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 Money withdrawn from the accounts was tax free as long as it was invested in new or rebuilt fishing vessels.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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Regional Planning Team allows Chum Salmon Increases

The RPT met by teleconference Monday April 26th and approved 2 increases to chum salmon production that was tabled at the earlier RPT meeting this month. NSRAA was granted the permit to increase Hidden Falls by 10M chum and SSRAA to release an additional 10 million chum at Kendrick Bay and 12 million chum at Neets Bay.

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Mike Smith Appointed to Board of Fisheries

Governor Parnell appointed Mike Smith to the Board of Fisheries on April 23rd to replace Janet Woods who resigned this spring. He was appointed to fill out her term which will end June 30, 2012 subject to legislative confirmation next year.

Mike Smith of Fairbanks, has worked for the Tanana Chiefs Conference for 20 years in a variety of fisheries and resources related positions.  He has been a subsistence and commercial fisherman in the Interior and has gained experience in fisheries management issues as a member of the NPFMC Bering Sea Salmon Bycatch Work Group, the Yukon River Technical Committee, te Artic-Yukon-Kuskokwin Sustainable Salmon Initiative, and the Western Arctic Salmon Stock Identification Program.  Mike Smith also has served as a state legislative aide and as a member of the Fairbanks Community Health Corp. and Fairbanks Habitat for Humanity.   

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Enjoy The News on this Website?

If you are a commercial fishermen and you enjoy this website, consider becoming a member of SEAFA and receiving all the news that is sent out by email and in newsletters that isn’t posted on the website. We are mailing out a newsletter today and starting another since there was so much that didn’t fit in the first one.  It takes money to continue this site and our efforts on your behalf.  Use the membership link on the side and join today.  Thanks

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Sitka Herring Fishery

Update:

This update provides information regarding the 2010 season Sitka Sound herring spawn through April 14. To date, a total of 82.5 nautical miles of shoreline has been recorded with herring spawn during aerial surveys (see attached map). This compares to 65.6 nautical miles recorded in 2009 and the recent ten-year average of 55.0 nautical miles. The spawn occurred broadly throughout the northern and eastern areas of Sitka Sound as well as to the south in the Dorothy Narrows and Windy Pass areas. The major spawning event began on April 2 with about one-third of a nautical mile of spawn mapped on the north side of Halibut Point. Spawning gradually increased until peaking on April 10 when 49 nautical miles of active spawn was observed, a single-day record spawn since the Department began keeping record of the Sitka Sound herring spawn in 1964. The spawn has been contracting since April 10 and on April 14, no spawn was recorded. It is common in Sitka Sound to have a secondary spawn after the initial spawning event is over. The secondary spawn is generally comprised of a higher proportion of younger age classes than the primary spawning event. With some exceptions, the secondary spawning event generally occurs on shoreline that did not have spawning during the primary spawn. The Department will continue to conduct aerial surveys until it is evident that no significant additional spawning is likely to occur, which historically has been around April 25. The R/V Kestrel

will be returning to Sitka Sound on April 16 to support the spawn deposition dive surveys. 

 The Sitka Herring fishery has closed with approx. 17,743 tons harvested out of the GHL of 18,293 tons. 

There has been observed about 11 miles of spawn as of Tuesday 4/6/10

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Enhanced Salmon Allocation Workshop April 6, 2010

New Documents have been posted under the SE Enhanced Allocation link to the right for the upcoming allocation workshop on April 6th in Sitka.

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SSEI Blackcod Quota Announcement

Juneau…The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that the Southern Southeast Inside (SSEI) sablefish annual harvest objective will be 634,000 round pounds for the 2010 season. This harvest objective is the same as that of the 2009 season. The 2009 SSEI sablefish longline survey’s catch per unit effort (CPUE) indicated a continued declining trend which was mirrored in the longline fishery CPUE. The department will continue to monitor the biological characteristics of the catch in both the fishery and survey for signs of recruitment. If the decline seen over the last 4 years continues into the future it may be necessary to reduce the harvest objective.

The 2010 equal quota share (EQS) for each of the 27 permit holders will be 23,400 round pounds. The 3% increase in the EQS this year is due to a decrease of one permit for this fishery. SSEI permit holders should have received a certified letter detailing legal overages or underages incurred during the 2009 fishery. Each permit holder’s 2010 EQS will be adjusted accordingly and a personal quota share (PQS) will be assigned. The SSEI sablefish longline fishery will open 8:00 a.m., Tuesday, June 1 and close at 12:00 noon, Sunday, August 15, 2010. The SSEI sablefish pot gear fishery will open at 8:00 am, Wednesday, September 1 and close at 12:00 noon, Monday, November 15, 2010.

Full ADFG Announcement is at: http://documents.cf1.adfg.state.ak.us/AdfgDocument.po?DOCUMENT=21993 

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Spring Troll Port Meeting Schedule

Petersburg . . . The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the following schedule for the
commercial troll public meetings to be held in towns around Southeast Alaska and Yakutat:

Town            Date                           Location                                 Time
Ketchikan  Monday,    April 12   Fish and Game Conference Room    7:00 p.m.
Craig        Tuesday,   April 13   Craig City Hall                              11:00 a.m.
Sitka      Wednesday, April 14   NSRAA Conference Room               6:30 p.m.
Pelican      Thursday,  April 15   Pelican City Hall                            10:00 a.m.
Hoonah    Thursday,  April 15   U.S. Forest Service Office                1:00 p.m.
Juneau     Thursday,  April 15   ADF&G Headquarters Conference Room 6:00 p.m.
Yakutat       Friday,    April 16   Yakutat Salmon Board Office           2:00 p.m.
Petersburg Monday,   April 19   Petersburg City Council Chambers  10:00 a.m.
Wrangell   Monday,    April 19    Wrangell Fire Hall                           7:00 p.m.

Meeting topics will include, but are not limited to, plans for the 2010 spring and summer troll fisheries, a review of the 2009 troll season and the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Department staff as well as the executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association will present information at these meetings. Anyone with an interest in the troll fishery is welcome to attend.

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