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.