Political group Bristol Bay Forever is sponsoring a ballot measure that would put additional environmental protections on the area known as the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve. The area, consisting of 36,000 square miles of land and rivers in Southwest Alaska, was established in 1972 as a way to protect the local salmon populations from the effects of oil and gas development. For any oil or gas company to get surface entry rights, they need to obtain a legislative declaration that says their activities won’t harm the fish.

The Pacific Salmon Commission announced today that it was decreasing the run-size estimates for the early summer-run and summer-run sockeye.

According to the Fraser River Panel’s Aug. 26 announcement, the panel met today and decreased the early summer-run estimate to 2 million fish and the summer run estimate to 6 million fish.

An estimated 94 percent of the sockeye are currently passing through Johnstone Strait, according to the announcement and assessments of the late-run sockeye abundance are underway.

A Canadian company is moving forward with plans for a new rare-earth metals mine at the end of Kendrick Bay on Prince of Wales Island, sending a team to drill and spending millions sampling rock and studying the area.

The goal of Ucore’s team is to answer questions from investors and government officials, including concerns about the mine’s environmental impact in light of the collapse of a dam holding toxic mining waste in British Columbia this past month. The breach at the Mt. Polley Mine spilled millions of gallons of waste into pristine forest and waters.

A Juneau-based scientist recently published a study that found climate change poses a serious threat to the Tongass National Forest’s snow-fed salmon streams. On the other hand, watersheds too cold for big salmon runs may become more productive.

Nature Conservancy scientist Colin Shanley, the study’s lead author, said a few degrees of warming makes a big difference for Southeast Alaska’s fish.

It’s been just over two weeks since Russia banned imports of American food products into its country. Now, Alaska’s seafood industry is asking the U.S. government to strike back.

Terry Shaff is the president of UniSea -- one of 10 major processing companies that’s lobbying to get Russian seafood kicked out of the United States.

Six years ago, the Norwegian coast guard filmed a Scottish fishing vessel riding gray swells, dumping 5 metric tons of dead fish back into the North Sea. Over the European Union catch quota,and unable to keep all the fish they'd caught, the fishermen had to ditch some. To the Norwegians, who aren't part of the EU and hold a strict discards ban, the waste was shocking.

Experiments onboard the trawler “J. Bergvoll” in May have shown that pumping is considerably more gentle than pulling up onto the ramp and survival rates of 80-100 per cent, depending on species, can be achieved. Fish caught by trawling should be kept alive in tanks for five to six hours, long enough for blood to be removed from the white muscles.

Yukon River king salmon continue to show symptoms indicative of low production. Unprecedented fishing restrictions in Alaska this summer allowed over 64,ooo kings to cross the border into Canada. That was enough to surpass an escapement goal, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Eligible Cook Inlet fishermen will receive a $2,000 fixed payment, plus a percentage based on their landings history from 2007 to 2011, according to National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, spokeswoman Julie Speegle.

According to information provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service, an estimated 443 permit holders from Cook Inlet’s East Side setnet fishery will be eligible to apply for payments, as will an additional 96 Northern District fishermen.

Leading companies from Alaska's USD 6 billion seafood industry have announced their support for a ban on Russian seafood imports to the United States and urged Russia to rescind its ban on US food imports, in force since 7 August.

The seafood companies believe such a move would not only further squeeze Russia's faltering economy as Russia threatens European stability, but would support America's sustainable, high-quality fisheries.

Fishermen and other stakeholders are asking Alaska's Board of Fisheries to consider 162 proposals to change subsistence, commercial, personal use and sport regulations in fisheries throughout the state during the 2014-2015 meeting cycle.

A state-backed five year, $30 million dollar Initiative is underway to discover why Alaska’s Chinook salmon production has declined since 2007. More than 100 researchers and over three dozen projects are focused on Chinook stocks in 12 major systems from Southeast to the Yukon. Early on, they’ve pinned down some findings -

After an unprecedented two extensions, the summer king salmon season for trollers in Southeast is over.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game closed the fishery at 11:59 PM Monday, August 18 — two days later than planned.

Pattie Skannes is troll management biologist for the region.

“Yeah. We don’t usually work on Saturday and Sunday. But this was one of those openings that required a little bit of attention every day. We set it for three days thinking, This is going to be easy. But it turned out to be anything but easy.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this week the approval of the first grant application to assist fishermen affected by the 2012 commercial fisheries failure in the Yukon Chinook, Kuskokwim Chinook and Cook Inlet fisheries.

Golden king crab season is officially open in the Aleutian Islands.

About five vessels had signed up to participate as of the season’s start last Friday. More than six million pounds of golden king crab is available to catch.

That amount is set in federal regulations and divided up among the fleet and community development quota groups.

The Southeastern Alaska summer commercial Dungeness crab season was “among the most successful in recent history,” the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said last week.

Preliminary information on the season, which closed Aug. 15, indicate that the summer season harvest is likely about four million pounds.

U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland says a restructured federal fisheries observer program may stay in place for now, but that the National Marine Fisheries Service must reconsider those controversial changes.

For the last week, from Shugnak all the way down to Kotzebue, people are reporting dead fish washed up on the banks of Northwest Alaska's Kobuk River in astonishing numbers. The fish appear to have been healthy and unspawned. Some have mysterious white welts dotting their backs.

Carolyn Ballot, mayor of Ambler, said when she first heard about the fish, she suspected bears were pulling salmon out of the water, which is nothing unusual. But the huge number of fish washing ashore quickly became concerning. She wondered whether warm weather in the region was causing the die-off.

The first installment of disaster relief money will soon be on its way to Alaska fishermen hurt by low Chinook salmon returns to the Yukon, Kuskokwim and Cook Inlet regions. Disasters were declared by Governor Parnell for those three regions in 2012, opening the door for relief payments from the feds. NOAA Fisheries announced last week that $7.8 million will be distributed in direct payments to fishermen for losses. The payments break out at $3.2 million for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region and $4.6 million for the Cook Inlet Region.

Extreme Seafoods made waves as they entered the Bristol Bay fishery this year. The company, founded in 2013, purchased the Paug-Vik Corp facility in Naknek that most remember as the old Baywatch plant. A company email circulated around the fleet promised $2 per pound for sockeye, long before the season began, as well as a $5,000 signing bonus and up to a $10,000 advance. Payments would be made within weeks of each delivery, and a fleet of tenders, including two new vessels, would service both the Naknek and Egegik River fishermen.

The last pots are being pulled today in Southeast Alaska for the end of the summer Dungeness crab fishery. It’s been the best season ever with a total catch for the year pegged at nearly 6.5 million pounds. That makes for a nice pay day for 150 crabbers who averaged about $3 a pound, up 50 cents from last year.

Hundreds of people turned out in Anchorage to comment on a proposal that would severely restrict development of a massive gold-and-copper mine in the Bristol Bay region.

The proposal, made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month, effectively would bar the type of project the mine’s owner, Northern Dynasty Minerals, has discussed.

The agency is hosting public meetings in Alaska this week, though written comments can be submitted through Sept. 19.

As Bristol Bay wrapped up its 2014 salmon season, with a harvest just shy of 29 million sockeyes, other fisheries in Alaska were picking up speed.

As of Aug. 12, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary salmon harvest added up to a total of 125,271,000 fish, including 72,541,000 humpies, 41,718,000 reds, 8,471,000 chum, 2,128,000 silver, and 413,000 Chinooks.

The final statewide harvest of 272,629,000 fish for the 2013 season included 219,160,000 pink, 29,257,000 sockeye, 18,578,000 chum, 5,353,000 coho and 281,000 Chinooks, according to ADF&G.

In 2002, with no local buyer, Kantner recalls having to pack and ship fish out himself. The total value of the fishery that year was just $7,572.

This year the commercial fleet is expected to pull in about $3 million. That, according to Nate Kotch, vice president of Maniilaq, is partly biology from a good brood year, but also the payoff from a five year branding campaign at food expos in Asia, Europe, and on the East Coast:

“These fish are being marketed. And the brand that we have, of course, is Arctic Circle Wild Salmon.”

oday, U.S. Senator Mark Begich joined Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to call for a national strategy to address ocean acidification and prevent harm to Alaska and our nation’s commercial fishing industry. The announcement came during a stop at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) laboratory to see high-tech buoys that detect changes in ocean conditions.

A federal judge has ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to prepare a supplemental environmental assessment for the revised marine observer program that was implemented in 2013.

No immediate changes to the program will be made, but Judge Russel Holland found that NMFS did not account for whether it would lose data quality after learning that higher costs would reduce the amount of observer days at sea by more than half compared to what was originally planned.

Breached mine tailings dams be damned! As millions of Fraser River sockeye salmon head for spawning beds polluted by a brew of metal toxins oozing from the Mount Polley gold/copper mine disaster in British Columbia, Republican candidates vying for US Senate want environmental regulators to butt out of Alaska's mining development decisions.
The three men hoping to unseat Mark Begich faced off last week for a Rural Alaska Republican Candidates forum hosted by KYUK-FM in Bethel.

As Bristol Bay wrapped up its 2014 salmon season, with a harvest just shy of 29 million sockeyes, other fisheries in Alaska were picking up speed.

As of Aug. 12, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary salmon harvest added up to a total of 125,271,000 fish, including 72,541,000 humpies, 41,718,000 reds, 8,471,000 chum, 2,128,000 silver, and 413,000 Chinooks.

The final statewide harvest of 272,629,000 fish for the 2013 season included 219,160,000 pink, 29,257,000 sockeye, 18,578,000 chum, 5,353,000 coho and 281,000 Chinooks, according to ADF&G.