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.

For years, shipping safety advocates have called for better protections against oil spills in the Aleutian chain. Now, the plan for a new prevention and response system is finally finished.

The Aleutian Islands Risk Assessment’s new draft report recommends some familiar solutions in new places – all at a cost of almost $14 million a year.

Golden king crab season is officially open in the Aleutian Islands.

About five vessels had signed up to participate as of the season’s start last Friday. More than six million pounds of golden king crab is available to catch.

That amount is set in federal regulations and divided up among the fleet and community development quota groups.

The last pots are being pulled today in Southeast Alaska for the end of the summer Dungeness crab fishery. It’s been the best season ever with a total catch for the year pegged at nearly 6.5 million pounds. That makes for a nice pay day for 150 crabbers who averaged about $3 a pound, up 50 cents from last year.

The court will make a decision about reimbursements in the lawsuit over Steller sea lion protections after federal defendants and the fishing companies who sued them could not reach a decision during the original time allotted for the two sides to work it out.

The Alaska Seafood Cooperative, The Groundfish Forum and the Freezer Longline Coalition filed motions in February asking the federal government to reimburse them $1,208,409.87 for their attorney fees and costs in bringing the suit forward and arguing their case.

The NMFS has posted the Total Allowable Catch for the king crab season. The report is available here:

The world’s biggest sockeye salmon run is expected to surge into Bristol Bay any day, where a catch of about 17 million reds is projected. Elsewhere, the annual summer troll fishery in Southeast Alaska kicks off on July first with a target of just over 166,000 chinook salmon.

Lots of crab fisheries are underway each summer — dungeness fishing began on June 15 in Southeast where a harvest of 2.25 million pounds is expected. The region’s golden king crab fishery will close on July 10, with a catch of about 234,000 pounds.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has published the proposed rule that would allow Bering Sea fishers some flexibility as they target flatfish.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council created the new regulation in April, which would allow Amendment 80 cooperatives and community development quota entities to exchange harvest quota for three flatfish species — flathead sole, rock sole and yellowfin sole.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is pushing a new rule for ground fish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area that will protect Steller sea lions.

NOAA’s newly released publication says the intent of the rule is to “protect the endangered western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions and its critical habitat, as required under the Endangered Species Act.” The publication also says there is a concern to prevent a harmful economic impact of the fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands areas.