Thursday, December 31, 2015

Setnetters win

The Alaska Supreme Court, in an opinion issued today, struck down a proposed ballot initiative to ban commercial setnets in certain areas of the state including Cook Inlet.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pollock climbs, sablefish drops

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set the 2016 total allowable catch (TAC) for Alaska groundfish.

Here are the TACs for key species and the percent change from 2015.

BERING SEA AND ALEUTIAN ISLANDS

Eastern Bering Sea pollock, 1,340,000 tons, up 2.3 percent
Pacific cod, 251,519 tons, up 0.8 percent
Yellowfin sole, 144,000 tons, down 3.4 percent
Atka mackerel, 55,000 tons, up 0.9 percent
Pacific Ocean perch, 31,900 tons, down 0.4 percent
Sablefish, 2,708 tons, down 13.6 percent

GULF OF ALASKA

Pollock, 257,872 tons, up 29.5 percent
Pacific cod, 71,925 tons, down 4.4 percent
Pacific Ocean perch, 24,437 tons, up 16.3 percent
Sablefish, 9,087 tons, down 13.6 percent

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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sizeable Sitka herring harvest projected

The state has set a preliminary quota of 15,674 tons of herring for next spring's Sitka Sound sac roe fishery.

That's a fairly large number.

This year, Sitka seiners and processors working as a cooperative took the full quota of 8,756 tons. The fishery ran from March 18-25.

The 2014 season yielded a harvest of 16,976 tons of herring.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pollock aplenty

The Eastern Bering Sea pollock stock appears quite healthy, and federal regulators are likely to set another large harvest quota for the 2016 season.

That's based on the lastest stock assessment, which recommends an ABC, or acceptable biological catch, of 2,090,000 tons.

That's more than enough to allow for a quota equal to or greater than this year's 1,310,000 tons.

Bering Sea pollock is one of the world's largest and most lucrative commercial fish stocks. The whitefish is used to produce such products as fish sticks and surimi.

Pollock roe also is very valuable, comprising over 4 percent of the catch weight under optimal conditions.

From 1977-2015, the Eastern Bering Sea pollock catch has averaged 1,178,008 tons.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will set 2016 quotas for pollock and other Alaska groundfish at its meeting next month in Anchorage.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

FDA blesses genetically engineered salmon

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced its approval of genetically engineered salmon.

The FDA decision pertains specifically to a line of fish known as AquAdvantage salmon, from Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies Inc.

Here's the FDA's main determination:

After an exhaustive and rigorous scientific review, FDA has arrived at the decision that AquAdvantage salmon is as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious.

The agency added:

FDA assessed the environmental impacts of approving this application and found that the approval would not have a significant impact on the environment of the United States. That's because the multiple containment measures the company will use in the land-based facilities in Panama and Canada make it extremely unlikely that the fish could escape and establish themselves in the wild.

Read more from the FDA here.

Alaska's congressional delegation is furious with FDA's decision.

Here's a press release from AquaBounty.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

USDA stocks up on pink salmon

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the purchase of $5.3 million worth of canned pink salmon for child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs.

Processors making sales include Ocean Beauty, Peter Pan and Trident.

Here's a purchase summary with more details.

Friday, November 13, 2015

UW's sockeye forecast is bigger than state's

The University of Washington Alaska Salmon Program is predicting a harvest of 34.1 million sockeye next year in Bristol Bay.

That's well above the 29.5 million the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting.

Bristol Bay processors pay for the UW forecast. Read it here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

BBRSDA names new leader

Becky Martello will take over as executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, effective Dec. 14.

Here's a press release with details about her background.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Here's your Southeast Alaska pink salmon forecast

The state is predicting a harvest of 34 million pink salmon next year in Southeast Alaska.

"An actual harvest of 34 million pink salmon would be below the recent 10-year average of 38 million pink salmon," the Department of Fish and Game said in this news release.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bristol Bay forecast is out, and it's big

The state is projecting another large sockeye salmon catch next year in Bristol Bay — 29.5 million fish.

This year's catch was 35.7 million sockeye.

Here's the 2016 forecast.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

We have a new ASMI boss

Alexa Tonkovich is the new executive director at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

She moves up from her post as ASMI's international program director.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kelley named Alaska comfish director

Alaska Department of Fish and Game veteran Scott Kelley will be the state's new commercial fisheries director, succeeding Jeff Regnart.

Here's the memo sent last week to department employees:

Dear ADF&G staff,

I am pleased to announce Scott Kelley has accepted the position of Director of the Division of Commercial Fisheries. Many of you know Scott because he has worked for the Division of Commercial Fisheries for nearly 25 years, most recently as a fish and game coordinator for the shellfish and groundfish fisheries in Southeast. Scott holds a Bachelor’s degree in fisheries management and Master’s degree in fisheries science. He also has substantial expertise in the Alaska Board of Fisheries process, years of experience in salmon enhancement planning and project development, a solid understanding of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, and intimate knowledge of the budget process and the various fund sources that make up the division’s budget. His education and experience will be a valued addition to the leadership team.

His first day as director will officially be Wednesday, October 21. Scott will begin by representing the department at the Board of Fisheries Work Session in Anchorage.

Many thanks to Forrest Bowers for stepping forward to act as director during the last few weeks while recruitment efforts were underway.

Please join me in welcoming Scott to his new role, and offering your assistance as he transitions to the director position.

Sincerely,

Sam Cotten
Commissioner

Monday, October 19, 2015

Super salmon catch, poor payoff

This year's Alaska commercial salmon catch exceeded 263 million fish, the second-highest total ever.

But the estimated ex-vessel value, at $414 million, was something of a disappointment.

The numbers are included in this press release from the Department of Fish and Game.

Last year's catch of less than 157 million salmon paid almost $577 million.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Authorities investigate Kodiak diver death

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Old Harbor
Type: Death investigation
On 10/11/15 at approximately 1336 hours, Alaska State Troopers were notified of a deceased individual at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center. Investigation revealed the U.S. Coast Guard had medevaced a diver from the F/V Momo and Maddie to the hospital emergency room. The vessel was participating in the sea cucumber commercial dive fishery near Port Hobron, approximately six miles from the village of Old Harbor. Further investigation identified the commercial diver as Gary Graves, 36, of Kodiak. The state medical examiner was notified of the death and requested the body be transported to their office for examination. Next of kin has been notified and the investigation continues.

Editor's note: State records list Gary A. Graves, of Dover, N.H., as the owner of the 47-foot Momo and Maddie.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Snow crab quota takes 40 percent hit

Fishery managers just posted the Bering Sea snow crab quota for the upcoming season, and the news isn't good.

At 40.6 million pounds, the quota is down 40 percent from last season.

The fishery opens at noon Oct. 15, but the industry usually waits until after the new year to harvest snow crab, also known as opilio crab.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bristol Bay association clarifies Pebble stance

Read it here.

Bristol Bay red king crab quota holds steady

The Bristol Bay red king crab quota for the 2015-16 season is just under 10 million pounds, about the same as last season.

The fishery opens at noon Oct. 15.

Monday, September 21, 2015

$2,072

This year's Alaska Permanent Fund dividend amount is $2,072.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Are Alaska crab quotas headed for a fall?

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council's Crab Plan Team will meet all next week in Seattle, and a key document on the table will be this technical memorandum with the results of this year's Eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey.

Deckboss certainly didn't have time to read the full 172-page report, but he did manage to find these intriguing snippets regarding the two most important commercial species:

Bristol Bay red king crab
In 2015, an overall decrease in male red king crabs was observed compared to last year. (page 16)

Bering Sea snow crab
Mature male and female and pre-recruit-male abundance and biomass is substantially down from 2014, and below the previous 10-year average. However, an increase in juvenile abundance over the past 3 years provides hope for strong recruitment in upcoming years. (page 25)

A couple of tables within the report are certainly worth a look: Table 6 for red king crab (page 37) and Table 19 for snow crab (page 50). Each table indicates a big drop in "legal male" biomass in 2015 compared to 2014.

It won't be too long before fishery managers announce catch quotas for the upcoming crab fisheries, which open Oct. 15.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Regnart leaving as commercial fisheries director

Jeff Regnart is stepping down as the state's commercial fisheries director, effective Oct. 2.

That's according to a note sent on behalf of Commissioner Sam Cotten to Alaska Department of Fish and Game employees.

"Jeff has done an exceptional job serving the division, the department and the state in many capacities for over two decades," the note said. "We hate to see him go, but also understand that personal reasons will take him outside the state."

Regnart was appointed commercial fisheries director in February 2011 during the Parnell administration.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

State secures convictions against three trawlers, wins forfeiture of Pacific cod worth $106,326

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Kagalaska Strait
Type: Commercial fish closed waters
On 2/24/15 Dutch Harbor Wildlife Troopers received information regarding three commercial trawl vessels that had fished within closed waters between 175 and 178 degrees W longitude in the Aleutian Islands area. The three vessels were the 296-foot Katie Ann operated by Daniel Skauge, of Oregon; the 102-foot Muir Milach operated by David Willmore, of Washington; and the 88-foot Aleutian Challenger operated by Michael Murdock, of Washington. Investigation revealed the three vessels made multiple tows with their trawls through state waters in violation of state regulations. A non-pelagic trawl used to harvest Pacific cod during the state waters A season may not be more than 60 feet in overall length. Skauge pled guilty to three counts of commercial fishing in closed waters, with a $6,000 fine and forfeiture of 6,989 pounds of cod. Willmore pled guilty to one count of commercial fishing in closed waters, with a $3,000 fine and forfeiture of 248,035 pounds of cod. Murdock pled guilty to one count of commercial fishing in closed waters, with a $3,000 fine and forfeiture of 138,767 pounds of cod. The approximate value of cod forfeited to the state was $106,326.

Editor's note: All three defendants entered their pleas on Aug. 25 in Unalaska District Court.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Icicle sale called off

The sale of Icicle Seafoods announced in June has fallen through.

Details in this press release.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Obama visits Dillingham today

Alaska Dispatch News is running a live blog to track the president's travels in Western Alaska.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Big catch, disappointing value

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game just posted its summary of the Bristol Bay salmon season.

The harvest of all species (mainly sockeye) was huge at 36.7 million fish, but the ex-vessel value of $94.8 million was 15 percent below the 20-year average.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

NMFS, industry win Steller sea lion case

A federal judge has ruled in favor of the National Marine Fisheries Service and industry in a case in which Oceana and Greenpeace challenged expanded commercial fishing in the Aleutian chain.

Here's the 18-page order.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chignik discontent

Folks at Chignik are unhappy with the management of local salmon fisheries and are petitioning the governor for changes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wanna be on the halibut commission?

The National Marine Fisheries Service is extending the nomination period for candidates to fill two U.S. seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commission. Details here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Will this help?

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced plans to buy up to $30 million in "surplus" Alaska canned sockeye salmon, Sen. Lisa Murkowski says.

Details in this press release from the senator's office.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Togiak fishermen seek protection

Update: The Board of Fisheries will meet at 2 p.m. Friday to consider this matter.

Togiak District gillnetters have submitted an emergency petition to the Alaska Board of Fisheries seeking an extension of the district's unique "superexclusive" status.

Togiak is the westernmost of Bristol Bay's five salmon fishing districts, and historically the least productive.

Fishing reportedly hasn't been good this year at Togiak, and the petitioning gillnetters don't want to see fishermen from other districts transferring in to compete for sockeye.

They want the district's superexclusive protection extended by nearly three weeks, to Aug. 15.

No word yet on whether the Board of Fisheries will convene a public meeting to consider the petition.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

50 cents for Bristol Bay fish

Deckboss hears reliably that a major Bristol Bay salmon processor, Alaska General Seafoods, is sending its fishermen home with a base price of 50 cents per pound for their sockeye catches.

That's a huge drop from last year's base price of $1.20 per pound.

Ecopeace

Rival processor groups have reached a deal to end their conflict over Marine Stewardship Council certification of Alaska salmon.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Salmon notes

Here are a few items of interest from Alaska's commercial salmon season thus far.

• The statewide, all-species salmon catch stands at 73.5 million fish. Of these, 38.4 million are sockeyes and 27.8 million are pinks. The season forecast calls for a statewide harvest of 221 million salmon.

• Just like that, the Southeast Alaska summer troll Chinook salmon season is over. The Department of Fish and Game says the fleet caught the full 150,000-fish allocation during the eight-day opener that began July 1. Managers say 729 troll vessels made landings, and catch rates were "very good."

• The Prince William Sound pink salmon seine harvest through July 16 is estimated at 22.4 million fish, including pinks taken for cost recovery at the Valdez hatchery. "This is a record cumulative total for the date," the department says.

Rough riders

The gillnetter St. Charliett alongside the tender Tempest during heavy weather yesterday in Bristol Bay. The fishery's remarkable late surge continues, with the catch at nearly 29 million sockeye coming into the weekend. Our thanks to Jack Molan, captain aboard the tender Cornelia Marie, for the fine photo.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bristol Bay's late rally

What a weird season at Bristol Bay.

Through the Fourth of July, the catch was a demoralizing 8 million sockeye salmon.

Since then, the sockeye have stormed in and landings have surged.

Gillnetters scored big on Friday and Saturday with catches of more than 2 million fish each day, and the grand total now stands at nearly 19 million fish.

The season, however, is still likely to end in disappointment as the preseason harvest forecast of 37.6 million fish seems out of reach.

That's especially so if lots of gillnetters have to call it quits, pull their boats, and head home to their families and regular jobs.

As for prices? Well, we still haven't heard anything reliable on that front.

Have you?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Who killed the sea lions?

A commercial fishing group, Cordova District Fishermen United, is offering $5,000 for information leading to the conviction of whomever is responsible for a Steller sea lion slaughter near Cordova.

With the $2,500 federal officials have offered, the total reward is now $7,500. More details in this press release.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bristol Bay bust?

Gillnetters in Bristol Bay have taken just over 8 million sockeye salmon through the Fourth of July.

Uh-oh.

Independence Day usually marks the peak of the Bristol Bay fishery, and so we would have expected a much bigger harvest by now considering the state's preseason forecast of 37.6 million fish.

Alas, we've seen plenty of seasons when the catch came in way under, or way over, the forecast.

This looks like one of those way under years. Even if the industry doubles the current tally, we'd have only 16 million sockeye for the season, far below last year's harvest of 28.8 million.

Still no word on fish prices. But an unexpectedly small harvest should push up prices substantially, don't you think?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Injured man hoisted off seiner near Sand Point

The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday airlifted an injured man off a fishing vessel near Sand Point.

The 28-year-old patient was reported to have a head injury. He was aboard a 48-foot boat listed in state records as the Capt'n Jay, a purse seiner.

Here's a video of the rescue.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Salmon notes

Here are a few highlights from Alaska's young salmon season.

• The action is starting to pick up at Bristol Bay, where gillnetters had landed 2.6 million sockeye through Monday. The season forecast calls for a bumper harvest of 37.6 million fish, so we could see the bay explode in the next few days as the fishery peaks. Track the daily catch here.

• In Southeast Alaska, the chum salmon return to the Hidden Falls Hatchery has been a huge disappointment.

• At the Copper River, gillnetters have caught just over 1.2 million sockeye and 22,492 Chinook. The preseason forecast called for 2.24 million sockeye and 6,000 Chinook.

• At Chignik, it appears about 50 seine permit holders are taking part in the fishery, down a bit.

• On the Lower Yukon River, chum fishermen are again restricted to dipnets and beach seines instead of gillnets. This allows for the safe release of scarce Chinook.

• Way up north at Kotzebue, commercial salmon fishing is expected to open July 10. At this point, however, the area has only one confirmed buyer compared to three last year.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Trollers 'outraged' over Chinook quota

The summer troll season for Chinook salmon in Southeast Alaska will open July 1.

But the state announcement fails to clearly spell out the quota.

The Alaska Trollers Association says the quota is 237,000 fish. And the trollers are outraged.

Icicle Seafoods to be sold in two pieces

After months of speculation, we now have confirmation that the owners of Icicle Seafoods Inc. are selling the company.

Here's the press release.

Icicle, based in Seattle, is one of Alaska's largest seafood processors.

Paine & Partners, the private equity firm that's held Icicle since 2007, says it has agreements to sell Icicle in two pieces.

Convergence Holdings Inc. will acquire Icicle's land-based wild seafood processing and farmed salmon activities.

Dominion Catchers LLC will acquire Icicle's harvesting and processing vessels as well as the associated fishing rights.

"Convergence and Dominion have agreed to enter into long-term contracts to continue Icicle's diversified seafood operations," the press release says.

Convergence is described as "the latest company established by the Indonesia-based Soetantyo family."

The transaction is expected to close in August. Naturally, no one is revealing the sale price.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Death reported aboard vessel in Larsen Bay

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Kodiak
Type: Unattended death
On 6/23/15 at about 0630 hours, the Larsen Bay medical provider for Icicle Seafoods Inc. notified the Alaska State Troopers of a death aboard a fishing vessel parked in Larsen Bay. Subsequent investigation revealed Steven King, 61, of Randle, Wash., died of apparent natural causes aboard the vessel during the night. Next of kin have been notified.

MSC urges arbitration in salmon dispute

As we observed last month, Alaska's major salmon processors are having trouble rejoining the Marine Stewardship Council certification program.

That's because a group of generally smaller processors, led by Silver Bay Seafoods, holds the MSC certificate for Alaska salmon and appears unwilling to share it.

A recent attempt to settle the matter through mediation has failed.

Now the MSC is urging binding arbitration. And the organization is asking Alaska's governor to help bring the two sides to an arbitration proceeding.

Here's an exchange of correspondence laying out the situation:

Gov. Bill Walker letter to the MSC
MSC Chief Executive Rupert Howes reply

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hull, Cross, Mezirow confirmed to council

The U.S. Department of Commerce has reappointed Dan Hull, of Alaska, and Craig Cross, of Washington, to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The department also has appointed Andy Mezirow as a new Alaska member.

Here's the official announcement.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Silver Bay Seafoods to pay $75K in pollution case

Details in this press release from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nice save

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter today rescued four men forced into a life raft after their fishing vessel began sinking on the Fairweather Grounds near Lituya Bay.

Here is remarkable video of the crew abandoning ship.

The vessel involved, the 73-foot Kupreanof, is homeported in Petersburg, the Coast Guard said.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Alverson, Lane nominated for IPHC

Bob Alverson and Don Lane have been nominated for continued service as U.S. members on the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Here's the official notice.

Alverson is manager of the Fishing Vessel Owners' Association in Seattle. Lane is a commercial fisherman in Homer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What would happen in a shutdown scenario?

If the Alaska Legislature can't work out a budget and the state proceeds with a partial government shutdown come July, what would happen to fisheries management?

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game addresses that question in this press release.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Missing Trident worker found dead at Akutan

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Akutan
Type: Death investigation
On 05/26/15 at about 1350 hours, the Alaska State Troopers were notified by the Akutan village public safety officer that Yuliana Zazueca, 30, of Bakersfield, Calif., was missing and did not report for work for her scheduled shift at Trident Seafoods. A search of the island was conducted using resources from Trident, the Aleutians East Borough and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers out of Dutch Harbor. Yuliana's body was located on 5/27/15 at about 1100 hours. Next of kin has been notified. The body will be transported to Anchorage for an autopsy. No foul play is suspected.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Observer issues 'fully and satisfactorily resolved'

The Alaska Seafood Cooperative, representing Bering Sea flatfish trawlers, submitted the following response to yesterday's post: Observers report taking abuse over halibut.

Every May, NMFS' Fishery Monitoring and Analysis Division (FMA) releases a report describing various aspects of observer deployment in fisheries off Alaska. Topics include coverage levels and distribution in the partial coverage fleet, coverage rates given certain budget constraints, and general monitoring compliance among different sectors of the fleet. This latter section was highlighted yesterday in a post on Deckboss.

While the FMA report covered certain compliance issues with the Amendment 80 sector, the effectiveness of efforts by the FMA, NMFS, and industry to address some misunderstandings that spawned those complaints should be understood. Late in 2014, the Alaska Seafood Cooperative (AKSC) became aware of a small number of observer complaints relating to halibut accounting within our sector. In addition to discussing these issues, dialogue with Martin Loefflad and Chris Rilling from FMA brought to light some conflicts between observer protocols and the needs of captains for timely information concerning halibut bycatch to effectively avoid halibut. During the meeting, an acceptable solution was reached, and observers now provide raw data to captains. This information is now available in a much more timely manner.

As many may know, AKSC and its members have been collaborating with NMFS on a program to release halibut as soon as possible from a vessel's deck to improve survival. NMFS issued an exempted fishing permit (EFP) for all AKSC member vessels because of their confidence that the issues that led to the complaints are fully and satisfactorily resolved. Absent satisfactory resolution of the issues, vessels would have been prohibited from participating in the EFP.

AKSC is appreciative of NMFS' willingness to proactively work with our co-op and member companies to resolve issues with observers quickly and efficiently. This allows companies to proactively address operational issues that arise under the observer program. The effectiveness of conversations with NMFS is evident, as observers have had no such complaints in 2015.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Observers report taking abuse over halibut

The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued its 2014 annual report for the North Pacific fishery observer program.

The report is loaded with interested reading, not the least of which is on pages 87-88.

The agency notes a "significant trend" involving catcher-processor vessels and observer reports of harassment, intimidation and other issues.

Multiple investigations have been initiated, NMFS says. The report continues:

These investigations include allegations of physical sample bias including removing halibut from observer samples, or physically preventing a halibut from entering an observer's sample during collection. Additional allegations include hostile work environment due to industry behavior and remarks to the observer in an attempt to influence how they sample the catch to reduce the number of halibut in their sampling.

The report further says officials issued two "outreach letters" to the Amendment 80 trawl fleet and the freezer longline fleet.

These letters identified trends involving intimidation, harassment, hostile work environment, sample bias and attempted coercion regarding halibut bycatch sampling methods as well as catch weighing and record keeping and reporting requirements.

Monday, May 25, 2015

BycatchFacts.org

A trawl group, Groundfish Forum, has launched a special website as part of efforts to fend off tighter halibut bycatch limits.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Two council members barred from halibut vote

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, at its June 1-9 meeting in Sitka, will consider reducing halibut bycatch limits in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fishery.

Two council members, however, will not be allowed to vote on this high-profile issue.

Simon Kinneen and David Long work for groundfish harvesters that could be significantly impacted by the council's halibut bycatch decision, according to federal recusal determinations.

See pages 9-11 for the Kinneen and Long determinations.

American Seafoods — all paid up

Readers surely will recall how federal regulators last year reached a $1.75 million settlement with American Seafoods Co. for alleged monkey business involving flow scales aboard three of the company's Bering Sea factory trawlers.

At the time, the feds failed to release the written settlement agreement.

Deckboss acquired the agreement through a Freedom of Information Act request, and is happy to share it with you here.

The two-page document says American Seafoods "admits the facts constituting the violation." It also set a March 31 deadline for paying the entire $1.75 million civil penalty.

So, has the company paid?

Julie Speegle, spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service, sent the following in response to our recent inquiry:

American Seafoods paid $1,750,000.00 on April 2, 2015. This case is considered "paid in full."

Obama administration doesn't like Young's bill

The Obama administration last week issued a statement indicating Alaska Congressman Don Young's rewrite of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act might not pass muster with the president.

If Obama were presented with Young's legislation (H.R. 1335), "his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," the statement says.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act is the foremost federal law guiding management of the nation's commercial fisheries.

Young says his legislation would reauthorize and "strengthen" the act.

But the administration statement says in part:

H.R. 1335 would interfere with the tremendous success achieved in rebuilding overfished fisheries by setting rebuilding targets that are not based on sound, credible science, and that unnecessarily extend the time to rebuild fisheries. In making these changes, H.R. 1335 introduces a series of ambiguous provisions that could improperly extend rebuilding periods, delaying the significant economic and environmental benefits of rebuilt fisheries to both fishermen and the Nation as a whole.

Young's bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee on April 30.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mediation proposed for MSC squabble

Back in April, you'll recall, the state's largest salmon processors announced they wanted to rejoin the Marine Stewardship Council program.

The move was motivated, apparently, by the need to have MSC certification in order to sell salmon into certain markets such as Europe.

To rejoin the MSC, the processors must reach agreement with an association of generally smaller companies, led by Silver Bay Seafoods, that holds the MSC certificate for Alaska salmon.

Evidently, negotiations between the two sides haven't gone smoothly.

Trident Seafoods, on behalf of the major processors, recently appealed to the MSC for help with "certificate sharing."

And now the MSC has responded with this statement on the situation. Most significantly, the MSC is offering to line up a mediator to work with the parties.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Retired state trooper appointed to Board of Fish

Gov. Bill Walker has appointed Robert Mumford to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

This is the governor's third attempt to fill the seat formerly held by Karl Johnstone.

The Alaska Legislature rejected one of the previous appointees, Robert Ruffner. The other, Roland Maw, withdrew.

According to this press release, Mumford lives in Anchorage and is a retired wildlife trooper.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A big day for Cannon Fish, APICDA

Cannon Fish Co. plans to cut the ribbon Saturday on a new seafood processing plant in Kent, Washington, south of Seattle.

Cannon Fish belongs to Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association, one of Alaska's Community Development Quota organizations. APICDA acquired the company in 2013.

The new plant has the potential to employ 200 people and will work in conjunction with APICDA processing plants in two remote Alaska communities — Atka and False Pass.

More details in this press release.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Humble harvest in first Copper River opener

Thursday's 12-hour season opener at the Copper River produced a modest catch of 16,100 sockeye salmon and 1,400 Chinook, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports.

"This compares to an anticipated harvest of 37,200 sockeye salmon for this period," the department said.

The Copper River District will open again at 7 a.m. Monday for a 24-hour period. More details here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Peter Pan's Collier elected ASMI board chair

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors, at its May 5 meeting in Juneau, elected a new chair and vice chair.

Barry Collier, president of processing company Peter Pan Seafoods, was elected board chair. He replaces Kevin Adams, a Bristol Bay fisherman, in the position.

Ketchikan fisherman Tomi Marsh was elected board vice chair. She replaces Mark Palmer, president of Ocean Beauty Seafoods.

The final numbers on Togiak herring

Tim Sands, area biologist with the Department of Fish and Game in Dillingham, kindly provided Deckboss with final numbers from the Togiak sac roe herring fishery, which closed for the season on Monday.

• The total harvest was large at 21,594 tons, but fell short of the preseason quota of more than 29,000 tons.

• The purse seine fleet took its full allocation with a harvest of 20,374 tons, including an estimated 500 tons of deadloss.

• The gillnet fleet took 1,220 tons, or only 14 percent of its allocation.

• As for fishing effort, 16 seine boats and six gillnet boats took part in the fishery.

• Four processing companies showed up to buy herring: Icicle, North Pacific, Silver Bay and Trident.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Togiak herring fishery wraps up

The Togiak sac roe herring fishery will close for the season at noon today.

The purse seine fleet was expected to reach its full quota, while the gillnet fleet quit fishing on Saturday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Three notes

The Copper River salmon fishery will open for the season at 7 a.m. May 14. It'll be a 12-hour period, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says. More details here.

Out west at Togiak, the sac roe herring fishery cruises along. The seine fleet has taken 15,654 tons on its quota of 20,309 tons. As for the gillnet fleet, the department is holding the catch total confidential because only two companies are buying gillnet fish.

On the Yukon River, managers don't anticipate a commercial fishery for Chinook salmon due to continued weak returns. The picture is brighter for chum and coho. Read the Yukon outlook here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Changes at the top for Icicle

Icicle Seafoods Inc., one of the biggest fish processors operating in Alaska, has named a new chief executive officer.

Chris Ruettgers takes over for Amy Humphreys, who becomes board chairman.

Naturally, the press release doesn't really say what this change is about.

Humphreys became CEO in February 2013, replacing Dennis Guhlke.

Seattle-based Icicle is held by Paine & Partners, a private equity firm.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Big news for Dutch Harbor

The UniSea processing plant at Dutch Harbor is getting a $21 million makeover, according to a media report out of Tokyo.

The plant, one of the largest in Alaska, makes pollock surimi and also handles crab. It opened in 1990.

UniSea is a subsidiary of Nippon Suisan Kaisha.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beautiful beast

Deckboss was scouting Fishermen's Terminal in Seattle last week and spotted this gleaming new, jet-powered gillnetter. Jeff Quinn plans to put his boat to work this summer chasing sockeye in Bristol Bay. Click on the photos for a bigger view.

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's on at Togiak!

The Togiak sac roe herring fishery opened at 8 p.m. tonight.

Here's the official announcement.

The quota is enormous at 29,012 tons.

Friday, April 24, 2015

And the winners are...

Abe Williams and Buck Gibbons have won seats on the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board of directors.

See the election results here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Nice save

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter today rescued three people forced to abandon their burning vessel north of Kodiak. Read the details here.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

North Pacific Council makes two big decisions

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting in Anchorage, took two significant actions over the weekend.

First, the council voted to tighten limits on Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery. Here's the final motion, which passed by a vote of 10-0. Member Simon Kinneen, of Nome, was not allowed to vote due to a conflict of interest.

The council also voted 11-0 to approve pots as legal gear for taking sablefish in the Gulf of Alaska. Switching to pots could help fishermen frustrated over whales snatching fish off their longline hooks.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Make of it what you will

A mysterious person, presumably a public relations man, just sent the following press release to Deckboss.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alaska Salmon Producers Decide to Rejoin MSC

10 April 2015 (Seattle, WA) — Several Alaska salmon producers announced today that they have decided to rejoin Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) through the client group that holds the MSC certificate for wild Alaska salmon, Alaska Salmon Processors Association, Inc. This is in addition to their ongoing commitment to, and participation in, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-based Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification program.

This expansion would provide multiple certification choices in the global marketplace for virtually 100% of the gold-standard of sustainable seafood: wild Alaska salmon.

"This decision is based on the recognition that both the salmon market and sustainability landscape have changed in recent years," said Stefanie Moreland, Director of Government Relations and Seafood Sustainability at Trident Seafoods. "Today, there is growing market acceptance for multiple sustainability certifications, underscored by the significant progress made in establishing a common global benchmarking tool for those certification programs."

Moreland added, "The successful launch of Alaska's RFM program in 2010 and its ongoing refinement was undoubtedly a major factor in this market shift, and we continue to pledge our full support for the RFM program and the Alaska brand."

Adopting both RFM and MSC certifications would eliminate arbitrary sustainability product differentiation in the market place for Alaska salmon and ensure that even more consumers around the world will be able to enjoy the world's most sustainable and high-quality seafood.

"We project historic runs of wild Alaska salmon this year, and it is important that as many global retailers as possible have access to our abundant supply," said Barry Collier, President and CEO of Peter Pan Seafoods. "We recognize different markets have different preferences for certification, which is why we look forward to offering choice."

As a testament to the long-standing sustainability success of Alaska's seafood industry, the 2015 run of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is forecasted to be approximately 50% larger than the long-term mean, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"In Alaska, we work hard to ensure that we maintain the most advanced and rigorous science-based approach to ensuring the sustainable management of our fisheries," said Jeff Regnart, State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game Director of Commercial Fisheries. "The decision of the Alaska salmon producers to expand their certification options reaffirms Alaska's commitment to keeping responsible fisheries management at its core, and to promoting choice and competition in the marketplace."

The group of Alaska salmon producers entering into the discussions includes Alaska General Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Kwikpak Fisheries, Leader Creek Fisheries, North Pacific Seafoods, Ocean Beauty, Peter Pan Seafoods, Triad Fisheries, Trident Seafoods, and Yukon Gold. The group has also requested that any other interested Alaska salmon producer also be given the opportunity to join under the same cost-sharing agreement as the new members.

###

For more information, please contact Stefanie Moreland, Director of Government Relations and Seafood Sustainability at Trident Seafoods, at 206-297-4627.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Is Bristol Bay marketing association in turmoil?

Sue Aspelund, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, is resigning effective May 15.

This news comes on the heels of Robert Heyano's resignation as board chairman.

Aspelund was hired only a year ago as the association's executive director.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Horrible news out of Russia

Dozens are reported dead in a trawler sinking in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Here's one news report.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's all over at Sitka

Radio station KCAW reports the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery closed today as the fleet, working politely this year as a cooperative, reached the full quota.

BBRSDA board president resigns

Robert Heyano, president of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, has resigned from the board of directors.

The official announcement doesn't offer a word of explanation.

The timing seems odd, as the organization is in the midst of a mail-in election to fill two other board seats.

Heyano's term wasn't due to end until 2016. He's a Dillingham resident and owner of the F/V Lady Mindy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kenai conservationist appointed to Board of Fish

Here is Gov. Bill Walker's letter appointing Robert Ruffner to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Ruffner is the longtime executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum, which is much concerned with protecting salmon habitat along the Kenai River.

Ruffner is the Walker's second pick to fill a board seat formerly held by Karl Johnstone.

The governor's first choice, Roland Maw, was a controversial appointee and withdrew.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Is Bristol Bay facing a processor crunch?

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has surveyed Bristol Bay sockeye processors with the following outcome:

The results of this survey found the 2015 Bristol Bay total intended purchases of 35.5 million fish is approximately 2.1 million fish (6%) lower than the forecast harvest of 37.6 million fish.

Read the full report for a lot more detail.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Off and ... jogging!

KCAW Raven Radio reports the Sitka sac roe herring fishery has begun, and the normally combative seiners are fishing as a co-op.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bristol Bay's big election

In a column in the forthcoming April issue of Pacific Fishing magazine, four former directors of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association urge members to "fix an organization that has gone far off course."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Some quick hits

Here are a few notes to get your week started.

• Halibut season opened at noon Saturday, and will remain open until Nov. 7. You longliners be safe out there!

• Speaking of halibut, the International Pacific Halibut Commission is inviting applications for a merit scholarship.

• Kootznoowoo Inc., the Native village corporation for Angoon in Southeast Alaska, is hailing a "compromise" reached with commercial salmon seiners. Here's a press release.

• At the Boston seafood expo, the Obama administration announced a fish-tracking initiative to thwart illegal fishing and fraud. Here are some links to learn more:

White House blog post
State Department press release
AP article

Friday, March 13, 2015

Walker likes for Hull, Mezirow for council

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has nominated Dan Hull for another term and Andy Mezirow as a new member on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Read more details in this letter from Walker to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which can confirm or reject Walker's top choices.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Limit seiners and the law

State Rep. Dan Ortiz, of Ketchikan, has filed a bill titled "An act relating to the length of vessels used in a salmon seine fishery."

The bill seems to be a bid to clarify in Alaska statutes that 58 feet is the maximum allowable length overall for a salmon seiner.

It would appear to take away the authority of the Board of Fisheries to provide by regulation for the use of longer vessels.

Deckboss has heard some talk about the motivation behind this bill, but is not yet clear enough on the details to say more about it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sheen showing

The cod boat Savannah Ray, which wrecked Feb. 16 east of Kodiak, remains stranded and leaking diesel, the U.S. Coast Guard reports. Global Diving & Salvage has been hired to recover the vessel. "We continue to monitor the situation and have not observed any impacts to the shoreline or wildlife, or any visible damage to the hull of the vessel," the Coast Guard says. USCG photo

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A special date on the calendar for salmon?

State Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, has filed a bill to designate Aug. 10 of each year as Alaska Wild Salmon Day.

Crewman died in his bunk, Kodiak troopers say

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Kodiak
Type: Death investigation
On 2/28/14 at approximately 1120 hours, the Alaska State Troopers were notified of a death on the F/V Alaskan Dream. Investigation revealed that crewmember Sean O'Callahan, 29, of Florida, had passed away in his bunk sometime during the night while the vessel was headed for a fishing area near the south end of Kodiak Island. The vessel turned around and met troopers in Kodiak. The state medical examiner was contacted and O'Callahan's remains were shipped to Anchorage for an autopsy. Nothing suspicious was observed during the investigation and next of kin has been notified.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Commissioners fire back

We recently noted that the state had conducted a review of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, which issues permits and vessel licenses for Alaska's many fisheries.

That review was fairly critical of the CFEC, citing inefficiency and other concerns.

Now the three-member commission is offering a detailed response.

Watch your mailbox

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is preparing to survey its members — again — on potentially buying back some of the drift gillnet permits in the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery.

"BBRSDA is sending a postcard survey seeking the advice of its members as to whether or not to proceed with a socioeconomic impact study," the association says on its website. "The analysis would provide valuable additional information to the fleet as they weigh the pros and cons of proceeding further."

More information here.

Are days limited for entry commission?

State Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, has filed House Bill 112, titled "An act repealing the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission and transferring its duties to a commercial fisheries entry division established in the Department of Fish and Game and the office of administrative hearings."

Stutes is chair of the House Special Committee on Fisheries.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tough spot

Efforts are under way to salvage the F/V Savannah Ray from the rocks at Long Island, five miles southeast of Kodiak. The boat, with 25,000 pounds of cod aboard, grounded about 3 a.m. Feb. 16. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the crew. A new situation report says most of the boat's fuel has been removed. Representatives for the vessel owner "will submit plans for hull and wreck removal to the Unified Command in the near future," the report says. Public records show the boat belongs to Mystic Blue LLC. USCG photo

Monday, February 23, 2015

Kodiak strip club owners indicted

The owners of a strip club that operated aboard a converted Bering Sea crab boat at Kodiak have been indicted in connection with the dumping of raw sewage into local waters.

Details in this press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Maw pulls out

Roland Maw has sent a letter to Gov. Bill Walker withdrawing as a nominee to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Kenny Down named to North Pacific Council

An industry insider, Kenny Down, has been appointed to a Washington state seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Here's a rather incomplete press release announcing the appointment.

Down is president of Blue North, which operates freezer longline vessels targeting Alaska cod.

He replaces John Henderschedt, who resigned from the council to accept a position with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Four rescued from vessel aground off Kodiak

A rescue helicopter today safely hoisted four people off a fishing vessel that ran aground in Chiniak Bay near Kodiak, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard said it received an EPIRB alert early this morning from the F/V Savannah Ray.

Coast Guard watchstanders began calling for the vessel and received a broken mayday from crewmen saying they'd run aground and were donning survival suits and had deployed a life raft.

See a video of the rescue operation here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Crewman with severed fingers needs medevac

A Coast Guard helicopter yesterday hoisted an injured crewman off the factory trawler American Triumph in the Bering Sea, about 92 miles north of Cold Bay.

"It was reported two of the man's fingers were severed by a steel door," the Coast Guard said in a news release.

The Coast Guard didn't name the 36-year-old victim.

Monday, February 9, 2015

That darned reality show

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association attempts to set the record straight on the Animal Planet series "Alaska: Battle on the Bay."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Two quick notes

The state has conducted a review of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. Download the report here.

Also, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and some of her colleagues are sponsoring legislation to permanently exempt fishing boats from EPA regulation of incidental discharges. Here's a press release.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sen. Sullivan gets fishy assignment

Alaska's rookie U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan, has been assigned to the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Halibut goes up for a change

The International Pacific Halibut Commission has set a 2015 catch limit of 29.2 million pounds, up 6 percent from last year.

The season will run from March 14 to Nov. 7.

Here's the full breakdown of catch limits by regulatory area.

For comparison, here are last year's limits.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Marine sanctuary proposal turned back

Federal officials have rejected the nomination of vast waters along the Aleutian chain as a national marine sanctuary.

The sponsor of the idea vows to persevere.

Alaska Congressman Don Young, in a press release last week, listed the considerable local opposition to the proposed marine sanctuary.

Heck of a halibut deal

Ketchikan-based Waterfall Resort, which bills itself as the most popular fishing lodge in Alaska, is touting a new program to allow anglers to "take home twice the halibut."

"To make this program possible, Waterfall Resort is partnering with commercial fishermen to purchase surplus halibut quota and then offer it exclusively to guests at our cost," the lodge says.

More details in this press release.

Teleconference set on Bering Sea salmon bycatch

Click here for details.

Plans in works to retrieve F/V Eyak

Here's a situation report with details on plans to salvage the F/V Eyak, which sank Jan. 19 south of Sitka.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Resolution opposes Aleutians marine sanctuary

State Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, has introduced a resolution opposing the proposed designation of an Aleutian Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

A number of other legislators have signed on as co-sponsors, including Republican House Speaker Mike Chenault.

Westward Seafoods announces new president

Details in this news release.

NMFS urges relief on Bering Sea halibut

We've heard considerable worry that halibut catch limits in the Bering Sea (Area 4CDE) could go drastically lower this year, dealing a serious blow to fishermen from St. Paul and other communities.

Now we have the federal government's position on the matter with this letter from Eileen Sobeck, head of the National Marine Fisheries Service, to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Sobeck recommends "a limited increase in the Area 4CDE catch limits in 2015 relative to the current IPHC harvest policy."

This, says Sobeck, would not hurt the halibut stock, would help spare local people economic hardship, and would recognize good progress by groundfish trawlers to reduce halibut bycatch.

The letter comes ahead of the IPHC's annual meeting Jan. 26-30 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the 2015 catch limits will be set.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Governor makes moves on fisheries leadership

Gov. Bill Walker has removed the "acting" from Sam Cotten's job title. Cotten is now commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

On another front, the Peninsula Clarion reports that Karl Johnstone, chairman of the state Board of Fisheries, has resigned.

Governor releases report on fishery priorities

Deckboss has yet to read it, but here's a transition report on fisheries from Alaska's new governor, Bill Walker.

The nine-page document is among a slew of transition reports covering everything from education to infrastructure to energy to subsistence.

Here's a press release with further explanation.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Personnel file

We've had a number of hirings, board changes and the like to begin the new year. Here's a quick rundown.

Cora Campbell, the former Alaska fish and game commissioner, has taken a job with Norton Sound Economic Development Corp.

Charles O. Swanton has been named deputy commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game. Swanton, who previously was director of the Division of Sport Fish, also has been nominated to the Pacific Salmon Commission.

The Marine Stewardship Council has appointed Brian Perkins as regional director for the Americas.

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has added Lange Solberg to its board of directors.

Megan O'Neil is the new executive director for the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association.

Deckboss also hears that Ephraim Froehlich is the new fisheries aide to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. He replaces Jay Sterne.

Four rescued off sinking vessel near Sitka

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Sitka
Type: Search and rescue
On 1/19/15 at 0546 hours, the U.S. Coast Guard asked Alaska State Troopers and Sitka Mountain Rescue to assist in the recovery of four adults from the 80-foot tender F/V Eyak, which had run aground 16 miles south of Sitka. The vessel sustained hull damage and was taking on water. The captain was identified as David Castle, 48, of Sitka. Crewmembers were identified as 29-year-old Anna Zallau, 23-year-old Charles Wlaslewski and 49-year-old Debra Rose, all of Port Alexander. The captain and crew had no flotation devices or survival suits. An Alaska Wildlife Troopers vessel and a Sitka Mountain Rescue vessel with divers responded to the scene and recovered the captain and crew from the sinking vessel at 0755 hours. The vessel flipped and sank shortly after and only a small portion remained above water. No one was injured and all rescued parties refused medical attention. A Good Samaritan vessel is attempting to pull the vessel to a better grounding location.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Alaskan Leader Fisheries fined $11K for fuel spill

Here's a press release from the state of Washington:

Jan. 15, 2015

Fishing vessel owner fined for 2013 Seattle spill

SEATTLE — The Washington Department of Ecology has fined Lynden-based Alaskan Leader Fisheries LLC $11,000 for a 2013 oil spill to Elliott Bay from one of its fishing vessels in Seattle.

The Bristol Leader, a 167-foot catcher-processor, spilled 181 gallons of diesel fuel into the bay on Sept. 13, 2013, while taking on fuel from a tank truck at Terminal 91.

Incoming fuel — intended for empty tanks on the Bristol Leader — went instead to a partly full tank. Ecology determined that the vessel's chief engineer had not followed the company's written procedures and loading plan. These specified which tanks would receive fuel and in what order, and required the chief engineer to monitor tank levels and valve settings.

"The company could have prevented the spill if they had kept a close watch on the valves and fuel levels," said David Byers, Ecology's spill response supervisor.

To read more, click here.

Strong Copper River sockeye catch expected

A new forecast calls for a harvest of 2.24 million sockeye salmon this year at the Copper River.

Gillnetters last season took nearly 2.1 million sockeye.

The forecast also projects a conservative catch of 6,000 Chinook.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Young offers marine sanctuary bill

U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, has introduced legislation (H.R. 332) that could make it harder to designate marine sanctuaries off Alaska.

The text of the bill is not yet available.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Second wave of salmon disaster relief coming

The National Marine Fisheries Service has approved another round of salmon disaster relief. The outlay will total nearly $13 million, and will be distributed as follows:

• $4.5 million in direct payments to the recreation fishing sector, including sportfish guides.

• $7.5 million for research, restoration, education, gear replacement and modification, and outreach. Of this sum, $6.4 million is for the Yukon-Kuskokwim region and $1.1 million is for Cook Inlet.

• $700,000 in direct payments to commercial buying stations and salmon buyers in the Cook Inlet area.

Friday, January 9, 2015

No support here

The Aleutians East Borough Assembly unanimously passed a resolution opposing the nomination of the Aleutian Islands as a national marine sanctuary. Here's a press release.