Saturday, April 4, 2020

Bristol Bay's demands

Fishermen and processors expecting to travel to Bristol Bay this summer for the state's richest salmon fishery are facing a rising tide of preconditions and bureaucracy.

Why? Local residents in Dillingham and other Bristol Bay communities greatly fear the influx of thousands of fishermen, cannery workers, and vendors could unleash a local coronavirus outbreak.

Proposals to restrict fishery participants are proliferating.

The latest example is this slate of protocols from local organizations united under the banner Bristol Bay Working Group.

These protocols, which the working group says will be conveyed to the state government, appear to suggest that fishermen and cannery workers will need two negative COVID-19 tests. That's just one of numerous proposed rules for industry.

And woe unto anyone who violates the protocols.

"Failure to comply by employees or fishermen will result in immediate termination of market and removal," the working group suggests.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

New faces for fish board

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has appointed Abe Williams, of Anchorage, and McKenzie Mitchell, of Fairbanks, to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

The governor also reappointed John Jensen, of Petersburg.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

$300 million for fisheries

The U.S. Senate last night passed a gigantic coronavirus economic rescue package that includes $300 million in assistance to "fishery participants."

Here's the actual language from the bill (H.R. 748). The language begins:

"The Secretary of Commerce is authorized to provide assistance to Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which may include direct relief payments."

The $2 trillion bill still needs House and presidential approval.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Seafood industry plea

A who's who of seafood producers is requesting $4 billion in federal funding to help the industry weather the coronavirus storm.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Could coronavirus hurt Alaska's top salmon fishery?

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which represents drift gillnet fishermen, today issued this update on the coronavirus situation:

BBRSDA recognizes the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis has the potential to cause significant disruptions to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. Response working groups have been created at a local, industry, and state level (including the Alaska Economic Stabilization Team created by Governor Dunleavy). Each group has already begun working to address emerging and potential issues. BBRSDA is either directly participating in or is in contact with all these groups to monitor the situation and develop contingency plans as critical needs develop. BBRSDA is also in communication with industry groups working with federal lawmakers to minimize the far reaching impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the seafood industry.

Staffing processing facilities and fishery operations with healthy workers is a key concern. Thus far, there have not been any mandatory quarantines or government-ordered travel restrictions placed on the Bristol Bay industry (outside of a self-quarantine for Bristol Bay Borough staff who've traveled outside the region). A wide range of potential issues are being discussed, identified, and contingency plans are being developed. Rest assured, resources are being mobilized quickly to avoid disruptions as much as possible to fishery business; however, we obviously cannot make any guarantees.

We urge all Bristol Bay fishermen to practice diligent health and hygiene habits. Additional information will be provided as potential impacts or contingency options emerge with greater clarity.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Disaster aid OK'd for cod, Chignik salmon fisheries

Alaska's congressional delegation says $24.4 million in disaster relief has been approved for the 2018 cod crash and $10.3 million for the 2018 sockeye failure at Chignik.

More details in this press release.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Juneau watch

State Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, has introduced a bill relating to "the delegation of authority to fish under a limited entry commercial fishing permit."