Recently published research examining possible negative effects of hatchery salmon production on wild stocks generated quite a bit of publicity such as this.
Folks at Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., Alaska's largest hatchery operator, apparently didn't appreciate all the media attention.
And something will be done about it, according to this summary of PWSAC's May 23 executive committee meeting.
Here's the relevant part:
Chairman's Report (George Covel) • Google Alerts — PWSAC uses this as a monitoring tool. Recently, over 30 news media
stories have been posted on the internet about research conducted regarding the
interactions of hatchery and wild salmon. Several of these are publications from ADF&G
staff. Covel reported that ADF&G will put into place new tools to prevent this from
happening again in the future. It is important for Department to clear this up. PWSAC is
monitoring this along with Tracy Foster, Foster Communication Strategies.
Deckboss can hardly wait to ask the Alaska Department of Fish and Game exactly what sort of "tools" we're talking about.
It's not uncommon to see some pretty stiff competition for seats on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
But this year, the campaigning seems particularly intense.
You might recall our post back in March about how a large industry bloc was thinking of mounting a challenge to Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire's top choice for a council seat, Lori Swanson. The industry group preferred the second name on Gregoire's list of nominees, Craig Cross.
Well, the challenge is on and Cross is getting a major push.
It's up to the U.S. commerce secretary to decide who ultimately gets the seat, and the decision is expected by the end of June.
Deckboss hears reliably that a ranking Commerce Department official, Eric Schwaab, met with the At-sea Processors Association during its recent gathering in Hawaii. The Seattle-based association represents the Bering Sea pollock factory trawl fleet, and its Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Jim Gilmore, has been leading the charge for Cross.
Here's a Gilmore email from a couple of days ago talking about congressional support for Cross, and laying out details for a "letter writing campaign" to the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service:
I am advised that to help push Craig Cross' candidacy forward that a letter writing campaign to NOAA/NMFS would be helpful. Letters need to go out today or Tuesday.
For the organizations on this distribution list, can you please get as many of your members as possible to reiterate their support for Craig? One hundred letters should be our goal.
As you know, Craig has secured the support of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Congressmen Rick Larsen and Jim McDermott. We hope to get one or two more Congressional endorsements, as well, but we need grassroots support, too. And a grassroots campaign could make it easier to land more Congressional endorsements.
The A80 fleet has responded to the Congressional endorsements with an aggressive letter writing campaign. We have provided NOAA/NMFS with the two dozen attached letters of support for Craig, many letters written by you to Governor Gregoire. You can use them as a model for letters to NOAA/NMFS. I also suggest that you note the broad range of support for Craig within the industry as I believe most of the letters for Lori are from the A80 fleet.
1. Address letters to Sam Rauch, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East West Hwy., Silver Spring, MD 20910.
2. Email the letter to Bill Chappell at William.Chappell@noaa.gov. He is handling the nominations within NMFS HQ.
3. Please copy the following staff in the WA delegation: Shawn_Bills@murray.senate.gov; Nicole_Teutschel@cantwell.senate.gov; Paul.Hoover@mail.house.gov; Alan.Lee@mail.house.gov; Matt.Bormet@mail.house.gov. (Those are the staffers for Murray, Cantwell, Adam Smith, McDermott, and Larsen, respectively.)
4. If you can have folks blind copy me at email@example.com, that will help us keep a library of these support letters.
Thanks to all for your continued support for Craig.
Director of Public Affairs
At-sea Processors Association
Cross is director of government affairs and business development for Aleutian Spray Fisheries. One of Aleutian Spray's vessels, the factory trawler Starbound, is a member of the At-sea Processors Association. Aleutian Spray also has other boats including freezer longliners, which broadens industry support for Cross.
The "A80 fleet" mentioned in the email refers to flatfish trawlers, known as the Amendment 80 fleet, that Swanson represents. This is a relatively narrow segment of the Alaska industry.
Evidently, the Swanson camp likewise is campaigning very hard to reel in the council seat.
A similar competition is developing over an Alaska seat now held by Dan Hull, an Anchorage resident who fishes commercially for halibut and salmon out of Cordova.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell in March nominated Hull for a new term on the council.
But Hull supporters are concerned that the Commerce Department might reject Hull and instead choose another, lower name on Parnell's list. That would be Tim Evers of Ninilchik, a longtime boat charter operator.
That's disconcerting to commercial interests who don't want to see more sportfish representation on the council.
Deckboss acquired this recent action alert exhorting Hull supporters to put in a good word for him:
SITUATION. Gov Parnell has nominated Dan Hull (Longliner and gillnetter) and Ed Dersham (Sport) for reappointment to the NPFMC. The Secretary of Commence will make a decision soon and will announce appointments by the end of June.
We understand that there is an effort underway to get the Secretary to appoint a retired charter operator to replace Dan Hull on the council. This would give the charter sector two of eleven voting seats on the Council, which is out of proportion to the single charter issue before the council — halibut charter allocation.
ACTION. If you see Senator Begich, Senator Murkowski, or Congressman Young in Alaska over the Memorial Day recess, please make these points. Senator Begich will be in Petersburg Sunday (May 27).
By June 2, please send a short message via email to the Secretary of Commerce and copy the NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and the Congressional Delegation (email below). Personalizing the message will make it stronger.
The fish tender St. Joseph, beached between Cape Suckling and Cape Yakataga. A Coast Guard helicopter safely hoisted the five-member crew Friday night after the vessel lost steering in 20-foot seas 52 miles southeast of Cordova. The abandoned boat then went aground. "We are working diligently with the owner of the vessel to develop salvage and response plans to recover the St. Joesph from the beach," said Lt. Doreen
McCarthy, command duty officer of Marine Safety Unit Valdez. "At this time there
is no reported pollution." State records list the owner as Jeff Schock of Everett, Wash. Copper River Seafoods photo via USCG
Here's a press release from the Alaska State Troopers:
Location: Togiak Type: Death investigation
On 5/17/12 at approximately 0500 hours, AST received a report of a death on the F/V Gordon Jensen, a fish processor anchored about 10 miles south of Togiak. AST investigation determined Stanley E. Allison Jr., 43, of Washington, was working as a deckhand on the vessel when he collapsed at about 0330 hours. Efforts to resuscitate Allison at the scene were unsuccessful. Allison was flown to the Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham. A state trooper based in Dillingham was flown to the fishing vessel for additional investigation. Foul play is not suspected, however, an autopsy was requested to determine cause of death. Next of kin have been notified.
The 310-foot Gordon Jensen belongs to Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods Inc. The vessel presumably was in Togiak for the herring fishery that opened Monday.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a draft assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed, and whether large-scale mining could harm its famed salmon runs.
The assessment was done in response to the clamor over the proposed Pebble copper and gold mine, although the EPA says it didn't focus in-depth on any specific project.
Bottom line is, the EPA report "concludes that there is potential for certain activities associated with large-scale mining to have adverse impacts on the productivity and sustainability of the salmon fishery in the watershed."
The EPA stops far short, however, of declaring that major mining projects in the Bristol Bay watershed should be forbidden right here and now.
Looks like we've got a significant vacancy down in Petersburg.
The Petersburg Vessel Owners Association has released this job posting:
Petersburg Vessel Owners Association is seeking an Executive Director for a multi-gear multi-species commercial fishing advocacy group. Duties include: representing PVOA at various fisheries management forums, boards, and committees; informing the board and the membership of current issues; maintaining and building membership; and administrative work. Knowledge of the fishing industry is preferred. Position is considered part-time with significant travel expected and salary averages $35,000 per year based on experience.
The outgoing executive director, Julianne Curry, tells Deckboss: "I haven't decided what I'm doing next!"
As we've reported recently, fishermen are having a hard time catching this season's Bering Sea snow crab quota. But that's because of interference from sea ice, not a lack of crabs.
Yesterday, the National Marine Fisheries Service declared the snow crab stock officially "rebuilt" from its crash in 1999.
That's according to the agency's annual Status of U.S. Fisheries report to Congress.
Here's what NMFS had to say about snow crab:
The important role stock assessments and sustainably managed fisheries play
in the U.S. economy is demonstrated by the recent rebuilding of the Bering Sea
snow crab fishery. In 1999, scientists found that snow crab stock was overfished.
In response, managers cut harvests for the following fishing seasons to a level
that would allow the stock to recover. Under conservative harvest levels, Alaska
snow crab has rebounded and is now above its target population level. This is
good news for the resource and for fishermen, too. An abundant resource can
sustainably support higher harvests, and managers boosted the harvest limit
for 2011/2012 by 64 percent. This increase in harvest of Bering Sea snow crab is
anticipated to have a multi-million dollar benefit to the U.S. economy, fishermen,
and the seafood industries that depend on this resource.
Deckboss regulars know we've occasionally touched on the topic of Alaska's prolific salmon hatcheries, and whether manufactured fish are having any detrimental effects on our purely wild runs.
This has long been a concern of some state biologists. Now it appears the state is taking steps to investigate the matter further.
The Department of Fish and Game has issued a request for proposals from "entities interested in conducting a research program to address interactions of wild and hatchery pink and chum salmon in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska."
It's a pretty serious contract, worth up to $4.5 million.
Jump to page 27 of the 73-page RFP to read the very interesting "scope of work" to be performed.
On a related note, the Wild Salmon Center of Portland, Ore., today announced new research suggesting hatchery-raised salmon "can harm wild salmon through competition for food and habitat."
The Norton Sound winter king crab fishery is scheduled to close on Tuesday, and it will end on a happy note.
"Congratulations to Norton Sound fishermen on one of the best winter crab seasons in history," says this announcement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "The commercial catch so far this season of over 8,500 crabs is second only to the first winter commercial season in 1977-78 when 9,625 crabs were caught."
Coast Guard responds to ammonia leak reported on fishing vessel
JUNEAU — Coast Guard personnel are responding to reports of an ammonia leak and crewmembers suffering from ammonia exposure on the fishing vessel Alaska Juris 80 miles north of Cold Bay.
An Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules airplane, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter deployed on the Kodiak-based Coast Guard cutter Munro are responding to the distressed vessel.
“We are sending multiple air assets to ensure the most efficient response possible,” said Lt. Lane Munroe, a watchstander at the 17th Coast Guard District command center. “Getting on scene quickly and assisting the crew of the vessel is our number one priority.”
Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received the report of the ammonia leak at 12:38 p.m. and air assets were expected to arrive on scene at 5 p.m.
is a state flush with billions of dollars in surplus oil revenue.
not unusual to see our legislators spend a good chunk of that money every year on
capital projects — everything from road improvements to research equipment to
artificial turf for high school football fields.
reviewed the new capital budget the Legislature passed April 15 and couldn’t help but notice the
sizeable sums awarded to the state’s hatchery operators, as well as shellfish growers.
are a huge factor in Alaska’s “wild” salmon harvests. The hatcheries pump millions
of baby fish into the ocean, many to return as adult salmon that sustain commercial
fleets and processors.
tend to notice industries employing thousands of people, so it’s no surprise to
see some serious hatchery love in the capital budget.
helps to have a persuasive lobbyist in Juneau.
Cordova-based Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., one of the state’s
biggest hatchery operators, employed two lobbyists this year for a combined
$75,000, state records show.
hatchery operator, Juneau-based Armstrong-Keta Inc., employed a lobbyist for $30,000,
and the Ketchikan-based Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association paid
its lobbyist $15,000.
here is a list of aquaculture items compiled from the capital budget bill, which is
headed to the governor for his signature — and for possible line item vetoes.
Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association — hatchery equipment and
deferred maintenance, $455,000
Lake Hatchery — deferred maintenance, $650,000
• Metlakatla Indian Community — design and construction of chum hatchery, $500,000
• Metlakatla Indian Community — net pens and hatchery improvements, $150,000
• Prince Of Wales Hatchery Association — hatchery equipment replacements and upgrades, $475,000