complete in 2019, NMFS wants to work with the council immediately to craft strategies for the 2019 salmon fisheries. “We expect this collaborative process will include consideration of management tools, e.g. possibly an adaptive framework similar to that described previously, that under high risk conditions would trigger action that could reduce impacts on prey in a meaningful way. The goal is to help ensure that Council’s harvest management is responsive to the status of SRKW and supports recovery to the extent necessary.”
At the Council meeting this week, there is now a daily meeting on salmon issues, and by the end of the full council meeting, some response to the NMFS letter is expected.
The upshot is that the decline and feeding problems of the resident orca population have now become a major factor in determining how various West Coast salmon fisheries will proceed. Because salmon abundance appears to be increasing this year, there may be some room to accommodate all requirements, but not without potential changes to the historical manner in which the chinook fisheries have been prosecuted.
AK Gov. Dunleavy Backs Cora Campbell and Nicole Kimball as New NPFMC Members
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - March 12, 2019
Juneau, AK– Alaska Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy nominated Nicole Kimball from Pacific Seafood Prodcessors Assn. and Cora Campbell from Silver Bay Seafoods to replace two current members who’s terms expire this summer: Theresa Peterson from Kodiak and Buck Laukitis from Homer.
Dunleavy’s letter of nomination to NOAA Fisheries head Chris Oliver must include three nominations for each seat. Although Campbell and Kimball are his preferred choices, Dunleavy also nominated as alternates John Moller and Julianne Curry.
“I have nominated individuals who are knowledgeable and experienced in the harvest, conservation, and management of fishery resources,” Dunleavy wrote in his letter.
“The nominees provide balanced and insightful experience for the NPFMC and will contribute greatly to fisheries management and conservation in the North Pacific.”
Dunleavy noted Campbells history as a commercial fisherman and extensive experience in fisheries policy and regulation making. Campbell served as a fisheries policy advisor for two Alaskan governors, as a former Commissioner for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and has spent “a lifetime of involvement in fisheries organizations.”
“Ms. Kimball has dedicated her career to fisheries management,” Dunleavy wrote.
“She worked as a fisheries analyst for the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, federal fisheries coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and now with the Pacific Seafood Processors Association.”
Moller is a lifelong subsistence fisherman with three decades of commercial fishing experience. He has served on the NPFMC Advisory Panel and currently serves as the commercial fisheries advisor to the Governor of the State of Alaska.
Curry has been a commercial fisherman for over two decades. She has worked with and led the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association and the United Fisherman of Alaska. Most recently, she works in regulatory and policy matters for Icicle Seafoods. Curry, who is from Petersburg, has also served on the NPFMC Advisory Panel.
Governor Dunleavy’s nominees will be appointed by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. He anticipates an announcement in June, with the new members officially taking their seats in August.
The Secret Lives of Salmon: Plastics, whales and a freezer on the open ocean
Vancouver Sun by Randy Shore - March 12, 2019
On the North Pacific Ocean more than 1,000 kilometres from the nearest human settlement, the Russian research vessel Kaganovsky is finding evidence that our polluting influence is indeed global.
Labeling and Marketing
Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute: Annual Report 2018
Seafood Expo North America – 2019 Expo Preview
Seafood Source by Wynter Courmont - March 12, 2019
We look forward to welcoming those of you attending the 39th edition of Seafood Expo North America / Seafood Processing North America in Boston next week. This year’s edition will feature more than 1,300 exhibiting companies from 49 countries and continues to be the largest seafood event in North America.
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