Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program is conducting a commercial fishing fuel survey.Â If you are interested in participating in the survey it is online at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yQq57HL9I_2fkWmmtl7xqEFA_3d_3d
The program will be available to lend money starting Sept 28th but application can be put in earlier.Â The loan program will loan money at 2% below the prime interest rate.Â For more information, contact the Div. of Investments at Â 1-800-478-5626 (within Alaska) or http://www.commerce.state.ak.us/investments/vgu.cfml.Â Program is available for Alaskan residents only.
SEAFAR Members,Â You should have received in the mail recently the 2007 financial report of the insurance pool along with the information that since there were no claims inÂ 2007 the insurance pool will be paying back 72% of the premiums in 2011.Â If you didn’t receive your notice, please let us know.
Â Please check your thru hull fittings – one boat was almost lost due to severe electrolysis and another boat that was not on the pool recently sunk due to old corrodedÂ thru hull fittings.Â Please check the soundness ofÂ your thru hull fittings.Â
The analysis for the October halibut charter allocation and catch sharing plan is available online at:
The 3A GHL Management Measures (final action) analysis is available at:Â
Â The agenda and other materials may be viewed at the NPFMC main website at:
NPFMC meeting dates are
Advisory Panel will start on halibut issues Monday Sept 29th at 8:00 am
and the Council will start on halibut issues sometime Wed, October 1st.
Exxon has agreed to pay out $383 million of the Exxon Settlement out of the $507.5 million U.S. Supreme Court decision.Â They will not being paying on the $70 million they are battling over and the interest that they have contested in court.Â
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will be meeting starting September 29th with the Advisory Panel taking up halibut charter issues Monday morning.Â The Council will start on Wednesday and take up halibut after B-report are over (Wed. – Oct 1st).Â The Council expects halibut to take up to 14 hours but I believe that it will take longer than that.Â The Council will be taking final action on the halibut charter allocation and leasing provisions between the sectors and 3A management measures.Â The charter industry has announced that they have “A New Proposal” which would guarantee them a two fish bag limit unless there is conservation concern coastwide.Â Their proposal can be viewed on the Charter Halibut TaskÂ Force website at: http://www.charterhalibut.org/id18.html.Â The Halibut Coalition has a website they developed this summer that can be viewed at: http://www.halibutcoalition.org/
The council agenda can be viewed at: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/Agendas/1008agenda.pdf
The Council motion that is being acted on:Â http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/current_issues/halibut_issues/HalibutCharterMotion408.pdf
The Council analysis should be posted approximately September 2nd at: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/default.htmÂ (right side of the screen under meeting materials)
The Coast Guard has extended the comment period and scheduled some public meetings during Fish Expo in November on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for commercial fishing industry vesselsÂ .Â Two public meetings will be held at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, WA on Friday, November 21, 9:00 am to 12 noonÂ and Saturday, November 22, 9:00 am to 12 noon, although the meeting may end early if business is concluded.Â Written comments must reach the Docket Management Facility on or before December 15, 2008.Â See previous article for comments that SEAFA has already submitted although we forgot to speak to one of the aspects of the proposal regarding embarkation stations.Â
SEAFA has written comments on several proposed rules with comment periods that have ended recently.Â WeÂ are posting links to the letters we submitted. Â
The one comment period was for an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking for fishing vessel safety regulations in particular regarding stability and watertight integrity regulations for vessels 50 to 79 feet with training required of all operators and owners of vessels over 30 feet.Â As of yesterday, the only other Alaska commercial fishing organization to write in was United Fishermen of Alaska and only approx 10-15 letters were received from across the country.
The second comment period was regarding the EPA proposed rule for general discharge permits for the normal operation of a vessel.Â EPA was pursuing these permit due to a court case regarding ballast water that required EPA to permit these discharges and that they did not have legal authority to exempt the discharges under the clean water act as they had been doing for these many years.Â Legislation was introduced and passed by both houses of Congress to exempt recreational boats from permit requirements and gives the fishing industry a two year exemption while discharges from commercial fishing vessels are studied.Â Â THE EXEMPTION DOES NOT APPLY TO FISH TENDERS!Â We felt submitting comments on the proposed rule was important to help focus the study of discharges from commercial fishing vessels and to correct two very large erroneous assumptions made about commercial fishing vessels.Â EPA in the proposed rule had commercial fishing vessels included with small cruise ships, ferries, barges tankers etc.Â They assumed that every commercial fishing vessel has a certificate of documentation, since a commercial fishing vessel under 5 gross tons does not qualify for a certificate of documenation they are underestimating the number of commercial and size of commercial fishing vessels.Â They also assumed that commercial fishing vessels were classified and regularly scheduled drydock maintenance.
The documents for these proposed rules and all comments received by the publicÂ may be viewed from the following website by typing in the Â document number listed on SEAFA’s letter in the search box.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification is guaranteed through 2009, in order for the 2010 salmon season to be covered an annual audit must be performed in 2009.Â ADFG is looking for an alternative client to take over the responsibilities and cost of the MSC certification.Â The Alaska salmon fishery is the only fishery that the management agency is the client rather than the processors or trade organizations.Â ADFG sent MSC a letter asking about the possibility and the method to allow a differentÂ client to replace them.Â The difficulties in replacing ADFG as the client is that the Alaska salmon fishery is certified as a whole, it is unlikely that there is any appropriate trade organization or processor that serves all fisheries in the state and would want to take on the whole state fisheries while there will likely be interest in specific fisheries.Â
July 22, 2008Â
Senate Passes Murkowski bill For a moratorium On discharge permits for commercial fishing vesselsÂ House Voted andÂ passed legislation later in the day.Â WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ The United States Senate today unanimously passed a bill authored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Stevens, both Alaska Republicans, that would provide commercial fishing boats and other small commercial vessels a two-year moratorium from permits for discharges under the Clean Water Act.Â
The bill also directs the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study to determine the types, volumes and effects of discharges from commercial vessels of different sizes and categories.Â The EPA would provide a report to Congress within 15 months that would be used to determine if permanent exemptions are warranted.Â Â
This legislation is a companion bill to the Clean Boating Act which also passed the Senate by unanimous consent today. The U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to consider both bills as early as this afternoon. The Clean Boating Act provides a permanent exemption to recreational vessels to the same incidental discharge permits under the Clean Water Act.Â Â
Â â€œIn Alaska, the 9,700 vessels that make up the commercial fishing fleet are predominantly small boats, with an average length of 36 feet,â€ Murkowski said. â€œSimilar to recreational boats, they operate seasonally, spending around 90 days on the water each year. Commercial vessel discharges are comparable to recreational for the same sized vessels. Although the recreational sector was able to get an exemption, it is my hope that the commercial vessel study will provide the data to justify a similar exemption for the commercial sector.â€Â
Said Stevens: â€œThis compromise was hard fought. Senator Boxerâ€™s bill only exempted recreational boaters from arduous Clean Water Act standards but it left small commercial fishermen facing the same standards as a cruise liner. The owner of a yacht would have qualified for the exemption but gillnetters on a 35-foot boat wouldâ€™ve had to commit their time and resources to getting an additional federal permit. This compromise will allow for a two-year exemption while the impacts of incidental discharge are studied. It is my hope that we will eventually make the exemption for commercial and recreational vessels permanent.â€Â
The commercial vessels that are covered under the moratorium are commercial fishing vessels of any size and other commercial vessels less than 79 feet.Â
Discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels have been exempt from the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under the Clean Water Act since 1973. The NPDES was developed for industrial sources of pollution and was not designed for mobile sources.Â
In 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act in exempting these discharges and issued an order revoking the exemption and requiring the agency to permit these discharges by September 30, 2008.Â The EPA has appealed the decision, but in the meantime, the agency has proposed to permit both recreational and commercial vessels under two general permits.Â
Murkowski said that neither recreational nor small commercial vessels have documented discharge levels that have been shown to be harmful to the environment. The court case that required the EPA to develop a permit system was focused on invasive species and ballast water. Neither recreational nor small commercial vessels have ballast tanks and very few are ocean-going vessels.Â