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Summary for January 19, 2009 - January 23, 2009:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Get Exxon money? There are ways to cut taxes

If you received a payout from Exxon Mobil for the oil spill, you can shield some of money from immediate taxes.

The IRS has posted documents with filing instructions for Exxon Valdez oil spill settlement recipients.

The provisions for the tax treatment are:

Up to $100,000 of the settlement may go to a retirement account. You’ll have three years income averaging. And you’ll have an exemption from self-employment tax.
            IRS documents are:

  • 2008 IRS Publication 525 – Taxable and Non-taxable Income, See page 32 for EVOS filing info.
  • 2008 Instructions for Schedule J – Income Averaging for Fishermen and Farmers,
  • 2008 Schedule J -– Income Averaging for Fishermen and Farmers,
“Thanks to Sen. Lisa Murkowski and those who contributed time and donations to the Oiled Fishermen Fund, and especially to those who responded to our many action alerts on this over the past few years,” said Mark Vinsel, executive director of the United Fishermen of Alaska.
UFA release


Fur seal numbers declining in Alaska

Researchers at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory of NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center have marked another decline in northern fur seal pup births in the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, where most of the world’s population of northern fur seals gather in the summer to rest and breed.
Analysis of 2008 data produced an estimate of 121,000 northern fur seal pups born in 2008. The total number of adult males counted on the Pribilof Island increased by 4.6 percent to 10,600.
NOAA press release

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Washington still wants to please Columbia sportsmen

Holding firm in its prioritization of sport fishing, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission agreed Friday on a counter offer to Oregon in the month-old standoff over Columbia River spring Chinook allocation.

The eight-member Washington panel adopted a policy that calls for a base sharing of 65 percent sport and 35 percent commercial, although did make some concessions to boost the high-value, early-season portion of the gillnet catch.

In December, Oregon adopted a base-sharing agreement of 55 percent sport and 45 percent commercial, with 5 percent negotiating flexibility. – The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

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Alaska halibut opener delayed

Here’s the upshot from the International Pacific Halibut Commission annual meeting, which wrapped up Friday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Commissioners cut the halibut catch limit in Southeast Alaska (Area 2C) a good bit less than feared, while Southcentral (Area 3A) was cut a little more than expected.

Also, the season will open two weeks later than last year. The fishery will begin on Saturday, March 21, and close on Nov. 15. Last season opened March 8. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Schwarzenegger asked to slow down on marine reserves

A group of recreational fishing interests has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to suspend the Marine Life Protection Act process until financially challenged California has the money to fund it properly.

The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, which includes MLPA South Coast Region stakeholders such as Bob Fletcher of the Sportfishing Association of California, has sent a letter to Schwarzenegger requesting a meeting. – San Diego Union Tribune

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Apparently, no pardon for Ted Stevens

President Bush does not intend to pardon former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, a White House spokesman said Monday.  
“We don't expect any more" pardons and commutations, Stuart Siciliano said.

A pardon essentially erases a crime from a defendant's record, while a commutation of sentence lessens the punishment. Both types of leniency are afforded under the Constitution through a president's clemency powers. – Anchorage Daily News

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Report: Tainted salmon poisoning killer whales

Resident killer whales off the west coast of North America are being poisoned by eating salmon laced with toxic PCBs, according to a study on the dwindling orca population.

Researchers in British Columbia found enough polychlorinated biphenols other man-made pollutants in the whales’ main food — Chinook salmon — to jeopardizing the large orcas.

The levels of PCBs in the salmon are relatively low, but even in small amounts there was enough to pose a significant risk, said Peter Ross of the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sydney on Vancouver Island. – Coos Bay World

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Court: California can boot out-of-state crabbers

A state appeals court has upheld California's power to protect Dungeness crabs by revoking the licenses of crabbers who fished Bay Area waters and then set their pots off the Oregon coast in violation of a three-state conservation agreement.

The three fishermen, all Oregon residents, argued that California exceeded its constitutional authority by punishing them for fishing that was legal in Oregon. But the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said the state is entitled to regulate fishing in its own waters by withholding licenses from those whose activities threaten the supply of crabs in the region. – San Francisco Chronicle

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Alaska estimates value of sports fishing

WASILLA -- An economic-impact study of sport fishing in Alaska last week reveals $1.4 billion was spent by resident and non-Alaska anglers on fishing-related expenses in 2007, with $733 million of that paid out in Cook Inlet.

More than 15,800 jobs in Alaska depend on sport fishing, about 8,000 of which are in the Cook Inlet region, the study shows. – Anchorage Daily News

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Olympic tribes get disaster aid for low sockeye return

Three North Olympic Peninsula tribes are receiving federal disaster relief funds allocated for tribal and nontribal commercial fishermen to compensate for poor sockeye salmon runs in British Columbia's Fraser River.

Letters to the Jamestown S'Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam and Makah tribes detailing their share of the funds.

The Makah will receive $166,000, and the Lower Elwha Klallam and Jamestown S'Klallam will each receive $15,000. – Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Exxon Valdez payments sought

Lawyers representing thousands of plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez case filed papers seeking a judge’s permission to pay out a second round of punitive damages….

Here’s the list (of possible recipients). I’ve labeled each part according to fishery or claim category, which might break in the middle and continue on to the next piece. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Editorial: Time to stop mining

It's not news that salmon populations have declined drastically. Last year, regulators voted to ban all salmon fishing along the Pacific coast of California and Oregon. Their actions wiped out the livelihoods of thousands of commercial fishermen, fish processors and charter boat operators.

The threat facing salmon is so dire that regulators are expected to continue the 2008 salmon fishing ban through 2009.

So it seems incredible that in the creeks and tributaries of the state's major rivers where salmon lay their eggs, suction gold mine dredging continues under regulations that are now 15 years old. These rules are badly out of date and inadequate to protect dwindling number of fish. – Sacramento Bee

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Russia names new group to ensure domestic fish delivery

The Russian Fisheries Committee has appointed a working group to monitor that the new Russian law on delivery of fish is being followed. Head of the committee,  Andrey Krayny, will arrive Murmansk to discuss implementation of the new order.

The Russian Fisheries Committee has appointed a working group to monitor that the new Russian law on delivery of fish is being followed. The law, which came into effect on January 1, demands that all fish caught in Russian Economic Zone shall be delivered in Russian ports. – Barents Observer

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Halibut commission may enforce catch limit for sports fishermen

Here’s the news release from the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s 85th annual meeting last week in Vancouver, British Columbia.

No surprises here on what we previously reported with regard to catch limits and season dates.
We note, however, some apparently tough language from the commission on the issue of a proposed one-fish bag limit for charter boat anglers in Southeast Alaska (Area 2C). The current limit is two retained fish per angler per day.

If I’m reading this correctly, the commission seems to be saying it’ll impose the one-fish limit if the National Marine Fisheries Service can’t for some reason, such as a court challenge. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Boat engine care class announced

Washington Sea Grant (WSG) and the Port of Seattle Fishermen’s Terminal are co-sponsoring a four-evening Boat Engine Troubleshooting and Maintenance Workshop for commercial fishermen and recreational boaters.

Participants will learn how to troubleshoot problems in the fuel, electrical, cooling, exhaust and drive systems of diesel and gas inboards, stern drives and outboards (two-cycle and four-stroke).

The workshop is scheduled for Monday through Thursday evenings, March 9-12, 6-9 p.m. in the Nordby Conference Room, Nordby Building, at Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle. The fee is $100. Space is limited, so pre-registration is advised.

To register or for more information, contact Sarah Fisken, WSG Continuing Education Coordinator, at (206) 543-1225 or


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Alaska seafood industry brings in $5.8 billion

Alaska's seafood industry is global in stature and has a $5.8-billion economic impact on the state and local economies.  That's the conclusion of the report The Seafood Industry in Alaska's Economy, prepared by Northern Economics of Anchorage and commissioned by the Marine Conservation Alliance, At-sea Processors Association and the Pacific Seafood Processors Association. – Press release

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A list of to-do fishery tasks for Obama

With the inauguration behind him, President Barack Obama must now try to rescue a floundering economy as one of the primary tasks during his first days in office.

A key piece of the effort is his proposal for a blue whale-sized stimulus package, primed to spout $825 billion -- pending congressional approval -- to help the nation navigate through a tidal wave of debt in the wake of what economists say could become the longest recession since World War II.

With economists predicting the economy to sink deeper into troubled financial seas at least through the first half of 2009, representatives of the Pacific Coast fishing industry took steps in mid-December to try to hook into that stimulus package.– News-Times, Lincoln City

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Opinion: Stop pumping Sacramento water

State and federal water managers are pumping California's most valuable resource as fast as they can, and the consequence -- the ecological crash of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta -- is a catastrophe for us all. Especially hard hit are coastal communities, where salmon fishing has been central to the economy and culture for more than a century. – Dave Bitts, president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, writing in the San Franciso Chronicle

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Oregon: If farm they must, they must farm shellfish

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 tasty sea scallops or mussels. – News-Times, Lincoln City

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Another battle over Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal

A meeting of the Fishermen's Terminal Advisory Council at the Port of Seattle slated for today is expected to become a bit of a stew. The topic will be the Port's plan to renovate the terminal's big net sheds; the subtopic is whether the Port will eventually yield to developers at the historic fish base on the Ship Canal. – Seattle Weekly

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Judge says no to early money distribution

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case had hoped a judge would sign off by Jan. 30 on the second payout of punitive damages.

But federal Judge H. Russel Holland indicates in this order that his decision will come no sooner than Feb. 9. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News.

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Four Columbia gillnetters guilty

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office announced the conviction and plea agreement involving four brothers following an investigation into allegations of commercial fishing law offenses on the Columbia River.

According to Deputy District Attorneys John Bradley and Glen  Ujifusa, on Jan. 14, Michael Heuker,  45, from Bellevue, Wash., and three other brothers identified as Timothy Heuker, 42, and Thomas Heuker, 39, and Daniel Heuker, 38, all from Cascade Locks, pleaded guilty through a plea agreement to one count each of "Falsifying Business Records." – Oregon State Police press release

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Stream road crossings kill salmon

The Forest Practices Board is calling on the government of British Columbia to take quick action in the wake of a study showing that stream crossings, including culverts and bridges, represent a vast and little-known threat to the survival of salmon and other fish.

The board's report says stream crossings are a "serious impediment" to migrating fish because there is a better-than-even chance the crossings are barricades to upstream habitat. – Vancouver Sun

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Palin offers her state of the state message

Read the text of Gov. Sarah Palin's state of the state speech
as distributed by governor's office:


Editorial: Not so fast for aquaculture

Next week the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will again consider setting rules for commercial fish farming operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

As it did in October, the council should put off its vote.

What's badly needed are comprehensive federal regulations covering all fish farming in U.S. waters, which Congress is considering. 

While it seems like a no-brainer, fish farming is not an uncomplicated endeavor. And while it seems like a natural and desired response to growing demands for seafood, done badly it can have serious impacts on the marine environment and wild fish populations targeted by commercial and recreational fishermen. – Pensacola News Journal

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