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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Charter Lawsuit Ignores Halibut Conservation Concerns

Resource and Other Users Harmed by Charter Fleet Overfishing

Contact:

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:

http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/current_issues/halibut_issues/halibut.htm

Halibut Coalition comments on the one halibut/day rule: 

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King Salmon Harvests

PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND

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.

TAKU KING SALMON FISHERY

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

SPRING TROLL FISHERY

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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SE Gillnet Management Plan Available

ADFG has posted the 2009 annual gillnet management plan for Southeast Alaska and for Lynn Canal.  A copy can be picked up at ADFG offices or viewed online at http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/region1/finfish/salmon/s1mp.php

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NOAA REDUCES CHARTER HALIBUT CATCH

In a new rule released today, NOAA’s Fisheries Service reduced the number of halibut that charter vessel anglers in southeast Alaska can keep each day from two to one to protect the halibut stock. “While today’s rule addresses an immediate need to better manage the charter halibut fishery, we believe the long-term solution to sustainably managing the fishery is for the charter halibut fishery to join with the commercial halibut fishery in a catch share program,” said Doug Mecum, acting regional administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service in Alaska. “Catch share programs that allocate the total allowable catch to participants in the fishery give a strong incentive to fishermen to conserve fish stocks.” 

Halibut fishing along the Pacific Coast is managed under overall limits set for each fishing area. Sport charter halibut fishermen in Southeast Alaska have exceeded their assigned harvest levels for several years. “Sport charter fishing has grown in southeast Alaska while halibut abundance has decreased,” said Mecum. “With this rule, we are trying to reduce the charter halibut catch to ensure that we continue to fish sustainably. We want to work with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on a long-term solution for sustainable fishing by both commercial and recreational fishing sectors.” 

As part of the new rule, effective June 5, a halibut sport charter vessel angler in southeast Alaska may use only one fishing line, and no more than a total of six lines are allowed on a charter vessel fishing for halibut. Further, charter operators, guides and crew are prohibited from catching and retaining halibut during a charter fishing trip. Details of the new rule can be found at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/halibut/charters.htm 

Managers put a similar rule in place last spring, but sport charter halibut operators challenged it on procedural grounds and the agency withdrew the rule.   

Federal Register:   nmfs-final-rule-one-halibut-per-day-6may2009.pdf

Halibut Coalition Press Release: hc-pr-on-on-halibut-per-day-final-rule-2c-6may2009.pdf  

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National System of Marine Protected Areas

The Federal Government just announced the 225 charter members of the National System of Marine Protected Areas.  The process allowed for nominations, followed by a 30 day comment period (only 26 comments were received – SEAFA submitted comments).  In Alaska, the following areas are listed in the National System of Marine Protected Areas: (Marine areas only)

Glacier Bay National Park (whole park boundaries)

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

Artic National Wildlife Refuge

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

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Charter Halibut Moratorium Proposed Rule Published

The Halibut Charter Moratorium proposed rule was published today on 4/21/09 with comments due by June 5th.

The rule can be viewed at Moratorium Proposed Rule

 

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Don Giles to Retire from Icicle Seafoods

Dennis Guhlke will take over as CEO of Icicle Seafoods in July from Don Giles who has been with Icicle for over 36 years and CEO for the last 14 years.  Dennis Guhlke has worked for Icicle Seafoods as the Chief Financial Officer for the last 16 years.  Icicle Seafoods is based in Seattle and is now considered one of the largest and most diversified seafood companies in Alaska.  Its core businesses is the primary processing of Alaska seafood in most major fisheries of Alaska both shore-based and floating processing facilities.  Species include salmon, pollock, crab, halibut, cod, sablefish and herring.  Icicle Seafoods also owns Smoki Foods, the largest United States owned and operated salmon farming company, which produces salmon fillets and value-added salmon products in the Pacific Northwest, and a joint venture in Chile.

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Board of Fish Confirmation Hearing Held Today

The Legislature today voted on Governor’s appointments that needed confirmation including Board of Fish appointee’s and CFEC commissioner.

Peter Froelich was confirmed to CFEC by unanimous consent

Karl Johnstone was confirmed to the Board of Fish on a vote of 50 supporting/8 opposed/ 1 absent and 1 vacant seat

Brent Johnson was NOT confirmed to the Board of Fish on a vote of 16 supporting/ 42 opposed / 1 absent & 1 vacant seat

The Vote was:

HOUSE 

YEAS: 9 NAYS: 30 EXCUSED: 1 ABSENT: 0 

Yeas: Austerman, Chenault, Edgmon, Johansen, Kerttula, Munoz, Seaton, Thomas, Wilson 

Nays: Buch, Cissna, Coghill, Crawford, Dahlstrom, Doogan, Fairclough, Gara, Gardner, Gatto, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Harris, Hawker, Herron, Holmes, Johnson, Joule, Kawasaki, Keller, Kelly, Lynn, Millett, Neuman, Olson, Petersen, Ramras, Salmon, Stoltze, Tuck 

Excused: Foster 

 

SENATE 

YEAS: 7 NAYS: 12 EXCUSED: 0 ABSENT: 0 VACANT: 1 

Yeas: Dyson, Hoffman, Kookesh, Olson, Stedman, Stevens, Wagoner 

Nays: Bunde, Davis, Ellis, French, Huggins, McGuire, Menard, Meyer, Paskvan, Therriault, Thomas, Wielechowski

 

The Governor issued the following press release regarding the confirmations of appointments:

Governor Palin Thanks Appointees for Public Service  April 16, 2009, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin today expressed her appreciation to the Alaska State Legislature for confirming 104 Alaskans she appointed to various state positions, offices, boards and commissions. 

     “We are fortunate that Alaskans from every region of the state will gladly take time from their lives, their jobs and their families to shoulder the responsibility of service to the state,” Governor Palin said.  “I thank the legislature for these confirmations, which recognize the generous tradition of public service that is such an important part of the character of Alaskans.” 

     The governor expressed disappointment, however, at the legislature’s failure to confirm her appointment of Brent G. Johnson of Clam Gulch to the Board of Fisheries. 

     “Brent Johnson was both qualified and willing to serve on this high-profile board, and would have been the first Cook Inlet setnetter appointed since Dannie Garroutte was appointed by Governor Jay Hammond in 1975,” she said.  “While it‘s discouraging to see politics undercut Brent’s opportunity for service, I recognize the legislature’s statutory authority not to confirm an appointment.  I remain proud of the many individual Alaskans who spoke up in support of Brent Johnson, and thank the presiding officers for their efforts to keep the process fair.” 

     Under the Alaska Constitution and state law, the governor presented the legislature with the names of those she had appointed to boards since the last regular legislative session, to terms starting on or before March 1.  Her subsequent appointments to the Board of Fisheries, the Board of Game, and the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents met all timelines in state law. 

     The appointments include Alaskans living in 27 different communities around the state.  The geographical range of their hometowns closely matches the regional distribution of Alaska’s population. 

     “By appointing people from communities in every corner of our vast state, we are ensuring that those served by these boards can benefit from the full variety of experience, perspective and insights that Alaskans can bring to the table,” the governor said. 

 

     For more information on the appointees’ geographical distribution, go to the Boards and Commissions Web site:  http://www.gov.state.ak.us/pdf/BCmap_ApptByRegion_Apr2009ds.pdf   

 

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Taku King Salmon Gillnet Fishery to Open May 11

ADFG announced today (4/15/09) that the first opening of the king gillnet fishery will be Monday May 11, at 12 noon through Tuesday May 12 at 12 noon.  The minimum mesh size is 7 inches.  Any steelhead caught must be recorded on a fish ticket and the Dept asks that fihsermen notify management biologist on the grounds of any incidence of steelhead.

Taku Inlet will be closed north of the latitude of Jaw Point at approximately 58degree 16.80′ N latitude

Stephens Passage will be closed south of the latitude of Graves Point Light at approximately 58 degree 03.73′ latitude

Approximately because the marker will be the final determination of the line.

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