Dillingham, Alaska – When it comes to America’s natural resources, there is no greater success story than that of Bristol Bay, Alaska, home to the world’s largest, most sustainable sockeye salmon fishery. Despite being one of the last, best places remaining for wild salmon on the planet, few people know about this national treasure.

$17,500 for set netters, $35,000 for drifters, available through BBEDC vessel upgrade program for CDQ residents.

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.

What do all those photos without corals in the depths of the Bering Sea really mean? Corals, sponges and sea whips in the Bering Sea were photographed last summer by federal fisheries scientists, in the vast underwater canyons where the continental shelf drops to deep ocean depths.

For more than three decades, fishermen like me, Alaska Natives, local communities, and the seafood industry have been asking for decision-makers in our nation’s capitol to permanently protect Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea from the risks of offshore development. President Obama finally listened.

NOAA Fisheries is being asked by the state of Alaska and representatives of the Pribilof Island community of Saint Paul to institute emergency action to lower halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea groundfish fisheries.

The request to Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries Eileen Sobeck came in late December from Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, the city of Saint Paul, the Tribal government of Saint Paul and Tanadguix Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation.

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.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — After a motion failed at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council by a single vote with an Alaska delegate absent, another effort is underway to reduce halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea in the face of rapidly sinking catch limits for the directed fisheries.
Interim Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten and the other five Alaska members of the North Pacific council signed a letter to National Marine Fisheries Service Assistant Administrator Eileen Sobeck on Dec. 18 asking for an emergency reduction in Bering Sea halibut bycatch.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously to approve the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska groundfish allocations for 2015.

Bering Sea quotas

The Eastern Bering Sea pollock total allowable catch, or TAC, for 2015 will be 1.325 million pounds, a 4.4 percent increase from 2014’s 1.267 million pound allocation.

Bering Sea Pacific cod will be allotted 246,822 metric tons, down only 75 metric tons from the 2014 TAC.

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.