Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Commercial Pacific Halibut Season Open

The harvest of Pacific halibut got under way this past week, with the US allocated an 82.3 percent share of the 2019 total catch of 29.4 million pounds. That represents 23.5 million pounds for American fishermen, an increase of 8.2 percent over last year.

That quota share was approved during the annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) on February 1.

NOAA Fisheries Administrator Chris Oliver, a US commissioner to the IPHC, said that while the overall quota for 2019 is a slight increase over 2018 that catch limited agreed to by the IPHC “reflect a sensible, conservative approach that will secure the future of this iconic and economically important species.”

Alaska’s total halibut catch is set at 22 million pounds, up nearly 1.5 million pounds from 2018. That includes an increase in allocations to all areas except 3B, the western Gulf of Alaska.

The new IPHC regulations in effect for charter halibut operators in Alaska allow for a one fish daily bag limit per angler in Area 2C, Southeast Alaska, with a reverse slot limit that prohibits retention of any halibut greater than 38 inches and less than 80 inches.

In Southcentral Alaska, Area 3A, there is a two fish per angler bag limit, with a maximum size of 28 inches for one of those halibut, a one trip per day limit, and an annual limit of four halibut.

Unguided halibut sport anglers in Alaska meanwhile will continue to have a daily bag limit of two fish of any size per person each day.

USDA Purchases $28 Million of Alaska Pollock

The US Department of Agriculture has announced the purchase of more than 11 million pounds of wild Alaska Pollock fillets and fish sticks valued at $28.1 million from processors in Washington state, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.

The largest purchase, for nearly eight million pounds priced at approximatively $21 million, went to Trident Seafoods Corporation in Seattle, Wash.

USDA also awarded contracts for 1.7 million pounds worth $3.8 million to High Liner Foods of Portsmouth, N.H., and 1.4 million pounds worth $3.3 million to Channel Fish Processing Co., in Braintree, Mass.

The contract calls for the fish to be delivered between April 16 and December 31, 2019.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing service purchases a variety of 100 percent domestically produced and processed commodity foods, to be delivered to schools, food banks and households in communities nationwide.

Approval Pending for Pink Salmon Disaster Relief

After months of waiting, federal contacts have advised the office of Alaska legislator Louise Stutes, chairman of the Alaska House Fisheries Committee, that approval is coming for relief funding from the 2016 pink salmon disaster in Prince William Sound.

Matt Gruening, chief of staff for Stutes, a Kodiak Republican, said their office has been told for the past few months that NOAA’s approval of the disaster relief funding would happen any week, and that an application process would be in place shortly thereafter. But it wasn’t until March 19 that federal contacts advised that approval is now an estimated three weeks out, and that the funds are at the Federal Office of Management and Budget, which is making this a priority.

“We obviously are not pleased that an approval that should have occurred by the first of this year is still three weeks away in the middle of March. That being said, the federal process is notoriously slow and unresponsive and there is little we can do but stay informed, and in turn, keep you informed,” Gruening said in a message to fishermen.

Once the application process is in place, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission will contact fishermen directly with applications, and have a dedicated, toll-free hotline to answer questions. The timeline between approval of the grant and checks being mailed out is typically one month.

NPAFC Completes High Seas Salmon Research

A month-long international salmon research expedition in the Gulf of Alaska organized by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) is now completed, and researchers are reporting several exciting discoveries. The expedition, the first in decades to study salmon on the high seas, returned to Vancouver, B.C., on March 18, aboard the chartered Russian research vessel Professor Kaganovskiy.

The team of 21 scientists from Japan, Korea, Russia, the United States and Canada said they were surprised to find that the second most abundant species of salmon in their catch was coho. The scientists believed that coho salmon stay in coastal areas in the winter, but they were found thousands of kilometers away from the coast in the open ocean. They determined, using ground breaking DNA technology, that these cohos are from rivers ranging from the Puget Sound to northern British Columbia.

The scientific team was also surprised that pink salmon, the most abundant of all Pacific salmon, composed only 10 percent of their catches. Humpies are supposed to be particularly dominant in odd years, which made their absence especially notable. NPAFC officials said the researchers have returned with thousands of samples that will be analyzed over the coming months.

The Gulf of Alaska expedition had two major objectives, according to expedition organizer Dick Beamish, an emeritus scientist of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The first was to carry out new research designed to identify the mechanisms that regulate the abundance of salmon. The second was to assemble a team of international researchers who would use the experience of the Russian captain and crew to show that important discoveries can best be made through international cooperation.

“It will take some time to measure the success of our objective relating to mechanisms, but we have clear evidence that an international team of scientists is an excellent way to make the discoveries needed to ensure a future of responsible stewardship,” Beamish said.

The $1.3 million project is jointly funded by a combination of government, industry, non-government organizations and private contributions. Donors include the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association, Harmac Pacific, Pacific Salmon Commission, the Province of British Columbia, Ross Beaty (Sitka Foundation) and British Columbia businessman Tony Allard NPAFC is an international organization based in Vancouver, B.C. that promotes the conservation of Pacific salmon and steelhead trout in the North Pacific, and its adjacent seas.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

FDA Clears Way for GE Salmon in US Markets

An import alert that kept genetically modified salmon from entering domestic markets has been lifted by US Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb, clearing the way for AquAdvantage Salmon to produce and market in the United States.

Gottlieb said the FDA’s approval of the genetically engineered (GE) fish produced by AquaBounty Technologies, of Maynard, MA, followed a comprehensive analysis of scientific evidence, which determined that the GE Atlantic salmon met the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

With the deactivation of the import alert, AquAdvantage Salmon eggs may be imported to the company’s grow-out facility in Indiana to be raised into salmon for food, Gottlieb said.

Sylvia Wulf, chief executive officer of AquaBounty, said the company would immediately begin the process of importing AquAdvatage eggs from its hatchery in Canada to grow out at its facilities in Indiana.

Senators Patty Murray, D-WA, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, meanwhile blasted the FDA decision as a threat to wild salmon populations.

“Imported, genetically engineered salmon are a serious threat to our state’s wild salmon populations, which are a source of pride and an important part of our culture and economy,” Murray said. “I’ve fought every step of the way to keep ‘Frankenfish’ away from Washington state, and the administration should know I will continue to fight to protect wild Pacific salmon and Washington consumers.”

Murkowski said she was extremely disappointed in what she called a short-sighted decision. “It is wrong-headed and a bad idea, simple as that. I am not going to back down and will continue my fight to ensure that any salmon product that is genetically engineered be clearly labeled,” she said.

United Fishermen of Alaska issued a statement saying that the FDA’s decision to lift the import ban on “frankenfish” without requiring clear labeling to show that these products are genetically engineered “is a disservice to consumers and a blow to Alaska’s hardworking fishing communities.”

The Center for Food Safety in Washington DC also criticized FDA’s action, noting that the US Department of Agriculture’s new guidelines do not require “adequate mandatory labeling, don’t require calling the fish “genetically engineered” and don’t help consumers know what kind of fish they are buying.

Alaska Board of Fisheries Says “No” to Allocation Changes

A sportfishing association’s proposal to change criteria for allocation of fishery resources among personal use, sport and commercial harvesters was defeated this week by the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Under Proposal 171, brought forth by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, allocation criteria would have been changed to take into consideration the history of each personal use, sport, guided sport and commercial fishery with emphasis on the past 20 years.

The proposal argued for an adaptive management process, with periodic re-evaluation and updating of management goals and objectives taking into consideration the number of residents and nonresidents who have participated in each fishery in the past and the number of residents and nonresidents who could reasonably be expected to participate in the future.

“Limiting the consideration of the history of a fishery to 20 years and prioritizing decisions based on the number of participants effectively ignores the fact that the number of commercial salmon fishermen in our state has been static since the Limited Entry Act was passed in 1972, while other salmon fisheries statewide have grown unchecked in that same amount of time,” said Chelsea Haisman, executive director of Cordova District Fishermen United in her testimony to the fisheries board. “It ignores the investment that any Alaskans have made in our economy, in our rural areas, and around the state,” she noted.

“When making decisions that may have allocative impacts, whether intentional or not, it is critical to keep the history and context part of the discussion, and this proposal, if passed, would remove that context,” Haisman said, a third-generation commercial harvesters from Cordova, Alaska.

Dunleavy Nominates Campbell and Kimball for NPFMC

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has nominated fishing industry veterans Cora Campbell and Nicole Kimball to fill two seats on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Dunleavy submitted their names to Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, himself a former executive director of the council.

Campbell is currently the president and chief operating officer of Silver Bay Seafoods in Sitka, Alaska. She is a commercial harvester and former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

Kimball, a former fisheries analyst for the council, also served as a federal fisheries coordinator for ADF&G before being named vice president of Alaska operations for the Seattle based Pacific Seafood Processors Association.

Dunleavy’s alternate choices for both seats are John Moller and Julianne Curry. Moller is a lifelong subsistence fisherman who currently serves as Dunleavy’s commercial fisheries advisor. He was previously on the NPFMC’s advisory panel.

Curry, a veteran commercial harvester, has worked with Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, United Fishermen of Alaska and Icicle Seafoods and served on the NPFMC’s advisory panel.

Final selection will be made by the US Department of Commerce and those chosen will join the council in August, replacing Theresa Peterson and Buck Laukitis.

Self-Nominations Encouraged for SBA Small Business Awards

The Alaska District office of the US Small Business Administration is accepting applications through March 30 in five award categories: veteran-owned, rural business, woman-owned business, micro business and small business champion.

Applicants for veteran-owned and rural businesses must show demonstrated success and contribution to their community.

Women-owned small business must be owned at 51 percent or more by a woman, show demonstrated success and contributions to their community.

Competition for the micro business award is open to businesses with fewer than five employees who have overcome extraordinary obstacles to succeed.

Applicants for the small business champion award must demonstrate that their contribution resulted in business start-up or expansion, job creation and increased revenues.

Businesses are encouraged by SBA Alaska to self-nominate.

All nominations must be submitted via email by 11:59 p.m. Alaska Time.

Details and applications are available online at https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/ak/anchorage/resources, or by contacting the SBA Alaska District Office at akimfo@sba.gov or 1-907-271-4022.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Wild Alaska Pollock Promotion Begins
with the Start of Lent

As Lent gets underway today, so does a special promotion of wild Alaska Pollock. The campaign is aimed at consumers who are abstaining from eating meat for the next 40 days and invites them to enjoy a wide variety of dishes made with this protein-rich whitefish.

“Wild Alaska Pollock has a great taste, texture and flavor that makes it so popular among quick-service restaurant brands, especially as they add additional menu items for consumers for the Lenten season,” says Craig Morris, chief executive office of the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, which is promoting the #Wapfor40 challenge. “Despite being widely used in some iconic menu items, most consumers don’t know that they’re eating fresh, wild-caught Alaska Pollock or understand its story of being harvested by American fishermen on the waters of the largest sustainable fishery in the world, which is off our own coast of Alaska.”

The Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) challenge encourages consumers to eat their way through the #Wapfor40 GAPP Bingo card and try a variety of dishes from fish sticks and breaded, beer-battered fish fillets to surimi products at participating restaurants or portions of Wild Alaska Pollock that can be prepared at home. The latest new wild Alaska Pollock product hitting retail shelves are Trident Seafoods’ Alaska Pollock Protein Noodles, a pasta made from the succulent whitefish. The product won the grand prize in the recent 2019 Alaska Symphony of Seafood competition.

Morris said the campaign is also aiming to promote consumer brands that feature wild Alaska Pollock and help tell its story of nutrition and sustainability. He’s spreading the world about GAPP’s challenge too on social media, including Facebook and Twitter @wildAKpollock.

Bering Sea Fisheries Seeing Increased Participation

Seafood harvesters of crab and groundfish in the stormy waters of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands were close to or had caught all of their seasonal allocations by early March.

“The weather has been pretty warm, and Western Alaska has been hit by some crazy storms,” said Miranda Westphal, a Dutch Harbor area management biologist for groundfish and shellfish for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The weather didn’t deter the Pacific cod fleet, whose 37 vessels in state waters ended their harvest on Feb. 24 having taken their full 31,922,600-pound allocation of P-cod.

Another 17 vessels were registered and still fishing in an open subdistrict of the Aleutian Islands aiming to catch their 14,078,500-pound quota, but their harvest is kept confidential because only one processor was on the grounds. The snow crab fishery is up to 21 million pounds and 78 percent of that allocation have been harvested leaving another five million pounds to go for the 60 or so vessels chipping at that 27,581,000-pound quota. In the Western Bering Sea, 73 percent of the 2,439,000-pound Tanner crab allocation has been caught, according to Westphal. Normally there are some 65 to 70 vessels working the snow crab fishery and more may join them, while 31 vessels are registered for the Tanner crab fishery.

In the eastern Aleutians district, 100 percent of the 3.4 million-pound quota of golden king crab has been harvested. In the western district, one boat was still fishing with 56,000 pounds left to harvest out of the 2.2 million-pound quota.

“Usually the season would go much longer at least in the western district, where they longline pots for golden king crab,” said seafood industry veteran Frank Kelty, now the mayor of Unalaska, which lies 800 miles southwest of Anchorage in the heart of the North Pacific/Bering Sea fisheries.

One tanner crab fishery was still open west of St. Paul, with 600,000 pounds of a 1.7 million- pound allowable catch remaining to harvest.

Kelty noted that the same vessels harvesting snow crab are also doing tanner crab, and that some of those vessels had already caught their allocation.

The fact that there are no ice issues for the third or fourth year in a row is also a contributor to the speed of this year’s harvest. Several years ago, when heavy ice made it impossible to deliver seafood catches to designated harbors, the industry went to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to be able to deliver product elsewhere. However, this has not been a concern since.

A lot of the fleet has been fishing south and west of St. Matthew Island, finding “beautiful, big snow crab,” Kelty said. “In a heavy ice year, you couldn’t go that far north,” he added. “They are getting maybe 180 crab per pot, 1.4 live weight (on average) and good, clean product.”

Loan Program Invests in Alaska Fishing Families

An innovative new fisheries loan program announced March 1 will extend loans to new entrants and community-based vessel owners in Southeast Alaska. One of the loan requirements is the willingness to participate in fishery conservation programs.

The Local Fish Fund – a collaborative effort spearheaded by the Sitka-based nonprofit Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust – aims to reduce barriers to entry into commercial fisheries and engage the next generation of fish harvesters in marine stewardship and policy leadership.

The Trust was supported in capitalizing the fund by The Nature Conservancy, Craft3, the Rasmuson Foundation, and Catch Together.

“The cost and risk involved in accessing Alaska’s quota share fisheries are comparable to purchasing a hotel as a first step in home ownership,” said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and a founding member of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust. “As a result, the number of young rural resident entering the fisheries has dropped over the past 15 years. Local Fish Fund aims to change that trend.”

While the loan program is open to all, the intent is to initially focus on Southeast Alaska.

The Local Fish Fund loan structure was developed in consultation with Alaska commercial fishermen to boost local ownership of halibut and sablefish quota. Traditional commercial fish loans require fixed payments, which is very risky for entry-level harvesters because the allowable catch and fish price may vary dramatically from year to year. The Local Fish Fund offers a “revenue participation” approach in which loan repayment is based on fish landings rather than a fixed loan repayment structure. These loans offer competitive interest rates with reduced down payment options, allowing fishermen to build equity to eventually access conventional loans.

The loan program also aimed to boost marine stewardship and leadership capacity in sustainable fisheries management. Loan recipients are given incentives to participate in conservation programs that contribute to sustainable fisheries management by collecting better scientific data, engaging in policy and management decision-making, and working on conservation education and outreach.

The launch of the fund was made possible by a unique collaboration between the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, The Nature Conservancy, the Rasmuson Foundation, Craft3 and Catch Together. The Rasmusson Foundation, whose mission is to promote a better life for Alaskans, acts as a catalyst for change through its grant programs. Craft3 is a community development financial institution that provides loans to benefit Pacific Northwest communities, is originating and servicing loans on Local Fish Fund’s behalf. Catch Together is a project of Trust for Conservation Innovation, a nonprofit that supports innovative conservation endeavors.

Alaska Legislators Call for Longer Public Comment Period on Pebble Draft EIS

With the 90-day public comment period now underway through May 30 on the US Army Corps of Engineers draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Pebble mine, Alaska legislators are calling for a longer comment period. Twenty members of the Alaska House of Representatives have signed a letter to the USACE requesting an extension, saying that given the significant impacts the Pebble Project would have on Bristol Bay, Alaskans should have at least 270 days to comment.

“The Pebble project would have far-reaching impacts on both the commercial and the subsistence economies of the region,” the letter reads. “It is, arguably, the most important proposed Alaska project of our time. Alaskans deserve a fair chance to weigh in on it.”

The legislators note that the Crops extended the comment period for the proposed Donlin gold mine in the Bethel area to six months. “Pebble has the potential to dwarf Donlin, and thus deserves a longer comment period than Donlin,” they wrote. They also noted that “Because the Pebble draft EIS includes tens of thousands of pages of detailed technical information, three months is insufficient for even the most dedicated public person to assess and respond to the sheer volume of material.”

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association also expressed outrage at what they labeled “the irresponsible and negligent conduct unfolding in the proposed Pebble Mine permitting process,” adding that “A 90-day comment period is far too short of a time period to review and comment on the recently released draft environmental mpact statement.”

Seven public meetings are scheduled in the Bristol Bay region on the draft EIS in March and April, plus two more in Homer and Anchorage.

Dates, places and times are posted on the USACE website, https://pebbleprojecteis.com/. Written comments will be accepted at any of the public meetings and can also be mailed to the US Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, ATTN: DA Permit Application 2017-271, Pebble Limited Partnership, 645 G Street Suite 100-921, Anchorage, Alaska 99501.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Draft EIS for Pebble Mine Released

Officials with the US Army Corps of Engineers in Anchorage, Alaska, have released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Pebble mine in Southwest Alaska.

The 1,400-page document is expected to be published on Friday, March 1, in the Federal Register, opening a 90-day public comment period on the controversial project.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) also has scheduled seven public meetings in the Bristol Bay region, as well as one in Homer and one in Anchorage in March and April. Dates and times are posted on the USACE website, https://pebbleprojecteis.com/.

Release of the draft EIS on Feb. 20 drew praise from the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) – a subsidiary of Hunter Dickinson Inc., a diversified global mining group based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Tom Collier, chief executive officer of the PLP, said his company’s preliminary review of the draft EIs shows no major data gaps or substantive impacts that cannot be mitigated, and that he sees no environmental challenges that would preclude getting the project permitted.

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA), which strongly opposes the mine, said the 90-day comment period is far too short of a time period to review and comment on the massive document.

“The speed at which insufficient materials are being pushed through this mine’s permitting process is irresponsible given that the Bristol Bay salmon ecosystem is a biological wonder of the world. This region contains the world’s largest wild salmon runs, which have supported a rich culture for millennia and sustained a thriving commercial fishery for more than 130 years,” said Andy Wink, executive director of the BBRSDA.

Wink pointed out that the BBRSDA members are concerned that the Army Corps of Engineers is not adequately considering the findings of the Environmental Protection Agency’s watershed assessment, which found that a mine of this size would pose an unacceptable risk to the Bristol Bay watershed, home of the world’s largest sockeye salmon run.

United Tribes of Bristol Bay also contends that the draft EIS has several major flaws, including an inaccurate premise that implies there is a need for mining in Bristol Bay.

A group of Bristol Bay fishermen oppose to the mine have announced a presentation on Friday, March 1, at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage by a hydrologist who will present his findings on modeling the impacts of a tailings dam failure at the Pebble Mine. The hydrologist, Cameron Wobus, a senior scientist with Lynker Technologies, has extensive experience in geomorphology, hydrology and environmental data analysis and modeling.

Bristol Bay fisherman Mike Friccero said that the fact that fishermen had to fund this analysis to get an accurate look at Pebble’s proposed environmental impacts is outrageous. It puts the burden of proof on fishermen and Alaskans.

Fisheries Topics Dominate SWAMC Economic Summit

Fisheries economists, processors and researchers are listed as speakers for the Feb 27-28, 2019 Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference’s (SWAMC) annual economic summit in Anchorage, Alaska. Topics will range from fish taxes to robotic seafood processing and changing ocean dynamics.

Garrett Evridge, a fisheries economist with the McDowell Group in Juneau, Alaska, will address how maximizing fisheries value goes far beyond the communities where the fish is harvested.

Jay Douglas, chief operating officer at Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing, in Pittsburgh, Pa., is slated to address the conference on use of robots in seafood manufacturing. Rob Anderson of the German firm Baader will speak about cutting edge fish processing technology, while Joyce Sidopoulos, co-founder of Mass Robotics, in Boston, Mass., will discuss collaborative robots to foster innovation in seafood handling.

Scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and the University of Alaska will talk about fisheries in changing climate conditions. Tommy Sheridan, fleet manager for Silver Bay Seafoods, will discuss diversifying for value-added opportunities. Tim Sands, the Nushgak/Togiak area management biologist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Dillingham, Alaska, will speak about his observations of the size and age of salmon populations in Bristol Bay.

The complete agenda for the conference, being held at the Hotel Captain Cook, is available online at https://swamc.org.

SE Alaska Faces Great OA Impact

An oceanographer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Network says Southeast Alaska is likely to face quicker impact from growing ocean water acidity than other parts of the world.

Jessica Cross, of NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) said during a public presentation hosted by the network on Feb. 20 in Juneau, Alaska, that Southeast Alaska waters are uniquely positioned to be particularly susceptible to ocean acidification, which occurs when water absorbs carbon dioxide causing it to become more acidic.

According to Cross, there are a few reasons for that. One of them is glacial discharge. The second reason is the communities themselves. The same communities which rely on threatened species or threatened marine resources for economic value, cultural perspectives or subsistence food sources.

There are also factors which contribute in making the water in Southeast Alaska naturally more acidic, she stated. Because Alaska is near the end of what is known as the global ocean conveyor belt, the water has more time to absorb carbon dioxide by the time it reaches Alaska and colder temperatures also contribute to the increased absorption rate.

NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center is engaged in ongoing studies on the impact of growing ocean acidification on fish, crab, clams, phytoplankton and other ocean life. Bob Foy, director of AFSC, previously noted that while some species seem more susceptible to ocean acidification, it may not be bad for all, and that it is still uncertain how various ocean life will be impacted in the coming years.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

NOAA Researches Ocean Acidification Impact
on Pacific Cod

Federal fisheries researchers have released results of a new laboratory study showing that larval Pacific cod response to elevated carbon dioxide levels in the ocean varies depending on their stage of development.

The study by NOAA Fisheries scientists and partners specifically examined larval cod behavior, growth and composition of lipids – the fats needed for storing energy and building muscles – against increased ocean acidification.

According to NOAA “studies like this are important because most marine fish mortality occurs at the larval stage of development and the high-latitude oceans where Pacific cod and other important commercial fisheries occur are expected to be among the most vulnerable to ocean acidification.”

“Changing environmental conditions can impact species in multiple ways and not all life stages may respond in the same way,” said Tom Hurst, lead author of the paper, which was published online by Marine Environmental Research. “We wanted to explore this because it has implications for the sustainability of Pacific cod and other important fish stocks in Alaska.”

The behavioral study showed that four-to-five-week-old cod larvae, when exposed to elevated levels of carbon dioxide, moved more quickly to areas of higher light levels than those raised on carbon dioxide levels that presently exist in Alaska seawater. Scientists are just starting to explore the significance of that behavioral shift, which has also been observed in other fish.

In their second study, researchers looked at larval fish growth rates when exposed to elevated carbon dioxide and fed two different diets, one more lipid-rich than the other.

They found that regardless of diet, two-week-old larvae reared at elevated CO2 levels were smaller than those reared at current CO2 levels. They also found that by five weeks of age the fish exposed to elevated CO2 conditions seem to have recovered from their slow start.

The observed differences in growth rates are most likely due to the changing physiology of larvae as they develop. “It is possible that by the time they reach five weeks old cod larvae are able to acclimate to effects of elevated CO2”, Hurst noted.

Researchers also suggested that the faster growth of older larvae may be facilitated by behavior changes that stimulate more aggressive feeding. The researcher team plans to use what has been learned from these studies and other ongoing research to develop computer models to better predict how ocean acidification may affect Pacific cod and pollock larval survival, recruitment and adult fish populations in the Bering Sea 20 to 100 years from now.

The laboratory studies were conducted as a joint effort of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, and the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies at Oregon State University.

International Gulf of Alaska Expedition Begins

Twenty-one scientists from five Pacific Rim countries have embarked on the International Gulf of Alaska Expedition 2019 ran under the auspices of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. The organization is hailing the venture as its signature project of the International Year of the Salmon.

The expedition left Vancouver, British Columbia, on Feb. 16, aboard the chartered Russian research vessel MV Professor Kaganovsky. It will visit 72 stations in the Gulf of Alaska before returning to Vancouver on March 18. According to NPAFC, this end-of-winter trawl survey will, for the first time, provide a comprehensive understanding of the abundance, condition, country of origin and location of stocks from the salmon producing countries of Japan, Korea, Russia, the United States and Canada. Such information is needed to better understand how climate and the changing ocean environment affect salmon production.

The goal is to establish a new hemispheric-scale partnership of government indigenous peoples, academia, NGOs, and industry to effectively connect hundreds of organizations with the capacity and desire to address scientific and social challenges facing salmon and people in an increasingly uncertain environment.

Emeritus fisheries scientist Dick Beamish of the Pacific Biological station at Nanaimo, British Columbia, who conceived and planned the expedition, said that this is the first such expedition in decades to study salmon in the high seas. He anticipated that discoveries made during the expedition will allow for more effective stewardship of Pacific salmon in a future of changing ecosystems.

The $1.3 million project is jointly funded by a combination of government, industry, non-government organization and private contributions including the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization and the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Organizers have released the first video of the expedition, which can be downloaded at https://vimeo.com/317860533. More videos will be uploaded during the coming weeks.

Trident Seafoods Protein Noodles Win Symphony’s Grand Prize

Protein Noodles from Trident Seafoods, made with sustainable, wild caught Alaska Pollock, have claimed top honors in the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation’s 2019 Alaska Symphony of Seafood. The competition’s top award was announced on the evening of Feb. 19 in Juneau, Alaska.

Each eight-ounce packet of the noodles, which can be served hot or cold, contains 10 grams of protein and 70 calories. The noodles are very low in cholesterol. Serving suggestions range from adding marinara sauce and meatballs, tossing themd with pesto sauce and roasted vegetables, or mixing them with chicken and coconut curry sauce to simply adding them to a favorite salad.

Winners in the Symphony’s 26th annual competition for retail, food service and beyond-the-plate competition, based on eating experience, price ad potential for commercial success, were announced in mid-November.

The Protein Noodles, made with Alaska Pollock surimi, won first place in retail competition, while Tai Foong’s Alaska Cod Dumplings claimed top honors among food service entries, and Alaska Naturals Pet Products’ Wild Alaska Pollock Oil won in the Beyond the Plate competition. Alaska Naturals is a division of Trident Seafoods.

AFDF also noted that Trident’s Protein Noodles was voted the Seattle People’s Choice favorite by participants in the gala held during the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, Wash.

Talk on Ocean Acidification in Alaska to be Livestreamed Tonight

The Alaska Ocean Acidification Network is hosting a gathering Feb. 20 in Juneau, Alaska, featuring the latest updates on ocean acidification from NOAA researchers studying current and future conditions and species response.

Presenters include Bob Foy, director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, and oceanographer Jessica Cross, of the NOAA Pacific Environmental Lab. A question and answer session will follow.

The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in the state capital. Those unable to attend in person will be able to connect to the live streamed program through the AOOS Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/alaskaobserving.

Trident Seafoods, EPA, DOJ Reach Agreement on Emissions

Federal authorities say they have reached an agreement with Trident Seafoods Corp. to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting substances from refrigeration equipment on its vessels to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

The US Environmental Protection Agency said that under the agreement reached between Trident, the EPA and the US Department of Justice, Trident will spend up to $23 million to reduce coolant leaks from refrigeration and other equipment, use alternative refrigerants, and improve company-wide compliance.

The proposed settlement was lodged in the US District Court for Alaska on Feb. 19 and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval. Trident will also pay a $900,000 civil penalty.

The EPA alleges that Trident violated the Clean Air Act by failing to promptly repair leaks of the refrigerant R-22, an ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbon. According to the EPA, Trident’s failures allowed its appliances to leak refrigerant at high rates for thousands of days, causing over 200,000 pounds of the refrigerant to be released into the atmosphere.

According to the EPA, Trident will retrofit or retire 23 refrigeration appliances used on 14 marine vessels to use an alternative refrigerant that does not harm the ozone layer compared to typical refrigerants. Trident agreed to retrofit nine of these appliances as part of a supplemental environmental project. With these retrofits, nearly 100,000 pounds of the harmful refrigerant will be removed from use, and future leaks will not damage the ozone layer.

Trident will also conduct routine leak inspections of all appliances, promptly repair leaks, install leak detectors to monitor appliances for leaks, add fluorescent dye into appliances to assist staff in detecting leaks, compile information to assist in identifying common failure points on appliances, and train employees to properly manage the appliances.

The settlement also sets a corporate-wide refrigerant leak cap and requires Trident to retain a third-party auditor to review the company’s compliance with the consent decree and regulations.

Trident and its subsidiaries Royal Viking Inc, and Golden Dawn LLC own and operate four factory processors, one freight vessel, nearly 30 catcher and tender vessels and 10 land-based facilities in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. In most of these vessels and facilities, Trident uses ozone-depleting HCFCs in its refrigeration appliances.

The settlement is available online at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Markets Look Strong for Wild Salmon Season Ahead

Market indicators show strong demand and good prices for Alaska’s upcoming wild salmon season, according to seafood economist and Executive Director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association Andy Wink.

“Market conditions are pretty strong,” said Wink, in an early spring forecast. “We’ve seen pricing increase in the last year for sockeyes, [while] the price of farmed salmon has gone sideways.” The amount of frozen sockeye exported from the US between January and October 2018 was equivalent to the previous year’s numbers, about 35,000 frozen tons, but the value increased by 22 percent. What’s different?

“First of all, we are seeing the quality, particularly from the Bristol Bay fishery, improve year to year, so we are seeing less discount on lower quality product,” Wink said.

There is also strong market demand globally for wild and farmed salmon. China is importing more and more salmon, including farmed salmon to make sushi. Demand from the European markets remains strong, although not as much as China or the US.

“All the direct markets have done a fantastic job of cultivating the Alaska image, the Alaska brand,” said Wink, a former economist for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “They associate Alaska with premium products. A lot of consumers will ask ‘do you have Alaska salmon?’ But there are five species and they come from all over the state, Alaska salmon, even though it has a strong, positive image, it is not a specific thing.”

“The benefit of marketing Bristol Bay sockeye is it is a specific product and we have large volumes, frozen H&G (headed and gutted), and frozen fillets, he said. “When you talk to retailors, they acknowledge that fresh, high quality salmon will sell itself. Customers come in during the summer and buy it, but they don’t know when the salmon run. They just know they can get salmon, but a lot of people want wild salmon. With frozen and refreshed salmon you can buy it all year.”

New wild salmon products are continuously being introduced to retail markets. Costco stores in Alaska now offer refreshed wild Alaska sockeye salmon fillets year-round, while Target sales Simply Balanced packages of ready to bake and eat wild caught Alaska sockeye salmon fillets and Pacific cod.

In early February, Costco stores in Anchorage, Alaska introduced Wild Alaska Salmon Corn Chowder from the Portland, Oregon-based company Fishpeople. Each box contains six 10-ounce pouches of chowder ready to heat, either by microwaving or in boiling water. Target stores in other states are selling one-pound packages of wild-caught Alaska sockeye by Marine Harvest, a producer of farmed salmon products based in Bergen, Norway.

Pteropods Provide Look into Ocean Acidification

A scientist with the Southern California Coastal Research Center who studies pteropods – key forage for a variety of fish including juvenile salmon, sole and pollock – says they are being affected by ocean acidification in the Beaufort Sea and Western Gulf of Alaska.

Nina Bednarsek discussed the findings of her research team during a recent presentation at the annual Alaska Marine Science Symposium.

Due to their extreme sensitivity, these tiny ocean snails serve as a kind of canary in the coal mine, an excellent ocean acidification indicator, with the potential to provide insight into changes in the ecosystem integrity, which is essential to effective fisheries and marine resource management, she noted. Bednarsek and fellow researchers developed baseline information on several species – including species distribution and incidence of shell dissolution and their coupling with ocean acidification parameters –during several trips to the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Beaufort Sea between 2014 and 2017. The results, she said, demonstrate the biological vulnerability to ocean acidification across different high latitudinal environments.

Bednarsek said the Beaufort Sea pteropods were the most affected, followed by those found in the western part of the Gulf of Alaska, while at least seasonally the Bering Sea pteropods have not yet shown signs of vulnerability.

Bednarsek said that ultimately the study would contribute to robust baseline data sets that will help to recognize potential refuges and habitats of concern, to identify priorities for future monitoring, and provide information to better manage ecosystems in the larger subarctic and Arctic ecosystems.

False Pass Processing Capacity to Increase

Economic activity at Alaska’s False Pass is expected to ramp up considerably this summer as Silver Bay Seafoods opens its processing facilities in June.

The company, headquartered in Sitka, Alaska, plans to process salmon as well as white fish at its newest location. “It means in a town of 58 residents, there will be more jobs available than people to fill them,” noted Laura Tanis, communications director for the Aleutians East Borough, in a recent article for the borough’s online publication “In the Loop.”

Currently there are about 200 seasonal employees working at the only processor in town, False Pass Seafoods, formerly BPS, owned by Trident Seafoods and APICDA Joint Ventures, a subsidiary of the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association.

The number of processor workers is expected to jump to about 500 once Silver Bay comes on line. Silver Bay Seafoods is an integrated processor of frozen, headed and gutted salmon products for domestic and export markets. The company, which began as a single salmon processing facility in Sitka in 2007, also has processing facilities at Naknek, Valdez, Sitka, Craig and Metlakatla.

Alaska Sea Grant Schedules Oil Spill Workshop

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster in Alaska’s Prince William Sound an oil spill workshop is planned for Feb. 20-21 in Anchorage, Alaska, as part of a national series sponsored by the Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Program.

The event, a collaboration of the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative; and Sea Grant programs around the country, will focus on public health, social disruption and the economic impacts of major spills. The goal is to identify specific regional needs and priorities for improving preparedness. Presenters from the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council, the Alaska Ocean Observing System, the US Coast Guard and Sea Grant hope to come away with protocols to build resilience in the event of future spills.

The Exxon Valdez environmental disaster polluted thousands of square kilometers of sea surface just before the arrival in Prince William Sound of the annual migrations of fish, birds and sea mammals.

The spill has been the subject of renewed discussion as the anniversary date approaches. Retired NOAA research chemist Jeff Short, a lead chemist for the state and federal government in the wake of the Exxon Valdez disaster, spoke about the legacy of the spill at the recent 2019 Alaska Marine Science Symposium presented in Anchorage, Alaska. Short noted that research funded by a $900 million fund from the settlement has led to major discoveries regarding effects of the spill, including the ecotoxicology of oil pollution, the persistence of oil and long-term impairment of marine life populations. That research had direct benefit in early detection of abrupt ecosystem changes, such as oceanographic regime shifts and the recent marine heat wave in the Gulf of Alaska, known as “the Blob.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

IPHC Gives Small Boost to Halibut Catch Limits

Commissioners of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) have set the commercial catch limit for 2019 at 38.61 million pounds, up from 37.21 million pounds a year ago. The action came on Feb. 1 during the 95th meeting of the organization in Victoria, British Columbia.

“We are reasonably happy with overall numbers and glad some progress [has been] made with Canada, but disappointed commissioners did not follow unanimous recommendation from stakeholders on distribution of catch between areas,” said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka, Alaska.

“We feel like the overall catch limit was conservative, responsive to current stock status; that there was progress made in identifying equitable sharing of the catch with Canada, but we were a little surprised by the distribution of catch between areas,” Behnken said. “The one disappointment was the commissioners did not follow what was a precedent setting unanimous support from the US harvesters and processors on the distribution of catch limits across Alaska areas, but deviated from that somewhat.”

The change in projections, which prompted the small boost in catch limits, is based on the revised estimated strength of the 2011 and 2012 classes, but Behnken noted that it is “still too soon to be sure of year class strengths, so [there is] a fair bit of uncertainty and fishermen are uncomfortable with being too optimistic.” “I feel like 3A got less fish in order to balance the books on area 2A, 2B and 2C,” said Malcolm Milne, a longliner and president of the North Pacific Fisheries Association in Homer. “Canada was guaranteed a harvest based on a formula that weighed their harvest over the last five years, which far exceeded the IPHC recommendations.

“The IPHC is an independent scientific body with a well-educated professional staff that gives the commission science-based recommendations that are negotiated both in total harvest and by area allocations, Milne said. “A year-by-year comparison of the IPHC recommended catch levels versus the adopted catch levels clearly demonstrates how much overharvest has been negotiated,” he added.

US Commissioner Chris Oliver, the administrator for NOAA Fisheries, said that while the overall quota is a slight increase over 2018 the catch limits agreed to at the meeting “reflect a sensible, conservative approach that will secure the future of this iconic and economically important species. We solved several challenging international fishery management issues and we accomplished our goal in the spirit of cooperation and compromise.”

The IPHC set the catch limits by areas as follows: 2A (California, Oregon and Washington, 1.65 million pounds; 2B (British Columbia) 6.83 million pounds; 2C (Southeast Alaska) 6.34 million pounds; 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska) 13.50 million pounds; 3B (Western Gulf of Alaska) 2.90 million pounds; 4A (Eastern Aleutians) 1.94 million pounds; 4B (Central/Western Aleutians) 1.45 million pounds; 4 CDE (Bering Sea) 4.00 million pounds.

Study Finds Climate Changes Ocean Color

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say climate change is causing significant alterations to phytoplankton that will affect the ocean’s color, intensifying its blue and its green regions.

Reporting on their findings in the open access journal Nature Communications, the researchers said satellites should detect these fluctuations in hue, providing early warning of wide-scale changes to marine ecosystems. The researchers said they have developed a global model that simulates the growth and interaction of different species of phytoplankton, or algae, and how the mix of species in various locations will change as temperatures rise around the world. They also simulated the way phytoplankton absorb and reflect light, and how the color of the ocean varies as global warming affects the makeup of phytoplankton communities.

They predict that by 2100 more than 50 percent of the world’s oceans will shift in color, due to climate change.

Their research suggests that blue regions, such as the subtropics, will become even more blue, reflecting even less phytoplankton and life in general in those waters, compared with the current status. Some regions that are now greener, such as those near the poles, may turn even deeper green, as warmer temperatures brew up large blooms of more diverse phytoplankton.

Lead author Stephanie Dutkiewicz said their model suggests that changes won’t appear huge to the naked eye, and the ocean will still look like it has blue regions in the subtropics and greener regions near the equator and poles, “but it’ll be enough different that it will affect the rest of the food web that phytoplankton supports,” she said. “It could be potentially quite serious,” she added. “Different types of phytoplankton absorb light differently, and if climate change shifts one community of phytoplankton to another, that will also change the types of food webs they can support.”

The study was also reported at EurakAlert, the online journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

GE Salmon Labeling Bill Reintroduced in Senate

Bipartisan legislation to assure clear labeling on any genetically engineered (GE) salmon products has been reintroduced in the US Senate.

The legislation by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, would specifically ensure that GE salmon products entering the US marketplace are clearly labeled “genetically engineered” in the market name. Co-sponsors are Senators Maria Cantwell, D- WA, Jeff Merkley, D-OR, and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

The US Department of Agriculture last month published labeling guidelines for genetically engineered foods, including GE salmon, with what Murkowski described as weak requirements that could confuse consumers, potentially paving a way for GE salmon to enter domestic markets without clear labels.

“USDA’s new guidelines don’t require mandatory labeling and instead allow producers to use QR codes or 1-800 numbers, which is a far stretch from giving consumers clear information,” Murkowski said. “There’s a huge difference between genetically-engineered salmon and the healthy, sustainably-caught, wild Alaska salmon. My legislation will ensure that consumers have all the facts, allowing them to make more informed decisions when they purchase salmon.”

The senator said consumers have the right to know what they are eating. “When you splice DNA from another animal and combine it with farmed salmon, you are essentially creating a new species and I have serious concerns with that,” she said. “If we are going to allow this fabricated fish to be sold in stores, we must ensure there is at least clear labeling.”

Murkowski’s campaign to assure clear labeling of GE salmon began when the US Food and Drug Administration announced its decision in late 2015 to approve GE salmon for human consumption. Murkowski vowed to block the confirmation of cardiologist Dr. Robert Califf as FDA commissioner until her concerns on labeling guidelines for GE salmon were resolved. She then secured a provision in the omnibus bill to block the FDA from introducing GE salmon into the market until it published labeling guidelines to make consumers aware of what they are purchasing.

In January 2016, the FDA announced an import ban on GE salmon until those labeling guidelines were published. Murkowski lifted her hold on Califf’s nomination only after the FDA provided her with technical drafting assistance on legislative language to effectively mandate labeling of the GE salmon. Several months later Murkowski voted against the Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Act, which would have allowed for voluntary, rather than mandatory, labeling of GE salmon. In July 2017, she introduced legislation to mandate labeling of GE salmon.

New Silver Bay Seafoods President/CEO

Cora Campbell, who joined the management team of Silver Bay Seafoods in Sitka, Alaska, in 2018 as chief external affairs officer, has been promoted to president and chief executive officer.

Her promotion was announced by Richard Riggs, who served as CEO of Silver Bay since its inception in 2007, and Troy Denkinger, co-founder and president since 2012. Both will remain active in the company as managing partners. Riggs will continue to oversee all sales and related activities, while Denkinger will focus on the overall fishermen experience throughout the organization, the company announced. Denkinger and Riggs will also remain on the company’s board of directors, with a focus on strategic direction, vision and growth. Denkinger will act as chairman of the board.

“This internal promotion/transition is yet another strategic growth initiative for Silver Bay,” Riggs said. “Cora has a proven track record, both as an Alaska fisherman and seafood executive, and under her leadership Silver Bay will continue to promote the values of the company in the quest to build a world class seafood company.”

“Silver Bay has always prioritized finding the best team to serve our fishermen, and Cora’s skills and experience in fisheries management, policy and business make her uniquely qualified to lead our company,” Denkinger noted.

Silver Bay was founded 12 years ago with a focus on vertical integration of the Alaska salmon fleets to produce high quality salmon products for reprocessing and distribution. The company has processing and freezing facilities throughout Alaska, operating in Sitka, Craig, Valdez, Bristol Bay, Metlakatla and, starting this year, in False Pass. Silver Bay is also active in the California Loligo squid fishery.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Climate Scientists Say Adapt to Change

Richard Thoman, a climate scientist addressing the attendees at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska, said it is important that people start adapting to current conditions and prepare for changes to come.

To illustrate his point, Thoman, a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP), talked about breakwaters designed to protect ports and harbors that should be built not for today’s conditions but rather to withstand weather to come in the decades ahead.

Thoman joined ACCAP on the heels of his retirement from years as the climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service Alaska Region. ACCAP focuses on improving the ability of Alaskans to respond to rapid changes in climate. The entity also studies marine resources and assesses climate change related impacts on water availability, sea ice, wildfires and Alaska Native culture.

Elders with traditional knowledge today are validating the research work of marine scientists and others about the impact of warming oceans, the decline of sea ice, coastal flooding and erosion, changes to fisheries and more, Thoman said. He urged participants in the annual symposium to share what they have learned through their research with others, using social media as a tool to help people adapt to climate change.

Thoman was one of many speakers presenting at the symposium. Every year keynote speeches of topical interests are featured during the first two days of the meeting. This year’s presentations included talks about earthquakes, climate change and the scientific legacy of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Retired NOAA research chemist Jeff Short, speaking of the legacy of the 1989 Exxon disaster, said that funded research led to major discoveries regarding the effects of the spill, including the ecotoxicology of oil pollution, the persistence of oil, and long-term impairment of affected marine life populations. Those discoveries have informed damage assessments of every subsequent large oil spill worldwide, he said.

A free symposium app is available at https://guidebook.com/g/amss2019.

USDA to Purchase $30M of Alaska Pollock

As the season for wild Alaska Pollock got under way in January, the industry got a tidal wave of good news: a commitment from the US Department of Agriculture to purchase $30 million worth of the catch for the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

“It’s the largest single buy that USDA has ever had,” said Craig A. Morris, chief executive officer of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP), the Seattle-based trade association representing processors of Pollock harvested from ocean waters off of Alaska.

Two years ago, USDA did a surplus removal buy of $20 million, but this decision toward a federal commitment to feed the nation’s hungry tops that.

USDA is currently doing a survey of the nation’s food banks to determine the demand for wild Alaska Pollock and details of the solicitation were expected to be released to processors by the end of February.

“While details of this purchase commitment are still forthcoming, it is known that this purchase will be used to feed America’s most food insecure populations, providing them with a delicious, nutritious and incredibly versatile protein that comes from the icy cold depths of the Bering Sea and the largest, most sustainable fishery in the world,” Morris said. “Thanks to this purchase commitment, wild Alaska Pollock being harvested off the Alaska coast this year will reach even more homes, and even more hungry consumers,” he said.

The purchase could not have come at a better time for GAPP, and the broader Alaska seafood industry, “especially as we seek to build awareness and overcome competition both domestically, and in foreign markets,” Morris said.

During its December meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council set the total allowable catch (TAC) for Pollock in the Bering Sea at 1.396 million metric tons, up 2.4 percent from 1.364 million metric tons a year earlier, while the Pollock TAC for the Aleutian Islands remained at 19,000 metric tons. For the Gulf of Alaska, the council approved a 15 percent reduction from the 2018 TAC of 166,228 metric tons to 141,227 metric tons.

GAPP also announced plans to provide funding to key industry partners Trident Seafoods and True North Seafood for four new projects designed to develop new products and marketing opportunities for wild Alaska Pollock.

GAPP provided matching funds for three new projects with Trident Seafoods, including a publicity campaign to introduce wild Alaska Pollock to white tablecloth restaurants in seven major U.S. markets, a foodservice sector where the species currently has not had significant exposure. Two other grants will fund projects to introduce new wild Alaska Pollock portions and protein noodles made from wild Alaska Pollock surimi in North American club stores.

Commercial Fishing Grants Offered

Federal health and safety experts are partnering with the US Coast Guard to administer $6 million in research and training grants to improve workspace safety in the high-risk commercial fishing industry. “We expect academia, members of non-profit organizations, municipalities and businesses involved in the fishing and maritime industries would apply for these grants,” said Jennifer Lincoln, co-director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies. “The research and training supported by this funding should further reduce occupational safety risks in the commercial fishing industry.”

The Fishing Safety Research and Training Grants will provide up to 75 percent of an organization’s cost and grants will range from $250,000 to $650,000 each over a two-year funding period.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 21 for each of two funding opportunities. The applications will then go through a formal review and scoring process. “We plan to make the awards in late August/early September,” Lincoln said.

RFA-OH-19-004 is a commercial fishing occupational safety research cooperative agreement, and RFA-OH-15-005 is commercial fishing occupational safety training project grants.

Possible application scenarios might include a fisheries management group applying for funds to have a researcher look into better ways to ensure crew safety in stormy weather, a community’s emergency medical services/fire department team seeking funds to provide shoreside safety programs or to sponsor an Alaska Marine Safety Education Association workshop for harvesters, or AMSEA itself seeking funds for further research into improved ergodynamics for physical fitness of harvesters.

“These grant programs will help further education and awareness throughout the commercial fishing fleet, as well as provide research into better equipment and operational processes,” said Joseph D. Myers, chief of the Coast Guard’s Fishing Vessel Safety Division. “Enhanced education, equipment and processes go hand-in-hand with the Coast Guard’s longstanding premise that being properly prepared increases survivability and prevents loss of life at sea.”

Detailed information about the two research and training grant opportunities, are available online at https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=fishing%20safety.

Alaska Board of Fisheries Agenda Includes Finfish Issues

The Alaska Board of Fisheries will consider 33 proposals related to Alaska Peninsula, Chignik and Aleutian Islands finfish when it meets Feb. 21-26 at the Sheraton Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska.

Proposals include plans for Southeastern District Mainland Salmon Management, the South Unimak and Shumagin Islands June Salmon Management, the Northern District salmon fisheries management and the Chignik area salmon management.

The board has set a Feb. 7 deadline to submit written comment on specific proposals. Past that deadline comments will be limited to 10 single sided or five double-sided pages from any individual or group.

Oral testimonies are also welcome at the meeting. A tentative deadline to sign up to testify is set for Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. The Boards Support section will host a training course on “How to Navigate the Board Process” during the lunch break on the first day of the meeting. For more information, call the Boards Support Section at 1-907-465-4110.

All portions of the week-long meeting are open to the public and a live audio stream is intended to be available on the board’s website at www.boardoffisheries.adfg.alaska.gov.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Forecast Up for PWS Pink Salmon, Copper River Kings

Research biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) in Cordova are forecasting a run of 13,920,000 to 33,200,000 pink salmon into Prince William Sound in 2019, which would put that fishery at 67.7 percent above the most recent 10-year average. More good news came for the chum salmon run in that area, which should see 275,000 to 779,000 fish, or 10 percent above the 10-year average.

Mixed forecasts for the Copper River harvesters. The predicted run of 33,000 to 77,000 kings would be nearly 20 percent above the 10-year average. However, the forecast for the sockeye salmon run, calls for 1,031,000 and 1,801,000 reds, which would be 31 percent below the 10-year average.

The Gulkana Hatchery, which has been experiencing poor returns, shows a run forecast between 71,000 to 125,000 reds, or 69.3 percent below the 10-year average.

The research biologists are reminding harvesters that salmon forecasts are inherently uncertain and are used primarily to gauge the magnitude of expected runs and to set early season harvest management strategy. ADF&G will continue to manage Prince William Sound area commercial salmon fisheries in-season, based on the strength of salmon abundance indices, including sonar counts, weir passage, aerial escapement surveys and fishery performance data.

ASMI Promotes Wild Alaska Seafood in Ukraine

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is partnering with Ukrainian celebrity chef and ASMI culinary mission participant Volodymry Yaroslavsky through January in a video promotion called GoodWine to promote wild Alaska seafood.

ASMI reported that the video received nearly 70,000 hits in five days on the GoodWine YouTube channel, in which Yaroslavsky discusses the quality of the Alaska seafood as well as his time in Alaska. In the video Yaroslavsky also demonstrates how he prepares fresh fillets of wild Alaska salmon and tells viewers about seeing with his own eyes the place where these salmon are harvested. “Wild salmon is born at freshwater streams and rivers far away from civilization and swims thousands of kilometers in the cleanest waters of the world,” he says. “It has special taste that (other) salmon doesn’t have.”

In conjunction with the online promotion, ASMI and GoodWine are hosting an in-store promotion with tastings, special menus and media/VIP events at GoodWine retail and restaurant locations in Ukraine.

Another ASMI promotion in January include a collaboration with Chef Nicolas Roman of the Palau Alameda restaurant in Valencia, Spain, featuring Alaska sablefish in a television promotion anticipated to have an audience of some 170,000 people.

Meanwhile in Brazil, ASMI hosted a workshop on Genuine Alaska Pollock that had over 17,000 views. The event included a presentation on the sustainability, seasons, harvesting methods and product formats of Alaska seafood, plus demonstrations on cooking breaded genuine Alaska Pollock and Alaska Pollock confit.

Shellfish Farmer Finds Help in Kelp

An article published in a Western Washington University student magazine says that marine biologist and shellfish farmer Joth Davis from Baywater Shellfish Company near Port Gamble, Washington, is looking to kelp to help save shellfish from the impact ocean acidification.

Back in 2016, Davis and a team of oceanographers, biologists and chemists, led by the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, started testing kelp’s natural ability to absorb dissolved carbon dioxide in Puget Sound waters. They wanted to learn whether kelp could soak up enough carbon to create a halo of healthy water around shellfish growing areas.

“The potential degradation of shellfish populations through the next century is projected to severely impact the global economy. Economists at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy have projected potential losses of $100 billion by 2100, “the article reads.

As the largest producer of farmed shellfish in the nation, Washington shellfish growers are concerned, and that is why shellfish farmers like Davis are excited about the kelp research.

“If the results of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund kelp study suggest that it can effectively buffer carbon in hatchery waters, other shellfish farmers may begin to incorporate kelp farming into their business model,” Davis said. An add-on benefit is that farmers can sell the kelp they grow.

Davis has seen enough potential with this method that he has taken the next step. His shellfish farm will be the first to incorporate commercial kelp cultivation into farm operations, with the first harvest planned for this spring.

“The whole industry is a canary in the coal mine,” Davis told WWU student Cameron Ohlson, the author of the article. “We hope that as the canary did, we don’t die.”

The report on the kelp research was published in the Fall 2018 edition of The Planet, a publication of Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. The article can be found online at https://cedar.wwu.edu/planet/81/?utm_source=cedar.wwu.edu%2Fplanet%2F81&utm_medium=PDF&utm_campaign=PDFCoverPages

Ocean Acidification Impact on Phytoplankton Studied

Researchers from three universities are collaborating on a $954,000-plus National Science Foundation grant to determine the effect of ocean acidification on iron availability to phytoplankton in the eastern North Pacific.

Ocean acidification is caused by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning. The carbon dioxide dissolves from the atmosphere into the ocean surface and reacts with seawater to form acid, which lowers the seawater pH. The increased ocean acidification results in changes in availability of iron to marine phytoplankton that support the marine food web and accounts for more than half the biomass of the oceans.

Phytoplankton, like people, require iron to grow, but a lot of the iron dissolved in seawater is bound with organic molecules in ways that limit the ability of phytoplankton to access it.

Scientific teams from the University of Maine, University of Washington and University of South Florida are planning a major research cruise in 2020. They will be joined by researchers from the University of Nagasaki. They plan to collect samples of surface waters, adjust the seawater pH to levels predicted for the end of the century, and measure how phytoplankton respond at a high and low light levels, a factor that changes the iron demand of phytoplankton.

The goal is to develop proxies for quantifying iron availability under present and future ocean acidification conditions and learn more about how ocean acidification-induced changes in iron chemistry affect phytoplankton production and the composition of the phytoplankton community.

“Understanding the effect of ocean acidification on the iron cycle is a critical unknown in global biogeochemical models, and their projections of climate change effects on the ocean system over the next century,” the researchers said.

The information on the research was published online by the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center. To read the full article visit https://news-oceanacidification-icc.org/2019/01/09/exploring-the-effects-of-ocean-acidification-on-iron-for-phytoplankton-in-north-pacific/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wordpress%2FlRgb+%28Ocean+acidification%29

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ocean Wave Power Sparks Concern

Scientists at the University California-Santa Cruz say the energy in ocean waves has been increasing as a consequence of climate change.

Their research published this week in the online journal Nature Communications found a direct association between ocean warming and increased wave energy, according an article on their research also published by EurekAlert Express, the online publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The UC Santa Cruz study focused on the energy contained in ocean waves, which is transmitted from the wind and transformed into wave motion. Wave power has been increasing in direct correlation with historical warming of the ocean surface. The upper ocean warming, measured as a rising trend in sea surface temperatures, has influenced wind patterns globally, and this, in turn, is making ocean waves stronger, the research concluded.

The study’s lead author, Borja G. Reguero, said that wave power has increased globally by 0.4 percent a year since 1948, and that this increase is correlated with the increasing sea-surface temperatures both globally and by ocean regions.

This increased wave power will also have an impact on breakwaters designed to protect harbors, Reguero noted. “How we design breakwaters needs to start factoring the effects of climate change, not only with the rising sea levels, but also increased wave action,” he said. “Coastal structures will have to be designed for the future conditions, so they can keep up their original design levels.”

There has not been much work done on how these changes could affect safety and navigation conditions. Reguero said that understanding how the energy of ocean waves responds to oceanic warming has important implications for coastal communities, including anticipating impacts on infrastructure. These include navigation safety, but also access to harbors and ports, condition and evolution of coastal ecosystems and other impacts such as flooding and erosion. “Sea level rise will also allow more wave energy to reach shoreward, which will have aggravated consequences,” he added.

Government Shutdown Forces Revised NPFMC Agenda

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) is currently abbreviating the agenda for its February meeting in Portland, Oregon, because of the impact of the partial shutdown of the federal government, which has furloughed thousands of federal workers.

Council staff is conducting business as usual, but most of the council’s federal partners at the National Marine Fisheries Service for the Alaska region and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, the US Coast Guard and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are furloughed. These scientists and fishery managers are key contributors to the council’s analyses, plan teams and committees, so the council is rescheduling or modifying the agenda for several meetings where NMFS representatives were to provide presentations, reports and/or analyses. The council meeting itself will be shortened but the Statistical and Scientific committee and the advisory panel will still hold their meetings during the council session.

Agenda items now postponed include C2, observer program fees initial review, and the Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee report, plus item D4, the economic data reports discussion paper.

Additional items that may be delayed include B4, state department report on Central Arctic Ocean fishing agreement; D6, the Economic Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report; and D7, the marine mammal conservation status report. Presentation on Saltonstall-Kennedy grant results may also be pushed back.

Agenda updates are being posted online at www.npfmc.com.

Council staff mentioned that the Norton Sound red king crab harvest specifications, which require timely action to open the fishery, may be the subject of a teleconference meeting as soon as the Federal Register notification requirements can be met, allow for additional public comments and take final action on that issue.

Special Salmon for Polar Bear Party

The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage is throwing a polar bear birthday party on Saturday, Jan. 19, with polar bear refreshments courtesy of Copper River Seafoods.

“Anchorage is our community,” says Copper River Seafoods General Manager Billy Green, who is overseeing construction of a large seafood ice cake for 1,100-pound Lyutyic, who was born at the Leningrad Zoo in St. Petersburg, Russia, and 800-pound Cranbeary, who was born at the Denver Zoo in Colorado last Thanksgiving.

The partnership between Copper River Seafoods and the Alaska Zoo goes back several years, a relationship that zoo Executive Director Patrick Lampi says has worked out very compatibly. “When it is in the 70s or higher in summer, Copper River Seafoods provides fish totes full of ice for the polar bears to play in,” he said.

The zoo also keeps chest freezer outside its gate for people to drop off fish to feed polar, black and brown bears, otters, wolves and bald eagles. “We almost never have a shortage,” Lampi said.

But this year Copper River Seafoods is taking it to a new level, freezing orange colored blocks of ice to resemble an Alaska rockfish sculpture. The 14 feet long by five feet tall cake will be made up of 48 ice blocks each filled with wild Alaska salmon, halibut, herring and some produce treats.

“We’re trying to broaden our relationship with the zoo,” said Green, who grew up in Anchorage visiting Binky, the zoo’s most famous polar bear, and has continued the tradition by bringing his children to the zoological park. “It brings happiness to the city, puts smiles on faces,” noted Green to explain the seafood company’s expanding partnership with the zoo.

The two-hour party starts at 11 a.m.

Ocean Beauty Introduces New Salmon Candy

Ocean Beauty Seafoods’ Echo Falls brand has introduced three new smoked salmon treats, including Applewood Smoked Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon Candy, sustainable strips cut from whole fillets of Bristol Bay salmon. The strips are cured in brown sugar and salt, then slowly smoked in Applewood.

Also new to Ocean Beauty’s portfolio of smoke products are Beechwood Smoked Norwegian Atlantic Salmon and Whisky Cask Smoked Scottish Atlantic Salmon. The Beechwood smoked salmon is dry cured using only salt and slowly smoked with native beechwood, then packaged in a fiber sleeve that illustrates the beautiful waters of Norway. The Whiskey Cask Scottish salmon, by comparison, is a marriage of fresh Scottish salmon dry cured and smoked in Scotland over spent whisky casks.

These new products, according to Ocean Beauty Vice President Ron Christenson, were introduced as part of the company’s constant outlook for new, innovative flavors and methods of preparation to offer customers unique flavors from top seafood regions. All three are available in grocery stores nationwide in four-ounce packages.

The Applewood Smoked Sockeye Salmon Candy is also available in 12-ounce packages and the Whisky Cask Smoked Scottish Atlantic Salmon can be found in seven-and 12-ounce packages too.

Fifty percent of the wholesale profits are being invested back into the communities of Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska.

Ocean Beauty is an Alaska corporation with five shoreside plants in Alaska, value added processing in Washington State, seven distribution facilities in the western US and sales offices in Seattle and Tokyo.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Expedition Cruise Line Powered by Dead Fish

A Norwegian expedition cruise line is introducing liquid biogas, a fossil-free, renewable gas produced from dead fish and other organic materials, to power its vessels for Arctic and sub-Arctic tours. Hurtigruten has announced plans to operate at least six of its ships on a combination of biogas, liquid natural gas and large battery packs by 2021.

“What others see as a problem, we see as a resource and a solution,” said Daniel Skjeldam, chief executive officer of Hutigruten. By introducing biogas as fuel for cruise ship, Hurtigruten will be the first cruise company to power ships with fossil-free fuel.”

Biogas is already use as fuel in small parts of the transportation sector, including buses. Northern Europe and Norway, which has large fishery and forestry sectors that produce a steady volume of organic waste, have a unique opportunity to become a world leader in biogas production.

Company officials said they would love for other cruise companies to follow their lead.

Hurtigruten, in business for 125 years, was the first cruise line to ban single-use plastic.

In 2019, company officials said they plan to start a large-scale green upgrade project, replacing traditional diesel propulsion with battery packs and gas engines on several of their ships. They also plan to introduce the world’s first battery-hybrid powered cruise ship, MS Roald Amundsen.

“Hurtigruten’s decision to use biogas from organic waste is the kind of operational solution we aim for,” said Frederic Hauge, founder and general manager of the NGO Bellona Foundation.

Most of the more than 300 cruise ships in the world run on cheap, polluting heavy oil. Daily emissions from one single mega cruise ship can be equivalent to one million cars, according to the NGOs.

The company is currently building three hybrid-powered expedition cruise ships at Norway’s Kleven Yard – the MS Roald Amundsen, the MS Fridtjof Nansen, and a third yet unnamed sister ship – to be delivered in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

“This is just the beginning,” Skjeldam said. “Hurtigruten is the world’s largest expedition cruise line, and that comes with a responsibility,” he added. “Our ultimate goal is to operate our ships completely emission free.”

Speakers Named for Alaska Symposium

Changing oceans, earthquakes, tsunamis and the scientific legacy of the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster are themes for keynote speakers at the 2019 Alaska Marine Science Symposium which opens Jan. 28 in Anchorage, Alaska.

Richard Thoman, a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, will speak about changing oceans, warming water and decreasing sea ice already generating cascading impacts to the biology, and the larger climate and environmental system for which researchers have only limited understanding. He will also review some of the ongoing changes in oceans around Alaska. Thoman recently retired as a climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service Alaska Region.

Peter Haeussler, a research geologist with the US Geological Survey, will discuss earthquakes and tsunamis in southern Alaska and their relationship to the 7.0 earthquake that struck southcentral Alaska on Nov. 30. His current research is focused on understanding active tectonic processes in southern Alaska, with studies on the frequency of earthquakes, the location and rate-of-movement of active faults and mountain building.

Jeff Short, who retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will speak about the scientific legacy of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster in Prince William Sound.

The fourth keynote speaker, Jude Isabella, is the editor-in-chief of Hakai Magazine – an online publication focused on coastal science and societies – part of the Hakai Institute in British Columbia.

All four keynotes are to be delivered on the afternoon of Jan. 28 at the Hotel Captain Cook. The following days of the symposium highlight the Gulf of Alaska on Jan. 29, the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands on Jan. 30 and the Arctic on Jan. 31. A related poster session is slated for the first two days of the gathering at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel.

Symposium organizers include the North Pacific Research Board, the Alaska Ocean Observing System and Alaska Sea Grant.

The complete agenda is available online at www.alaskamarinescience.org.

NPFMC Agenda Might Change with Shutdown

As the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) prepares for its meeting in Portland, Oregon Feb. 4-11, the staff is advising those planning to participate that the current federal government shutdown may create changes to its schedule.

The council’s agenda, which is available online at www.npfmc.org, includes several items scheduled for discussion, analysis and final action for which reports are anticipated, but now not guaranteed because of the current shutdown. Since the council often works cooperatively with state and federal fisheries agencies to gather data for these reports, and as federal fisheries employees usually attend the meetings to provide additional information but may not be available this time around, there could be changes in the agenda.

The council meeting schedule posted includes a management report from NMFS and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a review of observer program fees, final action on catcher vessel rockfish retention as well as individual fishing quota medical lease and beneficiary designation provisions. Discussion papers to be presented include one on crab e-logbooks, an economic data report, a stock assessment and a fishery evaluation (SAFE) report. The availability of some federal data needed for these reports if the shutdown continues is uncertain which may prompt additional changes to the schedule.

Federal Shutdown Not Yet Affecting Fisheries

As federal government shutdown prompted by a dispute over a border wall heads into its third week, it is not currently affecting the seafood industry as harvesters and processors prepare for multi-million dollar groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska.

Some sectors, like the Freezer Longline Coalition, say they aren’t having issues acquiring necessary permits or getting their scales inspected because all that was done during the summer and fall months, while their vessels were in shipyards for maintenance and repair. But, according to Coalition Executive Director Chad See, if the shutdown continues there could be an issue with deployment of observers as they need to be debriefed by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Not having enough NMFS staff to do this is a concern for the longline and catcher-processor fleet, and the Pollock fleet could also face the same challenge.

For catcher-processors represented by the At-sea Processors Association, which harvests Pollock in Alaska and Pacific whiting in West Coast waters, the concern is getting their flow scales, video monitoring equipment and observer sampling stations permitted, according to Jim Gilmore, director of public affairs for the At-sea Processors. Most of that fleet has completed their permitting. There are still a few vessels waiting for theirs, but Gilmore said he is optimistic that they’ll have them by Jan. 20, the start date of their fishery.

One industry insider engaged in a catcher-processor fishery, speaking on condition of anonymity, said vessels getting permitted at Dutch Harbor are working with the Coast Guard, while in Seattle, where federal workers charged with permitting were furloughed, the Coast Guard was also able to fill in and issue permits. Brett Paine, executive director of United Catcher Boats, noted that some NMFS employees were able to go back to work temporarily because cost recovery fees paid by American Fisheries Act inshore coops and Amendment 80 boats to cover the cost of rationalized fishery programs provided for their salaries.

Observer program provider Saltwater Inc. meanwhile was working with NMFS to fill every available space in required annual briefing programs for observers with some observers who hadn’t signed up by the Dec. 26 deadline. Stacey Hansen, Saltwater’s North Pacific and West Coast program manager, said that as things stand her company will have enough observers to fill immediate needs but if the shutdown continues into late January or early February, she can’t predict what will happen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Pacific Salmon Treaty Goes into Effect

A new Pacific Salmon Treaty approved by the governments of Canada and the United States is now in effect for the coming decade. The old 10-year treaty expired on Dec. 31. The revised agreement impacts management of salmon fisheries in Southeast Alaska, including those near the border of Alaska and British Columbia, and on several transboundary rivers.

The original treaty dates back to March 1985, when the United States and Canada agreed to cooperate on management, research and enhancement of Pacific salmon stocks of mutual concern. The two nations committed to preventing over-fishing and providing for optimum production, and to ensure that both counties benefitted equally from production of salmon originating in their waters.

Efforts to reach an agreement on a new treaty began several years ago, and included a team of 58 Alaskans, among them staff from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and affected users.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released links to three chapters of the new treaty that directly impact Alaska fisheries:

Chapter1: Transboundary Rivers
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/news/hottopics/pdfs/2019_pst_chp_1_transboundary_rivers.pdf

Chapter 2: Northern British Columbia and Southeastern Alaska
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/news/hottopics/pdfs/2019_pst_chp_2_northern_boundary.pdf

Chapter 3: Chinook Salmon
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/news/hottopics/pdfs/2019_pst_chp_3_chinook_salmon.pdf

Doug Vincent-Lang, acting Commissioner of ADF&G, said that the negotiated treaty language had been held in confidence for several reasons, but since the revised treaty is now in effect, releasing the latest version of the agreed upon treaty language is in the best interest of those impacted. At this time, no part of the new treaty is open to renegotiation.

Vincent-Lang said that in upcoming months ADF&G will be releasing its 2019 forecast and management regime for Southeast Alaska fisheries under the new Pacific Salmon Treaty.

Spokespersons for Alaska’s commercial fisheries in Southeast Alaska were not immediately available for extensive comment on the new treaty.

Effect of Climate on Oysters Studied

Scientists at Great Britain’s University of Plymouth say their research suggests that the nutritional qualities of shellfish could be greatly reduced by ocean acidification and warming.

Their study published recently in Marine Environmental Research shows the potential for negative nutritional effects within economically and commercially valuable species.

Their research, focused on the Pacific oyster, found that increased temperatures and carbon dioxide levels could significantly reduce that oyster’s levels of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. Given that seafood is the source of more than 15 percent of animal protein consumed globally, the aquaculture industry may want to consider a shift in focus toward species that are most robust to climate change and less prone to deterioration in quality, the study concludes.

Oysters used in the research project were subjected to six different sets of ocean conditions over a 12-week period, from current temperatures and carbon dioxide levels to increased measurements predicted for both the middle and end of the century.

Along with changes in nutrient levels, researchers observed changes in essential mineral composition, and noted that the enhanced accumulation of copper in Pacific oysters may be of future concern in terms of consumption safety.

According to Antony Knights, an associate professor in marine ecology at Plymouth, oysters have the potential to be a sustainable, low-cost alternative source of protein for humans at a time when climate change and the growing world population are placing arguably unsustainable demands on sources of animal protein. Former doctoral student Anaelle Lemasson, who led the study team, said that identifying changes in nutritional quality, as well as species most at risk, is crucial if societies are to secure food production.

Southeast Alaska Tanner Crab Fishery Deadline Nears

The 2018/2019 commercial Tanner crab fishery in Southeast Alaska will open concurrently with the commercial golden king crab fishery on Feb. 12, 2019. The registration deadline is Jan. 14, and all commercial fishermen registering after the deadline will have to pay a $45 late fee.

Permit holders may register at Alaska Department of Fish and Game area offices in Douglas, Sitka, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell and Haines.

Simultaneous, though separate, registrations are allowed for Tanner crab and golden king crab. Commercial shrimp or Dungeness crab pot registrations may also be obtained and fished simultaneously with Tanner Crab, if simultaneous seasons are open, state biologists said. The state agency also reminded processors that registration for tenders is required.

Logbooks, which are mandatory for all pot fishing vessels participating in the Tanner crab fishery, are available at area ADF&G offices, along with buoy tags and other related materials.

The initial period for the commercial Tanner crab fishing season in core areas, non-core areas and exploratory areas will be a minimum of six days. Additional fishing time may be allowed based on the number of registered pots at the start of the fishery.

An ADF&G news release will be issued on Feb. 12 announcing the total number of pots registered for the fishery and whether the initial fishing period will be extended. At the end of the initial period, the core areas will close to fishing and the non-core areas and exploratory areas will remain open for an additional five days. After the non-core areas close to fishing, the exploratory areas will remain open for an additional 14 days.

Parallel Pacific Cod, Pollock Seasons Opening

The parallel Pacific cod season opened on New Year’s Day in Prince William Sound, on the heels of closure on New Year’s Eve of the 2018 Prince William Sound area parallel Pacific cod season for pot gear and the state waters seasons for longline and jig gear.

The Prince William Sound parallel Pacific cod season closures for jig and pot gear coincided with their respective closures in the adjacent federal Central Gulf of Alaska regulatory area. The Prince William Sound parallel season closure for longline gear coincided with the federal closure of the less than 50-foot hook and line gear sector in the Central Gulf.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game notes that directed fishing for all groundfish species is closed in waters within three nautical miles of two Steller sea lion rookeries within Prince William Sound and that certain waters are closed to fishing with groundfish pot gear. Specific regulatory language regarding Stellar sea lion protection areas is available by calling 1-907-481-1780 or online at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/sslpm.

The directed fishery for walleye Pollock using pelagic trawl gear in Prince William Sound opens at noon on Jan. 20 with a guideline harvest level of 6.6 million pounds. The registration deadline for this fishery is also Jan. 14 and is available only to individuals who have a 2019 miscellaneous saltwater finfish permit card for trawl gear. Permit card applications can be obtained at ADF&G offices, online at www.cfec.state.ak.us or by calling the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission at 1-907-789-6160.

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