A recent study published in the journal “Fish and Fisheries” by anthropologist and archeologist Dr. Herbert Maschner sheds a more historical and prehistorical light on Steller sea lion populations in Western Alaska, and the effects of human interaction.
In 1997, National Marine Fisheries Service listed the western population of Steller sea lions as endangered after the population went from a high of 250,000 in 1977 to less than 100,000.
The 2014 halibut season wrapped up last week with dock prices in Homer running about $6.60 per pound, well above the $6.15 per pound being paid for red king crab at the dock in Dutch Harbor, something of a head scratcher for seafood lovers.
The full season saw high prices, occasionally over $7 per pound, due to reduced inventory going into the season and drastically reduced quotas.
The Bristol Bay salmon fishery is one step closer to a potential buyback program with the release of a report by Northern Economics, commissioned by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, exploring various possible scenarios and structures of a buyback.
The study is in response to a survey sent out a year ago in which 81 percent of permit holders who sent it back said they would be interested in further information.
The University of Alaska Southeast is offering an online, self-paced course in marine electrical systems for fishermen who want to be able to work on their own boats and know when to call the pros.
“It’s geared toward people like commercial fishermen, people who own a boat and want to do basic stuff,” according to Amy Crews at UAS.
It’s also designed to help people see if the work is getting to the point where they need to have a specialist come and take a look, she said.
While most drift fishermen are grumbling about the lack of quality fishing time in the Upper Cook Inlet salmon fishery, the contentious new management plan hammered out last winter by the Board of Fisheries did seem to accomplish what the crafters of the plan, sport fishing interests in the Mat-Su Valley, intended.
Most Valley streams reached their sockeye escapement goals, and while the drift fleet was kept out of productive waters, coho salmon flooded into the area.
The Bristol Bay red king crab season scheduled to get under way Oct. 15 is set for another increase, rising 14 percent, from 8.6 million pounds last season to 10 million pounds this year, including 10 percent for community development quotas.
The quota was up 9 percent last year, from 7.8 million pounds.
The St. Matthews blue king crab season will re-open this year with a cautious quota of 655,000 pounds, after being closed last year.
Dock prices for Alaska’s most popular species of finfish are at the top of their historical range, partly due to a supply shortage and partly due to increasing popularity.
Prices for halibut are at record highs, with current levels at around $6.50 per pound for 10-20 pound fish (smalls), $6.75 for 20-40 pound fish (mediums), and $6.90 for 40-ups (large), according to Jeff Berger, a manager at Copper River Seafoods, which buys fish at multiple ports in Alaska.
Many Alaskans know the commercial seafood industry is an economic powerhouse, and the largest private employer in the state. But a new report from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration details how important the Alaska industry is to the nation, with each full-time fishing job in Alaska creating 13.5 jobs in the Lower 48.
An analysis of that report by John Sackton at Seafood.com also shows just how much more the commercial sector contributes to the national economy than the recreational sector.
The Togiak sac roe herring fishery started nearly two weeks earlier than predicted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game analysis of Bering Sea ice and temperature models.
That analysis called for the fishery to kick off May 10. Instead, it started with a gillnet opening April 27, lasting until further notice, and a 76-hour seine opening on April 28.
The quota is set at 31,490 tons, which is 7 percent less than last year but 20 percent higher than the 10-year average.
An off-year pink cycle is expected to dramatically reduce the salmon harvest in 2014, down 47 percent from last year, according to the annual report detailing the 2014 state-wide salmon forecast and 2013 harvests and ex-vessel values.
The projected harvest for this season is just under 133 million fish, with well over half, 75 million, expected to be pinks.
The Kodiak seine fleet is embarking on a new fishery to test the viability of catching pollock with that gear type, a species that is generally caught with trawl gear.
The fishery will take place in state waters, within three miles of shore, under a special “commissioner’s permit” issued by the Alaska Board of Fisheries in January.
The 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery wrapped up last weekend with the fleet of 48 seiners going slightly over the 16,333 ton quota. It was a sharp contrast to the 2013 season when more than half the quota was left in the water because the biomass had spawned out; those herring are harvested for their roe.
The same thing happened in 2012, on a monster quota of 28,829 tons, with a harvest of 13,534 tons.
The Alaska Senate Resources Committee held a hearing Monday to discuss Cook Inlet salmon, and one idea came to the forefront: a professional Board of Fisheries.
The idea first came up through testimony by Dwight Kramer, chair of the Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, a group of private anglers with no commercial affiliation.
Fishermen looking to get more for their catch by installing refrigeration or wanting to better understand and protect their investment in a refrigeration system can take a hands-on class in Homer from a pro next week.
Marine Mechanical Solutions, which specializes in marine refrigeration, is coming to town for a three-day intensive class that will finish with a certification test.
A bill is currently making its way through Congress that could save a world of hassle and possible expense for smaller boat fishermen.
The bill creates an exemption to a regulation that would require an EPA permit for vessels less than 79 feet long for such discharge as bilge water and other common discharges.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced plans to lower the bycatch limits for halibut in the Gulf of Alaska for the trawl and hook and line fisheries effective either immediately or phased in over the next three years.
Hook and line catcher processors will see a 7 percent reduction implemented this year; hook and line catcher vessels and trawlers will see a 15 percent reduction over three years.
Commercial and recreational fishermen in the United States are hoping that an amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Act will address a misnaming issue that has unjustly penalized the fishing industry.
The proposed amendment is contained in the draft, called Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.
The on-going Board of Fisheries meeting dealing with Cook Inlet salmon plans has been rough on the commercial fishermen, taking a big red pen to the Central District drift gillnet plan after potentially reducing fishing time for the setnet fleet by half.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries hammered out a Kenai River king salmon fisheries plan that left the setnetters looking at possibly having only 12 hours of fishing time per week for sockeye depending upon the strength of the king salmon returns.
Under what is being called “paired restrictions,” when the in-river king salmon fishermen are restricted to catch and release, the restriction to 12 hours kicks in.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries began a marathon 14-day meeting on Upper Cook Inlet salmon fishery issues on Jan. 30, and by mid-day Monday had voted on one of the proposals that most concerned the commercial fleet, No. 103.
The first day consisted of Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff reports, all of which can be found at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.main.