Here’s the latest edition of Fish News, containing a reminder and information about the upcoming Alaska Board of Fisheries April 9th deadline for proposals, which includes those for commercial P. cod provisions for all areas of the state.
ADF&G Salmon Forecasts for 2013
By Ernie Weiss, AEB Natural Resources Director
According to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), 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. ADF&G considers that to be an average harvest. A harvest of less than 5 million pink salmon for the region is considered weak or poor, and 5 to 7.2 million is considered average. More than 7.2 million is a strong run, and a harvest of greater than 9.3 million pinks is described as excellent.
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22nd- Evening Library/Lab Closed
25th- Eagles Land back @ Home
25th/26th- Jr. High & H.S. State Battle of the Books
1st- Read Across America!!!
January GOA Fisheries:
BSAI Crab ROFR:
Gulf of Alaska Coastal Communities Coalition:
ADF&G Releases SEDM Sockeye Salmon Commercial Harvest Genetic Stock Composition Publication
Calendar of Events:
Jan. 15 – 20: AK Board of Fisheries Takes up AYK Issues
Jan. 21 – 25: Alaska Marine Science Symposium
Feb. 4 – 12: North Pacific Fishery Management Council Meeting in Portland, OR
Feb. 20 – 22: SWAMC – Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference
Feb. 26 – March 4: AK Board of Fisheries Focuses on AP/AI Finfish Issues.
Download the latest Fish News for Dec. 10, 2012 from the Aleutians East Borough.
Download the latest Fish News for Dec. 7, 2012 from the Aleutians East Borough.
Download the latest editions of “Fish News” & “In The Loop” for Nov. 21, 2012 at the links below.
Oct. 10, 2012
Area M P.cod Issues To Be Addressed at BOF Oct. 2013 Meeting;
Summary of Today’s Votes at Board of Fisheries Work Session – ACRs
The latest news from the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) today: the Board has decided to address all the Area M Pacific cod issues at a statewide P. cod meeting October 2013. That means that the meeting scheduled for Feb. 26 – March 3, 2013 will address salmon issues only.
A presentation from WASSIP is scheduled for tomorrow, Oct. 11, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. at the Egan Center in Anchorage. (The Board proceedings are available online, however, there have been technical difficulties during the last couple of days. The Board is trying to correct these problems.)
The Board voted on several ACRs (Agenda Change Requests) for the Westward Region Commercial Fisheries this afternoon. The Board votes were as follows:
ACR 5 – No Action – (Resulted in a board generated proposal. Will be voted on at BOF meeting Feb. 26 – March 3, 2013) Allow commercial salmon seine net depth in the Alaska Peninsula Area to be measured in feet and inches which would allow additional webbing to be attached beyond the current restriction of 350 meshes of 3.5 inches and 25 meshes at 7 inches. (5 AAC 09.332) Proposed by Corey Wilson, Justin Wilson and Alvin Newman.
ACR 2 – Passed – Change the weather delay criteria for opening the Chignik District Tanner crab fishery from small craft advisory to gale force wind warning. (5 AAC 35.510(b)(2))
ACR 12 – Passed – Change the weather delay criteria for opening the Chignik District Tanner crab fishery from small craft advisory to gale force wind warning. (5 AAC 35.510(b)(2))
ACR 7 – Passed – Change the vessel size limit for the Registration Area O (Aleutian Islands Area) red king crab fishery, in state waters from 172 degrees W. long. to 179 degrees W. long., from 90 feet or less in overall length to less than 60 feet in overall length. (5 AAC 34.610(d))
ACR 8 – Passed – Establish a pot limit of 10 pots per vessel fishing for red king crab near Adak Island in Registration Area O (Aleutian Islands Area). (5 AAC 34.625(x))
ACR 13 – Failed – Remove super exclusive and exclusive vessel registration for state-waters Pacific cod fisheries in the Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Kodiak, Chignik and South Alaska Peninsula management areas. (5 AAC 28.267; 5 AAC 28.367; 5 AAC 28.467; 5 AAC 28.537; 6 AAC 28.577)
ACR 15 – No Action – Change the Board of Fisheries’ meeting schedule to move Pacific cod issues in the Alaska Peninsula – Aleutian Islands areas so as not to conflict with the commercial fisheries. (5 AAC 96.600)
ACR 16 – Failed – Change the opening date of the commercial Tanner crab season in the South Peninsula District of Registration Area J (Westward) from January 15 to January 3. (5 AAC 35.510©(1))
Oct. 3, 2012
Bristol Bay Red King Crab
Season Opens October 15th -
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have completed analysis of NMFS trawl survey data for Bristol Bay red king crab. The 2012/2013 total allowable catch (TAC) is based on abundance and biomass estimates from the ADF&G length-based analysis model.
The Bristol Bay red king crab mature female abundance is over the threshold of 8.4 million crab and the effective spawning biomass (ESB) is over the threshold of 14.5 million pounds. The 2012 Bristol Bay red king crab ESB is estimated to be 44.2 million pounds.
The ESB estimate is less than 55.0 million pounds but greater than 34.75 million pounds, therefore a 12.5 percent exploitation rate is applied to the estimated mature male abundance of 9.6 million crab. The TAC for the 2012/2013 season is 7.853 million pounds and is apportioned as follows:
Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) 7,067,700 pounds
Community Development Quota (CDQ) 785,300 pounds
Total 7,853,000 pounds
The 2012/2013 Bristol Bay red king crab fishery will open on October 15, 2012 at 12:00 noon and will remain open through January 15, 2013.
The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery will not open in waters enclosed by 167° W longitude to 168° W longitude and 57°30’ N latitude to 58°30’ N latitude (ADF&G statistical areas 675730 and 675800) to protect Pribilof blue king crab. Blue king crab were captured during the 2012 survey in this area.
Saint Matthew Island Section Blue King Crab
Season Opens October 15th -
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have completed analysis of 2012 NMFS trawl survey results for the Saint Matthew Island Section. Area-swept estimates and model estimates indicate that the mature male biomass is above the threshold for a fishery opening.
The federal acceptable biological catch (ABC) for this stock is 2.028 million pounds of total male blue king crab mortality. To account for projected bycatch mortality and to avoid exceeding the ABC, the 2012/2013 Saint Matthew Island Section blue king crab total allowable catch (TAC) is 1.630 million pounds, apportioned as follows:
The 2012/2013 Saint Matthew Island Section blue king crab fishery will open at 12:00 noon on October 15, 2012 and will remain open through February 1, 2013.
Fishermen are reminded that all state waters surrounding Saint Matthew, Hall, and Pinnacle Islands are closed to commercial fishing.
Bering Sea Tanner, Pribilof Red & Blue King Crab Fisheries to Remain Closed Again This Season
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have completed analysis of NMFS trawl survey data for the eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab stock. The 2012 area-swept survey estimate of mature female Tanner crab biomass in the Bering Sea District is 19.7 million pounds, below the harvest strategy threshold for mature female biomass of 21.9 million pounds; therefore the Bering Sea District Tanner crab fishery will not open during the 2012/2013 season.
The Pribilof District red and blue king crab fisheries will also remain closed. Details here.
Fishermen are reminded that incidentally taken Tanner crab may not be retained during either the Bristol Bay red king crab or Bering Sea snow crab fisheries.
For further information contact ADF&G in Dutch Harbor at (907) 581-1239 or in Kodiak at (907) 486-1840.
AEB Fishermen Gear Up for Major Issues at Council, BOF Meetings
AEB Fishermen met recently in Sand Point and King Cove to discuss several hot button issues that are expected to have major impacts on Area M in the future, including groundfish rationalization, the observer program, the WASSIP genetic studies and the Alaska Board of Fisheries proposals. AEB Natural Resources Director Ernie Weiss and Fisheries Consultant Sam Cotten led the meetings, which took place on Aug. 21st in Sand Point and Aug. 22nd in King Cove.
Central Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch tools discussion is on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC or Council) Meeting Agenda in October 2012, and is expected to prompt calls for Groundfish Rationalization. However, any new program isn’t expected to be finalized until at least three years from now. In the meantime, there are many unknowns about the proposed program, and fishermen have the opportunity to examine a variety of options. The question for fishermen to examine is which tools are needed in order to obtain optimum yield while avoiding bycatch.
Fishermen in Sand Point and King Cove discussed several possible ways to protect the communities if the rationalization program is inevitable, including forming co-ops and transferability of bycatch. In the case of co-ops, boat owners would be allowed to have first right of refusal and the ability to lease out their quota share. Those who lease out their share would share in the profit and the burden with all the boats in the community that are 58 feet and under. But there are challenges.
“What about lease rates?” Sam asked the group during the Sand Point meeting. “Should the government establish limits on lease rates? That’s an issue that’s come up. The whole problem with rationalization is it creates a false economic basis. For example, other programs have had price controls, sideboards and the need for community protection measures.”
Another idea mentioned was issuing individual bycatch quotas, which would provide individual accountability. However, if more than one fisherman delivers to the same tender, it’s difficult to tell who the fish belong to.
Other concerns include what might happen if the Central Gulf is rationalized and the Western Gulf remains the same. In that case, some fishermen worry that the Western Gulf could become the dumping ground for all of the other boats. Sam and Ernie plan to look into how to protect one area if it doesn’t participate in the rationalization program.
Sam explained that Council staff recently released a paper on rationalization which discusses several programs that are in effect around the country. This would give fishermen an opportunity to examine other models to see what might work best in Alaska.
Fishermen also discussed a committee formed by Kodiak whitefish trawlers and processors. The committee plans to come up with a plan to present to the Council in October.
Sand Point Mayor Martin Gundersen said it’s important to understand how to harness the rationalization program if it does come into play. He suggested establishing a committee within the Aleutians East Borough communities.
“We don’t want to see a community die because someone, who owns a large quota, leases it out, and all of the people in the community suffer,” Mayor Gundersen said.
“People tend to automatically associate the term rationalization with quotas, like with the halibut or crab program. But you can prevent consolidation,” Sam explained. “There are several different ways to design it. If it’s going to happen, I know that Ernie and I are going to work towards making sure it doesn’t harm the communities.”
Several fishermen expressed concerns that if small boat fleets don’t survive, communities won’t survive. Many are also concerned about how the proposed program would affect the next generation of fishermen. Overall, no one at the meetings said they favor rationalization. But all expressed the need to protect the traditional fleets and the communities. The overall goal of rationalization is to avoid bycatch while still obtaining optimum yield.
Sam mentioned that another tool to deal with prohibited species catch (PSC) might be to reconsider the season dates. That would allow fishermen to fish when bycatch numbers are low and target species are aggregated.
“We were shut down the last time we tried this,” said Sam, “But this is a new arena.”
Several fishermen expressed concerns that if small boat fleets don’t survive, communities won’t survive.
Sam mentioned that another tool to deal with PSC might be to reconsider the season dates.
Fish News Published by the Aleutians East Borough Sept. 10, 2012 Page 4
The Observer Program is another major issue on the horizon. Currently boats between 58 and 125 feet are required to have 30 percent of their trips observed. NMFS hopes to have 30 percent coverage under the new program, which goes into effect January 1, 2013, and includes boats 40 feet and above. NMFS will determine who will take an observer and for how long. The government will pay for the program during the first year. After that, fishermen will pay 1.2 percent of their gross on observed fisheries. The government’s plan will be to classify boats by size in order to get a representative sample.
An announcement regarding the Groundfish Sector Split, which began earlier this year, is expected to be released soon. This topic was also discussed during the meetings. The trawl sector received the bulk of their allocation during the A season. However, some allocation in the B season may not be harvested due to PSC limits being hit. Therefore, at some point, the National Marine Fisheries Service is going to roll over the unharvested allocation to catcher vessels in the jig, longliner and pot fleet. This will be the first time that this has ever happened.
Pacific Ocean Perch (POP) is a potential problem for pollock fishermen. Sam said after talking to officials in Juneau, he was asked to remind people that POP could pose serious issues for the pollock fishery. Currently, there’s no limit on POP. But when it hits the over fishing limit (OLF), fishermen have to stop fishing. Officials with ADF&G said in the recent past, it has been very close to the OFL. Therefore, it’s important to avoid them to prevent the pollock fishery from being shut down.
The Board of Fisheries (BOF) Proposals were also discussed during the meetings. The meetings for the Alaska Peninsula/Aleutian Islands Finfish are scheduled for February 26 – March 3, 2013 at the Sheraton Hotel in Anchorage. Sam and Ernie said there are several proposals from northern areas that would oppose Area M, including some that would reduce fishing time, establish a chum cap and require gillnets to be smaller.
NMFS is expected to announce soon that some of the allocation in the trawl sector’s B season will be rolled over to catcher vessels in the jig, longliner and pot fleet.
Board of Fish meetings for the Alaska Peninsula/Aleutian Islands Finfish are scheduled for Feb. 26 – March 3, 2013 at the Sheraton in Anchorage.
Fish News Published by the Aleutians East Borough Sept. 10, 2012 Page 5
The work session is scheduled for October 9 – 11, 2012 at the Egan Civic & Convention Center in Anchorage. Topics include Agenda Change Requests (ACRs), cycle organization and stocks of concern.
Ernie mentioned that the Borough isn’t planning to take a position on proposals where AEB fishermen are divided. However, the Borough will take a position on any proposals that attempt to shut down the June fishery.
Some fishermen mentioned that maintaining the status quo for the June fishery should be a huge priority for the Borough and the communities.
Several fishermen expressed concerns that the AK Peninsula/AI Finfish Meetings (Feb. 26 – March 3, 2013) happen at a bad time because they occur right in the middle of the cod fishery and Area M wouldn’t have full representation. Ernie suggested that this could be an opportunity to put in an Agenda Change Request (ACR) because of this issue. (It was submitted.) The deadline for comment on ACRs is Sept. 27, 2012.
There are three proposals on cod. One of them was submitted by the King Cove Advisory Committee (AC), another by the False Pass AC and a third by a group from Sand Point. Another issue would move more fish into state waters and takes them out of the rationalized fishery.
Sam explained that he and Ernie have invited all of the Board of Fisheries members to the AEB communities through the executive director. The goal is to allow board members who have never visited the area before to familiarize themselves with the fisheries and the issues within the communities.
Fishermen in both communities expressed frustration over the July fishing schedule. Several proposals to the Fish Board address those concerns. One of the proposals calls for the same amount of hours but rearranged in a way to make it more convenient and cost-effective for fishermen.
The final draft of WASSIP (Western Alaska Salmon Stock Identification Project is expected to be completed by the end of this month. An initial presentation of the data will be provided during the BOF workshop Oct. 9 – 11, 2012.
The Borough doesn’t plan to take a position on BOF proposals where AEB fishermen are divided. However, the AEB will take a position on any proposals that attempt to shut down the June fishery.
Fish News Published by the Aleutians East Borough Sept. 10, 2012 Page 6
Upcoming Fish Meetings:
Oct. 9 – 11, 2012 – Egan Civic & Convention Center, Anchorage – BOF Work Session
Oct. 3 – 9, 2012 – Anchorage Hilton, North Pacific Fishery Management Council – NPFMC October 2012 Meeting Agenda
Nov. 27, 2012 – 9 a.m. – noon – Silver Cloud Inn, Seattle – AEB Fishermen’s Meeting
Feb. 26, March 3, 2013 – Anchorage Sheraton Hotel – BOF – Alaska Peninsula/Aleutian Islands Finfish
Aleutians East Borough
10AM Tuesday August 21, 2012 AEB Office, Sand Point, Alaska
9AM Wednesday August 22, 2012 Harbor House, King Cove, Alaska
Ernie Weiss, AEB Resources Director
Sam Cotten, AEB Fisheries Consultant
will be in attendance.
Topics to include:
Board of Fish proposals & upcoming meetings
NPFMC agenda items
CHIGNIK AREA STATE-WATERS PACIFIC COD JIG SEASON OPENING
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.