Monday, April 22, 2024

Owner, captains of crab vessels charged

Details in this press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Juneau watch

The Alaska Senate on Friday passed a resolution establishing a Joint Legislative Seafood Industry Task Force.

The House will now take up the resolution, with a hearing set for 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Special Committee on Fisheries.

The task force would address the "economic crisis" now facing the state's seafood industry.

Fishermen are facing hardship, the resolution says, noting that "numerous seafood processing facilities are for sale, closing or planning to shut down for a portion, or all of, the 2024 fishing season."

As currently written, the resolution calls for a task force of 16 members including legislators, commercial seafood harvesters, processors, coastal community representatives and others.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Disaster relief for Cook Inlet

Federal officials today announced disaster determinations for the 2021 and 2022 Upper Cook Inlet eastside setnet salmon fisheries.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Emergency petition on Chinook bycatch denied

Details in this news release from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Is Peter Pan dead?

Peter Pan Seafood Co. posted the following on Facebook:

We're saddened to share that Peter Pan Seafood will be halting operations at its processing plants, leading to the discontinuation of both summer and winter production cycles for the foreseeable future.

Efforts are underway to facilitate a smooth transition. For individuals who have worked or are working with Peter Pan Seafood as processors and are in search of job opportunities, we urge you to submit your application to Silver Bay Seafoods.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Cook Inlet EEZ salmon limits specified

The National Marine Fisheries Service today proposed 2024 catch limits for salmon in the Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone.

These include a total allowable catch of 492,100 sockeye.

For much more detail, see this notice published in the Federal Register.

And the winners are...

Peter Andrew and Doug Elwell are the winners in this year's Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board election.

More details here.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Further financial pressure on Peter Pan

A fishing company has filed a lawsuit against Peter Pan Seafood Co. claiming nonpayment of nearly half a million dollars for deliveries of red king crab, Pacific cod and other fish.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Kids and permits

The Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission has launched a survey on minors owning commercial fishing permits. Take the survey here.

Friday, April 5, 2024

It's all over at Sitka

The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery will close for the season at 6 p.m. today.

The preliminary harvest estimate is 13,300 tons of herring, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in this announcement.

That's far short of the preseason quota of 81,246 tons.

Processing sector consolidation

One processor, Silver Bay Seafoods, is growing while another company, Peter Pan, appears to be fading away.

More details in this joint press release.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Yukon Chinook shutdown agreed

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have signed an agreement implementing "a suspension of directed Chinook salmon commercial, sport, domestic, and personal use fisheries in the mainstem Yukon River and Canadian tributaries for one full life cycle (seven years)."

End of the line for the Kodiak Enterprise

Readers will recall the terrible fire aboard the factory trawler Kodiak Enterprise while moored at Tacoma on April 8, 2023. Pacific Fishing magazine reported on the fire in its May 2023 issue (see Page 7).

The damage seemed extensive, but we didn't hear much about the ultimate fate of the 262-foot Kodiak Enterprise, among the largest of all U.S. fishing vessels.

Now we have some additional details. Bottom line: The Kodiak Enterprise is done.

Court papers filed recently in a federal air pollution case involving Trident say the fire resulted in a total loss of the vessel, and it won't ever be used again.

On Dec. 20, 2023, Trident certified that the Kodiak Enterprise had been "permanently rendered inoperable," the court papers added.

To our knowledge, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the fire continues.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Two named to Board of Fisheries

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has appointed Curtis Chamberlain to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, and has reappointed Märit Carlson-Van Dort.

Chamberlain will take the place of John Wood, whose term expires June 30.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

A few extra fish for Southeast Alaska trollers

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game today announced a preseason troll treaty harvest allocation for 2024 of 153,000 Chinook salmon, up 3,900 from last year.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Environmentalist in, trawler out

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has named Becca Robbins Gisclair, of the Ocean Conservancy, as his top choice for a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

If approved by the U.S. commerce secretary, Robbins Gisclair would take the place of Anne Vanderhoeven, who is government affairs director for trawl company Arctic Storm and who has served on the council for only one term.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Sitka herring season nears its start

The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fleet will go on two-hour notice beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in this announcement.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Another fishery headed for limited entry

Dozens of Alaska commercial fisheries are limited — that is, restricted to a maximum number of participants.

Now, another fishery is moving toward limited entry.

Regulations to limit the Prince William Sound shrimp pot fishery will be the subject of a Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission public hearing on March 26 in Anchorage.

More details are available here.

Friday, March 15, 2024

It's halibut time!

The commercial fishery for Pacific halibut opened at 6 a.m. today.

Good luck to the fleet and please be safe!

E.C. Phillips to acquire Trident's Petersburg plant

Here's the press release.

Dunleavy likes Moller, Ritchie for council seats

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named John Moller and Brian Ritchie as his top choices for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Can we revitalize our herring fisheries?

We're approaching new seasons for herring, a vast resource in Alaska with major concentrations at Sitka, Kodiak, Togiak, Goodnews Bay and Norton Sound.

For years, however, herring hasn't produced much of a payoff for Alaska's commercial fishing industry. The herring are valued mainly for their eggs, or roe, and demand for roe has been weak in the main Asian market.

A stupendous volume of herring will be up for grabs this year at Sitka Sound, but only a portion of the 81,246-ton quota is expected to be harvested, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says.

A huge volume of herring also will be available at Togiak, historically the scene of Alaska's largest herring fishery. But for a second consecutive year, no commercial fishery is expected due to lack of industry interest.

Some industry players have long lamented Alaska's underutilized herring resource. They wonder, could the fish be used to feed hungry people around the world? Could herring roe markets be revived or expanded? Could more Alaska herring be taken for use as bait?

These and other questions could receive an airing soon with the formation of a "herring revitalization committee."

It's a joint effort of the state Board of Fisheries and the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

The committee would work to "better understand current and potential markets, and review potential regulatory change to facilitate those markets," according to this charge statement the Board of Fisheries recently approved.

Expect to hear more about this committee soon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Silver Bay to acquire Trident's Ketchikan plant

Here's the press release.

National Fisherman to go online only

National Fisherman magazine is halting its print edition.

"After 78 years of delivering the latest in commercial fishing through our printed pages, National Fisherman is taking a leap into the future by transitioning to an exclusively online platform," the magazine announced on its website Tuesday.

National Fisherman covers the commercial fishing industry from New England to Alaska. The magazine used to publish monthly, but more recently had come out only quarterly.

The publisher, Diversified Communications, of Portland, Maine, also produces trade shows including Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

OBI's pullback — and its big score

OBI Seafoods is making news on multiple fronts.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror is reporting OBI has notified setnetters at Alitak, on the south end of Kodiak Island, it won't be buying salmon there this season.

Deckboss has asked the company for more details on this.

In other news, OBI was a big winner in a recent round of government fish procurement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on March 6 announced it purchased $54 million in canned pink salmon and $14.4 million in canned red salmon from OBI.

OBI was created in 2020 through a merger of Ocean Beauty and Icicle.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Pacific Fishing magazine suspends publication

Pacific Fishing, a Seattle-based trade journal serving the North Pacific commercial fishing industry, has suspended publication.

"The owner and publisher of Pacific Fishing magazine is retiring," the company announced today. "We are actively pursuing a new owner to carry on the publication."

The monthly magazine's December 2023 issue was its last.

The daily Fish Wrap news service also will be suspended, the announcement said.

Pacific Fishing magazine published for 44 years, offering news and features for predominantly commercial fishermen readers engaged in a dangerous and often economically tumultuous industry.

The magazine's owner and publisher is Mike Daigle, of Seattle. The editor is Wesley Loy, who also produces the Deckboss blog.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Embattled trawl industry amps up public relations

Under the gun for its salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea, the trawl industry has formed the Alaska Pollock Fishery Alliance to "promote responsible fishery management."

Friday, March 8, 2024

Trident update

Trident Seafoods says it's close to finalizing sales of its Petersburg, Ketchikan and False Pass plants.

The company also is "speaking with multiple interested buyers" for its Kodiak plant.

"Even if we don’t close a deal by this summer, Trident will still provide a market for salmon season in Kodiak," a company executive says.

More details here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Togiak herring to stay dormant

The Togiak herring stock remains robust, but the industry again is showing no interest.

"Processors have indicated that they do not intend to harvest herring in Togiak in 2024 and it is unlikely that a commercial fishery will occur," the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today.

Another Peter Pan fire

A reader advised Deckboss of a fire at Peter Pan Seafood's King Cove plant.

"No flame could be seen from afar but lots of smoke," he said.

We checked with Peter Pan, which provided this response:

"You heard correctly, there was a minor fire early this morning in the crab plant at King Cove. No injuries. Fire is out. Minimal damage. No reported cause as of yet."

This is the second fire for Peter Pan this year. On Feb. 7, company buildings at Sand Point burned.

Monday, March 4, 2024

The seafood industry fishes for help

Efforts in Juneau to create a Joint Legislative Seafood Industry Task Force suggest serious difficulty in the fishing business as the new salmon season approaches.

The Senate resolution establishing the task force says "considerable changes in the global salmon market in recent years have placed the state's seafood industry in economic peril."

In recent months, we've received numerous signals of industry distress not only on the salmon side but in other fisheries as well. And we've seen extraordinary actions such as companies publicly putting assets up for sale.

All these signs portend a potential price crash for commercial fishermen this year.

The task force resolution is set for a hearing at 9 a.m. Thursday in the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

Deckboss understands the task force idea has the backing of the state's two flagship industry organizations — United Fishermen of Alaska and the Pacific Seafood Processors Association.

Such a task force is reminiscent of the Joint Legislative Salmon Industry Task Force that operated from 2002 to 2004.

What is the industry looking to get out of this latest task force?

A PSPA position paper currently making the rounds suggests a number of state actions including low-interest loans and loan guarantees for seafood processors via the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. It also suggests loan concessions for fishermen and hatcheries.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Suspicious catch?

"Commercial fishermen off the coast of Alaska have found what officials are concerned could be another spy balloon and are bringing it to shore with them," CNN reports.

Read the full story here.

Juneau watch

A Senate resolution was introduced today establishing a Joint Legislative Seafood Industry Task Force.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

'The true cost of cheap seafood'

Joe Bundrant, CEO of Seattle-based processing company Trident Seafoods, addresses a seafood worker scandal in China.

Russian trawlers are hurting Alaska, Peltola says

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola on Monday addressed the Alaska Legislature and devoted a good part of her speech to fish and fisheries.

Curiously, the word bycatch appears nowhere in the address.

She does go after "lawless" Russian trawl fleets "pushing ever closer to our waters."

Read Peltola's full address here.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Juneau watch

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang is scheduled to present a budget overview to the House Finance Committee at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Blotter

Be sure to check our companion blog The Brig for fisheries enforcement news.

AMCC's legal fundraiser

The Alaska Marine Conservation Council has launched a GoFundMe campaign to "help stop halibut bycatch."

Friday, February 23, 2024

Transit scheme costs American Seafoods $9.5M

Two subsidiaries of American Seafoods, a major harvester of Bering Sea pollock, have agreed to pay $9.5 million to settle violations of a shipping law known as the Jones Act, federal prosecutors say.

More details in this press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage.

We've asked American Seafoods for comment.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Cook Inlet battle royal set

The Alaska Board of Fisheries holds lots of meetings, none more contentious than those devoted to Upper Cook Inlet.

Tomorrow in Anchorage, the board begins a 12-day meeting to consider 185 Upper Cook Inlet finfish proposals.

Debate around Cook Inlet salmon management is always intense as multiple user groups — commercial, sport, dipnet, and subsistence — compete for the fish.

We won't attempt to describe all the proposals at play for this meeting. But we note one that's generating quite a lot of buzz.

Proposal 43 would reduce production of hatchery pink salmon, which some people see as detrimental to wild fish.

The state's hatchery industry is lined up against the proposal. Here are some others opposing it:

BBRSDA board candidates announced

Five candidates will vie for two seats on the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board of directors.

Read about the candidates here.

Sullivan's 'big idea'

During his Wednesday address to the Alaska Legislature, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan had quite a bit to say about fisheries, including this:

As it relates to fish, I believe it's time to go on offense. Thousands of Alaska fishermen are going through a very difficult time right now. Our fishermen are the farmers of the sea. Farmers get loans. Why shouldn't our fishermen? Farmers get crop insurance. Why shouldn't our fishermen get insurance? Farmers get federal relief when foreign markets are closed. Farmers get help when extreme weather hurts their harvest. Why shouldn't our fishermen?

The Farm Bill that we're currently negotiating presents an opportunity to de-risk our fishing operations in ways the U.S. government does for farmers. My legislation, called the National Seafood Supply Act, begins to accomplish this. It's a big idea. But there are many naysayers who are against my bill, even though it will dramatically benefit our hardworking fishermen and their communities. Stay tuned.

Read Sullivan's full address here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Bristol Bay association names new skipper

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which represents salmon driftnetters, has promoted Lilani Dunn to executive director.

She succeeds Andy Wink in the position.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Rep. Vance proposes a sea change

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, today introduced a resolution urging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to extend state fisheries management jurisdiction out to 15 nautical miles from the current 3 miles.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Juneau watch

The Senate Finance Committee on Monday will take up Senate Bill 82 establishing a buyback program for eastside Cook Inlet setnet permits.

Here's a letter from United Fishermen of Alaska with thoughts on the legislation.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Murkowski's fish worries

In her Thursday address to the Alaska Legislature, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski had this to say, in part, about the state's struggling seafood sector:

I mentioned earlier the unequivocally bad state of so many of our fisheries. The 'absence of abundance' is threatening subsistence, commercial and recreational fishing alike. Fish racks hang empty on the Yukon and Kuskokwim. The processing industry is undergoing a wave of consolidation. Outside groups are attempting to shut down entire fisheries and list the king salmon as endangered. So much we thought we knew is changing. The changes in our climate threaten our food security and our economic security. I worry about King Cove, False Pass, Kodiak and all the coastal communities that depend on fish, fish processing and the fish tax. Just as I worry about those who are not able to fill their freezers with fish from the river.

Read Murkowski's full address here.

Friday, February 16, 2024

A chicken halibut survey

The International Pacific Halibut Commission has released details about this year's setline stock survey.

"We intend on sampling 525 stations in 2024, with the first hooks expected to hit the water on May 25," the Seattle-based commission says.

It's a drastic reduction from last year's survey, which was planned for 958 stations with 864 ultimately sampled.

We presume the commission's financial troubles factor into the severe downsizing of this year's survey.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Juneau watch

State Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, has introduced a resolution calling on Congress and all federal agencies to "adopt policies and engage in certain efforts to improve the competitiveness and resiliency of the state's seafood industry."

Big federal salmon buy coming

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is planning to purchase up to $70 million in canned pink salmon and $30 million in canned sockeye.

Read more about it in this press release from the Alaska congressional delegation.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Cook Inlet conundrum

Cook Inlet salmon always has been been a troublesome topic, and this theme continued at the recent North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Seattle.

Federal officials, working under a court order, are preparing to take over salmon management from the state in the inlet's federal waters, or Exclusive Economic Zone.

At the meeting, council member Jon Kurland, head of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska, offered a motion with 2024 total allowable catch levels for sockeye and other salmon species in the Cook Inlet EEZ.

Well, for a variety of stated reasons, the council's Alaska members — Rachel Baker, Angel Drobnica (council chair), John Jensen, Nicole Kimball, Andy Mezirow and Rudy Tsukada — declined to support the motion.

Voting in favor were Kurland and the members from other states — Washington's Kenny Down, Bill Tweit and Anne Vanderhoeven, and Oregon's John Seabourne.

Thus, the motion failed 6-5.

Where do the go from here?

NMFS will set the salmon TACs for the Cook Inlet EEZ.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Unalaska's power plans

With a proposed geothermal power project going nowhere fast, the city of Unalaska is now considering new diesel generation to support the planned Trident Seafoods processing plant.

Read about it in this city manager's memo.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

An escalating fight over halibut bycatch

We told you in December how a trawl fleet known as the Amendment 80 sector was suing over tighter halibut bycatch limits.

Now, halibut harvesters are looking to jump into the case in support of the tighter limits.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Another challenge to Bering Sea trawling

Native governments and an environmental group say they'll sue federal agencies over a planned bottom trawl study in the Northern Bering Sea.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Personnel file

Brent Paine, executive director of United Catcher Boats, says he plans to retire in December.

UCB is a Seattle-based trade association whose membership includes the powerful Bering Sea trawl fleet delivering pollock to shore plants.

Paine has skippered UCB since 1993, or more than 30 years. Previously, he was on the staff of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Fire reported at Peter Pan facility in Sand Point

Peter Pan Seafood provided the following statement regarding a fire at its Sand Point location.

Early this morning Wed., Feb. 7, the Peter Pan Sand Point Facility warehouse and nearby stock room were involved in a fire. We are grateful to report that there were no injuries.

We have staff on the ground in Sand Point and teams en route from King Cove to continue assessing the situation and gathering information on the incident.

We want to express our deepest gratitude to our friends at Trident and to the public safety office in Sand Point for their support and assistance during the fire.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Weighty fishing penalty assessed

NOAA enforcement officials say they have charged Ocean Peace Inc., owner of the F/V Ocean Peace, with fishing in the Nearshore Bristol Bay Trawl Area after it had closed.

A $111,031 notice of violation and assessment was issued, officials said.

An 'average' sockeye run for Upper Cook Inlet

Here's the 2024 forecast.

Fishing for federal help

Numerous Alaska legislators have signed a letter asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist the state's struggling seafood industry.

"Timing is critical as seafood processors will soon be attempting to obtain financing for the 2024 pack," the letter says.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Juneau watch

The House Special Committee on Fisheries is set to meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is expected to give a presentation on hatcheries.

The committee also is expected to take up House Bill 195, which would establish a buyback program for eastside Cook Inlet setnet permits.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Albatross bycatch reported

In December, an endangered short-tailed albatross was taken by a longline fishing vessel in the Gulf of Alaska south of Unalaska Island, the National Marine Fisheries Service reports.

Both legs of the bird were banded.

"The Yamashina Institute in Japan confirmed the bird was banded at the Hatsunezaki colony, Torishima Island, on March 3, 2023," NMFS reports.

A federal biological opinion allows for six takes during a two-year period, leaving an allowance for five additional takes for all federal Alaska groundfish fisheries over the next year, the agency says.

"The carcass is being shipped to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for additional analysis," NMFS says.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Unalaska opposes salmon bycatch petition

In a letter to federal officials, Unalaska's mayor says the city and the fishing industry "face a dire situation" should an emergency petition be implemented to bar Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Jack Schultheis crosses the bar

Jack Schultheis, a longtime Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board member, died at home on Dec. 22, ASMI announced today.

Need a cannery?

Trident Seafoods is asking $1 million for its defunct South Naknek cannery at Bristol Bay. Here's the listing.

OBI pulls back a bit

Seattle-based OBI Seafoods just issued the following:

After careful consideration, OBI Seafoods announced today the company's decision not to operate its Larsen Bay plant, located on Kodiak Island, for the 2024 salmon season.

Salmon caught on Kodiak Island by the OBI Seafoods fleet will be processed at its facility in Kodiak town. Capacity should not be an issue, with OBI's Seward and Cordova facilities able to support Kodiak during the peak of the season in August.

The decision to not operate the Larsen Bay plant is due to the poor pink salmon forecast issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and tough market conditions for salmon products in general, according to OBI Seafoods CEO John Hanrahan.

"The Kodiak town plant operates year-round and has the ability to process salmon in a greater diversity of product forms making it better suited to respond to salmon markets in 2024 as we navigate this challenging time for the industry," Hanrahan said.

The Larsen Bay facility, ideally situated close to the island's westside fishing grounds, will remain open with a small team fully dedicated to providing services to its fleet. This team will include OBI's fleet manager, office manager, chief engineer, port engineer, welder, general maintenance, fishermen's services, laundry and beach gang.

OBI has every intention to operate its Larsen Bay facility again in the 2025 salmon season.

About OBI Seafoods:

OBI Seafoods was formed in 2020 through a merger with Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Icicle Seafoods, two of the oldest and most successful seafood companies in Alaska. The company operates 10 processing plants throughout the state and is a leading producer of fresh, frozen and canned Alaska seafood.

Monday, January 29, 2024

More disaster relief

The U.S. commerce secretary today announced the allocation of more than $42 million to address fishery disasters nationally, including nearly $1.6 million for the 2022 Yukon River salmon fisheries.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Halibut dips again

Halibut quotas will be down again this year.

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, meeting in Anchorage, today announced a coastwide catch limit of 35.3 million pounds, a 4.6 percent decline from last year.

The IPHC recommended a fishing season beginning at 6 a.m. local time March 15 to midnight Dec. 7 for all directed commercial Pacific halibut fisheries in Canada and the United States.

Here's a press release with catch limits by regulatory area. For comparison, here's last year's press release.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Wild Alaska Sole Association

Alaska flatfish producers have formed a new nonprofit marketing organization.

Addressing the court's concerns

The National Marine Fisheries Service is grinding through a tedious process that, once complete, could form a bulwark against the lawsuit aiming to shut down the Southeast Alaska salmon troll fishery.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Roughed up trawler makes injury stop at Kodiak

The factory trawler Araho called on Kodiak over the weekend to seek medical attention for six crewmembers injured in rough seas, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reports.

Disaster relief for crabbers advances

Staggered by recent fishery closures, the Alaska crabbing industry has been waiting patiently for federal disaster relief to arrive.

Now, we see a significant step toward that end.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has finalized a spend plan for more than $190 million in congressionally appropriated disaster funds covering the 2021-22 and 2022-23 Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries.

The spend plan divvies the money among crabbers, processors, and communities. It also allocates — over the grumbles of many industry players — 12 percent of the money, or $22.5 million, to research.

Finalizing the spend plan does not mean relief checks are about to hit mailboxes. No, some additional steps remain in the process.

The spend plan has been forwarded to the Portland, Oregon-based Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission for administration.

The city of Unalaska, the main port for the crab industry, is expecting a share of up to $5.5 million, the city manager said in a recent memo.

"We are hopeful that the funds will be disbursed either in late 2024 or early 2025," the memo said.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Four rescued after vessel capsizes near Kodiak

Details in this press release from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Shutting down Chinook bycatch

Tribal organizations have submitted an emergency petition to "institute a cap of zero on any further Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands pollock trawl fishery."

The emergency regulation should stay in effect for 180 days, the petition says.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Here's the Copper River salmon forecast!

This year's commercial harvest is predicted to be nearly 1.3 million sockeye. That's pretty good!

Here's the forecast announcement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Hope for herring

An updated Prince William Sound herring stock assessment shows an estimated spawning biomass of 29,253 short tons.

"It is the largest estimate since 2008 and is 119.9 percent above the 10-year average (2013-22) of 13,305 short tons," says this advisory announcement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Juneau watch

The Alaska Legislature opened its new session today, and Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, introduced a resolution opposing orca bycatch.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

How many Cook Inlet EEZ salmon?

With the feds poised to take over management of salmon fisheries this year in the Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone, we're beginning to get a sense of how many salmon will be available for harvest in the area.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is recommending a total allowable catch of nearly 1.3 million sockeye. For more detail, see this SAFE report, particularly Page 60.

This number is very preliminary. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is expected to address the matter at its February meeting in Seattle.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Metlakatla's powerful ally

The Metlakatla Indian Community continues to press its federal lawsuit against the state seeking expanded fishing rights in Southeast Alaska.

The U.S. Department of Justice is siding with Metlakatla, filing this amicus curiae brief on Friday.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Peter Pan temporarily idles its King Cove plant

Bellevue, Washington-based processor Peter Pan Seafood today issued this statement regarding its operational status for this year in Alaska:

We are saddened to inform our fishermen and the King Cove community that Peter Pan Seafood will not be able to operate our King Cove facility for the 2024 A Season. This is an unfortunate but temporary step. We will be open for the 2024 B Season, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to Alaska, our fleet, and the communities where we do business.

We did not come to this decision quickly or easily. The current state of the seafood industry is tumultuous, and it has impacted many operators in the region. The industry is facing inflation, interest rates hikes, financing challenges, and high fuel costs. We have worked through these issues as diligently as possible and have explored possible options. This temporary step, while difficult, is necessary to maintain our long-term commitment to the future of our business in Alaska.

We remain committed to continuing to provide the best service and support possible to our fleet, communities, and stakeholders while continuing our mission to be an exemplary global supplier of top-quality and responsibly sourced seafood. Looking to the future, we will employ more than 1,000 this year as we open the King Cove facility for the 2024 B Season and our other three facilities as normal for the salmon season.

We are steadfast in our future commitment to Alaska, our fleet, and the communities we do business in. We are grateful for the strong relationship we have with King Cove and we remain committed to doing everything in our power to support the community and fishermen during this time.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Activists seek listing for Alaska Chinook

The Wild Fish Conservancy, which has been fighting in court to shut down the Southeast Alaska troll fishery, is now petitioning to list Alaska Chinook salmon under the Endangered Species Act.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Maxing out

The 2023 cost recovery fee percentage for the halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota program is 3 percent.

That's the maximum allowed under law and a big jump from the 2022 fee percentage of 1.9 percent.

What accounts for the increase?

The National Marine Fisheries Service explained in a Dec. 28 notice published in the Federal Register:

Between 2022 and 2023 there was a net increase in management costs and a net decrease in fishery value. Management costs increased by approximately 15 percent while fishery value decreased by approximately 34 percent. The net decrease in value was due to lower ex-vessel prices and landings for both halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries.

IFQ permit holders must submit their 2023 fee payments to NMFS by Jan. 31.

USCG posts report on Scandies Rose tragedy

Click here.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Kids who fish

Is it OK for kids to hold state commercial fishing permits?

In fact, a handful already do.

But what's the policy on minors holding permits?

It's a question the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission plans to address this year.

The agency, which issues permits for participating in dozens of Alaska fisheries, will conduct a review including a fleet survey and hearings, says Glenn Haight, commission chairman.

The goal isn't to keep kids off fishing vessels. Rather, it's to give the commission "a little more structure and process to follow when asked to allow a permit to go to a youngster," Haight said.

The commission's review could look at safety, economic advantage in fisheries, or other considerations. 

State regulations already address the issue to some degree. For example, the Alaska Administrative Code at 20 AAC 05.1707 states "there is a rebuttable presumption" a person acquiring most types of permits is "unable to participate actively in the fishery" if under the age of 16.

But the commission can, and has, issued permits to minors under 16, Haight said. He reckons maybe 10 such minors currently hold permits.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

A threat to weak stocks?

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is raising significant concerns over the proposed federal takeover of salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

The international issue of bycatch

Bycatch certainly has been a hot topic of late in Alaska.

Alaska bycatch also is drawing attention from our neighbors in Canada.

In a report submitted ahead of the International Pacific Halibut Commission annual meeting in Anchorage, the province of British Columbia has this to say, in part:

The large trawl fisheries in Alaska experience high volumes of bycatch that impact many species that move between Canadian and U.S. waters. This includes over 157,500 salmon caught as bycatch in Alaskan fleets in 2023, of which over 35,500 were vulnerable Chinook salmon. Incomplete monitoring and Alaskan bycatch of halibut in trawl fisheries impact recruitment of juvenile halibut to the fishery as many halibut caught in industrial trawl nets do not survive release.

'Corporate purgatory'

Readers will recall how federal authorities hit Alaska pollock industry players with huge fines, alleging unlawful transport of fish to the eastern United States. Deckboss wrote about the case in the October 2021 issue of Pacific Fishing magazine.

Well, it seems the two sides have reached a settlement.

But the pollock industry is furious government brass still haven't signed off on the deal struck nearly six months ago.

This has left the industry in "corporate purgatory," with the delay in resolving the enormous penalties interfering with corporate transactions, finances, and operations, according to this court filing.

Friday, January 5, 2024

New leadership for a CDQ organization

The Central Bering Sea Fishermen's Association, one of Alaska's six community development quota organizations, today announced Ray Melovidov as its new president.

He takes over for CBSFA's longtime president, Phillip Lestenkof, who is retiring.

CBSFA represents St. Paul Island under the CDQ program.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Federal salmon buy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the purchase of more than $9 million in salmon products.

Three companies including OBI Seafoods, Silver Bay Seafoods, and Trident Seafoods sold $7.3 million in canned pink salmon, with Trident accounting for the bulk of the sales.

The USDA also purchased $1.8 million in frozen wild salmon fillets from Pacific Seafood.