All Hands: Alaska determined to overcome tariff troubles
National Fisherman by Jessica Hathaway - October 8, 2019
The theme coming out of Alaska seafood’s annual meeting is — no surprise — tariffs.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute opened its All Hands On Deck meeting today in Anchorage with annual updates from its program directors, followed by public meetings for species committees and the Responsible Fisheries Management program.
International Program Director Hannah Lindoff opened her update with a slide detailing the current state of U.S./China tariffs.
Federal fisheries management needs some fine-tuning, locals say
Unequal access to fishing stocks an issue
Times-Standard by Sonia Waraich - October 5, 2019
Formerly depleted fisheries off the Pacific Coast have recovered in recent years, but North Coast fishermen are concerned larger vessels are more likely to get access to those fisheries than smaller and medium-sized vessels.
National Fish Habitat Partnership Funding $18 Million in Fish Habitat Conservation Projects
Urner Barry by Ryan Doyle - October 9, 2019
Fish habitat conservation projects will be funded across the U.S. through the National Fish Habitat Partnership program. In total, $18 million in funding will go to 83 projects in 34 states.
NGOs, state resource agencies and other partners will provide $14 million of the funding, while the Service will add the remaining $4 million.
Biologists with the Service and other stakeholders will work in priority areas to restore key fish habitats across the nation. The projects will help “restore stream banks, remove man-made barriers to fish passage, reduce erosion from farm and ranchlands and conduct studies to identify conservation needs for fish.”
“These projects represent some of the best collaborative initiatives in conservation today,” said Ed Schriever, director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and chair of the National Fish Habitat Board. “The leveraging of resources through our partnerships is remarkable, and it proves we can collectively achieve more to benefit fish habitat.”
Some of the projects set to commence include dam removals in Indiana and California to benefit smallmouth bass and salmon, and the restoration of degraded estuary habitat to benefit native fish in Hawaii.
The National Fish Habitat Partnership program is a national investment strategy to make the most out of limited resources. Stakeholder-raised funds from the federal levels, to local levels are leveraged to address the most significant fish habitat challenges across the U.S.
“We depend on the efforts of these 20 unique partnerships to help us improve fish habitat. By working together, we can maximize our conservation achievements,” said Margaret Everson, Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Find the full list of projects here.
Five Groups Sue EPA on Pebble Mine Action, then Trout Unlimited Announces Lawsuit
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - October 9, 2019
Five Bristol Bay organizations filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency for their July withdrawal of a 2014 Proposed Determination, referred to as a “pre-emptive veto” on the Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay watershed. Then this morning Trout Unlimited filed a similar suit against the EPA.
“The practical effect of the EPA’s decision was to help out a mine that would devastate a fishing and hunting paradise,” said John Holman, who grew up in Bristol Bay and owns No See Um Lodge.
“I cannot in good faith pass a business down to my family that will become a financial burden if the Pebble mine is built. Who does our government work for? This decision made it seem like the EPA and our elected officials are writing off thousands of American jobs, and businesses like mine so a foreign mining company can obliterate the land I depend on, then walk away.”
The Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC), United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Reserve Association, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA), and Bristol Bay Native Association claim the EPA’s withdrawal of the Proposed Determination is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with law, in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedures Act."
“BBEDC’s 17 member communities continue to oppose the proposed Pebble Mine project because of the overwhelming scientific evidence of the devastating impacts of large-scale mining on salmon habitat,” said Norm Van Vactor, president and CEO of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp.
“The fragile economy of our region is so dependent upon the continued success of the salmon fishery that we are obliged to oppose the improper, unlawful, and unnecessary action on the part of EPA with the litigation we filed today.”
The proposed Clean Water Act protections were first requested by six Bristol Bay Tribes in 2010, and quickly supported by commercial and sport fishing groups. The EPA's three-year public process and the resulting proposed determination included every stakeholder group – the six tribes that later became the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, state government representatives, scientific experts, Bristol Bay residents, and even the Pebble Partnership. The Watershed Assessment the EPA did identified and considered three mining scenarios. Even the smallest could eliminate 38 kilometers of streams, poison invertebrates in 21 kilometers of stream; and destroy 4.9 square kilometers of wetlands, lakes, and ponds from the mine footprint.
EPA concluded in the Proposed Determination that even the smallest scenarios, “could result in significant and unacceptable adverse effects on ecologically important streams, wetlands, lakes, and ponds and the fishery areas they support.”
In May 2014, the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) sued EPA, challenging EPA’s authority to utilize Section 404(c) in the Clean Water Act. They lost that suit.
In September 2014, PLP sued EPA again, alleging that EPA created committees with scientists and environmental groups opposed to the mine in violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. In October 2014, PLP sued the EPA over failures to comply with the Freedom of Information Act. There was a settlement agreement to resolve these last two suits, and the agency agreed to “initiate a process to propose to withdraw the Proposed Determination ….”
EPA initiated that process in July 2017 and, as they are required to do by law, requested public comments. Over a million comments came in, 99% of which were opposed to withdrawing the Proposed Determination, in favor of the pre-emptive veto.
EPA decided not to withdraw the Proposed Determination.
Then on June 26, 2019, EPA General Counsel Matthew Z. Leopold issued directions on why the Proposed Determination would be withdrawn. Directions came from Leopold, rather than Administrator Wheeler, because the Administrator formally recused himself pursuant to Executive Order 13770.
The instructions said the Proposed Determination was “out of date”, but said there is no need for public comments since so many were received earlier. However, the mine's application now is larger than the initial size considered.
A month later, on July 30, 2019, EPA announced that it was withdrawing its Proposed Determination.
“For thousands of years, the indigenous people of Bristol Bay have been careful stewards of our lands and waters, ensuring that future generations will be able to live from the bounty of the region, just as our ancestors did before us,” said Bristol Bay Native Association President/CEO Ralph Andersen.
“Protecting our resources is one of our important cultural values. Because of our careful stewardship, Bristol Bay is home to the last fully intact wild salmon fisheries and cultures in the world. The federal government has a trust responsibility to protect the resources that our cultures depend on, and eliminating the proposed protections violates that responsibility. Today we are here to state clearly that we will not allow this administration to ignore us, our way of life, and the future we have chosen for our region.”
The group filed suit in Federal Court in Anchorage, AK, then came outside to make the announcement.
The Trump "administration not only broke the law, it made clear that local people have no voice in the management of our rivers, our streams and wetlands,” said Ralph Andersen — chief executive of BBNA, a consortium of 31 tribes. “But the people of Bristol Bay are not pushovers.”
Mine developer Pebble Limited Partnership responded swiftly to the complaint, calling it “without merit" early Tuesday, the Anchorage Daily News reported yesterday.
Trout Unlimited, a conservation group, filed their lawsuit today in federal court in Anchorage.
"Look at what’s at stake and the maddening progress Pebble is making here at our expense,” said Nanci Morris Lyon, local resident and owner of Bear Trail Lodge.
“Contrary to science, the will of the people, and common sense, Pebble is advancing toward their key permit, thanks in part to agencies giving them handouts. This lawsuit calls that out. We can’t afford Pebble in Bristol Bay, and that means we need science, oversight, integrity and persistence.”
Chris Wood, CEO of the conservation group Trout Unlimited, noted that billions of dollars have been spent attempting to restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. “Meanwhile, Bristol Bay sets records for its salmon returns year after year. All we need to do is have the humility and common-sense to leave this landscape alone,” said Wood.
“Sacrificing a place as such as Bristol Bay for some gold is a short-sighted fools-errand. We are not a litigious organization, but we and millions of other sportsmen and women will not allow greed to compromise the most important salmon fishery on the planet.”
Trout Unlimited was represented pro bono by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.
“Removing the Proposed Determination was one of the most poorly justified decisions in the history of the Clean Water Act and is an affront to the fisheries, local communities, and sportsmen and women around the world,” said Wood.
Western Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings; Correction
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 10/08/2019
The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its 134th Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) meeting, American Samoa Archipelago Fishery Ecosystem Plan Advisory Panel (AP), American Samoa Regional Ecosystem Advisory Committee (REAC), Executive and Budget Standing Committee, and its 180th Council meeting to take actions on fishery management issues in the Western Pacific Region. This notice announces the cancellation of the Pelagic and International Standing Committee meeting included in the original notice, corrects the agenda for the Executive and Budget Standing Committee meeting, and corrects the venue for the AP meeting.
Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; West Coast Region, Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery: Trawl Rationalization Cost Recovery Program
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 10/09/2019
The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
PFMC: Habitat Committee to meet via webinar on October 30, 2019
Saving Seafood - Pacific Fishery Management Council - October 8, 2019
The following was released by the Pacific Fishery Management Council:
The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council) Habitat Committee will hold a meeting via webinar, which is open to the public. The webinar will be held Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and will end at noon on the same day. Public comments during the webinar will be received from attendees at the discretion of the Habitat Committee Chair.
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