Fish Factor: Payments coming for pink salmon run failure
Cordova Times by Laine Welch - January 27, 2020
It’s been a long time coming but payments should soon be in hand for Alaska fishermen, processors and coastal communities hurt by the 2016 pink salmon run failure, the worst in 40 years. The funds are earmarked for Kodiak, Prince William Sound, Chignik, Lower Cook Inlet, South Alaska Peninsula, Southeast Alaska and Yakutat.
Hottest month on record was deadly for salmon
KDLG News by Isabelle Ross - January 24, 2020
The sun beat down relentlessly on Bristol Bay this summer, heating up the rivers and lakes where millions of sockeye salmon returned to spawn. July was the region's hottest month on record, and in some rivers, that heat was lethal. Tim Sands, an area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, estimates tens of thousands of fish died.
New Research Shows Environmental Changes Led to Uptick in Whale Entanglements off West Coast
Urner Barry by Ryan Doyle - January 28, 2020
A litany of environmental changes in the Pacific Ocean due to the marine heatwave known as “the Blob” led to an increase in whale entanglements, which put one of the region’s most lucrative fisheries at risk.
As NOAA highlighted, the study showed a new challenge for fisheries managers along the west coast. The research, published in Nature Communications means that new measures to alert fishermen of entanglement risks and for quick adjustments to the rapidly changing marine environment.
“We need to put information in the hands of those who can use it, at a time when it can make a difference,” Jarrod Santora told NOAA, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) in Santa Cruz, California, and lead author of the research “We are seeing changes coming at us in ways they never have before.”
NOAA said that Santora and his colleagues are developing a website that will use oceanographic data to predict where whales are likely feeding off the West Coast. With that information, crab fishermen could better decide where to set their traps. It will also provide fishery managers with a tool to decide when to open or close fishing.
The new research teases out the ecological causes and effects that contributed to the spike in reported whale entanglements, NOAA said. Nathan Mantua, a research scientist at the SWFSC and co-author of the research said many of the traps involved in the entanglements are Dungeness crab gear.
Since the increase of entanglements, lawsuits have sprung up that would limit crab fishing. However, communications have improved following the uptick in entanglements. Working groups that were created in response have helped anticipate and avoid entanglements, according to NOAA.
During the blob years, new species entered the region due to the subtropical temperature of the water. Humpback whales’ typical prey was nowhere to be found so they adjusted to anchovy, which was located closer to the coast.
Unfortunately, that is where much of the crab gear was located and it led to a record number of entanglements in 2015 and 2016.
“If the working group knew then what we know now, it wouldn’t have happened,” said John Mellor, a crab fisherman from San Francisco, referencing the increased entanglements. “The more we understand the whole picture, the better chance we have to mitigate the impacts.”
NOAA highlighted the observations of Research Biologist Karin Forney, also from the SWFSC and a co-author of the research, who lives in Moss Landing, California.
She said that at times she would see some humpbacks feeding from her window, but during “the Blob” years she could see 30-40 whales feeding just offshore.
“In our lifetimes living here, that was unprecedented,” she said. “We knew something dramatically different was pulling these whales closer to shore.”
Forney told NOAA that the lesson of the research is that scientists and fishermen must share information with each other. They can help each other understand how environmental change can affect species and fisheries. Communication may be one of the best tools as climate change continues to alter the course.
NOAA, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Discuss Short-Term Goals to Protect North Atlantic Right Whales
Urner Barry by Ryan Doyle - January 28, 2020
NOAA Fisheries met with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada last Friday to discuss how the United States and Canada can better protect North Atlantic right whales.
Both sides focused on near-term commitments including entanglement risk reduction in Northeast trap/pot gear, assessing alternatives to reduce the number of fishing lines or the strength of the lines and discussing additional measures to protect the endangered species.
“The United States and Canada have a shared interest in recovering right whales, and it is critical for both countries to take and sustain additional efforts to reduce right whale mortalities and serious injuries,” Oliver wrote in a January 27 letter.
Following the meeting, Oliver expressed a positive feeling about the effects the meeting with Canadian officials had on the goal to conserve and restore the species. However, he did stress that this is not just on the U.S.’ shoulders.
“The U.S. industry, especially the commercial fishing industry, cannot carry the full burden of these efforts,” Oliver wrote. “It has to be a shared responsibility.”
Oliver said that with the reduced rate of calving, rapid population decline, and evidence of high mortality rates, it is now more important than ever for both countries to come together and find a solution.
The meeting was much like the meeting both sides held last August, when Canada and the United States “agreed to redouble their efforts to share innovative techniques and solutions that foster healthy fisheries, reduce the risk of entanglements, and create whale-safe shipping practices.”
The meetings come just weeks after multiple United States politicians called for a ban on Canadian snow crab, claiming that the industry is largely responsible for the rise in right whale deaths.
A December 2019 letter from Maine representatives said, “NOAA’s own data identify a number of other sources that contribute to North Atlantic right whale entanglements and serious injury and morality, including ship strikes and Canadian snow crab gear, the latter of which has entangled and killed at least 14 North Atlantic right whales.
Lyne Morissette, a Canada-based marine biologist told the CBC the embargo request was a blatant political move to benefit the American lobster industry.
The lobster industry in Maine has taken a hard stance against right whale regulations. Back in September, the Maine Lobstermen's Association backed out of an Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team agreement in September 2019 and rejected Maine’s Department of Marine Resources' protection plan in November 2019.
The most recent news of a North Atlantic right whale sighting came in early January. SeafoodNews reported that a handful of calves were spotted off the coast of Florida. The sightings sparked some hope for the species, but one of the whales appeared to have suffered injuries.
Unfortunately, NOAA called the prognosis “poor” for the whale. SeafoodNews also reported that biologists and a veterinarian were able to administer antibiotics "with the hopes of staving off infection." Biologist have kept an eye on the whale, but the latest update said, “the calf’s prognosis remains poor.”
“Our partners and stakeholders continue to look to the U.S. and Canadian governments to save this critically endangered species, and we need to deliver,” Oliver wrote.
Press Release: Bristol Bay Native Corporation Announces Leadership for Bristol Bay Seafood Investments, LLC
BBNC - January 27, 2020
Anchorage, AK— As part of its new investment into Alaska’s seafood industry, Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) has hired Amy Humphreys as President and CEO and BBNC shareholder Everette Anderson as Senior Vice President of Bristol Bay Seafood Investments, LLC. In their new positions, Humphreys and Anderson will guide and grow BBNC’s emerging venture into this major sector of Alaska’s economy and overall global commerce.
Op-ed: Paul Lansbergen: We Need To Be Proud And Loud For Our Fisheries
SeafoodNews by Paul Labsbergen, President, Fisheries Council of Canada - January 28, 2020
The world is embarking on international negotiations of a new biodiversity framework. This will include a vision for 2050 and interim targets for 2030. Marine conservation is a hot topic in these negotiations. However, some important facts often get lost in such discussions and we need to remind ourselves and others of these facts.
Part of the problem is that the fisheries sector has fallen short when telling its story. The resulting void has been filled by the sector’s critics. Their view of our world is that we are too aggressive and short-sighted. I say we need to be proud and loud about our sustainability practices.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada reports that 96 per cent of Canada’s fish stocks are harvested at sustainable levels. Wow! My parents would consider that a damn good mark. On top of that, Canada’s adoption of independent certification is multiple times higher than the global average. Another point of which we should be proud! Still, despite this, the public assumption is that the ocean and our fish stocks need special protection from us and other threats and pressures. I can’t speak for other human or industrial pressures, but I do, and will continue to, talk about our fisheries.
Fishing activity and marine conservation are not mutually exclusive. A recent academic paper by Dr. Ray Hilborn et al. documents how managed fisheries generally are more abundant and face less fishing pressure than unmanaged fisheries. That was be obvious to those of us in the sector, but this paper helps document and verify it for the public eye. Certainly, Canadian fisheries are in the well managed cohort and continue to strive for improvements.
FCC and our membership are in favour of marine conservation that aims to improve both environmental and economic sustainability in tandem. After all, we have a vested interest in protecting the resource we rely on. However, government efforts have been criticized for not delivering on the promise of science-based and transparent measures.
The Federal Government has committed to conserving 25 per cent of our waters by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030. The latest proposal for international negotiations appears even more ambitious. Fulfillment of that commitment could have significant impact on ocean and freshwater fisheries. We – government and industry – need to work together to find the win-win solution for marine biodiversity and sustainable fisheries. We can do better than just chasing a number. More legwork is needed to determine where more conservation effort is needed, to identify protection objectives and threats, and to select the best conservation measures that recognize the positive role of fisheries management and consider the socio-economic implications.
I urge all stakeholders in the fisheries industry to speak up and engage with decision makers on the topic of balancing biodiversity protection and marine conservation with economic prosperity. FCC will continue to advocate for transparency and outcomes that maximize benefits for the environment and our industry. Please don’t hesitate to contact me about how we can amplify our efforts to have a valued seat at the conservation table: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit FCC’s website for more information on our work: www.fisheriescouncil.ca
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