A federal fisheries decision that put commercial harvesters back into waters put off limits four years ago to reduce competition between them and Steller sea lions hungering for the same fish has prompted another federal lawsuit.

Just over 10 years ago, a ship carrying soybeans went aground in Makushin Bay on Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Chain during a big storm.

Air Station Kodiak responded with a Jayhawk helicopter along with the cutter Alex Haley. Through the wind and squalls and approaching darkness, the Coast Guard worked to get the crew of the Selendang Ayu off the boat.

The coming year should prove a lucrative year for Alaska fisheries, even in the face of the doom and gloom surrounding the chinook salmon declines and a sketchy halibut situation.

The largest volume fishery, pollock, and the most valuable fishery, salmon, both have positive forecasts and large projected harvests; escapements for Alaska’s iconic king salmon were largely achieved in 2014; and various regulatory bodies have a full schedule to deal with both hurting and flourishing stocks.

An emergency measure to help northern Bering Sea halibut fishermen was defeated at last week's North Pacific Fishery Management Council, in a vote split along regional lines with all the Alaska representatives supporting the measure, which failed by a 5-5 tie vote.
The measure would have transferred halibut bycatch quotas from pollock trawlers to hook-and-line halibut fishermen. It was vigorously opposed by representatives of pollock factory trawlers and onshore catcher boats.

Editor's note: This story has been updated and corrected. Corrected text is indicated with strikethrough and new text is in bold.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council passed tighter restrictions for the 2015 charter halibut fisheries in Southeast and the central Gulf of Alaska.

With one council member absent, an emergency action proposal to reduce Bering Sea halibut bycatch limits for 2015 failed on a tie vote by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council Dec. 13.

The failed motion, introduced by council member Duncan Fields of Kodiak, would have lowered the 2015 Bering Sea halibut bycatch limit by 33 percent from the current limit of more than 10 million pounds allocated between the pollock and bottom trawl fleets.

Concerns over the fate of the directed halibut fishery in the Pribilof Islands prompted lengthy discussion during the December meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage.

Council member Duncan Fields of Kodiak introduced a motion for emergency regulation to reduce the 2015 BSAI halibut bycatch allocation by 33 percent, out of concern for harvesters in areas C, D and E, saying that to avoid such emergency action would be shirking the council’s responsibility for fisheries management.

Although there's plenty of fish in the water, the Bering Sea's biggest fishery won't get too much bigger in 2015.

The federal board charged with setting catch limits agreed to put 3 percent more pollock -- or 1.31 million metric tons -- up for harvest next year.

Americans eat more seafood than just about anyone else. Most of it is imported from abroad. And a lot of it — perhaps 25 percent of wild-caught seafood imports, according to fisheries experts — is illegally caught.

The White House is now drafting recommendations on what to do about that. Fisheries experts say they hope the administration will devote more resources to fight seafood piracy.

The Bering Sea red king crab fleet finished catching 10 million pounds of quota last week — and they’re facing some lackluster prices as the crab goes to market. It could be due to higher catch limits in Alaska and Russia.