From fish to fires, Bristol Bay had a remarkable 2019
KDLG by Isabelle Ross - January 3, 2020
What defined this year in Bristol Bay? There were significant developments across the region: The summer was extremely hot and dry; wells in Dillingham and King Salmon tested positive for high levels of the manmade chemicals PFAS in the first months of the year; and there were major steps toward regionally-generated hydroelectric energy.
Forecast is robust for Sitka Sound herring fishery
Sitka Tribe of Alaska urges greater conservation in management
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - January 9, 2020
All signs point to a robust forecast for the Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery in 2020, with a guideline harvest level of 25,824 tons, more than double the GHL of a year ago, when the fishery was closed due to lack of commercial markets.
Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT by Maggie Wall - January 9, 2020
The Alaska Board of Fisheries is meeting in Kodiak Jan. 11-14 to consider a number of finfish proposals, several of which pit Kodiak fishermen against Chignik and Cook Inlet in a fight for salmon.
Talk of the Rock — Jan. 9, 2019 Special Program — Alaska Board of Fisheries meets this weekend in Kodiak
KMXT by Maggie Wall - January 9, 2020
Our guests for this special Thursday Talk of the Rock program are Denby Lloyd and Duncan Fields, who explain the issues facing Kodiak salmon fishermen coming up at the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting. The Board of Fish meets Jan. 11 through 14 at the Kodiak Convention Center.
Kodiak Salmon Fisheries Could Take a Big Hit From BOF Proposals
SeafoodNews by Laine Welch - January 10, 2020
This is Alaska Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Will Kodiak lose its salmon to other regions? The Fish Board will decide. More after this –
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Kodiak could take a big hit to its salmon fisheries as other regions try and lay claim to more fish.
The Board of Fisheries will take up several proposals this weekend in Kodiak that again aim to change salmon management on the entire west side of the island. Most have resurfaced regularly over decades.
Five proposals from Chignik would change a plan that’s been in place for 40 years. They call for changing the dates and timing that Kodiak fishermen could fish at Cape Igvak on the Alaska Peninsula, which would reduce their historical time on the water by 75%. About 100 Kodiak boat’s fish the Cape.
They also want to change Kodiak’s percentage of the Chignik-bound sockeye from 15% to 5%, a 56% total reduction for Kodiak fishermen.
The Fish Board takes up regional issues on a three year cycle and protocol would indicate they will use that frame for their Kodiak decisions.
In 2016, stock identifications showed that over 90% of the fish caught at Cape Igvak that year were of Cook Inlet origin, not Chignik, an amount that varies from year to year. Kodiak has not fished the Cape for two years due to low numbers of Chignik bound sockeyes.
The call for change simply doesn’t hold up, says Duncan Fields of Kodiak’s Salmon Working Group.
“The facts or the circumstances for making changes to the fishery simply aren’t there. With one year of data and the data being unusual because of this presence of this Cook Inlet fish in the Chignik fishery.”
A proposal by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association - number 66 - calls for a whole new management plan for Kodiak that would impose sockeye catch caps on the west side of Kodiak Island.
“Even the Department of Fish and Game, which has really been careful not to take a position on allocative proposals, has said they oppose this UCIDA proposal, number 66, because it is burdensome and would be very difficult to implement and it probably is not going to achieve the end of protecting Cook Inlet fish.”
Proposal 37 calls for Kodiak and Cook Inlet Chinook salmon catches to be managed under a single plan at times of low abundance. Fields says Kodiak catches 8,000 Chinook salmon on average of which 2% come from Cook Inlet.
The combined proposals would be an $8 million loss to Kodiak salmon fishermen, Fields says.
He wants the Kodiak meeting to serve as a catalyst to stop proposals that resurface for decades, calling it a misuse of time, effort and resources.
“But when that proposal goes in and you’re in a defensive posture defending it, it’s taking hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars in analysis just to maintain the status quo. And that kind of inequity I think should be addressed by the board.”
The Fish Board meets in Kodiak January 11 through 14. Find links to live streams at www.alaskafishradio.com and on Facebook and Twitter.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods -- an Alaska corporation proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture. In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch. www.oceanbeauty.com
Marine Stewardship Council’s Certifier MRAG Americas Calls for Audit on Gulf of Alaska Cod
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - January 8, 2020
The Marine Stewardship Council’s certifying agency for Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod, MRAG Americas of Florida, announced an expedited audit for the GOA Pcod based on the new stock assessment that resulted in the fishery’s 2020 closure last month.
“New information on stock status provided by NOAA Fisheries and decisions of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in December of 2019” is the basis for a desk-based audit covering Principle 1 (stock status) only, the MSC announcement reads.
Links to the new information include the 149-page stock assessment from November 2019, the presentation given to the council and the TAC-setting motion made December 6, 2019.
Stakeholders are invited to provide information, such as knowledge and concerns about the fishery, to the expedited assessments of the fishery. The MSC has developed a guide for stakeholder input and a template for stakeholder response available at MSC program supporting documents. Unless covered by FCP 4.4.1 any information that cannot be shared with other stakeholders even under a confidentiality agreement shall not be: referenced in the surveillance audit, used to determine the surveillance audit outcome or used as the basis for an objection to certification.
Commenters must use the template to provide their response. All comments and inquiries should be directed to MRAG Americas at the address below. If stakeholders are interested in a meeting with the certifiers, they should provide their:
• name and contact details
• association with the fishery
• the issues to be discuss
• where and when to meet
All written information or request for a meeting should be received by MRAG Americas by 5pm GMT on 30 January 2020.
More information on the fishery is available at https://fisheries.msc.org/en/fisheries/bsai-and-goa-pacific-cod/@@view.
Please send any documentation, requests for meetings, or inquiries to:
MRAG Americas, Inc.
8950 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., Suite 202
St. Petersburg FL 33702
Russian cod and halibut get MSC certification
Seafood Source by Ivan Stupachenko - January 9, 2020
Members of the Russia-based Longline Fishery Association (LFA) have earned Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for their Pacific halibut and Pacific cod fisheries in three zones of the Bering Sea.
Scientists, Fishermen Team Up to Track Cod in Alaska’s Outermost Aleutian Islands
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - January 8, 2020
Last winter scientists and Alaskan fishermen agreed to launch a pilot study to develop methods for tagging cod on active commercial fishing vessels in the Aleutian Island.
Satellite tags had never been used on Pacific cod. No one had recorded seasonal movements of cod in the Aleutian Islands. This was the first time industry, scientists, and the fishing community all took part in the research.
Participants were Alaska Fisheries Science Center, the Adak Community Development Corporation (ACDC), B&N Fisheries, Aleutian Spray Fisheries, American Seafoods Corp, Freezer Longline Coalition, Golden Harvest, Ocean Peace, Inc., O’Hara Corporation and United States Seafoods.
“This project is something that many of us have been interested in seeing happen for a long time," said Captain Dan Carney, F/V Ocean Explorer.
"Though we have fished in this area for decades, almost nothing is known about the migration of these stocks. Where do they come from? Where do they go? It is vital to fisheries management and fishermen alike to know as much about the movement and habitat of these fish as possible.”
Carney's vessel and crew provided the platform and expertise to catch, tag, and release the cod.
Onshore, Dave Fraser of ACDC, knew that the research would support the sustainability of the remote community.
“Cod is the primary species that supports the operation of a shorebased processing facility in Adak, and the processing plant in turn is the primary driver of the Adak economy,” said Fraser.
“Given the importance of cod to the sustainability of our community, it is critical that the Aleutian Islands cod stock is itself sustainably managed.
“We have long been aware that the size and age distribution of the winter season commercial fisheries cod catch differs dramatically from that of the summer trawl survey,” Fraser said.
“Depending on the reason for that difference, we could be either under- or overestimating the stock size and the Allowable Biological Catch,” he noted.
“Fishermen catch big cod in their Aleutian spawning grounds during the winter fishery. The NOAA Fisheries stock assessment survey catches a wider range of sizes—large and smaller fish—in the summer, ” said David Bryan of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, co-leader of the study with Alaska Fisheries Science Center colleague Susanne McDermott. “Why are they different? ”
McDermott offered a few possible explanations for this:
Fishermen target cod during the winter when they are aggregated for spawning, and those fish tend to be large mature Pacific cod.
The survey samples a wider range of locations during the summer survey and uses a net with smaller mesh sizes that leads to a greater diversity of sizes.
Some portion of the large cod in the population might prefer rocky and high current habitat, which is difficult to survey with bottom trawls.
Before the pilot program began it was common knowledge that Aleutian Islands cod are a distinct population living in a unique environment. While Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska cod stock abundances have changed dramatically in recent years, the Aleutian stock has remained stable. The Alaska Fisheries Science Center, reporting on the project, attributed that to the physical oceanography around the islands that maintains relatively cool, constant temperatures in a warming ocean.
Pacific cod are known to migrate long distances seasonally -- as far as 1,000 kilometers in the Bering Sea.
Goals of the pilot study, in addition to gathering data on migration routes, included developing methods to tag Pacific cod with pop-up satellite tags aboard working commercial fishing vessels and collecting data on age structure, length distribution, genetic origin, and spawning condition of the fish in the region.
The fishing industry provided financial support to buy high tech satellite tags for the study. John Gauvin of the Alaska Seafood Cooperative organized the collection of these funds and advocated for the North Pacific Research Board to support an Aleutian Island Pacific cod tagging project.
A total of 21 pop-up satellite-tagged cod were released in Nazan Bay from the trawl vessel F/V Ocean Explorer. An additional 15 tagged fish were released near Adak from the pot vessel F/V Deliverance.
“With the smaller pot vessel we were able to tag cod close to shore, in areas that we couldn’t have gotten to from the larger trawl vessel. With the Ocean Explorer we went further offshore,” McDermott said. “Both vessels provided sea time and expert personnel at no cost.”
In addition to the tag release at sea, Bryan, McDermott, and Fraser collected more than 300 length measurements as well as other biological data.
“The pilot study showed that this kind of collaboration works really well,” Bryan said. “We can work with fishermen without interfering with fishing operations. We can apply their knowledge and use cutting-edge technology to better understand key patterns of movement for commercially important fish.”
“It was important to me to learn as much as possible about the spawning characteristics and where cod travel to and from when spawning. I have my own concerns about the overall health of cod in the Aleutians. I thought this would clarify some of those. And it was really fun working with Susanne and Dave,” said Todd HOppe, Captain of the F/V Deliverance.
“Pop-up” satellite tags were programmed to detach from the fish on a predetermined schedule. Each tag floats to the surface and begins transmitting data about one fish’s journey.
“That’s the most exciting thing—finding out where the fish go,” said Bryan.
Not all of the tags have popped yet. Some are scheduled for later. A few of the largest tagged fish died. The team suspects larger fish may be more susceptible to trauma from being brought up from depth.
But the tags that have surfaced have revealed the first information about where cod go when they leave their winter spawning grounds.
Seven of nine fish went straight to Seguam Pass. One went far west to Petrel Bank—a distance of over 400 kilometers.
“The fish that went to Petrel swam across deep cuts without going to the bottom. We didn’t know if they could do that, but that one did. Cod usually hang near the bottom, at least in the Bering Sea,“ said Bryan. “But again, the Aleutians are a different environment.”
“What is really fascinating is that the fish went directly from the spawning grounds to feeding grounds within weeks,” McDermott said. “Both places that they went have major Atka mackerel aggregations. They could be prey for larger cod. We plan to find out if we have stomach data from those areas to see if the cod there are eating Atka mackerel.”
The tags recorded a great deal of vertical movement as well as long distances traveled. On average, the fish rose and descended 200 feet daily.
“These ups and downs may suggest that the fish are traveling in rocky, steep, untrawlable areas. That would be an interesting finding if they are spending time where the survey vessels can’t go,” Bryan said.
More tags will be popping up soon. One is scheduled for this month; four at the end of February—one year since they were released.
“Will they show back up at the spawning site where we tagged them?” McDermott asks. “Spawning aggregations have gathered at both Nazan Bay and Adak for many years. Fishermen can return to the same spot every winter to fish. We are learning more and more that many fish home to specific places to spawn. It will be very interesting to see if they come back to the exact place we released them.”
As for the reason for the size difference between winter fishery and summer survey cod, the answer is just beginning to emerge.
“In the future, as more tags are released and we track more fish, we will have a better understanding of the migratory pathways of bigger fish and whether they are spending time where surveys can’t reach them. We hope to tag some fish in the summer as well, possibly in areas farther to the west,” Bryan said.
“First we need to figure out how big a box these fish are moving in,” McDermott said. “Then we can start unraveling the way their life cycle works.”
This tagging project is part of a broader effort at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center to study the movement patterns of Pacific cod. Bryan and McDermott are also part of a project that tagged 38 cod in the northern Bering Sea. They worked with the Norton Sound Economic Development Council and Alaska Native community members in Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island in the summer of 2019.
NFI launches new 2020 logo highlighting milestone anniversary
Seafood Source by Madelyn Kearns - January 6, 2020
The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is kicking off its celebration of 75 years as an incorporated commercial trade association for the seafood industry with the unveiling of a new logo.
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