Fish News June 27, 2012

Posted on: June 28th, 2012 | Author: General Manager | Filed under: Community Window, Fish News - newsletter


ADF&G has announced that the Chignik Area state-waters Pacific cod (Pcod) season will open to vessels using jig gear at 12:00 noon Friday, June 29th following closure of the Central Gulf of Alaska parallel Pacific cod jig gear B Season. At the time of the June 29th state-waters season opening, all state-waters of the Chignik Management Area (Kupreanof Point to Kilokak Rocks) will open to Pacific cod fishing under state rules, including waters of the Chignik Area west of 159° W. long. adjacent to the federal
Western Gulf of Alaska Area. Approximately 511,000 pounds of Pcod are available for harvest for the remainder of the state-waters season.

Vessel operators participating in the parallel Pacific cod season must deliver their catch prior to fishing in the state-waters season. A super exclusive vessel registration issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is required for all vessels targeting Pcod during the Chignik Area state-waters season.

For more information, contact ADF&G in Kodiak at 907-486-1840.

Preparing for NPFMC and Board of Fish Meetings

By Ernie Weiss, AEB Natural Resources Director

A major focus of AEB’s Natural Resource Department will continue to be on the upcoming meeting agenda items for both the State Board of Fisheries (Board) and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (Council, or NPFMC). Actions of the
The Chignik Area state-waters Pcod season will open to vessels using jig gear at noon on Friday, June 29th.

Council and the Board during meetings from October 2012 through March 2013 will have considerable impacts on our fisheries and fishermen.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) release of the Proposal books this August will set the stage for the Pcod and salmon cycle of meetings beginning with the October Work Session of the Board, and moving through the regional Finfish Board meetings beginning in December. The Alaska Peninsula/Aleutian Islands meeting of the Board will be held at the Anchorage Sheraton, February 26th through March 3rd, 2013.

Two genetic studies coordinated by ADF&G will be released this year, and should inform the Board’s decisions on salmon issues. The Western Alaska Salmon Stock Identification Project (WASSIP) final reports are scheduled to be released by September, and the Southeastern District Mainland Genetic Stock Identification (SEDMGSI) report will be provided to the Board by December 2012.

Federal sector splits, implemented January 1st of this year, have changed the landscape for state-water Pacific cod fishermen. Both the Board and the Council are expected to discuss revisions to the Pcod fishery. The Council is expected to begin discussions on a rationalization program for all groundfish in the Central Gulf of Alaska.

The Council meeting agendas for October and December meetings are still being drafted, but will certainly include action on the new Steller sea lion EIS process, a ‘bycatch tools’ discussion (GOA rationalization), and crab agenda items including community provisions and Right of First Refusal (ROFR). The AEB Natural Resources Dept. is involved in several meetings this summer concerning all of these issues.

At the June meeting of the NPFMC in Kodiak, the Council voted to reduce halibut bycatch in the GOA by 15% for trawl vessels and hook & line catcher vessels over 3 years. The Council then moved forward on a ‘Comprehensive Bycatch Plan’, which will be on the October agenda and will include discussion of a catch share plan, or rationalization of Central GOA groundfish trawl fisheries.

Western GOA fishermen will need to consider how they wish to be involved in this potential action.

The AEB will be working with the Gulf of Alaska Coastal Community Coalition (GOAC3) to prepare for some of these issues this summer and fall as appropriate. The Natural Resources team is planning fishermen meetings in Sand Point and King Cove for late August 2012, and we plan to use all available technology including video-conference to work with the region on fisheries issues. Our area fishermen have some important decisions to make in the coming months regarding potential policy changes, and the Natural Resources Department will be sharing the latest information and working closely with fishermen to best protect and enhance the fisheries of the Aleutians East.

Late Summer Fishermen’s Meeting in the AEB Planned

With the many important fishery issues to be addressed at upcoming NPFMC and Board of Fish meetings, the Natural Resources Department would like to schedule two fishermen’s meetings in King Cove and Sand Point for late August.

The tentative schedule for these meetings is:

King Cove, Friday August 24th at 10 a.m. Sand Point, Monday August 27th at 10 a.m.
We will connect with the other AEB communities by teleconference during one of these meeting times, or schedule a separate meeting time for the smaller sites.

The above meeting schedule assumes AEB Natural Resources Director Ernie Weiss and Fisheries Consultant Sam Cotten fly from Anchorage to Sand Point round trip and travel via the ferry Tustumena in and out of King Cove.

AEB Natural Resources Director Promotes Cold Bay Airport Live Crab Initiative at ASMI Forum

AEB Natural Resources Director Ernie Weiss discussed the Cold Bay Airport live crab initiative at ASMI’s forum this week.

A packed audience turned out for a forum hosted by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute on exploring new seafood export opportunities. The forum was held yesterday (Tuesday, June 27, 2012) at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. AEB Natural Resources Director Ernie Weiss discussed one of the most exciting topics: the possibility of shipping live crab from the Cold Bay Airport to Asia.

Last year, Cold Bay shipping company G&K, owned by Gary Ferguson, shipped more than one million pounds per year of seafood products for Peter Pan Seafoods, based in King Cove, through the Cold Bay Airport to Anchorage. The seafood includes fresh and frozen salmon, roe, cod milt and frozen crab. Ernie said this market could be expanded, providing a new market for fishermen, resulting in increased pricesand revenue for the Borough and the City of Cold Bay.

“We really don’t want to compete with Anchorage. We want to partner with Anchorage,” said Ernie. “The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers is currently shipping live crab out of Dutch Harbor via Anchorage to Asia. However, the extra stop adds time, fuel and crab dead loss. We’re hoping to ship crab directly from Cold Bay where the crab is picked out of the water to save some of that dead loss. It’s not the distance that’s the major factor. It’s more the time on the ground and the handling of the crab. We’d like to open up a market where crab and other fresh seafood could be shipped in good condition to Asia.”

Ernie said before that happens, several hurdles need to be overcome. They include getting empty China-bound freight planes to stop in Cold Bay. Another would be to hire a customs regulations agent who is based in Cold Bay. Infrastructure will also need to
be completed, which includes establishing a terminal apron, completing dock improvements, installing a dock crane, having
live crab tanks or holding pens and frozen/cool storage facilities.

During the past few years, discussions have been in the works between the Aleutians East Borough, the State of Alaska and other organizations, such as the Alaska Crab Coalition, APICDA, Aleutia and the Alaska
Seafood Marketing Institute, to work out the logistics.

Cold Bay is a regional hub, providing air service connections between the lower Alaska Peninsula and Anchorage. The Cold Bay Airport, with its 10,415-foot main runway and 5,125-foot crosswind runway, has the fifth longest runway in the state and the third longest non-military runway. It also serves as a major refueling stop and weather diversion stop for some flights en route to the Aleutian Chain, as a search and rescue base for the U.S. Coast Guard, as a regional medevac hub and as an alternative emergency landing airport for many transpacific flights.

Local, industry and state officials believe the time has come to move this initiative forward. The State of Alaska expects China to be its top export customer in the years to come, overtaking Japan. Cold Bay’s world-class airfield, which is so critically close to crab fishing grounds, presents an ideal opportunity to expand on seafood export opportunities directly from the Aleutians to Asia. AEB will keep readers posted on this exciting initiative as it gains momentum.

Appointments Made to North Pacific Fishery Management Council

The U.S. Commerce Department has reappointed Alaskans Dan Hull and Ed Dersham to new three-year terms on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Newcomer Craig Cross of Washington, who currently serves on the Council’s Advisory Panel, was appointed to his first term. Cross also lived in Akutan for a period of time.

He is the political liaison for Aleutian Spray Fisheries, which operates a fleet of fishing vessels that catch and process Alaska pollock, Pacific cod, opilio and Alaska king crab.