Half the community of Savoonga flocked to the beach Tuesday to help haul a 55-foot bowhead whale ashore. The meat is especially welcome in the village because of an economic crisis after a record low walrus harvest this fall.
Lower Cook Inlet finfish issues are on the agenda for the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting Dec. 8-11 in Anchorage, with live audio of the meeting to be available at www.boardoffisheries.adfg.alaska.gov During the four-day public meeting at the Egan Civic and Convention Center, the board will consider 45 proposals regarding the Lower Cook Inlet region submitted by the general public, fishing organizations, local fish and game advisory committees, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Near the end of each year, bills are sent out to Alaska fishermen who hold IFQs for halibut and sablefish. They pay an annual fee to the federal government to cover the costs for managing and enforcing those fisheries. The fee, which is capped at three percent, is based on dock prices and averaged across the state.
A herring return forecast lower than the 1,000-ton threshold necessary to conduct a commercial fishery has caused the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to disallow commercial spawn-on-kelp pound fishery in Sitka’s Hoonah Sound for the 2014 season. The method of herring egg collection entails catching fish with seine gear, placing them in enclosures and harvesting their eggs from kelp fronds to be sold.
Last month NMFS released some preliminary data on Gulf of Alaska halibut discards based on the first year of observers on the small boat halibut fleet. The numbers shocked many people, with discards extrapolated across the fleet to be as high as 20 million lbs.
Alaska’s pollock fishery is undergoing its second annual audit for the FAO-based responsible fisheries management (RFM) certification. The assessors plan to attend the upcoming groundfish discussions and review documents relating to fishery management at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council Meetings next week. Meanwhile, two peer reviewers have been appointed in connection with the ongoing flatfish certification.
Charter halibut regulations and groundfish catches top the list of discussion items at the upcoming North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting. The council, which meets in Anchorage Dec. 11 to 16, is tasked with recommending halibut management measures for 2014 and will have to incorporate the preliminary information on the overall halibut harvest quotas.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers are calling for a below-average sockeye run in Bristol Bay next summer. Between 18.3 million and 34.8 million sockeye salmon are expected in nine Bristol Bay river systems in 2014, with the forecast calling for a run that is most likely 26.6 million fish. At that run size, about 17.9 million fish would be caught in the commercial common property harvest, with 8.66 million fish for escapement. That commercial catch would largely go to Bristol Bay fishermen, with those in the South Peninsula fisheries expected to take 1.06 million salmon.
The value of Bristol Bay driftnet permits continues to increase. The value placed on those permits by the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission jumped up over $14-thousand dollars to $117.2-thousand dollars. That's compared to the $102.9-thousand dollars value recorded back in October. The November figure of $117.2-thousand dollars is the largest value for Bristol Bay driftnet permits in over a year. The Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission bases their value on the actual prices that permits are sold for but there is a lag, sometimes as much as a couple of months.
Next week...Future fishing leaders will gather for the 5th Alaska Young Fishermen's Summit in Anchorage. The three-day program is fast paced. With a variety of hands on workshops. "The first over arching goal is to get young fishermen together so they can talk to each other."
Just prior to Thanksgiving, ADF&G issued a revised Bristol Bay salmon forecast that lowers the total run another 2%. The reason was a computer error. Overall, the state is predicting a weak run of 26.5 million fish, with a commercial harvest of just under 18 million fish.
Prices of seasonal U.S. cod are soaring in Japan on sluggish harvests in Alaska and strong buying from China. As the winter season for pot cuisine arrived in Japan, the price of U.S.- produced H & G cod--the staple material for cooking--is turning up on decreasing supply.
The CEO of Northern Dynasty Minerals used a presentation last month in Anchorage to discuss the departure of Anglo American from the partnership formed to develop the proposed Pebble Mine. KDLG’s Mike Mason listened in and filed this report.
David Montgomery, author of "King of Fish," will be a featured speaker the evening of Dec. 3 at the start of the three-day Southwest Alaska Salmon Science Workshop, at the University of Alaska Anchorage recital hall in Anchorage. Montgomery's book, which recounts the evolution and near-extinction of salmon over the last thousand years, is considered a must-read in the fisheries industry.
Golden king crab from the Aleutian Islands are one of Alaska’s biggest stocks – and one of its biggest mysteries. "They are such an interesting animal and they live in this rocky environment where they hang on the cliffs and they are difficult to fish... and there is almost nothing known about the Aleutian Islands – it is probably one of the least studied parts of Alaska."
Employment in the seafood harvesting industry is growing! A new report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, posted in the November issue of Alaska Economic Trends, shows that monthly jobs in seafood harvesting rose from 8,067 in 2011 to 8,189 in 2012.
Will Alaska's halibut catches be cut again next year? That's the big question as the industry braces for the International Pacific Halibut Commission's interim meeting this week in Seattle. By all accounts, there appear to be lots of halibut in Alaska waters, but their unusually slow growth rates have forced down catches for nearly a decade. The Alaska total this year was about 22 million pounds.
The revised 2014 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon forecast and harvest projection are provided below. This document supersedes the forecast released on 18 November, 2013. Following the release of the original forecast, we discovered a database error that prompted a re-evaluation. This most recent forecast is approximately 620 thousand fish less than the initial release.
Will Alaska’s halibut catches be cut again next year? That’s the big question as the industry braces for the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s interim meeting this Wednesday and Thursday in Seattle. The unusually slow growth of halibut has forced a downward press on catches for years. The Alaska total this year was about 22 million pounds. Also for review by the IPHC – 22 requests for an increased halibut catch to about half a million pounds in Area 4A of the mid-Aleutian Islands.
Hatchery-reared red king crab juveniles are the subject of a new study on the potential of using natural chemicals found in crab eyes to estimate their age. Researchers for the project, funded by the North Pacific Research Board, are Alexei Pinchuk and Ginny Eckert of the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, and Rodger Harvey of Old Dominion University in Virginia.