Gov. Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a Memorandum of Understanding Wednesday morning committing to cooperation on transboundary issues, particularly related to concerns in Southeast over mines on the Canadian side of the border.
By Congressman Don Young, Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Alaska is our nation’s seafood powerhouse. With nine of our country’s top twenty fishing ports by volume, we understand the vital role our seafood industry has played in our communities in the past, how important it is now, and how central the industry will be in the future. Protecting and enhancing Alaska’s fisheries is one of the top priorities of our delegation.
The Kodiak Fisheries Workgroup sent a letter of community input to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council before the council’s meeting in early October. The letter focused on the gulf trawl bycatch management issue.
Fisheries analyst for the Kodiak City and Kodiak Island Borough, Heather McCarty, says it encouraged the council to continue analysis on some points that the Kodiak community thinks important, and it furthermore provided a community perspective.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would reduce bycatch limits for Pacific halibut in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish fisheries.
Bycatch is also known as “prohibited species catch,” or PSC. The proposed fishery management plan amendment, "Amendment 111," would reduce PSC limits for halibut in specific amounts in four groundfish sectors:
- Amendment 80 sector (non-pollock trawl catcher/processors) by 25% to 1,745 mt;
- BSAI trawl limited access sector (all non-Amendment 80 trawl fishery participants) by 15% to 745 mt;
Alexa Tonkovich, who as international director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute oversaw an $8 million overseas marketing budget, has been named as the agency's new executive director.
The appointment of Tonkovich, who has been instrumental in developing new export markets for Alaska seafood, was announced by ASMI board chairman Barry Collier, who is the president and chief executive officer of Peter Pan Seafoods, during ASMI's All Hands meeting in Anchorage Oct. 21-23.
Because of Alaska’s budget crisis, state agencies cut spending this year and are planning additional reductions in the next few years. For the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, those cuts have meant less monitoring of fish runs, a change that will lead to more conservative management and less fishing opportunity.
Scott Kelley is Alaska's new director of commercial fisheries as of Oct. 21, replacing Jeff Regnart, who retired at the start of October. Kelley has worked for the Department of Fish and Game for nearly 25 years, all of it in division of commercial fisheries and a since-merged research arm.
Kelley started his career with fish and game as a port sampler at Excursion Inlet, a major processing facility west of Juneau. Since then he’s held a variety of roles in Southeast Alaska, including working on stock assessments, as an area management biologist, and as a regional management coordinator.
Following the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) first successful use of a stereo camera to verify a US study, some say this technology will soon become a more conventional way to conduct marine research.
The study was conducted to help inform the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) of the state of coral in the Pribilof Canyon in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska and whether it was threatened by pollock fishing in the area, before they made their decision earlier this month to continue to allow fishing there.
Salmon bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fishery has been under scrutiny since 2012, when the North Pacific Fishery Management Council proposed a revision in the Gulf trawl fishery’s management structure. The Council is slowly making headway on the issue.
Pacific halibut and Chinook salmon are taken as prohibited species, or bycatch, by the Gulf groundfish trawl fleet, and the Council wants to provide tools for better managing the prohibited species catch.
Twenty-four years ago, U.S. District Court Judge Hezekiah Russel Holland gave his blessing to a landmark settlement that resolved criminal and civil complaints pressed by the federal and state governments against Exxon for its huge oil spill in Prince William Sound.
On Thursday, in the same Anchorage courtroom, Holland, who uses his middle name and first initial, heard attorneys tell him that the state and federal governments have no more reason to fight with the oil giant over the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.
NOAA Fisheries is developing an Agency-wide Ecosystem-based Fishery Management policy, which outlines a set of principles to guide our actions and decisions over the long-term. The draft policy goals and framework are informed by NOAA Fisheries’ own practices and experience from that of our partners. These ideas are intended to limit neither discussion nor consideration of other potential policy goals.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking letters of public support through Oct. 23, for 10 people, including two incumbents, for two presidential appointments as U.S. commissioners to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.
Terms expire on Dec. 31 for current commissioners Don Lane of Homer and Bob Alverson, of Seattle.
As the Arctic opens, several countries are eyeing what may be a virgin commercial fishery in the central Arctic Ocean. How to regulate those new potential fishing grounds was on the table for discussion at the State Department’s GLACIER conference in Anchorage last week. Several nations urged caution and the need for more science before opening the fishery.
During a Monday call with reporters, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan says a Trade Customs Bill could help get more Alaska seafood into foreign markets.
“We’re working on, in that bill, that would dramatically increase market opportunities for our seafood. You know, Alaska is the super power of seafood, we harvest more seafood than the rest of the country combined, and that would go after the highly subsidized fishing fleets of foreign nations. And we’re encouraging the administration, in these trade agreements, to go after unfair subsidies for other fishing fleets.”
The National Marine Fisheries Service has allocated an additional 1,600 chinook salmon to be used as bycatch for the Gulf of Alaska non-pollock, non-rockfish groundfish trawl fleet.
The year-round Gulf of Alaska non-pollock, non-rockfish fishery had to shut down on May 2, having exceeded its allocation of 2,700 chinook salmon bycatch. Somewhere between 13,000 to 15,000 metric tons of groundfish would have been left in the water in the second part of the season, approximately $4.6 million in ex-vessel value and $11.3 million in first wholesale value.
Forrest Bowers, from Fish and Game's division of commercial fisheries, says there are fewer proposals this year than in 2012, when the board last took up Bristol Bay fisheries.
The board considers changes to each region on a three-year cycle. Proposals are submitted by members of the public, regional advisory committees and other organizations. For this winter’s meeting, they were due last spring.
This year, the largest chunk of the proposals - 24 - target district-specific management plans and regulations for Bristol Bay’s commercial salmon fishery.
This summer, just as they have done for generations, setnetters are working the shores of the western Kenai Peninsula, stringing out nets and hauling in hundreds of thousands of fish from the abundant sockeye salmon runs of Southcentral Alaska.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has launched a new global fund for supporting critical fishery science research and projects aimed at strengthening knowledge and global capacity to assist small scale and developing world fisheries in their journey to achieving MSC certification.
In another hurdle for Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic drilling program, an ice-handling vessel playing a key role in the operation has returned to Dutch Harbor after a gash was discovered in its hull.
The Fennica, a 380-foot Finnish vessel, was damaged Friday as it headed for the drilling grounds in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest Alaska coast, with a state-certified marine harbor pilot on board handling it. The vessel is one of 29 Shell plans to send to the area this summer.