Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Togiak is toast

The long, slow decline of the Togiak herring fishery is now complete.

"Processors have indicated that they do not intend to harvest herring in Togiak in 2023 and there will be no commercial fishery," the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports. "The department does not expect this will change."

This despite a gargantuan volume of herring available for harvest this year at Togiak.

Evidently, no one wants it.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Sitka herring watch

The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery will go on two-hour notice effective at 8 a.m. Thursday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced.

Council reappointment for Down

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee likes Kenny Down for another term on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Here's the governor's nomination letter.

Uncle Sam's salmon

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has purchased nearly $4.5 million in canned pink salmon from three companies — Silver Bay Seafoods, OBI Seafoods, and Trident Seafoods.

Friday, March 17, 2023

'Several very large schools'

Aerial surveys and test fishing have begun in preparation for the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery.

Here's the latest update from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Tsukada for the council

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named Rudy Tsukada for a coming vacancy on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Here's the governor's nomination letter.

Tsukada, if approved, would replace Simon Kinneen, who is finishing up his third consecutive three-year term, the maximum allowable.

Trident disability case settles

A notice of settlement has been filed in a case in which a fishing vessel engineer accused Trident Seafoods of firing him because he was missing three fingers.

Conservancy replies

The Wild Fish Conservancy has filed this nine-page response to the Alaska congressional delegation's amici curiae brief.

Conservancy lawyers seem to argue, among other things, that Congress could simply appropriate disaster funds if the court orders a troll fishery closure.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Bob Penney crosses the bar

Bob Penney, Kenai River sportfishing advocate and former member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, reportedly has died at age 90.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Emergency in Cook Inlet?

Eastside Cook Inlet setnetters have submitted an emergency petition to the Alaska Board of Fisheries in a bid to save at least a sliver of their sockeye fishery, which is slated for closure this year to help conserve scarce king salmon.

Halibut box closes in on trawl fleet

The National Marine Fisheries Service has approved a measure to tighten limits on halibut trawl bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.

The action is aimed at a fleet of nearly 20 factory trawlers known as the Amendment 80 sector.

The measure replaces the fleet's current static bycatch limit with one based on halibut abundance. It took years to develop and comes over the fleet's strenuous objections.

Here are three letters from companies who urged NMFS not to approve the measure:

Now that the government is finalizing the halibut measure, it'll be interesting to see if the Amendment 80 fleet challenges the action in court.

Friday, March 10, 2023

What's happening at CFEC?

The Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission has posted its 2022 annual report.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Murkowski's new fish guy

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today announced new staff members, including this one:

Matt Robinson, born and raised in Fairbanks, joins the D.C. office as legislative assistant for fisheries and oceans. Matt earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Alaska Fairbanks before joining the North Pacific Fishery Management Council as an Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow in 2015. After his fellowship, he joined Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., where he worked for five years managing the harvest of BBEDC's federally allocated community development quota and representing the organization at various fisheries regulatory meetings.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Congressional delegation weighs in

Alaska's congressional delegation has filed this amici curiae brief arguing against any shutdown of the Southeast Alaska salmon troll fishery.

Funding the fight

As Southeast Alaska trollers anxiously await a federal judge's decision that could dash this year's salmon season, the fishermen are doing a whale of a job raising money to fight in court.

The Alaska Trollers Association reports raising more than $310,000 so far from municipalities, businesses and others.

'Implausible and misguided'

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council has posted a statement denouncing the lawsuit threatening the troll fishery.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Upper Cook Inlet sockeye forecast

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicts an "average" run this year.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

More from Juneau

The Alaska House of Representatives has passed a resolution in defense of the embattled Southeast Alaska troll fishery. The vote was 35-1, with Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, the lone nay.

House Bill 92 titled "An act relating to claims against protection and indemnity insurance policies of vessel owners" was introduced today.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Juneau watch

State Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, has introduced Senate Bill 82 to establish a buyback program for eastside Cook Inlet setnet permits.

An update on the CDQ decennial review

The state of Alaska says it has completed its 10-year review of community development quota organizations and determined that all six have "maintained or improved performance."

More details in this press release.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Who is Shawaan Jackson-Gamble?

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has appointed Shawaan Jackson-Gamble to fill the newly designated Alaska Native tribal seat on the council's Advisory Panel.

Here's a letter with Jackson-Gamble's background.

The council received several nominations for the seat, but Jackson-Gamble seemed to have considerable backing from industry, conservation, and Native interests.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

P/V Enforcer decommissioned

The state is looking to replace the Southeast Alaska patrol vessel Enforcer after an inspection turned up lots of problems, the Alaska Beacon reports.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Getting an edge in Bristol Bay

One of the best-known fishing rules in Alaska is the 32-foot length limit on drift gillnet boats operating in the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery.

The rule is a great leveler for the highly competitive harvest.

But make no mistake, the bay's 32-foot boats are not equal. The more aggressive fishermen have found ways to pack more and more fishing power into their boats, making them wider, faster, brawnier and better equipped than other vessels.

It's all about outcompeting other captains for the sockeye that pour into the bay by the millions each summer.

But this coming season, Bristol Bay gilletters are expected to come under extra scrutiny from the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, who issued this letter to driftnet permit holders warning against add-ons or other modifications that could violate the 32-foot vessel length limit.

"In an effort to ensure a fair and equitable fishery, AWT will be measuring vessels for possible enforcement action during the 2023 fishing season," the letter says.

Could be a lot of Bristol Bay fishermen will be scrambling to bring their boats into compliance.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

3,840 cases of pink salmon for Ukraine

A large donation of canned pink salmon has arrived in war-torn Ukraine, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute reports. Read about it here.

PWSAC sentenced to pay $1 million

Here's a press release from the U.S. attorney's office.

'Blatant and continued disregard for crews'

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the operator and owner of the processing vessel Pacific Producer for unsafe and unsanitary conditions, proposing $208,983 in penalties.

More details in this news release.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

A second loss for Fishermen's Finest

Trawl operator Fishermen's Finest filed an ambitious "takings claim" against the federal government, but the claim was dismissed.

Now, Fishermen's Finest has lost again on appeal.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Juneau watch

Legislators have introduced a resolution urging defense of the state's fisheries, including the Southeast Alaska troll fishery.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Halibut retreats

The International Pacific Halibut Commission finally got around to issuing a press release with this year's catch limits and season dates.

The commission set a coastwide catch limit of 36.97 million pounds, a 10.3 percent decline from last year.

The season will run from March 10 to Dec. 7.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

CDQ review

A "decennial review" of the community development quota program is underway.

Here's an update from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

How about it, setnetters?

An election will be held this year on setnet membership in the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

The election will come in the fall following the fishing season, the association said today in its Waypoints newsletter.

As it stands now, only driftnet permit holders are members of BBRSDA.

Bristol Bay salmon driftnetters in 2006 voted to approve a 1 percent tax on the ex-vessel price of fish sold.

Presumably, this will be the main question facing setnetters in the election — whether to shoulder a tax to support BBRSDA.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Holding for halibut

It's been 10 days since the International Pacific Halibut Commission concluded its annual meeting, and we're still waiting for the press release specifying catch limits and season dates.

Is there a problem?

Sunday, February 5, 2023

A quiet board appointment

Stanley Zuray, of Tanana, has been appointed to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

He was appointed on Dec. 29, according to Friday's House Journal.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Yukon-Kuskokwim update

Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang is scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. Tuesday before the House Special Committee on Fisheries for a presentation on "Yukon and Kuskokwim fisheries collapse."

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Still holding out in Kodiak

Here's an update on the Kodiak crab strike from KMXT news director Kirsten Dobroth.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A troller speaks out

An ongoing lawsuit that threatens to close their fishery has Southeast Alaska salmon trollers agitated, none more so than David Richey, who bought a full page in the Daily Sitka Sentinel to argue the suit is misguided.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Juneau watch

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, will chair the House Special Committee on Fisheries.

Copper River forecast is out!

A commercial harvest of 987,000 sockeye salmon is expected this year, according to the forecast from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Helping fishermen in need

Deckboss is aware of at least three fundraising campaigns for seriously injured commercial fishermen:

Monday, January 16, 2023

Robert Otto crosses the bar

Robert Otto, 76, of Kodiak, died over the holidays, according to an obituary in the local newspaper.

Best known as a crab scientist, Otto formerly was director of the Kodiak Laboratory, part of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

Here's an article marking his retirement in 2005.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Thwarting whales

The International Pacific Halibut Commission is planning experimental fishing with devices "intended to reduce marine mammal depredation of catch from longline gear."

Here's a media release with more details.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Feeling hopeful, and crabby, in Kodiak

Unless delayed by weather, the Kodiak commercial Tanner crab season will open at noon tomorrow, and the harvest could be the biggest in many years.

But word out of Kodiak is that crabbers want higher prices than processors are offering, so the fleet might strike.

The Kodiak District Tanner crab quota is 5.8 million pounds, more than five times last season's quota. Kodiak hasn't seen a harvest this large since the nearly 9 million pounds taken in 1986.

Far larger harvests came in the 1970s, when the Kodiak District twice produced seasonal catches in excess of 30 million pounds.

As for price negotiations, one crabber a couple of days ago wrote Deckboss: "Kodiak fishermen are asking $5 a pound. The processors are not budging and are still at $2.50. Options are being explored to tender the crab west where the starting price is $3.70."

Thursday, January 12, 2023

'An economic catastrophe'

In a court filing this week, the state of Alaska strenuously opposes a shutdown of troll Chinook fisheries, arguing it would be "an economic catastrophe for Southeast Alaska fishing towns for no reason."

BBRSDA's new sounding board

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has named its new Advisory Panel.

The members are Glenn Biernacki, Craig Chythlook, John Garner, Sean Guffey, Steve Kurian, Tristan Pettigrew and Laura Zimin.

"The purpose of this panel is to aid the association in recruiting good ideas from critics and proponents of initiatives, discussing critical issues and finding solutions through vetting and prioritizing new ideas related to our mission," the association reported today in its Waypoints newsletter.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Who needs a lobbyist?

The Alaska Legislature begins a new session on Jan. 17.

As usual, some fishing industry players are keenly interested in events in Juneau and have hired lobbyists to follow — or push — the action.

We mined the Alaska Public Offices Commission database to compile this list of employers, their lobbyists, and the fees they'll pay this year.

Alaska Salmon Aquaculture Alliance, Confluence Strategies, $60,000

At-sea Processors Association, Legislative Consultants, $40,000

City of Unalaska, Dianne Blumer, $71,000

Pacific Seafood Processors Association, Legislative Consultants, $60,000

Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., Confluence Strategies, $45,000

Purse Seine Vessel Owners' Association, Confluence Strategies, $35,000

Trident Seafoods Corp., Strategy North Group, $60,000

United Fishermen of Alaska, Tracy Welch, $85,000 (annual wage)

Monday, January 9, 2023


Check out The Brig for some interesting enforcement notes.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Trolling for help

The Alaska Trollers Association is asking the City and Borough of Sitka for $25,000 to help fight a lawsuit that threatens to close the Southeast Alaska Chinook troll fishery.

Here's a letter from the association's president, Matt Donohoe.

And here's a background legal summary from the association's attorney.

The Sitka Assembly is set to consider the funding request on Jan. 10.