Friday, August 9, 2019

2016 GOA Pink Salmon Disaster Funds Update


On Monday August 5th, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) updated the published information related to the process to disperse fishery disaster funds for the 2016 Gulf of Alaska Pink Salmon Season.

PSMFC expects to send applications to impacted Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) Limited Entry Salmon Permit holders and impacted processors by mid-August. These applications will be due back to PSMFC by October 31. Payments are expected to be sent out 6-8 weeks after the application period. 


CFEC limited entry permit holders that meet the following criteria will be eligible for a payment:

  • Must have held a CFEC permit card for salmon in 2016
  • Must have fished for pink salmon  in 2016,
  • CFEC permit holders in the South Alaska Peninsula area must have documented ADF&G fish ticket landings equal to or greater than 1,000 pounds of pink salmon landed in 2016.
  • Must have a demonstrated loss of 2016 pink salmon ex-vessel revenue compared to their average pink salmon ex-vessel value during the most recent five even years from 2006 through 2014 as calculated from ADF&G and CFEC landings and value data.

Crew members for the 2016 salmon fishery identified as fishing crew by an eligible permit holder will be eligible for payment if the permit holder is eligible to receive a disaster payment. Disaster payment applications will be sent to eligible crew members after October 31, 2019. The application deadline for crew members will be January 31, 2020.



 A total of $1.7 million will be available for payments to impacted South Peninsula fishermen. Details can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions document posted on the PSMFC website Fishery Disaster Programs page.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

AEB Fishermen's Meeting & WGOA Trawl Outreach DELAYED until 4PM

The Aleutians East Borough Natural Resources Department (NRD) will host a fishermen's meeting Wednesday July 24th, 2019 delayed until 4 PM, teleconferenced with the King Cove Harbor House, Sand Point Borough office and the Anchorage Borough office. This meeting will feature outreach to WGOA trawl stakeholders by ADFG Deputy Commissioner Rachel Baker and ADFG Extended Jurisdiction Program Manager Karla Bush calling in from Juneau. NRD Director Ernie Weiss will be in Sand Point for the meeting; NRD Assistant Director Charlotte Levy will be in Anchorage for the meeting due to a flight cancellation. The revised meeting agenda can be found here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Update on GOA Pink Salmon Disaster Funds

Hello, I wanted to pass along a few updates on the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon disaster funds.

  1. NOAA has approved approximately $54 million in disaster funds spending for research and direct payments to CFEC permit holders, crew and processors. The funds will be transferred to Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission). The Commission has established a fisheries disaster web site athttps://www.psmfc.org/fishery-disaster-programs. This site is the best source of information about the funds distribution process and timeline, please monitor the site for updated information.

  1. The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission will be mailing disaster funds payment applications directly to affected CFEC permit holders and processors. CFEC permit holders will be required to submit the names and addresses of each crew member on their application and Pacific States will send a separate application to those crew members. Applications must be completed and returned by the deadline to receive a payment. The application period will accommodate the summer fishing season.

  1. To help ensure that CFEC permit holder applications are mailed to the correct address, permit holders may wish to verify the current mailing address on record with CFEC:https://www.cfec.state.ak.us/plook/#permits

If a correction is needed, submit the following address change form to CFEC:

  1. We are making good progress to find a method for distributing direct payments to eligible municipalities. The Pacific States web site will be updated with information as soon as it is available.

I hope you all have an enjoyable 4th of July holiday.

Rachel Baker
Alaska Department of Fish & Game

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Natural Resources Assistant Director to travel to Sand Point

Aleutians East Borough Natural Resources Assistant Director Charlotte Levy will travel to Sand Point Alaska  to observe the ADF&G Shumagin Islands Section immature salmon test fishery scheduled for July 3rd. Charlotte also plans to be at the AEB Sand Point office for the Special Assembly meeting scheduled for July 2nd. Charlotte looks forward to talking with residents about fisheries and other Borough natural resources while in Sand Point.

From the South Alaska Peninsula Commercial Salmon Management Strategy, 2019; Regional Information Report No. 4K19-08:
"Immature Test Fishery
In order to assess the abundance of immature salmon and reduce incidental harvest ADF&G will conduct a purse seine test fishery in the Shumagin Islands Section in early July, before the post-June fishery begins. If 100 or more immature salmon, per set, are present, the commercial fishery will be closed to purse seine gear in an area to be determined by ADF&G (5 AAC 09.366(i)). For the purpose of this management plan, “immature salmon, per set, are present” is defined as the number of Chinook O. tshawytscha, sockeye, coho, and chum salmon that are observed to be gilled in the seine web (5 AAC 09.366(i)). Test fishing is standardized to purse seine gear, conducting two 20-minute sets at Popof Head, Middle Set, and Red Bluff located on Popof Island. The commercial fishery may be constrained based on the abundance of immature salmon observed during the test fishery. Gillnet gear is permitted to fish in these areas during the presence of immature salmon because the larger mesh size permits immature salmon to pass through the nets."

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Public Comment on the Pebble Mine Project Draft EIS

The Pebble Mine project area is within the Lake and Peninsula Borough (LPB) to the east of the Aleutians East Borough (AEB). The mine site is within the Koktuli River and Upper Talarik Creek (UTC) watersheds. The Koktuli watershed is approximately 83 miles upstream of the Nushagak river and 109 miles upstream of Bristol Bay. The UTC watershed is approximately 39 miles upstream from the Kvichak river, and 89 miles upstream of Bristol Bay. Both Nushagak and Kvichak support some of the largest and most important salmon stocks in the Bristol Bay.  

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is soliciting public comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Pebble Mine project, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The public comment period is open March 1 through May 31, 2019.  There will be a public hearing in Anchorage, Tuesday April 16th from noon until 8pm at the Dena’ina Center.

The DEIS looks at the No Action Alternative and action alternatives for a functioning Pebble mine project that meet the purpose and need statement and are reasonable and practicable under Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) standards. The EIS also analyzes environmental impacts of each alternative including direct, indirect and cumulative effects.                                

In general, the No Action Alternative would not contribute to any direct, indirect or cumulative effects on salmon or salmon habitat.

Concerns resulting from Action Alternative 1 potential impacts include but are not limited to the following:

Although the DEIS purports that most potential risks identified have a low probability of occurrence, the magnitude, extent and longevity of impacts would be disastrous.
The DEIS has a section regarding Spill Risk which identifies activities with risk that span beyond the localized project site – this non-exhaustive list includes diesel fuel, natural gas, copper-gold ore concentrate, chemical reagents, bulk and pyritic tailings, and untreated contact water. Although the section is comprehensive, many of the scenarios are theoretical – some scenarios have few existing studies to draw comparable assumptions from, many of the scenarios are circumstantial (severity would depend on timing, location, etc.), and do not explore secondary and tertiary impacts on affected ecosystems. The concerns for fishermen are addressed, but not given due consideration.

The USACE has invited 38 federally recognized tribes throughout the region to consult during the EIS decision process, including Port Heiden Village Council and the Chignik Tribal Councils.  No tribes within the AEB have been invited for consultation. Likewise, the LPB and the State of Alaska have been invited to participate as cooperating agencies, but the AEB has not been invited or directly consulted about the proposed project.
Direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of the project, and resulting mitigation measures are calculated in the DEIS for communities and activities near to the proposed project, not for neighboring communities or fishing activities in the AEB.

NEPA requires agencies to consider mitigation measures to avoid or reduce environmental impacts, or to compensate through mitigation, any unavoidable impacts. Mitigation can be achieved through project design and use of best management practices.
From DEIS Section 4.24.2.1- In terms of magnitude and extent of impacts, project construction, operations, and closure at the mine site would have a footprint of 8,806 acres (10.7 square miles), of which 3,458 acres are wetlands or other waters. Duration of impacts to these affected areas would be long term, lasting throughout the life of the project, and they would be certain to occur if the project is permitted and constructed.
From DEIS Section 4.6.6.2 - Pebble Mine Expanded Development Scenario - The Pebble Mine Expanded Development Scenario would result in an additional 78 years of mining/milling and include a larger open pit mine with expanded and new storage facilities for tailings and waste rock.
From DEIS Section 4.24.6 - Reasonably foreseeable future actions (RFFAs) combined with natural events, have the potential to contribute to adverse effects on aquatic resources by altering flow regimes and drainage patterns; direct habitat loss; diminishing water quality from riverbank erosion, turbidity, and sedimentation; changes in water chemistry; fish displacement and injury; and degrading the extent of productive habitat conditions.

The proposed Pebble project may offer opportunities like temporary employment to local residents. However, salmon is the cultural and economic foundation for all of our communities, and all Southwest Alaska fishermen harvest salmon that are bound for Bristol Bay. Any of the potential negative impacts to salmon runs would directly affect These fishermen. Since there is no discernable direct benefit to most fishermen from the development of the proposed mine, but potential for significant risk due to myriad of possible failures associated with the project, it could be said that the fishermen have nothing to gain but everything to lose from any of the alternatives except the No Action Alternative.

The No Action Alternative is the least environmentally damaging alternative. While the project has the potential to fulfill the stated purpose and need to develop a non-renewable resource, it could come at the expense of one of Alaska’s most valuable renewable resources, sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay sockeye returns are of utmost importance to the fishermen and communities of Southwest Alaska. The proposed project has the potential to adversely impact wetlands and to seriously degrade parts of the Bristol Bay watershed where the salmon are reared.  Salmon are already being stressed from the effects of climate change and changing ocean conditions, including overall rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification. Any threat to the renewable Bristol Bay sockeye resource is an unacceptable risk. The Pebble project is an avoidable risk. The No Action Alternative is the option in the public’s best interest.




Thursday, December 27, 2018

AEB Winter Fisheries Teleconference Recap


Will the winter fisheries open January 1st as scheduled despite the US Government partial shutdown?   The good news is yes.

NOAA Fisheries Office of law Enforcement (OLE) Special Agent Brent Pristas was the only federal participant during the AEB Winter Fisheries teleconference December 27th.   As an 'essential personnel' Brent Pristas was able give fishery updates and other reminders from the federal agencies to the fishermen listening in.
 
The ‘A’ season Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) as relayed in a memo by NMFS Sustainable Fisheries Division:

  •  ‘A’ season pot cod TAC 1031 mt. Season will open Jan 1, and a reminder that the 2018 season is still open for those who wish to get an early start.
  •  ‘A’ season catcher vessel hook & line cod TAC set at 36 mt.  Will not open for the ‘A’ season.
  •  ‘A’ season jig cod TAC is 80 mt. Will open January 1.
  •  ‘A’ season trawl cod TAC set at 1443 mt.  Will not open unless fishermen have a co-op plan in place, to keep from exceeding the TAC.
  •  The crab sideboarded pot cod is 320 mt.  Will open January 1.

The 2019 area 610 pollock season TACs as relayed in a memo by NMFS Sustainable Fisheries Division:

  • Area 610 ‘A’ season TAC 848 mt.  Will not open unless fishermen have a co-op plan in place, to keep from exceeding the TAC.
  • Area 610 ‘B’ season TAC 848 mt.  Will not open unless fishermen have a co-op plan in place, to keep from exceeding the TAC.

Sustainable Fisheries Division and OLE reminds fishermen to please record the correct Statistical area fished in for fish ticket data, especially regarding State or Federal area fished in.
Adak fisheries open and close on Alaska time-zone (AKST), not ‘Adak’ time.

OLE recommends fishermen check vessel VMS; you can call OLE to confirm transmission. 

Reminder to call-in to the ODDs system to check if you need to carry an observer.  Luke Symanski of AIS stated the call center number and hours: 1-855-747-6377, 6am to 10pm AKST, Sand Point residents may need to use an alternate number: 1-206-673-3338. Also reminder to check that your safety decal is up-to-date.

Natura Richardson with ADFG reminded fishermen that the State-waters cod fishery opening date is 7 days after the federal Western Gulf pot cod season closes or March 7th, whichever is later.  State-waters   Jig gear season opens March 15, assuming the parallel ‘A’ season jig TAC is not yet caught.

South Alaska Peninsula 2019 State-Waters Pacific Cod Guideline Harvest Levels: Pot gear GHL 4,291,067 lbs., Jig gear GHL 757,247 lbs.  down about 5.6% from last year. Expected to be a fast season like last year.  Only regulatory change is the removal of the weather delay rule for jig gear. The weather delay rule is still in place for pot gear.

Lara Erickson with the International Pacific Halibut Commission reminded fisherman that the annual IPHC meeting is Jan 28th – Feb 1st.  Regulatory proposals announced Jan 31st, fishing limits announced Feb 1st.

Fisherman Kiley Thompson asked Brent Pristas if there was any concerns from OLE about the flatfish fishery that Sand Point small boat fishermen have been trying out.  Brent noted concerns about bycatch overages in the fishery, especially black cod, but also pollock overages and maybe skate bycatch overages. Kiley suggested a meeting between the fishermen and OLE prior to the season opening Jan 20th to go over some of the concerns for this developing fishery. Brent agreed that was a good idea.

Nathaniel Nichols reminded fishermen to call the ADFG office in Kodiak with any questions about the state season. They are happy to help get registrations and buoy tags sent out.

This teleconference was available at the following sites:
·         King Cove Harbor House
·         Sand Point Borough office
·         False Pass City Office
·         Anchorage AEB office

The meeting was broadcast live on local radio KSDP and the audio is now archived at https://apradio.org/mp3-aleutians-east-borough-winter-fisheries-teleconference/