Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Alaska’s Salmon Harvest Reaches 216.5 Million

In the final weeks of Alaska’s summer salmon fishing season, with the yield estimated at 216.5 million fish, the harvest just keeps on coming. In the second week of September alone, fishermen delivered 2.4 million salmon, mostly coho and late running keta, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute said in a September 18 market update report produced by the McDowell Group in Juneau.

Late sockeye runs are producing more fish for processors in Southeast Alaska, while the Bristol Bay harvest is being hailed as one for the history books. The total inshore run is the second largest in 20 years and the preliminary value, $214 million, is nearly double the 20-year average. Bristol Bay sockeye averaged 5.5 pounds this season, below the long-term average of 5.9 pounds, but similar to recent years, according to the report.

The statewide catch to date of 136 million pink salmon compares to a forecast of 142 million fish and 190.6 million humpies harvested in 2015, while the sockeye harvest of more than 52 million fish far exceeds the nearly 41 million reds estimate, and is slightly lower than the 52.9 million reds caught in 2016. The pink salmon catch is down by 26 percent from the last odd year harvest of 2015, while the sockeye yield is down just 2 percent from last year.

The coho harvest, still underway, stands at 4.5 million, nearing the predicted 4.7 million silvers and already exceeds the 2016 harvest of 3.9 million fish by 36 percent. The keta harvest, also still ongoing, stands at 23.5 million fish, far above the 16.7 million forecast and up 54 percent over last year’s 16 million fish intake. The keta harvest for Alaska’s Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region – mostly the Lower Yukon – has come in to date with 1.7 million fish, up from the 2016 1.4 million fish, although below the 2017 forecast of 2.7 million.

Resolution Designates September as Alaska Wild Salmon Month

A resolution recognizing the contributions of Alaska’s wild salmon industry to the health and economy of the nation, and saluting September as “Alaska Wild Salmon Month” has passed the U.S. Senate.

The resolution, by Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, highlights a sustainable commercial fishery that contributes more than 38,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion annual labor income to the nation’s economy. The commercial catch of wild salmon in Alaska represents about half of the wild salmon caught worldwide. The sport fishing sector of salmon harvests in Alaska, by comparison, generates $500 million in economic output.

The resolution also recognizes that wild salmon returning to streams and rearing young in Alaska waters are the basis for one of the state’s most valuable and important industries.

“This bountiful resource has helped sustain our entire state for thousands of years,” Murkowski said.

“Alaska’s fisheries remain the most abundant and sustainably managed in the nation. Educating others about the strength of our fisheries, and the efforts to ensure that our wild stocks remain strong and healthy is so important.”

Panel Will Explore Potential for Building Alaska’s Blue Economy

A panel discussion on building Alaska’s blue economy is among dozens of sessions offered tomorrow, Thursday, at the Oceans ’17 conference in Anchorage, Alaska, hosted by the Marine Technology Society and the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society.

The application and commercialization of technology in marine science and oceanography is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global blue economy. Panelists will explore the challenges and opportunities for building Alaska’s blue economy.

The session, beginning at 1:30 p.m., will be chaired by Joel Cladoulos, director of the Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative, and moderated by Bradley Moran, dean of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative, a program of the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, is looking at opportunities for development of feasible ocean related products and services to be produced in Alaska.

There are more than 50 blue economy initiatives going on right now worldwide, but to date only five percent of oceans have been explored, Cladoulos said. “Right now we know more about the surface of the moon than the sea floor,” he said.

Panel members include Michael B. Jones, president of the Maritime Alliance; Molly McCammon, executive director of the Alaska Ocean Observing System; Rear Admiral Jonathan W. White, US Navy retired, president of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership; and Al Eisian, chief operating officer and founder of IntelinAir. Inc.

The theme of the international gathering, being held for the first time in Alaska, is “Our Harsh and Fragile Ocean,” or “How to protect the fragile from the harsh with application of modern technology and traditional knowledge working together.”

Also on the agenda is another panel, scheduled at the same time, on unmanned air systems for maritime operations. Panelists in this session will discuss the challenges, opportunities and potential synergies of new unmanned air system capabilities that will allow concepts of operation, which could have not been imagined before and will post new organizational and legal challenges.

The conference complete list of speakers and a schedule showing all technical discussions, is posted online at http://program.oceans17mtsieeeanchorage.org/glance.cfm

NOAA Seeks Comment on Reducing Paperwork

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has published in the Federal Register a notice seeking comment on proposed information collection related to individual fishing quotas for Pacific halibut and sablefish in Alaska fisheries. The deadline for comments is November 20, 2017.

It is all part of NOAA’s continuing effort to reduce paperwork, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

The individual fishing quota program was established to improve the long-term productivity of the Pacific halibut and sablefish fisheries by promoting conservation and management. The Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQ) program includes provisions such as ownership caps and vessel use caps that protect small harvesters and processors and others who could be adversely affected by excessive consolidation. Other restrictions of the IFQ program prevent the halibut and sablefish fisheries from domination by large boats or by a specific vessel class.

Now NOAA is inviting comment on whether the proposed collection of information related to these fisheries is necessary for the performance of the agency. NOAA wants the public’s opinion on the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, and ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of information to be collected, as well as ways to minimize the burden of collecting information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Complete information is online at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/09/19/2017-19888/proposed-information-collection-comment-request-individual-fishing-quotas-for-pacific-halibut-and

(The link, above, is correct. Apparently NOAA is reducing word use as well. –Ed)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NPFMC Offers Review Documents Prior to Meeting

In advance of its autumn meeting at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) has posted online, at www.npfmc.org, documents that are available for review prior to the meeting.

Included are a discussion paper on abundance-based management for Bering Sea and Aleutian Island Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits, and a draft of a regulatory impact review related to charter halibut permit annual renewal.

Major issues on the October agenda include final specifications for six stocks of Bering Sea and Aleutian Island crab, initial reviews of the charter halibut annual permit registration and mixing of guided and unguided halibut, and a review of the 2018 observer program annual deployment plan.

The agenda and meeting schedule are complete and posted on the website.

The deadline for written comments is September 26, and they should be emailed to npfmc.comments@noaa.gov.

All council meetings are open to the public, except for executive sessions. The council meeting will be broadcast at https://npfmc.adobeconnect.com/october2017. Motions will be posted following the meeting.

Failed Net Pen Now Disposed

Washington State’s Department of Fish and Wildlife says that Cooke Aquaculture crews working with salvage and waste removal contractors have disposed of the final three stock nets from a failed net pen that released some 305,000 Atlantic salmon into waters of the San Juan Islands.

The nets were offloaded directly into waste disposal trucks, covered with a roll-top tarp and taken to a waste transfer station.

The company’s final count on fish removed from the damaged structure was 145,851, including 5,166 fish that were harvested before the major damage occurred on August 20. Cooke crews captured 388 escaped Atlantic salmon using beach seines under an emergency permit issued by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

State officials said daily water quality sampling showed no irregularities compared with ambient samples taken up and downstream from the site.

Tribal, commercial and recreational harvesters who recapture any Atlantic salmon from the site are being asked to voluntarily report catch numbers and locations online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/atlantic_catch_map.php

An investigation into the incident is continuing.

SeaShare Offers Food Aid to Hurricane Victims

SeaShare, the Bainbridge Island, Washington, based non-profit dedicated to providing seafood to food banks, pantries, and shelters across America, has delivered thousands of pounds of Pollock and salmon to a Houston, Texas, food bank in the wake of hurricane damage.

Deliveries to the Houston food bank in mid-September include 30,000 pounds of Pollock portions donated by Trident Seafoods, and 36,000 pounds of salmon steaks from Unisea, confirmed Kate Tomkins, development director for SeaShare.

Jim Harmon, executive director of SeaShare, said that his organization has also received an additional 180,000 pounds of catfish from Harvest Select, some of which will probably go to feed victims of hurricanes Harvey and/or Irma, with the rest to backfill food banks sending food to other food banks in hurricane stricken areas.

SeaShare is now seeking more seafood donations and monetary contributions to help provide seafood to hurricane victims.

“Freight, cold storage and food bank partners are lined up and ready to receive these donations,” Harmon said. “Generous seafood companies have already pledged more than 100,000 pounds of salmon, Pollock and catfish, but the need is great and will continue for months head,” he said.

In the wake of hurricane Katrina in 2005, SeaShare sent 525,000 pounds of seafood to Louisiana and Texas. More information is online at www.seashare.org or contact Harmon at jharmon@seashare.org

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