Wednesday, July 28, 2021

New Legislation to Reauthorize Magnuson-Stevens Act Introduced in U.S. House

New legislation to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), is now before the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act was introduced by Representatives Jared Huffman, D-CA, and Ed Case, D-HI, in the wake of a listening tour by Huffman to collect comments on issues facing numerous entities that depend on healthy fisheries.

Huffman is the chair and Case is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife.

Huffman said that while MSA has worked well, new approaches are needed in this era of climate change, new technologies, evolving science needs and increasing ocean use. The new legislation rises to the challenges of the 21st century and includes critical updates to the landmark law, he said.

“With the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act we can strengthen fishing communities and ensure a high standard of sustainable fisheries management continues well into the future,” he remarked.

The proposed amendments to MSA in the new legislation include consideration of climate change in regional fishery management council priorities and planning, and an improved disaster relief program, a working waterfront grant program and increased support of seafood marketing. Other amendments would increase representation of different viewpoints on regional fishery management councils, expand electronic technologies and data management systems, update cooperative research and management, and strengthen essential fish habitat consultation, building on MSA conservation standards to improve outcomes for overfishing and rebuilding and conserving forage fish.

According to Robert Vandermark, executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, the new legislation offers several crucial improvements to federal marine policy, including for the first time addressing effects of climate change on U.S. ocean fisheries, by incorporating climate science and adaptation strategies into management decisions.

The bill also incorporates language to provide support for working waterfronts by allocating funds and resources to improve coastal infrastructure and deal with the growing threats of climate change, Vandermark said, adding that it further recognizes the need for accurate, timely and verified catch data for all major commercial and recreational fisheries and includes measures to modernize data collection methods and utilize electronic technologies to improve catch accounting, particularly in the recreational sector.

NOAA Fisheries Boosts Chinook Salmon Catch Through July 31

Commercial harvesters from Humbug Mountain to the Oregon/California border were given a catch increase of 20 Chinook salmon per week in the commercial troll season fishery for the open periods of July 22-28 and July 29-31 by NOAA Fisheries.

The decision was made by NOAA in consultation with the Oregon and California department of Fish and Wildlife, the Pacific Fishery Management Council and fishery representatives.

Oregon fisheries officials said catches in the Humbug Mt. to Oregon/California border July quota fishery have lagged behind expectations.

Through the first three openers on July 1-7, July 8-14 and July 15-21, a total of 77 Chinooks had been landed, leaving a remainder on the quota of 139 kings. Increasing the weekly landing and possession limit to 20 kings would provide a better chance of approaching the quota, Oregon fisheries officials said.

Participating vessels in the Humbug Mt. to Oregon/California border are reminded of the mandatory reporting of landings within one hour of delivery or prior to transport away from the port of landing. These reports may be made by calling (541) 867-0300 ext. 252 or via email to

The reports should include the vessel name and documentation number, number of Chinook salmon landed, port of landing, name of the fish buyer to whom the fish are sold and estimated time of delivery, state officials said.

$35M Allocated for Design/Build of New UC San Diego Coastal Research Vessel

California legislators have allocated $35 million for a new coastal research vessel for the University of California-San Diego, for education and research to boost understanding of the California climate change impacts on the coastal ecosystem.

The 125-foot vessel, expected to take three years for design, build and commission, would replace the research vessel Robert Gordon Sproul, which has been used for nearly 40 years to educate thousands of UC San Diego students. The vessel is to be operated by the university’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“After a four-decade run, it is high time Scripps built a new research vessel that can keep up with the high-caliber work they continue to churn out, and help our state navigate the troubles waters of sea level rise and our evolving climate,” said California Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins.

The hybrid-hydrogen design for the new vessel represents an innovation in the maritime industry, which is essential to the University of California’s carbon neutrality initiative with a goal of being carbon neutral by 2025. The new vessel will feature a hybrid propulsion system that integrates hydrogen fuel cells alongside a conventional diesel-electric power plant, enabling zero-emission operations. The design allows the ship to operate 75% of its missions entirely using a non-fossil fuel –hydrogen – with only pure water and electricity as reaction products. For longer missions, extra power would be provided by clean-running modern diesel generators.

“Our vision is to build an uncompromising, fully capable oceanographic research vessel that can be powered independently from fossil fuels and be free from the criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions that diesel-powered ships emit,” said Bruce Appelgate, associate director and head of ship operations at Scripps Oceanography. “In doing so, we hope to both serve our scientists and students while being a world leader for transformational change to clean, nonpolluting shipboard power systems.”

The vessel is to be equipped with instruments and sensing systems, including acoustic Doppler current profilers, seafloor mapping systems, midwater fishery imaging systems, biological and geological sampling systems, and support for airborne drone operations. These capabilities, along with state-of-the-art laboratories, would allow for broadly multidisciplinary research, to advance understanding of the physical and biological processes active in California’s coastal oceans, university officials said.

The feasibility study to conceptualize the hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion technology for the vessel was initially completed in 2020 by Sandia National Laboratories, Glosten, and Scripps, funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

The budget also includes essential environmental research to UC San Diego including $15 million toward the ALERTWildfire program to help reach the goal of 1,000 wildfire camera installations in California by 2022.

Oceana Sues NMFS Over Sardine Rebuilding Plan

A lawsuit filed on behalf of the environmental entity Oceana against National Marine Fisheries Service contends that a current Pacific sardine rebuilding plan is not working, nor does it take into account the importance of a healthy sardine population to other species.

The lawsuit, filed by non-profit public interest organization Earthjustice on behalf of Oceana, notes that Pacific sardine numbers have dropped by over 98% since 2006, and according to a 2020 federal assessment the current population is only 28,276 metric tons. Historically when that population was healthy, its abundance measured in millions of metric tons, the lawsuit contends.

Ruth Howell, speaking for NMFS in California, said the agency had no comment at this time.

Sardines are an essential food for humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, brown pelicans, marbled murrelets and other critters.

Geoff Shester, senior scientist and California campaign director for Oceana, claims that fishery managers have plainly ignored best available science indicating an impending collapse and allowed catch levels that have cause yet another collapse of Cannery Row era proportions of the 1950s.

Pacific sardines were officially declared “overfished” in 2019, which legally requires development of a rebuilding plan within two years. The lawsuit notes that between 2013 and 2019, over 9,000 starving California sea lion pups and yearlings washed up on beaches and that from 2010 to 2015, brown pelicans had unprecedented reproductive failures in the U.S. Pacific area due to lack of adequate sardines and anchovies.

Bristol Bay Processors Donate 25,000 Lbs. of Salmon to Yukon River Villagers

Six major processors of Bristol Bay salmon collaborated in late July to gather and transport to Yukon River villages 25,000 pounds of headed and gutted king salmon, a diet staple for hundreds of folks living in subsistence communities along the river.

The project came together in the midst of a wildly successful Bristol Bay salmon harvest, with a harvest of over 40 million sockeye salmon, while on the length of the Yukon River all fishing, including subsistence, was banned by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game because of weak runs of Chinook and keta salmon.

Officials from Alaska General Seafoods, Leader Creek Fisheries, North Pacific Seafoods, OBI Seafoods (Ocean Beauty/Icicle), Silver Bay Seafoods and Trident Seafoods asked SeaShare executive director Jim Harmon to help with coordination and tracking of the fish, which was being delivered to Emmonak and Fairbanks for distribution to surrounding subsistence communities.

“None of this relief effort would have happened without the help of all these companies,” Harmon said. “Collaboratively they are providing 100,000 servings of seafood to the Yukon, all at zero cost to the receiving communities.”

“When it comes to feeding hungry people, the general rule of thumb is you do what you need to do to get the job done,” Harmon added. “And when it comes to feeding those in need in Alaska, it takes an entire industry, from fishermen to processors to transportation, to get the job done.”

Transportation was coordinated by Jim Jansen of Lynden Inc., which worked with Northern Air Cargo and Everts to get the fish to Emmonak and Fairbanks. ADF&G also helped cover some of the air freight charges.

In a normal year, families along the Yukon would put up 45 to 100 kings caught in the subsistence fishery for the winter, smoked and dried, said Jack Schultheis, general manager of Kwik’Pak Fisheries at Emmonak.

“They have not had a chance to do that (this year). It is more of a cultural thing. Nobody is going to stare, but that is how they have lived here for a couple of thousand years,” he said.

With no work harvesting and processing Chinook and keta salmon, Kwik’Pak, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, has turned a new venture in farming, with help from a $350,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage. Twenty-seven high school students from Emmonak were employed to build some 3,000 square feet of greenhouse space.

The farm will create jobs for up to 75 youth and boost local access to fresh produce, including potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, beans, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins, Schultheis said. Arctic apple and pear trees are also being planted, but still they sure could use more salmon, he said.

The statewide preliminary commercial salmon harvest count meanwhile was approaching 90 million fish, including 50.4 million sockeyes, 32.6 million pink, more than 6 million chum 358,000 coho and 158,000 Chinook.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Counter Service Appointments are Back at Regional National Maritime Centers

The National Maritime Center has resumed counter service appointments at 18 of its regional examination centers, including three in Alaska, two in California, and one each in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington state.

Mariners wishing to schedule counter service or examination appointments may do so by contacting the appropriate email address or phone numbers:

No walk-in appointments are available. Late arrivals for appointments will not be permitted and will require rescheduling to another date.

Only the mariner conducting business may enter the REC, with other members of their party remaining outside during the appointment. Also, mariners will be subject to COVID-19 screening questions and temperature checks, and any mariners experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will need to reschedule their appointment.

Face coverings are required at all times. Anyone removing a face covering will be dismissed and could be subject to exam module failure, according to the National Maritime Center. Persons with documented health issues that prevent them from wearing face coverings must notify the REC/MU when scheduling appointments.

All fees must be satisfied prior to arrival at the REC for counter service or examination appointments, with the preferred payment method.

Mariners should bring a receipt, their own #2 pencils, photo ID, a non-programmable calculator and plotting equipment. No other personal belongings are allowed in the facility.

Those with questions and concerns may contact the NMC Customer Service Center at or call 1-888-IASKNMC (888-427-5662).

The National Maritime Center also issued an update on its centralized electronic delivery process for renewal examinations, which was launched back in May of 2020.

To date over 1,200 mariners have completed over 3,000 exam modules using this process and feedback on the improved communications and significant reduction in processing time has been overwhelmingly positive, officials said.

Approval to test letters for renewal exams issued on or after May 1, 2020, include directions on how to obtain an electronic exam. Those directions may also be found on the NMC examinations page website,

For questions, concerns or feedback on this process, email or call 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662).

SE Alaska Sustainability Strategy Ending Old Growth Logging Draws Kudos, Fire

A new federal Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy that will end old growth logging in Tongass National Forest by reinstating the Roadless Rule is elating fishermen and drawing fire from the timber industry.

“The Southeast Alaska ecosystem, which holds as its heart and lungs the Tongass National Forest, can be thought of (as) one marvelous SeaBank, rich in natural capital, paying generous annual dividends, and with assets that support local jobs and a sustainable economy,” said Linda Behnken, a veteran commercial harvester and president of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka.

The Tongass provides 95% of the 53 million salmon annually harvested by Southeast Alaska’s commercial salmon fisheries, which are the cornerstone of the sustainable local economy, Behnken said.

The Alaska Forest Association, an industry trade association in Ketchikan, adamantly disagreed with the USDA decision.

“AFA recognizes the immense work undertaken by U.S. Forest Service employees in the Tongass and in Region 10 during the last eight years to move forward with a commitment to supply, preserve and retain the timber industry in the Tongass,” said Tessa Axelson, executive director of AFA, in a statement.

“What a monumental loss for the USFS, the Tongass and Alaska that this work will be set aside,” she said. “Professionals, not politics, should manage the region’s natural resources.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture strategy announced in mid-July mandates the USDA to work with partners and communities in Southeast Alaska and consult with tribes and Alaska Native corporations in a collaborative process to invest $25 million in financial and technical resources in sustainable opportunities for economic growth and community well-being and identify priorities for future investments, the agency said.

In announcing the transition away from old growth logging on July 15, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said his agency looked forward to meaningful consultation with communities, partners, the state, tribal governments and Alaska Native corporations to prioritize management and investments in the region that reflect a holistic approach to the region’s diverse values. The mandate of the collaborative effort is to provide opportunities for recreation, fisheries and the fishing industry, mariculture, renewable energy and sustainable timber management, including or young growth, traditional and customary cultural uses, and carbon sequestration.

The USDA decision to halt old growth logging and road building in the nation’s largest national forest also received kudos also from conservation entities and criticism from Alaska’s congressional delegation.

“The real value of the Tongass is in its abundant fish and wildlife, its cultural resources and in its beautiful scenery and wild landscapes,” said Austin Williams, director of law and policy in Alaska for Trout Unlimited.

The state’s congressional delegation meanwhile cited the USDA decision as a detriment to the economic future of Southeast Alaska.

CDFW Relocates 1.1M Juvenile Fall Run Chinook Salmon

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has relocated 1.1 million juvenile fall-run Chinook salmon from the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery in Siskiyou County to a nearby satellite facility and to the Trinity River Hatchery, 122 miles away. There, the young Chinooks will remain until conditions improve from the drought impacting the Klamath River.

The baby salmon, about seven months old and about three inches in length, normally are released into the Klamath River in May and June. Due to warm water, low water flow and exceedingly high probability of the fish succumbing to disease in the river, a decision was made to retain these salmon within the hatchery system over the summer, until conditions in the Klamath River improve, CDFW officials said.

The unprecedented relocation came after extensive monitoring discussion and close collaboration with federal partners, academic specialists and three Native American tribes on the Lower Klamath Basin. This temporary relocation marks the first time CDFW has not released salmon into the Klamath River since construction of the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery in 1962.

Another one million juvenile Chinook salmon are expected to remain at the Iron Gate hatchery.

Mark Clifford, hatchery environmental scientist for CDFW’s northern region, noted that it’s extremely challenging to raise cold water fish species in a drought. “The reality is most of these fish would have died if we released them into the river,” he said. “We need to maintain the integrity of the fall run on the Klamath River and we especially can‘t afford to lose this generation of fish,” he said.

Four Klamath River dams are slated for removal by 2024, constituting the largest dam removal undertaking in U.S. history. Dam removal is expected to restore fish access to the entire river and the relocated Iron Gate fish could be the first salmon to return to a new Klamath River after their life in the ocean, finding miles of additional spawning habitat and contributing to future generations of wild fish.

CDFW officials said when conditions improve, and before the fish are ultimately released into the Klamath River, the relocated salmon will be returned to the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery for a number of weeks, to allow the fish to further imprint on the Klamath River. All of the relocated salmon have been outfitted with unique coded wire tags to allow CDFW and other agencies to determine their origin and destination.

All of their adipose fins have been removed to visibly identify them as hatchery reared fish, CDFW officials said.

Pew Charitable Trusts, WTO Critical of Failing Efforts to End Harmful Fishing Subsidies

Leaders of the World Trade Organization and The Pew Charitable Trusts are criticizing World Trade Organization member states for failing to put aside their national interests to reach a deal to end harmful fishing subsidies for the benefit of oceans and marine life.

In a report published by the online publication SeafoodSource, the two entities said that the world’s largest fishing nations are dodging their responsibilities.

According to Isabel Jarrett, manager of a Pew Charitable Trusts project to end harmful fisheries subsidies, an ambitious WTO deal to end harmful fisheries subsidies could restore 12.5% of fish biomass in the ocean by 2050.

The most recent draft of the WTO agreement text would likely yield only an increase of 1.59% for that same period, and new research by the University of California Santa Barbara found that the draft text being negotiated would have a minimal impact of fishery stocks, she said.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also expressed frustration with member states’ negotiating strategies. Member states have been bargaining over how to structure opt-outs for developing member states and how to define fuel subsidies, but they have yet to agree on how sustainable fishery stocks are defined, SeafoodSource report said.

In comments during the end of a virtual meeting of trade ministers in mid-July, Okonjo-Iweala said while textual proposals have evolved over the years, a core problem remains the same.

“Instead of converging on effective disciplines for all, negotiators have devoted time and ingenuity to finding ways to constrain others’ support but not their own,” she said. That is what trade negotiators are trained to do, she added, but “it is not getting us the outcome we need for our oceans.”

The talks, which have been going on in various formats for 20 years, were stalled earlier this month, but are set to begin anew in September.

Commercial Harvest of Alaska Salmon Hits 72.7M Fish

Commercial salmon harvests in Alaska soared by over 20 million fish over the past week, boosting the estimated catch to 72.7 million fish, according to the latest Alaska Department of Fish and Game preliminary salmon catch report.

The report showed harvesters in Bristol Bay had an overall catch of over 38 million salmon through Tuesday, July 20, Prince William Sound had 19.6 million salmon and the Alaska Peninsula had nearly 10 million salmon.

In Bristol Bay alone, harvesters in the Nushagak district have now delivered nearly 18 million salmon, followed by 8.2 million fish in the Naknek-Kvichak, 7.7 million in Egegik and 4.6 million in the Ugashak. The overall Prince William Sound harvest included 16 million pink, 2.3 million chum and 1.1 million sockeye, while in the Alaska Peninsula the overall catch included 5.4 million sockeye, 3.4 million pink, 933,000 chum, 26,000 coho and 7,000 Chinook.

At Kodiak, the catch rose to over two million salmon, with deliveries reaching 1.2 million sockeye, 651,000 pink, 196,000 chum, 10,000 coho and 4,000 Chinook.

Statewide preliminary catch numbers stood at nearly 47 million sockeye, 21 million pink, 4.5 million chum, 133,000 Chinook and 108,000 coho salmon.

Dan Lesh, who compiles the in-season commercial salmon report for McKinley Research Group in Anchorage on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, noted that the largest salmon harvests of the season so far took place last week, although the cumulative harvest to date was down 13%.

Last week’s early season surge of pink salmon was driven by the Prince William Sound region, where pink salmon harvests are up 21% year-to-date from 2019, Lesh said. In other regions of Alaska, pink harvests are currently well behind the 2019 pace.

Sockeye harvests peaked the week before last, but with a few weeks left in the season, this year’s catch should easily beat the pre-season forecast of 46.5 million fish, Lesh said. As of July 17, 99% of that pre-season forecast had been caught. While numerous, size remains an issue in Bristol Bay average size of sockeye is 4.5 pounds this year, down from 5.1 pounds in 2020. Bristol Bay sockeye currently represent 82% of the sockeye and 56% of all salmon harvested so far across Alaska.

Keta salmon are in short supply, with cumulative harvests up a bit from 2020, but still at less than half of the typical harvest at this point in the summer, Lesh noted. The five-year average harvest through week 29 is 9.7 million keta compared to 4.4 million keta harvested so far this year.

Among those missing keta are those from the Yukon River, where no commercial fishing has been allowed this season.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Commercial Salmon Harvest in Alaska Soars
to Over 51M Fish

Alaska’s commercial salmon harvest continues to center around Bristol Bay and the Alaska Peninsula, as processors have received over 51 million fish, over 31 million of them from Bristol Bay, over nine million from the Alaska Peninsula, and 8.6 million from Prince William Sound.

For the Nushagak district of Bristol Bay alone, fishermen have caught nearly 16 million sockeye salmon, while in the bay’s Egegik, Naknek-Kvichak and Ugashik districts, they have delivered to processors 6.3 million sockeyes, 6.1 million sockeyes and 2.5 million sockeyes, respectively.

Alaska Troopers have also been busy in the Bristol Bay fishery, issuing fines to 18 fishing vessels so far for commercial fishing in closed waters.

Harvesters on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula have harvested 7.3 million salmon, including 3.0 million sockeyes, 3.4 million pink and 909,000 cohos, while the North Peninsula has a catch of nearly 2.0 million sockeyes. Meanwhile at Kodiak, processors have seen delivery of 1.4 million salmon, including over 1.0 million sockeyes, 278,000 pink and 105,000 chums.

Prince William Sound’s catch has reached 8.7 million fish, including nearly 5.5 million pink, 2.2 million chums and 948,000 sockeyes.

Meanwhile in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region of western Alaska there have been no commercial openers to date.

The state’s early season fisheries for Chinook, sockeye and keta salmon have reached the approximate midpoint of their season with the pace of fishing overall slowed down slightly compared to last year, says Dan Lesh, who produces McKinley Research Group’s weekly in-season commercial salmon harvest report on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Lesh said this year’s salmon harvest so far is about 87% of the harvest at this point last year (and 2019 for pink salmon), down from 96% last week.

So far this year, 23% of the projected Alaska salmon harvest of about 190 million fish has been caught, including 72% of the projected sockeye harvest. On average over the past five years, keta, sockeye and Chinook harvests have all peaked at this point in the summer, Lesh said.

Bristol Bay’s sockeye run has come in very strong and more spread out than a year ago, he explained, adding that the sockeyes are coming in smaller, with the average size currently at 4.5 pounds per fish compared to 5.1 pounds in 2020.

Keta harvests have dropped both of the last two weeks. If they have already peaked, the total keta harvest this year will be far below the five-year average, although that may still exceed last year’s total, he said.

Settlement Reached for Violations of Marine Protected Area-Related Laws

Monterey County, California-based District Attorney Jeannine M. Pacioni says her office has reached a settlement totaling $42,747 in a civil law enforcement action against Sophia Fisheries Inc, and its principals for violations of Marine Protected Area-related regulations.

Monterey County has 17 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the most of any California county, including eight Marine State Marine Reserves (MSMRs) and nine State Marine Conservation Areas (SMCAs).

Using GPS technology, the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife’s marine patrol determined that Sophia Fisheries Inc.’s vessel the Navigator was fishing for spot prawn with traps in Portuguese Ledge State Marine Conservation Area, four miles off the coast of Pacific Grove, on separate occasions in 2019 and 2020.

The only commercial or recreational fishing allowed there is for pelagic finfish.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife also determined that Sophia Fisheries Inc, and its principals did not hold a general trap permit, which is required for commercial spot prawn fishing using traps. The district attorney’s office said without admitting they were fishing in the Portuguese Ledge SMCA, Sophia Fisheries and its counsel worked cooperatively to resolve the matter without litigation, and also immediately obtained a general trap permit.

Under the final judgment, Sophia Fisheries, company president Pete Guglielmo Sr., and Pete Guglielmo Jr., will pay $25,000 in civil penalties, in addition to reimbursement of investigation costs. They are also bound under terms of an injunction prohibiting similar violations of the law in the future.

UBC Study Examines Fitness of Pacific Sockeye Salmon Infected with PRV

A new study from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, finds that the respiratory performance of wild Pacific sockeye salmon is normal even when infected with piscine orthoreovirus (PRV).

The findings by UBC researchers, with partners from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, were published in BMC Biology.

According to UBC post-doctoral researcher Yangfan Zhang, joint lead author of the study, researchers saw little to no effect on sockeye salmon’s respiratory fitness after PRV-infection and minimal impacts on their ability to sustain the vigorous activity needed to migrate, catch prey and avoid predators.

The nine-week study found no physiological differences between PRV-infected fish and a control group injected with a salt solution. This, Zhang said, means that PRV poses a very low risk to B.C.s population of wild Pacific salmon. According to DFO researcher Mark Polinski, the joint lead author, these findings highlight that not all animal viruses cause notable harm during infection.

PRV infects most farmed Atlantic salmon and a small proportion of wild Pacific salmon, the researchers said. The study used sockeye salmon to test the respiratory impacts of wild salmon because they migrate near salmon farms. The experiment was conducted on 400 sockeye salmon at the DFO Pacific Biological Station at Nanaimo, BC.

One group of sockeyes were injected with a dose of purified PRV to induce a high-dose infection scenario another with a saline solution, and another group was injected with the more virulent infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) in a separate positive-control study.

None of the salmon died while carrying the PRV infection. Still, researchers noted IHNV triggered 30% mortality and a temporarily reduced maintenance metabolism, although survivors were able to resolve the infection within weeks, they said.

Researchers also measured the ability of red blood cells infected with PRV to bind oxygen, as well as the metabolic rate- or oxygen uptake – of infected salmon, to evaluate their ability to maximally use oxygen, recover from exhaustion, and function when oxygen is low.

They concluded that Pacific and Atlantic salmon can resist a PRV infection without a major metabolic cost.

USDA to Purchase Salmon, Pollock Products for Food Nutrition Assistance Programs

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have announced plans to purchase salmon and Pollock products to distribute to various food nutrition assistance programs, under Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, to encourage continued domestic consumption of these products.

Potential products may include Alaska Pollock fillet portions, Alaska Pollock oven-ready fish sticks, Alaska Pollock oven-ready fish nuggets and canned red salmon 14.75-ounce cans.

USDA officials said solicitations will be issued in the near future and will be available electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system.

All information regarding this acquisition, including solicitation amendments and award notices, will be published through WBSCM, and on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website at

The USDA stated interested parties are responsible for ensuring that they have the most up-to-date information about this acquisition. The contract type is anticipated to be firm-fixed price, and deliveries are expected to be to various locations in the U.S. on an FOB destination basis, they said. Pursuant to the Agricultural Acquisition Regulation 470.103(b), commodities and the products of agricultural commodities acquired under this contract must be products of the United States.

Those interested should review all documents pertaining to the program, including the latest AMS Master Solicitation for Commodity Procurements, a document online at

For email notification of the issuance of AMS solicitations, contract awards or other information, subscribe online at Stay up to date on USDA Food Purchases, available on the AMS Commodity Procurement website,

Inquiries may be directed to Jeffrey F, Jackson, at

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Culprit Behind Mass Shellfish Mortality Identified

Researchers with the Washington Sea Grant program say they have identified yessotoxins, produced by blooms of certain phytoplankton, as the culprit behind summer mass shellfish mortality events in Washington state.

The study was released by aquaculture and maritime water quality specialist Teri King of Washington Sea Grant and partners from NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Northwest Indian Collage and Aquatechnics Inc. Their findings have significant implications for shellfish growers in the region, they said.

Since yessotoxins are not a threat to human health, their presence in Washington had not been closely monitored.

Researchers used data collected by the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center and NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science for other purposes, plus observations from the SoundToxins phytoplankton monitoring program. They found that two algae species, Protoceratium reticulatum and Akashiwa sanguinea, are correlated with shellfish mortality events as far back as the 1930s. Researchers also used data from SoundToxins partners in 2018 and 2019, along with reports of dying shellfish from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the shellfish industry to collect shellfish and water samples for analysis.

King said the research team is now working toward being able to help growers count the cells of yessotoxin-producing organisms in the water and create that information to take action, “SoundToxins has been conducting similar work for the Washington Department of Health for three “human health marine biotoxins since 2006,” King said.

Adding the shellfish killing plankton species to the real-time mapping capability of the SoundToxins partnership would allow for shellfish producers and natural resource managers to make informed decisions, such as harvesting their product early or otherwise strategizing to save as much crop as possible, she said.

The research also demonstrates the value of partnerships between shellfish producers, plankton monitors, Native tribes, agencies and researchers, as a team of oceanographers, biologists and chemists working together, King said.

The paper can be seen online at

Council Votes to Ban Wire Leaders for Hawaii Fishery

The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council has recommended banning wire leaders for Hawaii’s deep-set longline fishery to protect the oceanic whitetip shark, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Advocates of the ban are hoping that now that the U.S. is moving to protect the species, that international agencies can be persuaded to do the same.

The Council, also known as Wespac, made the decision in late June to replace the wire leaders with monofilament nylon leaders. That would reduce post-release injury and death to oceanic whitetip sharks when they get hooked on longline fishing hooks.

Wespac has also recommended that all longline vessels operating under the Pacific Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan be required to remove as much trailing gear from caught sharks as possible.

According to Eric Kingma, executive director of the Hawaii Longline Association, in the absence of their fleet the Western and Central Pacific Ocean stock would see only a minor increase in terms of stock rebuilding over the next 20 to 30 years. The focus, said Kingma, really needs to be on international fleets.

The Hawaii Longline Association announced in November that it would voluntarily begin switching from wire leaders to monofilament ones for its deep-set longline vessels and according to Kingma, is closing in on completing that gear transition.

While removing shallow hooks would further reduce the post-release mortality of oceanic whitetip sharks in Hawaii's deep-set longline fishery the gear change would also have a significant impact on the fishery's annual revenue.

The amendments approved by Wespac are now subject to a review by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

New Plan Proposed to Restore Salmon, Steelhead Habitat in Northern California

NOAA Fisheries has introduced a new approach to restoring habitat for salmon and steelhead in Northern California, where these species have been troubled with habitat damage for over 100 years due to human activity. And now, according to the NOAA report, climate changes has only worsened these habitat problems.

Now NOAA Fisheries has introduced the Salmonid Habitat Restoration Priorities (SHaRP), a process that creates a strategy to rebuild salmon and steelhead within a watershed by focusing on restoring its heathier less impaired areas. According to the NOAA announcement, scientists expect that improved fish survival and reproduction in these restored areas will enable faster recolonization of the more degraded areas.

“The SHaRP process builds upon existing recovery plans and identifies very specific actions to create real wins for declining species,” said Barry Thom, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries West Coast. “This approach to conservation offers the restoration community a seat at the table to design a near-term recovery strategy to maximize restoration impacts for their watershed,” he said.

The process was developed by NOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and first applied to the South Fork Eel River, a few hours’ drive north of San Francisco Bay. The process starts by identifying the focus areas within an overall watershed that have the greatest potential to support healthy salmon and steelhead. Local experts in each area then come together to evaluate the challenges facing each life stage of each species, come to an agreement on the best restoration solutions to these challenges, and develop an action plan.

The SHaRP process involves collaboration, partnership and community engagement at its core, to rebuild streams and rivers so they can support salmon and steelhead runs and the cultural, economic and environmental benefits that they provide, NOAA officials said.

Commercial Salmon Harvest in Alaska Approaches 28 Million Fish

The commercial salmon harvest in Alaska has now reached a preliminary estimate to date of nearly 28 million fish, more than doubling the overall catch from a week ago.

As of Tuesday, July 6, deliveries to processors included some 21.5 million sockeyes, 3.6 million pink, nearly 2.6 million chum, 64,000 Chinook and 7,000 coho salmon.

The big surge came, as anticipated, in Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska, where gillnetters have delivered to processors as estimated nearly 16 million salmon, with few exceptions all sockeyes.

Fishermen in the Nushagak district have already set two new all-time record high daily landing totals, including an estimated 1.7 million sockeyes landed on June 30 and 1.8 million salmon on July 1, both in 24-hour periods. The preliminary cumulative harvest for the Nushagak as of late Tuesday, June 6, was in excess of 10 million fish.

The Egegik District has delivered to processors 3.6 million fish and the Naknek-Kvichak District some 1.6 million fish. Another 666,000 salmon were delivered from the Ugashik District and 35,000 fish from the Togiak District. Alaska’s Central District, also including Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound has brought in a total of nearly 19 million salmon.

Meanwhile in Alaska’s Westward District, the preliminary harvest figures posted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game show an estimated catch of nearly nine million salmon.

For the Alaska Peninsula that includes more than eight million salmon caught in the Alaska Peninsula, including over four million sockeye, 3.3 million pink, 802,000 coho, 4,000 Chinook and 3,000 coho. The Kodiak catch to date of 794,000 fish, includes an estimated 688,000 sockeye, 66,000 pink, and 40,000 chum salmon.

For Southeast Alaska, ADF&G has a preliminary harvest total of 105,000 fish, including some 50,000 Chinook, 36,000 chum, 10,000 pin, 5,000 sockeye and 4,000 coho, Harvests are yet to begin in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwin region.

BC Officials Agree to Meet with Transboundary Rivers Group Over Mining Issues

British Columbia officials say they’re willing to meet with an Alaska transboundary rivers entity to discuss a pause on permits, permit amendments and approval of new mining projects along salmon-rich transboundary rivers.

The invitation was extended in early July by George Heyman, the province’s minister of environment and climate change strategy. Fred Olsen Jr., executive director of the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC), said that the SEITC is excited about the letter and the opportunity to work with the B.C. government directly on the issue.

Commercial fishing, environmental entities and others in Southeast Alaska have been concerned for years about the potential for water pollution from mines along transboundary waters in British Columbia. Olsen said that SEITC is not trying to stop development, but that such development should be done right to begin with to avoid harm to salmon habitat.

Heyman said that the two entities share goals of environmental protection and progress in the fight against climate change. Heyman noted that B.C.’s Climate Change Accountability Act sets ambitious legislated targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of up to 80% below 2007 levels by 2050. To that end the B.C. government developed a CleanBC plan which establishes initial policies to move the province toward its 2030 mission reduction target of 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 2007.

From the Editor: Offshore Wind

By Mark Nero, Managing Editor

Offshore wind energy development is something that has piqued the interest of quite a few in the maritime industry over the past several months, partly because in late June the Biden Administration announced plans to open a number of areas off the California coast to offshore wind development.

The issue is so imperative that there’s an article devoted to it in the August edition of Fishermen’s News magazine, including comments from representatives of the commercial fishing community.

And although the various concerns about the feds’ proposal are legitimate and completely warranted, it’s worth noting that on the other side of the country, offshore wind energy has been up and running for years, and has apparently not harmed fishing as some thought it would. In fact, according to studies, it has seemed to actually help improve fishing in the area.

According to one study undertaken by the University of Rhode Island (URI), the country’s first offshore wind array – the Block Island Wind Farm, which went in operation in late 2016 and is located off the coast of Rhode Island – has become a popular area for recreational fishing.

How? Why? Well, according to the study, which was published in 2019, many anglers believe the bases of the five, 6-megawatt wind turbines that make up the wind farm are acting as an artificial reef. So said the study’s principal investigator, David Bidwell, an assistant professor of marine affairs at URI.

“There’s been a lot of focus on the views of the commercial fishing side toward offshore wind,” Bidwell said, according to a November, 2019 article by journalist Lisa Prevost on the Energy News Network website. “But understanding how recreational anglers interact with this new industry is important because recreational fishing is important to the economy and quality of life in coastal communities.”

In focus groups conducted as part of one study, recreational anglers spoke positively about fishing conditions around the turbines, including a spearfisher who told researchers that the underwater support structure for the turbines was “loaded” with mussels and crustaceans, and was attracting scup, mahi-mahi and striped bass.

Rich Hittinger of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association told Energy News Network that he’s fished within a half mile of the turbines at least 50 times. The area had been a good fish habitat before the turbines went in, and remained so afterward, he said. “Our bottom-line impression is that those five turbines are not causing any kind of a negative effect,” Hittinger remarked. “And they may be causing a slight positive affect. For example, there are a lot of black sea bass around those turbine bases. I’m sure they’re there because the bases are totally encrusted with mussels and other small organisms.”

So, while there aren’t many direct parallels between the four-and-a-half-year-old Block Island Wind Farm in the Atlantic Ocean and the potential opening up of offshore wind farms in the Pacific, the point is that when it comes to Mother Nature, you never know what to expect.

Although there’s a chance that any future wind array could be a bane to the West Coast commercial fishing industry, there’s also the possibility that wind arrays could also have some sort of positive effect on the marine ecosystem, resulting in various species of fish spawning in greater numbers.

Just some food for thought.

Managing Editor Mark Nero can be reached at:

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