Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Biden Administration Opens Pacific Coast to Commercial Offshore Wind Energy Projects

Northern and central coasts of California are opening up to commercial scale wind energy projects under a plan announced Tues., May 25 by the Biden Administration.

White House officials said the move to catalyze offshore wind energy is part of the president’s commitment to build new American infrastructure and a clean energy future that creates good paying, union jobs.

The Interior Department, in coordination with the Defense Department, has identified the Morro Bay 399 area to support three gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off of California’s central coast region, northwest of Morro Bay. The two areas would potentially enable development of a significant new domestic clean energy resource for years to come, White House officials said.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland noted that the offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across America while combating the negative effects of climate change.

California Gov, Gavin Newsom said development of offshore wind for clean energy goals and to address climate change could provide renewable energy for up to 1.6 million homes over the next decade. Newsom said the plan represents an approach needed for a clean energy economy that protects coasts, fisheries, marine life and tribal and cultural resources.

National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said that the announcement demonstrates that by taking a whole-of-government approach, the U.S. can smartly develop the nation’s world-class offshore wind energy resources and deploy new technologies that the government has helped to advance while creating thousands of good paying jobs.

Copper River Salmon Opener Brings Record Prices

Harvests for the celebrated Copper River salmon fishery were slow to rise, but the price to harvesters took a leap when New Peter Pan Seafood offered a record high $12.60 a pound for sockeyes and $19.60 a pound for Chinooks.

“Peter Pan used to have a solid fleet in the flats,” said John Hickman, the company’s vice president of operations. “We want people to know we are back.”

Peter Pan said it has the ability on this highly coveted early Copper River fish to offer these prices because of the company’s deep market penetration and value-added philosophy into niche markets when limited supply of the resource is made available. Whole, individually wrapped Copper River reds were on sale at Costco stores in Anchorage for $19.99 a pound. Pike Place Fish Market online prices were $79.98 a pound for Copper River king fillets and $55.99 a pound for Copper River sockeye fillets. Pike Place was also offering whole 10-pound Copper River kings for $599.99 and whole four-pound Copper River sockeyes for $139.99.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists estimated the third opener on Mon., May 24 brought in an estimated 448 deliveries, including 32,727 red salmon averaging 5.11 pounds and 1,960 kings averaging 12.59 pounds, plus 2,006 chum averaging 6.24 pounds.

During the second opener on Thurs., May 20 there were an estimated 322 deliveries, including 11,873 reds averaging 5.13 pounds, 1,160 kings averaging 13.02 pounds and 318 chum averaging 6.24 pounds.

The first opener on Mon., May 17 included an estimated 419 deliveries, including 6,159 red salmon averaging 5.15 pounds and 2,068 kings weighing in on average at 12.09 pounds, plus 184 chum averaging 6.67 pounds.

Transboundary Report on Salmon-Rich Rivers
Gets Mixed Reviews

Final reports of a transboundary rivers water quality monitoring program and a reclamation plan for a mine that has been leaking acid drainage for decades have been released by British Columbia and Alaska officials, and are drawing mixed reviews.

“We are proud of the joint water quality monitoring work we completed with B.C. in the Taku, Stikine and Unuk watersheds, said Kyle Moselle, executive director of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Project Management and Permitting. Their findings, he said, contribute to a growing scientific understanding of the current and evolving ecological conditions in these watersheds.

One thing Moselle and environmental and tribal entities do agree on is that pollution from the Tulsequah Chief mine into the Tulsequah River, in violation of project permits and B.C. laws, has gone on for too long.

The state of Alaska has worked with B.C. officials for over a decade to get the site’s legacy issues addressed, Moselle said. Mine reclamation and closure, especially for a legacy mine site that was designed and operated prior to modern environmental laws is complicated and will take significant time to properly complete, he said.

Meanwhile, Alaska remains committed to working with B.C. under a memorandum of understanding and cooperation for mutually beneficial outcomes that protect transboundary waters shared by both jurisdictions, he added.

Conservation and tribal entities that participated in the virtual meeting said the presentations did little to allay or meaningfully address their long-term concerns regarding transboundary salmon runs that continue to plummet.

While it is encouraging that B.C. is taking some action regarding the Tulsequah Chief’s pollution, the lack of funding and lack of action to hold any of the previous owners of the mine accountable raises concerns about B.C.’s commitment to a “polluter pays” policy, said Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders. Political, community and indigenous leaders on both sides of the border also support requiring owners of transboundary mines to post a full reclamation bond at permitting to ensure mine cleanup at closure to avoid the kind of chronic pollution caused by the Tulsequah Chief mine.

“Sharing information is good, but it doesn’t protect the communities of this region from the industrialization of the headwaters of our largest salmon-producing rivers,” Salmon Beyond Borders Campaign Director Jill Weitz commented.

Prior to the virtual meeting, eight legislators from Southeast Alaska voiced concerns to B.C. Prime Minister John Horgan about future mining projects planned along transboundary waterways. They noted in a May 7 letter to Horgan that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is poised to list Chinook salmon runs of the Taku, Stikine and Unuk rivers as stocks of concern.

“Similarly, Stikine River sockeye salmon runs are forecasted to not meet subsistence needs and B.C. salmon stocks are historically low,” they said.

The legislators said that without binding international agreements and funds for long-term water quality testing, Alaskans and British Columbians remain unprotected from the threat of significant water pollution and associated impacts from upstream mining activity.

NOAA, YDFDA Partner in Chinook Salmon Study

A dramatic decline in Chinook salmon populations on Alaska’s Yukon River has created hardship for commercial and subsistence fisheries alike, sparking a partnership between federal and state agencies and local fishermen to find answers.

The partnership research, which began in 2014, involves NOAA Fisheries, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association (YDFDA). It is now part of NOAA’s new Citizen Science Strategy, released in January, in which community-based collaborations increase the cost effectiveness of projects address social needs and provide hands on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning. They also connect the public directly with NOAA science missions.

The combined efforts of NOAA Fisheries and YDFDA proved particularly valuable last year, when the novel coronavirus pandemic shut down NOAA’s ability to conduct any fieldwork, said NOAA fisheries biologist Katharine Miller. COVID-19 restrictions in place to keep small remote villages safe meant that sampling of the fishery could continue only with citizen scientists in the villages, many of them high school students or recent graduates, said YDFDA biologist Courtney Weiss.

“There is some evidence that much Chinook salmon mortality occurs during the freshwater and early marine period, Miller explained. “The more we learn about the factors affecting survival of juvenile Chinook salmon in the river, the closer we can get to understanding what is happening to the adult returns.”

Capturing juvenile salmon in the silty waters of the Yukon is challenging, given the huge sediment load carried by the river, which creates an ever-shifting mosaic of mid-channel islands and sandbars. Capturing a four-inch-long Chinook is all about knowing where to fish and how to get around the river without getting stuck on a sandbar or lost.

“The project is successful because local residents who live and work in this environment year-round are our partners,” said Bob Foy, director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. “The venture also introduced these young people to the possibility of science careers and training in a field important to managing subsistence resources.”

One of these youths is Sharon Alstrom, who began working with the project in 2017. Alstrom is now an undergraduate at Rio Salado College in Arizona. During her studies toward a degree in biology, Alstrom is also working with Weiss at YDFDA on the Chinook salmon project.

“I love how this went from being just a job to a career,” she said.

Salmonfest Music Festival to Return in August

Salmonfest, the three-day Alaska music festival that supports protection and recovery of healthy salmon habitat is back for 2021, with ticket already available for Aug. 6-8 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds.

“We’re shedding the cocoon and want nothing more than to dance, sing and list to music with our fellow nature/salmon lovers,” Salmonfest organizers wrote in announcing this week that the 10th year of the event is happening, after being shut down in 2020 as a health and safety precaution because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need live music, we need each other and we need to gather joyously,” the announcement stated.

The festival, with a big focus on opposition to the proposed Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed, annually attracts up to 7,500 people. Even as the number of new infections of COVID-19 ebbs in most of the United States, Salmonfest plans to meet or exceed all local and state guidelines for health and safety as the pandemic continues, said Salmonfest director Jim Stearns.

Headliners are to be announced soon, but bands already signed on include the San Francisco soul, psych-rock and R&B band Con Brio and New Orleans singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton. Salmonfest annually books about 60 bands, which perform on four stages during the three-day event.

The 2021 festival will feature a new amphitheater with a larger main stage and a large campground area, said Stearns.

The festival began in 2011 as Salmonstock, with the goal of promoting, preserving and protecting wild salmon and salmon habitat, as well as to create a compelling destination for family, friends, visitors and musicians to gather under Alaska’s summer midnight sun.

Since 2015, Salmonfest has donated over $150,000 for salmon related initiatives.

One annual feature of the festival is the Salmon Causeway, which offers education on salmon habitat issues and the opportunity to become personally engaged. Salmonfest’s non-profit steward organization, ARCHES Alaska, is preparing the new 40-acre campground behind the festival/fairgrounds. ARCHES plans to open a limited number of campsites in the campgrounds to ticket holders this year. Those reserving a numbered site will have the option to keep it for future Salmonfest events in perpetuity with a first right of refusal.

More information about Salmonfest 2021, including ticket sales and campground reservations, is available at

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

USDA to Purchase $70.9 Million of Seafood for Food Assistance Programs

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials plan to purchase $70.9 million worth of seafood harvested in U.S. waters for a variety of domestic food assistance programs, including sockeye salmon, Alaska Pollock, Pacific rockfish and whiting and shrimp.

USDA has indicated that it will solicit bids online, with deliveries to begin by mid-August. Purchases are to include $25 million for Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic wild caught shrimp, $20 million for Alaska Pollock, $9 million for Pacific whiting fillets, $8.9 million for sockeye salmon and $4 million each for Pacific pink shrimp and Pacific rockfish fillets.

Bids are to be solicited online via the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system and on the Agricultural Marketing Service's website at

Lori Steele, executive director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association (WCSPA), said the USDA purchases will help supplement and stabilize existing markets, allowing the industry to keep American fishing and processing families working through difficult times. The purchases would also result in the public getting health, nutritious seafood from sustainable stocks, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone, she said.

“These kinds of purchase programs offer our industry an ‘overflow valve’ for some of our seafood products as well as some economic stability when other markets are unstable or unavailable,” she explained.

Steele said the West Coast seafood industry has a number of products ideal for such markets and hopes to continue working with USDA to bring a greater diversity of high-quality seafood to their programs.

In a letter to the USDA in March the WCSPA, Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, Oregon Trawl Commission and Fishermen’s Marketing Association asked that the seafood purchases include Pacific pink shrimp, Pacific rockfish and Pacific whiting. Ten West Coast lawmakers, including Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif.; Reps. Kurt Schrader, Peter DeFazio, Suzanne Bonamici, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif.; and Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., added their support in a letter to Vilsack in early April.

Alaska’s congressional delegation also applauded the purchase plans. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, with Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, said that this largest single seafood purchase in USDA history would have a tremendous impact on the struggling seafood sector, and also ensure food assistance programs can provide nutritious and healthy food for Americans as the nation continues to navigate the pandemic.

Purchase plans were announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who noted that the impacts of COVID-19 dealt a heavy blow to the American seafood industry.

Vilsack said these purchases, along with others for fruits and vegetables, would benefit food banks and non-profits working to help Americans feed their families while the government works to get the economy back on track.

The seafood buys are part of an overall $159.4 million USDA package that also includes apricots, chickpeas, dry peas, lentils, Navy beans, pistachios and peaches, with all purchases authorized under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act.

Oregon to Receive an Additional $13 Million in COVID Fisheries Relief

NOAA Fisheries has announced an additional $13 million in fisheries assistance funding to Oregon under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

This comes in the wake of a first round of CARES (Coronavirus Relief Law) funds to Oregon, with payments totaling some $18 million to marine-related and coastal fishery businesses, including $2.5 million provided by the state of Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will continue to coordinate distribution of this aid in the state for commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors and other fishery-related businesses.

But first ODFW must develop a round two spending plan approved by NOAA Fisheries.

Chris Kern, fish division deputy administrator for ODFW, said the new plan will build on the plan used in round one, with improvements to streamline the process and address some eligibility problems identified in round one.

ODFW is to hold a public virtual meeting, at a date yet to be announced, to get feedback and address concerns.

ODFW’s CARES webpage – - will also be updated as more information becomes available. Individuals interested in learning more about the funds are urged to subscribe to the page to receive email updates. Additional information is also expected to be posted at as it becomes available.

Meanwhile, questions and concerns may also be sent to

Comment Period Now Open for June NPFMC Meeting

Written comments are being accepted online through May 26 for agenda items slated for the June meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. All comments are to be reviewed and then posted on the council website.

The schedule posted online at notes that the council itself will be meeting June 9-11 and June 14-16 via The Advisory Panel will meet June 3-4, via and June 7-9. The Scientific and Statistical Committee meets June 1-4 via

The meeting itself will again be held on Adobe Connect. Instructions for that connection are online at

Yukon River’s Kwik’Pak Fisheries Optimistic About 2021 Harvest Potential

Kwik’Pak Fisheries, near the mouth of the Yukon River in western Alaska, has said that it is looking forward to a full fishing season in the summer of 2021, taking delivery from its 300 small boat Yupik Eskimo harvesters of the oil-rich keta salmon.

The keta salmon harvested by Kwik’Pak, a subsidiary of Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, navigate annually up to 2,000 miles of cold, powerful currents to where the Bering Sea meets the mouth of the Yukon.

Manager Jack Schultheis says the company, now in its 20th year at Emmonak, is looking forward to a full fishing season, after just three openings last summer.

The fishing season for Kwik’Pak will start from middle to late June, with the 300 to 400 processing employees hailing from Emmonak and other villages on the Lower Yukon.

The fishery begins with harvesters using dipnets to catch keta salmon, until the Alaska Department of Fish and Game confirms that enough Chinook salmon have escaped upriver toward to the Canadian border to meet treaty requirements. Then the gillnet fishery begins.

The department wants to conserve every king that they can and we are going to work with them because that’s what we have to do, he said.

Kwik’Pak also operates a youth training program at the processing facility. Last year, it trained 25 youths in a cross-section of jobs at their processing facility. This year, Schultheis said, plans are to hire 100 or more youths during the fishing season.

Masks will not be required at the processing facility, but all employees must be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus virus. Schultheis said staff from the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation are coming to Emmonak to vaccinate everyone who still needs the shots.

“The harvest projection from ADF&G makes us feel good,” he said, adding that projections are for four million pounds of commercial salmon harvest after subsistence needs are met. “We will have fish to sell. We’ll be in the market. People will have jobs.”

About 30% of Kwik’Pak’s harvest is sold in domestic market, mostly as fillets, and there are also plans to promote as much smoked keta salmon as possible, according to the company.

There is also a very strong demand for Alaska salmon across the board, including the United Kingdom, Holland, Belgium, France, and of course into Japan, Schultheis said. European sales are about half fillets and half headed and gutted, while Japan takes all H&G, he explained.

Resolution Urges Senate to Ratify UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Three senators from Alaska, Hawaii and Virginia have joined forces in a resolution calling on the U.S. Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-AK; Mazie Hirono, D-HI, and Tim Kaine, D-VA, introduced the resolution in the Senate on Tues., May 18. A similar resolution was introduced in the U.S. House last month by Representatives Don Young, R-Alaska and Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut.

UNCLOS, which is already ratified by 166 nations and the European Union, details rights and responsibilities of countries regarding the world’s oceans, including guidelines for businesses and management of marine natural resources.

Sen. Hirono noted that the world currently is facing evolving challenges of those seeking to prevent international freedom of navigation worldwide, including the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, the Arctic and the Black Sea. It is time, she said, for the United States to become party to the UNCLOS, which provides a legal framework to protect the right of free passage through territorial seas.

Murkowski said the treaty provides immense value to the U.S., helping to avoid conflict by resolving issues diplomatically and through litigation rather than relying on customary law and military presence. In the Arctic, she said, the treaty would allow America to resolve territorial disputes of continental shelf claims as more access is now being seen in a region that up to this point in time had been inaccessible.

Kaine said that the Senate’s failure to ratify UNCLOS places the U.S. at a disadvantage when dealing with threats to our national security and commerce, particularly by China in the South China Sea.

The U.S. signed UNCLOS om July 29, 1994, but the Senate has yet to ratify the treaty, despite urging from environmental, scientific, labor and industry organizations.

Senators Hirono and Murkowski, along with Courtney and Young, also called for the Senate to ratify UNCLOS in 2019.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

In Memoriam

By Mark Nero, Managing Editor

The Fishermen’s News and Maritime Publishing families lost a beloved member recently. John Platt Hurwitz, who co-wrote the magazine’s “California Waypoints” column with his wife, Irene Marie Hurwitz, has died.

What turned out to be the final column written by John & Irene appeared in the April/May edition of the magazine, which was the first issue of the relaunched version of the magazine. It went out to subscribers in late April, just days before John’s death on April 25.

There will be one last “California Waypoints” column, however; it’ll be a tribute to John, and is being co-written by Irene with John’s nephew, Ben Platt, who’s a prominent member of the California commercial fishing community.

Although I’m new to the job of managing editor, reading the magazine over the years had made me very familiar with “California Waypoints,” which mainly featured John’s witty humor and breezy writing style.

Once I was appointed to this job and then reached out to John and Irene to ask them to again write the column once the print edition of the magazine was revived, I was thrilled when they agreed, since I had been a big fan of their writing. And to work with them, even for such a short period of time, was fantastic.

FYI, we’re still in the process of determining what will replace “California Waypoints,” but once the decision is made, I’ll let you know.

Rest in peace, John. And thank you.

Now on to the second topic of this month’s editorial – reader feedback.

Although the editor and publisher make the final decisions regarding what’s published here and in the print edition of Fishermen’s News, reader suggestions and feedback are also very important, as they help us determine what topics are important enough to cover, and how much coverage they deserve.

So, if there’s a particular topic that you feel warrants coverage – or more of it – in Fishermen’s News, please feel free to let us know. I can’t always guarantee you that what you suggest will be written about, or will receive the amount of coverage that you feel it deserves, but I will guarantee you that all input will be considered.

If you have anything you’d like to see – or see more of – in the magazine, please email your suggestions to me via the address below. Thanks.

Managing Editor Mark Nero can be reached at:

Bipartisan Bill Would Strengthen NOAA Response to Sexual Harassment, Assault

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would strengthen NOAA’s response to sexual assault and sexual harassment and offer more resources for survivors.

The NOAA Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Improvements Act was introduced by Representatives Jared Huffman, D-CA, Suzanne Bonamici, D-OR, Don Young, R-Alaska, and Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, R-Puerto Rico.

The legislation would expand coverage of NOAA’s sexual harassment prevention and response policy and direct NOAA to provide a clear mechanism for anonymous reports of sexual harassment. It would strengthen advocacy resources for survivors and provide them a secure reporting structure.

NOAA employees some 12,000 people, including federal civilian workers and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, contractors and affiliates. Many of these employees work in remote locations and board research and survey vessels, studying changes in climate, weather, oceans and coastlines.

NOAA has steps in place regarding these issues, but sponsors of the bill said more must be done to prevent such incidences.

The expansion would include those not otherwise covered, including commercial fisheries, protected species and platform removal observers, who are neither employees nor contractors, but are employees of contractors. It would also cover voting members and executive and administrative staff of regional fishery management councils. The bill would also improve the ability of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement to enforce a prohibition on assault, intimidation and interference with fisheries observers.

Details regarding the bill are online at The bill’s text is available at

Bonamici said that several years ago she spoke with a fisheries biologist who was forced to put her career on hold because of sexual harassment on a NOAA vessel. The congresswoman said she worked with NOAA to make tangible changes to the agency’s policies and procedures for reporting and investigating sexual harassment and that the scientist eventually did return to her research, but that this was not an isolated incident.

Complaint Filed with NOAA Fisheries Questions Data on Bristol Bay Red King Crab Fishery

A complaint filed with NOAA Fisheries contends that the agency paved the way for the collapse of the Alaska red king crab fishery by sampling bias and data falsification, which inflated annual population estimates and led to years of overfishing.

The complaint was filed through Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) by Braxton Dew, a retired fisheries biologist in Kodiak who spent 25 years with NOAA Fisheries.

NOAA officials said they are looking into the matter and will respond within guidelines of the formal review process.

“In my experience, they have 60 days to respond, but they often ask for an extension,” said Jeff Ruch, director of Pacific PEER.

The complaint alleges that National Marine Fisheries Service corrupted its standard systematic sampling design during the 1970s by conducting extra, non-random trawl sampling in areas known from previous surveys to be prime habitat for large male king crab. This alleged biased sampling resulted in an increase in the apparent abundance of Bristol Bay king crab, the complaint said.

From 1972 through 1978, NMFS population estimates appeared to track a phenomenal increase of nearly 800% in Bristol Bay legal male abundance, with those inflated population estimates resulting in harvest quotas that led to an all-time-record harvest of 130 million pounds in 1980. By 1983, the collapse of the fishery occurred, the complaint contends.

While NMFS attributed that demise of crabs to “a drastic increase in natural mortality” associated with a meteorological regime-shift, actual evidence of a causal link between the 1976 regime shift and abrupt collage of those crab stocks never materialized, even after 40 years of investigation, said Dew. NOAA Fisheries officials responded to the allegations in early May, noting that the agency, in coordination with federal and state partners, is responsible for fostering healthy, productive and sustainable marine fisheries.

The response provided via Bob Foy, science and research director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, said NOAA’s management process is based on science and conducted according to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The NOAA statement did not specifically address the allegations. It said that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and NOAA Fisheries work together to produce the Bristol Bay red king crab stock assessment in accordance with the co-management agreement outlined in the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Crab Fishery Management Plan.

“Like all NOAA Fisheries stock assessments, the Bristol Bay red king crab stock assessment is subject to a public transparent and rigorous peer-review process,” the statement said. “Over time, the assessment process has continued to be enhanced and improved with input from a variety of sources.”

NOAA said the agency is always interested in other points of view about marine populations and plans to look at issues raised by the PEER complaint, then respond in accordance with the formal review process outlined in NOAA’s Information Quality Guidelines.

Public Comment Sought on Draft EIS for Offshore Aquaculture in Pacific Islands Region Waters

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment through Aug. 5 on a draft programmatic environmental impact (PEIS) statement evaluating the potential environmental impacts of a management program for offshore aquaculture in federal waters of the Pacific Island Region.

The area includes the Hawaiian Islands, Guam, Cnmi in the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.

The draft PEIS analyzes the potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of several management alternatives on the human, physical and biological environment. NOAA officials say they will consider all comment in any final PEIS and within future management action by NOAA Fisheries and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Any future aquaculture management program would be designed to regulate, manage and promote development of an environmentally sound ad economically sustainable aquaculture industry in federal waters of the Pacific Islands Region. The program would also enable the National Marine Fisheries Service and the council to provide enhanced planning, coordination and oversight of aquaculture in federal waters.

The draft PEIS proposes three possible management alternatives, including status quo as the first alternative. Alternative 2 proposes a limited aquaculture management program-based on current aquaculture activities in the Pacific Islands Region. It would also include aquaculture-specific permitting processes and allow culture of current fishery ecosystem plan (FEP) management unit species (MUS), though this alternative would limit aquaculture gear to types previously approved under other NMFS permits.

Alternative 3 proposes the same new management program outlined for alterative 2, but with longer permit durations, plus a broader scope of allowable species and gear types.

With either alternative 2 or 3, the FEPs and regulations would be amended to establish a limited entry aquaculture management program, to include permits, monitoring and operational requirements for commercial and research/innovation activities. These alternatives would also provide a streamlined path for navigating permitting processes with other relevant federal and state agencies.

The draft PEIS is available at:

Engine Cut-off Switches Now Required for Recreational Vessels Under 26 Feet

Coast Guard officials have implemented a new law effective nationally for the 2021 boating season requiring operators of recreational vessels less than 26 feet in length to use an engine cut-off switch (ECOS) and associated ECOS link (ECOSL).

The new rule was announced by Coast Guard officials in Seattle, who said these emergency cut-off switches will protect all members of the boating public.

Each year, the Coast Guard receives reports of recreational vessel operators who fall off or are unexpectedly thrown out of their boat. During such incidents the boat continues to operate with no one in control, leaving the operator stranded in the water while the boat stays on course, or the boat begins to circle the person in the water, eventually striking them, often with the propeller. Such dangerous runaway vessel situations put the ejected operator, other boaters on the waterway, marine law enforcement officers and other first responders in serious danger, the Coast Guard said.

In the Pacific Northwest in 2019, 26 boating accidents involved boat operators being ejected from the vessel or falling overboard, said Lt. Collin Gruin, the Coast Guard Sector Columbia River boarding team supervisor. “An engine cut-off switch, when used properly, prevents the runaway vessel from causing more harm in these types of accidents.”

“In the last two months, we’ve experienced two known incidents involving runaway vessels in Alaskan waters,” said Cmdr. Byron Hayes, Sector Juneau response department head. “One of those resulted in a death, so we want the public to understand the importance of using engine cut-off switches and an attached link.”

The ECOSL attaches the vessel operator to a switch that shuts off the engine if the operator is displaced from the helm. The ECOSL is usually a lanyard-style cord that attaches to an ECOS either near to the helm or on the outboard motor itself if the vessel is operated by a tiller. When enough tension is applied, the ECOSL disengages from the ECOS and the motor automatically shuts down. Wireless ECOS have been developed and are also approved for use.

These devices use an electronic “fob” that is carried by the operator and senses when it is submerged in water, activating the ECOS and turning the engine off.

Boaters may check for additional information on this new use requirement and other safety regulations online at

Legislation Before U.S. House Aims to Halt IUU Fisheries

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House on Tuesday, May 11, aims to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, expand transparency and stop seafood fraud, while also strengthening U.S. leadership on issues threatening oceans, consumers and human rights.

The Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act, introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-CA, and Rep. Garret Graves, R-LA, makes specific reference to the need to halt mislabeling of seafood products, including complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Lacey Act amendments of 1981 and other federal laws, plus an end to oppressive child labor, other forced labor and human trafficking.

Up to one-third of the annal global seafood catch -- as much as 56 billion pounds – is estimated to be the product of IUU fishing. The U.S. is the largest importer of seafood in the world.

According to a report by the U.S. International Trade Commission, the United States imported $2.4 billion worth of seafood products derived from IUU fishing in 2019. That includes fishing in closed areas or with prohibited gear or for unmanaged species in unmanaged areas. The report estimated that if IUU imports were prevented, that U.S. harvesters could boost their income by an estimated $60.8 million.

The legislation calls for increased efforts to trace specifically where seafood entering U.S. markets is coming from, to assure that the seafood was not caught illegally and that the harvest was reported, whether the seafood was harvested wild or farm raised, the date and weight of the catch and the name and flag state of the vessel on which it was harvested.

Similar requirements for farm-raised seafood would necessitate labeling to include the method of cultivation, source and type of feed and evidence of authorization.

The legislation also states that no importer, processor, distributor or retailer may be found in violation of requirements in the bill for unknowingly selling a product that was already mislabeled when received provided that the importer, processor, distributor or retailer can provide the required product traceability documentation.

The proposed legislation can be seen online at

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Alaska Seafood COVID-19 Impact Report Says Challenges Lie Ahead in 2021

A report on the impact of the global novel coronavirus pandemic forecasts more COVID challenges ahead for the seafood industry in 2021, ranging from trade disputes and climate change to increased competition, fish size and plant-based foods.

The report prepared for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute by McKinley Research Group (formerly the McDowell Group) also predicts increased demand for seafood from new consumers and bigger freezers, growth in direct-to-consumer sales and a strong Alaska brand that is increasingly relevant.

Impacts to date have included increased operating expenses that have cost seafood processors about $70 million; increased transportation and logistics challenges due to reduced air travel; and delays getting into China, resulting in demurrage fees for failure to unload in a timely manner. Processors surveyed said they expected those costs which are above and beyond those normally incurred due to the pandemic would reach $100 million, mostly travel and quarantine related.

The report also noted that ex-vessel values in 2020 were 20-25% lower, with biological issues in key fisheries, but that the fisheries did continue to operate.

Some 29,000 fishermen were employed for 2020 harvests, with crew license numbers down 21% from 2019 and the total of 26,000 processing workers down 31% from a year earlier.

2020 harvests of 2.6 million metric tons of seafood worth $2 billion were down 20-25% from 2019 to an estimated $1.5 billion. Wholesale production of 1.26 million metric tons of seafood worth $4.7 billion was down 16 % in export value and volume from 2019.

Some 75% of all Alaska seafood produced was exported in 2020 to 84 countries, the report states.

Bristol Bay proved a bright spot for volume is salmon harvests, with disaster declarations proposed for eight Alaska salmon fisheries in 2020. With inventory low, the forecast was for strong markets going into 2021.

California Restricts Dungeness Crab Fishing
to Protect Whales

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officials have put restrictions on commercial Dungeness crab fishing to protect humpback whales returning from their winter breeding grounds to northern California fishing areas.

Beginning at noon on May 10, from the Oregon state line to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line, commercial Dungeness crab fishing will only be allowed in ocean waters 30 fathoms and shallower. CDFW also is requiring that all vessels carry onboard an electronic monitoring system capable of recording the vessel’s location while engaged in fishing using GPS coordinates at a frequency of no less than once per minute during fishing operations.

That electronic monitoring data must be made available upon request to CDFW for the duration of the fishing period and 60 days thereafter. The restrictions are to remain in place until lifted by CDFW or until the season closes.

CDFW also will be maintaining a statewide fleet advisory for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery for all fishing zones. The fleet is reminded to implement fishing best practices and to immediately remove all gear rom the water when they have stopped fishing.

Vessels working in Zones 1-4 are advised to pay particular attention to locations of set gear and foraging whales and to minimize entanglement risk by adhering to the Best Practices Guide.

Skippers are advised to move or avoid setting gear in areas where whales are transiting or foraging, particularly in areas around Reading Rock north of Trinidad.

Research on Diminishing Size of Pacific Salmon
Points to Heat

Ongoing research into why so many Pacific salmon are returning in smaller size is focused on an assortment of variables brought on by climate change, with rising temperatures being a big concern.

“The problem appears to be that the hot years are becoming more common,” says Bill Templin, chief fisheries scientist for salmon with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage. “If temperatures rise, they need more food. Their metabolism goes up and down with the temperatures.”

“On average, all five species of Pacific salmon appear to be getting smaller,” he added. Whether they are returning younger or simply smaller for other reasons is still an unknown.

One concern is that as the salmon decrease in size, they become more vulnerable to predation.

There are many variables to consider. Sockeye, coho and Chinook salmon stay mostly in fresh water, even up to three years before going to the ocean. Changes in size by age might be related to what happens in the fresh water, as it impacts food availability, water temperatures and the duration of winter, he said.

While researchers are seeing salmon move north in the ocean, they still want to come home to their natal streams to spawn. When and if temperatures stop rising, Pacific salmon could return to their former size, depending in part on how long it took to stop those temperatures from rising.

“If things were to turn around right now, we could (maybe) go back to larger fish, but that would just be a guess,” Templin said.

Elliott Bay Design Group Announces Changes in Executive Leadership

Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering firm Elliott Bay Design Group has announced, in the wake of the appointment of Robert Ekse to president, two more changes in executive leadership.

John Reeves has been promoted to Principal in Charge, to oversee technical projects and provide direction and engineering support to ensure project success. Reeves will also maintain his current duties as director of business development to increase EBDG’s maritime industry leadership position.

Michael Complita has been promoted to vice president of strategic expansion, to lead expansion of EBDG’s service offerings within and outside of the marine industry.

His initial focus will be to create an avenue to effectively plan, research, explore, develop and execute business opportunities that will expand the company’s reach and that of its family of companies. He will also continue in his role as a Principal in Charge of the firm and involved in oversight of engineering projects, recruiting and cross-training opportunities for staff.

Eke said these leadership team changes will foster further growth and new opportunities for the company.

Elliott Bay Design Group is a full-service, employee-owned firm that supports owner-operators and shipyards, with a team of naval architects, engineers, designers and analysts who offer expertise in designing, supporting and analyzing the feasibility of marine transportation.

Crabbers Applaud Success of Test Logbooks During Snow Crab Fishery

Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers (ABSC) are hailing as a success a test of electronic logbooks during the opillio (snow) season.

The effort involved those aboard four vessels who volunteered to trial Real Time Data’s (RTD) Deckhand Pro platform for the duration of the 2021 snow crab season. The captains provided RTD with feedback on the feasibility and willingness to incorporate electronic logbooks into their daily operations.

For years, crab and groundfish harvesters have filled out the National Marine Fisheries Service Daily Fishing Logbook (DFL), which requires skippers to input all data by hand, including the latitude and longitude positions of each string of gear, gear identification information and data on bycatch and target species. To many skippers this has proven an arduous task and, they told the RTD staff, sometimes unsafe recordkeeping process.

Jamie Goen, executive director for ABSC, said her organization is looking forward to working with RTD to further develop a tool that’s useful and easy for their skippers to use for their own data needs, and is responsive to federal and state reporting requirements.

For the trial run, a basic version of Deckhand was used to replicate the DFL and the company says that version of Deckhand can be customized further for the Bering Sea crab fishery. Fishermen engaged in the trial run were able to keep in touch with RTD 24/7 throughout the season via marine broadband, to offer input and advise on bugs or other issues with the electronic device.

One of the skippers, Mark Casto of the f/v Pinnacle, said that he is looking forward to working with RTD in the future to help make this electronic logbook a fixture in the crab fisheries.

Lange Solberg, business development manager for Real Time Data North America, said that from a proof-of-concept standpoint his firm was pleased with the trial. Using Deckhand Pro in a test scenario was totally an extra thing for the participants to take on, on top of all their other responsibilities, but it is clear to us that this is where fishermen want to go, he said.

More information about RTD is available at

From the Editor

By Mark Nero, Managing Editor

A new beginning…and a continuation. That’s what this issue of Fishermen’s News represents.

First, it’s a new beginning because the magazine has changed ownership. As you may know, Philips Publishing has sold the magazine to San Diego-based Maritime Publishing. Maritime Publishing is a division of Training Resources Limited, the largest privately held provider of maritime training in the Western United States.

The magazine’s new publisher is Dave Abrams, the CEO of Training Resources Maritime Institute. He’s a former U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer and a certified instructor with the National Safe Boating Council, as well as an authorized instructor for the USCG Auxiliary Boating Skills & Seamanship program. So why would Dave enter publishing? His interest arose out of a desire to help mariners stay educated and informed, not just through historical practices associated with training, but through current industry news and events. For him, it’s all about the mariner, and the overall maritime community. Dave is a connector, and helping people connect with each other through the various training and media platforms is the ultimate goal.

Helping guide the path is yours truly, Mark Nero, Fishermen’s News’ new managing editor. To longtime readers of FN, my name may be familiar; prior to the publication going on hiatus in 2020, I occasionally wrote for eFN, and have more than 25 years’ experience as a professional journalist and have worked mostly for various publications that cover the goods transport industry.

By the way, in mid-March, Maritime Publishing acquired Professional Mariner and Ocean Navigator magazines from Portland, Maine based Navigator Publishing, bringing additional maritime-focused publications into the family.

Professional Mariner is a news magazine with a 30-year history of focusing on the needs of USCG-licensed professional mariners.

Ocean Navigator, founded in 1985, focuses on seamanship for self-reliant recreational mariners. I’m also very pleased to say that many of bylines that you previously saw in Fishermen’s News are joining us in this new journey. You’ll regularly read the work of Alaska Bureau Chief Margaret Bauman in the magazine; and longtime maritime reporter Peter Marsh is also returning.

In addition, John Platt & Irene Marie Hurwitz’s beloved “California Waypoints” column has been revived; and you’ll also see opinion pieces in these pages by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.

Although some of the names associated with the magazine have changed, our commitment to providing you with quality, substantive news remains the same. We’re personally and professionally invested in the industry and cover it while living in and around the communities that we report on.

This issue of FN covers the months of April and May, and the next issue will have a June-July cover date. After that we’ll return to a monthly schedule the rest of the year – with the exception of a combined November-December issue.

If you happen to read this and aren’t a current subscriber, please consider purchasing a one-year subscription for yourself or someone else who may be interested. Or, if you operate a business, please consider purchasing an ad. Subscribers and advertisers are essential partners to ensure that we keep Fishermen’s News a healthy and economically viable source of news about the West Coast commercial fishing industry. We’re dependent upon your ongoing support. Thank you.

MARK NERO is a veteran maritime journalist who has written for numerous publications over the years, including Fishermen’s News and Pacific Maritime Magazine. He was named managing editor of Fishermen’s News in March 2021.

Managing Editor Mark Nero can be reached at:

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