Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Personnel file

The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation has named Kristy Clement as chief executive officer.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Hard times at the halibut commission?

The following is taken verbatim from the latest Alaska Charter Association newsletter:

Halibut Coalition Visits D.C. To Request IPHC Funds

On November 14 and November 15, 2023, representatives from the Halibut Coalition met with members of Congress to try to secure supplemental funding for the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The IPHC is currently facing an estimated shortfall of $2.43 million, which may necessitate curtailing or eliminating its survey, sampling, and stock assessment program. Lacking timely data on which to base its management decisions will probably result in the IPHC taking a more cautious, conservative approach to minimize the possibility of overfishing the resource. This could have significant adverse consequences for commercial, charter, recreational and subsistence anglers and their communities.

The Halibut Coalition contingent consisted of the following members representing their corresponding organizations:

• Linda Behnken, Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association
• Jeff Kaufmann, Central Bering Sea Fishermen's Association
• Heather McCarty, Central Bering Sea Fishermen's Association
• Brian Ritchie, Alaska Charter Association and Homer Charter Association
• Peggy Parker, Halibut Association of North America
• Bob Alverson, Fishing Vessel Owners' Association, IPHC Commissioner

They had appointments with members of Alaska's Congressional delegation including Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Representative Peltola, as well as Senators Murray and Cantwell from Washington state, and Representatives Huffman (CA) and DelBene (WA). These members of Congress were presented with a letter, signed by representatives of an array of concerned organizations, requesting additional funding and urging State Department leadership involvement in asking for a similar contribution from Canada. The aim is to enable the IPHC to continue collecting much needed scientific data and to secure its long term ability to fulfill its mandate of managing halibut stocks in a sustainable manner.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

An escalating legal battle

In April, we reported how two prominent Alaska tribal organizations had gone to court to challenge the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fisheries. They raise concerns about trawl bycatch of salmon amid ecosystem change.

Since the lawsuit was filed, the case has expanded with new parties jumping in.

The two main Bering Sea trawling organizations, the At-sea Processors Association and United Catcher Boats, have intervened on the side of the defendant, the National Marine Fisheries Service, which manages the groundfish fisheries.

And this past week, five environmental and tribal organizations moved to file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs. The group includes the Ocean Conservancy, SalmonState, Native Peoples Action, Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.

We probably can expected quite a legal battle here, as this case would appear to represent a very serious challenge to Alaska's trawl industry.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Cracking down on halibut bycatch

The National Marine Fisheries Service is amending regulations to tighten halibut bycatch limits on Bering Sea bottom trawlers known as the Amendment 80 fleet.

Now that NMFS is taking this final action, we'll wait to see whether the fleet sues the agency.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Monday, November 20, 2023

Looking up at Chignik

The remote Southwest Alaska fishery at Chignik saw a catch of nearly 1.1 million sockeye this year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports.

That's a decent tally after five dreadful seasons of producing as few as zero sockeye.

Through its history, Chignik has yielded on occasion more than 2 million sockeye annually, and in 1999 actually cleared 3.1 million.

The fishing fleet was small this season, with 35 active permits, and the sockeye catch paid about $3.85 million ex-vessel, the department said. Other species including pink salmon added almost $1.3 million, bringing value per permit to $146,491.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Bycatch report released

We haven't read it yet, but here's a report to Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang from the Alaska Bycatch Advisory Council.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Kodiak crab quota is out!

The state just announced a Kodiak Tanner crab quota of 3 million pounds, down considerably from last season's strong 5.8 million pounds.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Changes at the top for OBI Seafoods

Longtime Alaska seafood industry leader Mark Palmer is retiring as OBI Seafoods chief executive.

Here's a press release detailing this and other management moves at the company.

Palmer is on the board of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Setnetters say no

Bristol Bay setnetters have voted against joining the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

"Over 30 percent of the setnetters voted, and the vote narrowly failed by a margin of 19 votes," BBRSDA said.

Bristol Bay forecast is out

The state is forecasting a 2024 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon harvest of 25 million fish.

That would be a big drop from this season's catch of 40.6 million sockeye.