On Thursday, the two councils that control halibut fishing in the Bering Sea met to address a thorny debate over bycatch.

The International Pacific Halibut Commission -- which sets catch limits in waters stretching from Canada to the Pribilof Islands -- stopped into Seattle for a joint session with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Most of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad. And a lot of that is caught illegally — by vessels that ignore catch limits, or that fish in areas off-limits to fishing.

No one knows how much of it is illegal, because the oceans are too big to patrol. Or at least, they were. Now environmental groups have harnessed satellite technology to watch pirate fishing vessels from space — and they've already caught some of them.

If science-based fisheries management is Gov. Bill Walker’s goal, then he has more than just the Alaska Board of Fisheries to worry about.

There’s a conflict brewing between subsistence and conservation-minded, scientific fisheries management at the Federal Subsistence Board. During its January meeting, the board passed a unanimous motion to close the federal waters of Sitka Sound around Maknahti Island to commercial purse seine herring harvests, in addition to voting in favor of gillnet subsistence fisheries for the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Alaska Republicans, joined Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) Thursday in sponsoring legislation which would remove the expiration date on a three-year moratorium for commercial fishing vessels, as well as commercial vessels under 79 feet long. The incidental discharge regulation was part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill, which was passed by Congress and signed into law in December.

Today, the President is taking another step to protect our most valuable natural resources. Relying on an authority used by presidents of both parties since Eisenhower, President Obama is designating 9.8 million acres in the waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska’s coast as off-limits to consideration for future oil and gas leasing. This action builds on recent steps by the President to protect Bristol Bay and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the Aleutians won’t advance in the process to become a national marine sanctuary — mostly due to a lack of local support.

This week will reveal if Pacific halibut catches ratchet up slightly in some regions, as indicated earlier, or at least not be chopped. The International Pacific Halibut Commission is meeting in Vancouver through Friday – that’s when the harvests and season start and end dates will be announced. You can follow the halibut meetings live on the web.

Wednesday night's State of the State address by Governor Bill Walker was as much a pep talk as any thing else to a state facing huge budget deficits. In it, he touted Alaskan's can-do spirit and the many assets we have to work with. One of those is our fisheries.

Alaska Board of Fisheries Chairman Karl Johnstone resigned Tuesday after Gov. Bill Walker said he would not submit his name to the legislature for reappointment.

Rather than wait for his term to expire in June, Johnstone resigned immediately.

In the latest show of support for the Jones Act, 32 bipartisan Representatives have sent a letter to Senate leadership urging them to reject a “misguided” amendment piggybacked onto a Keystone XL Pipeline bill by Senator John McCain that would repeal the U.S. build requirement of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.