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.
The Board of Fisheries meeting to regulate the Upper Cook Inlet salmon fishery kicked off at the Egan Center in Anchorage on Friday with staff reports.
Some lower Kenai Peninsula attendees were unexpectedly late, hampered by a wreck just north of Cooper Landing that closed the road for several hours, prompting board chair Karl Johnstone to push back the deadline to sign up to testify from 9 a.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is waging an informational campaign against persistent rumors online and in social media that Alaska seafood is tainted by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown caused by the massive March 2011 earthquake in Japan.
While there have been problems with fish in the waters near the radiation leak, the affected species are not migratory, and are no threat to Alaska seafood.
The International Pacific Halibut Commission made the hard choice last week and slashed quotas in several areas.
The quota for the commercial longline fishery in Alaska waters is 16.75 million pounds, a drop of 23 percent from 2013.
Here is the commercial quota breakdown by area:
• 2C, Southeast Alaska: 3.32 million pounds, up 11 percent;
• 3A, Central Gulf of Alaska: 7.32 million pounds, down 34 percent;
Re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, governing federal fisheries, is slowly making its way through the system, with House Committee on Natural Resources Chair Doc Hastings, R-Wash., releasing a draft copy for public perusal and comment.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries wrapped up its meeting last week on Lower Cook Inlet issues with a change in boundaries for the Port Dick salmon seine fishery, a couple of tweaks to the groundfish fishery and an awareness-raising discussion about the state’s response to federal plans to privatize the pollock fishery.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is expecting another solid sockeye salmon run in Upper Cook Inlet for 2014, but a weak return to the Susitna River may make management problematic.
ADF&G is predicting a total return of 6.1 million sockeye, 3.8 million of those to the Kenai River, with a harvest of 4.3 million by all user groups.
Young fishermen are preparing to gather for the fifth Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit in Anchorage beginning Dec. 10 and running through Dec. 12.
Put on by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program through the University of Alaska, the summit has taken place four times since 2007, and is intended to be biennial going forward.
The event offers a chance to meet, socialize with, and talk about issues with other young fishermen from around the state, as well as well-known fishing industry leaders.
The effort by a new group calling itself the Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance to put a ballot initiative in front of voters that would ban setnetting in Cook Inlet has drawn swift and sharp criticism from the fishing industry.
United Cook Inlet Drift Association is holding a series of meetings to prepare its members and other upper Cook Inlet salmon fishermen for the upcoming Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings. The goal is to encourage them to sign up to give informed testimony at those meetings, which take place in Anchorage Jan. 31 through Feb. 13.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries met last week to hash out proposals for the Pacific cod fisheries, but declined to make any of the substantial changes to state-water cod allocations that some fishermen were seeking.
There were a suite of proposals that would have shifted allocations to state waters in Chignik, Kodiak and Cook Inlet, and the board voted them down unanimously.
The small boat fleet got some bad, but not unexpected news that the Bairdi tanner crab fisheries in Kodiak, Chignik and the Alaska Peninsula will be closed for the 2014 season.
The fisheries have been on a boom-and-bust cycle for years, with only two of the six Kodiak areas open last season, one of the two South Peninsula areas fishing, and Chignik closed completely.
The quota in Kodiak last season was 660,000 pounds, down from 950,000 pounds in 2012 and 1.47 million pounds in 2011.
Bering Sea crab fishermen are getting pounded from all sides.
In addition to the potential multimillion dollar market hit from missing the beginning of the red king crab season as a result of the government shutdown, the opilio crab quota is down 19 percent, at 54 million pounds.
The quota has been on a roller-coaster ride recently, going from 54 million pounds in 2010 to 89 million pounds in 2011 and back down to 66 million pounds last season.
The on-going impasse in Washington, D.C., that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of federal workers being furloughed is imperiling the Bering Sea king crab fishery and the profits it may generate for fishermen. The fishery is slated to open Oct. 15.
By most accounts, the 2013 salmon season in Alaska was a barn-burner.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is reporting that nearly 270 million fish were caught in the state this year, more than double last year’s catch of 120 million fish and eclipsing the previous record of 222 million fish caught in 2005.
Pink salmon catches in Southeast and Prince William Sound largely drove the numbers, with each area producing about 89 million pinks. State-wide, 215 million pinks were caught.
Homer-based North Pacific Fisheries Association has received a $147,400 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Fisheries Innovation Fund grant for a two-year project to use electronic monitoring in the pot and longline cod fisheries.
National Marine Fisheries Ser-vice is providing another $120,000 in matching funds.
NPFA president Buck Laukitis said the focus would be on the small boat cod fleet. The grant was awarded while NPFA was wrapping up a similar grant project for smaller halibut boats.
The Kenai River Sportfishing Association has used elements of a recently released study about food security on the Kenai Peninsula to assert that commercial fishing should be curtailed in favor of sport and personal-use fishing.
Not so fast, according to the one of the authors of the study, Philip Loring.