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Summary for January 12, 2009 - January 16, 2009:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Report: California salmon headed for extinction

Salmon, steelhead and sturgeon in the Central Valley are being driven to extinction by Delta pumping systems and upstream reservoir operations, according to a draft federal report.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has not yet released the report, but it was discussed at a meeting of scientists in Sacramento on Thursday.

The impacts are so significant that the agency is also studying whether killer whales in the ocean could be imperiled by declining Central Valley salmon, their primary prey.

The grave findings suggest that California's efforts to serve thirsty farms and cities while sustaining healthy fisheries will only get more difficult. – Sacramento Bee

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Alaska legislators prepare fishing bills for next session

The legislative session starts Jan. 20, and lawmakers have unveiled a list of 121 pre-filed bills and resolutions. I found seven bills of interest to the fishing industry. -- Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Salvage begins on fishing vessel aground near Chignik

The Coast Guard continued monitoring operations as the salvage vessel Redeemer arrived on the scene of the 38-foot fishing vessel American Way, grounded 50 miles southeast of Chignik, Alaska.

A salvage plan will be submitted for review and approval to the Coast Guard following the completion of a salvage assessment. The Coast Guard is working cooperatively with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of the Interior.

A Coast Guard C-130 crew sighted the American Way partially submerged and leaning on its port side. –

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Still no agreement on Columbia commercial catch

Washington and Oregon officials will dicker this week to try to resolve their month-old standoff over sport and commercial allocations of Columbia River spring Chinook salmon.

On Friday, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission identified two areas of potential compromise to meet Oregon’s desired level of gillnet catch in March and April. – Vancouver (Wash.) Columbian

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Oregon commercial license will cost more

As the economy continues to wobble, fish runs disappear and big-game numbers decline, hunters and anglers face increases in almost all license and tag fees.

When the 2009 Oregon Legislature convenes today, lawmakers will be asked for sweeping increases in every hunting and angling license and tag the state sells -- and a few new ones as well.

Commercial fishermen, largely exempt from fee increases for more than a decade (some fees for two decades or more), will be asked for greater fee increases than sport anglers. – The Oregonian

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Report: Size limits may hurt fish stocks

Human actions are increasing the rate of evolutionary change in plants and animals in ways that may hurt their long-term prospects for survival, scientists are reporting.
Hunting, commercial fishing and some conservation regulations, like minimum size limits on fish, may all work against species health. – New York Times

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Feds maintain aquaculture is good for us

In spite of possible environmental problems, specialists say aquaculture can help spur the recovery of natural populations of fish and other aquatic species -- and provide much --needed food and income, especially for small-scale farmers in developing countries. – Voice of America

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Wrangell Seafoods files for bankruptcy

Wrangell Seafoods Inc., a Southeast Alaska fish processor, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Sorry, dear readers, I don’t have time at the moment to analyze it for you. I do note, however, that one of the main creditors is a government agency, the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board. The unsecured claim is $764,346. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Comment period on Alaska Chinook bycatch extended

NOAA Fisheries is extending the comment period on a draft environmental impact statement that proposes methods of reducing the number of Chinook salmon accidentally caught by Bering Sea pollock fishermen.

“Based on numerous fishing industry requests, we are extending the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Bering Sea Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management through February 23, 2009,” said Acting Alaska Regional Administrator Doug Mecum. – Press release
For a copy of the Bering Sea Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management Draft Environmental Impact Statement go to: Click on “Pacific Fishing  Resources and scroll to the bottom for “Chinook Bycatch Environmental Statement.

Also, the next issue of Pacific Fishing magazine will have a comprehensive examination of the proposed environmental impact statement.


Salmon: B.C.’s loss means gains for Columbia fish

Canadian fishermen will reduce their catch of Chinook salmon by 30 percent along the West Coast of Vancouver Island, leaving more fish to migrate home to the Columbia River, under new treaty provisions signed by the United States and Canada last week.

The United States will provide Canadian authorities with $30 million to help compensate the fishing fleet hit by the cutbacks, according to the new revisions in the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
– The Oregonian

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fishermen learn from vegetable farmers

The idea of a community-supported fishery seems so obvious, you have to wonder why it took so long. The equivalent approach to farming, after all, is nothing new and has seen explosive growth in recent years, as farmers appreciate an upfront infusion of cash when they need it most, from consumers who get a guaranteed stream of produce throughout the season. …

To survive, though, they must sell at a decent price, and that's where the community-supported fishery (CSF) idea comes in. -- Nancy Harmon Jenkins, writing in the Washington Post

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Tribes get money because of weak Fraser run

The Tulalips of Washington state and eight other local American Indian tribes will share $2 million to compensate for the lack of sockeye salmon from the Fraser River.

Letters were set to be mailed Friday to tribal governments, detailing each tribe's cut of the award. Tulalip tribal fishermen are expected to share about $130,000 of the $2 million, said Terry Williams, an environmental liaison for the Tulalip Tribes.

The Lummi Tribe, based in the Bellingham area, is expected to take about $640,000 -- more than any other tribe. – Everett Herald

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Native shareholder to lead Bristal Bay corporation

For the first time, a "second-generation" Alaska Native shareholder is taking the helm of a regional Native corporation.

Bristol Bay Native Corp. appointed Jason Metrokin, 36, as its new president and chief executive, the company announced Tuesday. – Anchorage Daily News

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Expect warmer summer in Alaska

Winter in Alaska will continue to be cold, but summer -- unlike last year -- should be warmer than usual, according to federal forecasters.
Colder-than-normal surface sea temperatures off the south coast of Alaska -- the same thing that forecasters say is diverting the polar jet stream farther north and making Alaska bitterly cold in recent weeks -- should modulate by summer if the South Pacific warms first, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  – Juneau Empire

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What happened to the sardines?

After seven happy boom years, the Pacific sardine fishery appears to be going bust.

Coming off a record year in 2007, the coastwide catch limit for sardines dropped from 152,654 metric tons to 80,184 last year, cutting fishing seasons extremely short and knocking down income for nearly a dozen processors and two dozen fishing boats in the Columbia River area.
Pacific Fishing columnist Cassandra Marie Profita, writing in the Daily Astorian

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alaska sues over beluga listing

The state of Alaska plans to sue the federal government over its recent decision to list Cook Inlet beluga whales as an endangered species, the governor's office reported Wednesday. The lawsuit would try to rescind the listing.  

It's warranted because the beluga population near Anchorage may already be recovering through cooperative state and federal management efforts, Gov. Sarah Palin said. – Alaska Daily News

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Canada spends more money on aquaculture

The federal government announced a half million dollars in funding for British Columbia's aquaculture industry last week, financing for projects that include the commercial-scale production of marine species other than salmon.

The government announced three new projects designed to boost the productivity and economic performance of the B.C. economy through the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP). – Prince Rupert Daily News

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Halibut commish looks at delaying opener

Just a note to say the International Pacific Halibut Commission is meeting through Friday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We’re reported already that scientists are recommending the six-member commission dial down catch limits significantly this year in some areas.

Aside from this, I’m hearing reports that some industry players might ask the commission to delay the season start by up to three weeks to allow inventory to clear out. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Editorial: Bush has been no friend of the oceans

The pro-energy, pro-development Bush administration has not often inspired euphoria among environmentalists. But the president achieved that rare feat last week, when he created a trio of marine reserves in the Pacific Ocean.

Oregon conservation activists quickly seized on the decision as encouragement for a string of reserves along our own coast. They gushed that the president’s action demonstrated the strength of bipartisan support for marine reserves, providing further justification for pushing their Oregon goal.
Not so fast. – Coos Bay World

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Letter: Even today, fish traps a bad idea

As much as old timers like to romanticize about fish traps, they were a bad idea and will remain a bad idea no matter what the fuel costs are.

With the logic shown by Mr. McGilvray and revealed by his idea that the "replaced" gillnetters and seiners would indeed have jobs (pitching fish out of the traps), like some of the "new-age green" logic out there, you'd have to follow that analysis up with a 3rd level, replace drift gillnetting by just doing more purse seining. -- Bob Thorstenson, writing in SitNews, Ketchikan

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Friday, January 16, 2009

NOAA sets fishery sustainability standards

NOAA has issued final guidance on annual catch limits designed to help restore federally managed marine fish stocks and end over-fishing.

The 2007 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act required fishery management plans to establish mechanisms for specifying annual catch limits at such levels that over-fishing does not occur.

Additionally, the act calls for measures to ensure accountability with these limits, and that the limits do not exceed the scientific recommendations made by the regional fishery management councils’ scientific committees. – Press release

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Professor: Shellfish best candidate for Oregon aquaculture

If Oregon chooses to test the waters for offshore aquaculture development to help meet a growing demand for fresh seafood and to create alternative jobs for the state’s battered fishing industry, the leading candidate for a pilot project might be shellfish.

And the most viable alternatives for aquaculture, experts say, could be scallops or mussels.– Press release

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A crab ratz auction for four bountiful catches?

Tom Casey, a Seattle fisheries consultant with a penchant for poetry and reading the fine print, steered me to a curious word he found in the dense crab motion the North Pacific Fishery Management Council passed last month.

The word is “auction.” – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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ComFish to change venues this year

ComFish, Alaska’s largest fisheries industry trade show, approaches its 29th year in Kodiak at a new venue and new time: April 23 through the 25 in the downtown Kodiak Harbor Convention Center.

Debora King, executive director of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, said that the final details of Kodiak’s event are still being worked out. However, she said this year’s change away from a March spring break date would be advantageous because it would not conflict with participants’ spring travel times with families — a prime reason some didn’t come in the past, she said. -- Kodiak Daily Mirror

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Letter: Herring policy foolish

On November 6th, the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a request for public comments in the Federal Registry regarding listing Southeast Alaska Pacific Herring Stocks as "Threatened or Endangered."

Shortly thereafter, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced plans for yet another record herring harvest in Sitka Sound.

Out of the seven largest stocks, this herring biomass just happens to be the last remaining major herring stock left in Southeast Alaska. At least five were over exploited under ADF&G management. -- Andy Rauwolf, writing in, Ketchikan

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