Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Climate Scientists Say Adapt to Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

A free symposium app is available at

USDA to Purchase $30M of Alaska Pollock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commercial Fishing Grants Offered

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detailed information about the two research and training grant opportunities, are available online at

Alaska Board of Fisheries Agenda Includes Finfish Issues

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Forecast Up for PWS Pink Salmon, Copper River Kings

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

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

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

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

ASMI Promotes Wild Alaska Seafood in Ukraine

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

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

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

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

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

Shellfish Farmer Finds Help in Kelp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The report on the kelp research was published in the Fall 2018 edition of The Planet, a publication of Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. The article can be found online at

Ocean Acidification Impact on Phytoplankton Studied

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

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

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

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

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

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

The information on the research was published online by the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center. To read the full article visit

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ocean Wave Power Sparks Concern

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

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

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

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

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

Government Shutdown Forces Revised NPFMC Agenda

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

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

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

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

Agenda updates are being posted online at

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

Special Salmon for Polar Bear Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ocean Beauty Introduces New Salmon Candy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Expedition Cruise Line Powered by Dead Fish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speakers Named for Alaska Symposium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The complete agenda is available online at

NPFMC Agenda Might Change with Shutdown

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

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

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

Federal Shutdown Not Yet Affecting Fisheries

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Pacific Salmon Treaty Goes into Effect

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

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

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

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

Chapter1: Transboundary Rivers

Chapter 2: Northern British Columbia and Southeastern Alaska

Chapter 3: Chinook Salmon

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

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

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

Effect of Climate on Oysters Studied

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southeast Alaska Tanner Crab Fishery Deadline Nears

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parallel Pacific Cod, Pollock Seasons Opening

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

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

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

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

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