Seawatch

Record pink harvest predicted for Prince William Sound

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.

Spring herring season kicks off

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.

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.

2016 hauled in mixed bag for commercial fisheries

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.

IFQs for cod, pollock trawl fishery on hold

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.

Fish board wants review of fish habitat permit process

The Alaska Board of Fisheries is preparing to move forward on a formal motion asking the Legislature to review the state’s fish habitat permitting process at the request of 13 Cook Inlet-area stakeholders.

The group, who made the formal request when the fish board met in Homer earlier this month, wants the board to ask the Legislature to update Title 16, the section of Alaska statute that covers the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s responsibilities.

Pot cod fleet gets bigger area to fish

The Alaska Board of Fisheries wrapped up its meetings for Lower Cook Inlet issues on Saturday, with one small but substantial change for the pot cod fleet.

A proposal brought forward by Homer fisherman Alray Carroll reduced the areas closed to the fleet that are more sheltered in winter months, aiding the small boat fleet.

Area management biologist Jan Rumble said there were seven proposals related to groundfish, four of them proposed by Alaska Deapartment of Fish and Game staff, and most largely housekeeping, clarifying language and logbook requirements.

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