The opening of the 2014-2015 Alaska crab season coming on Oct. 15 is drawing a lot of interest in the upcoming announcement of crab quotas.

The seventh edition of “Beating the Odds: A Guide to Commercial Fishing Safety,” by Susan Clark Jensen and Jerry Dzugan of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, is hot off the presses, with updated information on survival at sea.

The 250-page book tackles a wide range of issues, from reading the weather and handling fishing gear safely to fatigue, hydration and nutrition, putting out fires onboard and the importance of safe seamanship.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is on a salmon-buying binge. It usually spends $6 million a year buying pink salmon. This summer, it is spending a total $39 million.

That's a relief for fishermen who caught pink salmon in record quantities back in 2013. A year-and-a-half's worth of pink salmon was caught in that year, and now millions of cans from that year are still sitting in warehouses.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a North Coast lawmaker’s bill banning the commercial production of genetically altered salmon.

AB 504, authored by Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, extends the prohibition of spawning or cultivating so-called “transgenic salmonids” in the Pacific Ocean to all waters of the state. The hatchery production and stocking of such fish also is prohibited.

Thor Sigfusson, Managing Director of the Iceland Ocean Cluster (Sjavarklasinn) and Sigurjon Arason, Chief Engineer at MATIS opened the conference, which was held in association with MATIS.
Some of these products can be sold for very high prices. Fish skin, for example, as well as being turned into leather for belts, wallets, even whole garments, can also be used for medical bandages with a price tag of $150 per kg. Indeed one speaker said: ‘Give me the skin and throw the rest [of the fish] out!’

n the near decade that has passed, pink shrimp, once touted as the town's saviors through the 1928 depression and later fires at processing plants, became passing mention in conversation as residents recalled shelling catches after high school.

he legal showdown between the Environmental Protection Agency and the group behind the giant Pebble mining prospect near Bristol Bay is coming to a head, with the first oral arguments in one case set for Friday morning in Anchorage and the recent filing of a second lawsuit that claims the agency illegally colluded with mine foes.

Both cases, under the purview of Alaska federal District Court Judge H. Russel Holland, were filed by Pebble Partnership, owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals

Bering Sea crab scientists and stakeholder met last week to discuss the outlook for Alaska’s biggest crab fisheries that open October 15th. The take away was that the stocks of red king crab, bairdi Tanners and snow crab all showed big increases in mature size classes, based on data from the annual summer surveys. (Only mature male crabs cans be retained in Alaska’s crab fisheries.) That has industry watchers predicting little, if any, change to the crab catches, said market expert John Sackton.

The pollock biomass in the Bering Sea is up 60%, preliminary fish survey results released Wednesday afternoon by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries scientists show.

This positive news for Alaska’s main source of pollock is not, however, an indication of a huge quota increase, considering the total allowable catch for all ground fish is capped each year at 2 million metric tons — which typically translates into a TAC of 1.3m metric tons pollock, NOAA said. For 2014, the Bering Sea TAC was 1.267m tons.

Alaska’s Congressional Delegation and their colleagues from Washington State are pushing the Food and Drug Administration to change the market name for pollock and clearly differentiate it from inferior fish harvested in Russia.

Preliminary fish survey results released today by NOAA Fisheries scientists indicate a nearly 60-percent increase in walleye pollock survey biomass in the Bering Sea. The announcement, made at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council Groundfish Plan Team meeting in Seattle, is good news for the country’s largest fishery by volume.

Catalonia-based Savia Natura has just launched an unusual snack made of cod and salmon skin, which is catching visitors’ attention at Seafood Expo Southern Europe in Barcelona this week.

Developed in partnership with Alicante-based processor Salazones Pertusa, the snack is gluten-free and presented as an ‘all natural’ premium product.

The Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association is pleased to announce that Copper River coho will be featured at two culinary events in September—Alaska Public Media’s Second Annual Sustainable Chef on September 28th in Anchorage and the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America event on September 26th in Seattle. Both events highlight regional foods, chefs and sustainability. The venues will be a unique opportunity to taste and sample this year’s robust and healthy commercial coho harvest.

Rising demand is putting Pacific cod sellers in a favorable position as prices tick up.

Sellers canvassed by Undercurrent News said demand for cod is strong in most markets around the world now.

“There is very little to no inventory anywhere,” one source at a Pacific cod supplier told Undercurrent, echoing comments made by Tradex Foods CEO Rob Reierson in the company’s Sept. 22 “3-Minute Market Insight” video.

Cook Inlet setnetting has been an integral part of the Kenai Peninsula’s economy for more than a century, employing hundreds of hard working families who spend their summers harvesting a living from the inlet’s robust salmon runs.

The Alaska Public Offices Commission received and rejected 14 complaints regarding lobbying at Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries meetings.

Alaska’s Board of Fisheries is responsible for making certain fisheries management policy decisions for the state, including setting seasons and bag limits for fisheries along with methods and means for taking fish, and making allocative decisions between user groups.

A new report was released last week that contains a summary and the probable cause of 21 marine accidents. The national Transportation Safety Board is hoping the report will be an eye opener.

The National Transportation Safety Board released “Safer Seas 2013: Lessons Learned from marine Accident investigations” last week. The report includes a compilation of accident investigations that were published in 2013, organized by vessel type with links to the more detailed accident reports.

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.