The Bering Sea snow crab fishery is moving right along. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska reported 46 vessels registered on Monday, and 78 percent of the 54 million pound quota harvested. Unalaska city natural resources analyst Frank Kelty said the fleet landed 5 million pounds last week. “It’s going pretty quick. If they have a couple more weeks like that, it will be over with,” Kelty said. Processors posted an opening price of $2.15 per pound paid to fishermen, similar to last year, Kelty said.

Pending federal maritime legislation to exempt commercial fishing vessels from certain requirements of the Clean Water Act, which could otherwise result in substantial fines, is gaining widespread support with commercial fisheries groups.
"Onerous," was just one of the words John Renner, vice president of Cordova District Fishermen United, used to describe the situation facing commercial fishing vessel owners and operators who could otherwise be subject to fines for activities such as deck washing.

Signing up for a free commercial fishing vessel safety exam couldn’t be easier, thanks to the Pre- Examination Work Sheet from the United states Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment Office. With every boat being different, their online CFR site allows user to make a check list specific to their vessel making it easier to prepare for a boat inspection.

Researchers are measuring the ways sea creatures are responding to hostile changes in the ocean. The biggest threat comes from off kilter carbon dioxide levels that are absorbed by the oceans, making them more acidic. Water samples collected this spring from the Gulf of Alaska show that acid levels are increasing more quickly and more severely than previously thought. The Gulf findings are similar to those seen in the Chukchi and Bering Seas.

NMFS has taken a reccomendation from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and tightened halibut bycatch limits for commercial groundfish fishermen in the Gulf of Alaska with plan set to start this year. The Amendment 95 plan will minize halibut bycatch for GOA groundfish fisheries which include pollock, Pacific cod, rockfish and other flatfish.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council took a step toward to reducing halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands at its February meeting, but did not foreshadow how it might do so. The council agreed unanimously Feb. 8 to ask for another draft of a Bering Sea halibut bycatch discussion paper. Halibut is taken as bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fisheries. There are limits on halibut bycatch, but those were set at a time of higher abundance, and do not apply to every sector.

There’s a big meeting going on in Seattle right now, that can decide whether or not to protect the home of humpback whales, octopus, puffins, seals and tons of other amazing sea life in the Bering Sea. These waters are so special that even William Shatner spoke up to urge for their protection.

By unanimous vote at a special Tuesday night meeting, the Kodiak City Council approved lobbyist Heather McCarty of Juneau to be the joint Kodiak city and borough fishery adviser. The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly will have the final say on McCarty’s position at its Thursday night meeting.

Chris Miller

 

Bering Sea Crabber in pack ice, just outside of St. Paul Island’s harbor.

When I started fishing at the age of seventeen, I remember hearing stories from other fishermen about two fabled Alaskan fisheries: Bristol Bay gillnetting and Bering Sea crabbing. The huge waves, back breaking work, insanely long hours, weeks at-sea, and the crazy characters that the fisherie

Early numbers for next year's commercial fisheries are all the buzz...As of now it is looking like Alaska will get just under 19 million pounds of halibut, that could be a 3 million pound drop for the fishery. The International Pacific Halibut Commission will come up with the final catches mid January.