STIKINE RIVER AND TAKU RIVER KING SALMON FORECASTS FOR 2009

Sitka. . . The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today the following information concerning the pre-season forecast for king salmon returning to the Stikine and Taku Rivers in 2009:
     The 2009 pre-season terminal run forecast for large Stikine River king salmon is 32,000 fish. The resulting U.S. Allowable Catch (AC) is 390 large Stikine kings. An AC of this size will not allow for directed fisheries to start the first Monday in May. An in-season forecast will be produced in late May. If the first in-season forecast is similar to or greater than the pre-season forecast, limited directed king salmon fisheries could occur. The 2009 forecast is the first Stikine River king salmon pre-season terminal run forecast in the past five seasons that does not allow for directed fisheries. During the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 seasons the preseason forecasts were 80,300, 60,600, 37,400 and 46,100 fish respectively. When the first in-season Stikine River king salmon terminal run forecast is produced, a news release will be distributed as soon as possible with the estimated run size, resulting allowable catch, and potential information concerning directed king salmon fishery openings.
     The 2009 pre-season terminal run forecast for large Taku River king salmon is 50,150 fish. With the current escapement goal, there is no US AC available to conduct directed king salmon fisheries in District 11. However, an expedited bilateral review of the escapement goal range could lead to the acceptance of a lower escapement goal for the Taku River which could provide adequate US AC to conduct directed king salmon fisheries in 2009. The US and Canada have agreed to jointly review the current escapement goal by mid January so that a revised escapement goal could be in place for the 2009 season. When this process is completed, a news release will be distributed as soon as possible with the forecast run size, new escapement goal, any resulting allowable catch, and information concerning any directed king salmon fishery openings that could occur.

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Tulsequah Chief Mine Public Hearing on New Barge Plan

Juneau
Thursday, December 11, 2008
6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Project Presentation and Discussion
Centennial Hall, Ballroom 3
101 Egan Dr.

On December 5, 2008 the State of Alaska released for public review and comment the following public notice, application materials and ACMP Start-up Packet relating to the Tulsequah Chief Taku River Barging Proposal. Further information on the upcoming public meeting and how to comment can be found below, or in the Public Notice display ad which was published on December 5th in the Juneau Empire newspaper. A second display ad was published in the Juneau Empire on Sunday, December 7th.

The Tulsequah Chief mine is located in British Columbia, Canada near the confluence of the Tulsequah and Taku Rivers. Currently, the only means of transportation into the mine site is by air and water. Access to the mine has been provided over the past two summers using conventional shallow draft tug and barges, operating during the summer months. Redfern has proposed a transportation option that would use air cushion barges, towed by shallow draft tug during the aquatic season, and by amphibious tractors travelling over frozen gravel bars and ice during the non-aquatic (winter) season. There would be no barge operations during the freeze-up and break-up periods. Zinc, lead, and copper concentrate from the Tulsequah Chief Mine would be transported via the air cushion barge to Juneau where the concentrate will be transferred to commercial barge service destined for Skagway. Barges returning to the mine site from Juneau will carry supplies, such as fuel, lubricants, construction materials and mine mill maintenance materials.

http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/mining/largemine/tulsequah/publicnotice.htm

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Karl Johnstone Appointed to Board of Fish

December 5, 2008, Anchorage, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin today appointed Karl Johnstone to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. 

The Board of Fisheries’ main role is to conserve and develop the fishery resources of the state. This involves setting seasons, bag limits, methods and means for the state’s subsistence, commercial, sport, guided sport, and personal use fisheries, and it also involves setting policy and direction for the management of the state’s fishery resources. The board is charged with making allocation decisions while the Department of Fish and Game is responsible for management based on those decisions. 

 “Alaska’s fisheries are a vital part of our culture and economy, which makes sound management critical,” Governor Palin said. “Karl will be a strong voice for protection of the resource and fairness to all users.  His experience and judgment will be as asset to the board as they address many fishery management challenges.” 

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 juris doctorate in law 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. Since then he has had a limited practice as a lawyer, mediator and arbitrator. 

Johnstone fills a public seat on the board left vacant when Jeremiah Campbell of Seward resigned.  His term will run through June 30, 2009. 

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Sitka Sound Herring Preliminary GHL for 2009 Announced

Sitka. . . The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today the preliminary guideline harvest level (GHL) for the 2009 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is 15,308 tons. This GHL is based on a 20% harvest rate of the forecast biomass of 76,542 tons of mature herring. 

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Gillnet Task Force Meeting – December 1st

The Gillnet Task Force Meeting is December 1st – 8:30 am at Centennial Hall in Juneau.

See previous post for draft agenda.

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IPHC Staff Recommendations for 2009

 

Area                2008 fishery Catch Limit                  2009 IPHC Staff Recommendation 

2C                                 6.21                                                              4.47 

3A                               24.22                                                              22.53 

3B                               10.90                                                              11.67 

4A                                 3.10                                                                2.65 

4B                                 1.86                                                                1.94 

4CDE                            3.89                                                               2.93 

 

2A                                 1.22                                                                0.86 

2B                                 9.00                                                                6.96 

Total                           60.40                                                             54.01

November 25, 2008

 

International Pacific Halibut Commission Staff Preliminary Catch Limit Recommendations: 2009
 

In making catch limit recommendations for 2009, staff has considered the results of the analytic assessment, changes in the commercial and survey indices used to monitor the stock, estimated recruitment of incoming year classes, and a harvest policy that reflects coastwide policy goals. The staff also drew on the outcome of both the September 2008 Biomass Apportionment Workshop and recent regional meetings with industry. Detailed results of these additional investigations will be reported in the 2008 Report of Assessment and Research Activities. Ongoing tag returns from the coastwide PIT tagging program continue to demonstrate that regulatory areas cannot be treated as closed management units. Changes in the stock biomass as indicated by our analytic assessment as well as changes in relative abundance indices from our surveys and the commercial fishery were also influential in our recommendations for 2009.

With the exceptions of Areas 2C, 4A, and 4D commercial catch per unit effort (CPUE) in 2008 decreased from 2007 values. The 2008 IPHC setline survey CPUE values increased in Areas 2B, 4A, 4B, and 4D but decreased in all other areas. These fluctuations were generally in the ±10% range.

The analysis of optimum harvest rates for the coastwide assessment conducted in 2006 resulted in a target harvest rate of 20% of coastwide exploitable biomass. The staff examined multiple alternatives, including industry suggestions, for apportioning the estimated coastwide exploitable biomass among regulatory areas and concluded that the use of the IPHC setline survey data offered the most standardized and consistent data with which to achieve this partitioning. However, the staff also recognized some regional differences in hook competition with other species and applied an adjustment to accommodate that feature. Accordingly, the distribution of biomass, as determined by the three-year average CPUE of legal-sized fish obtained on the stock assessment survey adjusted for hook competition, was used to partition the coastwide exploitable biomass estimate into regulatory area biomass totals. The staff also removed an adjustment that was applied in Area 2A for the 2008 apportionment following reanalysis of the depth distribution of survey data compared with bottom depth distribution. While the 20% harvest rate is appropriate for the majority of the stock, a harvest rate of 15% is indicated by the analysis of productivity for Areas 4B and 4CDE conducted in 2005, and a similar analysis for Area 4A conducted in 2008. Therefore, staff recommended Catch Limits for Area 4 use a 15% harvest rate. Fishery statistics and biological characteristics of halibut in Area 3B are also of some concern to staff and a detailed analysis of this area will be conducted in 2009.

Catch Limit Recommendations for 2009

The staff recommendations totaling 54.01 million pounds for 2009 are presented in the following table. The Area 2A recommendation includes all removals (commercial, treaty Tribes, and sport) allocated by the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Catch Sharing Plan. Area 4CDE is treated as a single regulatory unit by the Commission, although the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Catch Sharing Plan partitions the Commission catch limit into limits for the individual regulatory areas. The Area 2B catch limit recommendation includes totals for the commercial and sport fisheries. The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans will allocate the adopted catch limit between the sport and commercial fisheries. The catch limit recommendations are made with the assumption that both Canada and the U.S. will manage to their domestic targets for sport fish catch.

The use of a coastwide assessment and apportionment of coastwide biomass based on survey estimates of distribution creates some substantial changes in Total Constant Exploitation Yield (Total CEY) and recommended catch limits among areas, compared to previous assessments. Lower recommended catch limits are identified for Areas 2, 3A, 4A, and 4CDE while Areas 3B and 4B have somewhat higher recommended catch limits. These differences are associated with the different distribution of biomass associated with survey apportionment of a coastwide total biomass, compared with the previous biomass distribution estimated from closed-area assessments, as well as CPUE changes in both the survey and the commercial fishery. As noted in the 2007 stock assessment, the distribution of biomass based on survey estimates is more consistent with other estimates of biomass distribution that are independent of the stock assessment.

The staff continues to recommend a slow rate of increase in catch limits when estimated CEY is increasing and a more rapid reduction of catch limits when CEY is decreasing (a Slow Up – Fast Down policy). For Areas 2, 3A, 4A, and 4CDE the staff recommends catch limits that are lower by one-half of the difference between 2008 catch limits and the estimated fishery CEYs for 2009. For Areas 3B, and 4B, the staff recommends an increase over the 2008 catch limit equivalent to one-third of the difference between the 2008 catch limit and the estimated 2009 fishery CEY.

The staff recognizes that adoption of the coastwide assessment and survey apportionment results in a significant shift in the estimated distribution of exploitable biomass. This analysis concludes that exploitation rates on the eastern portion of the stock have been too high in the past decade, resulting in lower biomass in Area 2 than would be realized if harvest rates had been near the target level. In the longer term, a lowered harvest rate will permit rebuilding of the exploitable biomass in Area 2 and an increase in available yield. The pace of that rebuilding will be affected by the strength of year classes recruiting to the fishery over the next several years.

These recommendations, along with public and industry views on them, will be considered by IPHC Commissioners and their advisors at the IPHC Annual Meeting in Vancouver, BC Canada, during January 13-16, 2009. These recommendations are preliminary and, as final data are included in the assessment, may be updated for the Annual Meeting but are not expected to change significantly.

Proposals concerning changes to catch limits should be submitted to the Commission by December 31, 2008. Catch limit proposals are available on the Commission’s web page (http://www.iphc.washington.edu/halcom/default.htm) or from the Commission’s office. Additional details about the Annual Meeting can also be found on the web page

 

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Task Force Agenda’s

The Gillnet task force meeting is DEcember 1st at 8:30 am, Centennial Hall, Hickel room

Gillnet Agenda 2008

The Seine task force meeting is December 2nd 10:00 am, Centennial Hall, Hickel room

Seine Agenda 2008

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Organic Farmed Fish allowed to Use wild fishmeal

The USDA’s national organic standards board voted to adopt standards for organic farmed fish for the first time. They accepted the proposal of the aquaculture subcommittee, and will allow an organic designation for farmed fish with up to 25% of its feed from wild fishmeal, so long as the fishmeal comes from sustainable sources.

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Halibut One Fish Bag Limit Lawsuit Dismissed

The NMFS this fall withdrew the final rule for the one fish bag limit and then asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit as being moot since the rule had been proposed.  The charter fleet contested the dismissal, but the court granted the dismissal without prejudice. 

It is expected that very soon the new one fish proposed rule will be published as a proposed rule with a 30 day comment period.

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Sport Fish Guide Services Board

As many of you know, I have been on the State task force looking at ways to limit the charter fleet in State fisheries.  The task force started out looking at limited entry options but could not find a way to create a limited entry program under the constitutional amendment that the State of Alaska voters passed to allow for limited entry for the commercial fisheries.  The criteria for a program just can’t be made to fit a charter operation.  Instead the task force has moved to an occupational licensing program modeled after the big game guides services board.  The task force is meeting November 19th in Anchorage at Homewood Suites.  You can get information and post public comments on the ADFG web site.  http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/Guides/index.cfm/FA/issues.overview

 I have submitted the following comments to the task force.

Sport Fish Guide Services Board 11.08

Task Force Questionaire

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