Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Alaska Marine Forecast format - options change

Marine weather forecasts are critical to the livelihoods of fishermen in the Aleutians East Borough. Lives of families in our communities can depend on knowing the forecast, particularly the marine forecast including the wind direction and speed. If you watch the 'Alaska Weather' TV show on channel 9 in one of our communities, you know that the last 5 minutes of the program, after the aviation weather and the 'segment', is the all important part of the broadcast - marine weather.
The internet is now the quickest way to get updated forecasts, but it came as a shock to some residents when previous links to find the NOAA Alaska Region marine weather forecasts on the web no longer worked. Alaska Region has made changes to the weather site.
The good news - there are now more choices than before to view the marine forecast:
All of these options can also be found on the AEB Natural Resources Department page - www.aebfish.org.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

NPFMC tackles important issues during the June 2016 meeting in Kodiak

Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management (GOA TBM) was the headline agenda item for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council June meeting in Kodiak, garnering a parade and harbor spit festival organized by the Kodiak trawl industry and processors on Saturday June 11. The Council reviewed the current discussion paper and made some clarifying adjustments to Alternatives 2, 3 & 4. One change would allow electronic monitoring, when it is available for trawl, instead of only 100% human observer coverage.  The Council also added the following language between the Purpose and Needs statement and the Goals and Objectives section:

The overarching goal of the Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management program is to provide the fleet tools for effective management and reduction of PSC and bycatch, and promote increased utilization of both target and secondary species while minimizing economic barriers for new participants by limiting the duration of harvest privileges that may be allocated (target species and/or prohibited species) in order to maintain opportunity for entry into the GOA trawl fisheries.”

The Council is moving the GOA TBM action to a ‘preliminary analysis’ phase tentatively set to come back in December.  In the coming weeks NOAA Fisheries will announce in the Federal Register a new public scoping process that will be an important step in an Environmental Impact Statement for the program.  The preliminary compiled June Council motion for GOA TBM can be found at this link.
In other Council agenda items: the NPFMC declared the 10 year Review of the BSAI Crab Rationalization program “complete and final”.  The Council also moved Bering Sea Tanner crab to the list of species exempt from custom processing limits, an action of immediate concern that would allow the full utilization of the upcoming BS tanner season total allowable catch with a now limited number of processors.  During the North Pacific Observer Program Annual Report the Council recommended adding a new strata in the program for vessels that deliver to tenders. The North Pacific Observer Program Annual Deployment Plan will be reviewed by the Council in October. Initial Review of ‘Electronic Monitoring Integration’ is also scheduled for October after a July review by the electronic monitoring workgroup in Anchorage.
The Council paid tribute to 3 non-returning members at an evening reception. Coast Guard Captain Phillip Thorne is moving up the ranks after serving the Council for 4 years, David Long was not reappointed for a second term, and Duncan Fields has completed the maximum 9 consecutive years on the Council. Theresa Peterson, an Advisory Panel member from Kodiak, was nominated by the Governor to replace Fields; Buck Laukitis was nominated to replace David Long. The Secretary of Commerce is expected to announce Council appointments next week.

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.