What a difference a year makes for the halibut bycatch controversy in the Bering Sea at the December meetings of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage. The flatfish factory trawlers, vilified for much of this year, reported vigorous and voluntary efforts at halibut conservation, and even received praise from the Pribilofs. Their zeal was prompted by what might be termed resolution number two-by-four of the fish council last summer, which slashed halibut bycatch by 25 percent.
Russian fishing companies would no longer be able to market their pollock catch as “Alaska Pollock” under a provision included in a congressional spending bill expected to gain approval later this week.
Pollock is the biggest volume fishery in the U.S., and huge schools can be found in U.S. waters off Alaska and also in Russian waters. Most of the pollock fleet is based in Washington state.
Annual fees paid by holders of catch shares in Alaska’s halibut, sablefish and Bering Sea/Aleutian Island king crab fisheries will rise for the 2015/2016 season to meet costs of management and enforcement.
Kristie Balovich, budget officer for the Alaska region office of NOAA Fisheries, said Dec. 10 that coverage fees for the 2015/2016 BSAI king crab fishery went up to 1.48 percent and to 3 percent for halibut and sablefish.
Halibut dominated the federal fisheries process in 2015, with each sector fighting over reduced allocations.
Directed halibut fishermen in the North Pacific have watched their quotas drop while the trawl industry prosecuting Bering Sea groundfish has had a relatively static bycatch limit for 20 years. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council governs bycatch while the International Pacific Halibut Commission governs directed removals, and the two have not coordinated on the decline in harvestable halibut biomass.
The world's sockeye market is looking a little better than it did in the spring with more fish moving off shelves and out of warehouses, but a recent report says there's still more to be sold. A new trade agreement could offer a little help with that, however.
Each fall, McDowell Group Fisheries Analyst Andy Wink helps that company put together a market report for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
Wink said that so far this fall, sockeye has been selling faster than it did in 2014 for both frozen headed and gutted product, and filets.
Federal regulators on Thursday approved a genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for American supermarkets and dinner tables.
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The approval by the Food and Drug Administration caps a long struggle for AquaBounty Technologies, a small company that first approached the F.D.A. about approval in the 1990s. The agency made its initial determination that the fish would be safe to eat and for the environment more than five years ago.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would reduce bycatch limits for Pacific halibut in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish fisheries.
Bycatch is also known as “prohibited species catch,” or PSC. The proposed fishery management plan amendment, "Amendment 111," would reduce PSC limits for halibut in specific amounts in four groundfish sectors:
- Amendment 80 sector (non-pollock trawl catcher/processors) by 25% to 1,745 mt;
- BSAI trawl limited access sector (all non-Amendment 80 trawl fishery participants) by 15% to 745 mt;
Because of Alaska’s budget crisis, state agencies cut spending this year and are planning additional reductions in the next few years. For the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, those cuts have meant less monitoring of fish runs, a change that will lead to more conservative management and less fishing opportunity.
Coming up this week, there are even more options on the table regarding Gulf of Alaska bycatch after the North Pacific Council met; we have a new director of the commercial fisheries division, and once again proof that you shouldn't mess with the Lacey Act. Help from KSKA's Ellen Lockyer AND Monica Gokey in Anchorage, and KDLG's Molly Dischner in Dillingham.
Scott Kelley is Alaska's new director of commercial fisheries as of Oct. 21, replacing Jeff Regnart, who retired at the start of October. Kelley has worked for the Department of Fish and Game for nearly 25 years, all of it in division of commercial fisheries and a since-merged research arm.
Kelley started his career with fish and game as a port sampler at Excursion Inlet, a major processing facility west of Juneau. Since then he’s held a variety of roles in Southeast Alaska, including working on stock assessments, as an area management biologist, and as a regional management coordinator.
Following the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) first successful use of a stereo camera to verify a US study, some say this technology will soon become a more conventional way to conduct marine research.
The study was conducted to help inform the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) of the state of coral in the Pribilof Canyon in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska and whether it was threatened by pollock fishing in the area, before they made their decision earlier this month to continue to allow fishing there.
NOAA Fisheries is developing an Agency-wide Ecosystem-based Fishery Management policy, which outlines a set of principles to guide our actions and decisions over the long-term. The draft policy goals and framework are informed by NOAA Fisheries’ own practices and experience from that of our partners. These ideas are intended to limit neither discussion nor consideration of other potential policy goals.
Crabbers are anxious about survey estimates for snow crab, and even more anxious about how those estimates don’t synch with allocation models.
Bristol Bay red king crab and tanner crab are less than last year’s biomass levels, but still roughly on par with long-term averages. Allocations for snow crab, the largest of the three main commercial crab harvests, could take a worse dive this season, resulting from a questionable modeling method that could make the Alaska Department of Fish and Game manage the fishery more cautiously than usual, up to and including lowering crabbers’ quota.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking letters of public support through Oct. 23, for 10 people, including two incumbents, for two presidential appointments as U.S. commissioners to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.
Terms expire on Dec. 31 for current commissioners Don Lane of Homer and Bob Alverson, of Seattle.
The iconic Alaska chinook salmon has unequaled world-renown for big fish tales.
The largest fish on record, a 97-pounder pulled from the Kenai River in 1985, changed the focus of the Alaska fishing economy, bringing in waves of fish tourists and seeding the politically influential guided angler industry.
Since then, the chinook, or king, salmon across the state have been getting smaller, researchers have found.
SeaShare, the Seattle-based non-profit dedicated to distribution of high quality seafood to food banks nationwide, has received a donation of 450,000 portions of oven ready pollock and hake from the At-Sea Processors Association.
SeaShare’s Mary Harmon said Aug. 25 that the APA rallied once again to generate its annual donation of the lightly breaded four-ounce portions.
Deliveries of wild Alaska salmon to processors reached nearly 236 million fish as of Aug. 25, exceeding the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s forecast by more than 15 million fish, and the pink salmon forecast alone by upwards of 26 million fish.
The humpy harvest alone stood at 166.6 million fish. Processors had also received some 503,000 kings, 13.7 million chums, 2.4 million silvers and 52.6 million reds.