Chatham Sablefish Quota Announced

The 2012 NSEI Subdistrict commercial sablefish fishery annual harvest objective (AHO) is 975,000 round pounds. There are 79 valid Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) permits for this fishery, four less than in 2011; therefore the individual equal quota share (EQS) will be 12,342 round pounds (a 16% increase from the 2011 EQS of 10,602 round pounds). The AHO is based on the sablefish acceptable biological catch (ABC) with decrements made for sablefish mortality in other fisheries.

The fishery opens by regulation at 8:00 a.m., August 15, 2012 and will close at 12:00 noon November 15, 2012. Permit holders should have received a letter detailing any legal overage or underage incurred during the 2011 fishing season (up to 5% of the 2011 EQS) and a permit holder’s 2012 personal quota share (PQS) will be adjusted based on this amount. Permit holders who did not receive that letter should contact Kamala Carroll at (907) 747-6688.

NSEI sablefish abundance has historically been estimated with a mark-recapture project. During 2011 the tagging event did not occur due to mechanical failure of the contracted survey vessel. In the absence of a tagging event, sablefish abundance could not be estimated using 2011 mark-recapture data. Instead, exploitable sablefish abundance (numbers of fish) in 2011 was assumed to be the same as 2010 and exploitable biomass for 2012 was forecast using methods similar to those employed in previous years. The ABC increased 11% in 2012 (1,160,674 round pounds) relative to the 2011 ABC (1,046,873 round pounds). The increase in 2012 ABC from the 2011 level was due primarily to updated sablefish length, age, and maturity data used in the harvest rate calculation and biomass forecast, and minor refinements in calculation methodology. The F50% biological reference point (BRP) was used for calculating the ABC in 2012, resulting in a harvest rate of 7.5%.

Don’t forget there are new regulations for sablefish from the Board of Fish meetings this winter including:
5 AAC 28.110(c). The department is no longer required to randomly select from a pool of interested permit holders when authorizing the take of sablefish outside of established fishing seasons for research purposes. Removal of the random selection process will streamline the procedure for participation of permit holders in department sablefish longline surveys.
5 AAC 28.170(g). Permit holders in the SSEI sablefish fishery are required to retain all visibly injured or dead sablefish. Sablefish that are not visibly injured or dead may be released unharmed, but the permit holder must record live releases, by individual set, in a logbook.
5 AAC 28.180(a). A vessel or person onboard a vessel from which commercial, subsistence, or personal use longline fishing gear was used to take fish in the NSEI or SSEI Subdistricts during the 72-hour period immediately before the start of the commercial sablefish fishery in that subdistrict, or from which that gear will be used during the 24-hour period immediately after the closure of the commercial sablefish fishery in that subdistrict, may not participate in the taking of sablefish in that subdistrict during that open Eastern Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Regulations page 2 of 2 June 26, 2012

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Dungeness Crab Pre-season Sampling Results In!

The Dungeness crab tested clean for all districts from the pre-season sampling for DEC and PSP toxins.

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Restructured Observer Program, Sign Online Petition and Send a letter


NEW Observer Coverage Requirements

Beginning in 2013, NMFS will assess a 1.25% observer FEE on all federal groundfish and halibut vessels throughout the State of Alaska. Under the restructured observer program as proposed, NMFS will also be authorized to place human observers on any federal groundfish or halibut boats 40 feet or longer; in subsequent years, observers might be assigned to vessels under 40 feet as well. Vessels assigned observers will not be allowed to leave port until the observer is on board. If weather or other circumstance prevents the vessel from departing on schedule, the observer will be recalled after 48 hours and the vessel will have to reschedule coverage then wait for another observer to arrive.

The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance, Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, North Pacific Fisheries Association, Kachemak Bay Fisheries Association, and United Fishermen’s Marketing Association have explained to the Council and NMFS that electronic video monitoring (EM) is far less burdensome to the small boat fleet than human observers. ALFA launched a pilot program in 2010 to operationalize EM so NMFS could integrate EM coverage with human observers for 2013 implementation. The pilot program confirmed that EM provides the at-sea data managers need; EM is used extensively and successfully in Canada to monitor catch and bycatch on fixed gear vessels. NMFS has published proposed regulations that do not include EM as a viable alternative for meeting at-sea coverage requirements, and NMFS does not intend to use the fees collected from the fleet to fund development and implementation of EM.

The public comment period on the restructured observer program is open until June 18th 2012. This is the one opportunity for halibut, sablefish, pot cod and hook and line cod fishermen to fight for monitoring tools that work for your fishing businesses.

What can you do? 

Vessel owners, skippers, and crewmembers can sign the petition online at and write a letter to NMFS. Please state your name and the fisheries in which you participate, then explain to NMFS:
1) The restructured observer program is unacceptable unless EM is included as a preferred monitoring option for fixed gear vessels;
2) Fees collected from the fleet must be used to fund development and implementation of EM;
3) Unless EM is included as the preferred monitoring option, analysis of the restructured observer program fails to assess the economic and operational burden imposed on vessel owners, crewmen, and coastal communities.
4) Other relevant information regarding your fishing business and the ability to have EM or a human observer onboard including: safety concerns, operating around weather windows, space constraints, participation in other fisheries, or other factors that would affect your fishing business.
Address your letter to Glenn Merrill, Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS PO Box 21668, Juneau AK 99802. You can submit the letter online at: (click “submit a comment” then enter NOAA-NMFS-2011-0210. You can also fax your letter to: attn Ellen Sebastian 907 586-7557.
Remember: Deadline for comment is 5 pm on June 18th.

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Southeast Gillnet King Fishery

The first directed Chinook fishery on the Taku and Stikine kings occurred on May 7th. 

TAKU:  The Taku (District 11-B) fishery was open for 12 hours and harvested a preliminary estimate of 150 kings from 42 boats.  The pre-season US allowable catch of Taku kings is 6,703.  Another opening of 12 hours is scheduled on Monday, May 14th.

STIKINE:  The Stikine  ( District 8 ) fishery was open for 24 hours and harvested a preliminary estimate of 50 kings from 24 boats.  The pre-season US allowable catch of Stikine kings is 5,890. Another opening of 24 hours is scheduled to start on Monday, May 14th.

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Dungeness Task Force Agenda May 16, 2012

MAY 16, 2012, 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Tides Inn Conference Room, Petersburg, Alaska
Douglas – ADF&G Southeast Region office, 802 3rd Street, Douglas, Alaska;
Ketchikan – Ketchikan Employment Center Hemlock room, 2030 Sea Level Drive, Suite 220, Ketchikan, Alaska;
Sitka – ADF&G Sitka Area office, 304 Lake Street, Sitka, Alaska;
Wrangell – Wrangell Fire Hall, 4310 Zimovia Highway, Wrangell, Alaska

1) Review recent Southeast Alaska commercial Dungeness crab fishery performance and data. (Joe Stratman/Adam Messmer)

2) Review recent Alaska Board of Fisheries actions on Southeast Alaska Dungeness crab. (Forrest Bowers)

3) Discussion of Southeast Alaska commercial Dungeness Crab Management Plan. (Joe Stratman) –
a. Background
b. Implementation

4) Issues related to paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). (Michael Gentry, ADEC)
a. Plans for preseason PSP testing
b. Plans for inseason PSP testing
c. Process for implementing closure of PSP areas

5) Discussion of potential joint UAF/industry study of Dungeness crab molt timing.

6) Update on UAF Southern Southeast Sea Otter project. (Sunny Rice)

7) Update on UAF Southeast Alaska Dungeness crab fishery economics project. (Alice Smoker)

8) US Forest Service permitting of on-land crab pot storage sites within Admiralty National Monument. (Jim Case, USFS)

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Sitka Sound & West Behm Sac Roe Herring Fishery Closed

ADFG closed the Sitka Sound Sac Roe Herring Fishery on April 12th. The fleet harvested approximately 13,534 tons in 3 openings on March 31, April 2 & April 7th. This was only 47% of the 2012 season GHL of 28,829 tons. As of April 12th, the total cumulative spawn is approximately 54 nautical miles. The decision to close the fishery was based on the completion of hte major spawning in Sitka Sound, and vessel and aerial surveys conducted over the last several days have not identified a biomass of pre-spawning herring in the Sitka Sound area at this time.

The West Behm Canal was not opened for the 2012 fishery. There was 7.3 miles of spawn but the majority of the spawning took place in areas closed to fishing.

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Governor’s Board of Fish Appointments Confirmed

The Legislature met in joint session on April 10th to confirm the Governor’s Appointments. All appointee’s were confirmed except one Board of Game member.
Orville Huntington was confirmed as part of the consent agenda. Karl Johnstone was deliberated on separately. The following voted no against Johnstone being confirmed. Senators Stedman and Wagoner and Representatives Austerman, Chenault, Doogan, Feige, Gardner, Herron, Johansen, Seaton, Thomas, P. Wilson and T. Wilson

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NPFMC takes Action on Halibut CSP

Council Motion on Charter Halibut Catch Sharing Plan
April 2, 2012
The Council moves to amend its previous action on the charter halibut catch sharing plan (CSP) . This becomes a new preliminary preferred alternative:
The Council adopts the March 27, 2012, recommendation of the Halibut Charter Management Implementation Committee and the Advisory Panel to adopt the “2012 model” for determining annual charter halibut management measures under the CSP and removing the current matrix of management measures that are included in the current proposed rule. With this change, the Council also removes the target range around the allocations of +/- 3.5%.
The Council also adopts the unanimous recommendation of the Halibut Charter Management Implementation Committee and the Advisory Panel to use ADF&G logbboks as the primary data collection method. The Council recommends using an adjustment factor based on the five-year average (2006-2010) of the difference between the harvest estimates provided by the logbooks and the SWHS, with the adjustment factor reduced by the amount of harvest attributed to skipper and crew. The Council’s understanding is that applying this adjustment factor would result in the following changes to the CSP allocations:
Area 3A adjustment factor =15.4%
Area 3A current CSP allocation in Tier 1 = 15.4%
Adjusted CSP allocation = (15.4% * 15.4%) + 15.4% = 178%
Area 3A current CSP allocation in Tiers 2 through 4 = 14.0%
Adjusted CSP allocation = (14% * 15.4%) + 14% = 16.2%
Area 2C adjustment factor = 5.6%
Area 2C Current CSP allocation in Tier 1 = 17.3%
Adjusted CSP allocation = (17.3% * 5.6%) + 17.3% = 18.3%
Area 2C current CSP allocation in Tiers 2 through 4 – 15.1%
Adjusted CSP allocation = (15.1% * 5.6%) = 15.1% = 15.9%
The Council recommends revisions to the GAF program as follows:
• This revision would issue GAF in numbers of fish. Conversions of IFQ pounds to numbers of fish would be based on the average weight of GAF from the previous year.
• In the first year of the GAF program, the GAF weight to number of fish conversion factor is based on the previous year’s data or most recent year without maximum size limit in effect.
• Define leasing limitation from one IFQ share holder from 10% or 1500 pound whichever is greater , to 10% of IFQ holdings in 2C, and to 15% or 1500 pounds in 3A, whichever is greater
• Include a requirement for angler to mark GAF by removing the tips of the upper and lower lobes of the tail and GAF holder to report the length of retained GAF halibut to NMFS through the NMFS approved electronic reporting system.
• A complete review within five years of the start of the GAF program, taking into account the economic effects of both sectors.

The Council recommends consideration of a letter to the IPHC supporting the idea of separate BAWM accountability between the halibut sectors, and revising the preamble to the rule describing the method that the Council would expect to be used by the IPHC in setting catch limits.
The Council requests that the analysis be revised to incorporate the changes to the preliminary preferred alternative described above and include analysis of the following options for consideration to revise the charter allocations at lower levels of abundance:
Option 1: Area 2C
At a combined catch limit of <5 mlbs, establish the CSP allocation at the upper end of the original range proposed for the CSP (20.8%); at a combined catch limit of ≥5 – , <9mlbs, establish the CSP at the allocation at the upper end of the original range proposed for the CSP (18.6%).
At combined catch limits of≤9 mlbs, maintain the original target CSP allocation of 15.1%.
Option 2: Area 3A
At a combined catch limit of <10 mlbs, establish the CSP allocation at the upper end of the original range proposed for the CSP (18.9%); at a combined catch limit of ≥10 – , <20mlbs, establish the CSP at the allocation at the upper end of the original range proposed for the CSP (17.5%).
At combined catch limits of≤20 mlbs, maintain the original target CSP allocation of 14.0%.
Note: Under the 2012 model, the +/- 3.5% range around the allocation would be removed, and the Council would be annually recommending management measures that minimize the difference between the projected harvest and the target allocation , without exceeding the allocation.
With the above additions and revisions, the intent of the Council is to review the CSP analysis as a whole and take final action in the near future.

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Governor Announces Board of Fish Appointments

The Governor announced the reappointment of Karl Johnstone and the appointment of Orville Huntington of Huslia to replace Mike Smith.

The Board of Fisheries is responsible for conservation and development of the state’s fishery resources. This involves setting seasons, bag limits, methods and means for the state’s subsistence, commercial, sport, guided sport, and personal use fisheries, and it also involves setting policy and direction for the management of the state’s fishery resources. The board is charged with making allocative decisions, and the Department of Fish and Game is responsible for management based on those decisions.

Huntington, of Huslia, works as the wildlife and parks director for the Tanana Chiefs Conference. Prior to that, he served for 14 years as a refuge information technician at the Koyukuk/Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge Complex and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Huntington has also worked as a fire fighter, fisherman, and in the Laborer’s and Carpenter’s Union. Huntington holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He grew up living and still lives a traditional Native subsistence way of life in the village of Huslia. He serves on the Alaska Federation of Natives board of directors as a representative of Interior villages.

Johnstone, of Anchorage, is a retired Superior Court judge who served on the bench from 1979 to 1996, including service as the presiding judge of the Third Judicial District for the last four years of his career. He has enjoyed sport fishing and also worked as a commercial fisherman for salmon in Bristol Bay and herring in southeast Alaska. Johnstone, first appointed in December 2008, is the current chair of the board.

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Southeast Chinook Salmon Quota Announced

The all gear quota is reduced by 28,000 fish from last year.
2012 Treaty Chinook Salmon Allocations
All-Gear treaty quota       266,800
Seine                                           11,472
Gillnet                                         7,737
Set-gillnet                                  1,000
Troll                                        197,272
Sport                                          49,318

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