Thursday, May 29, 2014

Help for Chinook?

A major breakthrough in genetic "fin-printing" could help conserve weak stocks of Chinook salmon, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says. More details here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

U.S. Senate candidate pounds chest on fisheries

Catch Mead Treadwell's column here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Copper River starts slow

Thursday's 12-hour season opener at the Copper River produced an estimated catch of 27,700 sockeye salmon and 1,000 Chinook, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports.

The department had anticipated a catch of 33,000 sockeye for the period.

Deckboss hasn't heard any price reports but reckons the fish paid handsomely, as they always do at the start of the season.

The Copper River District will open at 7 a.m. Monday for another 12-hour period.

The MSC merry-go-round

Back in November, the London-based Marine Stewardship Council said Alaska salmon had earned recertification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery (except for Prince William Sound).

The MSC "client" securing the recertification was the Purse Seine Vessel Owners' Association, a Seattle-based fishing group.

PSVOA, you'll recall, stepped in after most of Alaska's major salmon processors in 2012 decided to pull out of the MSC program.

Well, now the matter has taken yet another twist.

A notice posted May 6 on the MSC website said PSVOA "has withdrawn as the MSC client for this fishery."

The new client, the notice said, is the Alaska Salmon Processors Association.

Never heard of it, you say?

That's because it's very new. State records show the Alaska Salmon Processors Association is a nonprofit corporation formed on April 10.

Four persons are listed as officers in the association. All are connected with processors who apparently see some market value in continuing with the MSC ecolabel.

Here's a rundown of the four officers:

Robert Zuanich, Sitka, president
Affiliated with Silver Bay Seafoods LLC

Cassandra Squibb, Anchorage, vice president
Affiliated with Copper River Seafoods Inc.

Joe Kelso, Seattle, secretary
Affiliated with Ekuk Fisheries LLC

Norman Kilborn, Kodiak, treasurer
Affiliated with International Seafoods of Alaska Inc.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ho, look at that halibut bycatch!

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is scheduled to meet June 2-10 in Nome.

One item on the agenda is this report from the International Pacific Halibut Commission on halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.

Deckboss perused the paper, and frankly came away with only one useful fact:

BSAI halibut bycatch was an estimated 5.2 million pounds in 2013.

Sound like a lot? Actually, this was the second-lowest level of halibut bycatch since 1985 (see Table 2 on page 20).

How the Moonlight Maid met her demise

Here's a marine accident brief from the National Transportation Safety Board on the sinking of the salmon tender Moonlight Maid.

The boat was transiting from Seward to Kodiak in heavy seas on Sept. 20, 2012, when she "sprung a plank and began flooding," the report says.

The crew of four abandoned ship into a life raft, and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hoisted them to safety.

The NTSB report says "inadequate maintenance of the aging wooden vessel," a former Navy subchaser built in 1942, contributed to the hull failure.

A very interesting report here, with excellent photos.

Weighing changes

The National Marine Fisheries Service was to hold a public workshop yesterday in Seattle on proposed changes to, among other things, prevent tampering with scales used to weigh catches at sea.

Hmmm. Wonder if American Seafoods attended?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fuel spill reported in Nushagak River

Thousands of gallons of diesel reportedly spilled into the Nushagak River upstream of Dillingham after a barging vessel hit a submerged object early Wednesday.

Here's a situation report with more details and a map.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's all over at Togiak

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game today closed the Togiak herring fishery for the season.

The catch totaled 25,136 tons, or better than 90 percent of the preseason quota of 27,890 tons.

The staggering cost of bycatch

We have a huge international conference on bycatch running through the week in Anchorage.

Deckboss regrets he wasn't in the meeting room yesterday, when analysts with the National Marine Fisheries Service were scheduled to give a presentation on the economic impacts of bycatch in U.S. commercial fisheries.

Here's an eye-opening summary of their talk:

This presentation will describe the economic impacts of early closures due to bycatch in US fisheries, by describing past case studies as well as evaluating the economic impacts of discarding fish in US commercial fisheries. Premature closures in the fisheries reviewed resulted in potential losses ranging from $34.4 million to $453.0 million annually. Nationally, bycatch estimates in the form of regulatory discards are annually reducing the potential yield of fisheries by $427.0 million in ex-vessel revenues, and as much as $4.2 billion in seafood-related sales, $1.5 billion in income, and 64,000 jobs.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A complete loss of electrical power, and then...

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada recently concluded its investigation into just how the factory trawler American Dynasty rammed a docked navy frigate last year at Victoria.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's nearly salmon time!

The Department of Fish and Game just announced the Copper River salmon fishery will open for the season at 7 a.m. next Thursday.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Herring notes

Here's an update on various herring fisheries around the state, as compiled from Department of Fish and Game announcements this morning.

• The Kodiak herring harvest stood at about 2,500 tons.

• At Togiak in remote Southwest Alaska, scene of the state's largest herring fishery, the harvest tally was 16,951 tons. Nearly 11,000 tons remain on the preseason quota.

• A good bit of herring is available farther north in the Kuskokwim Bay, Nelson Island and Cape Romanzof areas. But the fish likely will go unharvested due to "lack of industry interest," with no processors registered to buy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Commerce IG looks at catch shares, observers

Deckboss hasn't had a chance to read them, but here are a couple of intriguing items from the Commerce Department inspector general:

Review of NOAA Catch Share Programs

Announcement of Observer Program Audit

Thursday, May 1, 2014

'Extremely poor'

State and federal managers have released their Yukon River salmon fisheries outlook. Here's how it starts:

The 2014 Chinook salmon run is expected to be extremely poor and could be the worst on record.

Read the whole thing here, if you dare.

Togiak herring fishery jogs along

The herring harvest at Togiak stood this morning at 4,662 tons, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported.

The fishery started Sunday with a season quota of 27,890 tons.