Kelp is the latest crop that Canada’s fish farmers are cashing in on. The country’s largest salmon grower – Cooke Aquaculture, is launching its brand this week of certified organically grown seaweeds of two different kinds – winged and sugar kelp, can be cooked or served up fresh. They are being sold under Cooke’s True North Salmon brand.Kelp

The sea plants are grown in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy in an Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) farm, along with blue mussels and Atlantic salmon. The floating farms are designed to mimic the natural ocean ecosystem.

Changes effective Dec. 1 in the Pacific halibut and sablefish fisheries in the Bering Sea/ Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska will require owners of catcher vessel sector individual fishing quota to be on board, rather than a hired skipper.

The IFQ program had allowed initial recipients of catcher vessel halibut and sablefish quota share to hire a vessel master to harvest the annual allocation of IFQ derived from the quota share.

The Association of Village Council Presidents and the Tanana Chiefs Conference are petitioning for emergency changes to bycatch regulations in the Bering Sea.

The current Bering Sea chinook, or king, bycatch cap has two parts: a lower number that is the performance standard of 47,591 and a higher number, the hard cap of 60,000. By joining incentive plan agreements, or IPAs, pollock vessels receive a prorated share of the cap of 60,000. Any vessel that does not join an IPA receives a prorated share of the lower cap.

Halibut prices are back in the nose bleed range, near to or topping $7/lb at major ports. 85% of Alaska’s catch has been so far with just over two million pounds left to go out of the nearly 16 million limit. The ports of Kodiak and Homer are neck a neck with halibut landings topping two million pounds each.
For sablefish, 78% of the 24 million pound quota has been landed. Both of those fisheries end in mid November.

“I would call it a great run,” Jennifer Nener, area director for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), said Tuesday as seine boats were given a three-day opening to scoop up late-arriving sockeye off the mouth of the Fraser. The overall run is estimated at 20.7 million fish but a final number can’t be calculated yet because of uncertainty about the number of sockeye holding in salt water just off the river’s mouth.

Sullivan was able to reshuffle a packed travel schedule to fit in the fisheries event, said Ben Sparks, campaign manager. Sullivan initially was going to be in Bethel on a multi-day swing through Southwest Alaska during the time of the Kodiak event. “Dan recognizes the importance of Alaska's fisheries, and our campaign has rescheduled our southwest swing to ensure that Dan could make the debate. He looks forward to a healthy exchange of ideas with Mark Begich on the future of Alaska's fisheries, and is excited to attend the debate in Kodiak," his campaign said in a prepared statement.

Conscientious chefs, shoppers, and restaurant goers in search of sustainable seafood just got a heap of new options to choose from. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s highly regarded Seafood Watch program recently announced an unprecedented upgrade in the listing of 21 species of fish caught on the U.S. West Coast. The sustainable seafood ranking program no longer cautions consumers to avoid these species, thanks to improvements to fisheries management in the 14 years following the collapse of the entire West Coast groundfish fishery, when many species were considered dangerously overfished.

The summer purse seine season for pink salmon in Southeast Alaska has wrapped up and the harvest is better than expected. The state closed the season August 29. Biologists predicted a harvest of about 22 million fish but fishermen were able to catch about 32 million.

When Alaskans fish for salmon, most are hoping to bring home those gorgeous — not to mention delicious — red fillets for the barbecue, freezer, or canning jar. When the fish are cleaned, the long skeins of pink or red eggs often go overboard with everything else.

Not so in the commercial fishing industry, where salmon eggs — or roe — have become big business. Russia’s embargo of American seafood has been a setback to Alaska’s caviar industry, but demand for the product is growing elsewhere.

Something odd is happening in Northern Pacific waters: They're heating up. In fact, it hasn't been this warm in parts of the Gulf of Alaska for this long since researchers began tracking surface water temperatures in the 1980s, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The warming began last year in the Gulf of Alaska and has since been dubbed "The Blob" by Nick Bond, of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean. Temperatures have been as high as about 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 Celsius) above average.

The Southeast Alaska summer troll fishery is being extended by 10 days. That allows continued fishing through the end of this month.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game commercial fisheries biologist Pattie Skannes says all species of salmon except Chinooks can be harvested. But the fishery is mostly about cohos.

For the past couple of years the City of Dillingham was much larger than it is today. That’s because the city successfully annexed much of Nushagak Bay into the city limits. However, earlier this year a judge in Dillingham reversed the annexation and basically ordered the process to start again. KDLG’s Mike Mason reports.

The Cook Inlet drift fleet is largely done fishing for the summer, with a catch of more than 2 million salmon.

Through Aug. 12, when fishing had ended in most areas, the fleet had landed 1.4 million sockeyes, 402,138 pinks, 65,678 silvers and 107,299 chums according to call-in estimates provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

United Cook Inlet Drift Association Executive Director Roland Maw said the average drifter caught about 18,000 pounds of sockeye. Most fishermen saw lower catch per unit effort, or CPUE, this summer.

Prices are down compared to last year due to the high supply, although not nearly as drastically as buyers had hoped, Canadian processors told Undercurrent News.

The president of a sockeye processor in Canada told Undercurrent sockeye wholesale prices are currently down 20 to 30% from last year’s price due to low supply, but the price is far less attractive than buyers had anticipated.

Scientists across NOAA Fisheries are watching a persistent expanse of exceptionally warm water spanning the Gulf of Alaska that could send reverberations through the marine food web. The warm expanse appeared about a year ago and the longer it lingers, the greater potential it has to affect ocean life from jellyfish to salmon, researchers say.

A U.S. House subcommittee today considered a bill aimed at creating a deepwater dock at Point Spencer, a narrow curlicue of land on the Bering Strait, just south of the Arctic Circle. Alaska Congressman Don Young says his bill would divide the 2,000 acre spit among the Coast Guard, the state and the Bering Strait Native Corp., creating a partnership to build a port.

“I want to move this legislation. I think it’s badly needed for Alaska and the nation,” Young said. “And of course it will help Bering Straits out. There’s no doubt about that.”

Federal fisheries managers have proposed a new rule requiring West Coast commercial fishermen who unroll long lines of baited hooks on the ocean bottom also put out long lines of fluttering plastic to scare off seabirds trying to steal the bait.

The proposed rule published Tuesday in the Federal Register is designed to protect the endangered short-tailed albatross, which once numbered in the millions but is down to about 1,200 individuals.

Region 10 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is offering an online webinar on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 to provide a brief overview of the Clean Water Act Section 404 (c) proposed determination for the Pebble deposit in Southwest Alaska.
The presentation will be offered Sept. 9 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Alaska time and from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 10.

This is called "ocean acidification" — and it could have terrible consequences for marine life in the decades ahead. More acidic seawater can chew away at coral reefs and kill oysters by making it harder for them to form protective shells. Acidification might also muck up the food supply for key species like Alaska's salmon. One recent study estimated that the loss of mollusks alone could cost the world as much as $100 billion per year by century's end.

The state of Alaska, the University of Alaska and representatives from Alaskan fisheries, seafood and marine industries created a plan to increase the number of in state residents working in maritime careers.

A federal judge ruled Thursday to uphold the federal decision to remove Cook Inlet from the salmon fishery management plan.

Alaska has managed salmon since statehood, and the National Marine Fisheries Service removed Cook Inlet salmon from the federal fishery management plan, or FMP, after the North Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously voted in December 2011 to officially delegate that authority to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Out along the rock bar, the current is deep and dark. My daughter, China, and I stand on the uneven rocks at the edge of the eddy, pulling our net ashore, unhurried, hoping for a tasty fish for dinner and no more. It's a tiny net compared to the nets I've been using on the coast lately, and the webbing is old, almost neon yellow.

It’s been well publicized that the sea ice over the Arctic Ocean has receded at an accelerated pace in recent years, and that this has brought an exponential increase in maritime traffic to a region where only the hardiest ships and seamen once ventured. Less discussed is how woefully underprepared the United States is for the multiple challenges now converging on our Arctic coastline. So if we ever needed a book exploring the history of American sovereignty over our Arctic waters and the importance of solidifying it, now would be the time.

The Yukon River is having strong runs of silver and chum salmon this fall, giving a boost to fishermen after another tepid summer for king salmon.

Sonar counts on the Lower Yukon at Pilot Station had tallied 233,000 silver salmon by Sept. 3, far above the historical median of 126,600 by that date. At that pace, more than 245,000 silvers are expected on the Yukon this summer.

Fisheries stakeholders are asking the state Board of Fisheries to consider 27 changes out of cycle in the upcoming year.

The agenda change requests cover several regions, although the largest portion are targeted at Cook Inlet — a region that saw significant management plan changes during the 2013-14 meeting cycle.

Earlier this year, the North Pacific Research Board held its annual Alaska Marine Science Symposium. The event featured research on many different topics, including bycatch. This is the term for unwanted or protected species that are swept up along with a fisherman’s regular catch. Areas such as the Bering Sea have hard limits on the amount of bycatch fishermen may collect, and if they reach the limit, they can’t continue fishing there.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is announcing $4.7 million in grants through the Species Recovery Grant Program. This grant money will fund continuing multi-year awards as well as new awards for fiscal year 2014.

Four new awards funded in fiscal year 2014 will assist three coastal states and one federally recognized tribe with conservation projects designed to recover marine species listed under the Endangered Species Act. There are eleven multi-year state awards and two multi-year tribal awards that will continue in FY14, the second year of these grants.

The 2014 inshore Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run of 40.6 million fish ranks 7th out of the last 20 years (1994–2013) and was 17% above the 34.7 million average run for the same period. This year’s sockeye run was 53% above the preseason inshore forecast of 26.6 million fish. Togiak was the only district to come in lower than preseason forecast with Naknek/Kvichak, Egegik, Ugashik, and Nushagak districts all larger than predicted. The 28.8 million sockeye salmon commercial harvest was 61% above the 17.9 million preseason forecast.