Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Alaska Governor’s Pebble Mine Stance Called into Question

Correspondence between Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and a potential investor in the proposed Pebble mine is prompting questions on whether the governor is neutral on the issue.

The letter in question, sent by Dunleavy to Wheaton Precious Metals Corporation in Vancouver, British Columbia, on July 30, assures company president and CEO Randy Smallwood that the governor is “committed to removing obstacles that would hinder immediate construction” of the mine, which would lie adjacent to the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest Alaska.

Alaska Public Media received a copy of the letter through a public records request and then made it available to others, including Norm Van Vactor, president of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, a strong opponent of the mine.

After reading the document, Van Vactor said the governor “sounds more like a paid media consultant for the Pebble mine than the governor of Alaska. This guy doesn’t represent the interests of the vast majority of people in Alaska, and certainly not Bristol Bay.”

Dunleavy wrote in the letter to Smallwood that he had read a letter the company received from the Natural Resources Defense Council, “essentially threatening you not to invest in the Pebble project.” Dunleavy also indicated that the project would be on state land and that the state has a keen interest in the project. “I want to assure you, the state will stand by those who invest in Alaska and will actively help defend them from frivolous and scurrilous attacks, he added.

In a related news report, the governor’s spokesman, Mike Shuckerow, further dismissed mine opponents’ letter to Smallwood on July 24, as “tactics (outside) environmental groups use to discourage investment” in Alaska.

On Aug. 27, a group of mine opponents, including commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen sent their own letter to Smallwood, reminding him that the project is opposed by an overwhelming number of Bristol Bay residents “and indeed one of the most widely condemned development projects anywhere.” In the letter, the mine opponents noted that Dunleavy had suggested to Smallwood that outreach from mine opponents was simply “frivolous and scurrilous attacks” by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The governor’s office declined a request for comment on Dunleavy’s letter to Smallwood, which the mine opponents called “demonstrably false, insulting to the people of Bristol Bay and Alaska.” The mine opponents offered to meet with Smallwood if he is seriously considering investing in the mine, adding that “there are far better places to invest your money.

Signers of the letter included representatives of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, Salmon State, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, the Alaska Sportsman’s Alliance, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Native Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthworks.

Humpy Harvest Pushes Alaska Salmon Catch to 184.5m Fish

Harvests of more than 20 million pink salmon this past week, a relatively strong volume for this time of the season, helped boost Alaska’s overall commercial salmon harvest to 184.5 million fish.

Prince William Sound accounted for approximately half of the past week’s catch and sits at two-thirds of its Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecast, said Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, who produces weekly salmon harvest reports in season for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Kodiak had its best weekly pink harvest of the year with approximately six million fish, bringing its year-to-date pink salmon numbers above its forecast of 27 million fish. Southeast Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands region could meet their forecasts if fishing is productive over the next two weeks.

Statewide sockeye harvests rose slightly from 54.5 million to 54.9 million, with the catch coming primarily from Chignik, Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands. With nearly 55 million reds harvested year-to-date, the 2019 sockeye harvest is 10 percent ahead of 2018, Evridge noted.

Year-to-date harvests of some 14 million keta salmon represents a 16 percent decline from 2018. Prince William Sound and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands have exceeded their 2019 forecast, however Southeast has achieved only 20 percent of that region’s anticipated numbers. The Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region is 44 percent behind the 2018 numbers having caught only half of its keta forecast.

With roughly one month of productive fishing remaining, the year-to-date harvest of approximately 2.1 million silvers is 18 percent behind the 2018 pace, with only 43 percent of the forecast being met. While last week saw good numbers in Prince William Sound, Kodiak and Chignik, the catch in Southeast, typically the state’s largest producer of silvers, continues to lag.

The Chinook harvest meanwhile rose from 230,000 fish last week to 248,000.

Bristol Bay Salmon Week Comes to Washington, DC

Bristol Bay wild sockeye salmon will be on the menus of 28 restaurants in Washington, DC and the shelves of Wegman’s stores in Maryland and Virginia during Bristol Bay Salmon Week, from Sept. 16-20.

“The promotional event is an opportunity to showcase these special fish that feed the world,” said Andy Wink, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA).

Bristol Bay, in Southwest Alaska, is home to the world’s largest run of wild sockeye salmon, and in fact produces more than half of the sockeyes sold worldwide. This summer, the Bristol Bay fishery saw the harvest of a near-record 43 million red salmon, from a return of more than 56 million fish. The fishery supports more than 10,000 jobs and a one-billion-dollar annual economy associated with the 130-year-old plus commercial fishery and thriving sport fishery.

Each restaurant will take its own approach in featuring the sockeyes – from a food truck, delis, and Asian restaurants to the Mitsitam CafĂ© at the National Museum of the American Indian.

While the main purpose of Bristol Bay Salmon Week is to celebrate the fish and the people who harvest them, it is also a recognition that the fishery faces environmental threats from the proposed Pebble Mine. Backers of the copper, gold and molybdenum mine are currently going through the permitting process to construct and operate the massive mine.

Sponsoring organizations for the event, in addition to the BBRSDA, include Antarctica Advisors LLC, the Conservation Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, and United Work and Travel.

AK Fisheries Appointments and Nominations Announced

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced appointments to the board of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), and nominations to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, North Pacific Research Board and panels for the Pacific Salmon Treaty.

Jack Schultheis, general manager of Kwik’pak Fisheries, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, was reappointed to the board of ASMI, which he currently chairs.

Mike Erickson (Juneau), owner of Alaska Glacier Seafoods, and Alf Skaflestad, a veteran fish harvester and direct marketer from Hoonah, Alaska, where also appointed.

The governor nominated Tommy Sheridan (Cordova), a fisheries consultant focused on mariculture development, and former Prince William Sound commercial purse seine fleet manager, to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Dunleavy’s nominations to the North Pacific Research Board in Anchorage, Alaska, include Bradley Moran, dean of the University of Alaska College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Fairbanks, as well as Gordon Kruse, professor emeritus at the college, and Dr. Robert Onders, medical director of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage.

The two nominees to the Pacific Salmon Treaty’s northern panel are Deborah Lyons, executive director of the Chinook Futures Coalition, in Petersburg, and John Carle (Hydaburg), a fisheries industry veteran who serves on the Southeast Alaska Herring Conservation Alliance. Carle’s nomination is a reappointment.

Troy Thynes (Petersburg) a regional management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game was nominated for the transboundary panel of the Pacific Salmon Treaty.

John Linderman (Anchorage), the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim regional supervisor for ADF&G’s Division of Commercial Fisheries, was nominated for the Yukon River Panel of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, with Carolyn Brown (Fairbanks), regional program manager for ADF&G’s Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, as alternate.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Alaska Salmon Harvest Passes 160M

Alaska’s commercial harvesters have delivered more than 160 million salmon to processors so far this year. The harvest for the last week alone accounted for nearly 36 million fish, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary commercial salmon harvest report.

The deliveries include more than 91 million humpies, 54.5 million sockeye, 12.5 million chum, 1.5 million silver and 230,000 Chinook salmon.

Last week’s catch, mostly pink, was the largest weekly harvest of the season, noted Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, who compiles weekly salmon harvest reports for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. The five-year average indicates statewide production of approximately 300,000 fish per week can be expected through early September.

Sockeye harvests are still coming in and fresh Copper River red fillets are on sale at Costco stores in Anchorage, Alaska for $9.95 a pound.

Strong pink salmon harvest in Prince William Sound last week notwithstanding, the current season is 20 percent behind the 2017 statewide pace, 43 percent slower than 2015 and nearly equal to 2011. Evridge noted that about 36 percent of the year-to-date pink harvest came from Prince William Sound. Kodiak contributed 23 percent and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands were credited with 20 percent. Kodiak is on track to reach its ADF&G forecast, but Southeast’s year-to-date harvest is the third smallest since 2008 including odd- and even-numbered years.

The keta salmon harvest is 17 percent lower than year-to-date 2018 and 19 percent below the five-year-average. If 2018 harvests are repeated, Southeast may see a late-season improvement in its keta catch, Evridge said. The Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim harvest of keta has been disappointing after a strong 2018 season. Evridge noted that harvest is nearly 50 percent behind last year and 34 percent lower than the five-year average.

Last week’s catch of some 265,000 cohos was the strongest weekly volume of the season, yet year-to-date production is 27 percent behind last year and 42 percent lower than the five-year average. All areas are continuing to deliver modest volumes of silvers, with the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands and Chignik exceeding 2018 year-to-date total. Still, in the Alaska-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, production is approximately half the five-year average.

Evridge noted that chinook harvests are approaching parity with last year’s catch pace, though currently about 5 percent lower. In 2018, some 32,000 fish were harvested over this two-week period, or 20 percent of the region’s annual yield.

Alaska Governor Vetoes Most Fish and
Game Amendments

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy held firm on a number of his line-item vetoes in the state’s operating budget, when he announced his final decision on Monday, Aug. 19. They contain several commercial fishery amendments offered by the state House.

United Fishermen of Alaska noted that the vetoes included a 50 percent reduction of general fund money for travel in all divisions of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. There’s also $997,000 less for commercial fisheries management, of which $280,000 was for special areas management, a one-time fund source for surveys and assessments.

Dunleavy also cut $3.4 million in funding for the Ocean Ranger cruise ship pollution inspection program, while saying in his documents that the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is actively exploring potential administrative and statutory options aimed at improving the state’s current cruise ship monitoring policies. The veto will not affect the rest of this summer’s cruise ship season, which runs through September, since these operations were funded by previous Ocean Ranger fees collected from cruise ship passengers.

The governor vetoed $5 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System recently added back into the ferry system budget by the Legislature. State Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, said that a legislative hearing in Juneau, Alaska broke every record in the state for public testimony. “Clearly the ferry system, which coastal fishing communities depend upon, is important to the people of Alaska,” she said. “For the governor not to hear us is inconceivable. Those dollars would have directly gone to Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska,” she added. Stutes and Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak had worked with the state Department of Transportation to come up with ways to keep adequate ferry service for coastal communities this winter.

“We thought the $5 million would help solve the problem and then to see it yanked back at the last minute was shocking,” Stevens said.

Alaska Symphony of Seafood Calls for Product

A call for product for the 27th annual Alaska Symphony of Seafood has been issued by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF). The competition is open to any company, domestic or foreign, which commercially produces value-added products and by-products made from Alaska seafood.

Products must have been developed within the last two years, be market-ready and fit into one of four categories: retail, foodservice, beyond the plate or beyond the egg. Products that could be considered retail or foodservice may enter either, but not both. All smoked products now compete in either the retail or foodservice categories.

To qualify for the Beyond the Plate category, products must be manufactured from seafood waste, or be byproducts of the primary processing. Beyond the Egg competition is reserved for products made from roe or uni.

All entries will be judged in Seattle, Wash., on Nov. 20 and rated according to packaging and presentation, overall eating experience – including aroma, flavor and texture, perceived value for niches in the market, and potential for commercial success.

First, second and third place winners will be selected from each contest category, and the product receiving the highest overall score will be awarded the 2020 grand prize.

First place winners in each category will receive a free booth space at the Seafood Expo North America, which runs from March 15–17 in Boston, Mass. The prize package also includes airfare for one company representative to attend the show, courtesy of Alaska Air Cargo.

AFDF will also host two open house Symphony events, in Seattle on Nov. 20 and in Juneau, Alaska on Feb. 24. Attendees will taste and vote for their favorite product to determine the winner of the “People’s Choice” award. The awards ceremony, will be held during the Juneau event.

Entry forms are available online at Completed forms and the $150 entry fee per item are due by Oct. 15. More detailed information is available online at

GAPP Orders Assessment of Alaska Pollock Industry

International sustainability consultant Quantis has been approved by the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) to conduct a comprehensive life cycle assessment of the wild Alaska Pollock industry.

Life Cycle Assessment is an internationally recognized approach to evaluating potential environmental impacts of products and services throughout their life cycle, beginning with raw material extraction and including all aspects of transportation, manufacturing, use and end-of-life treatment.

“We believe the results will help our customers get a better picture of the environmental profile of wild Alaska Pollock and confirm its lower impacts relative to other proteins,” said Craig Morris, chief executive officer of GAPP, who announced the plan on Aug. 15.

Morris explained that this assessment will serve as the foundation for the industry’s sustainability story, helping to provide the necessary proof points for wild Alaska Pollock customers and consumers seeking more information on the fishery’s sustainability indicators. Evidence would suggest that the wild Alaska Pollock fishery’s carbon footprint is significantly lower than other proteins, he said.

The full evaluation is expected to take about seven months. Once completed, Quantis will work with GAPP’s agency of record, Ketchum, to develop materials that communicate the results to both customers and consumers in North America and abroad.

“GAPP believes that wild Alaska Pollock is well ahead of the cure when it comes to sustainability,” Morris said. “It’s time we measure the steps the industry has taken to be as conscientious as possible and use those metrics to further develop the wild Alaska Pollock narrative.”

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

World Salmon Forum in Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alaska’s Salmon Harvest Passes 124 Million

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOAA Recommends Five Pacific Northwest Projects for Funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ASMI Names Two New Directors

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Commercial Salmon Catch Rises to 103.6M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transboundary Watersheds Roundtable Held in Juneau

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

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

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

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

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

Coast Guard Bill Includes Seattle Icebreakers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GAPP Announces New Round of Funding

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

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

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

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

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

Information for interested applicants, including a proposal template, can be found on the GAPP website at:

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