Wednesday, November 29, 2017

One Section Opened for Eastern Aleutian Tanner Crab

Just one of three sections of the Eastern Aleutian District Tanner crab fishery will open on January 15, based on a survey estimate showing that the number of mature male Tanner crab exceeded the required threshold.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) said that the abundance of mature male Tanner crab in the Makushin/Skan Bay Section is 291,480 crab, which is above the threshold of 45,000 crab required for a fishery opening. ADF&G has set the guideline harvest level at 35,000 pounds.

The survey abundance estimate of mature male Tanner crab in the Akutan Section is 99,178 crab, which is below the threshold of 2,000,000 crab required for a fishery opening.

Likewise, the survey abundance estimate of mature male Tanner crab in the Unalaska/Kalekta Bay Section is 63,848 crab, which is below the threshold of 65,000 crab required for a fishery opening in that section.

Therefore, both the Akutan and Unalaska/Kalekta Bay sections will be closed for the 2018 season. Preseason registration forms for the Makushin/Skan Bay section fishery must be received by ADF&G in Dutch Harbor by December 24.

Preregistration forms are available at the Dutch Harbor office and online at

Global Food Aid Program Introducing Millions to Seafood

The director of Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Global Food Aid Program says the program introduced new seafood products to more than 15 million new customers in 2017 with expanding options appealing to everyone from super athletes to the elderly.

The program’s mission, Bruce Schactler reminded participants in ASMI’s All Hands on Deck meeting in Anchorage, is to increase use of Alaska seafood in domestic and international food and nutrition programs by way of education, research and product development. This fills a dual purpose of providing vital proteins in areas where they are lacking in diets and moving large volumes of products from species caught in great abundance, to keep it from being held in inventory.

In previously established domestic and overseas food aid programs, ASMI worked to create more demand for Alaska seafood products in food distribution programs on Indian reservations, emergency food assistance programs and the national school lunch program. The product list now ranges from canned pink salmon and sockeye salmon fillet portions to Alaska Pollock braded fish sticks and portions, and herring fillets. The program began in 2004 with canned pink salmon as its only product.

This year alone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has purchased 1.8 million pounds of frozen Wild Alaska Pollock whole grain braded fish sticks, and nearly 8 million pounds of frozen wild Alaska Pollock portions, Schactler said.

The addition of wild Alaska salmon fillet portions – both sockeye and coho – to the USDA food basket, will expand the number of underserved populations, including families, children, pregnant women and the elderly, according to Schactler’s report.

Among the latest product promotions is herring in fillet forms.

The program, he said, is perfectly placed to fill the animal protein gap, and an opportunity to incorporate more seafood into menus and people’s meal patterns.

ASMI’s All Hands on Deck Meeting Gets an Upbeat Message

A researcher with Juneau’s McDowell Group says there’s a bright future ahead for Alaska’s seafood industry despite challenges ranging from budget pressures to climate change.

McDowell Group’s Andy Wink told participants in the Alaska Seafood Marketing Industry’s All Hands on Deck meeting in Anchorage, Alaska on November 28 that the cumulative first wholesale value of wild Alaska seafood from 1959 through 2016, based on data from National Marine Fisheries Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, totaled $170 billion. According to Wink that amount is equal to the value of all major professional North American sports teams.

The ex-vessel value of wild Alaska salmon alone from 2011 through 2016 added to $3,513,000,000, and the preliminary ex-vessel value or all commercially caught Alaska salmon in 2017 was $679 million – up 64 percent since 2015, Wick said.

Roe prices tended up this past year, while farmed prices were down, but still remained high, with limited potential to increase farmed supply, Wick said. There was also strong demand for fresh sockeyes, but slower frozen sales early on.

The outlook for Alaska Pollock is up for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands in 2018, and down or maybe flat for the Gulf of Alaska, while the competing supply from Russia is expected to be down six percent in 2018. Pollock, which is available in fillet blocks, surimi, roe and frozen mince, is sold into North American, European, Asian and other markets.

For the year-to-date in 2017 exports were up by one percent in value and four percent in volume. Halibut harvests were up by five percent this year, while wholesale pricing dropped. Black cod year-to-date harvests were up 14 percent, and prices also rose, but the overall value of black cod and halibut is down $143 million since 2011, Wink said.

Alaska cod, which has markets in North America, Europe, Asia and Brazil, has seen its frozen exports down six percent in value and 12 percent in volume for the year-to-date, and the 2018 supply outlook is down significantly in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, he said.

Rockfish harvests and exports were also down, while Atka mackerel was up.

The All Hands on Deck meeting continues through Thursday, November 30 at the Hotel Captain Cook. Reports given at the meeting will be available online following the event at

Bristol Bay Red King Crab Harvest is 6.59 Million Pounds

Commercial harvesters of Bristol Bay red king crab wrapped up their season in mid-November with a catch of 6,588,452 pounds, just shy of the 6,601,000-pound quota.

“We consider that 100 percent caught,” said Miranda Westphal, area management biologist at Dutch Harbor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“It was about what we anticipated,” Westphal said. “We knew from the survey that fishing would be down a little bit this season. The survey numbers were down. They were having a harder time finding the crab and the crab were a little bit further into the bay,” she explained.

Whether that location of the crab was due to ocean temperature changes or the availability of food for the crab is uncertain.

The red king crab were bigger than in the recent past, weighing in at about 6.8 pounds per crab this year rather than the averaged 6.6 pounds, according to Westphal.

A total of 61 boats were registered for the red king crab fishery, which generally averages 60-70 vessels.

The Western Bering Sea tanner crab fishery was still under way with 1,253,000 pounds harvested out of a quota of 2,500,200 pounds. “Fishing is actually going fairly well, but there has not been a lot of participation, she said. “Most of the boats right now are taking a break for the holidays, but we expect everyone to come back out in January.”

Westphal said she had heard anecdotally that most of the catch so far was old shell crab.

Fifteen vessels are registered for this fishery, which was closed a year ago.

No significant catch of snow crab, with an 18,961,000-pound quota, was recorded through late November.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Alaska Leader, Trident Share Top Honors at Symphony

Cod fillets with lemon herb butter by Alaskan Leader Seafoods, and hot and spicy Pollock fish sandwich portions from Trident Seafoods took first place in retail and food service competition respectively in the 2017 Alaska Symphony of Seafood.

Alaskan Leader also earned first place in the Beyond the Plate competition with Cod Crunchies Pet Treats. Trident Seafoods’ Barako Style Wild Alaska Pollock Roe, the only entry in that category intended to attract more roe products, was also honored.

Jack Links Salmon Jerky won the Seattle People’s Choice award. The Jack Links brand salmon jerky will be sold in retail stores and the same jerky is already being marketed as Trident Wild Alaskan Smoke Sockeye Salmon Jerky in larger packages in Costco stores, through a partnership of Jack Links and Trident Seafoods.

Alaskan Leader, founded in 1990 by seven Kodiak fishing families, partnered in 1998 with Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., which represents 17 villages in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, and today each holds 50 percent ownership in the company. A marketing entity, Alaskan Leader sells both commodity and value-added retail and wholesale products.

Family-owned Trident Seafoods, founded over 40 years ago by Chuck Bundrant, is the largest vertically-integrated seafood company in North America.

First place winners in each category and the grand prize winner will be allocated booth space at the Seafood Expo North America, March 11-13 in Boston, Mass., a leading event for seafood buyers for retail, restaurants, catering, food service and processing. Last year’s Expo attracted more than 22,660 visitors, with exhibits from companies from 53 countries.

All of the winners, including the grand prize winner, Juneau and Seattle People’s choice and first, second and third places, are to be announced on February 27 at the symphony awards ceremony and legislative reception in Juneau, Alaska.

Major sponsors of this year’s symphony competition included the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Alaska Air Cargo, Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association, At-sea Processors Association, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., Alaskan Brewing Co., Marel, Northwest Fisheries Association, Kwik’Pak Fisheries LLC, Trident Seafoods, UniSea and United Fishermen of Alaska.

ASMI Study Identifies High Value Potential for Fish Oil

A report released this week by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) looks at challenges and opportunities for the state’s specialty seafood products, from the costs of production and market development to proportionate savings in costs gained by increased production.

The study by the McDowell Group examined the challenges and potential for fish heads, fishmeal and oil, roe products, internal organs, specialty crab products, herring fillets, Arrowtooth flounder, spiny dogfish and skates.

Several common production hurdles identified in the report include capacity limitations, economies of scale, lower production and investment priority for specialty products and low value species, production costs and market development costs.

Fish oil was identified as having the highest potential for increased total value, with opportunities in supplement market offers having much higher value. The challenge would be in refining the product to supplement grade and accessing new markets. Alaska’s supply of fish oil from 2011–2015 averaged 54 million pounds, but there is potential for 201 million pounds, the report read. The first wholesale value of fish oil from Alaska during that period averaged $30 million.

Roe, by contrast, had an average first wholesale value of $413 million for those same years for an average supply of 40 million pounds, but estimates on roe’s potential growth in pounds was unavailable. The report identified the challenges in the roe market to oversupply of some species and stagnant demand in key markets, plus variable production and quality. Still McDowell saw opportunity for new products in traditional markets in the U.S. and Europe.

Fishmeal and bone meal, with an average supply of 142 million pounds, had a first wholesale value of $108 million, and the McDowell group identified opportunities in pet food markets, soil remediation and large potential supplies. The challenges were identified as creating economies of scale for new production and commodity product itself.

The report is intended to serve as a reference document for ASMI, the industry, buyers and economic development professionals. It can be found online at

Alaska Wants Bilateral Meetings to Include Talks on BC Mining

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott have joined with the state’s congressional delegation in urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to put British Columbia mining projects on the agenda for upcoming talks between the State Department and Global Affairs Canada.

Their stated concern is that mining in British Columbia along salmon-rich transboundary rivers could threaten American economic interests because of “inadequate financial mechanisms to assure long term management of toxic wastes and redress for damages from potential releases.” The letter expresses concern that increasing mineral development and legacy mining impacts in the Taku, Stikine and Unuk watersheds threatens these world-renowned salmon runs critical to the state’s commercial fishing and visitor industries, as well as traditional nutritional and cultural needs of the state’s Native population.

The letter asks Tillerson to consider whether an International Joint Commissioner reference is a suitable venue to evaluate whether mines operating in the transboundary region are implementing best management practices in the treatment of wastewaters and management of potential acid generating tailings and waste rock.

The letter urges Tillerson to support funding and other needed resources to develop a reliable database of water quality and related information for transboundary waters for use in tracking cumulative impacts, trends and significant episodic changes associated with operating and historic mines in the transboundary region.

The letter also calls for establishment of an interagency task force, led by the State Department, to work in collaboration with the state of Alaska to develop recommendations and funding to ensure protection of transboundary rivers.

A report issued in mid-November by the United Nations Environmental Program identifies prevention of tailings dam disasters as a challenge made more difficult by the nature of the mining industry. The report also asks if society should demand more sustainable practices in the design and planning of tailings management, including zero, or minimal mine waste and turning mine waste into secondary resources.

Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit Convenes Dec. 6 in Anchorage

The 2017 Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit opens at the Dena-ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska on December 6, for three days of training in marketing, business management, the fisheries regulatory process and the science of fisheries management. The event will overlap with the December meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings at the Hilton Anchorage, which is on the agenda as a field trip for young fishermen participating in the summit.

Alaska Board of Fisheries member and veteran Bristol Bay harvester Fritz Johnson of Dillingham, Alaska, will deliver the keynote address on the first morning. Also on the morning’s agenda are seafood marketing specialist Quentin Fong of Alaska Sea Grant Kodiak, who will address Alaska’s role in domestic and world markets and the importance of quality, Jeremy Woodrow of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, speaking on ASMI’s marketing and consumer trends, and Fritz Johnson, addressing the importance of chilling the catch in Bristol Bay.

The next day includes science and management of Alaska fisheries, guidelines on how to get involved in state and federal fisheries issues, and an introduction to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game with Forrest Bowers, deputy director of the Division of Commercial Fisheries.

Jerry Dzugan of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association is among the speakers for the final day of the summit, he will address vessel stability and operational safety.

The complete agenda is available online at

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association is also offering a U.S. Coast Guard approved drill conductor course on December 9, the morning after the end of the summit. Preregistration is required and can be done online at

Trident, APICDA Announce Investment in CDU’s Operations

Trident Seafoods and the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association have reached an agreement in principle for joint ownership of Bering Pacific Seafoods, at False Pass, False Pass Fuel Co. and Cannon Fish Co. in Kent., Wash.

In a joint announcement in mid-November, Trident and APICDA said they share a vision that the False Pass processing facility has great potential and are committed to make it more productive and efficient, to better support and serve harvesters in the area of False Pass, Alaska.

The plan is for Trident, a multi-site operator in the Aleutian-Pribilof region, to help APICDA maximize the volume of product, focus on providing year-round employment and contribute more tax revenue to the city of False Pass.

APICDA’s False Pass plant, Bering Pacific Seafoods, processes salmon harvested from the southwest and Bristol Bay regions of Alaska. The announcement came on the heels of an Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecast of a run of 51.28 million sockeye salmon into Bristol Bay in 2018, with a harvest of 37.59 million reds in the Bay and 1.49 million fish in South Peninsula.

That’s nearly 10 million sockeyes over last year’s run forecast of 41.47 million reds.

Cannon Fish Co. is a secondary processing plant that takes fish initially processed in Alaska and produced high quality finished products for retail sale.

Trident’s investment in Canon Fish Co. will allow Cannon to better compete on a global stage with new markets and new products, said Larry Cotter, chief executive officer for APICDA, and Joe Bundrant, Trident’s chief executive officer.

Cotter cited Trident’s history of adding value to Alaska’s fishery resources, a benefit to harvesters and fishery dependent communities. “Trident’s investment offers APICDA the opportunity to focus greater resources to develop needed fishing industry infrastructure in our other Community Development Quota communities of Nelson Lagoon, Atka and St. George as we did in False Pass,” Cotter said.

“APICDA has done a remarkable job improving their opportunities for residents of the communities it represents” Bundrant said. “Trident is really proud to have been a partner with APICDA in various programs since it was formed in 1992.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wild Fish Conservancy Sues Cooke Aquaculture

A legal battle has begun over a net pen failure at Cypress Island on August 19–20 that resulted in the release of more than 100,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound.

The Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) has filed suit against the owner of the net pens, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific LLC, under section 505 of the Clean Water Act, in an effort to hold the company responsible for negligent release of the farmed salmon.

The Wild Fish Conservancy contends that the net pen failure resulted in the discharge of the farmed salmon, dead fish carcasses and massive amounts of debris, among other pollutants.

The conservancy also contends “the escape event off Cypress Island represents a dire threat to already imperiled wild fish populations, beloved marine mammal species and the fragile Puget Sound ecosystem.

“These discharges represent blatantly negligent violations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits under which Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net pens currently operate,” the conservancy said.

Along with the lawsuit, the WFC said it is working to more precisely quantify the potential impacts of the August release by sending escaped Atlantic salmon samples obtained by the Lummi Nation to independent labs to test for a variety of toxins and viral diseases. Those tests will be crucial in determining the true impact on the well-being of wild fish and marine mammal populations.

Earlier this year, the WFC launched the “Our Sound, Our Salmon” campaign to oppose expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound. More information on that campaign can be found online at

Research Shows How Ocean Acidification Affects Wild Salmon

Fisheries scientists studying the impact of ocean acidification on wild salmon will host a panel discussion on Friday, November 17 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the 2017 Seattle Pacific Marine Expo to discuss their findings.

Brett Veerhusen of United Fishermen of Alaska Salmon Habitat Information Program will moderate the discussion featuring Washington Sea Grant researcher Chase Williams, NOAA oceanographer Jessica Cross, and commercial salmon harvester Amy Grondin.

Williams has been engaged, with principal investigator Evan Gallagher of the University of Washington Department of Occupational and Health Science, and others, in testing the impact of high ocean carbon dioxide levels on the sense of smell of coho salmon and sablefish, including its effects on feeding and ability to avoid predators.

Their report notes that other studies show that anticipated marine carbon dioxide concentrations can alter vital smell-mediated behaviors in fish – even repelling fish from prey and drawing them to predators. Their project is exposing coho salmon and sablefish to actual and anticipated levels of carbon dioxide and to odorant signals for food, predators and schooling.

Meg Chadsey, an ocean acidification specialist with Washington Sea Grant, is also participating in the study. What Williams is doing, she said, is testing the fish’s sense of smell for many things. He has taken juvenile coho salmon and reared them in the lab’s tanks at different levels of carbon dioxide and run them through mazes to see if they would notice and turn away from the odor of a salmon skin compound within the maze.

When extra carbon dioxide is put in the water, the salmon seemed to lose their ability to smell or respond appropriately to the predator (salmon skin compound). As concentrations of carbon dioxide increased they didn’t seem able to sense the predator or respond appropriately, she explained.

Run Forecast for Bristol Bay is 51.28 Million Sockeyes

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is forecasting the return of 51.28 million sockeye salmon into Bristol Bay in the summer of 2018, which would allow for a potential harvest of nearly 38 million reds in Bristol Bay and 1.49 million fish in the South Peninsula.

A Bristol Bay harvest of that size would be 35 percent higher than the most recent 10-year harvest of 28.91 million fish, which has ranged from 15.43 million to 38.81 million fish and is 87 percent greater than the long-term harvest average of 20.85 million fish.

State fisheries biologists are forecasting that 36 percent of the 2018 run will consist of 18.43 million age-1.2 fish, with more than 6 million age-2.2 fish comprising 12 percent of it. Another 22.55 million age-1.3 fish would make up 44 percent of the total run and 4.13 million age-2-3 fish would account for 8 percent.

From 1963 through 2017 the Bristol Bay total run have averaged 33.78 million fish, and averaged 42.71 million fish over most of the most recent 10-year period.

ADF&G thanked the Bristol Bay Fisheries Collaborative (BBFC) for funding assistance this year. The BBFC, which began in 2016, is an agreement between ADF&G and the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute to work together with stakeholders to restore a world-class fishery management system and raise funds to support and maintain management.

Frances Leach Named to Head UFA

Frances Leach, a regulations coordinator with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), who grew up commercial fishing for salmon, halibut and shellfish with her family in Ketchikan, Alaska, takes the helm as executive director of United Fishermen of Alaska on January 5, 2018.

Leach, who grew up in a commercial fishing family in a coastal community but now a resident of Juneau, Alaska, said she understands the importance of commercial fishing to the state’s economy and cultural heritage.

“The commercial fishing industry faces many challenges at the state and federal level, and I look forward to addressing these challenges as UFA’s executive director,” she said.

UFA President Jerry McCune said that Leach has a proven track record of success and demonstrated leadership during her professional career. “In addition, her life experience working in her family’s commercial fishing business makes her uniquely qualified to be UFA’s executive director,” he noted.

UFA, Alaska’s statewide commercial fishing umbrella association, represents 34-member organizations from fisheries throughout Alaska and its offshore waters.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Alaska Board of Fisheries to Take Up Finfish Issues at Valdez

The Alaska Board of Fisheries will review 50 proposals regarding the Prince William Sound, Upper Copper and Susitna rivers finfish issues December 1–5 in Valdez, Alaska, including 10 related specifically to the Copper River commercial salmon fishery. Proposal 28, from Cordova District Fishermen United (CDFU), recommends the repeal of mandatory inside waters commercial salmon fishery closures under the Copper River King Salmon Management Plan.

CDFU argues that since the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has demonstrated its ability to manage fisheries effectively that mandatory closures are unnecessary.

“ADF&G has opposed mandatory closures on sport fisheries as these closures are mandated even when the circumstances of a current year’s run strength and timing do not require them,” CDFU said.

The proposal suggests eliminating the mandatory language regarding the inside closure tool and not the abolishment of tool itself.

Of the 50 proposals up for consideration several come from the Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory committee, including one calling for reducing the maximum depth of drift nets in the Copper River District commercial drift gillnet fishery to 29 meshes through the end of May.

The advisory committee contends that deep nets are harvesting too many king salmon in the May gillnet fishery, at the expense of dipnetters and sport anglers, and that escapement goals for the kings were not met in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Public written comments on specific proposals must be submitted by November 17 in order to be included in the board’s workbook prior to the meeting. For submission details visit

Comments submitted after the November 17 deadline will be limited to 10 single-sided pages in length, and will be inserted in board member workbooks at the start of the meeting.

During the meeting, written public comments may be submitted by hand delivery at any time if 21 copies are provided. Individuals not in attendance can submit their comments by fax at 1-907-465-6094.

All portions of the meeting are open to the public and a live audio stream is intended to be available on the Board of Fisheries website at

Copies of advanced meeting materials, including the agenda and roadmap, are available from Boards Support Section, 1-907-465-4110, or online at

EPA Settles with Kloosterboer Dutch Harbor over Ammonia Release

A settlement has been reached by federal authorities with Kloosterboer Dutch Harbor LLC, a Seattle-based firm that operates a seafood cold storage facility at Unalaska, Alaska, for violations related to an ammonia release last year that seriously injured a facility worker.

Kloosterboer has agreed to complete supplemental environmental projects, valued at about $26,000, which will help prevent or reduce future ammonia releases and improve safety at the facility, according to Region 10 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The company will also pay a $10,008 penalty to the federal agency.

Under terms of the settlement, Kloosterboer will upgrade its computerized refrigeration control system. The upgraded system will use leak detectors to monitor ammonia levels in the freezer and send signals to the computerized control system if ammonia levels reach preset concentrations. If a leak occurs, the control system will notify operators and managers via audible and visual alarms, automatically shut off the ammonia pumps, and activate the emergency exhaust system.

Kloosterboer also agreed to purchase hazardous materials emergency response equipment for Unalaska’s Department of Public Safety and to train two of the company’s personnel to respond to hazmat emergencies at the facility and other facilities at Unalaska.

Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s Region 10 compliance and enforcement division in Seattle, noted that federal emergency planning, reporting and response requirements are important for protecting workers, emergency responders and the community.

“The company’s failure to provide timely information, crucial in an emergency response, put their workers, first responders and the public at risk,” he said.

The incident occurred on December 3, 2016 when Kloosterboer’s Unalaska facility released 125 pounds of anhydrous ammonia inside the facility’s freezer. Anhydrous ammonia is harmful to skin, eyes, throat and lungs and can cause serious injury or death.The company reported the release to the National Response Center and the Alaska Emergency Response Commission on December 5, more than 46 hours after the release occurred and failed to submit follow-up notification. The release and emergency reporting delays violated the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Final Action on Charter Halibut Management Measures Before NPFMC

Federal fisheries managers have scheduled final action on charter halibut management measures when the council holds its December meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska.

High on the agenda for this North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) meeting are final specifications for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska groundfish harvest for the coming year.

Other major issues include discussion papers on Bering Sea cod trawl catcher vessel participation, charter halibut permits, self-guided halibut rental boats and an initial review of small sideboards. Also slated for discussion is the Western Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod A and C/D seasons, and a consultation related to the Chinook salmon excluder.

Other meetings scheduled during the December 4–12 week include the Charter Halibut Management Committee, the Scientific and Statistical Committee, the Advisory Panel, and Legislative Committee.

All meetings, except for executive sessions, are open to the public. Submit comments by emailing by November 30. The meeting will be broadcast beginning on December 6 at

Motions will be posted online following the meeting.

Proposed Alaska Mine to Benefit Mental Health Raises Habitat Concerns

Officials with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority say preliminary results from initial exploration work in Southeast Alaska have confirmed potential for gold and also quantify other heavy minerals as prospective co-products.

Acting executive director Wyn Menefee says the trust authority may not make an end decision on the mine for several years, but there are potential economic opportunities, from tax revenues for the state to jobs to enhance the economy, and he says international mining companies have already expressed interest in the project. The trust authority’s mandate is to generate revenue to fund programs for Alaskans in need of mental health services – residents dealing with issues ranging from developmental disability and Alzheimer’s disease to substance abuser disorders.

Menefee says if the project proceeds that the trust will be required to and will protect water quality. He also notes that this is a mining district, and that timber harvests have also been going on for many years in this area. So far, the trust has spent some $2 million on the project and they plan to spend another $3 million, he said.

The trust also has plans to develop timber resources and a sale pending to Sealaska Corp., with the regional Alaska Native Corporation to do the harvest next year.

The prospect of mining and logging activity in this area near Icy Cape, about 75 miles from Yakutat, is problematic, according Guy Archibald, staff scientist with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council in Juneau, Alaska.

“All the rivers in this area are anadromous primarily coho (salmon) habitat,” says Archibald.“They are going to bulldoze and basically strip mine around those streams. We know that the permitting process is not protective,” he said. “How are these to be protected from what is basically a strip mining operation?” Archibald is concerned about sand deposits on the shoreline that function as barrier dunes. “They protect the uplands from erosion, especially during the winter months,” he said. “If you remove the sand, how do you prevent erosion from winter storms. This will also impact the rivers.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NOAA Says American Fisheries Remain a Strong Economic Driver

NOAA Fisheries released its annual Fisheries of the United States report today, noting that through 2016 the nation’s largest commercial fishery by volume was still Alaska walleye Pollock, with near record landings of 3.4 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2015.

For the 20th year in a row Dutch Harbor led the nation with the highest volume of seafood landed – 7,780 million pounds valued at $198 million. The Pollock constituted 89 percent of that volume. Likewise, for the 17th year in a row, New Bedford, Massachusetts claims the highest value catch from one port – 107 million pounds, valued at $3,278 million. Sea scallops accounted for 77 percent of it.

Alaska’s Pollock harvest represented 35 percent of total U.S. commercial and recreational seafood landings.

Overall, commercial fisheries landed 9.6 billion pounds of seafood, down 1.5 percent compared to 2015, but valued at $5.3 billion, which was up 2.1 percent.

The report identified the highest value for commercial species as lobsters, $723 million; crabs, $702 million; scallops, $488 million; shrimp, $483 million; salmon, $420 million; and Alaska Pollock, $417 million.

The report also noted that in 2016 the U.S. imported 5.8 billion pounds of seafood, up 1 percent from 2015, which was worth $19.5 billion, up 3.5 percent. A significant portion of that imported seafood was caught by American fishermen, exported for processing and then reimported to the United States. Shrimp and salmon are among of the top three imported species and much of that is farm raised.

The United States ranks 16th in total aquaculture production worldwide. In 2015, 1.4 billion pounds of aquaculture production was reported in the U.S.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur ross is quoted in the report urging expansion of the nation’s aquaculture capacity as an opportunity to reduce U.S. reliance on imports, while creating thousands of new jobs. “With the United States importing millions of pounds of seafood annually, and with so much of that seafood foreign farm-raised, the numbers in this report underscore the untapped potential of aquaculture here at home,” Ross said.

The report also shows that the average American ate 14.9 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2016, down from 15.5 pounds the year before. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend 8-12 ounces of a variety of seafood species each week, or 26 to 39 pounds per person per year.

Comment Now on Recertification of Alaska Cod Fishery

The Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management certification draft assessment report for recertification of the Alaska cod fishery is open for registered stakeholder comment through November 30, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) announced today.

The reassessment is being done by DNV GL, an international accredited registrar and classification society headquartered near Oslo, Norway.

According to ASMI all registered stakeholders will be sent a copy of the report and invited to comment on its factual contents, either in relation to the specific sections of the report or specific evaluation parameters.. Any recommendations or criticism should be supported with data or literature citations so that the assessment team is able to evaluate the comments.

After a review of all comments DNV GL will make a determination on whether to recertify the fishery, ASMI said.

ASMI chose the responsible fisheries management model several years ago based on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations code and guidelines because it meets the highest benchmarks for credible certification.

The steering board of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative has recognized ASMI’s RFM program as meeting the FAO guidelines for the eco-labeling of fish and fishery products from marine capture fisheries.

Banner Year for Alaska Salmon

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) officials say the 2017 commercial salmon of all species harvest came to 224.76 million wild salmon, with an estimated preliminary ex-vessel value of $678.8 million. That’s a 66.7 percent increase from last year’s value of $407.3 million, ranking 2017 third in terms of both pounds landed and value in over 40 years. While fish were still being caught after the report was released in early October, the majority of the 2017 salmon season was over.

ADF&G noted that despite unfavorable market conditions of a strong dollar – which made Alaska seafood significantly more expensive to foreign buyers – and an embargo due to conflict in roe markets, nearly $300 million in additional ex-vessel value went to the pockets of Alaska salmon fishermen aided by a large harvest and continued investments in quality, product development and marketing.

“Tremendous harvests occurred across Alaska, from Kotzebue to Southeast, highlighted by an all-time record statewide chum salmon harvest,” said Forrest Bowers, deputy director of the Division of Commercial Fisheries.

Bowers noted that 2017 is also the third year in a row statewide sockeye salmon harvest exceeded 50 million fish. “Record wild salmon harvests like these are a testament to Alaska’s sound, science-based management, the professionalism of ADF&G’s staff, and thoughtful stakeholder engagement,” he said.

The Bristol Bay harvest alone – with 37.7 million salmon delivered – was valued at $209.9 million.

Other fisheries also saw record salmon harvests, notably in Norton Sound, in Western Alaska, where a strong coho salmon return brought a harvest of 191,000 silvers.

These are all preliminary numbers. The final value of the 2017 salmon fishery will be determined in 2018 after seafood processors, buyers and direct marketers report the total value paid to fishermen.

Trident Donations to SeaShare Reach 20 Million Meals

Trident Seafoods has reached the 20 million meal mark in its donations to SeaShare, the non-profit organization on Bainbridge Island, Washington, that delivers millions of servings of seafood to food banks nationwide.

Jim Harmon, executive director of SeaShare, recognized Trident’s donations in late October, saying that Trident’s generosity and leadership have been instrumental in building SeaShare into the largest seafood donor in the country.

Joe Bundrant, chief executive officer of Trident, accepted the award on behalf of Trident’s 8,500 employees. He challenged others in the seafood industry to achieve the same meal mark to feed hungry families, Bundrant quoted his father, Chuck Bundrant, who founded the company, as always saying “you make a living with what you get, but you make a life with what you give.”

Trident, a family-owned business, is one of the largest vertically integrated seafood companies in the United States.

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