Lawsuit against the District 1 & 2 Dungeness Crab Season Change

On June 11th  The Village of Kasaan filed a lawsuit against the Board of Fish for the regulation change that brought the District 1 & 2 dungeness crab season to match with the rest of Southeast.  They also asked for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and a Preliminary Injunction (PI) against implementing the District 2 crab opening.  The State attorney had until 3:00 pm on June 12th to file a response and the TRO hearing was held at 4:00 pm.  The Judge DENIED the TRO at the hearing and a preliminary injunction hearing will likely be held sometime next week. 

Village of Kasaan Complaint

Motion for TRO & PI

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Halibut Charter Lawsuit Update

Lawyers involved in the lawsuit must provide to the courts suggested scheduling information for the various stages of filings by June 19th.  It is expected that by late July the court will have heard the merits of the case and a ruling will be issued.

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SE Gillnetters – Don’t forget to Vote

The Rainforest Wild regional seafood Development association (RSDA) ballots to assess the gillnet fleet 1% must be postmarked by June 16th.  If you haven’t sent in your ballot yet! please do so today.

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Preliminary Injunction Denied

The Court held a preliminary injunction hearing today and denied the request so the merits of the case will be decided in a trial.  Will provide more information as it becomes available.

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Navigational Aids being Vandalized

USCG has noticed a lot of vandalism of navigational aids and is requesting any one noticing missing or damaged aids, or witness anyone vandalizing or stealing aids, are requested to contact the nearest Coast Guard unit or the District 17Command Center at (907) 463-2001.

Persons who vandalize, obstruct or impair the usefulness of aids to navigation in any way are subject to a fine of $2,500 and up to one year in prison.

Vandalism or theft are most often reported in Gastineau Channel, lower Stephens Passage, and Olga and Neva Straits near Sitka.  In 2007, a bouy was shot with a large caliber rifle and the replacement cost was over $28,000.

There are over 800 aids throughout Southeast Alaska year-round. The Coast Guard aims to ensure that all aids to navigation are on station, and displaying proper characteristics.

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Board of Fish Groundfish Regulation Changes Takes Effect May 31st

Sitka… The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that the new groundfish regulationsapproved by the Board of Fish in February will go into effect on May 31. The new regulation bookletsshould be available by the middle of June. Following is a summary of the new regulations.


5AAC 28.173(a)(1) The allowable bycatch of lingcod taken by halibut fishermen using longline gear will now be set by emergency order. Prior regulation established a 10% bycatch of lingcod in the Icy Bay Subdistrict and 5% bycatch in the remaining waters of Southeast. With this new regulation, the department has the ability to set the appropriate bycatch percentage to achieve the harvest allocation of lingcod in each management area. Effective May 31, lingcod bycatch allowances for the halibut longline fishery are as follows:

Icy Bay Subdistrict (IBS)- 10%

East Yakutat Section (EYKT)- 10%

Northern Southeast Outside Section (NSEO)- 10%

Central Southeast Outside Section (CSEO)- 15%

Southern Southeast Outer Coast Sector (SSEOC)- 10%

Northern Southeast Inside Subdistrict (NSEI)- 5%

Southern Southeast Internal Waters Sector (SSEIW)- 5%

Fishermen are reminded that lingcod are managed by area and area closures will occur as allocations are taken. Closures will be announced by news release as well as the Coast Guard “Notice to Mariners” report and the National Weather Service broadcast. Updates of area closures will also be available on the Groundfish Hotline at 747-4882.


5AAC 28.160(c)(1)(A) In the Southeast Outside Subdistrict, the annual allowable catch of DSR is  calculated based on the federal total allowable catch (TAC) of DSR with 84 percent allocated to commercial fisheries and 16 percent allocated to the sport fisheries, after the estimated subsistence harvest has been subtracted from the TAC. Prior to the new regulation, the estimated subsistence harvest was deducted from the commercial allocation after the 84/16 split was computed.  5AAC 28.171(a) The allowable bycatch of DSR in commercial fisheries will be set at 10% of the target  species on board unless the department sets a different bycatch percentage in an emergency order. The prior regulation set a maximum of 10% bycatch of DSR for most fisheries. This new regulation gives the department the ability to set the appropriate bycatch percentage to achieve the harvest allocation of DSR. Effective May 31 the DSR bycatch allowance for commercial groundfish, halibut, and troll fisheries is increased to 15% of the target species on board the vessel, except the DSR bycatch allowances will remain at 1% for sablefish fisheries and 0% in fisheries operating pot gear.

The new regulation also clarifies that the DSR full retention and reporting requirements apply only to permit holders fishing for groundfish or halibut. Permit holders fishing for salmon are exempt from full retention requirements.


5AAC 28.150(e) The prohibition on selling black rockfish taken as bycatch in the closure areas listed in  this regulation has been repealed. Black rockfish taken as bycatch in Sitka Sound and the four other black rockfish closure areas located in NSEO, CSEO, and SSEOC may now be sold, up to the allowable bycatch limit. Directed fishing for black rockfish is still prohibited in these areas.


5AAC 28.175(b)(1) The latitude and longitude for start and ending positions must now be reported in degrees and decimal minutes for each set in a longline logbook. This new regulation specifies that the location is recorded in a particular format. Additional information on Southeast Regional Groundfish Fisheries can be found on our web site at:


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Motion to Intervene In Halibut Charter Lawsuit Filed Today

Commercial fishermen, processors, subsistence fishermen, Hoonah Indian Association, City of Pelican and City of Port Alexander joined together to file a motion to intervene in the Halibut Charter Lawsuit and request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the one halibut daily bag limit from being implemented on June 5th.

A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for June 4th.

 The Halibut Coalition issued a press release on the Motion to Intervene.

Press Release on Motion to Intervene

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Taku Chinook Fishery Update

The 2nd commercial gillnet opening for kings harvested approximately 360 kings.  The sport fishery as of 5/20 has harvested approx. 420 chinooks for a total US harvest of 1400.  The Canadians have harvested 3,642 large kings in their fishery.  The first in-season projection was figured last week and is for a slightly lower forecast than the pre-season projection.

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Charter Operators file Lawsuit

A lawsuit was filed in DC by some charter operators to try and overturn the one halibut daily bag limit for charter clients in 2C.  The lawsuit includes a request for a preliminary injunction against the one halibut rule being implemented on June 5th.

The following press release was issued today by the Halibut Coalition

May 22, 2009


Charter Lawsuit Ignores Halibut Conservation Concerns

Resource and Other Users Harmed by Charter Fleet Overfishing


Linda Behnken, Chair

Halibut Coalition

(907) 747-0695


The Halibut Coalition was disappointed to learn today that charter boat operators will sue in an attempt to overturn the new one halibut per day rule. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) created the rule in an attempt to curb charter overfishing of the halibut resource.

Halibut Coalition representatives said the rule is both fair and necessary to protect halibut stocks. “The Council [NPFMC] has been working on charter halibut management plans since 1993,” said Halibut Coalition Chair Linda Behnken. “The process has been both extensive and open, with public comment taken in more than 30 meetings and thousands of pages of analysis completed. It is disheartening that charter boat operators have chosen to sue, rather than reduce their catch to meet conservation goals.”

The halibut resource in Area 2C has suffered a significant decline in the past decade, with a 58 percent drop in exploitable biomass. The Southeast longline fleet has accepted a 54 percent reduction in the commercial quota over the past 4 years. While the cuts have created economic hardship for many commercial longliners, they acknowledge the smaller quota is necessary to ensure the long-term health of the fishery. The commercial fleet has never surpassed its quota since the IFQ system was implemented in1995.

In sharp contrast, the charter fleet has exceeded its Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) for five consecutive years. In 2008, the charter sector caught almost one million pounds more than it was allotted. This overage directly harms the threatened halibut resource and the harvesters that rely on the resource, including subsistence and unguided sport fishermen.

Contrary to recent statements by charter boat representatives, a reduction in the charter catch does not result in a corresponding increase in the longline quota. NMFS addresses this misperception directly in the “Comments and Reponses” section published with the final rule:

                        This action should reduce the overall harvest rate from all fisheries in

                        Area 2C to a level closer to the 20 percent harvest rate target set by the

                        IPHC for conservation of the resource. If successful, a reduction in the

                        charter vessel harvest should leave more halibut in the water to the

                        benefit of all fisheries now and in future years….

                                                            [Federal Register - Vol. 74, No. 86, p. 21199]

In order for all harvesters – subsistence, unguided sport, commercial and charter – to benefit from the halibut resource in the future, the charter fleet must begin sharing in the conservation burden now. The one-halibut per day rule will force the charter fleet to stay closer to its allotted GHL, leaving more fish in the water to help rebuild the depleted stocks.

The new rule is scheduled to take effect on June 5.

The following commercial longline seafood industry members are available to discuss this issue:

1.      Linda Behnken, Executive Director and fisherman, Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association (Sitka), (907) 747-0695.

2.      Jev Shelton, Halibut Coalition (Juneau) and fisherman, 907-586-2242

3.      Peggy Parker, Executive Director, Halibut Association of North America (processing sector), (Deming, WA) (360) 592-3116 or cell (360) 319-6208

4.      Kathy Hansen, Executive Director and fisherman, Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance (Juneau), (907) 586-6652 (will auto forward).

5.      Julianne Curry, Executive Director, Petersburg Vessel Owners Association and fisherman, (907) 772-9323

Background material:

Halibut Coalition comments on the one halibut/day rule: 

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King Salmon Harvests


Harvest from the May 14, 2009 Copper River opening is estimated at 20,216 sockeye
and 1,549 Chinook salmon. This compares to an anticipated harvest of 9,386 sockeye and 2,856 Chinook salmon as based on a preseason forecast of 509,584 sockeye and 30,725 Chinook salmon.


The Taku gillnet fishery was held on May 11th and approx 600 king salmon were harvested by 60 boats.


The Spring troll fishery opened on May 1st and in the May 15th ADFG news release, ADFG estimated that 812 kings have been harvested.  In the winter troll fishery started Oct 11, 2008 and ended April 30, 2009 24,720 kings were harvested

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