Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fishing for favor in Juneau

Now that we're well into the legislative session, Deckboss thought it would be interesting to check the Alaska Public Offices Commission lobbyist directory to see who has fishy business in the state capital.

My search turned up quite a few seafood interests employing lobbyists this year. Here's the list:

• Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers
• APICDA Joint Ventures
• Armstrong-Keta Inc.
• Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp.
• Coastal Villages Region Fund
• Cordova District Fishermen United
• Groundfish Forum
• Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association
• Northwest Farm Credit Services
• Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC
• Pacific Seafood Processors Association
• Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp.
• Purse Seine Vessel Owners' Association
• Southeast Alaska Seiners Association
• Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association
• United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters
• Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association

Some of these interests evidently see a strong need for a Juneau lobbyist, based on the sums they're spending.

For example, APICDA Joint Ventures is paying its lobbyist, Jerry Reinwand, a $60,000 annual fee.

The Purse Seine Vessel Owners' Association is paying Kent Dawson $50,000, and Ocean Beauty Seafoods is paying Reed Stoops $45,000.

Bob Thorstenson Jr. remains the king crab of Juneau fish lobbyists. He's pulling down a total of $155,000 from four clients — Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, Armstrong-Keta, the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association and the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

An impending vacancy on the fish board

Bob Mumford reportedly intends to step down from the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

The former state wildlife trooper was appointed to the board less than a year ago.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Halibut catch limit up slightly

The International Pacific Halibut Commission today announced catch limits for the 2016 season.

The coastwide limit of nearly 29.9 million pounds is up slightly from last year's 29.2 million pounds.

The season will open March 19 and run to Nov. 7.

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

For comparison, here are last year's limits.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tuna man to take helm of halibut commission

Details in this official announcement.

Gulf trawlers to stand down, rise up

Gulf of Alaska trawlers plan to suspend fishing so they can attend the upcoming North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland.

The trawlers are worried about the current direction of long-running efforts to "rationalize" the Gulf groundfish fisheries.

Back in the MSC fold

The return of Alaska's major salmon processors to the Marine Stewardship Council program is now official with the signing of this certificate of conformity.

The document lists all of the companies eligible to use the blue MSC ecolabel, which evidently is quite important in certain markets.

Unfortunately, the certification picture remains muddled as Prince William Sound, one of Alaska's top salmon-producing regions, remains excluded from the certificate. This stems from questions about the impact of the area's large hatcheries on wild salmon and herring populations.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Which would you buy?

Food City, a Virginia-based grocery chain, is offering the following in its weekly advertising circular:

• Fresh, farm-raised salmon fillets, $5.99 a pound

• Wild-caught sockeye fillets, previously frozen, $8.99 a pound

That's a tough choice for consumers, no?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

Here's your Copper River salmon forecast

The state forecast calls for a commercial catch of 1.62 million sockeye and 27,000 Chinook this year at the Copper River.

That compares to 1.56 million sockeye and 22,772 Chinook taken last year.

Trident pioneer Kaare Ness crosses the bar

Kaare Ness, a founding partner in Trident Seafoods, has died.

A native of Norway, Ness made his way to Alaska and "became not only a highline crab skipper, but a loyal partner and counselor to so many others, including Chuck Bundrant with whom he built the Billikin, Alaska's first modern king crab catcher-processor," the company said in a press release. "Together they founded what has become North America's largest vertically integrated seafood harvesting and processing company — Trident Seafoods."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Catching up

Deckboss was preoccupied recently and failed to post some noteworthy items. So here, for the record, is a roundup of what we missed.

• The International Pacific Halibut Commission, which meets this week in Juneau, posted these proposals for 2016 catch limits.

• The Commerce Department has approved an amendment to tighten Bering Sea halibut bycatch limits.

• A state legislator has filed a bill to ban the sale of genetically modified fish in Alaska.

• Matt Marinkovich will not run for another term on the board of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

• The Alaska Board of Fisheries has rejected purse seining on the lower Yukon River.

• Fishing Company of Alaska's Karena Adler has crossed the bar.

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied it issued a preemptive veto of the Pebble mine.

• Roland Maw has been charged in connection with false residency claims on applications for commercial fishing permits and Permanent Fund dividends.

• Acting on a directive from Congress, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has updated its seafood list so that fish caught in foreign waters can no longer be labeled "Alaska pollock."

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making another pollock buy.

• The Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska pollock fisheries have won Marine Stewardship Council recertification.

• Unalaska has a new police chief.

Increased fish taxes proposed

Gov. Bill Walker is proposing an array of measures to deal with the state budget gap caused by the decline in oil revenue.

The measures include spending cuts, a "modest income tax," increased motor fuel and alcohol and tobacco taxes, and more.

The governor also is looking to the oil, fisheries, mining and tourism industries to "contribute to the solution."

In fisheries, Walker has offered legislation to increase tax rates on seafood processors.

According to this fiscal note, the Department of Revenue estimates the higher fish taxes would raise an extra $18.3 million in fiscal year 2017.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mmm, yum!

Deckboss was watching CNN one night this week and caught this delicious ad touting wild Alaska salmon.

The ad was from Blue Apron, whatever that is.

UFA weighs in

United Fishermen of Alaska, the state's flagship commercial fishing group, is spelling out its policy position as legislators grapple with the state budget crunch.

Here are three UFA documents addressing key issues:

UFA resolution on state fiscal crisis

UFA resolution on state fisheries loan funds

UFA letter on Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission

Saturday, January 16, 2016

More fish-related legislation in Juneau

Another bill of interest to the commercial fishing industry has been filed ahead of Tuesday's start to the Alaska legislative session.

House Bill 241 is titled "An act relating to the nonresident surcharge for commercial fishing permits."

See the very end of the three-page bill for the key language.

The sponsor is Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fishy bill filed ahead of legislative session

The Alaska Legislature goes back into regular session Jan. 19 and some lawmakers already have prefiled bills, including one "establishing a fisheries enhancement permit."

House Bill 220 is sponsored by Rep. David Talerico, R-Healy. He's co-chair of the House Resources Committee.

No sponsor statement is available yet for HB 220, and the impetus for the legislation is unclear from the language of the bill itself.

So make of it what you will.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Reaction to setnet ruling

Two industry groups are applauding the Alaska Supreme Court opinion blocking a proposed statewide vote on banning commercial setnets in Cook Inlet and elsewhere.

Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association press release

Resources for All Alaskans press release