Upper Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishermen once again endured a below-average season, at least in terms of sockeye salmon, in spite of exceeding run forecasts.
Cook Inlet fisheries management plan proving tricky to work out
Every growing season the garden is a different story. We gardeners never know what is going to thrive or stall. This year I have Magic Fountain delphiniums that have doubled their projected size. Needless to say, they don’t fit where they are planted, much to my chagrin and the lilies that are being crowded. If I had any inkling this was going to happen I would have divided them this spring. But no. So there they loom, a formidable presence in what would otherwise be a serene setting.
Homer’s Cook Inletkeeper is monitoring a number of streams in the Cook Inlet watershed for temperature and finding some troubling results, according to a newly released paper in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.
The year 2015 was good for the Alaska seafood industry, according to the 2016 annual report from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
Togiak herring is expected to get off to a fairly normal start time-wise, after a record early start last year when spawning herring were spotted April 14 and boats scrambled to make it in time.
Salmon forecasts continue to come in around the state, with Bristol Bay possibly looking at a total run of around 41.5 million sockeye, 10 million less than the actual run last year of 51.4 million sockeye.
Prince William Sound is expecting the largest pink salmon harvest on record this year, a stunning 58.9 million fish, while the Copper River sockeye run is expected to come in at a modest 889,000 fish, with an additional 1.2 million sockeyes forecasted for harvest from Prince William Sound, mostly from the Main Bay hatchery facility.
There are some spring learning opportunities for fishermen and deckhands coming up soon.
The Alaska spring herring season kicked off in Sitka Sound on March 19 with a 3-hour and 20-minute opening that rounded up 3,500 tons of sac roe herring, followed by a very short 15-minute opening three days later that scooped up around another 3,800 tons, which brought the season total to about half of the 14,600 ton quota.
The 2017 halibut season got underway as scheduled on March 11 despite uncertainty from President Donald Trump’s administration that had instructed every federal agency to remove two regulations for each one put in place, as well as put a 60-day hold on any new regulations.
Alaska fishermen and others who rely on programs funded by the federal government are wondering whether the federal resources will be available to keep the industry safe and productive.
While setnet salmon fishermen in Upper Cook Inlet potentially saw some easing of restrictions on their fishery at the Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings in Anchorage taking place the last 15 days, the drift fleet has not necessarily been so fortunate.
While Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings taking place in Anchorage for the next two weeks will suck up most of the oxygen in the headlines with the so-called “fish wars” in Upper Cook Inlet, there are other fish board meetings of note taking place soon.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its annual management report looking at all fisheries in Upper Cook Inlet.
Alaska halibut fishermen are breathing a sigh of relief after the International Pacific Halibut Commission either raised or held the line on halibut quotas statewide, but not everyone agrees with the decision.
There will be no bairdi Tanner crab season in the Bering Sea this year after the Alaska Board of Fisheries voted it down on a split vote, in spite of some reputable science showing a limited harvest could happen without harming stocks.
The International Pacific Halibut Commission is preparing for its annual meeting beginning Monday, Jan. 23. While things seem to have stabilized, there are still some areas expected to go down, most notably Area 2C in Southeast Alaska, where the plan is to reduce the catch by nearly 18 percent. Area 2C rose 6 percent last season.
President Barak Obama took the time in the waning days of his administration to sign a bill that consolidates a number of treaties that protect fisheries in the North Pacific and other areas.
As with any season, 2016 had plenty of winners and losers in the Alaska commercial fishing industry.
The year started off with a huge sigh of relief from Upper Cook Inlet salmon setnet fishermen when the Alaska Supreme Court over-ruled a decision by a Superior Court judge that would have allowed a ballot measure to ban setnets in “urban areas,” but was targeted at Cook Inlet.
In a battle that dates back to at least the Gov. Frank Murkowski administration, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council put on hold indefinitely any movement toward an IFQ program for the Gulf of Alaska trawl fishery for cod and pollock.
At its meeting earlier this month, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten put the brakes on the rationalization program after basically reaching an impasse with the trawler/processor group Groundfish Forum that was pushing for it.