Wednesday, August 14, 2019

World Salmon Forum in Seattle

Scientists, wild fish advocates and others will participate in the first-ever World Salmon Forum in Seattle Aug. 21-23, to share and discuss the challenges of current fisheries practices they say are devastating wild salmon populations.

According to event organizer Bruce McNae, there is a narrow window of opportunity left to find and implement science-based solutions to the wild salmon crisis, which will be the focus of the three-day gathering.

Forum advisor and veteran fisheries biologist Jim Lichatowich said that since 1991, 16 distinctive wild salmon populations have been listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act in Washington State alone. Despite billions of federal dollars having been spent for wild salmon recovery on the Columbia River over the past 25 years, the wild salmon stocks continue to decline.

One of the goals of the forum roundtable is to evaluate what they see as the indiscriminate harvesting of salmon in a mixed stock, open ocean environment. This could allow salmon to return to their rivers of origin. At that point, selective harvest of hatchery fish could take place while allowing the wild salmon to continue upriver to spawn and rebuild their numbers.

Forum organizers hope the event and their website will serve as a conduit and resource tool to bring together wild salmon conservation groups from around the world to advise each other on the policies and measures that provide for the survival of these fish.

During the conference, they plan to explore the place-based nature of functioning ecosystems through the lens of nationality, culture, and experience with the understanding that functioning ecosystems transcend political and economic boundaries.

The event will culminate with a roundtable discussion where each participating organization will offer strategies that have and didn’t worked in their regions in an effort to expand the collective knowledge of the group.

Alaska’s Salmon Harvest Passes 124 Million

Deliveries of wild salmon to Alaska processors now tops 124 million fish. This represents nearly 20 million pink salmon more than the past week.

The latest preliminary salmon harvest report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game puts the catch at 58,194,000 humpies, 53,907,000 sockeyes, 11,266,000 chum, 1,110,000 silver and 217,000 Chinook salmon. Productive fishing for red salmon is continuing at Kodiak, Cook Inlet, and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands.

Fisheries economist Garrett Evridge, of the McDowell Group, notes that at this point in the season sockeyes and pink salmon each account for about 45 percent of the total. The statewide sockeye harvest is on track to be the fourth largest on record, while other species are lagging.

The year-to-date pink salmon harvest is about one third lower than year-to-date 2017. Roughly 112 million humpies had been harvested at this point in the 2015 season, and the 2013 year-to-date harvest accounted for 148 million humpies. Most areas are well behind the 2017 harvest pace with Kodiak being the exception.

At Cordova they’re hoping for rain – lots of it – in dry creek beds, so the humpies can start moving up into their natal streams at a faster pace. Right now, a lot of the pinks are holding at the mouth of these streams waiting. “What we really need is once it starts raining for it to not stop,” said Charlie Russell, seiner area management biologist for ADF&G at Cordova.

“It’s stressful for the salmon, whose biological clocks have them set to spawn at this time of the year, but they are pretty resilient, and hopefully enough of them will hold on until it rains,” he said.

Enough humpies have gotten upstream to allow the commercial pink salmon fishery to resume earlier this week and now there is hope for a consistent fishery moving forward, he explained.

The keta salmon harvest continues to lag behind the 2018 numbers by approximately 20 percent with weaknesses in most areas overcoming the strong volume posted in Prince William Sound.

Coho production is about a third lower than 2018 and roughly half of the five-year average. The Chinook harvest is nine percent lower than the year-to-date 2018 volume.

NOAA Recommends Five Pacific Northwest Projects for Funding

Five Pacific Northwest projects that would improve wild salmon habitat have been recommended for funding through NOAA’s community-based restoration program coastal and marine habitat restoration grants.

America Rivers will receive $651,038 in the first of the three years project to remove a diversion dam and restore the river channel in Washington’s Middle Fork Nooksack River, aiding recovery of Chinook salmon, steelhead trout and coho salmon, and the southern resident killer whale.

Also a first year recipient, Rogue Basin Partnership will receive $341,000 to remove barriers to fish migration across the Rogue River basin in Oregon, increasing habitat for southern Oregon and northern California coho salmon listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This is a three years project.

A grant of $449,608 over two years to the Columbia River Estuary study task force will restore two sites in Cathlamet Bay, Oregon, as part of a larger, ecosystem-based effort to address factors limiting the recovery of salmon in the Columbia River. Restoration will improve the quality of and access to habitat for Chinook, chum, coho, steelhead, and sockeye salmon.

The Wild Salmon Center will promote recovery of southern Oregon/northern California coho salmon and Oregon coast cohos – both listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act – through new and ongoing restoration projects in three watersheds on the Oregon coast. NOAA’s funding include a first-year award of $646,619 and the third installment of a three-year grant of $767,150.

In addition, Trout Unlimited will use a $908,112 first-year grant to restore access to over 15 miles of habitat for migratory fish by removing six barriers in the Tillamook and Nestucca watersheds.

According to NOAA officials, restoring natural stream processes and fish migration will benefit Oregon coast coho salmon, Chinook and chum salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout and several lamprey species.

ASMI Names Two New Directors

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) has announced the appointment of Megan Rider as domestic marketing director and Ashley Heimbigner as communications director.

Rider joined ASMI in 2013 to work on the entity’s international program. In November 2018, she was named interim director of the domestic marketing program, which develops Alaska seafood promotions with foodservice and retail partners across the United States. Before that, she worked in the office of former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and for a lobbying firm.

Heimbigner began working at ASMI in January 2018 as an international marketing specialist. Beforehand, she worked as the tourism and sales manager at Visit Anchorage and served as communications manager for Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau, Alaska. Heimbigner fills the vacancy left by Jeremy Woodrow who became the executive director of ASMI in June.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Commercial Salmon Catch Rises to 103.6M

With the sockeye season slowed, and the humpy harvest near its peak in early August, preliminary commercial fishery catch data showed the overall commercial harvest of wild Alaska salmon at 103.6 million fish and growing.

As of Aug. 6, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary harvest blue sheet noted the harvest of 52,968,000 red, 39,553,000 pink, 10,118,000 chum, 798,000 coho and 211,000 Chinook salmon. The pink salmon harvest year-to-date is one third lower than year-to-date 2017. Now based on historical data, Alaska is unlikely to produce the 25 million fish per week needed to reach the 138 million fish forecast by the end of the season, says Garrett Evridge, a fisheries economist with the McDowell Group. Humpy production slowed statewide last week in most areas, with Prince William Sound and Southeast well behind the recent odd-year pace, Evridge said. If Kodiak can match 2017’s production through the end of the season, that area is on track to meet its forecast of 27 million fish, he said. Prince William Sound and Southeast are 47 and 73 percent behind the YTD 2017 harvest, respectively.

Unseasonably warm water and drought conditions are to blame in Prince William Sound for the slow humpy harvest, says Charlie Russell, seine area management biologist for ADF&G in Cordova. Openers on wild stock pinks were halted on June 20 due to a lack of sufficient escapements of pinks into area streams, a big concern for management biologists. This week would typically be the peak of the wild pink run in the Sound.

Alaska’s overall year-to-date harvest figures meanwhile showed the red salmon catch up 10 percent, while silvers were about one third behind and ketas were 20 percent behind, he said.

The sockeye harvest is supported by landings of over 43 million reds in Bristol Bay, 3.5 million fish in the Alaska Peninsula, 2.5 million fish in Prince William Sound, and 1.5 million fish in the Kodiak area.

The keta harvest included nearly 5 million fish in Prince William Sound, 2 million fish in the Southeast Region and 1.4 million for all of the Westward Region. With about a month and a half left in the keta season, the harvest of 10 million fish is 20 percent behind YTD 2018. Evridge noted that harvesting will have to rise significantly to meet the forecast of 29 million keta. While Prince William Sound has already exceeded its forecast, nearly all other areas in Alaska are below expectation of keta by 75 percent, early all other areas in Alaska are below expectations for the species.

On the Lower Yukon River, famed for its oil-rich keta salmon, small boat harvesters had delivered 276,000 chum salmon, and the catch for the Kotzebue area had reached 135,000 fish.

Evridge also noted that while coho volume is about half of the five-year average at this point in the season, at least eight weeks of harvest remain.

Transboundary Watersheds Roundtable Held in Juneau

A roundtable discussion on transboundary watershed issues convened in Juneau on Monday, Aug. 5, to educate new members of the International Joint Commission about Alaska’s transboundary, salmon-rich watersheds.

The IJC, guided by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, is tasked with investigating transboundary issues and recommending solutions for the United States and Canada. The roundtable included representatives of federal and state agencies, commercial fisheries, miners and Alaska legislators. It is the latest effort of Alaska’s congressional delegation get the federal governments of the U.S. and Canada to agree on a meeting of the IJC for a broad review of the cumulative impacts of more than a dozen large-scale open- pit mine projects that British Columbia is pursuing on transboundary waterways flowing downstream into Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage.

The session was convened by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who noted that Alaska’s congressional delegation has been pushing the State Department for more than seven years to engage with their Canadian counterparts on transboundary watershed issues. “The more people we can educate on this issue, the better -especially those serving at high levels in our government,” she said. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, also participated.

Murkowski’s primary concerns include having a management framework in place to ensure that mines near transboundary rivers are permitted in a way that consider cumulative impacts of these mines on the watersheds, that there is proper oversight for the mines and that they are sufficiently bonded to cover cleanup and remediation at the end of their lifespan.

Jill Weitz, director of Salmon Beyond Borders in Juneau, said that contamination of shared transboundary rivers is an international problem requiring an international solution, and she was gratified that commissioners of the IJC were finally hearing Alaskans’ concerns. “It’s a diplomatic process that requires a lot of negotiations between the two governments and I think there is a case building for the IJC to convene on this issue,” she said. “We are still not there, but this is an important first step in engaging the IJC.”

Coast Guard Bill Includes Seattle Icebreakers

Coast Guard reauthorization legislation headed for the Senate floor in August contains a number of provisions for six new icebreakers, to protect the environment, and also ensure that Coast Guard members are paid in the event of a government shutdown.

The legislation specifically authorizes three new heavy icebreakers to be homeported in Seattle, plus, for the first time, three new medium icebreakers.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, hailed the legislation as “a giant step forward in recognizing that we are an Arctic nation and we plan to participate in the Northwest Passage.”

Cantwell cited the “proud maritime heritage” of Washington state, with the Coast Guard as an integral part of the community. “If we want ships to pass through the Arctic as other countries do – because it is a cheaper, faster way from Asia to Europe – and we want to have access to that in an untold way, and we want fishing and environmental issues to be addressed, we too need to recognize that we need an icebreaking fleet,” she said.

The legislation approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on July 31 also codifies a number of recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board to reduce the risk of vessel casualties and oil spills and improve vessel traffic safety.

It requires the federal research plan to improve oil spill prevention and response to be updated every 10 years, with mandatory feedback from the National Academy of Sciences to ensure the most up-to-date science is being applied to protect our waters from oil spills.

It also requires research and technology evaluations for all classes of oil, including heavy oils, to ensure the Coast Guard and other agencies have the knowledge and technology needed to clean up tar sands oil.

In support of Coast Guard families, the legislation requires the Coast Guard to create a public strategy to improve leadership development and improve the culture of inclusion and diversity in the Coast Guard, and to create programs and resources to improve access to child care for Coast Guard families.

GAPP Announces New Round of Funding

A third round of funding under the GAPP North American Partnership Program has been announced in Seattle by the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers.

Companies with innovative new product or markets they are seeking to place wild Alaska Pollock in are asked to submit their funding request for consideration by the GAPP committees and board of directors by the Oct 1 deadline. Craig Morris, chief executive officer of GAPP, said applicants will be notified on the outcome of their application no later than Dec. 15.

The GAPP North American Partnership Program was conceived by the GAPP board to recognize and provide support for companies looking to bring new, innovative products to market or introduce the fish to food influencers and decision-makers at forums where Pollock hasn’t previously had visibility.

In this third round of funding, GAPP is particularly interested in projects that showcase wild Alaska Pollock surimi or roe in the North American Market, although fillet-based proposals are welcome as well. GAPP set aside $3 million toward its North American Partnership Program for 2019-2020 and has approximately $1.7 million remaining for this third round of partnerships. Under the program, each partner brings equal or greater funds to the table, so that for every dollar of GAPP investment, there is at least a one-to-one, and in most cases greater investment on the part of the partner.

“We’re looking for companies with a passion for wild Alaska Pollock who need resources to put our amazing protein, in all of its forms, from fillet to surimi to even wild Alaska Pollock roe, in front of new customers and consumers in new ways,” Morris said. “Creating a recognizable brand for wild Alaska Pollock is going to take us all, pulling together and the GAPP North American Partnership Program is designed to help us do just that.”

Information for interested applicants, including a proposal template, can be found on the GAPP website at: http://alaskapollock.org/aboutNews.html.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

EPA Withdraws Protections for Bristol Bay

Only four weeks after releasing comments critical of a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the proposed Pebble mine project, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn safeguards critical to the Bristol Bay watershed – the 2014 Proposed Determination issued under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.

EPA Region 10 administrator Chris Hladick said his agency has worked closely with the US Army Corps of Engineers on the proposed project, resulting in an expansive public record, “including specific information about the proposed mining project that did not exist in 2014.”

EPA Region 10 General Counsel Matthew Leopold said the decision restores “the proper process or 404(c) determinations, eliminating a preemptive veto of a hypothetical mine and focusing EPA’s environmental review on an actual project before the agency.

On July 1, Hladick said in a letter to the Corps that the DEIS “appears to lack certain critical information about the proposed project and mitigation, and there may be aspects of the environmental modeling and impact analysis which would benefit from being corrected, strengthened, or revised. Because of this, the DEIS likely underestimates impacts and risks to groundwater and surface water flows, water quality, wetlands, aquatic resources, and air quality from the Pebble project.”

Mine backers, including the Pebble Limited Partnership in Anchorage, Alaska, and its parent company, Northern Dynasty Minerals in Vancouver, British Columbia, thanked Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy for his efforts in getting the proposed determination withdrawn. Tom Collier, CEO of the Pebble Partnership, said Dunleavy “appears to be fulfilling his pledge to make sure the world knows Alaska is open for business, and supports responsible resource development.”

Mine opponents, including US Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., were angered.

“The Bristol Bay watershed supports fishermen, shipbuilders, suppliers, sportsmen, restaurant and over 50 million salmon that make up a $1.5 billion economy,” Cantwell said. “The Trump administration’s reckless action today threatens our salmon, our maritime economy and the livelihoods of thousands of Washington fishermen.”

Veteran Bristol Bay fisherman Robin Samuelsen of Dillingham was furious.

Speaking on behalf of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, Samuelsen said that the EPA’s decision “reeks of collusion and politics. Even those who are extremely pro-development have raised concerns about the negative impacts of this mine on Bristol Bay. In the face of those concerns, it is shocking that what few protections remain for this region are being further eroded.”

Alaska Salmon Harvest Tops 97 Million Fish

Commercial harvesters in Alaska have delivered an estimated 97 million salmon to processors so far this season.

Preliminary catch reports compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) show that as of July 30, the harvest included nearly 52 million sockeyes, 35 million humpies, 9.5 million chum, 620,000 silver and 207,000 Chinooks.

Between 50 and 60 percent of the annual harvest occurs past this point in the season in an odd-numbered year, notes Garrett Evridge a fisheries economist with the McDowell Group, who produces weekly updates on the fishery on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Most of the volume will come from pink salmon harvests, which have slowed in the last two weeks. Keta, coho and Chinook harvests are also slow, in contrast to strong sockeye landings.

The sockeye harvest is supported by strong landings in Bristol Bay and other regions. Still, Southeast Alaska is about 14 percent behind last year’s numbers and less than half of the long-term average. The harvest typically peaks in that region during the second week of August.

This week and the next two weeks usually represents the peak of the humpy harvest. Landings over this period can exceed 20 million fish per week. Kodiak, the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands are having strong seasons, while Southeast and Prince William Sound are lagging.

The Keta harvest year-to-date is approximately 25 percent lower than 2018 and the long-term average. Evridge said that fishing has been particularly challenging in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim and Southeast, which are 58 and 70 percent behind respectively compare to the 2018.

Year-to-date coho landings are 37 percent behind last year and half the five-year average. Chinook harvests are 12 percent below the same date last year.

The preliminary commercial salmon harvest from ADF&G is posted with daily updates online at https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyfisherysalmon.bluesheet

Robotics May Aid in Successful Rebuilding of Fish Stocks

A California university study suggests that current approaches to rebuild fisheries based on maximizing harvest and stock size are insufficient, and more rigorous and computationally intensive approaches could facilitate conservation planning and resource management.

The University of California Berkeley research team analyzed decision-making processes for setting fish harvest quotas and estimated biomass, catch and profit for 109 fisheries through 2050. They concluded that current methods fail to rebuild many fish stocks, achieving a 55 percent recovery rate on average, while methods borrowed from robotics reached 85 percent global fish stock recovery by 2050, and increased economic returns.

Many fisheries that have been historically over-exploited are now considered to be rebuilding, with hope that current best practices could ensure the recovery of most overfished species by mid-century. The results from the UC Berkeley research team, which included Milad Memarzaden and Carl Boettiger, appeared online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The analysis suggests this optimism may be premature, as current projections typically assume managers can have perfect measurements of current stock sizes.

The research demonstrates how such an assumption can undermine rebuilding efforts under current best practices and even drive unintentional stock declines.

“I’ve never really thought about it nor am I very familiar with the field of robotics but there is nothing prescriptive in our management to preclude innovative analytic tools that could be employed to best estimate time frames to rebuild,” said Diana Stram, plan coordinator for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage, Alaska.

“For stocks such as groundfish where we may have better information and understanding of recruitment we can do a fairly good job of projecting stock status, but for stocks with highly variable or very low levels of recruitment such as some crab stocks at low levels of abundance, we are really dependent on estimation of random recruitment into the future to estimate rebuilding times,” she said.

Memarzaden noted that his understanding is that salmon management in the Pacific Northwest is based on a constant escapement approach, while commercial marine fisheries are managed using constant-mortality targets. Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is the maximum average annual catch that can be removed from a stock over an indefinite period under prevailing environmental conditions. As defined this way, MSY makes no allowance for environmental variability.

Fisheries scientists worked out MSY in the 1950s, and almost two decades later they discovered more dynamic strategies of which the most profitable was a so called “bang-bang strategy,” Boettiger said. In short, if the stock size is 150 percent of the biomass calculated by the MSY, increase the allowable harvest to get that biomass down or if 50 percent below the MSY, halt fishing.

The research team noted that many fisheries that have been historically over-exploited are now considered to be rebuilding, supported by the hope that current best practices could ensure the recovery of most overfished species by mid-century. They suggest by borrowing novel decision methods from the field of robotics that stock rebuilding can be achieved in the face of measurement and environmental uncertainty, while also achieving higher economic returns than expected under current approaches.

The complete study is available at EurekAlert, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is online https://www.eurekalert.org/file/jrnls/pnas/pdfs/pnas.201902657.pdf

Researchers Launch Alaska Salmon and People Website

A new website produced by the state of Alaska’s Salmon and People (SASAP) is now live. It offers access to a vast amount of data and research to help people better understand the evolution and interdependence of salmon and people.

The project promoters say alaskasalmonandpeople.org is the first-ever knowledge and data web portal about the 10,000-year-long relationship between Alaska’s people and salmon.

The collection represents the work of over 100 experts from Alaska and beyond who synthesized fundamental and current understandings about salmon that are important for sustainable management.

The SASAP project is co-led by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and Anchorage-based Nautilus Impact Investing, and is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

NCEAS is a research center affiliated with the University of California Santa Barbara that conducts transformational science to inform solutions that will allow people and nature to thrive.

Major partners in the project include the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the University of Alaska, and representatives from tribes, nonprofits, businesses and other academic and government institutions.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Alaska’s Salmon Catch Nearly 84 Million Fish

Alaska’s commercial harvesters have delivered nearly 84 million salmon to processors to date, a leap of 13 million fish since last week.

With the Bristol Bay fishery winding down, and the focus of Alaska’s salmon harvest shifting to pink salmon, the year-to-date harvest is slightly ahead of the long-term (odd year) average of 75 million fish, noted McDowell Group fisheries economist Garrett Evridge, who produces weekly in-season salmon harvest updates on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Preliminary statewide season totals compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (AD&G) put the red salmon harvest in excess of 49 million fish, along with more than 26 million humpies, 8.1 million chum, 402,000 silver and 198,000 kings.

The red salmon harvest has reached 7 million fish above the AD&G forecast of 42 million sockeyes.

According to Evridge, of the last 12 seasons, only 2017 exceeds 2019 for year-to-date sockeye harvest. With Bristol Bay past its peak, statewide production of sockeyes is expected to drop quickly over the next two weeks. While Kodiak, Cook Inlet and other regions will continue to see modest sockeye volume, there is hope that Chignik will see improvement before the year’s run ends.

Pink salmon production has waned over the past two weeks to an overall pace 6 percent lower than 2017 but is similar to the long-term average. Kodiak, the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands harvests are on track, however the humpy harvests in Cook Inlet are down by approximately 27 percent compare to 2017. Prince William Sound shows numbers 40 percent lower while Southeast Alaska is down 87 percent, according to the report.

Keta production is lagging behind last year’s numbers by about 25 percent. Keta harvests this week brought in 8 million fish, which is 27 percent of the 29-million-fish forecast. Prince William Sound is the only bright spot for keta with all other areas of the state behind last year’s catch.

Evridge noted that harvests of silver and king salmon are also less than a year ago, but production of both species has improved compared to last week.

PSPA Names New President

Glenn Reed will step down at year’s end after more than 20 years as president of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association. He will be handing over leadership to Coast Guard veteran Christopher Barrows.

The July 22 PSPA announcement said that Barrows would take over as president on August 15.

Reed said the greatest accomplishments during his tenure as president belong to his staff and members, who worked with him as a team.

“Our members were able to achieve positive outcomes in rationalizing Alaska’s Pollock and crab fisheries, strengthening our community ties on hunger relief through SeaShare and sponsorship of the annual Beans CafĂ© Toast to the Coast in Anchorage,” he said.

Major issues facing PSPA members today “include continued funding and support for science-based fisheries management to insure the sustainability of our renewable resources, better understanding and adapting to a changing climate, and maintaining and growing meaningful representation in the state and federal regulatory processes that govern us,” Reed added.. “Through those efforts we can offer expertise and participate in the design of important fishery management programs in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska; improve trade and compete in the global markets where Alaskan seafood is in demand; and ensure that we have access to available labor. These are some of the things that allow us to improve the value of Alaska fisheries for all participants.”

“We also work consistently to illustrate to policy makers the investments the seafood industry has in Alaska communities, and continues to make year after year,” Reed said.

Reed’s connection with the fishing industry began when, as a 12-year-old boy he fished a setnet site at Clam Gulch on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, then aboard a drift gillnetter for several years out of Port Moller. He served as city administrator for Sand Point before becoming the assistant city manager at the city of Unalaska/Port of Dutch Harbor, and then in 1992 the deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce and Economic Development.

In April of 1997 he became the executive director of the North Pacific Seafood Coalition, a post he held until becoming president of PSPA in January of 1999.

Salmonfest Comes to Kenai Peninsula Aug. 2–4

Salmonfest 2019, a three-day music festival in celebration of and rallying cry for protecting wild salmon and their habitat, will open on Aug. 2 at Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds.

Headliners among over 60 bans on four stages are Grammy award winders Ani DiFranco and Jason Mraz. Perennial favorite Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers, from Ketchikan, Alaska, will be back, as well as Seward’s Blackwater Railroad Company and the California Honeydrops, from Oakland, Calif.

Along with the music, attendees will enjoy a salmon parade and a smoked salmon superbowl competition, as well as food and crafts booths. The festival’s Salmon Causeway will feature educational booths, a science symposium and daily children’s programming.

The annual festival, which draws thousands of people, began in 2011 as Salmonstock, and quickly became a force in advocating for protecting salmon habitat and a voice in opposition to the proposed Pebble mine. Long-time supporters include the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society and Cook Inletkeeper, both of Homer.

Festival producer Jim Stearns says tickets are going fast for the family-friendly event, particularly for Aug. 3.

Information on ticket purchases, performers, volunteering, campground reservations and more is available at salmonfestalaska.org.

Canada Ratifies Port State Measures Agreement

Top officials with Canada’s Ministry of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard have ratified the Port State Measures agreement, the first binding international agreement specifically targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“Canada is serious about ending illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. “By preventing fish and seafood products derived from IUU fishing from entering our ports, we will not only help level the playing field for Canadian harvesters and Canadian businesses involved in the fish and seafood trade; we are also sending a very strong message that Canada's ports have zero tolerance for illegally caught fish."

The document’s objective is to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in such activities from using ports and landing their harvest.

The agreement, which took effect in Canada on July 20, grants officials additional powers to deny port entry and use of port services for vessels carrying illegally harvested fish. It also increases protection and monitoring at Canadian ports during all stages of fishing operations, including vessel registration, fish harvesting and fish trade.

Since all fish must come through a port before entry into markets, limiting port access is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to eliminate IUU fishing, Canadian officials said.

The agreement was approved by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ conference in Rome in November 2009.

One in every five fish caught around the world every year is thought to originate from IUU fisheries, valued at $10 to $23 billion annually.

There are currently 61 signers to the agreement, including the United States of America, Japan, the European Union, Chile, the Republic of Korea, Iceland and Norway. A complete list of current signers is available online at http://www.fao.org/port-state-measures/background/parties-psma/en/

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Alaska’s Salmon Harvest Nears 71 Million Fish

Harvests of Alaska’s wild salmon, through July 16, jumped to nearly 71 million fish, up from 49.5 million just a week earlier. A sockeye harvest of more than 42 million fish, 36 million of them from the Bristol Bay fishery, brought this boost of 18 million reds overall.

Humpy harvests surged from 15 million a week ago to more than 21 million of which more than 13 million were caught in Alaska’s westward region. The total chum harvest reached 6.8 million, up from 5.1 million, with 4.3 million coming from Prince William Sound.

The preliminary harvest totals are produced weekly during the salmon season by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

Jeremy Botz, a management biologist with ADF&G at Cordova, said sockeyes in Prince William Sound are larger than they have been for the past few years, while chum are smaller. Some of the fish were holding offshore in deeper water during the recent heat wave, but with the cooler weather, “We are definitely getting another bump in the harvest,” he said.

Other management biologists in Bristol Bay also noted the dire impact of warmer ocean waters. ADF&G’s Aaron Tiernan at King Salmon said the Ugashik has been closed for a week because of low escapement numbers, but fishermen are still out there waiting for the area to reopen. In Egegik, where the harvest has reached more than 12 million salmon, the catch is slightly above forecast and Ugashik is currently below projections, “but I can’t say if the run is low or late. The jury is still out on that one,” Tiernan said.

Meanwhile on the Igushik River in the Nushagak district, on the west side of Bristol Bay, the water temperature is so warm it created a thermal barrier. Management biologist Tim Sands said people have reported seeing dead fish everywhere on the banks of the river, with similar incidents happening elsewhere in the state. “With the rain and cooler temperatures coming in, we are hoping that will break down the thermal barrier and the fish will be able to get up the river to spawn,” Sands said. He noted that troubles on the Igushik aside, it is one small part of the Nushagak district, where the harvest is nearly reaching 15 million fish.

“Fishermen overall are pleased with the 2019 fishery,” says Dave Harsila, president of the Bristol Bay Fishermen’s Association, who fishes in the Naknek-Kvichak where the harvest is close to 10 million fish. “The sockeyes look really good, averaging five to six pounds” he added in an interview from his boat on July 16. Harsila also noted that some processors were talking about sea water temperatures reaching 62 degrees, the warmest he’s ever seen, but otherwise hasn’t seen anything else unusual about the fishery.

Alaska Sockeye Landings Exceeding Expectations

McDowell Group fisheries economist Garrett Evridge, who produces weekly salmon harvest reports on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), says sockeye landings statewide are exceeding expectations, pink volume is generally strong and keta production slow.

Those sockeye harvests are closing in and expected to exceed ADF&G’s forecast of 42 million fish. As of July 15, Bristol Bay was 19 percent ahead of 2018, and last week’s 14.5 million fish harvest was possibly the third-strongest weekly harvest on record, according to Evridge.

Meanwhile Cook Inlet catches are lagging and Chignik has posted no landings.

With about four weeks to go until the peak of the fishery, year-to-date pink landings are nearly one-third above those of 2017. However, “the strength of the 2019 harvest comes from record-breaking early-season volume,” Everidge said. Last week’s slower fishing in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska have dampened the pace. However, landings in Kodiak, the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim and Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands continue to top 2017’s volume.

According to Evridge, keta harvests, based on the five-year average, are currently 25 percent behind 2018 and 19 percent below the long-term average. Excluding Prince William Sound, all areas of Alaska are currently below year-to-date 2018 harvest levels.

Coho landing fisheries are still seven weeks away, and the harvest of 161,000 chinook is 15 percent lower than 2018 at the same period in the season.

Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Reauthorize Magnuson-Stevens Act

Congressmen Don Young, R-Alaska and Jeff Van Drew, D-NJ, have introduced HR 3697, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.

The legislation would reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Management Act, which was last reauthorized in 2006.

“The bill ensures healthy fisheries,” said Van Drew.

“As the nature of the ecosystem and fishing industry changes, the laws must be updated to keep pace in an evolving world, and that sustainability is not a partisan issue. The reauthorization act takes important steps to protect important renewable resources and ensures that generations of fishermen to come can earn a living by putting sustainable seafood on tables of families across the country,” Young said.

Meanwhile Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., has announced a fall listening tour on the proposed Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act legislation, which will include a series of roundtable discussions to tap into the expertise of fishermen and other stakeholders. The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC), which represents over 1,000 small boat, independent fishermen and business owners from Maine to Alaska, is applauding the listening tour. “Small-boat, community-based fishermen are committed to doing their part to inform and improve marine policy to protect these fishing communities for today and generations to come,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, a founding member of the FCC.

GAPP to Host Wild Alaska Pollock Annual Meeting

Processors of wild Alaska Pollock will gather in Seattle, Wash., on Oct. 29 for an industry update on the progress of strategic initiatives of the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers.

“We see this as an incredible opportunity to provide our members, and the broader wild Alaska Pollock industry, with an update on GAPP initiatives, but also the forum to share ideas and celebrate our perfect protein,” said Craig Morris, chief executive officer of GAPP.

The meeting at the Seattle World Trade Center, heralded by GAPP as its first industry-wide annual meeting, will also feature speakers offering updates on the state of the industry and opportunities for building demand for and increasing awareness of wild Alaska Pollock, in addition to industry networking opportunities.

The association’s board members recognized “that we need opportunities to bring our industry together and collaborate, but moreover, a recognition that we have a lot to share and celebrate and I look forward to our first-ever annual meeting accomplishing those goals,” Morris said.

A full agenda and registration information will be forthcoming and those interested in helping to sponsor the event are also asked to contact Morris at Craig.Morris@alaskapollock.org.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Alaska’s Commercial Salmon Harvests Near 50m Fish

Commercial wild salmon harvesters in Alaska are picking up speed, with the catch in Bristol Bay alone jumping from about 10 million fish a week ago to nearly 25 million, while the preliminary numbers statewide rose from 26 million to nearly 50 million.

As of July 9, initial harvest figures compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) showed the sockeye salmon harvest rising from 12.7 million to 28.3 million reds, of which 24 million have been delivered to Bristol Bay processors. Within the Bay itself, the Nushagak District fishermen caught 11.6 million of those salmon, including 10,994,000 sockeyes, 597,000 chums and 19,000 Chinooks. Egegik had 7.4 million sockeyes and the Naknek-Kvichak district 5.2 million reds.

In Prince William Sound, deliveries to processors have reached over 10 million fish, including nearly 5 million humpies, 3.6 million chum, 1.8 million sockeyes and 45,000 kings.

The westward region catch has reached more than 13 million salmon, with 10.6 million humpies, nearly 2 million sockeyes, 670,000 chums, 32,000 cohos and 19,000 kings. Of that total, 11.3 million fish came from the Alaska Peninsula and included more than 9 million pinks, 1.6 million reds, 594,000 chums, 26,000 cohos and 16,000 Chinooks. Kodiak area fishermen meanwhile have brought in a total of 1.9 million fish of which 1.4 million were humpies. Deliveries to Kodiak processors also saw some 360,000 sockeyes, 76,000 chums, 6,000 cohos and 3,000 kings.

Meanwhile on the Lower Yukon, small boat harvesters have caught some 90,000 chums and 3,000 humpies, while in Norton Sound fishermen have delivered 99,000 fish, including 53,000 pink and 44,000 chum salmon, to processors. The Southeast Alaska harvest of some 489,000 fish was led by the Southern seine fisheries delivering 171,000 fish.

Garrett Evridge, who produces a weekly commercial salmon harvest update for the McDowell Group on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, said year-to-date landings are 53 percent higher than in 2018 and nearly equal to 2017.

Evridge noted that the current week usually represents the peak of the Bristol Bay season. Kodiak and Southeast Alaska meanwhile are trending above 2018, although the harvest in both regions is below the five-year average. Chignik remains closed to fishing and Cook Inlet is roughly a third below the 2018 numbers. Prince William South and Alaska Peninsula are ahead of both the 2018 figures and their long-term average.

Pink salmon fishing remains strong, and most of the state’s harvest will come from Prince William Sound fisheries in the coming weeks.

The keta salmon volume of nearly five million fish is a quarter lower than 2018 and nine percent below the five-year average.

Explosion and Fire on Barge Leaves One Person Missing

An explosion on a fixed barge located near the 99-foot fishing vessel Alaganik, on July 8, sparked a subsequent fire that spread to the dock before reaching the vessel. Both boat and barge sank in 60 to 80 feet of water at Whittier’s Delong Dock in Whittier, Alaska.

An air and water search for a man aboard that barge was suspended late in the day. The missing person is from Cordova, Alaska, where the barge was homeported. The cause of the explosion remains undetermined.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said that Robert Eckley, of Cordova, Alaska, whom DEC identified as the responsible party, had contracted with Alaska Chadux Corp. and Global Diving and Salvage for spill response and salvage operations. Diving operations are to begin on July 10 to assess the condition of the barge and determine the remaining pollution threat.

The city-owned pier suffered heavy damage in the fire, which has impacted commercial interests. DEC’s Division of Environmental Health Food Safety Program personnel are working with commercial fishing operators to assess whether seafood stored at the pier facilities had been contaminated.

DEC noted that 1,000 gallons of gasoline, 2,800 gallons of diesel, in addition to hydraulic and engine oil were on board at the time of the explosion. The barge had a maximum fuel capacity of 5,500 gallons.

DEC also reported that there are several anadromous streams in the area that support coho and pink salmon. There is also a terminal king salmon fishery at nearby Cove Creek. There were no initial reports of adverse impacts on fish or the abundant wildlife in the area.

Copper River Seafoods Offers Heat Wave Relief

When a record heat wave hit Anchorage, Alaska in early July, Copper River Seafoods came to the rescue of the Alaska Zoo’s critters, including the 1,136-pound polar bear named Louie and his 706-pound mate, Cranberry. As temperatures rose to more than 90 degrees over the July 4th holiday weekend, Louie and Cranberry cooled off by rolling in large piles of shaved ice provided by the processing facility and swam in their deep water pool. “It’s important that we support the zoo, to give these animals some joy in the hot weather,” said Marty Weiser, chief development officer for Copper River Seafoods. “It’s very exciting for us to see the positive impact [of the ice shavings] on these animals in this hot weather.”

Getting involved with the community is part of Copper River Seafood’s culture, he said. “We are very Alaska centric. It’s a great community and we’re supportive of it.”

Providing shaved ice for the zoo has become a tradition for Copper River Seafoods over the past few years. The company also sends large blocks of salmon and halibut filled ice “cake” for polar bear birthday party each January.

In the midst of its busy commercial salmon fishery season, Copper River Seafoods provides the zoo some 2,000 pounds of ice several times a month.

The polar bears stick their noses in it, then spread it out and roll in it, said Patrick Lampi, executive director of the zoo.

Other zoo fans offer a portion of their catch to the zoo animals, Lampi explained. “Alaskans are good fishermen and they are generous,” he said of the many donations of salmon and other wild Alaska fish coming from residents’ freezers.

NSF Sells Dutch Harbor Lab to Makuskin Bay Resources

NSF International, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently sold its seafood services laboratory located in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to Jeff Brammer, who will manage the location but under the name Makushin Bay Resources. All systems, scientific equipment and the state of Alaska registration remain with the lab.

Makushin Bay Resources offers analytical services including customized evaluations to specifications and methodologies, and chemical and microbiological testing. Clients include fishing vessel owners and operators and seafood processing facilities.

Brammer cited the purchase as “a significant milestone and growth opportunity for our staff and the Dutch Harbor community.” The acquisition “will allow us to expand and align services with the current business environment,” he said. “We are committed to this region and plan to be an integral part for the long term.”

Brammer has over 30 years of experience in the seafood industry. As business unit manager for NSF International, he oversaw seafood operations within North America. Prior to joining NSF, he was the owner of North Country Seafood, trading seafood commodities throughout the United States.

More information about Brammer’s company is available online at www.makushinbay.com.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

USACE Receives Thousands of Comments on Draft EIS on Pebble Mine

Upwards of 90,000 comments were submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Pebble mine before the July 1, deadline including a 433-page document from the environmental law firm Trustees for Alaska.

That document incorporated findings of two dozen individual scientists drawn upon to delve into details, data gaps and insufficiencies of the draft EIS.

The Trustees’ commentary notes that the Corps’ draft EIS virtually ignores the EPA’s 2014 Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, which relied heavily on scientific input and proposed limiting the degree to which streams and wetlands could be dug up or filled during mining in order to avoid unacceptable adverse impacts to the watershed.

Trustees also said that the combination of exposure to contaminants like copper and selenium, with changes in stream flows and temperatures, potential impacts to the food web, the certainty of blocked culverts diverting migration and road runoff silting up streambeds, plus the general hubbub that will come with the project, would degrade what is currently a salmon paradise.

Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState, an initiative housed at the New Venture Fund, indicated that when his entity started to look at the EIS in detail, they thought at first they have failed to receive the entire document, but then realized those deficiencies “were a calculated effort to gloss over or outright ignore major issues.”

University of Washington fisheries research professor Daniel Schindler called the draft EIS “careless” and suffering from “a complete lack of rigor.” Schindler said he believes that if that draft EIS was submitted to the standard scientific peer review process it would be soundly rejected. Former Pebble Mine Consultant Molly Welker wrote that chief among her concerns are that the Pebble plans to use untested water treatment plants that do not adequately treat for the mineral selenium, which is known to kill and cause deformities in fish.

The American Fisheries Society also weighed in during the comment period, telling the Corps’ that the draft EIS “fails to meet basic standards of risks to fish and their habitats are underestimated…many conclusions are not supported by the data or analysis provided, and critical information is missing.”

Relief Funds Approved for 2016 Gulf of Alaska Pink Salmon Fishery Disaster

Alaska’s congressional delegation says that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has approved $53.8 million to restore losses for Alaska fisheries hard hit by the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fishery disaster.

According to the delegation NOAA has approved and transferred those funds to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the agency tasked with distributing the relief payments to harvesters, processors and for salmon research in affected regions.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young said they were pleased that Alaskans who have been waiting for this economic relief will finally receive it. Areas impacted by the disaster included Prince William Sound, management areas for Kodiak, Chignik and Lower Cook Inlet, plus Yakutat, the South Alaska Peninsula and Southeast Alaska.

According to Randy Fisher, executive director of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) will determine what programs they want this money to go to. “We’re just the tooth fairy,” he said. “ADF&G and the governor’s office figure out how they want that money distributed. Once that is decided, PSMFC will send out applications to those eligible and determine the deadline for returning those applications.”

No timeline has been announced yet for when such applications would even be going out. Alaska state Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, who has been working on getting those funds to impacted fish harvesters, said she was told that PSMFC would have their website for this grant active on July 1, but as of July 2 it had not been posted.

Alaska Salmon Harvest Tops 26 Million Fish

Commercial harvesters have topped the 26-million mark in wild salmon delivered to processors in Alaska so far this season. Preliminary data from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) shows that the statewide catch through June 2 was 26,269,000 fish, including some 12,737,000 sockeyes, 9,582,000 humpies, 3,848,000 chums, about 93,000 Chinooks, and roughly 6,000 silver salmon.

For Prince William Sound alone, the total catch to date is nearly 15.5 million fish, including just over one million from the Copper River drift fishery.

Bristol Bay has already reached more than 10 million fish, predominantly sockeyes. The harvest accounts for 5.6 million caught in the Nushagak District, 2.8 million from the Egegik District and 1.9 million in the Naknek-Kvichak District.

Harvesters are also busy off of the Alaska Peninsula, where they caught more than 10 million fish – 8.5 million humpies, plus some 625,000 reds and 516,000 chums.

Garrett Evridge, of the McDowell Group, who produces a weekly in-season salmon harvest update on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, noted that through June 29 the sockeye and pink salmon harvests were contributing about 42 percent of the statewide catch overall. According to him, so far this year’s harvest is 67 percent above 2018’s volume, and 30 percent stronger than 2017.

Sockeye volume is up 5 percent year-to-date from 2018 and 10 percent above the five-year average. About a quarter of ADF&G’s 2019 forecast of 42 million reds has been realized.

Production is slow in Cook Inlet, with 248,000 fish, but has improved in Kodiak, Southeast and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands.

Pink salmon production year-to-date is about five times the 2017 level. The Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands have dominated early harvests, with strength also seen in Kodiak and Prince William Sound. Evridge noted that the state’s humpy harvest generally peaks about five weeks from this point in the season.

Meanwhile, year-to-date keta salmon harvest is about 500,000 fish lower than a year ago, with Prince William Sound continuing to compensate for weakness in nearly every other area of the state. If Prince William sound landings are removed, the state’s 209 keta production is 61 percent lower than in 2018, according to Evridge.

On another note, the combined 2019 pink salmon forecast for Alaska and Russia is approximately 1.2 billion pounds. While the early forecasts are not necessarily record breaking, this would be among the most significant supply that the market has had to deal with in the last few years.

To track updated reports on the 2019 preliminary Alaska commercial salmon harvest visit https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyfisherysalmon.bluesheet.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Alaska Commercial Salmon Harvest at 15 Million and Rising

Alaska’s 2019 wild salmon harvest season, which began in mid-May with the Copper River openers, Is now expanding through the state’s central, southeast and western regions.

Preliminary estimates of the harvest compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game through June 25 put the catch to date at some 15 million fish.

According to fisheries economist Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, who produces weekly updates on the commercial salmon season for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, production of all species except Chinook are stronger than 2018 at this point of the season.

Evridge said year-to-date sockeye harvests are 29 percent above 2018 and 12 percent below the five-year average. Prince William Sound continues to outpace its 2018 harvest while Chignik, Cook Inlet and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands lag the historical average, he said.

Early indicators for Bristol Bay are favorable against 2018 and in line with the long-term average.

About three million fish are typically harvested in Bristol Bay during this week of the season.

The year-to-date pink salmon harvest of more than seven million fish is likely a record for early season production. Landings in the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands and Kodiak are roughly seven and three times the year-to-date 2017 volume, respectively, he said.

The keta harvest of some 2.5 million fish is 29 percent above a year ago and 60 percent higher than the five-year average.

The strong harvest in Prince William Sound is offsetting slower fishing elsewhere, with that region contributing 86 percent of the total year-to-date harvest. Keta production in Southeast Alaska and the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region has been particularly slow though it is still early in the season, Evridge noted.

The Chinook harvest of 42,000 fish, meanwhile, is 14 percent below the 2018 year-to-date pace.

Daily preliminary harvest updates are posted online by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyfisherysalmon.bluesh

Bristol Bay Fresh Sockeye Promotions Expanded

As the 2019 Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery got underway in June, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association was partnered up and ready to roll with five retailers from coast to coast to promote fresh wild sockeye salmon.

Returning partners included New Seasons Markets in Washington State; H-E-B in Texas and Kroger’s Quality Food Centers in Washington.

New partners for the 2019 season include Rosauers Supermarkets in Eastern Washington and Wegmans in New England.

The BBRSDA also said that the association is proudly continuing its relationship with Pacific Seafood as a supplier of high-quality Bristol Bay sockeye salmon.

For direct marketers who choose to create their own recipe cards, the BBRSDA is now offering a customizable recipe card template to add to their tool kit. Direct marketers can plug in their own photos and their own story in a high-quality format that represents the Bristol Bay brand and their premium product at https://bristolbaysockeye.org/directmarketer-orderform

The preseason forecast for Bristol Bay salmon was for a total run of 40.18 million fish, with a harvest of 26.11 million salmon in Bristol Bay and 1.49 million in the South Peninsula.

The preliminary harvest estimate through June 24 included 7,574 deliveries of a total of 2.5 million salmon, including 2.4 million sockeyes, 122,347 chum, and 11,627 kings.

The Nushagak district alone has had an estimated 5,058 deliveries for a total of 1.8 million fish, including 1.7 million sockeyes, 121,917 chum, and 9,828 Chinook salmon.

Statewide the harvest is also building in Prince William Sound, the Copper River, Cook Inlet, Kodiak and the South Alaska Peninsula, for a statewide total of nearly 15 million salmon, including 7.7 million humpies, 4.9 million sockeyes, 2,7 million chum, 62,000 kings and about 1,000 silver salmon.

Harvesters Ramping Up Effort to Protect Bristol Bay

Bristol Bay fishermen heading for the grounds and those already delivering fish say they are waiting for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to deliver on her promise to not trade one resource for another.

The statement from Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay on June 24 says for many engaged in the Bristol Bay fishery, this winter was anything but restful. Instead they were fighting to save their livelihoods.

“At this point Bristol Bay fishermen and Alaskans, who still overwhelmingly oppose Pebble, are looking to Sen. Lisa Murkowski to deliver on her longtime promise of ensuring a permitting process that protects the interests of Alaskans and does not trade one resource for another” said Alexus Kwachka, from his boat F/V No Point on the opening day of the fishery at Naknek.

United Fishermen of Alaska has called on Murkowski to halt the process of the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed copper, gold and molybdenum mine adjacent to the Bristol Bay watershed. Murkowski responded that she would “continue to carefully watch as the Pebble (project) undergoes a measured, fully inclusive and transparent permitting process.”

Veteran commercial salmon fisherman Mark Niver, who is also employed as a plant operator for BP Alaska, said such statements from Murkowski and other members of the Alaska congressional delegation are far from reassuring. Niver points to recent letters from The American Fisheries Society, The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and University of Washington fisheries researcher Daniel Schindler, all of them critical of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ draft environmental impact statement.

The American Fisheries Society sent a letter to the Corps stating that based on its review of the DEIS, they found it fails to meet basic standards of scientific rigor in a region that clearly demands the highest level of scrutiny and thoroughness.

The NPFMC letter told the Corps in its letter that any analysis that considers development of a large scale mine in the area must also consider reasonably foreseeable future actions, including the potential impacts not only on fish populations and habitat, but also on both the value and reputation of North Pacific fisheries. Schindler, who has spent years doing research on Bristol Bay fisheries, said the Pebble EIS “distinctly underestimates long-term risks to water, fish and people – it concludes there are none. The Army Corps of Engineers should be sent back to the drawing board to produce a credible assessment.”

Trident Seafoods Posts Its Opposition to Pebble Project

Trident Seafoods has come out to its fishermen about its opposition to the proposed Pebble mine and reminding them to comment on the US Army Corps of Engineers draft environmental impact statement on the proposed mine.

The deadline for comment is now July 1.

Victor Scheibert, president of Alaska operations for Trident, said in a recent letter to Bristol Bay fishermen that Trident opposes the Pebble mine project because it poses a significant risk to many families, businesses and communities that rely on the natural resources of Bristol Bay.

Trident is highly dependent on Bristol Bay salmon and has invested millions of dollars in the region, “because we believe that the region’s sockeye runs are unique,” his letter said. “Unique in terms of the long history of strong research, management and abundance, the number of fishermen, businesses and communities they support, and the brand recognition they receive on the global market. With continued stewardship, Bristol Bay will help support Alaska’s economy in perpetuity.”

Trident appreciates the need for resource development in Alaska and supports projects that with a reasonable level of certainty, can be developed and operated without irreparable harm to the state’s fishery’s resources, but this is not that project, he said. The current analysis of the project does not consider the impact of a catastrophic failure and fails to study the effect on the marketability and perception of Alaskan seafood. Scheibert said that Trident will continue to collaborate with Pacific Seafood Processors Association and other Bristol Bay seafood industry participants to voice concerns throughout the permitting process to help ensure that all potential impacts and alternatives are fully considered.

Those who still wish to comment on the draft EIS may email comments to drafteis@comments.pebbleprojecteis.com or submit them through the USACE online portal at https://pebbleprojecteis.com/publiccomments/neweiscomment

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Seattle Will Be Homeport for Newest Polar Icebreakers

The US Guard Guard’s polar icebreaking fleet will continue to be homeported in Seattle after delivery of its new class of heavy icebreakers.

The announcement on June 17 came from the US Navy Institute, which said the first of a planned fleet of three heavy icebreakers, called Polar Security Cutters, is expected to be delivered in 2023. The US Coast Guard’s only working heavy icebreaker, Polar Star, is based in Seattle. The Coast Guard also has one medium icebreaker.

“The Pacific Northwest has been the home of our icebreaking fleet since 1976, and I am confident that the Seattle area will continue to provide the support we need to carry out our critical operations in the polar regions” said Adm. Karl L. Schultz, commandant of the US Coast Guard. The icebreaker is to be constructed by VT Halter Marine at the company’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

The contract with Halter Marine also includes options for two more polar security cutters. If both options are exercised, the contract value of the three icebreakers increases to $1.9 billion, according to Coast Guard officials.

Icebreakers are sent by the Coast Guard each winter to Antarctica, to lead supply ships to McMurdo Sound to resupply the National Science Foundation’s research center. Then each summer the icebreakers perform similar missions to assist shipping off the coast of Alaska. The Coast Guard also maintains a presence in the U.S. portion of the Arctic to defend national interests in a region which is increasingly a focus for Russia and China.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., hailed the homeport decision, saying that “homeporting new icebreakers in Puget Sound shows the significant role Washington state has to play in securing our waters and protecting our environment in the Arctic. The Puget Sound region supports a cutting-edge maritime workforce, which is poised to meet the needs of these new world-class vessels,” she said.

Cantwell, the top Democrat on the US Senate Commerce Committee, successfully persuaded the Obama administration in 2016 to include new icebreaker funding in its fiscal year 2017 budget request. This year Cantwell also helped secure $655 million to design and build the first Coast Guard polar icebreaker in over four decades, plus $20 million to begin planning a second icebreaker.

Border States Press British Columbia on Transboundary Mines

US Senators from the border states of Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana are urging the government of British Columbia to make a dedicated effort to monitor water in the salmon-rich transboundary rivers flowing from British Columbia into Southeast Alaska.

The request, in a letter sent on June 13 from the US Senate to British Columbia Premier John Horgan, expressed concern that the International Joint Commission did not convene in April for its usual meeting as the IJC lacked a quorum among US and Canadian commissioners.

The senators noted that bilateral discussions on transboundary water issues that typically occur in conjunction with the biannual convening of the IJC have strengthened bilateral cooperation between the two governments. Given the absence of this spring meeting, the senators provided Horgan with a summary of their own work in Congress to dedicate attention and resources to US concerns about the BC transboundary watersheds, where several mines are operating and/or planned.

Some of these open-pit hard rock and coal mines have been in operation for decades, prompting concerns that they are polluting rivers flowing from British Columbia. with acid mine drainage and other contaminants harmful to the salmon in those rivers. The provincial government recently opened a permitting process for a new mine at the headwaters of the Skagit River, which flows into Washington state through North Cascades National Park and into Puget Sound.

According to Salmon Beyond Borders, current provincial regulations do not require a cumulative analysis of mining impacts to these rivers, nor consent from First Nations, private property owners or for meaningful public input from U.S. stakeholders and tribal members.

The senators note that the US federal government established an interagency working group in 2017 to address concerns regarding BC mining activity in transboundary watersheds and to determine mechanisms necessary to safeguard US economic interests and resources.

They also reminded Horgan that Congress recently appropriated $1.8 million to the US Department of the Interior for steam gauges in transboundary rivers to provide better monitoring and water quality data, including detection of any impact from upstream mining, at the international boundary. In addition, they noted, Congress has directed the US Geological Survey to enter into a formal partnership with local tribes and other agencies to develop a long-term water quality strategy to address contamination risks in transboundary rivers shared by British Columbia and Alaska, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Early Harvest Numbers Are Mixed for Alaska’s Wild Salmon

Commercial fisheries for Alaska’s wild salmon are off and running for 2019, with the statewide total through June 18 at 6,712,000 fish, including 43,000 Chinook, 1,149,000 chum, 4,149,000 pink, and 1,371,000 sockeyes.

For the Copper River drift gillnet fishery alone, the harvest has reached 814,000 fish, including 16,598 kings, 779,048 sockeyes and 18,091 chum salmon, with totals still being calculated on the June 17 opener. Harvest reports are also coming in from several other areas of Prince William Sound, with the opening of the Coghill, Eshamy and Montague districts, the Prince William Sound general seine and hatchery fisheries. The preliminary total wild salmon catch for Prince William Sound was some 1.5 million fish.

In the Western Region of Alaska, the harvest is underway in the South Alaska Peninsula, with 130,000 chum, 4,058,000 humpies and 315,000 sockeyes delivered to processors, and at Kodiak, where the initial harvest was slow, with a total of 144,000 salmon.

Fisheries economist Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, notes in his first weekly salmon harvest update for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, that those early harvest numbers of mixed. Evridge said that while sockeye production in Kodiak, Cook Inlet and Chignik got off to a slow start, the Prince William Sound landings have been strong. Year to date statewide harvest of sockeye is more than three times the prior year, he said, and Chinook production is up 50 percent year-to-date with strength in Prince William Sound moderated by a slower Southeast Harvest. Keta volumes are roughly double those of last year at this time, led by harvests in Prince William Sound.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has forecast a harvest of 213 million salmon in 2019, which is 84 percent more than in 2018 and roughly equal with 2017. The humpy forecast is comparable to recent odd-year harvests. After a record sockeye harvest in 2018, this year’s production is expected to be 18 percent lower, but similar to the long-term average, Evridge said. Forecasted keta harvests of nearly 29 million salmon would exceed the previous record by about four million fish. Coho production is expected to match recent years, and Chinook landings are anticipated to improve slightly from a year ago, he said.

Study Shows Marine Fisheries Form a Single Network

A new international study concludes that the world’s marine fisheries form a single network, with fish valued in excess of $10 billion harvested annually outside of the country of origin.

Although fisheries are traditionally managed at the national level, this study by researchers in the United States and United Kingdom shows the degree to which each country’s fishing economy relies on the health of its neighbors’ spawning grounds.

In other words, it’s a small world network, the same phenomenon that allows strangers to be linked by six degrees of separation, while adding the potential risk that threats in one part of the world could result in a cascade of stresses, affecting one region after another.

Researchers from the University of California Berkeley, the London School of Economics and the University of Delaware said their study is the first to use a particle tracking computer simulation to map the flow of fish larvae across national boundaries to estimate the extent of larval transport globally.

“Now we have a map of how the world’s fisheries are interconnected and where international cooperation is needed most urgently to conserve a natural resource that hundreds of millions of people rely on,” said Kimberly Oremus, a study co-author and assistant professor at the University of Delaware’s School of Marine Science and Policy.

An estimated 90 percent of the world’s wild caught marine fish are harvested within 200 miles of shore, within national jurisdictions. Still some of these fish were carried far beyond their spawning grounds by currents in their larval stage, before they were able to swim, so while individual countries have set national maritime boundaries, the ocean is made up of highly interconnected networks where most countries depend on their neighbors to properly manage their own fisheries. Understanding the nature of this network is important in achieving more effective fisheries management, and essential for countries whose economies and food security are reliant on fish born elsewhere, researchers said.

Lead author Nandini Ramesh, a researcher of the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California Berkeley, said data from a wide range of scientific fields came together to make the study possible. “We needed to look at patterns of fish spawning, the life cycles of different species, ocean currents, and how these vary with the seasons in order to begin to understand this system,” Ramesh said. The study used data from satellites, ocean moorings, ecological field observations and marine catch records to build a computer model of how eggs and larvae of over 700 species of fish world-wide are transported by ocean currents.

“When fisheries are mismanaged or breeding grounds are not protected, it could affect food security half a world away,” said James Rising, assistant professorial research fellow at the Grantham Research Institute in the London School of Economics.

“Our hope is that this study will be a stepping stone for policy makers to study their own regions more closely to determine their interdependencies,” Ramesh said. “This is an important first step. This is not something people have examined before at this scale.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

NPFMC Jumps Into Pebble Mine Discussion, State Objects

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is weighing into the debate over the proposed Pebble mine in Southwest Alaska, prompting objections from the state of Alaska.

During its meeting in Sitka this past week the council reviewed a letter it plans to send to the US Army Corps of Engineers, noting that the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act calls for federal agencies to consider the potential impacts of developments on essential fish habitat, and to consult with NOAA Fisheries to identify actions to avoid or mitigate such impacts.

The council’s letter says that the council understands that the USACE is working with NOAA Fisheries to schedule the assessment of potential impacts to essential fish habitat, including cumulative impacts. The letter asks that the Corps schedule the assessment to coincide with a NPFMC meeting, and that the council’s December 2019 meeting would be an opportune time for the council to review and comment on that assessment.

Public radio journalist Robert Woolsey, news director of KCAW in Sitka, covered that session of the council meeting on June 5 and reported that Deputy Commissioner of Fish and Game Rachel Baker entered the state’s formal opposition to the letter. Baker argued that comments in the council’s letter went “beyond the scope of the council’s role and responsibilities.” The state, said Baker, “recommends the council maintain focus on priority management issues for fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska.”

Wooley also noted that some harvesters attending the meeting used the opportunity of public testimony to support the council’s decision to comment on the proposed mine. Veteran Bering Sea crabber Cheston Clark said in testimony that he is concerned about the proposed mine, particularly the unknown impact “if – or more likely when – a catastrophic mine tailing dam fails.”

Molly Blakey, a partner with her husband Ben in Northline Seafoods in Sitka, said she read the council’s draft letter and hopes it is sent. “Our livelihood, she told the council, “is processing Bristol Bay sockeye salmon.”

The council took no immediate action on the letter.

New Vessel Registration Issues Spark Confusion

With the commercial salmon season already under way in Alaska many vessel owners are suddenly finding out about a new law effective on January 1, 2019 requiring them to register their vessels with the state Department of Motor vehicles. Under Senate Bill 92, the Derelict Vessel Act, passed by the Alaska Legislature in 2018, fishing vessels are required to comply with the law even if they are documented vessels, for a $24 fee good for three years.

According to an email notice received by members of the Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance, a non-profit multi-gear commercial fishing organization, the law applies to all boats not specifically exempted, including documented boats, barges, sport fishing guide boats and fishing tenders operated more than 90 consecutive days in Alaska.

The alert of the requirement for vessel registration came from Frances Leach, executive director of United Fishermen of Alaska, who said UFA has been tracking this bill and was told the intent was not to create more hurdles or fees for commercial fishermen.

“However, now that the bill is law, there seems to be several interpretations of this law and Department of Motor Vehicles, Alaska State Troopers and the Department of Administration are not on the same page regarding interpretation and enforcement,” Leach told UFA members. “Making matters worse, there was little to no public notice that vessels would be required to register with the DMV.”

Leach said she spoke with the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators who initiated the bill, and they agree that Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission registration would be sufficient and fulfill their needs, but, she added, “we still need to get everyone on the same page.”

While registration is required, Leach said that Alaska Wildlife Troopers Major Bernard Chastain said his department’s main objective this year will be to educate first and enforce second.

Leach said she also spoke with Alaska state Sen. Peter Micchiche, R-Soldotna, who told her he is hopeful legislation can be introduced next year to change the language in the law to include exemption for vessels registered through the CFEC.

Woodrow Named as ASMI’s New Executive Director

Jeremy Woodrow has taken the helm of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute as the new executive director of the public-private marketing arm for Alaska’s seafood industry.

The appointment of Woodrow, who has for months served as interim executive director and communications director, comes as ASMI embarks on an aggressive effort, aided by federal funding, to increase its presence in Southeast Asia markets and also seeks potential partners in reprocessing there.

“The ASMI board is proud to have a life-long Alaskan with close ties to Alaska’s fishing industry lead Alaska seafood’s global marketing efforts,” said Jack Schultheis, chairman of the ASMI board. “The Alaska seafood brand is as strong as ever and we are confident that Jeremy’s leadership will advance the direction and mission of the agency.”

ASMI has been successful in recent years in getting some $4.5 million annually from the US Department of Agriculture, and now, with the tariff battle heated up between the US and China, federal relief funds have been made available to the agricultural industries, including fisheries, to market seafood into overseas markets impacted by tariff issues.

To that end, ASMI has been allocated $5.5 million through the US Department of Agriculture’s agricultural trade promotion, over the next three years, Woodrow said.

The trade conflict with China and the US has exposed Alaska’s dependence on China markets and we need to increase our market presence in the world, he said. ASMI is working with Agrisource, in Bangkok, Thailand, a marketing representative for Southeast Asia, to find new markets and potential reprocessing options, he said.

ASMI is also expanding efforts for overseas marketing in South America, and its marketing representative in Brazil will now be looking for potential new markets and reprocessing options all over South America.

With this expanded effort, ASMI is also aware that labor standards have become a larger issue for fishing organizations, Woodrow said. In fact the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation has produced documents to show that on fishing vessels in Alaska crew are treated fairly.

“We have tackled sustainability and the next issue is human responsibility,” Woodrow said. “We will only engage with partners who can show they can meet global standards (for labor),” he said. “Our (overseas) representatives has worked with U.S. customers for over 30 years. “They are familiar with needing to meet the needs of U.S. customers. It is all part of that chain of custody, that we are upholding the moral and business obligations of customers,” he said. Customers now are more shopping with their ethos in addition to their wallet. It helps because Alaska seafood has a great story to tell and we have better labor practices than some other places in the world,” he said.

ALFA to be Honored With Conservation Award

The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association is the 2019 recipient of the Alaska Conservation Foundation’s Lowell Thomas Jr. award for outstanding achievements by an organization furthering resource conservation.

The award recognizes ALFA for its fisheries conservation and management and for being an effective voice for sustainable, community-based fisheries at the national level. ALFA’s Fishery Conservation Network engages fishermen and scientists in collaborative research and marine stewardship, combining the problem-solving genius of fishermen with the rigors of science, the conservation foundation said in announcing the award on June 11.

The foundation also praised ALFA for amplifying the voice of small-scale fishermen to promote resource stewardship and growing international awareness of the role community-based fishermen play in durable triple-bottom line solutions to complex challenges. ALFA also is engaged in efforts including the Young Fishermen’s Initiative, educational workshops, a deckhand apprentice program, and through a partnership with the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, an innovative loan program. The award is named for the late Lowell Thomas Jr., an Alaska legislator and former lieutenant governor, and world renowned filmmaker who owned and operated an Alaska bush flying service that offered tours of Denali National Park.

The award is to be presented on October 3rd in ceremonies at the Anchorage Museum.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Copper River Sixth Opener Comes in Strong

Preliminary harvest figures for the sixth opener on Alaska’s Copper River salmon fishery were still being calculated this morning, while fishermen were calling the catch “a very welcome relief for the fleet”.

“It appears to be a larger run than predicted,” said gillnet harvester John Renner of Cordova, Alaska, who estimated the weight of some sockeyes at 10 pounds. “The fish are also large and healthy. They are spread out across the flats offshore and onshore,” he said.

According to Renner, sockeyes were filling most nets, while the Chinook salmon run appeared moderate.

While he finally saved a sockeye to taste, Renner hasn’t had a bite of a king yet. “The kings are just worth too much money,” said the veteran harvester who toughed it out last year when the commercial fishery on the Copper River ended after three periods. “With the tight season last year, every fish is appreciated,” he said. “We needed a little shot in the arm, and this is an opportunity to pay off some bills.”

The weather was cooperating too. Up until this last opener the weather had been quite crappy. “Last period it was very benign. Very nice,” he commented.

While retail prices in Anchorage shops have remained relatively steady for Copper River salmon – while dropping by several dollars a pound at Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market—processors have lowered their prices to harvesters. Renner said sixth opener prices were $3 a pound for reds and $7 a pound for kings, down considerably from first opener prices on May 16 of $14 a pound for sockeyes and $18 a pound for kings.

Anchorage area retail prices for Copper River sockeye fillets as of June 4 ranged from $13.99 a pound at Costco stores, down a dollar from the previous week, to $41.99 a pound at New Sagaya’s fish counter. Signs at Fred Meyer supermarkets in Anchorage had those sockeye fillets at $16.99 a pound, a drop from the week’s regular price of $39.99 a pound.

Crab Tagging Project Set for Bristol Bay Red King Crab

NOAA Fisheries is teaming up with the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation to track the movement of adult male red king crabs in Bristol Bay using an unmanned surface drone made by Saildrone, Inc.

NOAA researchers hope their findings will provide information crucial to keeping red king crab sustainable as climate changes. The research will focus on finding out what habitats are essential for Bristol Bay red king crab in different seasons and whether current protected areas are effective.

The federal fisheries scientists planned to work with harvesters in June to tag crabs with acoustic devices that transmit an identification number and a bottom temperature. Tagging is timed right after the NOAA Fisheries summer survey, so researchers will be able to target the areas where crabs are most abundant.

The research will also look at temperature information transmitted by each tag to determine how it influences crab movement. Researchers will also compare crab locations with sediment maps to identify characteristics of essential habitat.

The plan is to deploy a saildrone equipped with an acoustic receiver in October 2019 and in April 2020 to relocate the tagged crabs.

“So little is known about where crabs are and how they move,” said Scott Goodman, executive director of Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation (BSFRF) and president of Natural Resources Consultants, Inc. “We have only snapshots from summer surveys. This research will fill in the life history gaps to better inform the management of red king crab as both target and bycatch.”

“Managers need to understand where crabs go in different seasons, and what habitats are essential, to set effective rules for fishing,” said Leah Zacher, the NOAA Fisheries scientist leading the project. “Everyone benefits from increasing our knowledge of crab distributions.”

“We know where crabs are in the summer from annual NOAA Fisheries surveys, but there is little information for the rest of the year,” Zacher added. “We will relocate the crabs in the fall to understand how crabs move onto the fishing grounds, and in the spring to determine their locations when they are vulnerable to being caught as bycatch in trawl fisheries.The red king crab savings area is closed to trawling to provide a protected habitat, but the area was initially set based on limited information, and managers need to know if and when red king crabs are moving through and using those areas to know if they are effective.”

The Alaska Fisheries Science Center planned to begin posting field reports in June on the AFSC Science Blog https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/news-and-announcements/science-blog?title=&field_species_vocab_target_id=&field_region_vocab_target_id%5B1000001106%5D=1000001106&sort_by=created as researchers begin tagging crabs.

Since 2005, the BSFRF has participated and led cooperative research with industry, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the National Marine Fisheries Service, to improve the science used in Bering Sea crab fisheries management. More than 95 percent of BSFRF funding comes from private industry supplemented occasionally with grants. The BSFRF is funding the saildrone used to track the tagged crab for this project.

Southeast Asia Marketing Program Announced by ASMI

A dedicated Southeast Asia marketing program for wild Alaska seafood, fueled by a supplemental $5.5 million grant over the next three years, was announced on June 3 by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).

The grant was awarded to ASMI through the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service’s Agricultural Trade Promotion program and designed to help ease adverse effects of tariff and non-tariff barriers on domestic agricultural exporters.

“The funds make a year-round marketing program in Southeast Asia a possibility,” ASMI officials said. ASMI previously promoted wild Alaska seafood in the region on a project only basis.

Grant funds will enhance existing programs for key markets in Japan, China, Europe and South America. The Southeast Asia program itself will focus on Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The initial emphasis will be on building trade relationships and providing technical support and education across the food service, retail and reprocessing sectors.

AgriSource International Ltd., with offices in Bangkok and representatives throughout the region, was selected to serve as the overseas marketing representative for the program.

ASMI officials said the expansion into Southeast Asia was prompted by strong interest from the Alaska seafood industry.

“Southeast Asia has great potential for Alaska seafood because of the fewer import barriers than other emerging markets,” said Ron Risher, international sales manager for Icicle Seafoods. “The domestic markets in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia have potential for growth in food service and e-commerce. Perhaps the greatest opportunity is in working with local seafood secondary processors for Alaska salmon and whitefish and providing quality handling education for distribution to restaurants and retailers,” he added.

ASMI is a public-private partnership of the state of Alaska and the Alaska seafood industry whose aim is to foster economic development of this renewable natural resource.

Major Projects Planned for Historic NN Cannery

Historians, curators, artists and film producers will be in the Bristol Bay watershed community of South Naknek, Alaska, in late July working on projects highlighting the history of the 129-year-old NN Cannery, including a film and Mug Up exhibition at the Alaska State Museum.

The film will highlight the story of South Naknek resident workers who were caretakers of the cannery.

“These workers were descendants of Katmai, who migrated downriver and established South Naknek after the Novarupta volcano destroyed Savonoski village and created the Valley of 10,000 Smokes in 1912,” said project director Kathrine Ringsmuth.

The settlement at New Savonoski was brief, however, as the Spanish flu pandemic and red salmon crash of 1919 drove Native residents to seek work at the NN Cannery.

Native people became integral contributors to and caretakers of the cannery operation. Historically, they supplied salmon to the cannery, constituted the spring/fall crew that readied and winterized the operation, and served as winter watchmen who protected the collective structures and stored boats throughout the offseason.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to interview people with a deep knowledge of Bristol Bay, South Naknek and the NN Cannery,” Ringsmuth said. “The film will share the local perspective of a global industry and fill a big gap in the historic record.”

The NN Cannery History Project is a grassroots public history endeavor that aims to share often forgotten stories of multitudes of people who canned salmon in Alaska and created an ethnically diverse, economically vital cannery culture. It is a group collaboration to preserve, collect and share stories of the diverse, unsung cannery workers whose activities are embedded in the industrial landscape within the South Naknek cannery. Support for the film project comes from a generous grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum.

In association with the NN Cannery history project, the team plans a photo exhibition, curated by Tim Troll, director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Spanish influenza epidemic in Bristol Bay. The exhibit is a remembrance of those who died in the epidemic, those who responded, and the children who survived. Support for that exhibit comes from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust.

Project leaders also commissioned Aleut carver Andrew Abyo, who was raised in Bristol Bay, to build a scale model of the NN Cannery, including 51 historical buildings, to serve as the centerpiece of the Mug Up exhibition.

More information about the history project is online at https://www.facebook.com/NNCannery/ or NNCanneryProject.com

More information about the Bristol Bay Land Trust and its mission to preserve and protect salmon and wildlife habitat of the greater Bristol Bay can be found at http://www.bristolbaylandtrust.org/misson/

NSF Seafood Services Program Relocates to Port of Everett

NSF International, a global public health and safety entity, has relocated its seafood services program from Seattle to the Port of Everett, in Everett, Wash., to better service both the US and Canadian seafood industries.

Everett lies some 30 miles north of Seattle and being on the north side of that urban hub allows the company more convenient access to both the Seattle market and Canadian seafood businesses just across the international border, claims Tom White, global manager for certification and audits for NSF International’s seafood services.

The move to Everett also marks a new collaboration with the Washington State University/University of Idaho Center for Advanced Food Technology. Company officials said NSF International’s seafood experts would work closely with the educational program and collaborate on workshops and training.

The larger facility will allow the company to expand its seafood industry education and training space to support as many as 60 people in a class.

“The company plans to launch a new education program called ‘Fish School’ to help grocers, restaurants and seafood distributors provide a higher level of expertise and knowledge to their seafood buyers, fishmongers or seafood inspectors,” White said. “Eventually, there will be a similar program for consumers who want to become smarter seafood shoppers.”

Terrie Battuello, chief of business development at the Port of Everett, said the port is excited to welcome NSF International’s seafood services headquarters.

The company, founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation, changed its name to NSF International in 1990 as its services expanded beyond sanitation and into global markets.

In addition to its new Port of Everett location, the company provides seafood services from officers and laboratories in Dutch Harbor, Alaska; Elizabeth, N.J.; Santiago, Chile; San Miguel, Peru; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Shanghai, China; Busan, South Korea; Delhi, India; Bangkok, Thailand, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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