City Council passes resolution in support of Kodiak salmon fisheries
KMXT by Kavitha George - October 10, 2019
Kodiak City Council passed a resolution in support of Kodiak salmon fisheries on Thursday night. The resolution urges the Board of Fisheries, under the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to maintain traditional management of Kodiak salmon fishery. It also requests that the upcoming January meeting of the board stay in Kodiak, instead of being moved to Anchorage.
Red king crabs still in a spiral
National Fisherman by Charlie Ess - October 10, 2019
Alaska red king crabbers fished on a total allowable catch of 4.3 million pounds in the 2018-19 season, the lowest since 1982, when managers called for an in-season revision and limited the harvest to 4.7 million pounds.
In Unalaska, cruise ships bring possibility and peril
Bristol Bay Times by Michelle Theriault Boots - October 11, 2019
UNALASKA — It was a regular September Sunday in Unalaska: Towering volcanic mountains still velvety green and exploding with blueberries, rafts of otters floating near shore, fish processing plants humming. The wind blew a steady 20 mph, good enough for the daily flight from Anchorage to attempt a landing.
Unalaska mayor laments 'depressing' year for crab
Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin - October 11, 2019
There will be a Bristol Bay red king crab fishery this year, though at an extremely low level, continuing a downward trend that probably hasn't yet hit the bottom.
Pacific tribes across borders declare ‘salmon emergency’
Alaska Public Media News by Jacob Resneck - October 11, 2019
The Taku River is one of the transboundary salmon rivers covered by the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Tribal representatives from across Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and Washington state are sounding the alarm over threats posed to wild salmon across state and national borders.
NMFS Publishes Proposed Habitat Designation for Pacific Humpback Whales
SeafoodNews.com by Susan Chambers - October 10, 2019
The federal government this week published a proposed rule designating 302,961 square nautical miles as critical habitat for three populations of humpback whales off the West Coast and Alaska.
The NMFS announcement follows a court-approved agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Wishtoyo Foundation to issue new protections. The groups sued the Trump administration for failing to protect two Pacific Ocean humpback populations listed as endangered and a third as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“Pacific humpback whales will be safer in their ocean home with these protections,” Catherine Kilduff, a Center attorney, said in a press release. “Humpbacks delight whale watchers with their antics, but these playful animals are highly vulnerable to human activities in coastal waters. Identifying their critical habitat is an important way to protect them from speeding ships, oil spills and fishing gear.”
One population of endangered humpback whales that feeds off California’s coast contains fewer than 800 individuals. At least 54 humpback whales were found tangled up in fishing gear off the West Coast in 2016, but that number dropped significantly in 2017 but rose again slightly in 2018. In 2018, 34 humpbacks were identified as being entangled in fishing gear, according to NMFS statistics.
Following the dramatic rise in entanglements in 2015 and 2016, all three West Coast states formed some sort of outreach group with their respective seafood industry representatives to devise ways to reduce or avoid whale entanglements, particularly in Dungeness crab gear.
Under a separate suit the Center filed against the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, crabbers, the state and the Center negotiated a settlement agreement to stop fishing in April this year, cutting the crab season short by a few months.
The rule designates 48,459 square miles of critical habitat off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington for the humpback population that winters in Central America. The Mexico population got 175,812 square miles in the North Pacific Ocean, including Bristol Bay, Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska — regions that also made up the 78,690 square miles listed for the Western North Pacific humpback population. Eliminating the overlap among the three populations, a total of 175,812 square miles are proposed for protection.
According to the Federal Register notice, the top six activities with a Federal nexus identified as having the potential to affect the humpbacks' essential prey feature and as being expected to occur within the specific critical habitat areas include:
1. Commercial fishing;
2. Oil and gas activities (including seismic surveys);
3. Alternative energy development;
4. In-water construction (including dredging and offshore mining);
5. Vessel traffic (specifically, activities related to establishment of the shipping lanes established by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG; and
"These activities have the potential to affect the essential feature by altering or reducing the quantity, quality, or the availability of the prey feature essential to the conservation of one or more of the listed DPSs of humpback whales," the FR notice said.
Ship strikes and oil spills are the other major threats to West Coast humpback whales, according to the Center. A study found that an estimated 22 humpback whales off California, Oregon and Washington die each year after being hit by ships. The Trump administration last year proposed to aggressively expand offshore oil drilling in the Pacific, a plan temporarily suspended earlier in 2019 until after next year’s presidential election.
Critical habitat protection will help safeguard ocean areas essential for migrating and feeding, the Center said in the press release. The designation will ensure that federally permitted activities do not destroy or harm important whale habitat. Evidence shows that endangered or threatened species that have protected critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering as those without it, the Center said.
NMFS identified three humpback whale populations that need critical habitat in 2016: the threatened Mexico population that feeds off the U.S. West Coast and Alaska; the endangered Central America population that feeds almost exclusively off California and Oregon; and the Western North Pacific population that feeds off the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
Earlier this week, NMFS contacted state counties adjacent to the proposed designated habitats, suggesting county leaders may want to comment on the proposed rule.
The proposed rule can be found at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/10/09/2019-21186/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-proposed-rule-to-designate-critical-habitat-for-the . Comments should be received by Dec. 9, 2019.
Labeling and Marketing
3MMI - Halibut Market Update, Armchair Fishermen & Quota Leases
TradexFoods - October 14, 2019
--- As "Armchair Fishermen" pocket as much as 75 percent of profits and quotas are becoming monopolized, it was just a matter of time before this issue finally received Government intervention. With about a month of fishing left latest catch figures are for an estimated 84 percent of the quota harvested. In Alaska, about 80 percent of the catch went to the fresh market...
Responsible Fisheries Management: Alaska’s certification program will go it alone
National Fisherman by Jessica Hathaway - October 10, 2019
The annual meeting for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute comes to a close Thursday, Oct. 10, as the board is asked to consider a range of new topics coming out of the organization’s committee meetings over the last two days.
Value-added seafood taps into need for convenience
Supermarket Perimeter by Andy Nelson - October 11, 2019
Bensenville, Illinois-based Fortune Fish & Gourmet defines value-added seafood as raw product that has been enhanced with a seasoning, breading, marinade or stuffing to help make consumer meal preparation easier, says Stacy Schultz, the company’s director of marketing and sustainability coordinator.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Halibut Deck Sorting Monitoring Requirements for Trawl Catcher/Processors Operating in Non-Pollock Groundfish Fisheries off Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 10/15/2019
NMFS issues regulations to implement catch handling and monitoring requirements to allow Pacific halibut (halibut) bycatch to be sorted on the deck of trawl catcher/processors (C/Ps) and motherships participating in the non-pollock groundfish fisheries off Alaska. Halibut bycatch must be discarded and returned to the sea with a minimum of injury in the directed groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) management areas. This final action includes additional minor regulatory changes that improve consistency and clarity of existing regulations, removes unnecessary and outdated regulations, and updates cross references to reflect these new regulations.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 10/15/2019
NMFS is prohibiting retention of Pacific cod by vessels using trawl gear and not participating in the cooperative fishery of the Rockfish Program in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary because the 2019 total allowable catch of Pacific cod allocated to vessels using trawl gear and not participating in the cooperative fishery of the Rockfish Program in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA has been reached.
Press Release: AFDF Becomes New Client for MSC Certification of Alaska Salmon
Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation - October 11, 2019
WRANGELL, Alaska (October 11th, 2019) – On October 1st, 2019, the Pacific Seafood Processors Association (PSPA) transferred the Clientship and MSC certificate for Alaska salmon to the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF), concluding a deliberate and cooperative transfer process. The MSC certificate for the Alaska salmon fishery remains unchanged and in good standing. The Alaska salmon fishery originally received the sustainability certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2000. On April 23rd, 2019, the Alaska salmon fishery successfully completed the full 5-year re-certification under MSC. The current certificate is valid through November 11th, 2023 (see MSC website for full certificate).
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