NMFS said it will implement a catch sharing plan for the 2014 commercial and charter halibut fisheries in Southeast Alaska and the Central Gulf of Alaska. The catch sharing plan was recommended by the North Pacific Management Council to replace the existing guideline harvest level management plan, which had been criticized for not preventing fishing overages when charter fishing had increased in the region in the late 1990s.
A herring biomass that is close to the average over the past 13 years is forecast for the 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe fishery, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said today. The preliminary guideline harvest has been set at 17,592 tons, based on an estimated returning biomass of 87,958 tons.
What started out as a normal work day for three shrimpers turned into a 'whale of a tale' adventure. It was September 30th, one day before the start of the shrimp fishery. That day, aboard the Miss Mary, fellow shrimpers, Nick Segal, John Oakes (owner), and John Vonick, had been looking for different places to set the shrimp gear before the season started.
The Alaska Dept of fish and game has produced their first 2014 forecast for pink salmon in Southeast Alaska. They expect the run to be around 22 million fish. This well below the average ten year harvest of 41 million fish, but close to the even year average of about 24 million fish. Pink salmon show a marked variation in returns in even and odd numbered years. In 2012 overall escapement goals were met in only 2 of 4 subregions.
Sitka’s large-boat owners are being invited to help shape the direction of the marine services industry in town. Sawmill Cove Industrial Park has prepared an online survey to help gauge the demand in the community for everything from covered work areas to a haul out for large vessels.
Four conservation groups from the US and Canada have combined to lodge an official objection to the MSC's proposed re-certification of Alaskan salmon fisheries in Southeast Alaska. Wild Fish Conservancy, from Washington State, along with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation, based in British Columbia (BC), say that the MSC eco-label is turning a blind eye to serious overfishing in Southeast Alaska.
Two cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning were reported at Sitka last week, proving that the deadly toxin occurs in any season. PSP is caused by micro organisms in algae blooms, often incorrectly called’ red tides.’ It is in all kinds of clams. Neither cooking nor freezing neutralizes the toxin and it can be a quick killer.
Plans are in the works at Sitka for a bigger boat haul out and other marine related waterfront development at the Sawmill Cove Industrial Park. "We’ve been hearing from the community for years that they would like to see our haul out capabilities expanded and our marine services expanded a bit." Garry White is executive director of the Sitka Economic Development Association.
Five crewmen from a burning fishing vessel in the western Aleutian Chain are safe after being rescued by a nearby good Samaritan. The crew of the 59-foot Kodiak-based longliner Western Venture were safely picked up by the Aleutian Beauty, after their vessel caught fire Sunday morning. The Coast Guard in Juneau reported receiving emergency locator beacon signals around 9 a.m. -- first from a crewman's survival suit, and then from the Western Venture itself.
I recently testified at the Lynn Canal Fish & Game Advisory Board meeting regarding the current Dungeness crab management plan for Southeast Alaska waters. The best way to understand what is at risk here is to quote ADF&G management reports after the collapse of the Dungeness crab fishery in Prince William Sound.
The 76-foot fishing tender Neptune sank while moored at the harbor about 1 a.m. Saturday. No one was onboard, but someone in the harbor called 911 and Harbormaster Phil Benner was notified. Benner said he and his staff responded and found the engine room flooded and the back deck already underwater. “We did try to get some gas pumps started on the boat but it did not, it wasn’t successful,” Benner said. “The boat started tilting off the dock, and we evacuated everyone off the boat and cut the lines.”
“Powerful storm on the way,” announced the National Weather Service Sunday morning, regarding strong winds and heavy rains expected to pound the area of Southcentral Alaska around Anchorage on Monday and Tuesday. The storm is expected to form over the North Pacific Ocean Sunday night, and “rapidly intensify” as it approaches the Southwest coast of Alaska late Monday, NWS writes.
That state and Coast Guard are responding to a sunken vessel in the Haines Harbor and fuel leaking from the boat is hampering the commercial gillnet fleet that homeports in the harbor. The 76-foot Neptune sank while moored at the harbor about 1 a.m. Saturday. No one was aboard.
There will be no commercial fishing for red and blue king crab in Southeast again this year. The stocks are still in poor shape according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game which announced the closure last week. Fish and Game assesses the red crab stocks each year. That involves the results of an annual on-the-grounds survey, past commercial harvest data, and for the past few years, the results of a cooperative research project involving fishermen and the department.
It looks like Southeast Gillnetters will not be watched by marine mammal observers next year. That’s because there’s no more funding for the National Marine Fisheries Service program, which gathers data on interactions between the animals and the fishing fleet. NMFS contractors just wrapped-up a two-year observer effort in districts six and eight near Petersburg and Wrangell. The agency had planned to continue with other gillnet areas next year but that’s been put on hold indefinitely, according to Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources John Kurland.
Southeast Alaska salmon fishermen have set a record, scoring more than 100 million fish for the first time ever, and it’s not over yet. In terms of overall value, the Panhandle will likely top Bristol Bay for the third year in a row. It’s pink salmon that has put Southeast over the top – that preliminary catch stands at nearly 90 million humpies. All other species, except for king salmon, also have yielded some of the best catches ever for drift gillnetters, trollers and seiners. Seiners have topped their best overall catches by more than 10 million salmon.
50,000 sockeye salmon is the early catch estimate for a 3-day gillnet opening at Port Snettisham and the Speel Arm near Juneau, with 35,000 of those fish caught in the first six hours. The fishery is targeting sockeye salmon from the Snettisham Hatchery. The fishery opened 6 am Tuesday, with more than 100 gillnet boats showing up for the first day. By Wednesday afternoon, only a handful of boats remained.
A Coast Guard Station Juneau 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew medevaced an ailing mariner from a fishing vessel south of Juneau Sunday. The response boat crew safely transported the 27-year-old man, reportedly suffering from stroke-like symptoms, from the 32-foot gillnetter Jessie Girl in Slocum Inlet to awaiting emergency medical services in Juneau.