Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Crab quotas are out!

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game today posted quotas for major crab fisheries opening Oct. 15.

The Bristol Bay red king crab total allowable catch (TAC) is 4.3 million pounds, down 35 percent from last season.

The Bering Sea snow crab TAC is 27.6 million pounds, up 45 percent.

The Bering Sea bairdi TAC is 2.4 million pounds, down 2 percent.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Easy with the tariffs!

Major seafood organizations are raising concerns about Trump administration trade policy. Here are some comment letters submitted recently.

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
At-sea Processors Association

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Behnken bounced from halibut commission

Federal officials have appointed Richard Yamada to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, replacing Linda Behnken.

Yamada is president of the Alaska Charter Association and owner of a sportfishing lodge on Shelter Island near Juneau.

Behnken, of Sitka, fishes commercially for halibut and is executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association.

Federal officials also announced that Bob Alverson, who heads a Seattle-based commercial fishing organization, will remain on the halibut commission.

Here's the official announcement.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Trimming the fleet

Southeast Alaska salmon seiners are mounting yet another effort to reduce their ranks.

Recently, seiners were invited to submit bids to sell and permanently retire their state fishing permits.

A total of 37 bids came in, and the Southeast Revitalization Association board on May 24 voted to accept 36 of them.

The 36 accepted bids total just over $10.1 million, which is right around the amount of federal loan money available for the permit buyback.

What's next?

Probably after this fishing season, Southeast salmon seine permit holders — currently 315 of them — will vote in a referendum on whether the fleet agrees to shoulder the loan to complete the buyback.

In 2012, Southeast seiners approved a $13.1 million loan to remove 64 permits.

But in 2017, a vote to retire 22 more permits from the fishery failed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Accidental death reported on Bering Sea boat

The Alaska State Troopers today released the following:

Location: Dutch Harbor
Type: Death investigation
On 5/2/18 a death was reported on the F/V Ocean Hunter, a 95-foot longline trawler in the Bering Sea. The deceased person is Christopher O'Callaghan, 55, of Kodiak. O'Callaghan was on the deck while the vessel was tied off to another vessel in the open sea, transferring fish. A slack line suddenly went taut, striking O'Callaghan on the chest, causing bruising and internal injuries, resulting in his death. The incident was witnessed by several crewmembers. Next of kin have been notified. O'Callaghan's body was transported to Dutch Harbor and then to the state medical examiner at their request.

Another legal matter

Back in January, we received the news that the F/V Tlingit Lady had been forfeited to the state in an illegal fishing case in Southeast Alaska.

Now Silver Bay Seafoods is in federal court seeking a sale of the seiner, claiming more than $100,000 is owed against the mortgaged vessel. Here's the lawsuit.

Court filings indicate the boat is under arrest in Ketchikan.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A legal matter

The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that amortization of commercial fishing permits and quota shares may not be deducted from income for child support purposes.

Much more detail in this very interesting 18-page opinion.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New leadership for UFA

Matt Alward will succeed Jerry McCune as president of United Fishermen of Alaska, the state's top commercial fishing organization.

Here's the press release.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Restless in Seattle

Halibut vessel owners and the crewmen's union fired off this joint letter calling for action to reduce bycatch.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Trollers take a hit

Southeast Alaska trollers have an allocation of 95,700 Chinook this year under the Pacific Salmon Treaty, a big cut from last year's 154,880 Chinook.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sitka bust

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery has come to a close with only a small harvest for the season.

Here's a news release explaining the closure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Governor wants expanded fish board

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker today issued the following statement in defense of his choice for the Board of Fisheries.

Finding high-quality Alaskans to serve on the Board of Fisheries is critical, and that is why I was pleased to nominate Duncan Fields of Kodiak to fill the vacant seat on the board.

At the same time, Duncan's appointment underscores the constant struggle to achieve balance on the board. Not only is there an array of user groups — from commercial and sportfish to subsistence and personal use — there are also distinct regions which deserve representation when management issues are considered. It is not always possible to balance every need every year. This is why I believe the board should be expanded to include nine members. While I continue to support Duncan's appointment, I am working to promptly address the concern of balance between user groups.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

IPHC nominees

The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced the nominees for two U.S. seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Here's the list:

Linda Behnken (current member)
Bob Alverson (current member)
Stephen Joner
Richard Yamada
Andy Mezirow
Duane Edelman

"Nominees will be vetted by the Department of Commerce and Department of State and forwarded to the Office of the President for consideration for presidential appointments," NMFS said.

Calling for cod help

The state has sent a letter requesting a federal disaster declaration for the 2018 Pacific cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fields appointed to Board of Fisheries

The governor has appointed Duncan Fields, of Kodiak, to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Fields has long been involved in fish politics and policy. He formerly served on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The governor also has reappointed Orville Huntington, of Huslia, to the board.

Both appointments are subject to legislative confirmation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Holding hands at Sitka

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is known for aggressive skippers willing to grind hulls in pursuit of a big and rich haul.

But we won't see any combat this year.

That's because the fishery's 48 seine permit holders have notified the state that they have agreed to a "cooperative/equal split fishery."

This means the industry will harvest the herring using far fewer boats, splitting expenses and profits.

The co-op also is seen as something of a peace offering to Native subsistence interests at Sitka, who have long fought to restrict or eliminate the commercial harvest.

The herring fishery is expected to get underway later this month.

The state has issued guidelines and expectations for the cooperative fishery.

We've seen the Sitka herring fleet go co-op before, for various reasons.

The entire 2015 season ran as a co-op, and the fleet formed a co-op at the end of last season as a means of cleaning up the small amount of quota that remained.

Will Bristol Bay processors be ready for a big run?

The state has posted a summary of this year's Bristol Bay sockeye salmon processing capacity survey.

"Results of this survey indicate the 2018 Bristol Bay total intended purchases of 41.71 million fish is approximately 4.12 million fish (10 percent) higher than the forecast harvest of 37.59 million fish," the state says.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Election season for Bristol Bay drifters

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has a board election coming up, and several fishermen are competing for two seats.

Seat B — Alaska resident

Bronson Brito, F/V Sea Breeze
Tim Cook, F/V Dead Red
Matthew Hakala, F/V Jenny M
Abe Williams, F/V Crimson Fury (incumbent)

Seat E — Non-Alaska resident

Warren "Buck" Gibbons, F/V West Point (incumbent)
Michael "MJ" Jackson, F/V Kelley J

Candidate statements are posted here.

The BBRSDA represents Bristol Bay driftnet fishermen. They pay a tax on their salmon catches to fund the organization.

Mail ballots from permit holders will be counted after April 13.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

CFEC update

Carol Petraborg has withdrawn as an appointee to the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

The governor has submitted a new name for legislative confirmation to the commission: Dale Kelley, of Juneau.

Deckboss presumes this is the same Dale Kelley who has worked for many years as executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

New leader coming for BBRSDA

Becky Martello, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, has announced her resignation.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Personnel file

The governor has appointed Carol Petraborg to the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

Petraborg currently is administrative services director for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Here's her bio.

Competition for this CFEC appointment was stiff, according to this media report.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The legal fallout

Regular Deckboss readers surely will recall our post on a violent skirmish involving three fishing vessels in Prince William Sound.

One of those boats, the salmon seiner Temptation, sustained serious collision damage in the August 2016 incident, and a crewman was injured badly enough to require a U.S. Coast Guard medevac.

Well, much has transpired since in terms of legal fallout.

The injured crewman, the Temptation's skipper, and others brought this lawsuit in federal court in Anchorage.

Court papers filed in recent days indicate the parties are close to finalizing a settlement of the case. The papers don't reveal the terms of the settlement.

On another front, Kami Christine Cabana has been indicted on a felony charge of assault in the first degree.

The federal lawsuit says Cabana was the operator of the F/V Chugach Pearl, one of two boats alleged to have struck the Temptation.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Akutan saga ends

The 166-foot processing vessel Akutan, which ended up abandoned at Unalaska following a disastrous salmon season in Bristol Bay, has been scuttled. U.S. Coast Guard photo

More IPHC news

The government is seeking nominations for two U.S. seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Unusual news out of the halibut commission

The International Pacific Halibut Commission's annual meeting in Portland ended in a stalemate.

"The IPHC did not agree on new Pacific halibut catch limits for 2018, and therefore the catch limits adopted by the IPHC in 2017 remain in place," says this commission news release.

The United States and Canada now say they'll each pursue lower catch limits on their own.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cook Inlet permit buyback proposed

State Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, has introduced legislation to establish a buyback program for eastside Cook Inlet setnet permits.

Some of the most interesting details of the proposal are on Page 5 of the bill.