Cook Inlet Task Force Releases Draft Report

Rep Johnson’s office released a copy of a draft report prepared by a volunteer from the Cook Inlet Task Force.  Bob Tkacz has given SEAFA permission to reprint his article from the Laws of the SEAS published  last night.

The full report and other Cook Inlet Task Force materials are available at: http://www.housemajority.org/coms/jcis/jcis_background.php

SALMON TASK FORCE REPORT

QUESTIONS MANAGMENT LEGALITY

Current Cook Inlet salmon management and allocations may be unconstitutional according to the draft Joint Cook

Inlet Salmon Task Force released to other lawmakers by the panel chairman, Sept. 29.Ostensibly written by

Rep. Craig Johnson (R-Anch.), the report compares the Cook Inlet commercial fishingfleet to pre-statehood fish trap operators and suggests the Board of Fisheries has no standards for its allocation decisions. “It’s difficult to envision what criteria the Alaska Board of Fisheries applies in making those allocations,” Johnson declares on Page 34 of what he said three weeks earlier would be a “fair and balanced” report. The Fish Board was never scheduled to testify during the panel’s four 2008 hearings where public or invited testimony was taken, but the draft report is replete with selective and questionable use of statistical and other data attacking its decisions during its 2008 session on Cook Inlet salmon proposals and Department of Fish & Game management since then.

In a section titled “Analysis of the Fairness and Constitutionality of Current Cook Inlet Allocations,” Johnson wrote, “It’s clear from both the language of the (Alaska) Constitution and from the historical context, that the framers intended allocations of state fishery resources to benefit Alaskans in the broadest sense possible.”  A page later he observes, “Analyzing current allocations of Upper Cook Inlet salmon it appears that important lessons of the past may not have been heeded, nor constitutional mandates followed.” Johnson’s measure of the lack of fair allocations is the repeatedly noted statistic that “82% of the total Upper Cook Inlet salmon harvest is allocated to less than 1% of the region’s population — those who hold commercial fishing permits.” Comparing some 2,667 commercial permit holders to the 134,415 Cook Inlet resident sport license holders and 20,000 personal use permit holders he counts as 150,000 “individuals,” Johnson writes that 2.3% of “users” are allocated 82% of the resource.  “Based on that fact alone the current Upper Cook Inlet salmon allocation seems disproportionately biased in favor of a tiny segment of the resource’s users,” the report declares.At a Sept. 3 meeting of the Legislative Council, Johnson asked for $20,000 to hire the lobbyist-husband of his committee aide, Debra Higgins, to write the report. He said the document would be ready on the first day of the 2010. Johnson promoted Mark Higgins an attorney who was editor of his laws school review, as virtually the only person in Alaska with the time and ability to write the report. “I’m very comfortable that we will have a fair and balanced report … I just want to make sure it’s factual and fair to both sides,” Johnson said. Legislative leaders rejected Johnson’s funding request and

House Speaker Mike Chenault told Johnson to finish  his job. Johnson also claimed to have an opinion from the Legislative Ethics Committee approving his proposal to hire his staffer’s husband. He did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails requesting an interview and, to date has refused to provide a copy of the ethics opinion.

The report was originally due on the first day of this year’s legislative session and was supposed to contain task force recommendations to resolve salmon conservation and allocation disputes in Cook Inlet, according to SCR 21, the  resolution passed in 2008 that created the task force. Sen. Charlie Huggins (R-Wasilla), the sponsor of SCR 21, a task force member and consistent critic of the Cook  Inlet commercial fishing fleet also refused to respond to an interview request. An aide to Huggins said he was not available for a telephone interview because he was “out of town.” Johnson’s office indicated by email last week that he would release a draft unedited version of the report. The 96-page document he release contains no index or table of contents and amounts to a legalistic brief in favor of massive reallocation of Cook Inlet sockeye.

NO RECOMMENDATIONS INTENDED

At the last meeting of the task force Jan. 29 Johnson said “It is not my intention to provide recommendations from the committee. I don’t think we have time to do that.” He invited task force members to offer individual recommendations but none ever did. It is not clear whether any other members of the task force saw the draft report before it was released or to what extent they agree with its conclusions. At the Sept. 3 meeting Johnson declared, “We are basically going to be boiling down the testimony from the department and user groups. There will not be editorial comment involved.”

Yet the report, in the schizophrenic style of right wing cable TV ranter Glenn Beck, is full of pro-sport fishing recommendations. On Page 5 it declares, “What this report does not do — and should not do — is draw firm conclusions on many of the issues. To do so would be inappropriate.”

‘REASONABLE CONCLUSIONS SUPPORTED’

Five lines later Johnson continues, “Statements made in this report summarize the Task Force’s examination of those issues, and draws reasonable conclusions where supported by verifiable, objective data.” Johnson devotes several pages to criticisms of Department of Fish & Game management that are contained in a2007 assessment of Cook Inlet salmon management prepared by a third-party auditor for the Marine Stewardship Council. Headquartered in London the group certifies that fisheries are managed sustainably, based on United Nations standards. Alaska’s salmon fishery has been certified by the MSC since 2000. The MSC report was not reviewed at any task force meeting and it is unlikely most panel members have read it to date. The report was discussed only briefly at an Oct. 9, 2008 task force meeting where Rep. Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak) suggested groups he did not identify were “trying to kill the (MSC) messenger” because the organization “had a lot of concerns about the sustainable management of Upper Cook Inlet.”

The agenda for that hearing included only presentations by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. Following the session ASMI Executive Dir. Ray Riutta said Stoltze’s claim  regarding MSC were unexpected. “I haven’t heard MSC say anything about the Upper Cook Inlet or any other fishery in Alaska not being sustainable. I was surprised by that statement,” Riutta said. Brad Ack, then director of the MSC program in the Americas, also said Stoltze was mistaken. “The MSC does not have any concerns” about sustainable salmon management in Cook Inlet, Ack said following the October meeting. He said stakeholders, such as Stoltze’s sport fishing and lodge owner constituents, may have complained about the state’s salmon management in comments to the MSC during the annual reviews required under the five-year certification. In a tactic used throughout the task force report Johnson devotes extensive verbiage to a dire concerns relating to commercial harvesting, then briefly suggest they may not be true and should be investigated.

On Page 21 of the report Johnson quotes the MSC reviewer’s statement: “Of particular concern to the reviewers has been a prevailing belief in the management system that fisheries cannot pose a significant risk to salmon sustainability where habitats are intact. Until this belief has been thoroughly vetted documented and published in the scientific literature, this review must continue to treat this view as an untested hypothesis.” Johnson doesn’t mention that the Alaska salmon fishery was fully recertified by the MSC in 2008, but declares, “Whether or not those statements fairly characterize ADF&G policies, the report’s conclusion that based on MSC standards Susitna sockeye are a “depleted stock” should be cause for concern by state policy makers and fishery managers.”

In a section titled

“Upper Cook Inlet Salmon Allocation Summary,” Johnson writes on Page 50, “Another consideration in Upper Cook Inlet salmon allocation is the extent to which aggressive prosecution of the Upper Cook Inlet commercial sockeye salmon fishery may be contributing to the sharp declines in Northern District Susitna sockeye salmon stocks, and thereby threatening the continued sustainability of those fisheries.”

He says the issue needs more investigation and that the task force “could not make any determination on that issue based on the limited time and ADF&G data available.” A few lines later he writes “To the extend Upper Cook Inlet salmon management practices that favor commercial fisheries threaten the sustainability of Northern District salmon stocks the practice must be changed. “Johnson repeatedly blames his failure to meet deadlines or to complete the charges imposed in SCR 21 on the lack of funding and time for deliberations by task force members. He does not mention that he opposed an amendment during House floor debate of the resolution offered by Speaker Chenault to set the report deadline at December 2009. Johnson also rejected warnings that from Chenault, among others, that the project could not be completed without dedicated legislative staff or a budget to hire outside help. Johnson writes that “major new studies” on the economic impact of sport and commercial fishing were only completed at the end of December 2008, inferring that the information was not expected. He does not mention that the task force was well aware that the sport fishing value report, begun in 2007, had always been slated for publication in December 2008 and was completed on schedule.

By contrast, Johnson never published a work plan for the task force or any long-term schedule of meetings or subjects that would be addressed.  Johnson also seems to deny 50 years of successful state salmon management. “It became clear to Task Force members that on many Cook Inlet salmon fisheries management issues there is insufficient scientific data on which to base definitive conclusions,” he writes on Page 5 of the report. He also calls for “immediate action” and more information regarding Susitna Valley sockeye followed by the statement, “The sheer complexity of most allocative or management issues involving Cook Inlet salmon fisheries preclude the Task Force from offering the Legislature definitive answers to many of the issues raised in SCR 21.” Johnson later proposes a wholesale reallocation of salmon to sport and personal use harvesters suggesting a 50% shift to sport anglers would be economically justifiable.

ALASKA SPORT FISHING ‘BRAND’ UNMATCHED

In a section headed, “What the New Upper Cook Inlet Numbers Tell Us,” Page 67, Johnson draws a variety of  conclusions based on the two reports the task force didn’t have time to analyze. The second was titled “The SeafoodIndustry in Alaska’s Economy,”  written by the consulting group Northern Economics for the Marine Conservation Alliance. Drawing variously from the two reports Johnson says the “economic contribution” to Alaska from the Upper Cook Inlet sport fishery is $630 million while the comparable first wholesale value of the commercial harvest is only $30.7 million. Johnson raises the prospect that commercial fishing in Cook Inlet may be headed for extinction while the sport fishing industry there has a world monopoly on the wild salmon fishing experience. “The radically divergent economic trends of the two segments of the Upper Cook Inlet salmon fishery during the past 15 years demonstrate that the future demand and value of one ‘use’ is decreasing, or is at best stagnant and likely to remain so,” he suggests.He writes on Page 70 that the “Alaska sport fishing brand” can’t be matched “anywhere.” On Page 71 he observes, ” In contrast the Upper Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishing industry has no dominant position for its product in the world market and no ability to gain one.” Apparently unaware that the Chilean farmed salmon industry collapsed earlier this year because of rampant diseases among its pen-raised fish, Johnson says, “dynamic and irreversible changes in the global salmon product marketplace” are also responsible for decline of the value of Cook Inlet wild salmon. Referring to a 2004 study he writes, “The introduction of large quantities of farmed fish, particularly farmed coho from Chile,  has to a great extent displaced Alaskan wild salmon in the critical Japanese frozen salmon market.”

BLEAK PROGNOSIS FOR COOK INLET FLEET

“From a basic supply and demand standpoint therefore the long term economic prognosis does not look good for the Upper Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishery,” he adds. Johns does acknowledge a certain need to maintain a Cook Inlet commercial fleet. “To the extent commercial fishing is necessary to guarantee the sustainability of Cook Inlet salmon runs (to prevent overescapement) or important maximizing total economic gains from the fishery the continued viability of the commercial sector would have to be ensured,” he writes. However he also suggests an increase in personal use harvesting could further reduce the need for commercial vessels.

Johnson also suggests the economic gain from expanded sport fishing overwhelms any loss to commercial harvesters. “As an example even a reallocation as large as 50% of commercial harvest could be offset with an increase of only 8.5% in nonresident sportfish spending.”

Laws for the SEA is written and published by Bob Tkacz at Juneau, Alaska. All rights reserved. ©Copyright 2009 Robert P. Tkacz.

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NSRAA Seeking Nominations for Board of Directors

There are five commercial fishing seats on the NSRAA Board of Directors whose terms expire in March 2010.  They are:

Cheyne Blough – At large gillnet

Rafe Allensworth – At large power troll

Dean Haltiner – Petersburg seine

Richie Davis – At Large troll

Sven Stroosma – At large seine

Nominations must be submitted to the NSRAA office by 5 pm on the first full meeting day of the fall NSRAA Board Meeting on Nov 30-Dec 2nd.  A nomination petition must be signed by three other permit holders involved in the commercial salmon fishery in ADFG Districts 9-16.

NSRAA’s Board of Directors meets twice a year and the association pays for the cost attending the meeting. 

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SSRAA seeking Nominations for Board of Directors

The following Board of Director gear group seats expire December 2009:

Nick Babich, Seine

Dean Barker, Gillnet

Greg Rice, Gillnet

Dave Otte, Power troll

SSRAA is seeking nominations for qualified individuals to serve in these seats for three year terms starting Jan 2010.

The Board hold approximately five meetings a year October through May, usually on a Friday evening.  All travel expenses and board/committee fees are paid by SSRAA.  Additional involvement in special committees of the Board is at the discretion of the individual board members.  Please submit your nomination with a brief biography for each candidate by October 20, 2009.  Appointments will be made at the December 2009 Board of Directors meeting.

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Governor Parnell Selects Alaskans for Salmon Treaty Boards

September 22, 2009, Anchorage, Alaska – Governor Sean Parnell today nominated Alaskans for service on the Pacific Salmon Commission and its panels relating to management of salmon fisheries in Southeast Alaska and Canadian waters.
     The Pacific Salmon Commission was established by the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty between the United States and Canada to coordinate management of Pacific salmon stocks off their coasts. Members of the commission and its panels include representatives of government and fishing interests.
Pacific Salmon Commission
     Governor Parnell nominated David Bedford to continue serving as Alaska’s commissioner in the U.S. Section of the Pacific Salmon Commission, and James Bacon to continue serving as Alaska’s alternate commissioner in that section. The nominations are subject to final approval and appointment by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
     With the technical advice and assistance of regional panels, commissioners negotiate and implement revisions to the Pacific Salmon Treaty, resolve disputes and oversee the commission’s activities.
     Bedford, of Juneau, is deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He also represents the department at the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. He has been a Southeast Alaska commercial fisherman and executive director of the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association. Bedford earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, and a law degree from the Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.
     Bacon, of Ketchikan, has been a commercial fisherman since 1975, and works as an able-bodied seaman with the Alaska Marine Highway System. He is a member and past president of the United Fishermen of Alaska and the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, a member of the United Southeast Alaska Gillnetter’s Association and a member of the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association’s board of directors.
Pacific Salmon Commission, Northern Panel
     Governor Parnell nominated William F. Auger, Mitchell L. Eide, Arnold M. Enge, Dennis E. Longstreth, Howard T. Pendell and Robert M. Thorstensen Jr. to continue their service on the Pacific Salmon Commission’s Northern Panel, as public members with experience in salmon fisheries. These nominations are subject to final approval and appointment by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
    The Northern Panel provides technical and regulatory advice to the Pacific Salmon Commission relating to management of salmon stocks originating in rivers lying between Cape Suckling and Cape Caution.
     Auger, of Ketchikan, is co-owner of Bronze Maiden Seafoods, LLC. He is president of the United Southeast Alaska Gillnetter’s Association, and is involved with the Ketchikan Fish and Game Advisory Committee and the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund. Auger has served on the panel since 1989.
    Eide, of Petersburg, is a commercial fisherman and lifelong Petersburg resident. A vessel owner and operator, he fishes for salmon, herring, halibut, black cod and crab. He serves on the boards of directors of the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association and the Northern Southeast Alaska Regional Aquaculture Association. Eide has served on the panel since 2006.
    Enge, of Petersburg, is a commercial fisherman who has been owner and operator of a drift gillnetting vessel since 1974. He is a member of the board and former president of the United Southeast Alaska Gillnetter’s Association, has served on the Petersburg Fish and Game Advisory Committee since 1985 and was the committee chairman for eight years. Enge has served on the Northern Panel since 1989 and the Transboundary Panel since 2001.
     Longstreth, of Sitka, has been involved in the salmon trolling fishery since 1973. He has been a member of the Alaska Trollers Association, and been involved with the Port Alexander and Sitka fish and game advisory committees. He has previously served on the Port Alexander City Council and the Northern Southeast Local Emergency Planning Committee. Longstreth has served on the panel since 2000.
     Pendell, of Sitka, has been a commercial salmon troller and long-liner since 1974. He is a founding member of the Sumner Straits Fish and Game Advisory Committee and a past member of the Alaska Trollers Association, and was involved the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund. Pendell has served on the panel since 2001.
     Thorstensen, of Juneau, is executive director of the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association. He has been active in the United Fishermen of Alaska, the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund and the Douglas Island Pink and Chum Hatchery board of directors. He has been an advisor to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, a member of the Pacific Salmon Treaty Coalition, and a consultant for the Armstrong-Keta’s Port Armstrong Hatchery and the Sitka Herring Group. He has served on the panel since 1996.
Pacific Salmon Commission, Transboundary Panel
     Governor Parnell reappointed John H. Clark, Ph.D., to the Pacific Salmon Commission’s Transboundary Panel.
     The Transboundary Panel provides technical and regulatory advice to the Pacific Salmon Commission relating to management of salmon stocks originating in the Alsek, Taku and Stikine rivers, for both in-river and terminal area fisheries.
     Clark has worked with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game since 1975 in positions including fishery biologist, fisheries scientist, Interior Alaska regional supervisor and Pacific Salmon Treaty specialist. He is author of numerous technical fisheries publications, and has won numerous professional honors, including a Meritorious Service Award from the American Fisheries Society’s Alaska chapter, the Governor’s Recognition Award for negotiation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty and a Conservation and Management Service Award from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Clark earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Carroll College in Montana, and master’s and doctoral degrees in fisheries biology from Colorado State University. Clark will continue on the Transboundary Panel as a member with salmon fishery management responsibility and expertise.

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Ronnie Sparks Sr.

Long-time fishermen and SEAFA member Ronnie Sparks Sr. passed away.  Ronnie had the fishing vessel Memories and was a resident of Haines. We offer our condolences to his family and friends.

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National Ocean Policy Interim Report Out for Public Comment

Following is the press release announcing the Interim Report and a link to the report. There is a 30 day public comment period.  SEAFA commented on the idea of a national ocean policy during their first request for input.  We have attached a copy of those comments in addition to the report. 

Obama Administration Officials Release Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force Interim Report
     WASHINGTON, DC – Obama Administration officials today released the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force Interim Report for a 30-day public review and comment period.  The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, led by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, consists of 24 senior-level officials from Administration agencies, departments, and offices.  The report provides proposals for a comprehensive national approach to uphold our stewardship responsibilities and ensure accountability for our actions. 
     “This Interim Report represents a wide spectrum of views and considerations, not just from within the federal government, but from members of the public, local officials, stakeholders and experts from coast to coast,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  “It delivers on President Obama’s request for recommendations that will move this country towards a more robust national policy for our oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes and recognizes that we have a responsibility to protect the oceans and coasts for the benefit of current and future generations.”
     “America’s oceans are vital to our prosperity, health, security and quality of life,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  “This is a historic day — for the first time, we as a nation say loudly and clearly that healthy oceans matter.”
     “America’s enduring maritime interests — our reliance on the oceans and Great Lakes for commerce, sustenance, and security — have not changed since our Nation’s founding.  What has changed is the complexity of the pressures on these critical ecosystems and the demand for an effective and integrated national strategy to manage their use, protection, and sustainability,” said Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Thad Allen.  “The recommendations of this Interim Report chart a clear course to address the needs for an integrated national policy and governance structure that will better provide for the safety, security, and stewardship of the maritime environment, now and into the future.”
     “President Obama’s vision for a sustainable and comprehensive strategy for our oceans is vital to the wise management of these critical resources,” said Associate Deputy Secretary of the Interior Laura Davis.  “With 1.7 billion acres in the Outer Continental Shelf — including management responsibilities for offshore renewable and conventional energy resources, 35,000 miles of coastline, and millions of acres of marine-based parks, refuges and national monuments – the Department of Interior and its agencies are front and center in the effort to build the coordinated national ocean policy that our country needs.”
     “The Interim Report provides a clear road map for America’s stewardship of the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes,” said EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water Peter Silva. “EPA is proud to have played a key role in the development of this crucial report, which is inextricably linked with EPA’s mission to protect and safeguard human health and the environment.”
     The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force was created by Presidential Memorandum on June 12, 2009, to develop a national policy for the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.   The Memorandum charged the Task Force with developing recommendations that include a national policy for our oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes, a framework for improved Federal policy coordination, and an implementation strategy to meet the objectives of a national ocean policy within 90 days.  Within 180 days, the Task Force is charged with developing a recommended framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning. 
The Interim Report provides proposals for a comprehensive national approach to uphold our stewardship responsibilities and ensure accountability for our actions.  Additionally, the Interim Report outlines a more balanced, productive and sustainable approach to our ocean resources.  Specifically, it highlights three key areas:
A National Policy: The Interim Report proposes a new National Policy that recognizes that America’s stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes is intrinsically and intimately linked to environmental sustainability, human health and well-being, national prosperity, adaptation to climate and other environmental change, social justice, foreign policy, and national and homeland security.
A Robust Governance Structure: The Interim Report proposes modifications to the existing governance structure, including a stronger mandate and direction, and renewed and sustained high-level engagement.  Under the proposal, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology Policy would lead an interagency National Ocean Council to coordinate ocean-related issues across the Federal Government and the implementation of the National Ocean Policy.  Such a governance structure, combined with sustained high-level staff involvement, would ensure that these areas are a priority throughout the Federal Government.
Categories for Action: The Interim Report prioritizes nine categories for action, including ecosystem-based management, regional ecosystem protection and restoration, and strengthened and integrated observing systems, that seek to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.  These strategies and objectives provide a bridge between the National Policy and action on the ground.
     The Task Force is now focusing its efforts on developing a recommended framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning as charged within 180 days.  In addition, the Task Force continues its public engagement activities, including holding at least five more regional public meetings scheduled to take place in the following cities: San Francisco, California; Providence, Rhode Island; Cleveland, Ohio; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Honolulu, Hawaii.  The initial meeting was held in Anchorage, Alaska on August 21, 2009.  Expert briefings will continue while the Interim Report is available for review and public comment.  The Interim Report may be found at www.whitehouse.gov/oceans.  The Task Force will provide a final report with all of its recommendations later this year. 

National Ocean Policy Interim Report

SEAFA Comments regarding a National Ocean Policy

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University of Alaska Offering Class on Cruise Ship Impacts

Dr. Keith Criddle and Dr. Scott Gende will be offering a class Thursdays 3:40-5:00pm for 1 credit graduate course – public seminar at 101 UAF Lena Point Fisheries Building in Juneau and by videoconference to 138 IRV II in Fairbanks and by video conference or webcast to NPS and other UA other locations as demand warrants (contact fisheries@uaf.edu).  Class is titled Cruise Ship Impacts in the Marine Envirnoment as part of the Current Issues in Marine Policy. 

See attached brochure on class for additional information or list of speakers

Current Issues in Marine Policy – Cruise Ship Impacts on the Marine Environment

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Four Public Meetings in Southeast to Discuss Sport Fish Saltwater Logbook Issues in September

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is hosting public meetings to explain and solicit comments/recommendations on proposed saltwater logbook issues for the 2010 fishing season. Sport Fish Division staff plan to hold four meetings in the region: Sitka- Sept. 8 at the Westmark Banquet Room; Petersburg- Sept. 15 at the Petersburg Medical Center Conference Room; Juneau- Sept. 23 at the Extended Stay Deluxe 1800 Shell Simmons Drive; and Ketchikan- Sept. 29 at the ADF&G Conference Room 2030 Sea Level Dr., Suite 205. All meetings will start at 6:00p.m. The division is planning to hold additional meetings in Anchorage, Soldotna, Homer, Kodiak, Palmer, and Fairbanks during October and November. For additional information contact Troy Tydingco, Sitka Area Management Biologist (907) 747-5379.

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NOAA to Pursue National Policy for Sustainable Marine Aquaculture

On September 3, 2009, NOAA announced its intent to develop a comprehensive national policy for sustainable marine aquaculture in the coming months, providing a framework for addressing aquaculture activity in federal waters. The national policy also will provide context for the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Regulating Offshore Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico, which took effect on Sept. 3.

“We will develop a national policy that focuses on the protection of ocean resources and marine ecosystems, addresses the fisheries management issues posed by aquaculture, and allows U.S. aquaculture to proceed in a sustainable way,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.

The national policy will build on NOAA’s significant work to date to safeguard U.S. coastal and ocean environments, while enabling sustainable domestic aquaculture that adds to the U.S. seafood supply and supports important commercial and recreational fisheries. The policy also will include development of coordinated federal standards for permitting aquaculture facilities in federal waters and strategies to provide the scientific information needed for permitting decisions.

The following documents are also available for viewing or download:

House to Hold Aquaculture Hearing on Sept. 9

The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, led by Del. Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), will hold an oversight hearing on Offshore Aquaculture on Sept. 9, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, DC. The hearing will be webcast via the House Resources website. For more information on the hearing, click here. For a link to the live webcast on the day of the hearing, go to: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.php. Look for the “webcasts” logo on the pick list to the left.

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Survey of Coastal Sea Floors includes Alaska

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced 40M funding from the economic stimulus plan for the survey to survey and chart coastal seafloors.

Locke says contractors will conduct 39 surveys in the Chesapeake Bay and the coastal waters of Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, and Washington.  The work will include mapping the sea floor, measure the water depth, search for debris and record coastal sea beds natural features and aquatic life.  Data will also be collected to update nautical charts and to aid in maritime planning.

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