A bill that would make the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission a division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game got an introductory hearing in the Legislature April 19, with the expectation that commercial fishermen and other stakeholders will consider the idea for possible enactment next session.

Before then the Legislature’s Audit Division will “audit” the two agencies to identify overlapping activities, entry commission duties that may not easily be merged into Fish and Game, and possible costs and savings from the consolidation.

Fishers, processors and the general public will see changes to certain fisheries regulations under bills passed by the Alaska Legislature this session.

In the final days of the 2014 session, lawmakers agreed to extend and expand a fisheries product development tax credit program for processors, change the fisheries landing tax for harvesters, authorize a new source of funding for fisheries infrastructure and alter the existing Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank.

A move to develop mariculture through the creation of partnerships and strategic planning, has been announced by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which envisions ocean farming as a future billion dollar industry for Alaska.

AFDF, perhaps best known for the annual Alaska Symphony of Seafood competition, feels that the economic effect of mariculture could literally double the current value of the Alaska seafood industry in 30 years, said Julie Decker, executive director.

 

Alaska salmon permits in many fisheries have tripled in value since 2002, and the upward trend continues.

An overview of April listings by four brokers shows that Bristol Bay driftnet permits are valued at nearly $134,000 by the state, and listed for sale at $150,000 to $170,000. That compares to $90,000 this past January.

At Southeast Alaska, seine permits are the priciest in the state at over $300,000. That's an increase of $50,000 since January.

 

Alaska's total salmon catch for 2014 is projected to be down by 47 percent from last year's record 283 million fish. State fishery managers are calling for an all-species harvest of just under 133 million salmon this year.

A pink catch of 95 million drove the record last year, and it is pinks that will bring down the numbers this summer. Pink salmon run in even/odd-year cycles. This year the catch is pegged at about 75 million, a 67 percent decrease from last summer's 226 million humpy haul.

 

Alaska’s total salmon catch for this year is projected to be down by almost half of the 2013 haul. State fishery managers are calling for an  all species harvest of just under 133 million salmon, down about 47% from last year’s record haul of 283 million fish.  Pink salmon drove the record last year and it’s pinks that will bring down the numbers. This year the pink catch is pegged at about 75 million, a 67% decrease from last summer’s take of 226 million humpies.

A fire has destroyed the main incubation building of a Petersburg fish hatchery, wiping out about 40 percent hatchery's Chinook salmon eggs and destroying about $700,000 dollars of potential catch.

David Berg, Assistant Chief with the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department, said PVFD received the call around 2 a.m. early Tuesday for a fire at the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery.

A resident at the hatchery, located about 18 miles south of Petersburg, said the facility's main incubation building was on fire.

NOAA Fisheries has concluded that listing of the Southeast Alaska Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Pacific herring under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted at this time.


This listing determination decision comes after an extensive status review based on the best scientific and commercial information available.

Sitka sac roe herring fishermen sold their catch at around $150 a ton this season-a dramatic decrease compared to last year's sac roe average price per ton of $780.

Sitka's Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Dave Gordon said past fisheries in Sitka as well as Kodiak and Togiak have flooded the market.

Under provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, the abundance index for Southeast Alaska is 2.57, which is in an all-gear harvest quota of 439,400 treaty chinook, non-Alaska-hatchery produced.

ADF&G said that the all-gear abundance-based quota represents an increase of 263,400 fish when compared with last year’s preseason quota of 176,000 fish, at an AI of 1.20. This year’s preseason troll treaty harvest allocation is 325,411 chinook, an increase of 195,549 fish when compared with last year’s 129,862 fish.