Saturday, March 26, 2016

New brown bear regulations to impact resident hunters



The Board of Game has been meeting in Fairbanks March 18 - 28, 2016 to consider statewide proposals. The Board passed two proposals that are of particular interest to local resident brown bear hunters – one regulation to extend the brown bear tag fee exemption in certain areas, and one that allows the sale of brown bear hides.

  • PROPOSAL 57 - 5 AAC 92.200(b). Purchase and sale of game. Allow the sale of brown bear hides and/or skulls by resident hunters as follows:  Statewide; allow resident Alaskan hunters to sell the hides with claws attached and/or skulls of legally taken brown bears harvested in units where the bag limit is two or more bears per season.
  • PROPOSAL 129 - 5AAC 92.015. Brown bear tag fee exemption (a) A resident tag is not required for taking a brown bear in certain areas, including within five miles of the communities of Cold Bay, King Cove, Sand Point, and Nelson Lagoon, within five miles of Port Moller and  within three miles of the community of False Pass.  
Currently, brown bear tag fee exemptions must be reauthorized annually or the fee will be automatically reinstated.

Another proposal passed by the Board impacts resident & non-resident black & brown bear hunters.
  • PROPOSAL 56 - 5 AAC 92.220(e). Salvage of game meat, furs, and hides. Prohibits the transport of hide and skull of black or brown bear from the field until edible meat has been salvaged.
You can find more information from the Fairbanks meeting, including a summary of Board actions, here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

South Peninsula State pot cod season opens at Noon March 7



The South Alaska Peninsula state-waters Pacific cod season for pot gear opens today March 7th at noon.  Vessels 58ft and under may participate in the fishery with a limit of 60 pots. The total GHL for the South Peninsula state-waters pot cod is 22,769,927 lbs, up from 21,757,443 lbs last year.  There were 30 vessels registered so far on Friday, vs 42 vessels participating last year. Only tagged pots may be stored after the first week of the season and stored pots should be bait-free with doors secured open.  The P/V Stimson will be patrolling from Kodiak to King Cove beginning March 10, checking fishing and stored gear for tags and licenses aboard vessels.


ADFG groundfish manager Nat Nichols came to King Cove Friday March 4th for a pre-season meeting with fishermen. He emphasized that communication is key to a successful season, as more uncertainty leads to a more cautious approach to management, and he thanked the fishermen for their cooperation in the past.  ADFG will go through the dispatch list each morning, but fishermen should feel free to call in if they miss the initial call or if they have other concerns.  Cooperation with dockside samplers is much appreciated.


The Kodiak pot cod season for a GHL of 6.8 million lbs opened and finished in February and Chignik opened last week  for a 8.5 million GHL.  The Dutch Harbor Sub-district season on the north side is ongoing with virtually double the fishing area as last year and a GHL of 35,979,072, and has attracted boats from the South Pen fishery.  Each of these state pot cod fisheries is exclusive, meaning you may only register for one.  The 2016 Fishery Management Plan for South Alaska Peninsula Pacific cod can be found here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Community protection in the face of more rationalized fisheries.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council meets October 8 – 14 in Anchorage, in part to discuss the proposed Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management program that would establish catch shares for the trawl caught pollock and cod in federal waters 3 – 200 miles offshore Alaska. Any program to rationalize these fisheries must be inclusive, taking into account the dependency on the fishery and investments made by communities, fishermen, vessel owners and local seafood processors, while maintaining opportunity for future generations.

According to the NPFMC’s Ecosystem Based Fishery Management approach, coastal community protections will be included in any limited entry programs such as catch share programs. Fishing communities are specifically mentioned in the Council’s Ecosystem vision and value statements. National Standard (8) for Fishery Conservation and Management states that any fishery management measures must provide for fishing communities sustained participation in the fishery and to minimize adverse economic impacts on communities.

One complaint with this proposed bycatch management program is that it seems to be more about allocation of the fishing resource and much less about reducing bycatch of prohibited species halibut and Chinook salmon. The Aleutians East Borough is opposed to options in the proposal to allocate target species other than cod or pollock, allocations that would not result in bycatch reductions and would lock out future opportunities for local fishermen.

The Council is looking at several options to mitigate negative impacts from the proposed program including vessel use caps and processor caps to limit consolidation in the fishery. The plan also considers regionalized delivery, active participation requirements and other options to protect communities. Setting aside some amount of quota for adaptive management or for a Community Fishing Association is also still on the table.

Western Gulf pollock fishermen are working on solutions and have recently developed a voluntary catch plan, that equally divides the quota and available bycatch between the vessels signed up to fish. Some fishermen continue to ask for a later opening date for the Pacific cod trawl season that they say would result in better-sized fish and less bycatch. Experience is the best answer to the bycatch problem according to one WGOA fisherman, noting that outside vessels new to the area end up catching a large portion of the bycatch. There are mixed feelings among fishermen about a full-blown catch share plan for the trawl fisheries.

The Borough Assembly set forth nine goals in a January 2013 Resolution, and in a recent letter from Mayor Stanley Mack for the Assembly to the NPFMC, reaffirmed support of these goals for fisheries management programs in the Gulf of Alaska:

1. Provide effective controls of prohibited species catch and provide for balanced and sustainable fisheries and quality seafood products.

2. Maintain or increase target fishery landings and revenues to the Borough and AEB communities.

3. Maintain or increase employment opportunities for vessel crews, processing workers and support industries.

4. Provide increased opportunities for value-added processing.

5. Maintain entry level opportunities for fishermen.

6. Maintain opportunities for processors to enter the fishery.

7. Minimize adverse economic impacts of consolidation of the harvesting or processing sectors.

8. Encourage local participation on harvesting vessels and use of fishing privileges.

9. Maintain the economic strength and vitality of AEB communities.

The Aleutians East Borough stands for creating opportunity in our communities, one reason we continue to push for new state fisheries, like the Dutch Harbor Sub-district fishery. This new state-waters Pacific cod fishery in the Bering Sea from mid-Unalaska Island to mid-Unimak Island has provided increased opportunity for local fishermen, without harm to other fishers. Hopefully the Alaska Board of Fisheries will elect to expand the guideline harvest level and fishing area for the Dutch Harbor Sub-district fishery. The Board’s Walleye Pollock Workgroup meets October 6th in Anchorage to look at the merits of a proposal to establish a state-waters pollock fishery.

The AEB believes fishery management at all levels should be about providing more opportunity, for processors, fishermen and support industries. Gains in efficiency must be balanced with continued growth and prosperity. Sustainable fisheries and sustainable local fishing communities go hand in hand and as the current bycatch management proposal takes shape, it must include protections for communities, fishermen, processors and future generations.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Observer Program Changes for 2015

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Annual Deployment Plan (ADP) for the Observer program, reviewed each October by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), calls for significant changes for small vessel participants in the Observer program.

NMFS proposes to use the trip-selection pool only to assign observers to vessels and will no longer use  the vessel-selection method for smaller vessels in 2015.  Since only single trips will be selected, the proposed method is expected to reduce the impact on smaller vessels.

The proposal calls for two categories within the trip-selection pool.  The small vessel trip-selection pool is comprised of catcher vessels (CV) that are fishing hook-and-line or pot gear and are greater than or equal to 40 ft, but less than 57.5 ft in length.  These vessels were in the “vessel-selection” pool for 2013 & 2014.  The other category, the large vessel trip-selection pool is made up of three classes of vessels: 1) all CVs fishing trawl gear, 2) CVs fishing hook-and-line or pot gear that are also greater than or equal to 57.5 ft, and 3) catcher-processor vessels exempted from full coverage requirements.  These vessels were in the “trip-selection” pool for 2013 and 2014.

The small vessel trip-selection pool vessels are likely to be selected for an observer 12% of trips compared to a 24% probability for the large vessel trip-selection participants. The selection rate for the former vessel-selection pool is the same as 2014, but large vessel trip-selection vessels will see a 50% increase in coverage rates compared to 2014.

Conditional releases will not be granted to the large vessel trip-selection pool vessels in 2015, and only granted to vessels in the small vessel trip-selection pool that do not have sufficient life-raft capacity to accommodate an observer.

Vessels selected to participate in Electronic Monitoring (EM) Cooperative Research will be in the no selection pool, not subject to observer coverage, while participating in such research.

The Observer Advisory Committee to the NPFMC will review the ADP at a meeting this week in Seattle.  The draft ADP is available through a link under item C1 of the NPFMC agenda, found here:  http://legistar2.granicus.com/npfmc/meetings/2014/10/894_A_North_Pacific_Council_14-10-06_Meeting_Agenda.pdf
.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Salmon forecasts for Alaska 2013

ADF&G Salmon Forecasts for 2013

The 2013 estimated forecast for the South Alaska Peninsula pink salmon total run is 7.3 million fish, and the harvest is expected to be 5.7 million, which is considered an average harvest by ADF&G.  A harvest of less than 5 million pink salmon for the region is considered weak or poor and 5 to 7. 2 million harvest is considered average.  More than 7.2 million is a strong harvest and a harvest of greater than 9.3 million pinks is described as excellent.


The 2013 Nelson River estimated total run of sockeye is forecast at 327,000. That’s below the 10-year average of 462,000, but above the 2012 total run result of approximately 220,000 sockeye.  The Bear Lake late run sockeye is estimated at a total run of 328,000 for 2013. Again, that is below the 10-year average of 451,000, but well above the 2012 run of 116,000.


The total estimated run for Bristol Bay Sockeye is 26,030,000 fish, which would result in a total commercial harvest of 17.53 million sockeye; 16.59 million in Bristol Bay and 940,000 in the South Peninsula area.


Chignik has a total estimated run 3,814,000 sockeye, 2.767 million in the early Black Lake run and 1.047 in the late Chignik Lake run.  A total commercial harvest for Chignik sockeye expected to be 3.214 million; 2.581 million for Chignik, 452,000 for the Cape Ignik Section and 181,000 in the Southeastern District Mainland area.


Other forecasts for salmon around the state are relatively stable, the A-Y-K fall chum salmon forecast estimated total run is 1,043,000 and the Copper River Sockeye total run is expected to be 1.84 million.  Upper Cook Inlet sockeye total run is forecast to be 6.7 million.  Pink runs look healthy statewide: Prince William Sound total pink run looks to be 6.2 million, the total Kodiak Management Area pink harvest is expected at 17 million, and the Southeast Alaska pink salmon harvest is expected to be excellent in 2013 at 54 million fish.



Information compiled from: 
ADFG Special Publication 13-03, February 2013, Run Forecasts and Harvest Projections for 2013 Alaska Salmon Fisheries and Review of the 2012 Season; 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Governor Appoints Reed Morisky of Fairbanks to Board of Fisheries

Reed Morisky of Fairbanks has been appointed to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Reed's appointment if effective immediately and his seat expires June 30, 2014. Here's the link to the press release from the Governor's office: http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/press-room/full-press-release.html?pr=6370

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fisheries Update

January GOA Fisheries:

Directed fishing for Pacific cod using hook and line, pot and jig gear, opened January 1, 2013, and trawl gear cod fishing opened on January 20th. The 2013 Gulf-wide total allowable catch (TAC) for cod is 60,600 metric tons (mt) down from 65,700 mt in 2012. In the Western Gulf, (Area 610) the A-season allocation for Pacific cod using pot gear is 4,095 mt. Twenty-eight vessels have reported catch so far. NMFS closed the WGOA pot gear Pacific cod fishery at noon on Monday, January 28th.

Directed fishing for pollock using trawl gear also opened January 20, 2013 in the Gulf of Alaska. So far, six vessels have reported pollock catch in Area 610. Only two vessels have reported pollock catch in Area 620. The A season pollock allocation is 4,292 mt for Area 610; 16,433 mt for Area 620; and 5,998 mt for Area 630. NMFS ended directed fishing for pollock in Area 630 on January 22, 2013 to prevent the fleet from exceeding the 630 A-season allowance.

The state Tanner crab fishery opened at noon on January 15th. The Eastern section of the South Peninsula District had a guideline harvest level (GHL) of 230,000 pounds. The Western section and the Chignik District were closed. The Kodiak district GHL was set at 660,000 lbs. In the South Peninsula District - Eastern section, all waters between 161° and 162° west longitude (Pavlof Bay and Jude Island) closed at noon January 16th, and Beaver, Balboa & Stepovak Bays (all waters north of 55° 20’ N) closed at 6 p.m. on January 22nd. The remaining open waters of the Eastern Section of the South Peninsula District closed to Tanner crab fishing at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 26.

Halibut:

The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) annual meeting was held last week in Victoria, BC, and most sessions were available via internet / webinar. Last Friday, the Commission adopted the 2013 Pacific halibut catch limits by area. The 2013 limits are a reduction of 7% for all areas combined, and a reduction of 15% for Area 3B.

IPHC • 2012 Catch Limits • 2013 Catch Limit • Percent change •

Area 2A • 989,000 pounds • 990,000 pounds • less than 1% change •
Area 2B • 7,038,000 pounds • 7,038,000 pounds • zero change •
Area 2C • 2,565,000 pounds • 2,970,000 pounds • 16% increase •
Area 3A • 11,918,000 pounds • 11,030,000 pounds • 7% reduction •
Area 3B • 5,070,000 pounds • 4,290,000 pounds • 15% reduction •
Area 4A • 1,567,000 pounds • 1,330,000 pounds • 15% reduction •
Area 4B • 1,869,000 pounds • 1,450,000 pounds • 22% reduction •
Areas 4CDE • 2,465,000 pounds • 1,930,000 pounds • 22% reduction •
Total • 33,480,000 pounds • 31,028,000 pounds • 7% reduction •

Dr. James Balsiger was elected Commission Chair for 2013/2014. The IPHC is currently seeking nominations for 2 vacant U.S. seats on the Commission. Details on the IPHC nominations can be found at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/newsreleases/2013
/iphc011513.htm

Salmon:

The next Board of Fisheries meeting runs February 26th – March 4th at the Sheraton Hotel in Anchorage. At this meeting, the Board will take up proposals dealing with the Alaska Peninsula / Aleutian Islands (AP/AI) salmon fisheries. The Board met in Naknek in December 2012 to discuss Bristol Bay salmon. Earlier this month, the Board met in Anchorage to discuss Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) salmon proposals. At each Board meeting since the initial release of the Western Alaska Salmon Stock Identification Program (WASSIP) reports from October, the Board has received additional presentations on the salmon genetic study. At the AYK salmon meeting this month, the department also showcased large posters that make the genetic study information somewhat easier to understand. Many AEB fishermen who have been reading the WASSIP reports recently and the just-released Southeastern District Mainland (SEDM) genetic study, may gain insight from viewing the new WASSIP posters. They are now kept at the Anchorage Department of Fish and Game office at 333 Raspberry Road, and are available as PDF documents at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wassip.posters

The WASSIP reports are available at:
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wassip.reports

The SEDM study can be found at:
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/FedAidPDFs/SP12-31.pdf

Public comments to the Board of Fisheries submitted by February 12th will be included with the Board AP/AI meeting materials. Comments should include the specific proposal number addressed and the comment author’s name.

Comments can be faxed by 2/12/13 to FAX (907) 465-6094.

NPFMC:

The AEB is closely monitoring two items on the February agenda of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) meeting in Portland. Agenda item C-3(c) is a placeholder for Western Gulf of Alaska (WGOA) trawl issues, following a new discussion paper on Central Gulf Trawl Catch shares: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/catch_shares/CGOATrawlCatchShare213.pdf

AEB fishermen are planning to present ideas on new management regimes for the WGOA to the Council in Portland. The AEB Assembly passed Resolution 13-16 in January to provide comments to the NPFMC in support of the following goals for fisheries management in the WGOA and CGOA:

AEB Goals for Fisheries Management Programs in the Central and Western Gulf of Alaska:

• Provide effective controls of prohibited species catch and provide for balanced and sustainable fisheries and quality seafood products.
• Maintain or increase target fishery landings and revenues to the Borough and AEB communities.
• Maintain or increase employment opportunities for vessel crews, processing workers and support industries.
• Provide increased opportunities for value-added processing.
• Maintain entry-level opportunities for fishermen.
• Maintain opportunities for processors to enter the fishery.
• Minimize adverse economic impacts of consolidation of the harvesting or processing sectors.
• Encourage local participation on harvesting vessels and use of fishing privileges.
• Maintain the economic strength and vitality of AEB communities.

BSAI Crab ROFR:

Another important NPFMC February agenda item is C-4(a) Final Action on Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Crab Rights of First Refusal (ROFR). ROFR’s are part of the community protection measures in the Crab Rationalization program, giving eligible crab communities the right to purchase the right to process crab, in the event of a sale by the company owning those rights. However, these measures have been criticized as weak protection for communities since implementation of the program in 2005. Six actions regarding the sale of processing quota share (PQS) are being considered in the package:

Action 1: Increase the ROFR holder’s amount of time to exercise the right.
Action 2: Remove provisions under which the ROFR lapses if the PQS is used outside the community.
Action 3: Apply the ROFR to only the PQS, instead of all of a seafood processor’s assets.
Action 4: Require community consent to move quota outside the community.
Action 5: Require additional notices by the PQS holder to the ROFR holder and to NMFS.
Action 6: Issuance of newly created Bristol Bay King Crab PQS, (0.55 % of the PQS in that fishery) to Aleutia Corporation.

The NPFMC meetings are streamed live at a link found at:
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/ .

Gulf of Alaska Coastal Communities Coalition

GOAC3 had their Annual Membership meeting and a Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, January 29th. During the meeting, the group submitted comments to the NPFMC that the GOA Trawl Catch Shares discussion should look at ‘bycatch only shares’ as a way to provide more tools to harvesters and to mitigate community concerns about fleet consolidation.

The Board agreed to send letters to Governor Parnell supporting the reappointment of Sam Cotten and Duncan Fields to the NPFMC for a final term. The Board also named AEB Mayor Stanley Mack to the GOAC3 Executive Committee.