The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) will sponsor a panel discussion regarding a Bristol Bay permit buyback in the salmon drift gillnet fishery at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.

Panel members will include representatives from National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska’s Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the author of this report, Northern Economics.

Norton Sound Seafood Products paid out more than $4 million to 212 fishermen so far for the 2014 fishing season. This new payout is double the rate seven years ago when $2 million was paid to 120 fishermen.

Friday marked the release of $7.5 million in federal disaster assistance for commercial fishermen affected by the 2012 failure of the Chinook salmon in the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers and Cook Inlet. Both US Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich welcomed the news and spoke in support of the decision.

The state of Alaska is spending millions of dollars working on what could be called a mystery — why king salmon runs continue to decline.
The Chinook Salmon Research Initiative has many parts with the same goal, to better understand what is happening to king salmon so the resource can be better managed through both good times and bad.

For some southeast Alaska salmon stocks, goals for escapements — the number of fish allowed to swim free during fishing season to spawn — have changed to maximize the fish populations in those runs.

Steve Heinl and Ed Jones of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game informed the ADF&G Board of Fisheries of the changes on Wednesday. The board is holding a work session meeting in Juneau through Thursday at Centennial Hall.

If measured in sheer volume of fish, the Upper Cook Inlet commercial harvest of salmon was low: preliminary Fish and Game estimates show it at about 20 percent less than the 10-year average harvest. But, when price-per-pound is factored in, the exvessel value of the 2014 harvest was high at $35 million — making it the second year in a row that Cook Inlet commercial harvesters have seen lower-than-average harvests with higher-than-average values.

A ballot measure to protect salmon in Southwest hasn’t grabbed as many headlines as pot and campaign politics. Ballot Measure 4, sponsored by the group Bristol Bay Forever, asks voters to give the Alaska legislature final say on any large oil, gas and mining projects in the 36,000 square miles of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve.

The initiative does three significant things to the existing reserve, said Dick Mylius, a former state director for the Division of Mining, Land, and Water.

Unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska mean a warm, wet fall and winter for Southeast Alaska, but what they mean for this year’s juvenile salmon is yet to be seen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is on a salmon-buying binge. It usually spends $6 million a year buying pink salmon. This summer, it is spending a total $39 million.

That's a relief for fishermen who caught pink salmon in record quantities back in 2013. A year-and-a-half's worth of pink salmon was caught in that year, and now millions of cans from that year are still sitting in warehouses.

Bering Sea crab scientists and stakeholder met last week to discuss the outlook for Alaska’s biggest crab fisheries that open October 15th. The take away was that the stocks of red king crab, bairdi Tanners and snow crab all showed big increases in mature size classes, based on data from the annual summer surveys. (Only mature male crabs cans be retained in Alaska’s crab fisheries.) That has industry watchers predicting little, if any, change to the crab catches, said market expert John Sackton.