For longline sable fishers in the Gulf of Alaska, there are few omens of doom more chilling than the enormous shadow of a whale approaching their boat. That’s because in the past several years, male sperm whales, the lone wolves of the ocean, have been behaving strangely. They have been teaming up to hunt fish right off fishers’ hooks, and every year more whales are coming to eat from the fishing line buffet, leading some scientists to speculate that they’re somehow communicating about the richness of the hunting ground and sharing tips.
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.
The Kodiak Fisheries Workgroup sent a letter of community input to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council before the council’s meeting in early October. The letter focused on the gulf trawl bycatch management issue.
Fisheries analyst for the Kodiak City and Kodiak Island Borough, Heather McCarty, says it encouraged the council to continue analysis on some points that the Kodiak community thinks important, and it furthermore provided a community perspective.
Next year promises to be a big year for sockeye harvests. Both Bristol Bay and Upper Cook Inlet are forecast to have sizable sockeye returns in the midst of global and domestic market hostile to U.S. higher sockeye prices detailed in a new economic report.
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.
Salmon bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fishery has been under scrutiny since 2012, when the North Pacific Fishery Management Council proposed a revision in the Gulf trawl fishery’s management structure. The Council is slowly making headway on the issue.
Pacific halibut and Chinook salmon are taken as prohibited species, or bycatch, by the Gulf groundfish trawl fleet, and the Council wants to provide tools for better managing the prohibited species catch.
Twenty-four years ago, U.S. District Court Judge Hezekiah Russel Holland gave his blessing to a landmark settlement that resolved criminal and civil complaints pressed by the federal and state governments against Exxon for its huge oil spill in Prince William Sound.
On Thursday, in the same Anchorage courtroom, Holland, who uses his middle name and first initial, heard attorneys tell him that the state and federal governments have no more reason to fight with the oil giant over the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.
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.
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.
A federal agency announced plans Thursday for a more intense investigation into what caused the deaths of 30 large whales in the western Gulf of Alaska since May.
NOAA Fisheries declared the deaths an "unusual mortality event," triggering a new-level investigation that brings with it access to additional resources. The agency said the deaths are about three times the historical average for the region.