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.

A 55-year-old Ketchikan resident with an extensive, serious criminal history received a four-year prison sentence on Wednesday for assaulting a Coast Guard officer who was responding to a disturbance on a private boat in September 2013.

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.

After recently reading an Alaska Dispatch News headline with a preposterous claim, “Manager says increasingly expensive Susitna dam could help salmon,” (Dec. 18) I must protest with due respect. As a freshwater ecologist who has worked on salmon rivers for 40 years, I want to make it clear: Without question, a dam the size of Susitna-Watana will kill the Susitna as a salmon river.

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.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council passed tighter restrictions for the 2015 charter halibut fisheries in Southeast and the central Gulf of Alaska.

The changes approved Dec. 11 will retain the two-fish daily bag limit for the central Gulf, or Area 3A, fished out of Southcentral ports and Kodiak, with the first of any size and second not to exceed 29 inches while adding a new rule prohibiting trips on the Thursday of every week between June 15 and Aug. 31.

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.

Severe declines closed chinook salmon fishing on the Yukon River this year, and further steps to keep the big fish out of Bering Sea trawl nets are under consideration by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
The pollock B season dates could be shortened, with early potential ending dates of Sept. 15, Oct. 1 or Oct. 15. The season now remains open until November, although many boats stop fishing earlier. Changing the dates is among the options the fish council decided to review next year, at its meeting last week in Anchorage.

Editor's note: This story has been updated and corrected. Corrected text is indicated with strikethrough and new text is in bold.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council passed tighter restrictions for the 2015 charter halibut fisheries in Southeast and the central Gulf of Alaska.