It went down to the wire, but fishermen were relieved to learn they can continue to hose down their decks without fear of violating the Clean Water Act.
Congress voted unanimously Dec. 10 to extend a moratorium for three years that exempts commercial fishing vessels 79 feet and under from needing incidental discharge permits from the Environmental Protection Agency for deck wash. The current moratorium, which affects 8,500 Alaska vessels, was set to expire on Dec.18.
President Obama's decision to permanently protect Alaska's Bristol Bay and adjacent lands from oil and gas drilling is so clearly the correct decision that the only objections will come from those whose sole interest is the welfare of those two energy industries.
With one council member absent, an emergency action proposal to reduce Bering Sea halibut bycatch limits for 2015 failed on a tie vote by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council Dec. 13.
The failed motion, introduced by council member Duncan Fields of Kodiak, would have lowered the 2015 Bering Sea halibut bycatch limit by 33 percent from the current limit of more than 10 million pounds allocated between the pollock and bottom trawl fleets.
Concerns over the fate of the directed halibut fishery in the Pribilof Islands prompted lengthy discussion during the December meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage.
Council member Duncan Fields of Kodiak introduced a motion for emergency regulation to reduce the 2015 BSAI halibut bycatch allocation by 33 percent, out of concern for harvesters in areas C, D and E, saying that to avoid such emergency action would be shirking the council’s responsibility for fisheries management.
Senator Lisa Murkowski today succeeded in brokering a bipartisan agreement to block a costly and redundant EPA regulation on Alaska’s commercial fishing fleet and commercial vessels under 79 feet that would have hurt fishermen and coastal communities. Today’s unanimous U.S. Senate vote comes just weeks after Murkowski introduced a bill with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to extend the current moratorium and co-sponsored efforts establish a permanent exemption. Since then, she has been engaged in continuous negotiations with Senators to reach a workable solution.
The federal government’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) budget for fiscal year 2015 includes several provisions written and advanced by Senator Lisa Murkowski. Among them are items to support Alaska’s world class fisheries, improve Arctic navigation, and protect the state’s coastline from the continued debris related to the 2011 Japanese tsunami. The CJS budget is a smaller portion of the omnibus agreement to fund the federal government next year.
U.S. Senator Mark Begich’s Coast Guard Authorization Act (CGAA) passed the Senate by unanimous consent today. The bill will strengthen and modernize the multi-mission service so essential to the nation’s maritime commerce, border security, and the safety of lives at sea. It also includes key provisions to address Alaska’s needs -- including an extended waiver from EPA regulations for small boat operators.
As the 113th Congress nears its close, U.S. Senator Mark Begich has introduced legislation to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary federal law that governs marine fisheries management in U.S. waters. The bill is essentially the same as the second MSA discussion draft released by released Begich’s Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard on July 21, and is intended to put the text on the record for future consideration.
Today the President took action to protect one of America's greatest natural treasures by signing a Presidential Memorandum to protect Bristol Bay. One of Alaska's most powerful economic engines, and home to one of the world's largest wild salmon runs, Bristol Bay has helped sustain Alaska Native communities for centuries. And every year, the region provides 40 percent of America’s wild-caught seafood, supporting $2 billion in commercial fishing.
Americans eat more seafood than just about anyone else. Most of it is imported from abroad. And a lot of it — perhaps 25 percent of wild-caught seafood imports, according to fisheries experts — is illegally caught.
The White House is now drafting recommendations on what to do about that. Fisheries experts say they hope the administration will devote more resources to fight seafood piracy.
A struggle in Alaska over shrinking supplies of halibut is threatening the iconic centerpiece fish in favor of cheaper exports, fast-food fillets and fish sticks.
If expected cuts are made in January, halibut fishing could be over in the Bering Sea west of Alaska, the source of one-sixth of halibut caught in the United States. That catch includes most of the frozen supply that sustains restaurants, food-service companies and retail stores nationwide, such as Costco and Whole Foods.
Alaskans know that Bristol Bay is all about wild salmon. For thousands of years the people of Bristol Bay have thrived on this bounty and for more than 130 years, it has supported a major sustainable commercial fishery that supplies the world. Bristol Bay produces 50 percent of the world’s sockeye salmon, making the region of true global importance.
NOAA Fisheries is publishing a final rule to implement Steller sea lion protection measures for fisheries in the Aleutian Islands, effective December 26, 2014.
Steller sea lions that primarily occur west of 144 degrees W longitude in Alaska are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Atka mackerel, Pacific cod, and pollock are the primary prey species for Steller sea lions in the Aleutian Islands. Fisheries for these three species also provide a living for fishermen and communities in the Aleutian Islands.