All fishing vessels must sign coronavirus safety agreements
Cordova Times by Zachary Snowdon Smith - April 1, 2020
Businesses and individuals, including fishing vessel operators, will be required to sign coronavirus safety agreements to conduct commercial operations in Cordova. These “mutual aid agreements” were announced Friday, March 27 by Mayor Clay Koplin.
Thousands of fishery workers, many from outside Alaska, are headed to Bristol Bay. One tiny hospital says its coronavirus plan can’t handle them.
Anchorage Daily News by Kyle Hopkins - April 3, 2020
Later this spring, Alaska’s Bristol Bay will blossom into one of the largest annual salmon fisheries in the world.
What Governor Dunleavy's Travel Mandate Means For Unalaska
KCUB by Caroline Lester - April 1, 2020
Gov. Mike Dunleavy's most recent Covid-19 health mandate has very specific instructions for travel. All in-state travel is prohibited, unless "travel is to support critical infrastructure, or for critical personal needs." Critical infrastructure includes essential businesses.
Assembly considers resolution calling for 2020 cod disaster declaration
KMXT by Maggie Wall - April 2, 2020
The closure of the 2020 Gulf of Alaska cod fishery qualifies as a fishery resource disaster because of the sudden, unexpected crash of the fish stock biomass. That’s according to a resolution being considered during tonight’s regular meeting of the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly.
Alaska’s Coastal Communities Prepare for 2020 Fishing Season as COVID-19 Cases Rise
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - April 2, 2020
With 143 cases of COVID-19 statewide and strict travel and quarantine mandates in force since March 13, 2020, Alaska's coastal communities are beginning to lay out plans for the intense days ahead when millions of salmon are harvested and processed across the state.
In Bristol Bay, home of the largest salmon run in the world, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is working with processors, city and borough officials, and state and federal agencies to coordinate the protocols needed to meet two goals: keep the COVID-19 virus from spreading and harvest the 35 milion sockeye salmon projected for 2020.
“We fully expect to execute a summer salmon season without risking public health, but we recognize that strict safety requirements must be established and enforced,” Andy Wink, executive director of BBRSDA said yesterday in their second COVID-19 Fleet Advisory. The group has put together a website with updates on protocols.
“Our primary objective right now is to protect public health, while also recognizing that this fishery economically supports thousands of people and is an important food source for the entire nation. The challenge is to avoid not only a public health crisis, but an economic crisis as well,” Wink said.
Alaska’s COVID-19 cases are so far restricted to Fairbanks and North Pole (40 cases), Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula (80), Juneau (10) and Ketchikan (14). Bristol Bay, Kodiak, and Cordova have no known cases yet.
In a normal year, Bristol Bay would have more than 15 seafood processors, each hiring hundreds of workers to process incoming salmon 24/7 during an intense few weeks at its peak in early July, within a six-week salmon season.
A major buyer is Trident Seafoods, a vertically integrated company that has already issued an advisory to customers describing the firm’s proactive steps to “mitigate the risk of disruption to our supply chain”.
Trident's Business Continuity Planning Team, a core feature of the plan, is made up of global leaders, regional coordinators, and local facility BCP teams. The network will ensure that “communications flow smoothly and rapidly across all functions and geographies around the globe” and provide nimble responses to “any issues that arise.”
The company also focuses on continuous monitoring of the virus, the economy, and other indicators so they can “quickly adapt to the evolving circumstances.” They have adopted stringent health and safety standards in their facilities, restricted busines travel, and provided remote access capabilities so workers can get information and resources need to “maintain critical busienss continuity,” said CEO Joe Bundrant.
In Bristol Bay, plans are being put together now by BBRSDA’s COVID-19 Fleet Team, made up of sub-groups to develop protocols and identifying funding needs for:
• Fisherman Travel
• Industry Separation & Self-Quarantine
• Tender-Fishermen Interactions
• Fishing Operations & Medical Response
• Economic Relief
Protocols will be ready by April 10, and Wink says groups are “examining the possibility of arranging chartered flights (to keep industry/community separate), pre-flight health screening, keeping nonresident fishermen out of local stores by having provisions delivered, medevac coverage, staying out of local airports, and confining nonresident crews to boatyard areas prior to the season.”
Fishermen who are not in the Bay now “should postpone travel to Bristol Bay until May 1, or later; and should monitor our COVID-19 website[ for any updates about new travel restrictions or requirements that may be imposed prior to their departure.
Any travellers to Bristol Bay this month will face difficulties booking flights, as the state’s largest regional airline, Ravn PenAir, told KDLG that their schedules are changing as bookings are down by almost 90%.
“We have reduced our schedules due to reduction in bookings. We have not reduced schedules to the degree bookings have dropped,” she told KDLG.
Last week Ravn laid off more than 160 of its 1,300 employees and top management took a 20% pay cut.
Travelers this month will also need to submit a Travel Action Plan and Travel Declaration Form to the State of Alaska. While commercial fishermen are able to travel for essential purposes, nonresident fishermen must still abide by the 14-day self-quarantine requirement.
“For now, the best thing fishermen and residents can do is be vigilant about social distancing and practice careful hygiene to avoid becoming infected. It’s likely that those who are sick or those who have contracted the virus will not be able to participate in commercial fishing activities this season.”
Wink acknowledges the difficulties but noted “Bristol Bay and its commercial seafood industry is filled with remarkable people, the kind of people who know how to solve tough problems and work together. The level of collaboration by leadership from all Bristol Bay stakeholders has been incredible ...”, he said.
In Cordova, the salmon season is expected to start in mid-May with king and sockeye salmon in the Copper River, followed by a seine season for pinks and chum salmon in July and a fall silver salmon season on the Copper River. As in every place in Alaska, Cordova processors are required to submit a plan to the state on how to avoid spreading the virus while processing seafood.
Processors will “quarantine all staff arriving from out of town for 14 days. Some plans may even include closing their campus to incoming and outgoing traffic altogether or keeping staff on premises for the entire season. Each processor also plans to transport new arrivals directly from the airport to their facility,” read yesterday’s news release from the city.
“Many processors are instituting health pre-screenings before potential employees board aircrafts to Cordova, and regular or daily health screenings including temperature checks while working.
“Additionally, the City of Cordova has clarified the following mitigation expectations: groceries and supplies for quarantined staff available by delivery only; social distancing of 6ft must be exercised outside of work hours as per the CITY mandate; safety policy and procedures need to be in place for office, facility and contracted staff; create social distancing in the facility as much as possible; all employees need to be educated on social hygiene measures regarding COVID 19,” the notice reads.
All vessels entering Cordova’s boat harbor will be required to sign a Mutual Aid Agreements being worked on now and expected to be available from the city’s website tomorrow. The agreement “identifies the measures taken by the City as well as protections provided by the operator to prevent the spread of COVID-19...”
It also requires vessel owners to comply with state and local mandates, including 14-days of self-quarantine upon arrival for captains and crew.
There are still many questions surrounding how to adequately communicate rules, protocols, best practices and guidance to the broader fleet of commercial fishers who enter Cordova annually. A Commercial Fishing Task Force will begin meeting regularly next week to answer these questions.
In Kodiak, Ocean Beauty Seafoods Plant Manager James Turner told the Kodiak Mirror that plans are in place to screen and quarantine the upcoming influx of workers who will arrive mid to late June.
Health screenings will take place in Seattle and Kodiak. Workers with a fever or other symptoms will be turned away. In Kodiak, all workers will spend the mandatory 14-day quarantine in quarantine apartments in Kodiak. go into the state’s required 14-day quarantined, and Ocean Beauty’s workers will be monitored continually throughout that period.
"If somebody is sick we will continue screening until we find our thresholds on those three items — fever, headaches, dry cough — and then we will make an appointment to have them tested," Turner told the Kodiak Daily Mirror.
"We will focus on local employees," Turner said. "Typically we don't bring more than 40 people, but it depends on the local workforce. With the closure of many of Kodiak's businesses, there may be more locals than normal looking for work.”
Kodiak’s largest processor Trident Seafoods, hires 200 seasonal workers and this year has flown in 15 workers from their plant in Saint Paul, Pribilof Islands. Those workers were flown in a chartered plan, the newspaper reported, so there was no risk of spreading the virus.
Shannon Carroll, Trident Seafoods' associate director of public policy, told the Kodiak Daily News that the company may not bring so many in from outside Kodiak for the salmon season that starts in late June.
Trident’s plant-specific policies are being written now, but some protocols are already in place. Workers are screened pre-embarkation, and placed in temproary isolation if travel history or health symptoms require.
Coronavirus-related closures impacting US fisheries, driving down prices
Seafood Source by Chris Chase - April 1, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the U.S., with many states issuing stay-at-home mandates that will last at least a month, a growing number of fisheries are facing choppy waters.
Seafood certification programs address COVID-19 crisis with extensions, interim policies
Seafood Source by Ned Daly - April 1, 2020
Certification programs are adjusting practices and policies in response to safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to support businesses in an already challenged industry.
'Signs of hope:' Scientists say ocean ecosystems can be restored within 30 years
The Canadian Press - April 2, 2020
We’ve saved the whales, at least some of them.
Now, scientists say, we have a chance to save the rest of the life in oceans by expanding what’s already happening around the globe.
April 4-10, 2020 PFMC Meeting Webinar Information
Pacific Fishery Management Council - April 1, 2020
The following was released by the Pacific Fishery Management Council:
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC or Council) and its advisory bodies will meet April 4‐10, 2020 by webinar only, to address issues related to groundfish, salmon, Pacific halibut, coastal pelagic species, and administrative matters.
Support sustainable fisheries while social distancing
Fisheries Bulletin - March 30, 2020
Social distancing due to COVID-19 has devastated restaurants. Most have been forced to close or are only open for takeout or delivery. The impacts of their closures have similarly devastated tangential businesses like the fishing industry—over half of all seafood is eaten at restaurants, a much higher proportion than any other major foodstuff.
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