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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Board of Fish Appointments

Board of Fisheries
Governor Palin appointed Brent G. Johnson, and reappointed Karl S. Johnstone, to the Board of Fisheries.
The seven-member Board of Fisheries is responsible for conservation and development of the state’s fishery resources by setting seasons, bag limits, methods and means for the state’s subsistence, commercial, sport, guided sport, and personal use fisheries.  The board sets fishery management policy, and makes the allocation decisions which the Department of Fish and Game must carry out through its management of fishery resources.
Johnson, of Clam Gulch, is a lifelong commercial fisherman who has been a salmon setnetter for most of his life.  He has worked as a salmon and herring seiner and halibut longliner in Cook Inlet, and as a salmon seiner in Prince William Sound.  Johnson has been active in fisheries management issues, having served more than a decade on the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee from the early 1990s to 2002, the last two years as chairman.  He was a member of the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association board of directors from 1988-2001, and rejoined the board as president in 2005.  Johnson is a past president and board member of the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association.  His appointment represents the first appointment of a Cook Inlet commercial fisherman to the board since 1975.
Johnson has served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission since 1997.  He has also been president of Kasilof Regional Historical Association since 2005, and president of the Kenai Peninsula Historical Association since 2008.  Born in Seldovia, he graduated from Ninilchik High School in 1973.  He was appointed to a public seat.
Johnstone, of Anchorage, is a retired Superior Court judge who has been an active sport fisherman in Alaska since 1967.  He fished commercially for salmon in Bristol Bay and herring in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska in the 1980s.  Johnstone earned a bachelor’s degree in business and a law degree from the University of Arizona.  He practiced law until 1979 when he was appointed Superior Court judge.  Johnstone was appointed presiding judge of the Third Judicial District in 1990 and served in that position until his retirement in 1996.  He has since had a limited practice as a lawyer, mediator and arbitrator.  Johnstone was reappointed to a public seat.
Note:  Brent Johnson will be replacing Bonnie Williams of Fairbanks. (KLH)

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Troll Chinook Quota Announced

ADFG Press Release 

Petersburg. . The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that under management provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, the 2009 Southeast Alaska all-gear harvest quota is 218,800 Treaty Chinook salmon. This abundance-based quota represents an increase of approximately 48,800 fish when compared with the last year’s all-gear quota of 170,000 fish. The 2009 preseason abundance index (AI) is 1.33, up from the 2008 preseason AI of 1.07. This results in a commercial troll fishery preseason Chinook salmon harvest allocation of 161,638 fish. The all-gear Chinook salmon quota is allocated among commercial and sport fisheries according to management plans established by the Alaska Board of Fisheries [5 AAC 29.060(b) and 47. 055]. The 2009 Pacific Salmon Treaty agreement mandates a 15% reduction in the Southeast Alaska Chinook salmon quota from the 1999 Treaty Agreement at any given AI. The need for continuation of this level of reduction will be reviewed by the Pacific Salmon Commission in 2014.

2009 Treaty Chinook Allocation

All-gear Treaty Quota 218,800

Purse seine 9,408

Drift gillnet 6,345

Set gillnet 1,000

Troll 161,638

Sport 40,409

Trollers are advised that the catch allocations presented here do not include the majority of Taku RiverChinook salmon that may be harvested in commercial and sport fisheries in District 11. For more information on the Taku River fishery, please refer to the news release issued on March 19, 2009. The increase in the all-gear quota and the troll allocation will likely result in increased fishing time and harvest opportunities for Chinook salmon in the summer troll fishery compared to 2008. However, because we don’t know what the final harvest of non-Alaska hatchery fish (Treaty fish) will be in the winter and spring fisheries, the magnitude of any increased fishing time will not actually be known until just prior to the first summer season Chinook salmon opening on July 1. The summer troll quota is calculated by subtracting the winter and spring fishery Treaty Chinook salmon harvest (there is no specific total limit on the number of Treaty Chinook salmon that may be harvested in the spring fishery) from the annual troll allocation. The summer fishery will be managed to harvest 70% of the total summer quota in the first summer Chinook salmon opening. The decision as to whether the first summer opening will be managed in season rather than for a fixed number of days will be announced just prior to the July 1 opening.

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Treaty King Salmon Quota Announced

ADFG announced today that the all gear chinook quota is 218,800.  This is an increase from last year of 48,800 kings.  The split between gear groups according to the Board of Fish management plans should be:  TROLL – 161,637 kings; SEINE 9,408; GILLNET 6,345; SET GILLNET 1,000; and SPORT 40,410 kings.  In addition there is a pre-season quota for Taku of 8,260 additional kings that don’t count towards the treaty quota harvest.

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Wrangell Seafoods Deal Back On Table

Trident Seafoods has once again put together a deal for the purchase of Wrangell Seafoods that will be taken back before the bankruptcy court for approval.   

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