Coast Guard Reauthorization Act

The House passed HR 3619 on October 23, 2009 and the Senate passed their version on May 7, 2010.  The legislation will now go to a conference committee to reconcile the differences.  As of June 1st the Conference committee members had not yet been announced.  We have heard that Senator Cantwell favors the fishing vessel safety provisions enacted by the House.  This contains some of the same provisions that we objected to several years ago.  Classing or safety compliance programs for vessels over 50 feet by 2020.  Mandatory training for all commercial fishing vessel operators and possibly some requirements for crew.  Mandatory coast guard courtesy exams every two years.  Below is a pdf file of the comments that we are submitting to our Congressional Delegation and the conference committee when appointed.  There are other items in the legislation that we don’t make a mention of but that might affect us in the future.  These include:  1) The Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall assess and report to Congress on the feasibility of efforts to mitigate the threat of small boat attack in security zones of major ports, including specifically the use of TRANSPONDERS or RADIO FREQUENCY IDENTIFICATION devices to track small boats. 2.) Vessel Traffic Risk Assessment for Cook Inlet. 3.) Report on the improvements to reduce Human error and near miss incidents for oil spills.

SEAFA Comments

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-3619 Link to HR 3619

After receiving feedback from fishermen we have sent additional comments to the staff working on reconciling the two bill requesting that an exemption be given to those fishermen who currently have a buoyant apparatus to continue to be allowed to use it due to the cost of purchasing the equipment and the additional cost they would have to replace it.

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NFPMC Observer Program Analysis Now Available

The initial review analysis for restructuring the observer program is now posted on the Council webpage.  All the alternatives include the sablefish and halibut fisheries.  Letters to the NPFMC on the analysis are due by June 1st or you can attend the NPFMC meeting in Sitka and testify in person.  We are still reading through the analysis.  It looks likely that halibut and sablefish fishermen will be charged a 1% ex vessel value to pay for the program and in addition the processor would be liable for another 1% fee.

Observer Program Analysis

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No Commercial Gillnet Fishery on the Taku Yet!

ADFG on Thursday issued a news release that the first in-season projection of the Taku had been completed and that there would not be a gillnet fishery scheduled.  They will continue to monitor the fishery and will open the fishery if the in-season projections become high enough for a manageable fishery to be conducted. The full ADFG press release is at:

http://documents.cf1.adfg.state.ak.us/AdfgDocument.po?DOCUMENT=22154

 Terminal Harvest area press releases can be viewed at:

http://documents.cf1.adfg.state.ak.us/SubtopicContents.po?ERA=Current&TOPIC=01&SUBTOPIC=ter this includes Deep  Inlet, Anita Bay and Neets Bay.  For more information for trolling of chum salmon at Neets Bay please review the information on the SSRAA website at: http://www.ssraa.org/nbmngplan.htm

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Dr Larry Robinson Confirmed as Asst. Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmospere at NOAA

May 7th, the US Senate confirmed Dr. Larry Robinson by unanimous consent to serve as Assistance Secretary of oceans and Atmosphere at NOAA.  Dr. Robinson will help guide policy and program direction for NOAA’s conservation, protection and resource management priorities.

“Protecting valuable coastal ecosystems and marine life while promoting resilient coastal communities is critical to the economic well-being and health of the nation,” U.S Secretary Gary Locke said. “Dr Robinson has broad, interdisciplinary scientific expertise in marine and coastal ecosystems and understands how they contribute to economic and societal health.  His proven capability as a visionary leader and experience integrating many complex program objectives will advance NOAA’s efforts to ensure the health an vitality of coastal communities and the resources on which they depend.”

“Having spent so many years working on ocean and coastal ecosystem issues, I am excited to be joining NOAA at this dynamic and challenging time,” said Dr. Robinson.  “As we confront climate change and other threats to our coastal communities, I look forward to helping develop and implement national ocan policy, and working with fishing communities and councils around  the country to effectively manage our valuable fisheries. there is so much important work to be done that benefits the economy, the environment and our communities.”

Dr. Larry Robinson was the vice president for research and a professor in the Environmental Sciences Institute at Florida A&M University.  Since 2001, he has served as director of the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center headquartered at Florida A&M University, which consists of a broad, multi-institutional consortium of predominantly minority-serving institutions. 

Dr Robinson graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Memphis State University in 1979 and earned a doctorate in nuclear chemistry from Washington University in St Louis in 1984.

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NOAA Aquaculture Policy Listening Session Scheduled for Anchorage

Aquaculture Listening Sessions Update: NOAA to Host Anchorage Meeting May 21. Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that it has added a regional aquaculture listening session in Anchorage, Alaska, to be held on May 21, 2010, from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. in the Adventure Room in the Captain Cook Hotel. This will be the seventh in a series of regional and national listening sessions the agency is conducting to gather broad input on the components of a draft aquaculture policy from interested stakeholders. The listening sessions are an open forum for the public to make recommendations to NOAA officials regarding a new policy that will address all forms of marine aquaculture. For more information on the aquaculture policy development process, go to: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/aquaculture/policy1/. Comment Period Extended to May 28 NOAA is also extending the deadline for public comment by two weeks to May 28, 2010. Stakeholders can submit comments online 24 hours a day, seven days a week at:

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/aquaculture/policy1/.

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SE Gillnet Sac Roe Herring Update

The Hobart/Port Houghton herring fishery ended on April 24th after two openings totaling 16 hours of fishing time and approx. 287 tons of herring harvested and 58 tons of herring unharvested of the quota.  7.8 miles of spawn have been observed in this fishery.

The Seymour Fishery went on 2 hour notice at 11:00 am April 24th with a 657 ton quota.

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Canadian Lighthouses Considering Going Automated

We have been informed that the Canadian Parliament is having hearings on manned vs automated lighthouses.  If you transit Canada and would like the lighthouses to remain manned please consider taking a few minutes and writing an email to the Canadian Senators.  More information can be viewed at: http://www.canadianlightkeepers.org/  

Submit testimony addressed to

Candian Senators   by email to: fish-peche@sen.parl.gc.ca 

Send SEAFA a copy of your letter.  Thank you. seafa@gci.net

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Wyden, Murkowski Bill Would Lift Restrictions on Fishermen’s Use of Capital Construction Accounts

Washington, D.C. – Recognizing changes in the commercial fishing industry and the need to create new jobs and prevent overfishing, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation today that will give America’s fishermen greater flexibility in how they can use money set aside in special capital construction funds.  “The Capital Construction Fund program was created in 1976 to help modernize the American fishing industry so it could compete with highly efficient foreign fishing fleets,” Wyden said. “Today, the program is a victim of its own success. The fleet is now over capitalized at a time when over fishing is a problem. It is time to let fishermen put the money stranded in these funds to better use than replacing or improving their fishing boats.”  

“The Capital Construction Fund program is in need of significant reform and our legislation seeks to bring the program into better alignment with the goals and objectives of American fishermen and fisheries management policy,” Murkowski said. “At present, there is over $220 million in CCF accounts nation-wide.  This is money that is required to be invested in fishing boats and equipment at a time when many of our fisheries are fully or over-capitalized.  Our legislation would give fishermen the option to close their accounts without penalty and without being forced to further capitalize.   Alaskan fishermen have been asking for a change to this program and I am pleased to co-sponsor this bill.”  Murkowski said.

Nationally, there are an estimated 3,600 CCF accounts containing roughly $220 million. Accounts in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Alaska) are on average larger than accounts in other parts of the country.  Initially, the CCF Program was established as a way to help U.S. fishermen accumulate the funds necessary to develop a modern fleet by allowing them to deposit a portion of their fishing-related earnings into a savings account on a tax-deferred basis. Money withdrawn from the accounts was tax free as long as it was invested in new or rebuilt fishing vessels.   

Today, with too many fishing boats, the fleet has become overcapitalized and fishery managers concerned about potential overfishing have begun to reduce the amount of fish that can be caught.  As a result, the U.S. commercial fishing fleet now has more harvesting capacity than the US fishery resource can sustainably support. The money that remains on deposit in CCF accounts represents a potential for further overcapitalization at a time when less capitalization is needed.   

 

The Wyden-Murkowski bill will enable those with money in a capital construction account to make a one-time withdrawal without requiring them to re-invest it in the fishing industry. Instead, they will be required to pay the taxes due, but not interest or other penalties. The resulting money would have virtually no restrictions and could then be used for such things as setting up a retirement account, starting a new business or finding other ways to support families and create jobs.  

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Refrigeration Workshop

A one day workshop on refrigeration will be held in Sitka May 6th or 7th. This one day class includes basic refrigeration theory, general maintenance, system sizing, safety, winterization, troubleshooting and onboard freezing. All classes are hands-on. 

For more information or to register call:

907-747-7762 or 1-800-478-6653 ext 7762

 

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Vessel Charter Opportunity For Derelict Crab Gear

NOAA sent out the following solicitation for a vessel charter.  For more information check the website below and brief synopsis provided. 

 https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=3af2f7a1ef8b4dba6228b6de026e56df&tab=core&_cview=0

TASK TITLE 
Location and removal of derelict crab pots selected from prior side scan sonar surveys in the Duncan Canal and Stikine River flats area.
BACKGROUND
This vessel charter is part of study to assess whether derelict crab pots in the Duncan canal and Stikine river flats area are still actively ghost-fishing.
The extent of the impact of derelict pots on Dungeness crab populations in southeastern Alaska is unknown.  However, studies in other areas point to a potentially significant effect of ghost fishing on the Dungeness crab populations.  For example, in the Fraser River District, British Columbia, it has been estimated that ghost fishing pots account for 7.2% of the commercial Dungeness crab catch.  In Puget Sound, 37% of derelict pots were still actively fishing even if the rot cord was degraded and continued fishing for at least one year.  Furthermore, the estimated annual catch rate per actively fishing derelict crab pot in Puget Sound was 74.4 crabs with a total annual loss of Dungeness crabs of 372,000 individuals.  This represents inadvertent destruction of 30–40% of the average annual catch.  Unlike commercial and non-commercial harvests, which target legal males only, ghost fishing traps do not discriminate among the sex and size of captured crabs, possibly resulting in a greater loss than that due to active fishing.
 OBJECTIVES
Act as a support vessel for diving operations and retrieval of derelict fishing gear.
SCOPE OF WORK
The charter will be between nine (9) and thirteen (13) days at the end of September (see schedule below).  The number of days will be determined based on the vessel daily rate. The work will occur in Duncan Canal (between 56˚50’ to the north, 56˚33’ to the south, 133˚04’ to the east, and 133˚20’ to the west) and Stikine River flats (between 56˚34’ to the north, 56˚28’ to the south, 132˚17’ to the east, and 132˚40’ to the west.    The required vessel will need to act as a comfortable, stable platform for the divers who will examine and video record in situ derelict pots and attach a retrieval line that will enable the vessel to bring up the located derelict gear.  The vessel has to allow for ease of water egress and ingress for the divers either directly from the boat or via a skiff supplied by the vessel or NOAA (17’ whaler).  The vessel must have a winch capable of retrieving a variety of derelict Dungeness crab pots identified and attached to a line by divers.  Furthermore, sufficient deck space must be available to store the retrieved pots.  The collected pots can be offloaded at either the ABL dock in Auke bay or downtown at the NOAA subport facility (to be determined).

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