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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bristol Bay Salmon Prices Trending Up

A new market report on the Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery says wholesale prices for sockeye products are trending up, and that product appears to be moving faster this year.

Wholesale prices of farmed salmon are also up considerably over the past 12 months, noted the fall 2016 sockeye market analysis prepared for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association by the McDowell Group.

The report notes that the preliminary ex-vessel value of Bristol Bay sockeye increased 66 percent in 2016, due to a price increase and strong harvest volume. Meanwhile the value of all other Alaska sockeye declined 7 percent.

After a couple of years of negative trends, currency rate movements have generally been favorable for Alaska sockeye producers in 2016, and the estimated market value of Bristol Bay salmon driftnet permits is up 22 percent, or approximately $24,000, from the beginning of the year, the report said.

Andy Wink, who follows salmon markets for the Juneau, Alaska research firm, says that with wholesale prices tending up, albeit still low, and major product forms selling faster this year, “a fantastic opportunity is developing in the US market, but it’s going to require top notch quality.”

“US fresh and refreshed sockeye markets offer the best chance for growth,” Wink told BBRSDA members at a gathering on Nov. 18 during Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle. “Fishermen who provide high quality fish to these channels will be in the best position to benefit,” he said.

The success of the branding program that the BBRSDA is rolling out will depend on a sufficient supply of high quality fish, he said. Chilled fish in fillet and headed and gutted markets creates higher value, so the goal is to provide enough chilled fish for billet and H&G production, plus a buffer, he said.
The report itself notes that ideally all chilled Bristol Bay sockeye would be directed to fillet and H and G lines and unchilled sockeye would be used in canned product. The chilled sockeye produces higher quality fillet products that require fewer discounts. In the canned market, there is currently very little difference in prices regardless of whether the fish was chilled or not.

Ocean Acidification Workshop Opens in Anchorage

A free Alaska Ocean Acidification Workshop is underway today and tomorrow at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Anchorage, and open to the public.

Topics range from ocean acidification basics to monitoring efforts, lab research, impacts to marine species, future forecasting and more.

For those unable to attend in person, there are remote viewing sites in Cordova, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Kodiak, Nome, Seward, Sitka and Unalaska.

The first day is aimed at a broad audience, to include harvesters, shellfish growers, resource managers, researchers, coastal residents and anyone else interested in ocean acidification, while the second day will be more discussion-oriented and include breakout groups and a session for ocean acidification researchers.

Participating speakers include Jeff Hetrick of the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, Hannah Heimbuch of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Bob Foy, director of the National Marine Fisheries Service crab laboratory at Kodiak, Jeremy Mathis, of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and more. On Day 2, Meg Chadsey from Washington Sea Grant will lead a session on ways to engage audiences and inspire local action to address ocean acidification.

A second session will address expanding and leveraging the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network.

Contact Alaska Ocean Observing System network coordinator Darcy Dugan at dugan@aoos.org with questions.

New Assessment Shows Abundant Pollock

A new assessment produced by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center shows that the abundance of Alaska Pollock stocks – Alaska’s largest fishery by volume – in the Eastern Bering Sea is quite robust.

According to a draft copy of the assessment prepared for the December meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage next week.

It is at the council’s December meeting each year that the total allowable catch for groundfish in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, as well as the Gulf of Alaska, are set.

The recommended acceptable biological catch for Bering Sea Pollock for 2017 is 2,800,000 tons and the recommended ABC for 2018 is 2,979,000 tons.

That compares with last year’s estimated ABC of 2,090,000 tons for 2016 and 2,019,000 tons for 2017.

The projections are based on estimated catches assuming 1,350,000 tons used in place of maximum permissible ABC for 2017 and 2018, biologists said.

New data in this assessment suggests that the above average 2008 year-class is slightly higher than before and that the 2012 year-class also appears to be above average, biologists said.

Alaska Pollock is the dominant species in terms of catch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, accounting for 69 percent of the BSAI’s fishery management plan groundfish harvest and 89 percent of the total Pollock harvest in Alaska.

Retained catch of Pollock increased 2.2 percent to 1.3 million tons in 2015.

BSAI Pollock first-wholesale value was $1.28 billion in 2015, down slightly from $1.3 billion in 2014, but above the 2005-2007 average of $1.25 billion.

Prior to 2008, Pollock catches were high at about 1.4 million tons in the BSAI for an extended period. The complete draft report is online at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/refm/stocks/plan_team/EBSPollock.pdf

2015 Groundfish Harvests off Alaska Totaled 2.2 Million Tons

The latest draft federal Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report for groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands concludes that 2015 groundfish harvests off Alaska totaled 2.2 million tons.

That amount was about equal to the catch in 2014, according to the report prepared for next week’s North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Anchorage. Groundfish made up 80 percent of Alaska’s 2015 total catch, which was slightly less than typical because of high Pacific salmon harvests.

Notable increases in catch were observed in the Alaska Pollock, particularly in the Gulf of Alaska, and Atka mackerel fisheries, while the flatfish catch was significantly decreased, the report noted.

The gross value of the 2015 groundfish catch after primary processing (first wholesale) was $2.26 billion, a decrease of 3.6 percent from a year earlier.

Pacific cod fisheries, the second largest by volume in Alaska, with a total catch of 289,000 tons in 2015, saw a decrease of 3 percent from 2014. Decreases in both catch and ex-vessel price had the combined effect of an 8.7 percent decrease in exvessel value to $186 million.

The ex-vessel value of all Alaska domestic fish and shellfish catch, including the amount paid to harvesters for fish caught, and the estimated value of pre-processed fish species caught by catcher processors, decreased from $1,853 million in 2014 to $1,720 million in 2015. The first wholesale value of 2015 groundfish catch after primary processing was $2,262 million.

The 2015 total groundfish catch decreased by 1 percent, and the total first wholesale value dropped by 4 percent, relative to 2014. The complete draft report is online at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/refm/stocks/plan_team/economic.pdf

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Study Highlights Need to Modernize North Pacific Fishing Fleet

A new study on modernizing of the North Pacific commercial fishing fleet emphasizes the need to do so, and the significant economic impact this effort will have on Puget Sound, the economic hub of the fleet. The Port of Seattle and Washington Maritime Federation commissioned the study from the McDowell Group, a research and consulting firm in Juneau, Alaska.

The report says “it is incumbent upon Puget Sound stakeholders to encourage leadership and participation in the modernization effort, generating economic activity in the region for many years into the future.”

As of 2016, the report notes, the fleet of vessels over 58 feet numbers 414 and averages 40 years in age. Momentum behind the growing need to recapitalize includes rationalization of federally managed fisheries, removal of legislation prohibiting new builds in certain fisheries, and changing Coast Guard regulations, to name a few.

The report concludes that to maintain safety, economic viability and the competitive edge in a global market that modernization of the fleet must occur.

The report calls for advocacy and support for the preservation of the Puget Sound working waterfront, improvement in transportation infrastructure, workforce development and affordable housing, collaboration among vessel owners, shipyards, and lenders, and support for the maritime industry in Seattle, Olympia and Washington DC.

The report urges better financing assistance in the form of loan guarantees and reduced mooring rates for vessels constructed and modified in Washington State and the education of the banking community on the fishing fleet.

It also urges facility improvements, including increased dock space for the fleet, upgrades to fishermen’s terminal and Pier 91, and improved services and facilities on Harbor Island.

The complete report is online at http://www.portseattle.org/Supporting-Our-Community/Economic-Development/Documents/Fleet%20Modernization%20Final%2011_11.pdf

Diversity is the Strength of Bristol Bay’s Sockeye Run

A University of Washington professor who has spent years researching the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest Alaska says it’s important to maintain the diversity of the waters contributing to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run.

The river systems flowing into the watershed compensate for each other, much like a diversified investment portfolio, Daniel Schindler told the Matanuska-Susitna Salmon Science and Conservation Symposium in Palmer, Alaska, on Nov. 17.

Within that watershed, habitat variation is important down to the very small scales, with each set of habitat having its own features, Schindler told biologists, conservationists, and commercial, sport and subsistence harvesters attending the symposium.

Schindler is a principal investigator of the university’s Alaska Salmon Program, which has studied Pacific salmon, their ecosystems and their fisheries in western Alaska since the 1940s. The program’s current research is focused on understanding how watersheds function in areas ranging from processing nutrients and carbon to how geomorphic attributes of watersheds regulate these ecosystem processes and services.

“We can do a lot of tangible things now to protect ecosystems, to make ecosystems resilient to climate change,” he said. “Protecting habitat networks is a way to build climate resilience. Stability and productivity of fishery systems is derived from diverse and changing habitat.”

In the some 130 years that people have fished commercially in Bristol Bay, that fishery has been sustainable because the commercial fishery interacts with a sustainable population, because individual rivers compensate for each other, he said.

Climate change notwithstanding, the fishery remains resilient because each river within the watershed is genetically distinct, down to the smaller rivers and tiny streams, he said. Removing some of those streams would weaken the strength of that diversity, he said.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concern that the proposed Pebble copper, gold and molybdenum mine in the area of the Bristol Bay watershed could result in potential loss of 1,100 or more acres of wetlands, lakes and ponds that connect with streams and tributaries of those streams where salmon are documented.

Final decisions regarding the permitting of that mine are still pending.

Bristol Bay 2017 Sockeye Run Forecast is 41.47 Million Fish

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists are forecasting a run of 41.47 million sockeye salmon into Bristol Bay in 2017 with a Bristol Bay harvest of 27.47 million fish, and a South Peninsula harvest of 1.53 million reds. That’s virtually identical to the most recent 10-year average of Bristol Bay runs and 27 percent greater than the long-term mean of 32.76 million fish. All systems are expected to meet their spawning escapement goals.

The anticipated harvest of 27.47 million reds into Bristol Bay would be 2 percent lower than the most recent 10-year harvest, which has ranged from 15.43 million to 37.53 million fish and 34 percent greater than the long-term harvest average of 20.52 million fish, for the years 1963 through 2016.

The run is expected to consist of 12.05 million age-1.2 fish (or 29 percent of the total run; 9.35 million age-2.2 fish (23 percent of the run), 16.50 million age-1.3 fish (40 percent of the run, and 3.50 million age 2.3 fish (8 percent of the run).

The 2016 inshore Bristol Bay sockeye run this year totaled 51.4 million reds, which was the second highest such run since 1996, and 46 percent above the 35.1 million average run for the same period.

The 2017 run forecast to each district and river system includes16.07 million reds to the Naknek-Kvichak District (7.76 million to the Kvichak River, 4.04 million to the Alagnak River and 4.27 million to the Naknek River); 10.65 million to the Egegik District; 5.46 million to the Ugashik District; 8.62 million to the Nushagak District (5.50 million to the Wood River, 1.87 million to the Nushagak Rier and 1.25 million to the Igushik River); and 0.66 million to the Togiak District.

The Bristol Bay 2016 harvest of all salmon species was 39.2 million fish, raking first over the last 20 years and worth a preliminary exvessel value of $156.2 million, 40 percent above the 20-year average of $111.0 million.

The complete state of Alaska forecast is online at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/applications/dcfnewsrelease/756093217.pdf

Study: Transboundary Salmon Rivers Worth Millions to Southeast Alaska

A new economic study concludes that three transboundary watersheds that could be adversely impacted by mining in British Columbia have a value of just under $1 billion to the economy of Southeast Alaska.

The study for Salmon Beyond Borders was commissioned from the McDowell Group, a research and consulting firm in Juneau, Alaska.

The study measures the economic impact in Southeast Alaska of the Taku, Stikine and Unuk River watersheds, and also considers economic contributions from the Nass and Skeena rivers, which also have cross-border economic impact in commercial fisheries, tourism and recreation industries.

The study found that the combined watersheds account for $48 million in annually economic activity, including multiplier effects. This includes $34 million in direct spending, 400 jobs for the Southeast region, and nearly $20 million in labor income.

“Despite the limitations in the study, there is no question that the bounty from these rivers provides thousands of jobs that contribute to the well-being of communities on both sides of the border,” said Dale Kelley, executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association. “These watershed are economic powerhouses and worthy of international protections.”

Heather Hardcastle of Salmon Beyond Border said her group wanted to get the study out to local, state and federal officials, including the State Department, given that one mine is already in operation and two others are under construction. Hardcastle also said that the British Columbia government “is clearly not requiring bonds/sureties that will come anywhere close to covering the true liabilities associated with these mega projects.”

The complete study is online at http://www.mcdowellgroup.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FINAL-Southeast-Alaska-Transboundary-Watershed-Economic-Impacts-10_10red.pdf

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Experts Speak at Fishermen’s News Booth This Week

Stop by the Fishermen’s News booth 220 at Pacific Marine Expo to talk to experts about the business of fishing.

On Friday, November 18th, from 11:00 a.m. to noon, Quality Operations Manager and Fishermen’s News contributor Brandii Holmdahl will answer questions about how to keep your catch fresh.

Over the last 24 years Brandii has worked in the seafood quality assurance field in every major region in Alaska, handling most species of seafood harvested in Alaska at the foreman and plant manager level. She has also served on the quality sub-committee of the Salmon Legislative Task Force, developed training and branding programs throughout Alaska and operated an independent dock for fishermen wanting to retain and sell their own catch.

Brandii will be happy to talk about things you can do to increase the quality of your catch, and keep it fresh from hook or net to dock.

On Saturday, November 19th, from 11:00 a.m. to noon Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Manager Kirt Hughes will be on hand to answer questions from interested Washington State fishermen including questions about allocation, areas, regulations and hatchery programs.

Last year the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife met the fleet at our booth and answered questions about the Department’s role in the state’s commercial fisheries, and the discussion led to an expanded series of meetings with fishermen along the coast.

Fishermen who don’t often have a chance to talk to the WDFW in an informal setting are encouraged to bring your questions for Kirt and be prepared to take notes!

Upper Cook Inlet Harvest Forecast Is 1.7 Million Sockeyes

Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are forecasting a run of some 4.0 million sockeye salmon to Upper Cook Inlet in 2017, with a commercial harvest of 1.7 million fish.

That forecasted harvest is 1.2 million fish less than the 20-year average harvest.

For 2016, the red salmon harvest by all user groups in Upper Cook Inlet totaled 3.3 million fish, which was 2.0 million less than the preseason forecast of 5.3 million fish, biologists said.

The run forecast for the Kenai River is approximately 2.2 million, which is 1.4 million less than the 20-year average run of 3.6 million fish.

The Kasilof River sockeye salmon run forecast is 825,000, which is 16 percent less than the 20-year average of 987,000; the Susitna River forecast is 366,000, which is 5 percent less than the 10-year average of 387,000 fish, and the Fish Creek forecast is 75,000, which is 11 percent less than the 20-year average of 84,000 reds. The 2017 forecast for other salmon species in Upper Cook Inlet includes commercial harvests of 98,000 pink, 184,000 chum, 167,000 silver and 6,300 king salmon.

While all five species of Pacific salmon are present in Upper Cook Inlet, sockeyes are the most valuable, accounting for nearly 93 percent of the total value over the past 20 years.

Sockeye prices varied during the season, but based on an estimated average price of $1.50 per pound, the total exvessel value of the 2016 Upper Cook Inlet sockeye harvest was about $21 million, which was 93 percent of the total exvessel value of Upper Cook Inlet salmon in 2016.

Western Alaska Salmon Harvests for 2016 Valued at $27.7 Million

Commercial wild salmon harvests in 2016 for Alaska’s western region totaled some 9,654,699 fish with a preliminary exvessel value of $27,730,204, state fisheries officials say.

That compared with a 2015 total harvest of 64,892,000 fish, valued at $75,256,000, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game report issued this past week.

Preliminary state harvest data showed harvests of 112,640,000 salmon worth $406,379,000 in 2016 compared with an overall commercial salmon harvest of 263,463 salmon valued at $414,219,000 a year ago.

The 2016 commercial salmon fishing season in the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands and Atka-Amlia Islands yielded a total of 15,345 kings, 5,981,217 sockeye, 260,922 silver, 2,883,577 humpies and 513,338 chum salmon, according to a preliminary report issued by ADF&G on Nov. 9.

Exvessel value information was generated from fish tickets and does not include postseason adjustments paid to fishermen.

The South Unimak and Shumagin Islands June commercial salmon fishery began on June 7 for set gillnet gear and on June 10 for seine and drift gillnet gear. Their preliminary commercial salmon harvest for the June fishery came in at 6,055 Chinook, 1,260,883 sockeye, 1,716 coho, 2,499,140 pink and 261,318 chum salmon.

For the South Peninsula Post-June fishery, including the Southeast District mainland from July 26 through Oct. 31, the commercial harvest totaled 6,804 Chinook, 807,336 sockeye, 176,799 coho, 339,864 pink and 139,519 chum salmon.

The low number of pink salmon returning to local streams resulted in no commercial fishing in the South Peninsula in August. Below average coho salmon harvest in September also limited commercial fishery openings until processor interest was withdrawn, biologists said.

In the North Alaska Peninsula, the total 2016 commercial harvest, excluding home pack and department test fishery, the projected harvest included 1,896 kings, 3.5 million reds, 75,818 silver, 12,274 pink and 88,894 chum salmon.

The North Peninsula harvest of sockeye and coho salon on the North Peninsula exceeded projected harvest levels, while the Chinook, pink and chum salmon were below projected harvest levels.

Commercial salmon harvests in the Kodiak management area of 5,926,918 salmon were well below the 2016 forecast and the previous 10-year average of some 24,068,105 salmon, according to the ADF&G season summary.

The catch, including 7,478 king, 2,063,472 red, 206,540 silver, 3,245,549 humpy and 403,879 chum salmon, had an estimated exvessel value of $14.5 million, the fourth lowest value since 1975, and well below the previous 10-year-average exvessel value of $362 million.

Comment Period on Sablefish RFM Ends Dec. 11

Comment is being accepted through Dec. 11 on the report for re-assessment of the Alaska sablefish fishery under the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management program.

The reassessment is being conducted by Global Trust/SAI Global, said officials the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Registered stakeholders will be sent a copy of the report by filling out the online form at http://www.gtcert.com/dsp_contact.cfm.

/Ext/contact?subject=US%20Alaska%20Sablefish%20(Black%20cod)%20Commercial%20Fisheries The assessment team appointed to this assessment will review each comment submitted by stakeholders to determine if clarifications, updates or modifications to the report are necessary. The certification body will ultimately preside over the final outcome on certification consistent with accreditation requirements and the certification program’s rules. Information is most useful to this assessment team when it is specific and includes constructive suggestions for improving existing situations. Supporting documentary evidence for any issues of concern is also appreciated.

For further information on stakeholder involvement, http://www.alaskaseafood.org/rfm-certification/stakeholder-involvement/.

ASMI’s Responsible Fisheries Management Committee will hold a meeting Nov. 22 at the Seattle offices of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association. The call in number is 1-800-315-6338, or 1-913-904-9376, and the access code is 89501.

A copy of the draft agenda is online at http://www.alaskaseafood.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/RFM-Draft-Agenda_Nov22_2016.pdf.

Partnership Tracks Debris in Columbia Estuary

Efforts are underway to track and map the location of marine debris in the Columbia River estuary, the online Columbia Basin Bulletin reports.

The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership is asking for help in identifying small to medium scale marine debris in the lower Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the river’s mouth, in order to map the area and develop plans for cleanup.

Debrah Marriott, executive director of the partnership, notes that marine debris can be adversely affect fish and wildlife habitat, water quality and human safety.

The small to medium scale debris the organization wants to identify includes everything from small abandoned boats and large tires to old machinery, and anything else that does not belong along or in the river.

The inventory the partnership is compiling does not track abandoned ships greater than 35 feet. Those are classified as derelict vessels and are tracked by the US Coast Guard and others. Through the first week of November, the partnership mapped more than 100 marine debris locations between Kalama and Portland. The intent of the project is to complete mapping for 146 miles of the lower river from Bonneville Dam to the Pacific Ocean, Marriott said.

The LCEP is part of the National Estuary Program, and the project is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Volunteers are also contributing their time and expertise, she said. Once the mapping and debris identification is complete, the partnership will work to secure funds, likely from competitive grants, to begin removal.

Marine debris can be reported on the LCEP’s website, http://www.estuarypartnership.org/marine-debris-submittal-form.

The LCEP was established in 1955 by the governors of Washington and Oregon and the EPA to provide regional coordination, advance science and get on-the-ground results in the Lower Columbia River and estuary.

The Columbia Basin Bulletin website is published independently by Intermountain Communications of Bend, Oregon. Journalist Bill Crampton, editor, publisher and owner of Intermountain Communications, launched the entity in Bend, OR, in 1997 as an information services firm specializing in natural resource issues.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Monitoring, Charter Issues on NPFMC Agenda

Final action is scheduled at December’s North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting on electronic monitoring integration and the charter halibut recreational quota entry program.

Also on the agenda for the Dec. 6-14 meeting in Anchorage are announcements on the final specifications for the harvest of groundfish in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska, 2017 charter halibut management measures, a preliminary analysis of Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch management, a review of an application for a red king crab savings area, and industry reports on Amendment 80 cooperatives’ halibut prohibited species catch measures.

Amendment 80, implemented in 2008, allocates Bering Sea and Aleutian Island yellowfin sole, flathead sole, rock sole, Atka mackerel and Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean perch to the head and gut trawl catcher processor sector, and allows qualified vessels to form cooperatives. The program establishes Gulf of Alaska groundfish sideboard limits for Pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific Ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish, as well as Gulf halibut prohibited species catch. The Gulf sideboard restrictions are based on historic participation from 1998 through 2004.

A highlight of the December meeting will be an already sold-out dinner marking the 40th anniversary of the federal fisheries council.

Speakers for the anniversary dinner have not yet been announced.

Other meetings slated at the Hilton in conjunction with the NPFMC session include the Scientific and Statistical Committee, Dec 6-9, the Advisory Panel, Dec. 7-11, the Charter Halibut Management Committee, Dec. 6, the Recreational Quota Entity Committee, Dec. 6, and the Ecosystem and Enforcement committees, both on Dec. 7.

All meetings are open to the public, except executive sessions.

The deadline for written comments is 5 p.m. on Nov. 29. Those comments should be emailed to npfmc.comments@noaa.gov

A link to information on submitting comments in writing or in person can be found in the public comment information, by clicking on the council agenda.


The council meeting will be broadcast at https://npfmc.adobeconnect.com/december2016

43 Million Pinks Forecast for SE Alaska in 2017

Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are predicting a run of 43 million pink salmon in Southeast Alaska in 2017, which would be just above the recent 10-year average of 39 million humpies.

The forecast was adjusted using peak June-July juvenile pink salmon catch-per-distance-trawled statistics provided by the NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratories, state biologists said Nov. 7.

Department staff planned to be available at the Southeast Alaska Purse Seine Task Force meeting on Dec. 1 in Juneau to discuss the forecast and plan for the season.

NOAA has been conducting these surveys for more than 20 years in upper Chatham and Icy straits in northern Southeast Alaska.

Perhaps the largest potential source of uncertainty regarding the 2017 pink salmon return is the anomalously warm sea surface temperatures that have persisted throughout the Gulf of Alaska since the fall of 2013, biologists said. Pink salmon that went to sea in 2014 and 2015 returned in numbers well below expectation and pink salmon that went to sea in 2016, and are set to return in 2017, may have experienced similar conditions, the forecast report said.

The NOAA Auke Bay Laboratories have been using juvenile pink salmon catch and associated biophysical data to forecast adult pink salmon harvest in Southeast Alaska since 2014. The 2017 NOAA forecast is online at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/ABL/EMA/EMA_PSF.htm

ADF&G forecasts have been adjusted using NOAA’s juvenile pink salmon data since 2007. Although the forecast performance was relatively poor over the past three seasons, overall performance since 2007 is much improved over forecasts made prior to 2007 and recent forecasts have performed better than naïve forecasting models, biologists said.

The 2017 commercial purse seine fisheries will be managed in-season based on the strength of salmon runs.

Report Finds Pebble Contamination

An independent scientific report produced by the Center for Science in Public Participation for United Tribes of Bristol Bay documents contamination at reclaimed Pebble prospect drill sites.

The report concludes that there may be long-term reclamation and maintenance issues at the copper, gold and molybdenum prospect near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed. The report also notes that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources currently requires no reclamation plan and has exempted the Pebble Limited Partnership from reclamation bond.

While there is no widespread contamination, there are localized areas with elevated copper and other elements in soil and water, the report said. “About 10 percent of the sites inspected had fine-grained, oxidized drill cuttings around the casing or leading in a trail away from the casing. If these are flushing periodically, this suggests that either the holes were not cemented, or the cement has failed.”

Environmental geochemist Kendra Zamzow, who wrote the report with CSP2 president Dave Chambers, said her concerns included dead vegetation around settling ponds and wells that had been duct-taped, zip locked and sprayed with foam, but still had water slowly emerging from them. “They are supposed to, if they are not using them, cut them off below ground level after the hole has been completely cemented and grouted to be sure no water comes up,” she said.

The latest DNR field monitoring report, written in July and amended on Nov. 3, said that the mine operator had identified and addressed maintenance and repair issues on site consistent with industry best management practices.

According to state inspectors, 141 sites were inspected and 107 boreholes were observed to be in stable condition with no evidence of water or other instability, and that nine sites needed further investigation, but none posed a significant environmental or compliance risk.

Canadian Oceans Protection Plan

Canadian government officials have announced plans for a national marine protection plan aimed at support of the nation’s fisheries, tourism and overall strengthening of Canada’s economy.

“Canada’s economy, environment and history are inextricably linked to our coastal regions,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Nov. 7.

“The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan will make Canada a world leader in marine safety and takes a powerful step toward co-management of our coasts with indigenous and coastal communities, together making sure they remain healthy, clean and safe for generations to come.”

The plan hasquick support from the Clear-Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping, an independent, not-for-profit research center in Vancouver, British Columbia. Clear Seas provides impartial and fact-based information about marine shipping in Canada, including risks, mitigation measures and best practices for safe and sustainable marine shipping.

Richard Wiefelspuett, executive director of Clear Seas, said the organization supports the expansion and strengthening of Canada’s Coast Guard.

A recent poll commissioned by Clear Seas confirms that Canadians understand the importance of marine shipping for the economy, but that many are concerned about the effective enforcement of marine safety policies and procedures,” Wiefelspuett said. “A strengthened Canadian Coast Guard is a timely response to these concerns and an important step towards safe and responsible marine shipping on our coasts,” he said.

Clear Seas also supports the plan’s emphasis on measures that prevent possible marine incidents from happening, including enhanced marine traffic information sharing, new navigation aids and aerial surveillance to improve marine safety.

Priorities of the plan include creation of a marine safety system that improves responsible shipping and protects Canada’s waters, restoring and protecting marine ecosystems and habitats, strengthening partnerships and launching co-management practices with indigenous communities, and investing in oil spill cleanup research.

The oceans protection plan was developed based on work over the past two years between indigenous and coastal communities and various government programs.

It is to be implemented in 2017.

A large volume of Canada’s commodities and processed good utilized the marine transportation system, which employs some 250,000 Canadians and injects over $25 billion into Canada’s economy.

Trudeau said as soon as 2017, Canadians will begin to see improvements including a Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre at St. John’s, and legislation introduced to prohibit vessel abandonment in Canadian waterways.


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The new marine safety system is to include improved marine traffic and navigation information for mariners, indigenous peoples and coastal communities, plus enhanced resources for the Canadian Coast Guard, and funding for new research into the impact of increased shipping on marine ecosystems and new oil spill response methods.

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