Thursday, December 13, 2018

MSC update

Marine Stewardship Council certification for Alaska's salmon fisheries was to expire Nov. 11, but the certification has been extended for five months.

Here are two documents explaining the situation.

Extension request
Extension response

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Arne Fuglvog

You remember Arne Fuglvog, don't you?

He's the former Petersburg fisherman, congressional aide and North Pacific Fishery Management Council member who did prison time in 2012 for misreporting sablefish catches.

One might think Fuglvog's fall from grace would bar him from ever taking any role in the management of federal fisheries off Alaska.

But recently, a stakeholder committee was formed to provide the council with recommendations on halibut management. And Fuglvog is among the committee members.

He's on the committee as a representative of Glacier Fish Co., which operates trawlers that net halibut as bycatch.

Groundfish quotas set

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set the 2019 total allowable catch (TAC) for Alaska groundfish.

Here are the TACs for key species and the percent change from 2018.

BERING SEA AND ALEUTIAN ISLANDS

Eastern Bering Sea pollock, 1,397,000 tons, up 2.4 percent
Pacific cod, 180,689 tons, down 11.4 percent
Yellowfin sole, 154,000 tons, no change
Atka mackerel, 57,951 tons, down 18.4 percent
Pacific Ocean perch, 44,069 tons, up 18 percent
Sablefish, 3,497 tons, up 1.3 percent

GULF OF ALASKA

Pollock, 141,227 tons, down 15 percent
Pacific Ocean perch, 28,555 tons, down 2.3 percent
Pacific cod, 12,368 tons, down 5.6 percent
Sablefish, 11,571 tons, up 0.6 percent

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Another buyback vote for Southeast seiners

A federal notice published yesterday sets up another referendum on further reducing the number of Southeast Alaska purse seine salmon permits.

"The referendum, if approved, will result in a loan of $10.1 million and permanently retire an additional 36 permits from the fishery," the notice says.

The notice lists all the permit holders eligible to vote in the referendum.

The voting period will start Jan. 15 and end on Feb. 14.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Sitka herring outlook

The state today announced a harvest quota of 12,869 tons for next year's Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery.

The industry took 2,926 tons this past season, far short of the 11,128-ton quota.

Vincent-Lang named fish and game commissioner

Here's the press release.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

CFEC opening

The Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission is recruiting for an executive director.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Souter joins Silver Bay

Silver Bay Seafoods has added another notable name to its management team.

Sandy Souter started with Silver Bay on Monday and "will be responsible for overseeing our Alaska fleet management," company spokeswoman Cora Campbell tells Deckboss.

Souter previously was manager — fishing operations for Alaska General Seafoods.

Friday, November 9, 2018

ASMI Executive Director Alexa Tonkovich resigns

Here's the press release.

Bristol Bay forecast is out

The state is forecasting a much smaller catch of 26.1 million sockeye salmon next year at Bristol Bay.

This past season saw a catch of 41.3 million.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Who will be our next fish and game commissioner?

Now that Mike Dunleavy has won the race for governor, we await his picks for cabinet positions including commissioner of fish and game.

Here are a few potential candidates for the post. We offer these for entertainment purposes only — Deckboss hasn't spoken with these people about the matter.

Lacking time and energy today, I'll leave it to you to research the backgrounds of any names you might not know.

Doug Vincent-LangJohn Moller
Brett HuberRicky Gease

Hauling in the hooks

The halibut season closed at noon today.

Two Alaska men sentenced over sea lion slaughter

Here's the press release.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Change at the top

Scott Kelley has retired as director of the state Division of Commercial Fisheries.

Forrest Bowers has been serving as acting director since Sept. 26.

Missing person

In late September, a man went missing from the Bering Sea cod freezer longliner Clipper Epic.

A search failed to locate the man, who was not named at the time.

The Alaska State Troopers are now identifying him as Nicolas Andres Pettitt, 38, of Washington state.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

Up from the ashes

Here's a photo essay on the rebuild of Peter Pan's Port Moller plant, which sustained major fire damage in August 2017.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Ocean Beauty cannery offered for sale

Back in August, Ocean Beauty Seafoods said it was closing its Petersburg cannery permanently.

Now the plant is up for sale. Asking price: $3.39 million.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Crabbers go to court

The Inter-Cooperative Exchange, a cooperative of Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab fishermen, is suing the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Here's the 15-page lawsuit.

ICE is seeking the release of agency records, including text messages and the like, related to the crab price arbitration system.

The suit indicates a NMFS official took a stance that could tilt the arbitration system in favor of crab processors. ICE, with its suit, is demanding agency records that might shed light on the matter.

The arbitration system is "so critical to ICE members receiving a fair price for crab," the suit says.

F/V Tlingit Lady update

Silver Bay Seafoods has acquired the seiner Tlingit Lady.

Here's the court order confirming the sale.

Monday, October 29, 2018

West Coast support for Ballot Measure 1

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations is endorsing Alaska's Ballot Measure 1.

Does the halibut fishing season need fixing?

Commercial halibut season dates have fluctuated somewhat in recent years.

This year, the season opened March 24 and will close Nov. 7.

Last year, the season ran from March 11 to Nov. 7.

Now, the staff of the International Pacific Halibut Commission is proposing to fix the season dates from March 15 to Oct. 31.

"Fixing the season will allow stakeholders to more effectively develop business plans and will allow the IPHC Secretariat to more effectively monitor and manage the fishery," the IPHC says.

This change appears to have only limited support within the industry.

Earlier this year, the IPHC's Processor Advisory Board said it was OK with fixing the closing date to Nov. 1.

But the advisory board said the opening date should "remain flexible and be determined ... based on advice from stakeholders and depending on the amount of frozen product in inventory, the timing of the Boston Seafood Show, regional tides, and potential weather concerns."

The IPHC is set to hold its interim meeting Nov. 27-28 in Seattle.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sitka man rescued from sinking troller

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Sitka
Type: Search and rescue
On 10/27/18 Alaska Wildlife Troopers onboard the P/V Courage responded to a distress call from a vessel reportedly rolling over outside the Sitka harbor. Troopers located Calvin "Mark" Bigelow, 62, of Sitka, onboard a partially capsized and rapidly sinking 40-foot commercial troll vessel, the F/V Safari, near Kasiana Island. Bigelow was transferred to the P/V Courage safely. U.S. Coast Guard personnel and salvage crews responded to the scene for investigation, potential spill response and recovery operations. The vessel reportedly became unstable in a heavy gust of wind causing it to list severely and take on water. Bigelow was transported to the Sitka harbor. No injuries reported, no impairment involved.

Silver Bay's growth spurt

Silver Bay Seafoods is buying a processing plant at Los Angeles. Here's the press release.

The company also is planning to open a new processing plant at False Pass, Alaska.

Silver Bay has posted a slew of job openings on its website, including plant manager, fleet manager, chief engineer, head of refrigeration, and more.

"Our False Pass location will process salmon as well as whitefish and will begin operations during the 2019 salmon season," says the ad for plant manager.

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.