A federal judge ruled Thursday to uphold the federal decision to remove Cook Inlet from the salmon fishery management plan.

Alaska has managed salmon since statehood, and the National Marine Fisheries Service removed Cook Inlet salmon from the federal fishery management plan, or FMP, after the North Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously voted in December 2011 to officially delegate that authority to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Fisheries stakeholders are asking the state Board of Fisheries to consider 27 changes out of cycle in the upcoming year.

The agenda change requests cover several regions, although the largest portion are targeted at Cook Inlet — a region that saw significant management plan changes during the 2013-14 meeting cycle.

For years, shipping safety advocates have called for better protections against oil spills in the Aleutian chain. Now, the plan for a new prevention and response system is finally finished.

The Aleutian Islands Risk Assessment’s new draft report recommends some familiar solutions in new places – all at a cost of almost $14 million a year.

Earlier this year, the North Pacific Research Board held its annual Alaska Marine Science Symposium. The event featured research on many different topics, including bycatch. This is the term for unwanted or protected species that are swept up along with a fisherman’s regular catch. Areas such as the Bering Sea have hard limits on the amount of bycatch fishermen may collect, and if they reach the limit, they can’t continue fishing there.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is announcing $4.7 million in grants through the Species Recovery Grant Program. This grant money will fund continuing multi-year awards as well as new awards for fiscal year 2014.

Four new awards funded in fiscal year 2014 will assist three coastal states and one federally recognized tribe with conservation projects designed to recover marine species listed under the Endangered Species Act. There are eleven multi-year state awards and two multi-year tribal awards that will continue in FY14, the second year of these grants.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has agreed to purchase $13 million of canned pink salmon from the state of Alaska. The move comes at the urging of Senator Lisa Murkowski, who says a strong 2013 harvest led to an excess of pinks, and having USDA purchase the surplus cans from state companies would help prevent a drop in the price paid to fishermen. Tyson Fick, spokesman for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, says the purchase, which will provide cans to The Emergency Food Assistance program, was an excellent idea.

The nation’s most influential sustainable-seafood group believes a host of once-troubled West Coast bottom fish are now recovering so well that consumers should seek them out at restaurants and markets.

Marine scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium said Tuesday that government regulators and fishermen had made such strides in how they manage and catch 21 species of rockfish, flounder, lingcod and sole that it listed all among the “good” or “best” seafood choices in the new edition of its popular guide.

At its August meeting, the Dillingham city council voted to move forward with a draft petition to annex the waters of the Nushagak commercial fishing district. The vote was not unanimous; councilman Tracy Hightower cast the lone dissenting vote.
The 194-page draft petition, which will likely be filed with the Local Boundary Commission, looks very similar to the petition drawn up in 2010. The boundaries for annexation are the same. The proposed tax rate of 2.5 percent has not changed. And already a few "Ax the Tax" signs have popped up around town.

When commercial fishing vessels unload their hauls on deck, crews usually gut their catch and put it on ice for the trip back to shore.

Then they do something that could land them in trouble under a 6-year-old law: They hose down the decks, sending the bloody mix of guts and scales into the water.

Political group Bristol Bay Forever is sponsoring a ballot measure that would put additional environmental protections on the area known as the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve. The area, consisting of 36,000 square miles of land and rivers in Southwest Alaska, was established in 1972 as a way to protect the local salmon populations from the effects of oil and gas development. For any oil or gas company to get surface entry rights, they need to obtain a legislative declaration that says their activities won’t harm the fish.