Wednesday, November 25, 2020

BC Updates Plan to Stop Pollution from
Tulsequah Chief Mine

Plans are moving along for halting acid drainage in a transboundary mine between British Columbia and Alaska, but it’s a slow process that could take years to complete.

A spokesperson for BC’s ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources confirmed this week that any work to address contamination and reclamation of the Tulsequah Chief mine, which has been discharging untreated acid mine drainage into the Tulsequah River at least since 1957, will be part of a multi-year process. The province recently completed a conceptual Closure and Reclamation Plan. Given current data gaps, the plan estimates a phased approach over at least a five-year time span, the spokesperson said. The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN), Teck Resources and the Department of Natural Resources in Alaska were involved in the joint review and development of remedial options to inform the plan.

This past summer the Province committed $1.575 million to complete early physical work and additional studies necessary to support that plan. The Province worked with TRTFN and the Atlin Taku Economic Limited Partnership (ATELP), the economic development arm of the TRTFN, to mobilize contractors to the site to undertake this work. As of October, work onsite ended for the season. A functional camp was established on site and roads were cleared and repaired. Partial bridge repairs were done, but larger bridges and the airstrip require further engineering work prior to repairs, the spokesperson said.

Two contracts are ongoing: SLR Consulting is conducting an aquatic monitoring program with support from subcontracted TFTFN members and ARK Consulting is assessing the establishment of an interim water treatment plant.

The Province was an active participant in Ontario Superior Court proceedings, which discharged the receiver over Chieftain Metals Inc. and Chieftain Metals Corp., but also granted Chieftain’s secured creditor, West Face Capital Inc. the right to seek reappointment of the receiver on or before Aug. 11, 2022, to provide West Face Capital additional time to seek a purchaser for Chieftain’s assets in the mine.

The spokesperson also said that the Province intends to hold previous owners and operators accountable for site remediation, including Chieftain.

$4.1 Million Awarded for Electronic Monitoring

Grants totaling $4.1 million have been awarded for fisheries electronic monitoring and reporting projects in 14 states, including Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington state, plus Puerto Rico. The grants, which will generate $4.8 million in matching funds, were awarded through the Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program, a partnership of NFWF, NOAA, the Walton Family Foundation and the Kingfisher Foundation.

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association received $185,104 to develop improved image quality and cost effectiveness in Alaska’s fixed gear electronic monitoring program. ALFA contributed $213,500, for a total of $398,604 for the project.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife received $85,000 to test electronic monitoring in the Columbia River gillnet and alternative gear fisheries. The state agency matched the grant with another $85,00 for a total of $170,000.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also received $95,294 for a lite electronic monitoring proof-of-concept for the Washington Dungeness crab fishery. The state agency added $103,114 in matching funds, giving that project a total of $198,408. United Catcher Boats received a grant of $908,882 for scaling up compliance based electronic monitoring in the Alaska Pollock pelagic trawl fishery and evaluating the feasibility and cost efficiency of using electronic monitoring systems on Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska pelagic trawl vessels to monitor compliance with retention regulations. UBC added $1,395,854 in matching funds for a project total of $2,294,716.

The Midwater Trawlers Cooperative received $256,175 to improve electronic monitoring catch handling requirements to be more efficient while still supporting catch accountability and to expand date use for science in the West Coast groundfish fisheries of California, Oregon and Washington state. The trawlers’ cooperative added $350,000 in matching funds for a project total of $606,175.

The program was established in 2015 to advance NOAA’s sustainable fisheries goals to partner with fishermen and other stakeholders, state agencies and Fishery Information Networks to integrate technology into fisheries data collect and observations. To date the program has awarded over $21.5 million to 71 projects in U.S. fisheries and generated a conservation impact of $49.1 million.

Appeal Planned on Approval of Fish Farming Decision for Puget Sound

A Washington Superior Court decision that would allow Cooke Aquaculture to transit its open-water net pens to raise domesticated steelhead instead of Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound will be challenged in a higher court, four environmental groups say. The new lawsuit was announced this week by Wild Fish Conservancy, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth.

They are seeking to require the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a full environmental review of Cooke Aquaculture’s plan. A key concern cited by the plaintiffs in this case is that domesticated fish would potentially harm endangered native Puget Sound steelhead through interbreeding and passing on viruses, parasites and other pathogens.

Cooke Aquaculture, with headquarters in New Brunswick, Canada, produces farm-raised salmon, shrimp, sea bass, and other seafood. In 2017 one of the company’s net-pen structures collapsed in Puget Sound, causing the escape of as many as 273,000 Atlantic salmon. While the escaped farmed fish did not spread in Washington waters, concerns continued that the farmed fish could be a threat to native salmon.

In late November of 2019, Cooke Aquaculture agreed to a settlement of $2.75 million in legal fees and to fund Puget Sound restoration projects, to bring closure to a Clean Water Act lawsuit filed after the net pen collapse.

According to Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy, “the current deficient review sets an unacceptably low bar for what level of risk and uncertainty are acceptable when it comes to making decisions with the potential to endanger the health of Puget Sound.”

Sophia Ressler, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the full environmental review is needed to fully understand risks of this project to state waters and endangered wildlife.

During the public comment period in the fall of 2019, thousands of residents of Washington along with various organizations filed their comments with the state agency, in an overwhelming call for the state wildlife department to stop the fish farm proposal and draft a new environmental impact statement for open-water aquaculture net pens.

The state agency chose instead to issue a permit that relied on an analysis of 1990, before Puget Sound steelhead, killer whales and salmon species were listed as threatened or endangered.

Washington is the only state on the Pacific coast that permits these fish farming facilities.

Earlier this year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to transition all open-water industrial aquaculture in British Columbia to land-based facilities by 2025.

Pebble Limited Partnership Urged to Release Proposed Compensatory Mitigation Plan for Mine

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, are urging Northern Dynasty Minerals, in Vancouver, British Columbia, to release to the public their compensatory mitigation plan for the proposed Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed of Southwest Alaska.

Approval of such a plan is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as Northern Dynasty’s subsidiary, the Pebble Limited Partnership, continues to seek a federal Clean Water Act permit for the mine.

The senators sent a letter to Ron Thiessen, president and CEO of Northern Dynasty Minerals, the parent company of the PLP, urging him to release the plan so that Alaskans, particularly those who live in Bristol Bay, can properly evaluate and understand the plan.

The senators said that while they continue to oppose approval of the project based on the existing record they believe Northern Dynasty must release its proposed plan because a significant portion of the public has lost trust in what its executives actually plan to do and how they expect to be able to win approval from federal regulators. This dynamic was substantially worsened this fall with the release of the so-called ‘Pebble Tapes,’ secret recordings featuring Thiessen himself and a former top executive of the Pebble Limited Partnership video-taped talking to people they thought were potential foreign investors but turned out to be undercover environmental investigators.

Releasing the plan would offer needed transparency about what is at stake with the project, they said. “Alaskans deserve to know what Northern Dynasty proposes to do to compensate for Pebble’s impacts- including what would be required from the state of Alaska, the Alaska State Legislature, and others” they said.

Pebble officials late on Tuesday, Nov. 24, repeated their earlier comment on the issue, saying that once the Corp of Engineers deems the proposed plan complete, it will be posted to their project EIS website for public review.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Seattle’s Elliot Bay Design Group Adds Project Manager, IT Manager

Elliot Bay Design Group has added two members to their team of marine professionals, filling vacancies left by the retirement of other employees.

Joseph Cardella joined EBDG as a project manager based out of their Covington, Louisiana office. He will lead and manage diverse marine projects along the Gulf Coast, in support of clients with their engineering needs.

Cardella has over 13 years of experience as a naval architect ad project engineer in the maritime field. He has design expertise in the offshore maritime industry, developing various mobile offshore drilling units and more recently floating wind turbine concepts for the emerging renewable energy market. Cardella earned a bachelor of science in naval architecture and marine engineering from the University of New Orleans.

Jacob Laduke will join EBDG as the IT manager, based out of the company’s Seattle office. He will manage information technology of the company, while developing strategic objectives, adapting evolving software and hardware and supporting day to day business and application functions. Laduke has been in the IT field for 16 years, most recently with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and brings a wealth of knowledge in computer systems and network administration.

Both men are welcome additions to the team,” said Brian King president of EBDG. “We look forward to learning from them and growing from their experiences.”

Elliot Bay Design Group is an employee-owned firm with offices in Seattle, New Orleans, Ketchikan and New York, providing naval architecture, marine engineering and production support services to owners, operators and shipyards nationwide. The company is known for designs that are better to build and better to operate.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Seafood Industry Wants Robust U.S. Military Presence
in Changing Arctic

Seafood industry officials representing the Pacific Northwest and Alaska say a robust U.S. military presence in the changing Arctic is critical to protecting U.S. fishing interests there.

“Our sovereign right to legally fish within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone must be protected, said Stephanie Madsen, executive director of the At-sea Processors Association in remarks prepared for a virtual congressional subcommittee hearing set for Dec. 8. At 10:30 a.m. Alaska standard time. All Commerce Committee hearings are webcast live on the committee website.

Madsen’s comments are to be delivered to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Security meeting on U.S. Coast Guard capabilities in the Arctic, whose scheduled meeting of Sept. 22 was cancelled.

The hearing comes in the wake of encounters commercial fishing vessels had in late August with Russian military warships and warplanes in the Eastern Bering Sea that left fishing captains and their crews fearing for their physical safety. Such incidents said Madsen also gave rise to whether such incidents might become something of a “new normal” in the changing Arctic.

The fishing industry has for decades been able to operate safely, and with legal certainty in these waters, relying on the USA/USSR Maritime Boundary Agreement agreed to on June 1, 1990.

What, she asks, are U.S. policymakers and military planners doing to safeguard U.S. economic and security interests in this vital region? In her prepared testimony Madsen describes at length incidents in which fishing vessel captains felt they had no choice but to abandon their fishing activities and vacate the area due to harassment from Russian military warships and aircraft.

Brent Paine, executive director of United Catcher Boats, had similar thoughts.

“We really don’t like the Russian military telling us what we can and can’t do,” said Paine. The fleet would have appreciated advance notification from the U.S. Coast Guard that the Russian military had planned military exercises, as well as a U.S. military presence at the time, “to let us know they have our backs.” Paine said he also found the situation a bit scary to know that the Russians were putting so much energy into military exercises in areas where the U.S. fleet is fishing.

According to Sullivan, the National Geospatial-Intelligence agency issued an advance alert of navigational dangers in the Pacific Ocean that provided the coordinates, dates and times for this Russian exercise. Sullivan acknowledged that the information itself was very limited and that such alerts are not typically monitored by the US fishing fleet that operates in the area of the U.S. EZ included in the Russian exercise area.

In response to a question on whether US forces have the equipment, manpower and budget to provide a presence near the fishing fleet during Russian military exercises, Sullivan said the short answer is that not all of the services have what they need to survive and thrive in the Arctic environment though some are better than others.”

PLP Submits Compensatory Mitigation Plan
on Proposed Pebble Mine

Backers of the proposed copper, gold and molybdenum Pebble mine in Southwest Alaska say that they have submitted a compensatory mitigation plan to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, one they feel satisfies requirements for the mine.

According to Ron Thiessen, president and CEO of Northern Dynasty, the mitigation requirement demanded by the USACE set a high bar for offsetting project effects on wetlands and other aquatic features, but that their mitigation plan will reach that bar. “Based on the findings of the final environmental impact statement we already know Pebble can operate safely and reliably, while fully protecting the water, fish and wildlife resources of Bristol Bay,” Thiessen said.

PLP spokesman Mike Heatwole in Anchorage, said that a copy would be posted on the USACE website once it was deemed complete. He declined to provide a copy of the plan submitted.

Mine opponents from Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, Trout Unlimited and SalmonState voiced criticism of the plan itself and the USACE.

“Any compensatory mitigation plan based on Pebble’s incomplete and inaccurate final environmental impact statement is inherently flawed,” said Katherine Carscallen, director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay. “The fact is there is no measure of mitigation that could make up for the permanent destruction of water and wetlands that the Pebble mine would cause to Bristol Bay’s pristine, intact and irreplaceable salmon habitat.” Allowing the permitting process for the mine to proceed without further public input is just more evidence that the USACE is not looking out for Bristol Bay fishermen and communities, she said.

Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState, said the PLP plan was another example of the USACE’s history of rubber stamping “mitigation” measures inconsistently and at times going against its own guidelines. Bristol noted that a number of independent mining experts and scientists had identified the final EIS on which the mitigation plan is based as fatally flawed.

The PLP’s mitigation plan “should be dead on arrival,” said Nelli Williams, Alaska director of Trout Unlimited.

Williams said that the Corps’ own final EIS shows that the proposed mine would harm over 191 miles of salmon streams and 4,614 acres of wetlands if phase one of the project advances, and that the majority of those impacts would be permanent.

Study Says Seafood Mislabeling May Have Negative Environmental Impacts

A new study released online by Arizona State University says seafood mislabeling may have broad, harmful effects on marine population health and fishery management.

While reports of seafood mislabeling have increased over the past decade, evidence of its environmental impacts has been limited and largely anecdotal, according to the collaborative research led by Kailin Kroetz, an assistant professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability.

Kroetz and her colleagues analyzed trade, production and mislabeling data to characterize various effects of seafood mislabeling in the United States.

They estimate some 190,000 to 250,000 tons of mislabeled seafood products are sold annually in the U.S., representing about 3.4-4.3 percent of consumed seafood. Compared with products liste.

On the label, the substitute products were 28 percent more likely to be imported from other countries, which may have weaker environmental laws than the U.S. They concluded that 58 percent of mislabeled seafood consumed was exclusively wild caught, while the remaining 42 percent was potentially farmed. Researchers said they found that the substituted products came from fisheries with less effective management and with management policies less likely to mitigate impacts of fishing on habits and ecosystems compared with the product falsely identified on the label.

Their conclusions also highlight challenges with production, trade and mislabeling data, which increase the uncertainty surrounding seafood mislabeling consequences, they said.

The significance of their study, they concluded, is that seafood is now the most globally traded food commodity and its supply chains are often complex and opaque, and evidence of seafood product mislabeling has become ubiquitous.

Enabling conditions exist for mislabeling to generate negative impacts on marine populations and to support consumption of products from poorly managed fisheries, they said. The study recommends more holistic approaches that include consumer and industry engagement, well-designed and targeted testing, and regulatory traceability programs to reduce seafood mislabeling and improve transparency related to impacts of seafood product consumption.

The study was published online by EurekAlert, the online science news service sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon Forecast for 2021

State fisheries biologists in Alaska are forecasting a run of 51.06 million sockeye salmon into Bristol Bay in the summer of 2021, allowing for a potential harvest of 36.35 million fish in Bristol Bay, plus 1.02 million fish in the South Peninsula fisheries. A harvest of this size in Bristol Bay would be 13 percent greater than the most recent 10-year harvest average of 32.23 million fish, and 40 percent greater than the long-term average harvest (from 1963 to present) of 21.88 million fish.

The run forecast by district and river system includes: 17.35 million to the Naknek-Kvichak District (6.37 million to the Kvichak River, 3.75 million to the Alagnak River, and 7.23 million to the Naknek River); 11.18 million to the Egegik District; 6.66 million to the Ugashik District; 15.06 million to the Nushagak District (7.94 million to the Wood River, 5.76 million to the Nushagak River, and 1.35 million to the Igushik River); and 0.82 million to the Togiak District.

The sockeye salmon run into Bristol Bay – the largest such sockeye run in the world- has averaged 35.12 million fish from 1963 through 2020 and averaged 48.12 million fish in the most recent 10-year period.

In 2020, by comparison, preliminary data compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game showed the inshore Bristol Bay sockeye run of 58.2 million fish, the fifth largest total run and 46 percent above the 40 million average run for the last 20-year time period. It was the sixth consecutive year that the Bristol Bay inshore sockeye salmon run exceeded 50 million fish.

Preliminary data showed that the ex-vessel value of the Bristol Bay salmon catch was $140.7 million for all salmon species, ranking ninth for the last 20 years and 5 percent below the 20-year average of $147.8 million. Prices are an average of postseason processor final operations reports and do not include future price adjustments for icing, bleeding or production bonuses.

ADF&G also thanked the Bristol Bay Fisheries Collaborative for its assistance in providing $600,000 to help fund management of the fishery in 2020. The collaborative, an agreement between ADF&G and the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute, is supported by Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, setnet, fishermen, processors, municipalities, villages, support industries and other stakeholders.

Pandemic Mitigation Could Prove Be More Challenging in 2021

A global pandemic still raging across Alaska, Washington state and the rest of the country cost the seafood industry millions of dollars in increased operating costs in 2020. Now the industry is working to turn this situation into unique opportunity for a long-term increase in consumption of Alaska caught seafood.

That was part of the message that Dan Lesh, of McKinley Research Group (formerly the McDowell Group) delivered to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s virtual All Hands On Deck session this past week.

The industry as a whole currently provides some 60,000 jobs with $1.7 billion in earnings, including economic activity and tax revenue in rural Alaska, with over 9,000 vessels and over 200 small and large shoreside and at-sea processing plants, Lesh said.

During 2019, about two-thirds of Alaska’s seafood by value was exported to 107 countries. Exports to China have been down 38 percent since 2017, while exports to Europe are up and there has been growth in domestic markets.

The spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, had a dramatic and costly impact on Alaska fisheries in 2020. Processors spend some $50 million to $60 million on additional operating costs to keep their employees and the communities they work in safe, including testing, hotels, security, plant modifications, protective gear, medical supplies and charter flights.

Some 8,700 skippers in the harvesting sector also had to adopt to complying with state and local mandates, which Lesh said provided especially disruptive to halibut and sablefish seasons.

Processors had to adapt also to changing markets, including a sharp decline in demand for seafood from restaurants and food service operations, including those at public schools, colleges and universities who had to close down much of their service due to the pandemic. Grocery sales of seafood rose 15 percent during the summer, as people cooked much more frequently at home, while food service sales were down 29 percent, Lesh said. While foodservice sales recovered significantly in August, they were still down a quarter at full-service restaurants, which have adapted with more take out, drive through, delivery and other changes, he said.

For Alaska Pollock fisheries, the A season was business as usual, but the B season saw slower fishing and smaller fish, with the supply shortfall keeping prices up.

Bristol Bay had a very healthy salmon harvest, particularly compared to Chignik, Cordova, Petersburg, Ketchikan and the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, but the base price for Bristol Bay sockeye to harvesters was down 50 percent.

The volume and value of Pacific cod also declined. Prices were also down for halibut harvesters, whose season opened just when the pandemic hit Alaska. Sablefish harvesters saw their total allowable catch go up, but export prices fell over 10 percent and sales were impacted in markets reliant on restaurants.

On the bright side, harvesters of snow crab also saw an increase in allowable catch and found markets strong, and Dungeness harvests were also very strong.

Check the ASMI website, for complete reports and presentations from All Hands On Deck.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Seafood Lovers Buy Directly from Harvesters
at Bellingham Dockside Market

Seafood aficionados have a new source for everything from Bristol Bay sockeye salmon to halibut, rockfish, black cod, live Dungeness crab and more at the Bellingham Dockside Market, where they can also meet harvesters who landed their dinner. The direct to consumer market at Bellingham is a result of the combined efforts of local fishermen, the Port of Bellingham and the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County.

“We talked about it for many years,” says Liz Purdy, executive director of Bellingham Seafeast, which had to cancel its plans for its 2020 festival this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead officials for the port and the Working Waterfront Coalition put together a steering committee to make the dockside market happen.

It began as a pilot program, with markets on Oct. 17, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31. Upcoming markets are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, and from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24, Purdy said.

Everything offered by the fishermen – some of whom sell directly off their boats at Gate 5 – has been very popular, she said. Live Dungeness crab and oysters have sold out. There are also shoreside vendors at the top of the gate. Vendors are offering consumer education, including recipes to try, with each purchase. Fresh fish are sold in the round.

Each week has proven a little different, providing a variety of seafood and new harvesters to meet. Updates on the market are posted on

Organizers are working closely with their local health department, who have recognized the market as an essential food service critical to the community.

“What I hear from all the people who come down, what stands out is that people love supporting their local producers,” Purdy said. “They want the business to stay local and to support them.”

2020 Alaska Salmon Harvest, Prices Dropped Significantly

Preliminary harvest and value figures for the 2020 Alaska commercial salmon fishery show that both the harvest and value of that harvest were down significantly in 2020 over the previous year’s harvest and values.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists said this week that the commercial salmon fishery all species harvest was worth approximately $295.2 million, a 56 percent decrease over the 2019 harvest, which was valued at $673.4 million. Harvesters delivered 116.8 million fish, a 44 percent decrease from the previous year’s harvest of 208.3 million salmon.

Sockeyes accounted for approximately 59 percent of the total value of all salmon, being worth $174.9 million and 40 percent of the harvest, at 46.1 million fish. Humpies accounted for about 21 percent of the value of the harvest at $61.8 million, and 51 percent of the harvest, at 59.4 million fish. The 8.7 million chum salmon caught accounted to 9 percent of the value at $25.9 million and 7 percent of the overall harvest. The harvest of Chinook salmon, estimated at nearly 260,000 fish, had an estimated preliminary ex-vessel value of $14.3 million. A total of 6,461 permit holders participated I the fishery and made commercial salmon landings this year, down 11 percent from 7,256 permit holders in 2019. Some chose not to participate in the 2020 harvest because of health concerns and added costs of operating in compliance with mandates put in place by the Alaska government because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The mandates included quarantining and testing requirements, the required harvesters to take other health and safety precautions to prevent the spread of the virus in coastal communities in Alaska, all of which added to the cost of fishing this year. Some older harvesters considered more vulnerable because of their age, also opted not to participate this year.

An updated final season summary will be completed after fish tickets are processed and finalized. Dollar values provided by ADF&G are based on estimated ex-vessel prices and do not include post-season price adjustments. Final values for the 2020 salmon fishery will be determined in 2021 once seafood processors, buyers and direct marketers report the total value paid to harvesters in 2020.

According to Forrest Bowers, administrative operations manager at ADF&G, gross earnings won’t be available until later in the spring, and at that time the gross earnings figures will be updated, at

ASMI’s All Hands on Deck

Seafood industry marketers say they are seeing opportunities along with challenges in the midst of the global novel coronavirus pandemic.

“There is a huge opportunity here,” Gregory Jeffers of Gorton’s Seafoods, told participants in the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s All Hands on Deck virtual meeting, on Tuesday, November 11th. Given the number of consumers who have turned to purchasing frozen seafood, there is an opportunity to focus on the health aspect of seafood and the fact that consumers eating at home are taking more time to cook. “There are huge opportunities to help them get more comfortable with seafood,” he said. “Now is the time to connect with those consumers.”

Peter Vasil of Sysco Canada, Chris Follari of Sodexco Foods and others on the panel, agreed that with more people working from home because of the pandemic there was a real opportunity, with help from recipe cards and videos, to teach people how to cook a variety of seafood dishes at home. “We’ve found consumers finding themselves in a different environment were willing to experiment more at home,” Vasil said. “We have hired in each region a dozen or more center of the plate protein specialist to support sales, where they visit with customers and speak with them about Alaska seafood.”

“We are starting to see the need for minimalist use as possible for ingredients in seafood dishes, limited pieces of equipment,” Follari added. With some people still intimidated by seafood one pan dishes are great, and increased variety is needed, he said.

Guy Pizzuti, seafood category manager for Publix Super Markets, also emphasized the opportunity to help consumers have a restaurant experience at home.

“For 27 years customers did not know how to use seafood, but somewhere around May 2 people figured it out,” he said. “I don’t know how to cook it any more is no longer a challenge.” Pizzuti also emphasized the need for a variety of options for preparing various Alaska seafoods, and better transfer of seafood heated at the supermarket to the home.

Keith Brunell, corporate chef for Nordstrom, spoke about investments in recipe cuts, spice kits and recipe cards and telling better the story of Alaska’s seafood, plus multiple options for seafood use, including deviled eggs topped with king crab. There is also, Brunell said, the need for an ongoing focus on sustainability and social responsibility. The younger generation is not going to let anyone off the hook,” he said.

ASMI’s All Hands On Deck continues through Thursday, November 12. Papers from the three-day session are online at, plus more information about ASMI programs.

Federal Fisheries Board to Take Final Act
on Cook Inlet Salmon FMP

Final action on the Cook Inlet salmon fisheries management plan is on the agenda when the North Pacific Fishery Management Council holds its December meeting in two virtual sessions, first on December 4th and then from December 7th through December 11th. The public review draft on the Cook Inlet fishery is online under the agenda for the meeting at

Other major items on the council schedule include final specifications for the Bering sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish harvest final specifications, a committee report on charter halibut and an initial review of BSAI Pacific cod trawl catcher vessel.

The council meeting, normally held in Anchorage every December, is being held virtually for the safety of all participants because of the global novel coronavirus pandemic.

The federal fisheries management council has posted on its website schedules, times and dates about the council meeting, as well as its advisory council and scientific and statistical committee meetings. All meetings, except for executive sessions, are open to the public. The council is also strongly encouraging written public comment for virtual meetings to avoid any potential for technical difficulties to compromise oral testimony.

The council’s website offers links for testimony signup for the council, AP and SSC meetings. The deadline for written comments is 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27. Oral testimony signup links will be active during the meeting, but those wishing to testify must sign up before the end of the staff report on each agenda item. All written materials for the meeting, including motions, will be posted on the electronic agenda. To join the meetings by clicking on the orange “meeting” tab on the council website page.

Federal Court in California Rules Genetically Engineering Salmon Unlawful

A federal court judge for the Northern District of California has ruled that the Food and Drug Administration violated core environmental laws in approving genetically engineered salmon.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria noted that as part of the approval process the FDA assessed the likelihood that GE salmon would escape from captivity and adversely affect normal salmon, including salmon species that are endangered. While the FDA concluded that the GE salmon were highly unlikely to escape from two facilities where AquaBounty initially planned to raise them, the FDA did not meaningfully analyze what might happen to normal salmon in the event that the GE salmon survived and established themselves in the wild, Chhabria said. Even if such a scenario was unlikely, the FDA was required to assess the consequences of it happening, he said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, applauded the ruling.

“The impacts that genetically engineered salmon could have on Alaskans, our commercial fishing industry and seafood consumers all over the world are concerning, and as this ruling found, understudied,” Murkowski said. The ruling confirms the FDA’s decision to allow GE salmon to be produced in different locations across North American was in violation of the law, and did not consider the potential for severe consequences on nature’s best brain food, wild salmon,” she said. The Alaskan Republican noted that she has introduced legislation for years identifying those exact flaws in the FDA’s “wholly inadequate assessment of the threat GE salmon poses to wild salmon stocks.”

Murkowski added “I’m glad the court has caught up with my reasoning and recognized the concerns raised by many Alaskans about GE salmon.”

The judge has remanded portions of the case to the Food and Drug Administration for reconsideration of its environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Special Act analysis in compliance with the ruling.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star Assigned
Arctic Winter Mission

An annual joint military mission in Antarctica is where the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star normally spends winter months. This year the nation’s only operational heavy icebreaker will instead be conducting an 82-day deployment in the Arctic, tasked with reducing regional maritime risks and advancing national security objectives. Coast Guard officials said the Polar Star will operate primarily in the Bering and Chukchi seas to project U.S. sovereignty along the U.S.-Russia Maritime Boundary Line, strengthening international intergovernmental and community partnerships, and improving maritime domain awareness in this remote region.

Although plans are still to be finalized, they tentatively will include engagement and training with local communities and Polar Region allies including Canada and New Zealand. Training opportunities with the U.S. Navy are also possible.

Vice Admiral Linda Fagan, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, said that the Arctic is no longer considered an emerging frontier, but is instead now a region of growing national importance. “The Coast Guard is committed to protecting U.S. sovereignty and working with our partners to uphold a safe, secure and rules-based Arctic,” she said.

The decision to assign the Polar Star to the Arctic, rather than Antarctica, was based on weather conditions, plus the novel coronavirus pandemic the Coast Guard said. The ice pier needed at Antarctica could not be reestablished in time for the maritime resupply effort at McMurdo Station. Implementing a mobile causeway solution, as has been done in the past, would have required more than 100 staff to deploy, which military officials said cannot be accommodated without significant risk to personnel related to COVID-19.

Instead this year the U.S. Antarctic Program resupply effort will be conducted by aircraft. The Coast Guard anticipates resuming deployment of the Polar Star to that mission again next year.

In Antarctica, the Polar Star supports the National Science Foundation program by providing a vital escort through the ice for resupply ships. Then upon returning to the United States, the Polar Star undergoes time in drydock for repairs in preparation for the next year’s Operation Deep Freeze mission.

Southeast Alaska Native Corporation Acquires
London-based Seafood Firm

London-based New England Seafood International Limited (NESI), an importer, processor and supplier of fresh and frozen premium sustainable seafood, has been acquired by Sealaska, an Alaska Native regional corporation headquartered in Juneau, Alaska.

Sealaska officials issued a statement saying that the acquisition will offer both businesses increased access to resources, broader product and category capabilities and deeper market access. The combined operations will focus on efficiently converting seafood from healthy fisheries around the globe to deliver innovative, tasty nutritious products that help inspire consumers to eat more healthy fish, they said.

“One of the biggest challenges facing humanity is how to feed, water, educate and house a growing population on a finite planet,” said Terry Downes, chief operating officer for Sealaska.

“Enormous social, environmental and economic value is possible when strong, like-minded organizations join forces across the world to make a bigger difference.”

NESI CEO Dan Aherne said that while Southeast Alaska and London couldn’t be farther apart geographically and in way of life that both businesses share a clear vision around inspiring consumers to enjoy more seafood and promoting a thriving planet.

The deal calls for NESI founder Fred Stroyan to stay on as a member of NESI board, and for key members of NESI’s leadership team to continue in their roles. NESI’s brand is to remain independent, including consumer brands like Leap and Fish Said Fred. NESI sources over 30 species of wild and farmed fish and other seafood from 37 countries worldwide, and supplies seafood to the United Kingdom and Northern European markets. NESI is also the UKs leading importer of sashimi grade tuna.

Northwest Fish Co., Investment Firm Plan Purchase of Peter Pan Seafoods

A Washington state seafood holding company and a global investment and research firm in Anchorage, Alaska, have entered into an agreement to purchase Peter Pan Seafoods.

Northwest Fish Company, led by Rodger May, and McKinley Capital Management LLC in Anchorage, Alaska, said that they have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire assets of Peter Pan Seafoods, a wholly owned subsidiary of Maruha Capital Investments, a subsidiary of the Fortune 500 company Maruha Nichiro Corporation in Japan. The buyers said in a joint statement that they plan to combine operations of Peter Pan Seafood, which has been in business for over 100 years in Alaska, with Northwest Fish Company’s rapidly growing sales and value-added processing seafood business. “As local owners and operators, we bring strong leadership and a commitment to Alaska. We are excited to be a part of this 100-year-old seafood processing company’s growth, and to combine it with Northwest Fish Co.’s rapidly growing sales and value-added processing seafood business,” they said. “We believe in the value and strength of the Alaska seafood brand and are committed to providing more wild Alaska seafood to consumers,” their statement said.

Meanwhile Maruha Nichiro Corporation, the parent company of Peter Pan Seafoods, issued its own statement regarding the forthcoming sale. According to Maruha Nichiro President Masaru Ikemi, Peter Pan Seafoods has suffered operating losses due to soaring raw fish prices due to intensified competition, high costs due to poor catch of fish and a fall in production. ““The company's financial performance will not be expected to improve as the competition for raw fish materials is expected to intensify in the future, Maruha Nichiro said. “Under these circumstances, the company intends to withdraw from the Alaska salmon business and has reached a contract to sell all PPSF-owned factories, fixed assets and operations.”

For these reasons, he said, Maruha Nichiro has reached a contract to sell all Peter Pan Seafoods owned factories, fixed assets and operations, in a sale to be completed on Dec. 31, 2020.

New Study Shows How Prohibited Species Donation Program Feeds America

A new NOAA fisheries study shows how mitigating seafood waste through a bycatch donation program is helping to feed thousands of food insecure Americans.

The study notes how under the Prohibited Species Donation program trawl fishery prohibited species catch that would otherwise be discarded at sea is being donated to hunger relief organizations through the non-profit organization SeaShare, on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

For 26 years SeaShare has worked with the Alaska seafood industry to donate millions of servings of prohibited species catch of salmon and halibut, high quality seafood that would have otherwise been discarded due to prohibition on retention. The PSD program offers an example of how to address food security and social value, an under-represented perspective in the global dialogue on unwanted catches, the report said.

The report was compiled by Jordan Watson of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Juneau, Diana Stram of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage and Jim Harmon, executive director of SeaShare. Historically the focus on waste reduction in fisheries has been on the supply side of the issue, centered mainly on efforts to avoid unwanted catches altogether.

Historically all prohibited species catch in Alaska was discarded at sea to avoid any incentive for trawlers to encounter such species. Federal fisheries managers at length agreed that some of these prohibited finfish need not be banned from human consumption altogether. Now trawl caught salmon and halibut can contribute to the nation’s food security by way of the PSC program which allows for donation of these fish through food banks. Over the past few decades salmon PSC in Alaska has averaged about 200,000 fish annually from an average Pollock catch of more than 1.3 million metric tons of Pollock for the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. In the Bering Sea, Chinook and chum salmon accounted for about 10 percent and 90 percent of salmon PSC respectively from 2011 to 2019.

The study notes that salmon PSC has declined substantially in recent years, likely due to mitigation efforts and regulations that further limit bycatch. Those efforts to reduce bycatch continue at the federal council level, with action on gear modification and rolling hot spot closures, plus other regulatory overhaul efforts. Likewise there are concerns of PSC of halibut, which has prompted regulatory changes regarding bottom trawling, restructuring of target species quotas, gear modifications, deck sorting, intra-cooperative penalty structures, and more. NPFMC members and the National Marine Fisheries Service are working to develop dynamic PSC limits based on halibut abundance to further mitigate the impact to depleted halibut stocks.

Meanwhile, since 2004, SeaShare has distributed over 2,386 metric tons of salmon and 276 metric tons of halibut in portion sized that amount to nearly 23.5 million servings of protein rich seafood. The program is supported by seafood harvesters, processors, transportation firms and others, including the U.S Cost Guard, who donate their services to ensure delivery of the portioned seafood to food banks nationwide, include rural areas of Alaska. More information on the program is online at

ADF&G Closes Three Commercial Crab Fisheries
for 2021

An analysis of survey data has prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to continue closure of three commercial Tanner crab fisheries in 2021.

ADF&G announced its decision on Tanner crab fisheries in Kodiak, Chignik and South Alaska Peninsula districts during the past week, based on completion of the analysis of 2020 Tanner crab surveys. Fisheries in these districts may occur only when they meet estimated abundance of mature male Tanner crab meets or exceeds abundance thresholds and minimum guideline harvest levels.

No decision has been made yet on whether there will be a Tanner crab fishery in 2021 in Prince William Sound. For Kodiak the mature male abundance thresholds are established in six sections and a minimum of two sections must meet or exceed those requirements. Those sections that meet the criteria must also be sufficient to provide for a GHL of at least 100,000 pounds per section and at least 400,000 pounds total for the entire district. While the Southeast and southwest sections did exceed necessary thresholds for the 2021 season, ADF&G said the fishery would remain closed due to the high exploitation rate on legal males needed to achieve that 400,000 pound district minimum GHL and the potential for high bycatch mortality on sublegal male Tanner crab that may recruit to legal size in the next one to two years.

In the Chignik District, analysis showed that while the district exceeded abundance thresholds, it was below the minimum GHL threshold.

Requirements for the South Peninsula district dictate that before either the eastern or western sections could open for commercial fishing that abundance had to provide for a minimum GHL of 200,000 pounds. With the eastern section below thresholds and the western section exceeding the abundance threshold, but below the minimum GHL threshold, the South Peninsula district also remained closed.

Hope is Not a Strategy

By Dave Abrams, Publisher

You all have probably heard that classic interview question, “If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?” I’d like to modify that slightly to “If you were a ship, what kind of ship would you be?” According to my wife, I’m a supertanker. And no, it’s not because I’ve packed on a few extra pounds this year. It’s because nothing seems to push me off course. A supertanker is an incredible machine – super calm on top, doesn’t put out a big wake, but the energy to keep it going is incredible. It takes a pretty big sea to get a super tanker rocking around. A big ship like that doesn’t change course easily, and once it is moving in a certain direction, it takes a lot to stop it. Yep, that’s me. OK, so what’s the point?

There are a lot of issues I guess we are supposed to worry about these days. Election results, COVID 19, the economy, climate change, regional conflicts, polar ice caps melting, etc etc. Seems like a never ending string of bad news. (Of course, good news doesn’t sell newspapers!) However, none of that stuff really occupies much of my time. Why you ask? Am I some sort of insensitive, apathetic fool? I don’t think so. I just choose to focus on the things I can control, and not worry about the things I can’t. It’s pretty much that simple. Yes, I am going to do my part to be a good citizen. I vote and I reach out to my elected officials to voice my opinion. But I am not going to let the negative things around me dominate the little amount of extra brain time I have left at the end of every day.

On the flip side of that coin, hope is a great thing. I love sunsets – my daily reminder that tomorrow is another day, and I get a “do over” on all the things I failed to accomplish today. That hope of tomorrow keeps me going. But one of my maxims in life is “Hope is not a strategy.” I can’t simply hope that COVID goes away next year, or that somehow Congress figures out how to actually work together. I can only plan for what I know and can control and try to mitigate the risks that I can’t control. It’s true in business and it’s true in life. November kicks off my annual ritual of budgeting and planning for next year. Many of you are probably doing the same thing. The crystal ball is especially cloudy this time around, so my decisions are based on the data I have available, mixed in with a little bit of “gut feel” and a touch of both hope and skepticism. Shake well and see what comes out! The point is, we can’t wait for things to improve around us, we have to take action to deal with the present and plan for the future based on what we know and believe right now.

I do see a lot of things to be hopeful for. I’ve talked before about my faith in human ingenuity to deal with whatever problems we encounter. I think most people are good people, and at the end of the day I think people agree on more things about life than they disagree on. The media folks certainly don’t portray that message, but it’s certainly true in my own experiences in talking with folks from all walks of life in the maritime world. So I believe we’re going to be OK. For now, my orders are “steady as she goes, and keep your eyes on the horizon.”

Be safe out there.

You can reach Dave Abrams at

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