A judge ruled Wednesday that a commercial fishing group should pay part of the State's cost for the lawsuit regarding management of the Cook Inlet salmon fisheries in 2013.

Alaska Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi issued an order asking Cook Inlet Fisherman's Fund to pay the state Department of Law $12,924. That amount was 20 percent of what the state spent defending itself in the fisheries management lawsuit, according to a Department of Law memo filed with the court June 18.

Ramped up testing this summer shows Alaska fish is free of all signs of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown three years ago. State veterinarian Bob Gerlach -
The results of the testing of the Alaska fish that were just collected look very good. There is no detection of any radiation that would have originated from Fukushima. That was very good news.

Wild salmon capture continues growing in the main fishing districts in Alaska, reaching 5.5 million specimens statewide by 24 June.

Peak harvests may be over for the Copper River District, but that run is way ahead of the forecast, and the catch just keeps on growing for major fishing districts within and for Prince William Sound overall.

As of June 24, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's preliminary Alaska commercial salmon harvest blue sheet showed 2,926 salmon of all species taken in Prince William Sound, including 2.1 million sockeye, 561,000 chum, 198,000 pink, 15,000 coho and 10,000 king salmon.

Copper River's drift fishery has peaked, with a harvest of 1.4 million salmon, the bulk of them sockeyes, and most of the fleet has moved to the Coghill and Eshamy districts, as the fishery continues through July.

While the weather overall for the season has been really good, the last period brought winds of up to 50 knots and a fair amount of rain, and some harvesters came in early, said Jeremy Botz, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's office in Cordova.

Copper River sockeye prices started lower than last year and have since dropped significantly.

The grounds price for sockeye started off at $3.50 when the Copper River fishery opened on May 15, which was lower than last year’s price, Jeremy Botz, with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Cordova, toldUndercurrent News.

That price did go up a bit in the second opener, he said, but has likely since dropped off as usual, considering the drop in the Seattle prices.

Remotely operated vehicles will be plying Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska this summer, measuring acid levels. The float and glider vehicles are the latest technology deployed through a long running monitoring project overseen by University of Alaska Fairbanks Ocean Acidification Research Center Director Jeremy Mathis.

A federal judge heard oral argument yesterday in the lawsuit regarding whether or not Cook Inlet should be in a federal salmon management plan.

Alaska has managed its own salmon since statehood, and neither party is questioning that. But the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund, who brought the lawsuit forward in February 2013, want federal oversight of salmon management — and believes that is what congress has intended in its regulations of fish in federal waters.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and other entities have reached a decision on a regional split of the $20.8 million in federal aid for fisheries disasters, but how to spend that money is still being decided.

Cook Inlet fishers, businesses and other organizations will receive $11.1 million in federal fisheries disaster aid for the poor salmon runs in 2012, according to NMFS spokeswoman Julie Speegle. Those in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region will receive $9.6 million, she wrote in a May 23 email.

Major fishing ports and harbors critical to Alaska's economy are in the midst of designing, construction and fund sourcing in the spring of 2014, to meet needs ranging from float replacements to strengthening breakwaters.

With steady fishing vessel traffic from the Kenai Peninsula to Homer, Seward, Dutch Harbor, Sitka and Wrangell, planning, bidding and finding construction funds is an ongoing process, harbormasters said.