Astoria Fisheries Auction

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tax Impact of 2016 Harvests Uncertain

Fisheries landing and business taxes collected by the state of Alaska and then shared with coastal fisheries governments have brought millions of dollars to these communities over the past five years, but it’s uncertain what 2016 revenues will be.

The Alaska Department of Revenue’s fiscal year 2015 annual report on shared landing taxes alone showed a grand total of $3,125,677 shared, while fish business taxes shared totaled $21.5 million.

The landing tax is paid by floating processors, who catch their fish in federal waters and bring it inside state waters for offloading. Those taxes are based on average statewide prices from the Commercial Operator Annual Report compiled by the state of Alaska’s Revenue Department. The fisheries business tax is based on what processors are paying for unprocessed fish delivered by harvesters.

From fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2015, the state shared a total of $23,292,723 in landing taxes with communities, an average of $4,658,546 annually.

For the same period, the state shares a total of $116,350,039 in fisheries business taxes, or an average of $23,270,000 annually.

While this year’s summer salmon season produced more than 112 million salmon, based on preliminary harvest records, this was well below the anticipated harvest.

Yet while the supply is lower, the demand remains strong. Alaska is still considered the place to go for the highest quality salmon, so hopefully people will be willing to pay for it, says Tyson Fick, communications officer for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Association.

Quotas for Bristol Bay red king crab for the shellfish fisheries now underway are down 15 percent, while quotas for Bering Sea snow crab have been cut 47 percent, and three other crab fisheries are closed. So there will be less crab overall, but marketers of that sought after crab anticipate that the harvest will be absorbed very quickly, and that they will see record prices this year.

Initial indicators are that Japanese interest will be what it was last year, and the yen is in a better position this year too, said Eric Donaldson, of The Crab Broker.

How all this will pan out in fishery taxes collected and then shared with coastal communities, however, is still uncertain.

Sockeye Harvest Likely Second Largest In 20 Years

Alaska’s summer salmon season, based on preliminary harvests, produced more than 112 million salmon of all species, and while it is a substantial number of fish, it’s well below the anticipated total harvest. Still sockeye harvests will likely end up being the second largest of the last 20 years, with last year being the largest harvest for that period, according to the latest report from the McDowell Group in Juneau, for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Association.

Large sockeye harvests were seen in Bristol Bay and the Alaska Peninsula, while Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, Kodiak and Chignik came up short of their forecast, McDowell’s Andy Wink told participants in ASMI’s All Hands meeting in Anchorage this week. Meanwhile pink salmon harvests fell 56 percent short of the preseason forecast, prompting Alaska Governor Bill Walker to seek federal disaster relief. Keta salmon fell 15 percent short of its forecast, as Southeast harvests came up short, and Chinook harvests fell 9 percent short of forecasts, although run strength generally improved in Cook Inlet and the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, while declining in much of Southeast and the Copper River region. Coho salmon also fell 12 percent short of forecast.

In whitefish markets, exports of US cod have been steady, but prices low, as are prices for Alaska Pollock fillet blocks. Alaska surimi exports are up slightly, but at lower prices, and Alaska sole prices have increased slightly, but there is less supply, he said.

Wink’s market summary also predicted a rise in fresh halibut prices for most of the season, and higher prices for black cod, Alaska king crab and snow crab. Over 100 million pounds of other species, including herring, dive species, scallops, shrimp and skates, are also adding value to Alaska’s overall seafood supply, he said.

ASMI Pushes for Alaska Seafood in Food Aid

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Association’s Global Food Aid Program is working to broaden the use of Alaska seafood both domestically and internationally in food aid programs. Bruce Schactler, who overseas the food aid program for ASMI, says they are moving to get more seafood included in all US Department of Agriculture programs and to align Alaska seafood with the priorities of domestic and international food air markets while anticipating future trends. The food aid market has been a reliable and very good customer for Alaska seafood, Schactler told participants this week in ASMI’s All Hands meeting in Anchorage.

The preference in several domestic feeding programs has been for Alaska Pollock and canned salmon. US Department of Agriculture purchases from processors of wild Alaska seafood over the past year totaled over $55 million, including nearly $30 million in canned sockeye salmon, $13 million in canned pink salmon, nearly $6 million in kosher canned pink salmon, nearly $5 million in Alaska Pollock, and $1.5 million in the newest product-salmon fillets.

The recent purchase of 216,000 pounds of sockeye or coho salmon fillet portions was the first in a pilot program to expand the food aid basket of Native American tribes with more traditional food, and, said Schactler, ASMI will be working to expand this program next year.

ASMI is also working with USDA and the Alaska Pollock producers to boost purchases to both domestic and international food and nutrition programs. In September, USDA released a federal purchase program specification for whole grain breaded Alaska Pollock sticks to include now in any of their procurements.

At the request of USDA and other institutional food aid partners, the Alaska Global Food Aid Program has also been exploring for some time the use of herring and seafood powder for various food aid programs, he said.

AMSEA to Offer Safety Instructor Training

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association in Sitka has scheduled a six-day Marine Safety Instructor Training course for Seward, Alaska next spring, and for qualifying commercial fishermen there will be no charge.

For all others, the cost of the April 25-April 30 course will be $995.

AMSEA officials note that this is an intensive train-the-trainer course that will prepare individuals to effectively teach cold-water survival procedures, use of marine safety equipment, and vessel safety drills.

Those who complete the course will be prepared to teach AMSEA’s U.S. Coast Guard approved Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor training, pending authorization from the Coast Guard. Those individuals may elect to co-teach a Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor workshop in Seward on May 1.

The course will include instruction in how to prepare for emergencies, cold water near drowning, hypothermia, cold water survival, survival equipment, procedures and onboard drills, risk assessment, ergonomics, and methods of instruction.

Further information is available from AMSEA by calling 1-907-747-3287, or on AMSEA’s website, www.amsea.org.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

NPFMC Approves Review of Halibut, Sablefish IFQ Program

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has approved the first comprehensive review of the first halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota program since the IFQ program began 20 years ago.

Subsequent to finalization of the document, the council said it plans to reconstitute the IFQ Implementation Committee to provide recommendations to the council on potential future revisions to the IFQ program. The council asked current members of the IFQ committee to express their interest in continuing to serve, and the council is also soliciting nominations for new members, with membership intended to represent a broad range of stakeholders in the IFQ fisheries.

Nominations are due Nov. 11.

Based on findings from the IFQ program review, as well as discussion at the council meeting, several issues were identified for consideration by the IFQ Committee, ranging from the sweep-ups of small blocked quota share units, and the use of the medical lease provision to geographical distribution of new entrant quota ownership and the use of hired masters in the IFQ fisheries.

The new version of the IFQ Committee will be chaired by council member Buck Laukitis of Homer, Alaska. Laukitis, a commercial fisherman, is the former president of the North Pacific Fisheries Association. Council economist Sarah Marrinan said the council hopes to receive a committee report responding to issues that stem from the program review at the NPFMC's February meeting in Seattle.

In other action, the council completed an initial review of a regulatory amendment package that would allow community development quota groups to lease halibut IFQ in Areas 4B, 4C and 4D in years of low halibut catch limits in regulatory areas 4B and 4CDE. In effect, the proposals would allow CDQ groups to lease halibut IFQ for use by residents on vessels less than 51 feet, subject to IFQ use regulations and the groups' internal management.

State Department Responds to Plea to Address Transboundary Mine Issues

State Department officials say they are exploring possible approaches to present to their Canadian counterparts when they meet in late October to discuss boundary waters matters, including transboundary mining issues.

The State Department told the Alaska congressional delegation this past week that they are actively engaging with Canada on protecting shared waters, an issue they recognize as being of significant concern to Alaska. Potential impacts of mining in shared waters in British Columbia and Alaska are discussed in semi-annual dialogues between the two nations, said Julia Frifield, assistant secretary for legislative affairs within the State Department.

Frifield also said some baseline water quality testing has already begun and Congress may make additional funding available for that purpose.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she was encouraged that it appears the State Department understands the importance of this issue to many Alaskans, but is disappointed that the State Department has refused to suggest suggestions, including one to consider appointing a special representative for US-Canada transboundary issues.

The proposed development of several mines in British Columbia along transboundary rivers, as well as at least one existing mine, concern commercial, sport and subsistence fish harvesters in Southeast Alaska, as well as tourism and other businesses dependent on salmon, who feel these mines have great potential to adversely affect salmon habitat. Only agreements on a federal level can ensure financial protections to be in place in the event that environmental pollution occurs.

While Alaska and British Columbia have reached a memorandum of understanding on this issue, it comes with no financial guarantees.

Charges Filed in Mount Polley Mine Disaster

MiningWatch Canada has filed a lawsuit against the British Columbia government and Mount Polley Mining Corp. for alleged violations of Canada’s Fisheries Act in connection with the 2014 tailings dam disaster, the largest in Canada’s history.

Mining Watch’s Ugo Lapointe said the organization was acting because almost two and a half years after the disaster, the Crown has failed to lay charges and enforce the Fisheries Act, despite what they see as ample evidence of the impact on waters, fish and fish habitat when the tailings pond failed to hold.

The collapse of the Mount Polley tailings dam sent 25 million cubic meters of wastewater and mine waste solids into downstream waters, destroying or permanently affecting aquatic and riparian habitats. The copper and gold mine in the central interior of British Columbia stored its tailings in a tailings storage facility that failed on an evening in early August of 2014, releasing the debris, which flowed into Hazletine Creek, scouring the channel and floodplain and flowing upstream to Polley Lake and downstream to Quesnel Lake.

A study of the impact assessment of the spill on fish and fish habitat released in 2015 indicated at affected waters included at least 20 different fish species, including sockeye, coho and Chinook salmon. The report estimated that an extensive area of aquatic habitat was permanently altered.

While MiningWatch has a legal team ready to take the case to trial, the organization is also asking Canada’s federal government to carry the prosecution forward.

Lapointe said that if that nation’s environmental waters are to be fully protected, that can only happen when the government uses all means at its disposal to stand against violations of the Fisheries Act. The next step will be a process hearing in the provincial court in Williams Lake, BC in a few weeks.

Fishing for Energy Adds a New Port for Recycling Marine Debris

The public-private Fishing for Energy partnership has partnered with the Port of Grays Harbor, Washington’s Westport Marina to recycle an estimated 1,050 crab pots and other marine debris.

Efforts to collect this marine debris have already begun as part of a project managed by The Nature Conservancy and the Quinault Indian Nation, with a collection bin placed at the marina in Westport, Washington.

The three-year marine debris removal project, led by The Nature Conservancy, is supported by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, and builds on existing marine debris programs on Washington State’s outer coast to remove derelict fishing gear and improve waterways.

Fishing for Energy is a nationwide partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, the sustainable waste and energy solutions firm Covanta, and Schnitzer Steel Industries, a major metal recycling firm. The partnership offers collection bins for disposal of old fishing gear, easing the way for fishing communities to deal with derelict gear. The partnership recycles gear made of metal and processes the remaining gear and debris to generate renewable energy at Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facilities.

Since 2008, Fishing for Energy has processed more than 3 million pounds of old fishing gear, a portion of which has been retrieved directly from the ocean by fishermen. The partnership is a recipient of the prestigious Coastal America Partnership Award, which is presented to groups that restore and protect coastal ecosystems through collaborative action and partnership.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Crab Quotas Down for Bristol Bay Red King Crab, Snow Crab

State fishery managers in Alaska have cut the Bristol Bay red king crab quota 15 percent, to 8,469,000 pounds and the Bering Sea snow crab quota 47 percent, to 21,570,000 pounds, and closed three other crab fisheries for the 2016-2017 season.

Analysis of 2016 National Marine Fishery Service trawl surveys for Eastern Bering Sea Subdistrict Tanner crab stock, Saint Matthew Island Section blue king crab, and the Pribilof District red and blue king crab were below minimum stock size threshold, and will remain closed for the season, said Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologists at Dutch Harbor.

The economic impact of the lower quotas and closed crab fisheries is likely to result in record prices for what crab is harvested, while having a very negative impact on the incomes of harvesters, coastal communities dependent on that income and landing taxes paid to the state of Alaska.

It will have a significant impact, said Eric Donaldson, vice president of The Crab Broker, with offices in Florida and Las Vegas.

“A big component of this whole thing is the numerous economic impacts that will be felt by crab fishermen, communities and state of Alaska landing tax,” he said.

Information compiled by the Alaska Department of Revenue shows that in 2015, the latest year for which tax totals on all crab fisheries were available, shows that the state collected approximately $8.9 million in fisheries business taxes and fishery resource landing taxes. These taxes are shared 50/50 with municipalities where the processing and exporting activity takes place.

"While prices have not been established yet, the market is strong," Donaldson said.

“My anticipation is that finished goods will be absorbed very quickly this year, and we will see record prices this year barring something way out in left field."

“Initial indicators are that Japanese interest will be what it was last year, and the yen is in a better position this year,” Donaldson said.

Russian crab that had competed heavily with Alaska king crab in Japanese and domestic markets is now headed mainly for China and Korean buyers.

New agreements between Japan and Russia allow that no undocumented crab can be landed in Japan, so Russians are taking it to Busan, Korea, where there are no such restrictions, he said.

Alaska crab will find strong markets in Japan, where the crab is more highly revered than in US domestic markets, he said.

Jake Jacobsen, executive director of the Intercoop Exchange in Seattle, noted that prices for all crab have been trending upward through this year. The announcement of bairdi and St. Matthew closures, the reduction in king crab and opilio TACs (total allowable catches) will push prices up even further, he said.

“I’m not sure how far it will go at this point, but I’m looking at what will likely be record prices for all crab species,” he said. “As the price goes up, the size of the market shrinks. That’s elementary economics, but somebody will be willing to pay for it,” he said.

Navy Commits to Meeting With Stakeholders

US Navy officials have committed to working with fishermen and other stakeholders in advance of the next Northern Edge, a major simulated warfare exercise scheduled for the summer of 2017 in the Gulf of Alaska.

Navy officials said on Oct. 7 that they plan meetings with the local governments of Kodiak, Homer, Cordova, and Seward, plus discussions with stakeholders at events including COMFISH at Kodiak and the Alaska Marine Science Symposium and Alaska Forum on the Environment, both held in Anchorage.

Military representatives also will attend local, regional and statewide events to initiate a two-way dialogue with residents of coastal communities, fishing interests, the scientific and environmental community and local, state and federal officials, said Dennis McGinn, assistant secretary of the Navy Energy, Installation and Environment. The commitment came from McGinn in a letter to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who had written to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, urging the Navy to reengage with stakeholders in communities adjacent to Northern Edge 2017 with all deliberate speed.

Murkowski noted that the city of Homer City Council had already adopted a resolution of opposition to the Navy’s involvement in Northern Edge 2017, and that further delay in communications with stakeholders could result in the adoption of similar resolutions by other coastal communities.

Murkowski said she was troubled to learn that a number of proposed mitigations and avoidance techniques were in the works, but could not be discussed with stakeholders due to a lack of public affairs guidance. Murkowski said she also found troubling reports that the Navy denied Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by marine conservation biologist Rick Steiner, who had sought to verify the impact levels of Northern Edge 2015. “This lack of transparency only fuels concerns that the Navy has something to hide regardless of whether there is any validity to the concerns,” she said.

Steiner had strongly criticized Northern Edge activities in the Gulf, which involved live shelling, numerous surface explosions, aerial drops and intensive deployment of active mid-frequency sonar systems that have been linked to acoustic damage and stranding events in marine mammals.

Norton Sound Red King Crab Price Is Highest On Record

Red king crab harvests in Alaska’s Norton Sound winter open access fishery made 284 landings, for a total of 44,998 pounds and total ex-vessel value of $304,117, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in a season summary.

Statistical information gathered by ADF&G showed an overall catch per unit effort of five crab per pot and an average weight of 2.67 pounds, and that the price paid for the crab averaged $6.99 a pound, the highest price ever for the Norton Sound king crab fishery.

The ex-vessel value of the fishery was the third highest for the winter.

A total of 44,998 pounds of some 16,767 crab were harvested, with roughly a third harvested in February and two-thirds in March.

Still the total amount of crab harvested was 45 percent of last year’s harvest, and the number of landings was 43 percent by comparison.

The season started later this year, when ice was more stable, and the number of pots reported lost was much less compared to last year, state biologist said.

Similar to last year, a number of fishermen and harvesters came from the Nome area.

The Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. And Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association divided the CDQ allocation for their area. Only fishermen designated by these two CDQ groups are allowed to participate in this portion of the king crab fishery. They must have a CDQ king crab permit from the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission and register with ADF&G before they make their first delivery. Fishermen operate under the authority of the CDQ group and each CDQ group decides how to harvest their crab quota. In 2016, as in nine previous years, YDFDA transferred its quota to NDEDC.

The combined results from the winter and summer Norton Sound CDQ fishery included 189 landings and 2,253 pot lifts. The average price paid to fisherman was $7.50 a pound in winter and $6.30 in summer- value of $278,976 for the CDQ fishery. This was the 15th year a CDQ has occurred since the CDQ fishery was first implemented in 1998.

Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, KMXT Host Senatorial Fisheries Debate.

On October 12th, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium in Kodiak candidates for Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat come together to debate a single topic: Alaska’s fishing industry. Candidates that will attend are: Lisa Murkowski, Joe Miller, Ray Metcalfe, Margaret Stock, and Breck Craig.

The debate, moderated by state Senator Gary Stevens of Kodiak, will be broadcast live on KMXT 100.1 FM, streamed at www.kmxt.org and broadcast statewide through Alaska Public Radio.

The Senatorial Fisheries Debate has been a tradition since the early 1990’s. The focus on Alaska’s fishing industry highlights the state’s largest private sector employer and gives the candidates an opportunity to discuss federal issues facing the industry.

This two hour event is sponsored by: Alaskan Leader Fisheries, Pacific Seafood Processors Association, Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, At-Sea Processors Association, Groundfish Forum, UFA (United Fishermen of Alaska), Koniag Inc., City of Kodiak, and the Kodiak Island Borough.

For more information, contact Trevor Brown, Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, 907-486-5557.

Behnken, Pettiger Recognized as Champions of Change

Veteran longliner Linda Behnken of Sitka, Alaska, and Brad Pettinger, director of the Oregon Trawl Commission, were among a dozen people recognized by the White House on Oct. 5 as Champions of Change in Sustainable Seafood. Behnken is the executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, and was recently named as an interim commissioner to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

As director of the Oregon Trawl Commission, a state commodity commission operating under the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Commission program, Pettinger works collaboratively in the Pacific Fishery Management Council to improve management of West Coast groundfish fisheries.

Behnken shared the honors on her Facebook page, saying it is “really an honor that has been earned by the incredible people I work with at ALFA, staff, board and members, and the individuals and foundations who have supported our work-first and foremost Anne Hensaw at the Oak Foundation.” Behnken also thanked the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, North Pacific Research Board and the city of Sitka.

As a leader of ALFA, a member of the Halibut Coalition and in her years on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Behnken has been an outspoken advocate for all participants in Alaska’s fisheries protecting the health of the resource.

A commercial harvester for 34 years, she has also served as an industry advisor to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, the National Academy of Science Individual Fishing Quota Review Panel, and co-chaired the council’s essential fish habitat committee.

Behnken participated in the last two-reauthorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and was an active advocate for the Sustainable Fisheries Act amendments. She is also a founding member of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, a cutting-edge financing tool to help new and young harvesters break into Alaska fisheries and connect communities with their renewable natural resources.

The White House noted that under Pettinger’s leadership all three Oregon trawl fisheries have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as well managed and sustainable fisheries.

Pettinger owns a trawler that participates in the West Coast trawl groundfish catch share program off the coast of northern California and Southern Oregon. His work has been instrumental to recovery of many rockfish species, which provide sustainable, healthy, delicious seafood for local communities, the White House said.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bristol Bay Red King Crab Quota Set

State fishery managers in Alaska have set the Bristol Bay red king crab quota for the season opening Oct. 15 at 8,469,000 pounds, with 7,622,100 pounds for individual fishing quota holders and 846,900 pounds in community development quota.

That’s down by about 15 percent from the 9,974,000 allocation last year, which was slightly again lower than the 2014-2015 quota of 9,986,000 pounds.

The fishery will run through Jan. 15.

The Pribilof District red and blue king crab fisheries will remain closed through the 2016-2017 season.

State fisheries biologists said that the Bristol Bay red king crab nature female abundance is over the harvest strategy threshold of 8.4 million crab and the 2016 effective spawning biomass of 42.21 million pounds is over the threshold of 14.5 million pounds. Since the 2016 effective spawning biomass is less than 55 million pounds but greater than 34.75 million pounds, a 12.5 percent exploitation rate is applied to the estimated mature male abundance of 10.18 million crab.

Despite a higher than average number of discarded legal males observed in the 2015-2016 season, the 2016-2017 total allowable catch was not discounted for the added mortality.

State officials warned however that discards of legal-sized male red king crab in the new season will be closely monitored and could result in a lower TAC for the 2017-2018 season.

Togiak Herring Allocation Declines

Harvest allocations for Alaska’s 2017 Togiak herring fishery total 22,943 tons, down from 28,782 tons in 2016, with state biologists, erring on the side of caution for lack of funds, collecting information on estimated biomass and age composition.

The allocation includes 16,060 tons, or 70 percent, for the purse seine fleet, and 6,883 tons, or 30 percent, for the gillnet harvesters.

For 2016, the Togiak District sac roe fishery allocation of 28,782 tons included 20,148 tons for the purse seine fleet and 8,635 tons for the gillnetters.

Traditionally the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has used an age structured assessment model to forecast the spawning biomass of Togiak herring, but with the state in a budget crisis due to a drop in oil prices, no funds were allocated to gather this information for the Togiak herring fishery.

The age structured assessment model requires estimates of the spawning biomass as well as estimates of the age composition of the spawning biomass and the harvest. Because that data is not available, fisheries biologists opted to forecast the 2017 biomass as the average spawning biomass for all years for which they did have data, from 1978 through 2015, less 10 percent in order to be conservative.

Because they do not have the age structured assessment model for the 2017 forecast, biologists issued no predictions regarding age composition or individual size of herring for 2017.

As the department ceased estimating the spawning biomass of Togiak herring in 2015, the historical average used in the 2017 forecast is a static number and unless the budget situation changes, ADF&G will not be able to estimate spawning biomass or age composition in the future, said Greg Buck, area research biologist. This forecast strategy should be viewed as a temporary measure until a more long-term strategy for this fishery can be developed, Buck said in an announcement Oct. 3.

The Togiak herring fishery is the largest in Alaska. From 1995 to 2014, sac roe harvests averaged 21,672 short tons, worth an average of $4.94 million annually, according to the ADF&G 2015 Bristol Bay area annual management report released in April 2016. Given the volatile nature of the herring sac roe market, historic harvests and value are of limited utility when contemplating future harvest or value, biologists noted in the management report.

In 2015, sac roe harvests brought $1.08 million to permit holders, well below the 10-year average of $2.86 million. This value represents the grounds price and doesn’t necessarily include postseason adjustments. No spawn-on-kelp fishery has occurred since 2003. Final harvest values for the 2016 were not yet available.

BSAI Crab, Groundfish Harvests on NPFMC Agenda

Bering Sea/Aleutian Island crab and groundfish harvest specifications are on the agenda this week as the North Pacific Fishery Management Council opens its October meeting in Anchorage. Also on tap is an initial review of the electronic monitoring integration and the 2017 observer program annual deployment plan.

The council is considering a proposed management change to establish electric monitoring as part of the North Pacific Observer Program. The observer program collects data needed for the conservation, management and scientific understanding of groundfish and halibut fisheries. The document before the council analyzes alternatives to allow an electronic monitoring system, developed with input from the council’s fixed gear electronic monitoring work group. To date program development has focused primarily on an electronic monitoring program where data would be used for catch estimation.

The work group has also recommended that the council add an additional option to the analysis, to allow vessel operators fishing individual fishing quota in multiple areas to retain harvest in excess of the amount of quota available in a single area, if they have onboard either an observer or electronic monitoring equipment.

The council will also review the draft 2017 annual deployment plan and offer its recommendations to the National Marine Fisheries Service for the final 2017 plan.

The meeting is open to the public. Download the complete agenda and schedule at www.npfmc.org. To listen online, log in to https://npfmc.adobeconnect.com/october2016 and enter your name.

Hydrocarbon Spill Prompts Charges Against PWSAC

The general manager of the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., a hatchery manager and maintenance supervisor have been ordered to show up for arraignment in Cordova, Alaska, regarding a fuel leak at a state hatchery managed by PWSAC.

Documents filed the state attorney general’s office this week charge general manager David Reggiani Jr., chief maintenance supervisor Dale Lords, and Christine Mitchell, acting manager of the Cannery Creek Hatchery, with a class A misdemeanor in the oil spill beneath staff housing back in December 2013. All are charged with proving false information, failure to report hazardous substance discharge and oil pollution.

Based on a review by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the state found that Jason Vinyard, then a maintenance supervisor at the hatchery, did report a fuel oil spill of 350 to 400 gallons to the US Forest Service in December 2013, that he also reported the incident to PWSAC officials and told on-site employees to leave the area.

Mitchell told officials that Vinyard had reported a fuel spill but that she had discounted his reporting because she did not trust him. A review of a fuel log provided by Reggiani disclosed fuel transfers from a bulk storage tank were consistent with statements made by Vinyard in his incident report, according to assistant attorney general Carole Holley.

A telephone request to PWSAC regarding the incident was not returned.

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