On Thursday, the two councils that control halibut fishing in the Bering Sea met to address a thorny debate over bycatch.
The International Pacific Halibut Commission -- which sets catch limits in waters stretching from Canada to the Pribilof Islands -- stopped into Seattle for a joint session with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
The Bering Sea’s largest fishery opened up on Tuesday afternoon. Pollock crews are gearing up for a potential increase in their harvest -- while still keeping an open mind about what the winter has in store.
A big snow crab harvest kept Bering Sea fishermen hard at work through the holidays. Now, it’s overshadowing the start of a major groundfish season, too.
The Pacific cod fishery kicked off in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands this month. There’s about 250,000 metric tons of Pacific cod up for harvest in state and federal waters.
Federal biologist Krista Milani says normally, pot-gear vessels over 60 feet finish cod before the end of January. But many started this year focused on snow crab -- meaning cod season will probably run long.
Few fish have to swim through more red tape than the Pacific halibut.
Halibut has been governed by two regulatory bodies for more than 40 years, and 2015 will hopefully see an increase in mutual understanding between the two, as well as a welcome public display of cooperation.
Gov. Bill Walker’s plans for Alaska involve a lot of budget cutting, and a vital research project for king salmon is on the slab.
As petroleum prices dive and Alaska finances look grim, the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative is one of many items Walker cut from former Gov. Sean Parnell’s proposed capital budget, potentially halting several ongoing programs and complicating an Alaska fishery regulatory item.
NMFS issues a proposed rule to implement cost recovery fee programs for the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program for groundfish and halibut, and three limited access privilege programs: The American Fisheries Act (AFA), Aleutian Islands Pollock, and Amendment 80 Programs.
In 2005, Royal Dutch Shell, then the fourth-largest company on Earth, bought a drill rig that was both tall, rising almost 250 feet above the waterline, and unusually round. The hull of the Kulluk, as the rig was called, was made of 1.5-inch-thick steel and rounded to better prevent its being crushed. A 12-point anchor system could keep it locked in place above an oil well for a full day in 18-foot seas or in moving sea ice that was four feet thick.
The iconic Alaska king salmon are returning in lesser number, younger and consequently smaller, and with a skewed gender ratio across most of our state.
How should we react? What does it say about how we react to an issue where passions and emotions run high? The recent op-ed from Joe Connors is very disappointing and everyone in our community needs to know why and to know we can and should do better than this.
NOAA Fisheries is being asked by the state of Alaska and representatives of the Pribilof Island community of Saint Paul to institute emergency action to lower halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea groundfish fisheries.
The request to Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries Eileen Sobeck came in late December from Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, the city of Saint Paul, the Tribal government of Saint Paul and Tanadguix Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation.
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.
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.
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.