IPHC Announces 2011 Halibut Catch Limits

The IPHC has now posted the results of their meeting on their website at http://www.iphc.int/

On Friday January 28th at the conclusion of the week long IPHC meeting and announced the following.
In area 2A 0.91
In area 2B 7.65 Remember the 2B catch limit includes all recreational removals.

In area 2C      2.33
In area 3A      14.36
In area 3 B       7.51
In area 4A       2.41
In area 4B       2.18
In area 4CDE   3.72

The Commission went with staff recommendations and the biology. Commissioners spoke to the economic hardship that they recognized the fishermen in area 2C will be facing.

The season opening date will be March 12th at 12:00 am and the closing date will be November 18th at 12 noon.

The Commission took the following action to keep the halibut charter sector to their GHL allocation by the adoption of a 37″ maximum size limit in IPHC regulatory area 2C (Southeast Alaska).  (equates to approx.  22 lb fish/ 17lb dressed fish)

Staff was directed to look at: 

A range of size limits for the commercial fishery:

To develop a regulatory proposal for  the use of jaw tags for accounting puposes; and

Have the bycatch project team led by the Commission chair and vice chair to look at the amount of bycatch, better understanding of impacts of bycatch, options to reduce the bycatch, and options to mitigate the effect of bycatch taken in one area to another area.

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More State Legislation Introduced

Several more bills introduced regarding fishery issues:
HB 99 introduced by Rep. Miller, Kawasaki, Kerttula is “An act relating to labeling of farmed fish and genetically modified fish.”

HB 100 introduced by Reps. Kawasaki, Miller & Kerttula is “An Act prohibiting growing or cultivating genetically modified fish in the state.”

HB 102 introduced by the House Rules Committee by the Request of the Governor is “An Act suspending the motor fuel tax.”

HJR 8 introduced by Kawasaki, Miller & Peggy Wilson is a resolution “Urging the United States Food and Drug Administration to deny an application to sell genetically engineered salmon in the United States; urging compliance with the provision of P.L. 110-85 (FDA Amendments Act of 2007) that requires the Commissioner of Food & Drugs to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service of the NOAA regarding a report on environmental risks associated with genetically engineered seafood products; and urging that product labeling requirements include the words “Genetically Modified” prominently displayed on the front of the package if the application is approved by the United States FDA.

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Sport Fishing Guide License Revoked and Jail imposed for Illegal Acts

On Jan 19th AK Dept of Public Safety issued a press release regarding Arthur Aho of Ninilchik, a halibut sport fishing guide who was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 80 suspended, a $5K fine, 40 hours community service and a prohibition for two years against purchasing a new sport fish guide license. He was previously convicted in 2006.

The press release stated,  “at the sentencing on Janaury 18, 2011, the State argued that sport fishing guides like Mr. Aho, who are given the privilege to make a living off of the resources of this state, act as stewards of the resource as opposed to violators of sport fish and game laws.  The people of the State of Alaska should not have to rely upon Troopers conducting covert activities to ensure that such guides comply with fish and game laws.”

Press Release http://www.dps.state.ak.us/PIO/press.aspx

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2nd Batch of Pre-Filed State Legislation

In the second batch of pre-filed bills only 2 pieces of legislation are fishery related.

HB 85 “An Act requiring the Department of Environmental Conservation to collect and make available to the public certain information relating to water pollution; prohibiting certain mixing zones in freshwater spawning waters; and requiring a public comment period for certain sewage system or treatment works modifications.” Rep. Seaton

HB 86 “An Act prohibiting mixing zones in freshwater spawning waters.” Rep Gara

The Governor submitted legislation on Jan 14th to suspend the motor fuel tax for 24 months.  He stated, “Alaskans are feeling the pinch of rising fuel costs when purchasing fuel for their vehicles, boats, snow machines and planes.  While suspending the motor fuel tax would provide a temporary reduction in the cost of motor fuel, action is necessary for long-term solutions to high energy costs.”  Suspending the $0.08 per gallon of state fuel tax will save Alaskans money at the pump.

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Alaska Lodge Guilty of Sale of Sport Fish

State of Alaska Dept of Public Safety issued a press release on Jan 13, 2011 stating that Doc Warner’s Lodge received a sentence today for feeding sport caught fish as part of the paid package during their stay. Employees admitted that fish fed to clients was sport caught by other clients and/or employees.

Press release: http://www.dps.state.ak.us/PIO/press.aspx

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Pre-filed State Legislation

Following below is a summary of legislation affecting commercial fishing or fish and game resources that was introduced in the first set of pre-filed legislation on January 7th. 104 bill were pre-filed.  In some instances we summarized the information and in other instances we used the language contained in the legislation.  You can access any legislation at http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/start.asp

HB 20 “An Act providing for a priority for a fishery that is restricted to residents when fishing restrictions are implemented to achieve a management goal.” Introduced by Representative Stoltze: AS 16.05.251 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: (j) except as provided by AS 16.05.258, when the harvest of a stock or species is limited to achieve a management goal, the Board of Fisheries shall place restrictions on all other fisheries before restricting personal use fisheries. In this subsection, “management goal” means the escapement or estimated population size of the exploited stock that provides the greatest potential for sustained yield as established by the board.

HB 59 “An Act relating to loans made to commercial fishermen under the Commercial Fishing Loan Act for product quality improvements and energy efficiency upgrades; and providing for an effective date.” Introduced by Representative Seaton: (l) For a new loan under AS 16.10.300 – 16.10.370 made on or after the effective date of this Act, the department may provide a reduction of the interest rate of not more than two percent if at least 50 percent of the loan proceeds are used by the borrower for product quality improvements or energy efficiency upgrades if the improvements or upgrades use products manufactured or produced in the state. When the department offers a reduction under this subsection, the department shall provide the reduction to all loan applicants who meet the criterion described in this subsection. In this subsection, “manufactured or produced” means a processing, developing, or making an item into a new item with a distinct character and use.

HB 60 “An Act relating to aquatic farm permitting involving geoducks and to geoduck seed transfers between certified hatcheries and aquatic farms.” Introduced by Representative Seaton: Section 1. AS 16.40.100 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: (g) The Commissioner may not use the absence of wild geoduck stock within a management area described in AS 16.40.145 as the reason for denial of an aquatic farm permit under this section. If, under this section, the commissioner issues a permit for an aquatic farm to culture geoducks in a management area that does not have wild geoduck stocks when the permit is issued, the permit may not allow operations for that purpose in the intertidal habitat or environment. Section 2. AS 16.40 is amended by adding a new section to read: Section 16.40.145 Geoduck seed transfer between a certified hatchery and an aquatic farm. Consistent with AS 16.40.140 (b)-(d), a hatchery certified under AS 16.40.100 may transfer geoduck seed to an aquatic farm located in a fisheries management area established under this title that is contiguous to the Gulf of Alaska.

SB 20 “An act relating to personal use fishing permits; and establishing the personal use fishery fund.” Introduced by Senator Wagoner: This legislation takes personal use fishing out of the current fishing and hunting license and instead would require a separate license. For personal use fishing; in lieu of a sport fishing license, each resident shall obtain a personal use fishing permit and pay a personal use fishing permit fee of $25 for each personal use fishery in which the resident participates during the year. The personal use fishery fund is established and shall be administered by Dept of Revenue. Notwithstanding AS 16.05.110(a), personal use fishing permit fees shall be deposited into the fund and may be appropriated for administrative and other costs incurred by the Dept. of Fish and Game as a result of personal use fisheries. Nothing in this subsection creates a dedicated fund.

SB 24 “An Act establishing the Sport Fishing Guide Services Board and licensing requirements for sport fishing guide-outfitters, sport fishing outfitters, sport fishing assistant guides, and sport fishing transporters; making conforming amendments; allowing the Department of Fish and Game to collect information on guiding services; and providing for an effective date.” Introduced by Senator McGuire: This legislation is 23 pages long and is the result of the State limited entry work group from several years ago that I served on as the lone commercial representative. It closely mimics the Guide Services Board for Hunting interests.

Other legislation – titles only
HB 8 “An Act relating to certain federal regulations and presidential executive orders; relating to the duties of the attorney general; and providing for an effective date.” Rep. Keller

HB 10 “An Act relating to the registration fee for noncommercial trailers and to the motor vehicle tax for trailers” Rep. Stoltze

HB 34 “An Act relating to eligibility to serve on state boards, commissions, and authorities.” Rep. Doogan

HJR 2 “Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to a biennial state budget and to the duration of regular sessions of the legislature to accommodate a biennial state budget” Rep. Gatto

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Refrigeration Course to be Held in Petersburg

Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program is holding a one day refrigeration course in Petersburg on Feb 1st. Cost for the class which is taught by Integrated Marine Systems is $150.00. Contact Sunny Rice at 907-772-3381 or register by Jan 26th online at www.marineadvisory.org/workshops

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January Meetings You might be Interested In.

Fishery Conservation Network

  • Petersburg – January 10, 2011  8:00 am  Petersburg City Council Chambers
  • Juneau – January 10, 2011 2:00 pm DIPAC Office Conference Room

The Fishery Conservation Network (FCN) has two components: bycatch and habitat mapping  to help fishermen control rockfish bycatch rates and whale/longline interaction and deterrent research.

January 18th – State Legislature starts session

King and Tanner Task Force Meeting   2010-11 draft KTTF meeting agenda

  • January 21st – 9:00 am to 4:30 pm Juneau Centennial Hall – Egan Room

IPHC Annual Meeting Jan 25-28th Victoria BC – will post the IPHC catch limits ASAP after announcement.

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Happy Holidays!

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NPFMC Actions Dec 2011 Meeting

The NPFMC passed motions regarding Halibut PSC bycatch in the GOA, and  on chinook bycatch taken incidental in GOA groundfish fisheries.  Consider all three motions draft until the Council’s official version is published.  SEAFA and ALFA together asked the coucil to consider initiating a regulatory package to cap the number of community charter permits at the level contained within the original halibut charter limited entry motion.  At this time we don’t know if they agreed to this request, see story below.

HALIBUT PSC BYCATCH IN GULF OF ALASKA

The Council passed the following motion to further advance the halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) bycatch discussion paper to the next level.

In recent years, the directed halibut catch limits in the GOA regulatory areas 2C, 3A and 3B have declined steadily, and the recommended catch limits for 2011 are almost 30% lower than in 2010. Growth reates of halibut remain very low and size at age has been declining; much of the total biomass is made up of smaller fish that are more vulnerable than larger fish to trawl gear. In addition, evidence of west to east migration of halibut within a coast wide stock may have implications for the impacts of halibut bycatch on stock assessment, and directed fishing opportunities. These factors raise concerns about the current halibut PSC limits in the GOA, and effect this bycatch has on the directed fishing opportunities, as well as the productivity of the stock.
At this time the Council has not selected a specific process for considering changes to the GOA halibut PSC limits.

Although the Council believes that an evaluation of the current halibut PSC limits is warranted, additional information about the condition of halibut stocks, the effects of bycatch reduction, and othe rfishery factors is necessary. Therefore, the Council directs staff to provide information on the following topics:

  1. The effect of reducing bycatch limits in the GOA on the exploitable biomass available to the directed fisheries, over an appropriate time period; this includes the effects of migration on downstream users.  (i.e. what is the effect of a 100 mt reduction in bycatch over a five year period?).
  2. The recent changes in IPHC stock assessment methods, harvest policies, and catch limit setting on directed halibut fisheries.
  3. Changes to Federal fishery management programs and halibut PSC apportionments that begin in 2012 (previous actions taken) that are relevant to the use of halibut PSC.
  4.  Possible causes of low growth rates and the effects on future exploitable biomass and spawning biomass.

The Council further requests the IPHC to provide the appropriate scientific expertise and information to assist the Council.

GOA CHINOOK SALMON BYCATCH COUNCIL MOTION

The Council adopts the following problem statement and moves the following alternatives for initial review.

Problem Statement:  Chinook salmon bycatch taken incidentally in GOA groundfisheries is a concern, and no salmon bycatch control measures have been implemented to date.  Current observer coverage levels and protocols in some GOA groundfish trawl fisheries raise concerns about bycatch estimates and may limit sampling opportunities.  Limited information is available on the origin of Chinook salmon taken as bycatch in the GOA; it is thought that the harvests include stocks from Asia, Alaska, British Columbia, and lower 48-origin.  Despite management actions by the State of Alaska to reduce Chinook mortality in sport, commercial and subsistence fisheries, minimum Chinook salmon escapement goals in some river systems have not been achieved in recent years.  In addition, the level of GOA Chinook salmon  bycatch in 2010 has exceeded the incidental take amount in the Biological Opinion for ESA listed Chinook salmon stocks.  The sharp increase in 2010 Chinook bycatch levels in the GOA fisheries require implementing short-term and long-term management measures to reduce salmon bycatch to the extent practicable under National Standard 9 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.  In the short term, measures focused on the GOA pollock fisheries are expected to provide the greatest savings. In the long term, comprehensive salmon bycatch management in the GOA is needed.

Alternatives for expedited review and rule making:

The below alternatives apply to directed pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA.

Alternative 1: Status Quo

Alternative 2: Chinook salmon PSC limit and increased monitoring.

Component 1:  15,000, 22,500 and 30,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit (hard cap)

Option: Apportion limit between Central and Western GOA

a.)  proportional to the pollock TAC

b.)  proportional to historic average bycatch rate of Chinook salmon (5 or 10 year average)

c.) proportional to historic average bycatch number of Chinook salmon (5 or 10 year average)

Component 2:  Expanded Observer Coverage

Extend the existing 30% observer coverage requirement for vessels 60″ – 125′ to trawl vessels less than 60′ directed fishing for pollock in the Central or Western GOA (until restructured observer program is in place)

Alternative 3: Mandatory salmon bycatch control cooperative membership

In order to fish in the Central or Western GOA pollock fisheries a vessl must be a member of a salmon bycatch control cooperative for the area where they are participating.  Cooperative formation will be annual with a minimum threshold (number of licenses).  (Evaluate minimum threshold to allow no more than one or two cooperatives per area)

Cooperative contractual agreements would include a requirement for vessels to retain all salmon bycatch until vessel or plant observers have an opportunity to determine the number of salmon and collect any scientific data or biological samples.  Cooperative contractual agreements would also include measures to control Chinook salmon bycatch, ensure compliance with the contractual full retention requirement, promote gear innovation, salmon hotspot reporting, and monitoring individual vessel bycatch performance.

Annual cooperative reports to the Council would include the contractual agreements adn successes and failures for salmon bycatch controls by season and calendar year.

The council requests staff explore options related to the following aspects of mandatory cooperative formation:

  • Minimum number of licenses required to promote meaningful exchange of information and cooperation to aviod bycatch under the current directed fishery management structure. (minimum threshold for cooperative formation should be set to ensure all eligible licenses have a reasonable opportunity to particpate).
  • Options to ensure participants outside of a bycatch control cooperative would be subject ot regulatory bycatch controls if it is determined mandatory cooperative membership is not possible.
  • Appropriate contract elements and reporting requirements.

Alternatives for regular review and rule making track:

The below alternatives apply to non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA.

Alternative 1: Status Quo

Alternative 2: 5,000, 7,500 & 10,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit (hard cap)

  • Option 1: Apportion limit between Central and Western GOA.
  • Option 2: Apportion limit by directed fishery.
  • Applies to both options:  Apportion proportional to historic average bycatch of Chinook salmon (5 or 10 year average)

Alternative 3:  Mandatory salmon bycatch control cooperative membership.

In order to fish in the Central or Western GOA pollock fisheries a vessl must be a member of a salmon bycatch control cooperative for the area where they are participating.  Cooperative formation will be annual with a minimum threshold (number of licenses).

Cooperative contractual agreements would include measures to control Chinook salmon bycatch, promote gear innovation, salmon hotspot reporting, and monitoring individual vessel bycatch performance.  Annual cooperative reports to the Council would include the contractual agreements and successes and failures for salmon bycatch controls by season and calendar year.

The below alternatives applies to all trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA.

Alternative 4:  Full retention of Salmon.

Vessels will retain all salmon bycatch until the number of salmon has been determined by the vessel or plant observer and the observer’s collection of any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon has been completed.

Option:  Deploy electronic monitoring or observers to monitor for discards in order to validate salmon census data for use in catch accounting.

The Council also requests staff to provide the following:

  • Chinook salmon bycatch rate data for each GOA groundfish fishery by month and area.
  • Correlations between bycatch rates and time of day (based on observer data or ancedotal information)
  • Correlations between bycatch rates and time of year (based on observer data or ancedotal information)
  • Information on the flexibility under Stellar Sea lion measures to adjust season dates.
  • Current trip limit management and implications of lowering GOA pollock trip limits
  • Information on current excluder use, effectiveness of salmon excluders, and deployment of excluders on smaller trawl vessels.
  • A discussion of potential benefits, with respect to available bycatch measures and salmon savings, of a cooperative management structure for the GOA pollock fisheries.  The discussion should assume a cooperative program for the Central and Western GOA directed pollock catcher vessels.  Licenses qualifying for the program would annually form cooperatives that would receive allocations based on the catch histories of members.  CAtcher vessel cooperatives would be required to associate with a shore based processor in the GOA, but members may change cooperatives and cooperatives may change processor associations annually without penalty.
  • Analysis of potential impacts to subsistence users.
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