Alaska Community Asks for Fishery Shutdown Because of Virus
An Alaska tribe and city have asked the governor to shut down a prosperous fishery this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
USNews by Associated Press - April 8, 2020
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska tribe and city asked have the governor to shut down a prosperous fishery this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fishermen concerned over Pebble employee appointed to Board of Fisheries
KTUU by Grant Robinson - April 8, 2020
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - While communities and fishermen in Bristol Bay are facing an immediate challenge in deciding if and how to hold the $300 million salmon fishery in a few weeks, an appointment to the Board of Fisheries is adding to the stress felt by many in the region.
COVID-19 Proposed Ideas & Planning Update
BBRSDA - April 8, 2020
BBRSDA and a team of fishermen has been collaborating with processors, regional working groups, and support businesses in order to develop a set of proposed safety ideas with the goal of executing a safe and successful 2020 season. Our team includes individuals with subject-matter expertise, and we have been well supported by other experts and industry leaders. Today, we issued an advisory containing information about future needs and BBRSDA capabilities, as well as a list of proposed fleet & community safety ideas. Please click on the links below to access these documents, and see our COVID-19 website for more information.
Are fish processors’ quarantine plans enough to keep rural communities safe? Some villages are speaking up
KDLG by Isabelle Ross - April 9, 2020
The big processors gearing up to operate in Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery this summer have laid out aspects of their safety protocols that they say will allow them to participate safely in the upcoming season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Alaska Seafood Industry Launches Massive Effort to Fish the Bay Without Spreading the Virus
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - April 9, 2020
Bristol Bay’s processors and fishermen have been working non-stop for the past several weeks to establish protocols that will allow this summer’s sockeye season to happen. Eleven major companies have announced they will process this year and as of today, seven have submitted detailed plans to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
The conditions the processors and fishermen are facing are anathema to any business -- no one knows how bad the COVID-19 spread will be in June when the fishery opens, or in July when harvesting is at its peak. No one knows how lethal it will be during the summer in Bristol Bay, which in recent years has been significantly warmer for both humans and salmon.
Among this uncertainty, the stakes could not be higher -- 37 million sockeye are expected to be harvested by the end of July, with a workforce of 12,000 who arrive in May and June to work on boats, in plants, or for supporting businesses in the region.
“The fish will come,” as the mayor of Dillingham and the regional tribal chief wrote when asking Alaska’s Governor Mike Dunleavy to shut down the fishery in the name of public health.
A day after that letter was sent, the group of 11 processors sent a letter to “communities and tribal councils of Bristol Bay” listing protective measures that, along with continued “collaborative efforts will help ensure a safe and productive salmon season.”
The detailed plans that have been submitted so far range in size from 5 pages to nearly 50 pages. Each of them is a work in progress, as detection protocols -- COVID-19 testing for the virus and for antibodies, for instance -- are changing with increased research around the world.
Bristol Bay is one of Alaska’s largest and most remote fishing areas. There are no roads from the rest of Alaska to there. In the off season, Dillingham has the highest population concentration, but during the season Dillingham, Naknek, Clark Point, Egegik and other areas swell with processing workers and fishermen. Dilingham is a town in an unincorporated borough, so decisions are made by a mayor and administration. The area’s only hospital is located there, as well as a commercial airport.
Naknek is the borough seat for the Bristol Bay Borough, which includes King Salmon where there is a second airport.
In the last several weeks, the Seattle-based Pacific Seafood Processors Association (PSPA) formed a Alaska Fishing Industry Safety & Health Committee (AFISH) to develop a plan that would protect Alaska’s remote fishing communities while allowing the season to happen. Subcommittees and task force groups were organized across topics and between participating regions and locations, including a Naknek taskforce.
“We want to recognize that it is a privilege to be able to operate in Bristol Bay, and that our primary focus is the health and safety of residents, processing workers, and fishermen,“ reads PSPA’s letter to the communities.
Following that letter, written on behalf of PSPA’s members Alaska General Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, and Peter Pan Seafoods, those companies and seven more sent a letter with specific committments to the region for operating during the season.
The group letter sent Tuesday confirmed the companies’ “commitment that we are prioritizing the health and safety of the Communities and Tribal Councils of Bristol Bay.
“The Naknek/King Salmon Taskforce of the Alaska Fishing Industry Safety & Health (AFISH) Committee developed a guideline list of safety protocols that participating seafood companies and other participants could use to improve specific company plans during the 2020 Bristol Bay salmon season. We commit to implementing these guidelines and have incorporated them into our plans,” reads the letter.
The plans all include:
• Verbally screening all employees before they are given incoming flight information. The screening includes asking about COVID-19 symptoms and whether they, or someone they have had close contact with, has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
• Conducting an in-person medical screening (questions and temperature check) at the Anchorage or SeaTac airport.
• Scheduling the most direct flights to King Salmon to reduce time in other airports.
• Instructing employees to meet their company contact outside of the King Salmon airport to limit the number of people in the airport building at one time.
• Operating as a closed campus. No visitors will be allowed at the plant, and employees will be told that the campus is closed, meaning they have to stay on company property.
• Ensuring the 14-day quarantine standard is applied, upon arrival, to employees arriving from other locations, in accordance with State Health Mandates.
• In-person medical screening before the start of each shift.
• Practicing social distancing whenever possible, including, but not limited to:
* Staggering coffee breaks.
* Maintaining a distance of 6+ feet from others.
• Limiting the number of plant personnel who have a business need to interact with the local community (“runners”).
• Training runners on social distancing and hygiene practices.
• Following protocols established by local businesses.
• Encourage everyone to handle business indirectly via email, phone calls, mail, or fax.
• Eliminating self-service in the cookhouse.
• Requiring mandatory hand washing or sanitizing to enter the cookhouse.
• Training the cookhouse staff on hygiene practices related to reducing virus transmission.
• Increasing the number of employees on the housekeeping staff and implementing a thorough, rigorous cleaning and disinfecting schedule for all high-contact surfaces throughout the plant (doorknobs, handrails, tables, counters, etc.).
• Working with our fishing fleets to minimize their movement within the community and the plant.
• Ensuring any employees who terminate employment before the end of the season are provided with transportation out of King Salmon.
The letter was signed by Icicle Seafoods, North Pacific Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Deep Sea Fisheries, Alaska General Seafoods, Silver Bay Seafoods, E&E Foods, Copper River Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, and Leader Creek Fisheries.
Ray Hilborn is optimistic fishery management can work
National Fisherman by Jerry Fraser - April 8, 2020
If you find it hard to imagine a college professor (of a subject other than epidemiology) drawing a crowd nowadays, I’m with you. Yet that is exactly what fisheries scientist Ray Hilborn did April 2.
A remarkable thing': Salmon fry born from sperm frozen 20 years ago set to be released
Biologists feeding salmon adjust to physical distancing practices to care for young fish
CBC News - Apr 06, 2020
Salmon in B.C. have been through a lot over the years — wildfires, overfishing and the Big Bar landslide that cut off access in the Fraser River, to name a few. But now, a new generation of salmon is entering the world amid a global pandemic.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/10/2020
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan Local Knowledge, Traditional Knowledge, and Subsistence Taskforce will meet via video conference on April 27, 2020 through April 28, 2020.
Call for comments on cod disaster funds and coronavirus impacts
Anchorage Daily News by Laine Welch - April 8, 2020
The state of Alaska wants input on plans to distribute nearly $24.5 million in federal disaster relief funds for stakeholders and communities hurt by the 2018 Gulf of Alaska cod crash.
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