Thursday, September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

Alaska

Alaska’s Preliminary 2020 Commercial Salmon Harvest Stands at 112 Million Fish
Fishermen's News - September 16, 2020
Alaska fishermen have rounded out the 2020 salmon commercial season with a catch of over 112 million fish. That total, along with the historical ranking of salmon harvests, still may improve slightly as final landings of the season are delivered over the next few weeks.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2020/09/alaskas-preliminary-2020-commercial.html

Cold Storage Cargo Facility for Anchorage Offers Opportunity for Seafood Industry
Fishermen's News - September 16, 2020
A cargo and cold storage facility planned for Anchorage that would offer opportunities to processors currently storing Alaska-caught seafood in Washington state got an economic boost this week from a $21 million federal grant to the Alaska Energy Authority.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2020/09/cold-storage-cargo-facility-for.html

APA’s Request to Extend Access to Winter Herring Savings Area Rejected by NOAA Fisheries
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - September 16, 2020
NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver rejected a request for an emergency rule to extend the date of a herring conservation area that would close this fall from the At-Sea Processors Association, in a letter dated September 11, 2020.

The letter pointed out that the request did not meet the requirements of an Emergency Ruling by the agency, which are related to the definition of a “fisheries emergency.” A fisheries emergency must:

1. result from recent, unforeseen events or recently discovered circumstances,
2. present serious conservation or management problems in the fishery, and
3. can be addressed through emergency regulations for which the immediate benefits outweigh the value of advance notice, public comment, and deliberative consideration of impacts on participants as would happen in a normal rule making process.

Oliver wrote that the agency “reviewed the information presented in your petition, recent and anticipated harvest patterns in the Bering Sea pollock fishery for the remainder of 2020, and the likelihood that available pollock would remain unharvested during the 2020 fishing season.

“We have concluded that emergency regulations likely would not address the concerns raised in the petition given the fishing opportunities out side of the winter Herring Savings Area the length of the fishing season, and the anticipated rates of pollock harvest.

“During twelve of the twenty weeks of the 2020B season, the APA members and vessels delivering to pollock motherships have harvested only 18 percent of their Toal pollock harvest inside the Winter Herring Savings Area.

“Further, the APA participants and vessels delivering to pollock motherships have  amounts of herring prohibited species catch that are lower during the 2020 B season that during the 2020 A season, when high herring bycatch became concerning,” Oliver wrote.

The sector had harvested 11 percent of the total B season herring PSC by the end of last month. Oliver noted that the sector “has the tools necessary to fully harvest their pollock allocations, avoid salmon, and operate under their Salmon Incentive plan Agreements. And, each vessel operator must continue to minimize its catch of any prohibited species catch …”

He added that if concerns continue, “I believe working through the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process is the best approach to develop a well-reasoned proposal that can address the concerns of the broad range of stakeholders in the Bering Sea.”

The request was opposed by some of those stakeholders who were concerned about an earlier request, which was granted under their in-season authority, to keep the Summer Herring Savings Area open for the pollock fleet, and who are broadly concerned about management of the halibut, sablefish, and crab prohibited species catch in the Bering Sea.

The first request from the pollock fleet to keep open a herring savings area this year came in June at the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting. The Council agreed to “recommend NMFS use its inseason authority to provide for a targeted reopening of Herring Savings Area 2 [also called the Summer Herring Savings Area], and management, including potential closure, throughout the time period (July 1 – August 15),” in their motion on June 9.

That motion was made during B Reports at the beginning of the ten-day meeting, rather than at the end of the meeting during Staff Tasking. The unusual timing of the motion elicited some spoken public testimony but the written public comments were not read until the end of the meeting, when participants were expecting the issue to come up. The comments on the herring savings area were a significant part of the 98 written remarks, some for, some against, and all after the fact.

NMFS published the Temporary Rule on June 12, 2020, basing the in-season management decision on the importance of the pollock fleet achieving its Total Allowable Catch (TAC) while still avoiding prohibited species like herring and salmon.

They noted that “[t]he area of the HSA 2 is the most productive fishing grounds for these pollock sectors and is closest to the more accessible fishing ports. … Fishing less productive grounds combined with more time to transit to open fishing grounds will lengthen the time required to fish during the pollock B season (June 10 to November 1…). Also, longer fishing seasons will increase fishing and observer expenses. …

“Additionally, closing HSA 2 could force the pollock sectors and CDQ participants to areas with higher salmon bycatch. [Which] …could extend fishing to the end of the season and compound pollock TAC and salmon bycatch concerns…

“For these reasons, closure of the HSA 2 will force the pollock sectors to fish in less productive areas, in areas with higher salmon bycatch, and further distances from fishing ports, which will lengthen fishing over the B season and compound salmon bycatch issues. NMFS has determined that this may lead to the underharvest of the pollock TAC in the B season. To prevent the underharvest of the pollock TAC, NMFS will open the HSA 2 for the AFA inshore and mothership sectors and the CDQ program.”

The agency’s action in June and the request for a rule asked by APA were blasted by EarthJustice in a letter to Oliver dated August 21, 2020.

“The National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) recent decision to use its inseason management authority to reopen Herring Savings Area (HSA) 2 circumvents Amendment 16a to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, and creates a dangerous precedent for increasing bycatch without necessary public process or evaluation of potential impacts to the ocean ecosystem,” wrote Katie Glover of EarthJustice.

“By taking this action, NMFS has created unnecessary risk to important ocean resources and acted contrary to its reputation as a leader in the movement toward sustainable, ecosystem-based management. The agency should rescind the action, close HSA 2, and leave HSA 3 closed as required under Amendment 16a…”

Oliver’s letter to APA leaves HSA (the Winter Herring Savings Area) closed. There has been no response yet to the conservation group’s request that the agency rescinds their June action.
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1180740/APAs-Request-to-Extend-Access-to-Winter-Herring-Savings-Area-Rejected-by-NOAA-Fisheries


FYI’s
Kodiak-based Coast Guard Cutter Returns Home Following International Fisheries Enforcement Operation
Urner Barry by Ryan Doyle - September 16, 2020
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro (WHEC 724) returned home after a two-month-long Operation North Pacific Guard (NPG) patrol focused on international fishery regulation enforcement.

NPG is an annual operation designed to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity, including large-scale high seas pelagic drift-net fishing, the Coast Guard explained. The NPG includes a number of multilateral and bilateral international agreements with the U.S. in order to improve the conservation and management of high seas fisheries resources.

The patrol began just south of the Aleutian Islands and would last 59 days as the crew enforced fisheries regulations while traveling 12,500 miles throughout the Pacific.

11 fishing vessels of various nationalities were inspected to ensure they were in compliance with Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and North Pacific Fisheries Commission regulations.

In an effort to boost aerial reconnaissance and search and rescue missions, the Munro crew embarked an aviation detachment and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, California during the patrol.

"This has been an extremely exciting and rewarding patrol," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Riley Gatewood, commanding officer, Douglas Munro. “It was like watching a home-run derby; the crew absolutely crushed each ball into the bleacher seats. The 11 at-sea boardings bolstered U.S. presence that promoted a strong deterrent value, relevancy, and directly contributed to the economic stability and food security for the region. Their outstanding results, positive attitude and exceptional work ethic set the standard for future U.S. Coast Guard engagements.”

Undergoing an operation during the COVID-19 pandemic did lead to some adjustments. Prior to deployment, crewmembers underwent testing for the coronavirus and then underwent a 14-day monitoring period to ensure safety. The Coast Guard said that throughout their patrol, the crew maintained strict health precautionary measures and minimized interactions with others to ensure sustained mission readiness.
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1180696/Kodiak-based-Coast-Guard-Cutter-Returns-Home-Following-International-Fisheries-Enforcement-Operation

 

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