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

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

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 or submit them through the USACE online portal at

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 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 or

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

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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