2012 Taku River King Salmon Allowable Catch 6,703 large Kings

Sitka. . . The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today the following information
concerning the preseason forecast for king salmon returning to the Taku River in 2012. The 2012 pre-season terminal run forecast for large Taku River king salmon is 48,036 fish. The resulting U.S. Allowable Catch (AC) is 6,703 large Taku Kings. An AC of this size allows for limited directed commercial fisheries to occur in District 11 beginning in May. Taking into consideration recent trends in forecasts and forecast confidence intervals, department management of this fishery will be conservative. It is likely that both time and area will be significantly restricted. Once inseason Taku River king salmon stock assessment data is available the department will respond accordingly. A news release announcing specific opening times and areas will be released in mid-April, 2012.

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Golden King and Tanner Crab Season Date Announcement

Petersburg . . . The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that seasons for the 2011/2012 commercial Tanner and golden king crab fisheries in Southeast Alaska will open by regulation at 12:00 noon on Thursday, February 16, 2012. The season start date for the Tanner and golden king crab fisheries is based on the date with the smallest Juneau tidal range between February 10 and February 17 (5 AAC 35.110 and 5 AAC 34.110 (b)). The registration deadline for both fisheries will be Tuesday, January 17, 2012. Fishermen who register after that date will be required to pay a $45.00 late fee. Buoy tags are mandatory for all commercial Tanner and golden king crab gear and are available in any area office in Southeast Alaska for $1.25 each. Further information on the 2011/2012 Tanner crab and golden king crab fisheries will be announced in subsequent news releases.

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Taku River Legislative Task Force Meetings

Goals
1. Review biological health and status regarding Taku River fish stocks, habitat, and game resources.
2. Investigate who is responsible (e.g., Alaska departments of Fish and Game, Natural Resources, Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Coast Guard) for monitoring industrial vessel traffic on the river and determine if industrial vessel safety and spill response requirements are appropriately met.
3. Assess current state and federal statutes and regulations and their effectiveness.

Meeting 1 - January 5th – 5:00 P.M. TO 8:00 P.M. Capitol Building, House Finance Committee Room, Room 519

AGENDA – Organization of the Task Force and Taku River Values (3 hours)
• (20 minutes) – Introductions, Discussion with Juneau Legislative Delegation
• (10 minutes) – Mission, process and procedural ground rules, facilitator, agendas, speakers.
• (25 minutes) Statements of Task Force Members regarding to river values to their user group, and questions to have answered to achieve the fact-finding mission of the TF. (up to 3 minutes per member).
• (30 minutes) – Ed Jones and Charlie Swanton, Dept of Fish and Game – Expert testimony on fish runs and characteristics of spawning and rearing habitat, especially habitat fragility and threats. Questions by Task Force members.
• (30 minutes) – Randy Bates and Jackie Timothy – Expert testimony DF&G permitting. Questions by Task Force members.
• (30 minutes) – Open public questions. (Questions from the public will be submitted in writing and read by the facilitator. If there is not time to complete all questions this evening, they will be read at the Saturday meeting.)
• (15 minutes) – Discussion by Task Force regarding the information provided, additional information requested, future meeting agendas, etc.

Meeting 2 – Saturday, January 7th – 9:00 a.m. to noon – Capitol Building, House Finance Committee Room, Room 519

AGENDA – Current Regulatory Protections for the Taku River Fishery
• (30 minutes) – Recap of previous meeting and beginning discussion of future meetings and topics.
• (45 minutes) – Dept of Natural Resources – Office of Project Management – Large Project Coordinator – Kyle Moselle – 10 minute presentation and Q & A from Task Force
• INVITED (20 minutes) – Status of planned industrial development. (Chieftain Metals – developers of the Tulsequah mine – officials invited.)
• (45 minutes) – Public Hearing (Questions from the public will be submitted in writing and read by the facilitator. If there is not time to complete all questions this evening, they will be read at the Saturday meeting.)
• (30 minutes) – Discussion by Task Force regarding the Strategic Planning for the future including: additional information and resource speakers requested, future meeting agendas, etc.

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Happy New Year!

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West Behm Canal Seine Sac Roe Herring Fishery

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today the forecasted mature biomass for the 2012 West Behm Canal sac roe herring fishery is 7,915 tons. This allows for a 10.6% harvest rate for a total GHL of 842 tons. By regulation (5 AAC 27.160), 10 percent of the GHL is allocated to the bait pound fishery on an annual basis. Therefore, the GHL for the 2012 West Behm Canal sac roe fishery is 758 tons. The forecast indicates that the spawning stock will consist of 28% age-3, 28% age-4, 34% age-5, 5% age-6, 4% age-7, and 2% age-8 and older herring. In January 2006, the board adopted regulatory language that divides the guideline harvest level by the maximum number of CFEC permits eligible to be fished in the fishery, 5 AAC 27.197(a)(2). There are currently 48 southeast sac roe seine permits eligible to fish. With a guideline harvest level of 758 tons this allows for 15.8 tons per permit.

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White Sulphur Springs Bathhouse, Cabin & Trail Project Information Requested

Comments are being taken on or before January 16th at the
Sitka Ranger Office
Attn: Annemarie LaPalme
204 Siginaka Way
Sitka, AK 99835 or
email comments to : comments-alaska-tongass-sitka@fs.fed.us
email request for more information to alapalme@fs.fed.us

A decision made by Forrest Cole, Forest Supervisor on the Tongass National Forest concerning White Sulphur Springs Bathhouse, Cabing and Trail project signed on August 10, 2011, has been modified. White Sulphur Springs is located on Sitka Ranger District in the West Chichagof/Yakobi Wilderness. Appeals submitted during the 45 day appeal period suggested need for additional analysis. Forrest Cole and Sitka District Ranger Carol Goularte met with six apellants with standing to discuss a resolution to their appeals regarding removing the bathhouse. Appeals were withdrawn after several points were agreed upon by the appellants and the Forest Supervisor. The bathhouse removal component has been withdrawn from the decision until further information/analysis is completed concerning:
1.) emergency use of bathhouse as a shelter
2.) historical, traditional and cultural use of the bathhouse
This information will be collected and incorporated as a supplement to the environmental analysis.
A new decision concerning the bathhouse is anticipated to be made in the spring of 2012. Other components of the current decision including replacing the cabin, woodshed, and outhouse and rebuilding the trail are being implemented as funding allows. Work will begin this coming field season. The existing bathhouse has been closed for use until further notice due to the poor structural condition of the building.If you are interested in providing information about the bathhouse use for emergency, historic, traditional, or cultural use, you can do it by using the address above.

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2012 Preliminary GHL for Sitka Herring Announced

ADFG announced today the preliminary GHL for the 2012 Sitka Sound Sac Roe herring fishery is 29,208 tons based on a 20% harvest rate of a forecast biomass of 145,042 tons. The 2011 commercial sac roe herring harvest was 19,430 tons.

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Senator Murkowski and Don Young work Together to block National Park Service from Conducting Boating Safety Checks

The following Press Release was issued December 15th by Senator Murkowski’s Office
Bill Blocks National Park Service (NPS) from Conducting Boating Checks on State Waters
Senator Murkowski: “Park Service Rangers Are Not the Coast Guard”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Lisa Murkowski today announced that the 2012 Interior Appropriations bill includes language restricting the National Park Service’s authority to conduct boater safety checks within the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

“Congressman Young and I worked together to craft this language to address the growing frustration Alaskans have with the unprecedented overreach of federal land managers,” Murkowski said. “Park Service rangers are not the Coast Guard.”

The provision prohibits the National Park Service from enforcing boating regulations on the Yukon River within the Yukon-Charley National Preserve. Instead, it properly leaves the authority to conduct boater safety and registration checks to the U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska State Troopers.

The legislation was prompted by an ongoing dispute between the state and federal government over jurisdiction on state waterways within federal land management units that arose out of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. Murkowski said the dispute reached a tipping point in September 2010 with the arrest of a 71-year-old boater on the Yukon River in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

“While this does not resolve the underlying jurisdictional dispute between the state and federal government over who has authority over navigable waters within Alaska’s federal park units, it does eliminate the possibility of future confrontations between boaters and rangers,” Murkowski said. “It is my hope that this will free up the Park Service to work on land-based recreational issues within the preserve.”

The language was anticipated to be included in an omnibus package this week. In an unexpected development, the appropriations bills were unveiled as stand-alone legislation in the House of Representatives early Thursday morning. The Senate is expected to introduce companion legislation soon, though final passage is not assured.

In August, Murkowski held a roundtable discussion in Fairbanks on limits to federal jurisdiction on state waters. In addition, the state has sued the federal government, asserting that the Alaska Statehood Act and ANILCA give it sole jurisdiction over all navigable waters, even those that pass through federal lands.

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2012 Stikine River King Salmon Forecast

ADFG announced December 9th the following information concerning the preseason forecast for king salmon returning to the Stikine River in 2012.

The 2012 preseason terminal run forecast for large Stikine River King Salmon is 40,800 fish. The resulting US Allowable Catch (AC) is 5,890 large Stikine Kings. An AC of 5,890 fish allows for limited directed commercial fisheris to occur in District 8 beginning May 7. News Releases announcing specific opening times and areas will be released in mid-April, 2012. The 2012 preseason forecast marks the first forecast since 2008 that allows for directed commercial fisheries in District 8.

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NPFMC Takes Action on Catch Share Plan

After 27 testifiers during public comment on the Halibut Catch Share Issues (CSP) this afternoon a motion was made by Bill Tweit (WA) that the Council continue support for implementation of the CSP as the best approach to resolve longstanding allocation and management issues between the commercial and charter halibut sectors. How long this process will take is still unknown. It is more likely that their will be halibut issues on the April Council agenda to review agency & staff progress on the CSP motion. It is unknown until staff tasking is over tomorrow if there will be halibut issues on the Feb. council agenda.

The motion read:
The Council continues to support implementation of the Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) as the best approach to resolve longstanding allocation and management issues between the commercial and charter halibut sectors, as currently identified in the CSP Problem Statement.

The Council also recognizes that there are deficiencies in the current analysis that must be addressed before implementation can take place. Additionally, since 2008, changes in halibut management and the condition of the halibut stock have occurred, which will impact the effective implementation of the CSP as envisioned by the Council.

MOTION: (for this section you must refer to the NMFS report
The Council provides the following policy guidance to NMFS on issues raised during the public comment period on the Halibut CSP Proposed Rule.
Comment 1: At this time the Council continues to support the implementation of the CSP concurrently in Areas 2C and 3A. Supplemental analysis of and revisions to the CSP being requested in this motion are applicable to both management areas.
Comment 2: The Council agrees with NMFS suggested response regarding the proposed method to adjust charter harvest estimates from the ADFG mail survey using the non-GAF proportion of charter harvest reported in logbooks under the CSP.
Comment 3: The Council recommends using Method 3 (length measurement) to convert IFQ to GAF and for calculating an average GAF weight.
Comment 4: The Council recommends that the provision allowing charter operator to return GAF to an IFQ holder at any time during the season be removed from the CSP and that CSP retain the mandatory return date.

Comment 5: The Council agrees with NMFS suggested response regarding the rationale for believing that charter overages and underages will balance out over time.
Comment 6: The Council agrees with NMFS suggested response regarding the rationale for the range of +/- 3.5% around the harvest projections.
The Council requests additional analysis and revisions to the Halibut CSP that more specifically address a variety of public comments as outlined in the NMFS CSP report:
• Add a description of the status quo GHL allocations, such as a table of the stair step GHLs under different Total Area CEY’s, and a comparison of the way in which annual allocations are made to the charter sector under both the GHL and the CSP.
• Revise the analysis so that it incorporates allocations at lower levels of abundance, and assesses the economic impacts, to the extent practicable, of the full range of allocations. Data from recent years should be used to determine what the charter and commercial allocations would have been under the CSP, and what management measures would have been in place.
• Add other indices to the analysis to describe the economic condition of the charter and commercial sectors over the last ten years. Examples for a typical charter and longline business in 2C and 3A could be provided. For the commercial sector, examples could include changes in QS prices and annual QS value, ex-vessel prices, and annual revenue. Consider the differences between vessel classes, when QS was bought, etc. For the charter sector it could include permit prices (minimal data), number of trips and clients and annual revenue.
• Review the IPHC process described in the CSP for deducting removals prior to applying the allocation percentages to the combined commercial/charter catch limit. The halibut charter stakeholder committee discussed “separate accountability”, in which each sector would be held accountable for its wastage of halibut. The CSP analysis currently deducts wastage in the commercial sector BEFORE the allocation percentages are applied. In 2011 the IPHC began deducting O26/U32 BAWM before setting catch limits, and this has allocative implications for 2C and 3A. Wastage estimates for the charter sector are not currently available, and so no deductions are made.
• Review the management matrix to determine whether management measures and the data employed are still appropriate in each tier given current charter harvests relative to combined fishery CEY, particularly in Area 3A.
The Council also seeks additional revisions to the Halibut CSP analysis to address the technical comments as outlined in the NMFS CSP report. This is a comprehensive list and it is understood that staff will work to address each of these points, to the extent practicable, in the next version of the Halibut CSP analysis.
With the direction provided above, the Council seeks to address the primary comments and concerns as outlined in the NMFS CSP Report and identified in public comment. It is the Council’s intent to review the additions and revisions to the modified Halibut CSP analysis in a subsequent meeting in order to determine what, if any, additional changes are necessary in order for the CSP to meet Council objectives. The Council also requests feedback from NMFS as to whether the additions and revisions to the CSP result in the need for a new proposed rule, so that the Council may establish a timeline for implementing the CSP.
Given the myriad of components involved in commercial and charter halibut management, the Council recognizes that there are management options available that were not included as part of the original Halibut CSP action. It is not the wish of the Council to delay implementation of the Halibut CSP any further than necessary. As such, the Council is asking for initiation of a discussion paper analyzing the following for potential use in future halibut management:
• The use of ADFG logbooks for official harvest reporting
• Annual limits allowing for the retention of at least one fish of any size
• Restricting captain and crew retention of fish
• Trip limits, reverse slot limits, and two fish of a maximum size
• The use of a common pool purchase of QS by the charter sector
• Long-term management measures under Tier 1 of the CSP as identified in the Charter Halibut Implementation Committee Report
It is intended for this discussion paper to be reviewed by the Council following its review of the modified Halibut CSP. New and revised information received from review of the modified CSP will serve to refine the above discussion paper recognizing that full development of this discussion paper may be difficult until such information is received. At the time of the review, the Council could determine whether to fold any of these new elements into the modified CSP and let others follow as a trailing amendment.
Motion passed with no opposition (no roll call vote)

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