Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wild Salmon Deliveries to Processors in Alaska
Top 93 Million Fish

Commercial deliveries of wild salmon to processors in Alaska rose by eight million fish in the past week, bringing the total estimated catch to about 93.6 million fish through August 14.

Deliveries included 48,575,000 sockeyes, 30,919,000 humpies, 12,462,000 chums, 1,440,000 cohos and 202,000 Chinooks.

The state’s central region, Bristol Bay in particular, with Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, brought in nearly 70 million of those salmon. The Bristol Bay harvest alone came to a preliminary harvest estimate of 43.5 million fish, including nearly 42 million sockeyes, while Prince William Sound brought in upwards of 23.7 million fish. However, the catch continued to lag well behind most forecasts.

McDowell Group economist Garrett Evridge noted in his weekly report for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute that the year-to-date catch is five percent behind 2016 and 40 percent below the five-year average. With only three weeks of fishing left, the year-to-date statewide pink salmon volume is roughly equal to 2016, a year in which economic disaster declarations were issued, Evridge said. Pink salmon harvests in Prince William Sound and Kodiak were about double the year-to-date 2016 volume, while Southeast is two-thirds lower.

Keta harvests of 12 million fish so far are about 20 percent lower than the five-year average, and sockeye production continues to be slow in Cook Inlet, Southeast and Chignik fisheries.

On the bright side, sockeye fillets were back in the coolers at Costco stores in Alaska, still at $9.95 a pound. Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Wash., had plenty of fresh wild caught salmon too, including sockeye fillets at $24.99 a pound, although not saying online where they were caught. Anchorage two top seafood retailers, New Sagaya and 10th & M Seafoods, also had fresh sockeyes for sale. New Sagaya had plenty of whole sockeyes at $5.99 a pound, while 10th & M offered fresh sockeye fillets at $10.95 a pound and fresh wild sockeye steaks for $7.95 a pound.

Hundreds Turn Out in Alaska to Celebrate
Wild Salmon Day

Hundreds of people flocked to events in nine Alaska communities on August 10 to chow down on barbecued wild salmon and learn more about the importance of maintaining healthy fish habitat.

The events, most free of charge, were also in support of an initiative to strengthen fish habitat protection standards.

Anchorage and Palmer events were hosted by The Alaska Center and included a barbecue, live music, family-friendly activities, as well as presentations on the importance of salmon habitat.

Those attending the Trout Unlimited event at Cooper Landing were asked to bring a dish to share. In Fairbanks, Tanana Valley Watershed Association hosted a floating film festival down the Chena River with talks about the importance of salmon to the Alaska lifestyle.

In Homer and Soldotna, a salmon barbecue, local salmon arts and crafts and other family-friendly activities were sponsored by Cook Inletkeeper, while in Juneau Salmon Beyond Borders provided food, libations and a silent auction.

The Sitka Seafood Festival, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust were hosts in Sitka, where the festivities included frilled salmon, a beer garden, and live music, while the Susitna River Coalition at Talkeetna entertained with a taste of wild salmon, games, a river walk and fish screen printing.

Wild Salmon Day was signed into law on May 8, 2016 by Gov. Bill Walker.

“Nearly all Alaskans are impacted by salmon in some way whether through subsistence, recreational, or commercial fishing, or just sheer appreciation for Alaska’s abundant wildlife,” the governor said. “HB 128 (establishing Wild Salmon Day) is intended to celebrate these uniquely Alaskan ways of life and share our appreciation for wild Alaskan salmon with the rest of the world.”

Alaska Supreme Court Approves Putting Salmon Initiative on November Ballot

The Alaska Supreme Court has reversed a lower court decision on the Stand for Salmon ballot initiative and ordered that it be placed on the November 6 general election ballots, except for two provisions that were ruled out by the judges.

In the decision handed down on August 8, the judges deleted two sentences on grounds that they would encroach on the discretion over allocation decisions delegated to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Alaskans are divided in their opinions on the Stand for Salmon initiative, for which proponents turned in some 49,500 signatures to the Division of Elections in Anchorage on January 16.

Initiative backers say it offers stronger protections for fish habitat. Opponents contend that it will have an adverse impact on business development.

Opposition to the initiative is led by Stand for Alaska, which includes eight Alaska Native regional corporations formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and the ANCSA Regional Corp., as well as numbers businesses affiliated with the oil and gas and mining industries. The Bristol Bay Fishermen’s Association (BBFA) has also filed a brief in the Alaska Supreme Court opposing the initiative.

A complete list of Stand for Alaska supporters is posted online at https://www.standforak.com/coalition/. Stand for Alaska to date has raised upwards of $8 million, compare to less than $1 million by Stand for Salmon, according to reports filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Major contributions totaling more than $1 million toward defeating the initiative came from BP Exploration Alaska, Donlin Gold, Teck Alaska (owner of the Red Dog Mine), Kinross Fort Knox and Sumitomo Metal mining, owner of the Pogo Mine.

According to Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, the supreme court decision “confirmed the state’s understanding of the initiative power and its limitations. That limitation extends to the legislature’s power to allocate the state’s resources – including fisheries and waters – among competing uses.”

In this case, said Lindemuth, “It would have prohibited development of any project that would substantially damage anadromous waters (i.e. waters that support migrating fish such as salmon) and presumed that all waters are anadromous unless proven otherwise. The Alaska Supreme Court agreed with the state that this effectively allocated use of the waters for fish to the exclusion of other uses, such as mining.”

Stand for Alaska meanwhile issued a statement saying the high court’s decision “validates just how flawed and poorly crafted the measure is” and reaffirmed its opposition to the initiative.

“The court severed two sentences on provisions that prohibit certain permitting decisions,” said Valerie Brown, legal director for the nonprofit environmental law firm Trustees for Alaska. “What that means is a decision to deny a permit is not required, but it is within the discretion of Fish and Game to deny a permit. Otherwise the rest of the initiative goes forward.”

Brown added, “If it passes it will mean we will have public notice and public comment and that the court also preserves the habitat protection standard, so for the first time we have standards that the Department of Fish and Game has to apply when they are making permitting decisions.”

UK Website Explores Women in Fisheries

Researchers in the United Kingdom have launched a new website, at https://women-fisheries.com/research/, to explore the role of women in fishing families on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

The study is examining how women contribute to the survival of both fishing families and the fishing industry and aim to shed light on women’s roles, identities and their well-being. Researchers also hope to learn how small-scale fishing families, using boasts under 10 meters (32.8 feet) are adapting to a changing environmental and economic climate.

“Listening to women’s stories is a central part of this research and the new website provides information about how people can sign up and take part,” said Madeleine Gustavsson, a research fellow at the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health, who is leading the study. “We want to hear from as many women involved in fisheries as possible, whatever their roles might be.”

The website features a regularly updated news section where readers can follow the project’s progress, read about the latest research and hear about other efforts to improve recognition of women in fisheries on local and international levels.

Gusatavsson notes that while small scale vessels make up 80 percent of the fishing fleet in the UK they receive only four percent of the national fishing quota.

Project organizers are working closely with small scale fisheries harvesters and advocacy groups, including AKTEA (European network for women in fisheries and aquaculture), LIFE (Low Impact fishers of Europe) and the Coastal Producer Organization.

Those interested in contributing to the discussion are invited to email Gustavsson at m.c.gustavsson@exter.ac.uk, follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mcgustavsson, or contact the Take Part page of the website.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Golden King Crab Fishery Under Way in Aleutians

The 2018–2019 Aleutian Islands golden king crab fisheries is under way, with a quota of 3,470,400 pounds of individual fishing quota (IFQ) and 385,600 pounds of community development quota (CDQ), for a total of 3.9 million pounds east of Adak.

West of Adak, there is a 2.5 million-pound quota, with 2,250,000 pounds for the IFQ harvesters and 250,000 pounds for the Adak community allocation (ACA).

Vessel registration got under way on July 29. The fishery began on August 1 and will remain open until April 30. Fishermen can concurrently harvest IFQ and CDQ golden king crab in the eastern Aleutian Islands or IFQ and ACA golden king crab in the western Aleutian Islands, but they may not be concurrently registered in both the eastern and western Aleutian Islands.

Catcher only vessels are required to carry an observer for 50 percent by weight of their harvested crab during each of three trimesters: August 1 to October 31, November 1 to January 31, and February 1 to April 30.

Last year’s quota for the area east of Adak was 2,979,000 pounds of IFQ and 331,000 pounds of CDQ, for a total of 3.3 million pounds. West of Adak, the 2017 quota was 2.2 million pounds, including 2,011.500 pounds of IFQ and 223,5000 pounds for the Adak Community Allocation.

Salmonfest Draws 8,000 Lovers of Music and Salmon Habitat

Salmonfest 2018 at Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, brought together more than 8,000 people for three days of music, food, fish and love. The event celebrates the connection of Alaskans to the fish and waters that provide their beloved resource.

Sixty-five bands performed on four stages in this annual late summer event that also promotes information on the importance of healthy salmon habitat and educates festival goers on projects that could potentially have adverse impact on critical habitat.

Salmon themes and signs protesting the Pebble mine were visible festival-wide. Headliner Brandi Carlile’s band and other musicians also sported stickers on their shirts in protest of the proposed Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed area.

“This is the population that can make a difference,” said Sam Snyder, the Wild Salmon Center’s senior campaign manager, whose focus this year is the Stand for Salmon Campaign backing the salmon initiative on the state’s general election ballot in November.

“We’ve got to protect the habitat,” Snyder said. “How do we maintain habitat and balance with resource development? Our fisheries are complicated.” These fish, he said, “are part of our economy, part of our culture.”

The eclectic crowd, from parents with babies in arms to grandparents from the Woodstock generation, meandered in the warm sunshine between informational booths manned by a variety of conservation and environmental entities to vendors hawking food and beverages, crafts and even massages.

“We love salmon,” said Dawnell Smith of Trustees for Alaska, a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with offices in Anchorage, Alaska. “We love clean waters. We want people to know what we do.”

The annual music festival is supported by and benefits two non-profits, the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society and Cook Inletkeeper, both of Homer, Alaska.

Alaska Commercial Salmon Harvest Climbs to
Nearly 85M

Deliveries of commercial wild Alaska salmon to processors reached nearly 85 million fish by August 7, including some 48 million sockeyes, over 24 million humpies, 11.5 million chums, nearly 1.1 million cohos and 198,000 Chinooks.

For the same period a year ago, the harvest included 53.6 million sockeyes, 25 million chums, 5.2 million cohos, and 262,000 kings. The pink salmon catch compared with 39 million caught for the same period in 2016, which was a disaster year for humpies.

“Bristol Bay remains the bright spot in Alaska’s commercial salmon fisheries this summer,” notes Garrett Evridge, an economist with the McDowell Group in Juneau, Alaska, in a weekly summary report for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “The Bristol Bay sockeye harvest was one of the best ever,” said Garrett, “but all other sockeye harvests in Alaska are well below the forecast.”

The focus of the industry has shifted to pink salmon, with the current week typically the peak harvest period for humpbacks. “Year-to-date pink harvest volume is comparable to 2016, but very slow by historical standards, particularly in Southeast Alaska,” he said.

With about one month of fishing remaining, year-to-date keta harvests statewide are 42 percent lower than a year ago and 20 percent behind the five-year average, although the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region continues to exceed its five-year average volume.

Evridge also notes that coho production year-to-date is 51 percent lower than 2017 and Chinook production is 15 percent behind as well.

The availability of wild Alaska sockeye salmon is slimming rapidly, not even mentioned online this week by the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Wash. In Anchorage, they have disappeared from the seafood department at Costco stores and were marked up to $19.95 a pound at Fred Meyer stores, which was $10 over the sale price two weeks earlier. 10th & M Seafoods still had fresh wild sockeye salmon steaks for $7.95 a pound and fresh sockeye salmon fillets for $10.95 a pound, while the online Anchorage purveyor FishEx was offering sockeye fillet portions for $29.95 a pound.

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