Wednesday, December 4, 2019

December 4, 2019

 

Alaska/Pacific Coast

Restrictions in place for P-cod fishery in Central GOA
Cordova Times - December 3, 2019
Federal fisheries officials have halted Pacific cod harvests through Dec. 31 for catcher vessels 50 feet in length and larger using hook-and-line gear in the Central Gulf of Alaska to be sure their harvest stays within the 382 metric ton total allowable catch.
https://www.thecordovatimes.com/2019/12/03/restrictions-in-place-for-p-cod-fishery-in-central-goa/

SE Alaska pink salmon forecast in weak range
Purse seine fisheries in-season will be managed based on run strength
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - December 3, 2019
State biologists are forecasting a Southeast Alaska 2020 pink salmon harvest in the weak range, with a probability of 12 million fish, in a range of 7 million to 19 million humpies.
https://www.thecordovatimes.com/2019/12/03/se-alaska-pink-salmon-forecast-in-weak-range/


Environment/Science
Massive Effort Planned to Restore Upper Fraser for 2020 Salmon Return
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - December 2, 2019
The Big Bar landslide north of Lillooet, B.C., was discovered in June and initial estimates show 75,000 cubic meters of material fell into the river. That amount is roughly the size of 750 football fields of rock and riverbank.

The federal call for help came from the Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of DFO, seeking input from the private sector and other experts to re-establish natural fish passage at the site of the slide.

The government documents say the request will only be open until Dec. 6, given the “urgency” of the situation. Timing is critical because the low-water window on the river is only December to March.

Meanwhile, experts say First Nations need more authority to save the runs, and local conservationists who have studied the upper Fraser for years say their “worst nightmares are being realized.”

Dustin Snyder, vice president of the Spruce City Wildlife Association in Prince George, watched last summer as a single female chinook salmon managed to complete the journey to her spawning grounds in Valemount's Swift Creek.

"She swam back and forth and eventually died all by herself," Snyder said.

"There's multiple streams up here that didn't see any fish return and the ones that did see fish have seen very few.”

The news that federal scientists fear the possible extinction of some salmon populations due to the landslide didn’t surprise Snyder.

"We've seen these stocks continuously decline, and what the Big Bar situation has done is really bring them to their knees," he told CBC.

Immediate action is needed, say those familiar with the salmon in the upper Fraser, and one of the first steps needs to be granting more power to First Nations and other local bodies.

Chief Terry Teegee, B.C. regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, said the transfer of authority would allow Indigenous groups to "make proper decisions" based on longstanding, firsthand knowledge of the crisis.

That call was echoed by Bill Valentine, a former B.C. deputy minister for fisheries who sat on the Pacific Salmon Commission from 1993 to 2000.

"We now need to figure out aggressively what needs to be done," he said. "That means regional bodies and First Nations need to be moved ... from consulting on fisheries into a role where they play a significant role, making management decisions."

The slide happened in October or November 2018 but wasn’t discovered until June 2019, just as salmon entered the Fraser downstream. The impact of the slide created a five-meter, boulder-laden waterfall, making it impossible for migrating salmon to push through to their natal streams.

The effort to help this year’s returning salmon was massive. More than 60,000 fish were captured, stored in tanks, and then lifted past the obstruction by helicopter over the summer. Others managed to swim past after water levels fell.

But despite those efforts, this year's returns are looking grim, CBC reported.

The presentation suggested that besides the Early Stuart sockeye and the Mid-Fraser and Upper Fraser Spring 1.3 chinook, at least three other runs are at "considerable risk" depending on water levels in the river next year.

Tegee said that governments have been too slow to react to threats to the salmon, including the Big Bar slide.

"I think our worst nightmares are being realized," Teegee said.

He said that when he was tribal chief for the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, fisheries management rarely reflected the emergency situation he was seeing on the upper Fraser.

"For the last two decades we've wanted to see more intervention, more planning and better management practices, better decisions — time and time again," Teegee told CBC.

Valentine said that during his time on the Pacific Salmon Commission, the focus was too often on making sure that Canadian fishermen had an equal share of the catch compared to their American counterparts, rather than conserving the future of the salmon.

In recent years, he believes the management approach has been too segregated, treating salmon stocks as a separate issue from forestry, mining or the environment in general. Changing that approach is especially critical now that the effects of human-caused climate change are being felt in the aquatic environment.

"When you're managing fish, you're not only managing fish. You're managing habitat, you're managing human development, you're managing urban and industrial development," Valentine said.

Dean Werk, president of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society, said prospects are dismal for the salmon in the upper reaches of the river.

"We're talking about virtually a collapse — a total collapse — of the salmon stocks above the Big Bar slide," Werk told CBC.

"This is devastating to the wild salmon population. Some of those upper river streams were supposed to be the largest component of this year's sockeye run.”

Werk says the federal government should declare a state of emergency and make saving the salmon of the upper Fraser a priority. The first step, in his mind, would be removing the obstruction.

"If we do not look after coming up with a very fast solution over the winter months … this is going to be compounded two seasons in a row," Werk said.

He wrote to the federal government on behalf of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society earlier this month, pleading for action before the 2020 runs.

The federal request for information issued last week called for ideas to clear out the landside to allow salmon to pass through naturally. But the Oct. 16 presentation obtained by the CBC noted that as of October “zero tonnes of rock had been removed from the slide area” according to the news agency, and there's a "good chance" that natural passage won't be restored in time for the 2020 salmon run.

The documents say the extinction of upper Fraser salmon species could result in economic losses throughout British Columbia and pose risks to the food security and culture of many Indigenous communities along the river.

The slide occurred in the traditional territory of the High Bar and Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nations but the government says an additional 140 First Nations may feel the effects.

“Without immediate environmental remediation, many salmon stocks native to the upper Fraser River (a large geographic region of BC) may become extinct,” the document says.

Federal and provincial governments, alongside multiple First Nations, have worked together to respond to the landslide at Big Bar.

In an email to CBC reporter Lindsay, a B.C. government spokesperson said the province "will continue working with our partners over the coming months to undertake the important efforts required to protect salmon.”

A spokesperson from Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the health of Pacific salmon is a central priority for the ministry in B.C. and it will continue to work with Indigenous and community partners to protect the species.

It added it will also be meeting with First Nations, partners and stakeholders to provide updates on the next steps.

A DFO spokesperson also told CBC it's too early to confirm how many fish made it back to their spawning grounds, but acknowledged that some runs are expected to have low numbers this year, in part because of the Big Bar slide.

"While some early estimates on 2019 returns are circulating, work is ongoing to finalize the scientific evaluation around the fish migration, spawning and mortality data, which will be released once completed," Louise Girouard told CBC in an email.
In September, the federal government department drastically dropped the number of expected 2019 Fraser River sockeye returns to a little more than 600,000, down from an earlier projection of close to five million.
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1158282/Massive-Effort-Planned-to-Restore-Upper-Fraser-for-2020-Salmon-Return


Federal Register
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 12/03/2019
NMFS proposes 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2020 and 2021 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). The 2020 harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, and the 2021 harvest specifications will be superseded in early 2021 when the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications are published. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/12/03/2019-26090/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-bering-sea-and-aleutian-islands-proposed-2020


FYI’s
TOAST TO THE COAST - An event to end hunger
TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
Thursday, December 5, 2019
6:00 – 8:30 pm at the Anchorage Museum
Presented by Pacific Seafood Processors Association in partnership with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
Join us for Toast to the Coast- a fundraiser for Bean's Cafe & The Children's Lunchbox.
https://myalaskatix.com/events/Toast-to-the-Coast--An-Event-to-End-Hunger--Presented-by-PSPA-for-Beans-Cafe-and-The-Childrens-Lunchbox-12--5-2019-54197

New Crab Pot Could Help Reduce Whale Entanglements
Oregon’s Dungeness crab season is coming up, but there’s a problem looming over this fishery.
US News by Cassandra Profita, Associated Press - December 1, 2019
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s Dungeness crab season is coming up, but there’s a problem looming over this fishery.
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/oregon/articles/2019-12-01/new-crab-pot-could-help-reduce-whale-entanglements

PFMC: Area 2A Pacific Halibut Manager’s Webinar Meeting to be held on January 7, 2020
Pacific Fishery Management Council - December 3, 2019
The following was released by the Pacific Fishery Management Council:
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) will host a webinar meeting of the Area 2A Pacific halibut governmental management entities on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, or until business for the day is completed. No management actions will be decided by the attendees.  The webinar will be open to the public, and the agenda, which will be posted on the Pacific Council website prior to the meeting, will provide for a public comment period.
https://www.savingseafood.org/news/council-actions/pfmc-area-2a-pacific-halibut-managers-webinar-meeting-to-be-held-on-january-7-2020/
 

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
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Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: admin@pspafish.net; Website: www.pspafish.net
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