With virus precautions, Alaska's salmon season will be like no other
National Fishermen by Kirk Moore - May 28, 2020
The 2020 Alaska salmon season must operate under the state's strict covid-19 safeguards. Alaska Department of Fish and Game photo.
Zink stresses maintaining precautions as fishing season ramps up
KMXT by Kavitha George - May 15, 2020
As restrictions to prevent spread of the coronavirus ease up around the world, reports of new clusters of COVID-19 are popping up as well. Kodiak’s case count remains at one, and that person has reportedly since recovered, but the potential for greater transmission still exists, according to city and state medical officials.
North Pacific Council Approves Three Halibut Proposals, Rejects Two on Friday
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - May 18, 2020
The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, in their first-ever special electronic meeting, acted on five requests for emergency rules triggered by the corona virus outbreak, in less than a day last Friday.
Halibut fishermen and fleet associations asked the 11-member council for relief on requirements to make medical quota transfers during the pandemic. Council members agreed to an option that would “allow the temporary transfer of halibut and sablefish IFQ for all quota share holders for the remainder of the 2020 fishing season,” without changing anything else in the program.
The motion was made by Alaskan member Rachel Baker, deputy commissioner of Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“The Council believes that an emergency exists involving the halibut and sablefish IFQ fishery and recommends emergency rulemaking to address economic, social, and public health situations present in the halibut and sablefish IFQ fishery,” Baker noted as she spoke to her motion.
“The analysis prepared for the Council notes that under these recent conditions a substantial number of IFQ holders may be unable to travel to fishing ports to harvest their IFQ without significant personal health risk, in addition to economic costs to comply with travel restrictions. Without the increased flexibility to temporarily transfer IFQ quota, it is likely that a significant portion of the harvest will be foregonem” she remarked.
Baker also said that existing provisions do not provide the flexibility needed in a pandemic and “do not specifically contemplate transfers by otherwise healthy individuals to minimize their potential health risks, or risks to their families, crew, and communities where they harvest.”
Regarding a central tenet of the program that requires owners to be aboard, Baker said “I want to be clear that the state of Alaska strongly supports the owner onboard provisions of the IFQ Program. The owner onboard requirements are an essential component of the IFQ Program that encourage active participation and promote entry level opportunities in the fisheries.”
The council also approved a request from the charter sector to ask the International Pacific Halibut Commission for a change in the catch share allocations given that sector in Southeast and southcentral Alaska.
Also by a near-unanimous vote, the Council agreed and recommended that IPHC change management measures in Area 2C (southcentral AK) to maintain the one halibut daily bag limit, but widen the reverse slot limit to an upper limit of 80 inches and a lower limit of 45 inches, as opposed to a more constricting U40 as the upper end of the smaller size range, for the rest of 2020.
In regulatory area 3A (Southeast AK) they asked the IPHC to maintain a daily bag limit of 2 halibut, but increase the size restriction to one of any size and a second fish equal to or less than 32”; No annual limit and no daily closures. They ask that IPHC maintain the limit of 1 trip per halibut charter vessel per day and 1 trip per charter halibut permit per day, for the rest of the 2020 season.
The council also agreed to remove vessel use cap rules for IFQ halibut harvested in regulatory Areas 4B, 4C, and 4D (parts of Bristol Bay and the Aleutian Islands) for the remainder of the 2020 IFQ fishing season.
None of these measures are expected to change the outcome of overall landings in 2020.
The council took no further action on two remaining items, one to allow increased rollovers of unfished quota in 2020 and one to extend the halibut and sabelfish season to a year-round fishery.
Update on NOAA Fisheries Observer Coverage
NOAA Fisheries - May 15, 2020
NOAA Fisheries has released the following updates on fisheries observer coverage requirements. The requirements are broken down by region below:
Alaska Region – The region is extending the observer waiver for vessels in the Partial Coverage Category of the North Pacific groundfish and Pacific Halibut fisheries operating from ports other than Kodiak, Alaska. This exemption does not exempt vessels using electronic monitoring, or the requirement that vessels continue to log trips in Observer Declare and Deploy System (ODDS). This limited waiver extension is in effect from May 3, 2020 through May 31, 2020. Waivers of observer coverage will continue as needed on a vessel by vessel basis for all other required fisheries.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Final 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish; Correction
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 05/18/2020
The National Marine Fisheries Service is correcting a final rule that published on March 10, 2020, implementing the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska. One table in the document contains errors associated with deep-water flatfish, and another table contains an error associated with northern rockfish. These corrections are necessary to provide the correct information about the amount of deep-water flatfish and northern rockfish available for commercial harvest in 2020, thus allowing commercial fishermen to maximize their economic opportunities in this fishery. This correction also is necessary to comport with the requirements of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska.
**TODAY**Sustainable Fisheries Briefing: Impacts of COVID-19
Date and Time: Tuesday, May 19, 2pm EDT
YouTube Livestream - (panelists will be on Zoom)
Overview: The world has been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the US seafood sector is no exception. From grounding of fleets to halting production at processing plants, fisheries and seafood companies are being affected to a degree never before experienced. How has the seafood sector been impacted by COVID-19, and what are the potential long-term implications of the pandemic, state closures, and physical distancing measures?
Scholarships for Students With a Pull Towards Halibut
SeafoodNews by Laine Welch - May 18, 2020
This is Alaska Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Scholarships for students with a pull towards halibut. More after this –
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High school students who feel a special pull for halibut might merit a scholarship to a university or technical college.
Every two years the International Pacific Halibut Commission funds several $4,000 scholarships to U.S. and Canadian students connected to the Pacific halibut fishery. Since 1923 the Halibut Commission and its supporting scientists have been stewards of the Pacific stock from British Columbia to the Bering Sea.
David Wilson is IPHC director –
“If I was to highlight some of the recent candidates who've been successful in receiving the scholarship, it's really been those who are dependents of active fishers within the Pacific halibut fleets, primarily the directed Pacific halibut flee, but it's not solely restricted to dependence on those fisheries. We will certainly consider others if they were involved in charter or recreational fishing. So we could look at candidates from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, I guess, and somebody who expresses the desire or is more likely to come back to the industry postgraduate.”
The scholarships are renewable annually for the normal four-year period of undergraduate education. The IPHC also offers other teaching tools for all school ages.
“And one of the components of community outreach and education that we try and do is to reach a much broader range of stakeholders. And that includes doing outreach activities at various community events and also schools.”
An Ocean Literacy Program package is downloadable, including lesson plans.
And the colorful Flat or Fiction booklet is a keeper for any halibut lover. For example, did you know that the treaty that formed the Halibut Commission was the ﬁrst international treaty in the world for the protection of a marine resource?
Back to the halibut scholarships: they will be available for school entrance or continuation this fall. Deadline to apply is June 30.
Find applications at the IPHC website under opportunities. Find links at www.alaskafishradio.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.634.1838.
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
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