How do you solve a problem like bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries?

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council devoted hours of its fall meeting in Anchorage to that question, finally emerging with a motion calling for analysis of a number of alternatives and options.

The three alternatives to be considered include taking no action, a trawl bycatch management program for the Western Gulf, Central Gulf and West Yakutat area, and an alternative with a community fisheries association allocation or adaptive management program.

NOAA and American Seafoods Company (ASC) this week agreed to settle three civil enforcement cases involving flow scales on board the ASC’s fishing vessels. The cases relate to events that occurred during 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012 in the Alaska pollock fishery. Pursuant to the settlement, ASC agreed to pay a combined civil penalty of $1.75 million.

The cases charged that personnel aboard the ASC’s catcher-processor vessels American Dynasty, Ocean Rover and Northern Eagle violated the Magnuson Stevens Act and the American Fisheries Act by causing the flow scales to weigh inaccurately.

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.

Fishing vessels between 40 and 57.5 feet in length will carry marine observers on a trip-by-trip basis next year under a change recommended today by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The council took action on the 2015 annual deployment plan, or ADP, for the marine observer program, which places someone onboard commercial fishing vessels to count and sample the catch.

After a year's absence, Unalaska now has somebody working at the Marine Advisory Program and at the Interior-Aleutians Campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. And they're the same person. Melissa "Missy" Good started work last week in the hybrid position
"Right now my plate's pretty open. I want to see what the community wants," said Good, who worked locally as the assistant area shellfish management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the past 3-and-a-half years.

Summer 2014 represented a different kind of summer for Alaska fishermen. While commercial halibut fishermen have had their catch limits reduced for a number of years, this year the reductions hit charter fishermen in Southcentral Alaska as well. Anyone who went out on a charter boat out of Homer, Whittier, Seward or Kodiak knows that this year, fishermen could only keep one halibut of any size, and the second halibut had to be smaller than 29 inches.

Changes to the observer program and discussion of a possible Gulf of Alaska rationalization program are back on the menu at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s October meeting.

The council, which will meet Oct. 8-14 in Anchorage, will also approve crab fishery catches, take final action on Pacific cod fishery for the Community Development Quota, or CDQ, fleet and take action on Bering Sea crab fishery provisions.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has launched its updated standard for sustainable fishing, which is claimed to reflect the most up-to-date understanding of fishery science and management.

The updated standard, Version 2.0 of the MSC’s Fisheries Certification Requirements, was developed over the past two years and involved a year-long consultation with fishing industry experts, scientists, NGOs and MSC’s wide network of partners.

A sharp, wide-ranging debate on Alaska fisheries Wednesday evening saw organizers and Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich put Republican challenger Dan Sullivan on the defensive over his pro-development record, with Sullivan delivering some targeted shots of his own to keep Begich from getting too comfortable.

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.