As a fishery scientist who has worked for more than 20 years with trawl fishermen to reduce salmon, crab and halibut bycatch, I find the recent rhetoric around proposed North Pacific Fisheries Management Council changes to the Bering Sea halibut bycatch cap very frustrating. In particular, I hear media campaigns underwritten by environmental NGOs claiming, “It’s been 20 years since the halibut bycatch cap was last reduced,” implying that this has created a conservation issue.

Today, the Alaska Supreme Court issued an opinion that protects Alaskan’s right to know about — and to have a say in — how their resources are used. The Court ruled the Alaska Constitution requires the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide public notice and to evaluate whether exploration activities for the proposed Pebble Mine are in the public interest. The Court said it best: “The state must know how it should act before it acts.”

The Marine Stewardship Council will facilitate mediation for the salmon processors who disagree about who can participate in the client group that has the council’s sustainability certification. Back in April, ten of Alaska’s major salmon buyers asked to rejoin the label they dropped in 2012, saying it will help them tap back into picky European markets.

President Barack Obama’s administration gave an early promise to stop Rep. Don Young’s changes to national fishing laws before the bill has even seen the light of a full House discussion.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, governs all fisheries in the federal waters from three to 200 miles off the U.S. coast, and authorizes eight regional fishery management councils, including the North Pacific Fishery Management Council that oversees fishing in the waters off the Alaska coast. It was first passed in 1976 and most recently reauthorized and amended in 2006.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will spend the first four days of its weeklong meeting in Sitka beginning June 3 deciding on a series of deep cuts in the halibut bycatch allocation for the Bering Sea groundfish bottom-trawl fleet, but it may do so without a majority of the votes on the final decision coming from the Alaska delegation.

Gov. Bill Walker’s office announced on May 20 that Robert Mumford has been appointed to the vacant seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

“I am pleased to announce Bob Mumford as my appointee to the Board of Fish,” Walker said. “His vast range of experience in multiple fields — as a commercial pilot, hunting instructor and fish and game State Trooper — has taken him all over the state.”

Nowhere do people have as much opportunity to speak their minds to fish policymakers as in Alaska. And as a key decision day approaches, a groundswell of Alaska voices is demanding that fishery overseers slash the halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea.

Many Alaskans are speaking out against the more than 6 million pounds of halibut dumped overboard each year as bycatch in trawl fisheries targeting flounder, rockfish, perch, mackerel and other groundfish -- not pollock.

In the last ten years, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands trawl fisheries have killed and discarded 62.6 million pounds of halibut as bycatch. A significant percentage of these juvenile halibut, averaging a little less than five pounds, would have migrated over time to the east, populating the Gulf of Alaska, Southeastern Alaska, and eventually all the way to Northern California. So although the bycatch of halibut is occurring far away in the Bering Sea, its effect is being felt all over Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

Over 100 commercial fishing vessels turned out today to raise awareness and speak out against the U.S. Navy's upcoming trainings in the Gulf of Alaska. Vessels paraded from Cordova's harbor to the local fuel dock where they rafted up in a peaceful protest against the Navy's "war games." - See more at: http://www.thecordovatimes.com/article/1520commercial-fishermen-protest-...

A Navy training exercise planned in the Gulf of Alaska has sparked heated opposition in a small commercial fishing town nearby whose residents say the drills are taking place in the critical habitat of breeding and migratory marine life.

Migrating salmon and other marine animals will be harmed by explosions, sonar and up to 352,000 pounds of debris that includes toxic materials like mercury, lead and cyanide, said Emily Stolarcyk, program manager for the Eyak Preservation Council.