Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Allow retention of smaller halibut, FVOA says

The Seattle-based Fishing Vessel Owners' Association has submitted an intriguing proposal to reduce the minimum size requirement for commercially caught halibut from 32 inches to 30 inches.

The proposal will be up for consideration at the Jan. 26-30 meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

FVOA is a major player in Alaska's halibut fishery, representing a large number of commercial longliners. Its manager, Bob Alverson, is one of the three U.S. members on the halibut commission.

The FVOA proposal is signed by the group's president, Per Odegaard.

The proposal explains that retaining more small halibut, rather than releasing them, could substantially reduce handling and "wastage" in the fishery.

FVOA is asking the commission to review the proposal for possible implementation in 2015.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Vast Aleutian marine sanctuary proposed

Environmental groups want the Obama administration to designate the Aleutian Islands as a national marine sanctuary.

As you can see from the map above, the sanctuary would take in far more than just local waters along the chain. Rather, it would encompass Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea shelf, where some of the nation's most important commercial fisheries occur.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is spearheading the proposal. The Center for Biological Diversity is among other groups listed in the nomination letter.

Here's a press release discussing the basis for establishing an Aleutian Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Oceana, Greenpeace sue over sea lions

Environmental groups Oceana and Greenpeace this week filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service in a bid to block expanded commercial fishing in the Aleutian chain.

The suit is a reaction to the new federal policy on Steller sea lion protections.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bering Sea pollock edges up; Gulf cod surges

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set the 2015 total allowable catch (TAC) for Alaska groundfish.

Here are the TACs for key species and the percent change from 2014.

BERING SEA AND ALEUTIAN ISLANDS

Eastern Bering Sea pollock, 1,310,000 tons, up 3.4 percent
Pacific cod, 249,422 tons, down 1.8 percent
Yellowfin sole, 149,000 tons, down 19 percent
Atka mackerel, 54,500 tons, up 68.6 percent
Pacific Ocean perch, 32,021 tons, down 3.3 percent
Sablefish, 3,135 tons, down 0.5 percent

GULF OF ALASKA

Pollock, 199,151 tons, up 13.8 percent
Pacific cod, 75,202 tons, up 16.2 percent
Pacific Ocean perch, 21,012 tons, up 8.8 percent
Sablefish, 10,522 tons, down 0.5 percent

The TACs are subject to U.S. commerce secretary approval.

Friday, December 12, 2014

BBRSDA confirms director departure

With the resignation of Matt Luck, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is looking to fill a vacancy on its board of directors. Here's the announcement.

F/V Trailblazer crewman needs medevac

The 23-year-old crewman crushed his hand in a pot launcher, the U.S. Coast Guard said. More details in this news release.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Council to consider catch limits and much more

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will hold its most important meeting of the year this week in Anchorage.

The 11-member council, which helps regulate federal fisheries off Alaska, will set 2015 catch limits for pollock, cod and other groundfish.

The panel also has quite a few other items on its agenda.

One that caught my eye is this enforcement report from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cotten named acting fish and game commissioner

Gov. Bill Walker has appointed Sam Cotten as acting commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game.

Here's the official announcement.

Catastrophe reported in western Bering Sea

A South Korean pollock vessel sank near Russia, and rescuers are searching for more than 50 people, according to this news report.