The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) will sponsor a panel discussion regarding a Bristol Bay permit buyback in the salmon drift gillnet fishery at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.

Panel members will include representatives from National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska’s Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the author of this report, Northern Economics.

After a year's absence, Unalaska now has somebody working at the Marine Advisory Program and at the Interior-Aleutians Campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. And they're the same person. Melissa "Missy" Good started work last week in the hybrid position
"Right now my plate's pretty open. I want to see what the community wants," said Good, who worked locally as the assistant area shellfish management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the past 3-and-a-half years.

Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, an organization that represents about 70 percent of the fleet, has launched a program to help the next generation of crabbers get into fishery.

The program takes a minimum of 10 percent of any block of crab IFQs for sale and offers it to active captains and crews for right of first offer.

Norton Sound Seafood Products paid out more than $4 million to 212 fishermen so far for the 2014 fishing season. This new payout is double the rate seven years ago when $2 million was paid to 120 fishermen.

Along the West Coast, in Oregon, Washington and Alaska, fishermen are hauling in their salmon catches before winter sets in. Wild-caught salmon—the premier varieties of Chinook, Sockeye and Coho—can sell for $15/pound to $25/pound.

This year, that wild salmon has been more abundant, and possibly a bit cheaper, than in recent years. And yet, Google "salmon" and ominous headlines also come up: about this year's severe drought, endangered salmon runs across the western U.S, as well as looming long-term threats from climate change.

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Malaspina picked up an extra passenger in the waters off Vancouver Island on Saturday morning.

According to accounts from Marine Highway spokesman Jeremy Woodrow and Lt. Cmdr. Desmond James of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Malaspina rescued one of three people aboard a landing craft that overturned off the town of Campbell River.

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have been studying the waters in the Gulf of Alaska and found that the warmer than normal temperatures are averaging one to five degrees warmer than the September average of 55-57 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Seward Line is the long-term monitoring site in the Gulf of Alaska. It helps scientists understand the details of what is happening in the waters over the Alaska shelf.

State fisheries biologists in Alaska say the Pacific herring spawning biomass in the Togiak District was estimated at 203,267 tons in 2014 and is forecast to be 163,480 tons in 2015.

Herring are expected to comprise 50 percent of the biomass in the coming year, while the remaining run is forecast to be ages 4-6, ages 7-8 and ages 12+

A new study released by the World Wildlife Fund says that crab populations in the Russian Far East are at risk of collapse because of overharvest from illegal fishing.

The ten-year study of trade and customs data identified major discrepancies between the amount of crab reportedly harvested in Russian waters and the amount imported into other countries.

Friday marked the release of $7.5 million in federal disaster assistance for commercial fishermen affected by the 2012 failure of the Chinook salmon in the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers and Cook Inlet. Both US Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich welcomed the news and spoke in support of the decision.

The state of Alaska is spending millions of dollars working on what could be called a mystery — why king salmon runs continue to decline.
The Chinook Salmon Research Initiative has many parts with the same goal, to better understand what is happening to king salmon so the resource can be better managed through both good times and bad.

For some southeast Alaska salmon stocks, goals for escapements — the number of fish allowed to swim free during fishing season to spawn — have changed to maximize the fish populations in those runs.

Steve Heinl and Ed Jones of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game informed the ADF&G Board of Fisheries of the changes on Wednesday. The board is holding a work session meeting in Juneau through Thursday at Centennial Hall.

From the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the 2015 Togiak herring forecast and harvest allocation are listed below for the Togiak District sac roe and spawn-on-kelp fishery, and the Dutch Harbor food and bait fishery, given a maximum 20% exploitation rate of the projected run biomass.

Wednesday marked the opening of the Bering Sea crab season. Quotas are up almost across the board. But one species that usually takes a backseat is outshining the rest -- and as KUCB’s Annie Ropeik reports, that’s got some fishermen changing their game plans.

Two years ago, there was no harvest for Bairdi tanner crab. Without enough legal females in the water, it wasn’t safe to fish.

When the season reopened last year, the quota was kept low. But now, Fish & Game biologist Heather Fitch says Bairdi seem to have bounced back:

If measured in sheer volume of fish, the Upper Cook Inlet commercial harvest of salmon was low: preliminary Fish and Game estimates show it at about 20 percent less than the 10-year average harvest. But, when price-per-pound is factored in, the exvessel value of the 2014 harvest was high at $35 million — making it the second year in a row that Cook Inlet commercial harvesters have seen lower-than-average harvests with higher-than-average values.

How do you solve a problem like bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries?

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council devoted hours of its fall meeting in Anchorage to that question, finally emerging with a motion calling for analysis of a number of alternatives and options.

The three alternatives to be considered include taking no action, a trawl bycatch management program for the Western Gulf, Central Gulf and West Yakutat area, and an alternative with a community fisheries association allocation or adaptive management program.

Bering Sea crab and pollock stocks all appear to be on the upswing — good news for Washington-based fishermen whose Alaska harvests are mainstays of the multibillion-dollar North Pacific seafood industry.

The improved outlook means some bigger harvests.

The Bristol Bay red king crab harvest that starts Wednesday has a catch limit that’s 16 percent higher than in 2013. Other Bering Sea harvests unfolding in the months ahead for snow crab, blue king crab and tanner crab will have limits set from 26 percent to 480 percent higher than the previous seasons.

NOAA and American Seafoods Company (ASC) this week agreed to settle three civil enforcement cases involving flow scales on board the ASC’s fishing vessels. The cases relate to events that occurred during 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012 in the Alaska pollock fishery. Pursuant to the settlement, ASC agreed to pay a combined civil penalty of $1.75 million.

The cases charged that personnel aboard the ASC’s catcher-processor vessels American Dynasty, Ocean Rover and Northern Eagle violated the Magnuson Stevens Act and the American Fisheries Act by causing the flow scales to weigh inaccurately.

Authorities have raised the Bering Sea snow crab total allowable catch (TAC) by nearly 26% and boosted quotas for other crab fisheries for the 2014-2015 season, which begins Wednesday.

Crabbers in Bering Sea District waters this season will be allowed to catch 67.95 million pounds of snow crab, compared with 53.983m pounds last season, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) said last week.

Diving for sea cucumbers, geoduck clams, and sea urchins is a unique yet very lucrative fishery. Southeast holds the title for the biggest dive fisheries in Alaska. Around 70 divers have been searching the bottom of the ocean for sea cumbers since opening day on October 1st. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s dive fisheries Stock Assessment Leader Mike Donnellan in Juneau gives us the scoop.

“For cucumbers we’ve got a GHL of just over a million pounds, and that is up about 81/2 percent over the last time these areas where opened.”

A ballot measure to protect salmon in Southwest hasn’t grabbed as many headlines as pot and campaign politics. Ballot Measure 4, sponsored by the group Bristol Bay Forever, asks voters to give the Alaska legislature final say on any large oil, gas and mining projects in the 36,000 square miles of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve.

The initiative does three significant things to the existing reserve, said Dick Mylius, a former state director for the Division of Mining, Land, and Water.

Back in 1985, a lone lionfish was first spotted off the Florida coast, possibly dumped into the ocean by a dissatisfied aquarium owner. At the time, it seemed harmless enough: a colorful fish native to Indonesia that had somehow made its way over here.

No one could have imagined the disaster that would follow.

Kuskokwim area commercial salmon fishermen earned 2.2 million dollars in 2014. A preliminary report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released Friday shows the total income slightly below last year’s total, but still 27-percent above the 10-year average.

Fishermen in District 1, the Lower Kuskokwim, tallied 818-thousand dollars, while Quinhagak fishermen earned 844-thouand dollars, and Goodnews Bay fishermen were paid 576-thousand dollars.

Fishing vessels between 40 and 57.5 feet in length will carry marine observers on a trip-by-trip basis next year under a change recommended today by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The council took action on the 2015 annual deployment plan, or ADP, for the marine observer program, which places someone onboard commercial fishing vessels to count and sample the catch.

After a year's absence, Unalaska now has somebody working at the Marine Advisory Program and at the Interior-Aleutians Campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. And they're the same person. Melissa "Missy" Good started work last week in the hybrid position
"Right now my plate's pretty open. I want to see what the community wants," said Good, who worked locally as the assistant area shellfish management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the past 3-and-a-half years.

The Bristol Bay red king crab season scheduled to get under way Oct. 15 is set for another increase, rising 14 percent, from 8.6 million pounds last season to 10 million pounds this year, including 10 percent for community development quotas.

The quota was up 9 percent last year, from 7.8 million pounds.

The St. Matthews blue king crab season will re-open this year with a cautious quota of 655,000 pounds, after being closed last year.

Summer 2014 represented a different kind of summer for Alaska fishermen. While commercial halibut fishermen have had their catch limits reduced for a number of years, this year the reductions hit charter fishermen in Southcentral Alaska as well. Anyone who went out on a charter boat out of Homer, Whittier, Seward or Kodiak knows that this year, fishermen could only keep one halibut of any size, and the second halibut had to be smaller than 29 inches.

Unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska mean a warm, wet fall and winter for Southeast Alaska, but what they mean for this year’s juvenile salmon is yet to be seen.