Gov Palin Issues Press Release on NPFMC Appointments

November 9, 2007, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin today forwarded her nominations of Robert “Ed” Dersham, Mike Heimbuch and Roland Maw to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as her candidates to fill the remainder of the term of resigning North Pacific Fishery Management Council member Ed Rasmuson.
“Each of these nominees is knowledgeable about Alaska fisheries and would bring a balanced perspective to the council table,” Governor Palin said.  “The council faces challenging fishery management decisions, and I’m confident that these candidates will put the interests of Alaska first.”
Governor Palin thanked Rasmuson, who resigned from the council in October, for his four years of dedicated service on the board. 
“Membership on the North Pacific council is a serious commitment. I appreciate the willingness of all of these experienced Alaskans to serve our state,” she said.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional councils established by the 1976 Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act, later renamed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, to oversee management of the nation’s marine fisheries.  The council has jurisdiction over 900,000 square miles of ocean from three to 200 miles off Alaska’s shores, and the primary responsibility for managing pollock, cod, halibut, sole and other groundfish.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires governors of specific coastal states to provide a minimum of three candidates for each applicable vacancy, from which the Secretary of Commerce makes a final selection. 
Robert “Ed” Dersham of Anchor Point is a 23-year charter boat operator in Lower Cook Inlet who has served on the Alaska Board of Fisheries for more than eight years, including three years as chair and two years as vice-chair.  He was involved in developing and chairing the joint protocol committee for coordination between the fisheries board and the North Pacific council.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Oregon and is a retired from a career as a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Dersham is Governor Palin’s recommendation for appointment.
Mike Heimbuch of Homer is a lifelong Alaskan and commercial fisherman who has fished for halibut, herring, cod, shrimp and salmon around the state since 1963.  He has served on a variety of civic and local government commissions, including the fish and game advisory committee and the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Association.  He is an active political writer in Alaska newspapers and is currently a member of the Homer City Council.  He majored in music and education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Roland Maw of Kasilof is executive director of United Cook Inlet Drift Association and is co-owner of a charter and salmon research business based in Homer.  He has served on the United Fishermen of Alaska’s board of directors, on the Kenai Peninsula Fish and Game Advisory Committee and on the Joint Legislative Salmon Task Force Governance Committee.  Maw earned a doctoral degree in forestry and wildlife management from the University of Alberta in 1988.

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ADFG Releases Summary of the 2007 Salmon Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 7, 2007                                                                   No. 07-27 

Contact: Geron Bruce, Assistant Director, Division of Commercial Fisheries  (907) 465-6151 

 

ADF&G Releases Summary of the 2007 Salmon Season 

This year’s harvest was the 4th largest since Statehood 

 

(JUNEAU) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Commercial Fisheries today posted its preliminary end-of-season estimates of commercial harvest and value for the 2007 salmon season.  All estimates of salmon prices at this time are preliminary and usually underestimate the final value of the commercial salmon harvest.  

            This season, commercial fishermen harvested 212 million salmon, which had an estimated total value of $374 million. The harvest was the 4th largest since statehood, about 33 million fish above the preseason forecast, and above the most recent 10-year average of 164 million fish.  The preliminary 2007 statewide total exvessel value of the 2007 salmon harvest was nearly $28 million higher than the final exvessel value in 2006, and significantly higher than the most recent 10-year average of $277 million. 

As of today, preliminary estimates of the statewide average prices for sockeye and pink salmon are $.75 and $.17 per pound respectively, comparable to last year’s final exvessel prices.  Average Chinook salmon prices in 2007 were $2.68, below the final prices in 2006; however, prices for winter troll-caught Chinook salmon are currently averaging more than double these levels.  Preliminary coho salmon prices are below the final prices in 2006, decreasing from $1.04 per pound in 2006 to $0.83 per pound in 2007, while preliminary chum salmon prices are slightly lower than last year, at $.30 per pound compared to final 2006 prices of $.32 per pound.  Bristol Bay’s sockeye salmon harvest of 29.5 million fish was the 10th largest since 1893. The preliminary exvessel value of $106 million was slightly lower than the final 2006 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon value of $108 million. 

The statewide pink salmon harvest of 143 million fish is the 3rd largest harvest since Statehood.  It compares to the all time record harvest of 161 million fish in 2005, and is well above the long term historical average of 64.8 million fish. The statewide chum salmon harvest of 17.3 million fish ranks within the top 10 harvests of all time, with an exvessel value of $39.5 million, compared to the most recent 10-year average of $32 million. 

The Norton Sound coho salmon harvest of 126 thousand fish ranks second only to the 2006 record harvest of 131 thousand fish.  In the Port Clarence District, there was a commercial salmon fishery, targeting sockeye salmon, for the first time since 1966.  

More complete information will be available after processor annual reports have been received and compiled during the spring of 2008.  These reports provide the most complete and accurate information on the prices paid for salmon by various processors operating in Alaska, including any post-season adjustments or bonuses.  A revised estimate of salmon prices and values will then be released around July 1, 2008. 

 

 

Details on the numbers and pounds of fish, average fish weight, average price per pound, and exvessel value for each of the salmon species, by area as well as statewide, can be found on the ADF&G website under “2007 Preliminary Season Summary” at http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/geninfo/finfish/salmon/catchval/blusheet/07exvesl.php . 

Copies are also available from Mike D. Plotnick, who can be reached by phone at (907) 465-6133.  These estimates are considered preliminary. Some fisheries, such as the salmon troll fishery, are still in progress. Revised estimates will be available during the summer of 2008 after fish ticket data have been finalized and ADF&G has received final prices from processors’ annual reports. 

 

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US Supreme Court to Hear Exxon Valdez Case

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has stepped into the long-running battle over the $2.5 billion in punitive damages owed by Exxon Mobil for the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

A federal appeals court already had cut in half the $5 billion in damages awarded by a jury in 1994.

The justices today said they would consider whether the company should have to pay any punitive damages at all.

If the court decides some money is due, Exxon is arguing that $2.5 billion is excessive under laws governing shipping and prior high court decisions limiting punitive damages.

In its brief to the court, the company said the damages were, by far, the largest ever approved by federal appeals judges.

The company says it has already has paid $3.4 billion in clean-up costs and other penalties resulting from the oil spill.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, some of whom are deceased, say the damages award is “barely more than three weeks of Exxon’s net profits.”

The plaintiffs still living include about 33,000 commercial fishermen, cannery workers, landowners, Alaska Natives, local governments and businesses.

The case probably will be heard in the spring.

Eleven millions gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound when the supertanker ran aground on a reef. 

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President Bush signs Executive Order to Preserve Recreational Fishing on Striped Bass and Red Drum

On October 20th, at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Maryland, President Bush signed an executive order to set a policy to conserve striped bass and red drum fish for the recreational, economic and environmental benefit of present and future generations of Americans.  This order would prevent the sale of striped bass and red drum caught in federal waters,promotes more accurate scientific records about fish population levels and to improve the quality of the data, the federal government will be building a recreational saltwater registry that wil collect information from sportsmen about local fish stocks, which will help us better protect striped bass, red drum and all our fisheries.  The executive order also helps the federal government work with state and local officials to find innovative ways to conserve these species for future generations. 

During the presentation the President stated the following, “Listen, it’s important to be a commercial fisherman; I understand that. But the commercial fishermen and the sport fishermen don’t have to be antagonistic. It’s not a zero-sum game. Good policy will help our commercial fishermen and good policy will help our sport fishermen. And that’s what we’re here to talk about. And it’s important to recognize here in America that sport fishing is a important industry; a lot of people make a living because of sport fishing. I don’t know if people know this, but millions of Americans are spending about $40 billion a year on sport fishing. I know in our state, Walter, there’s a lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs making a good living — they’re fishing guides. A lot of bait shops and small business owners are doing well as a result of good sport fishing policy.

And finally, the executive order encourages states to take a look at their own management of the fish stocks. See, we believe in cooperative conservation. That means cooperation at the federal, state and local levels. We believe in a collaborative approach. The federal government ought to work with all stakeholders to achieve common consensus. And I respect the state’s role in the management of the natural resources under their care. So I’m directing federal agencies to work with state officials to find innovative ways to help conserve striped bass and red drum.

And one such way is to use the state designation of “gamefish” where appropriate. I hope the state officials take a serious look at gamefish designation; it is an effective tool to protect endangered or dwindling species. See, it prohibits commercial sales, which removes the incentive to catch the fish for anything other than recreational purposes. State designations of gamefish have helped the recovery of species such as trout and large-mouth bass and tarpon and snook. People need to take a look at this tool to make sure that the fisheries are robust. Strong fisheries mean local sales. Local sales means better local economy. ”

Louis Daniels, director of North Carolina‘s division of marine fisheries, said “It’s an executive order to close two fisheries that are already closed.  That will definitely inflame tensions between recreational and commercial fishermen, because it’s an allocation issue that’s being dictated. What’s the practical implications of this? Nothing,” he said. “But it does remove flexibility to reopen the EEZ in the future, at least for commercial fishermen.”

Press Release: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/10/20071020-3.html

News Article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071019/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_going_fishing

 

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Lynn Canal Herring Petition being Reviewed at Juneau Fish and Game Advisory Committee

The Juneau Douglas Fish and Game Advisory Committee will be holding a meeting on the Lynn Canal Herring ESA Petition on Wednesday November 7, 6:30 pm at Centennial Hall.  There will be representatives from the Juneau Sierra Club, NMFS and ADFG to answer questions.  Public Testimony will also be heard by the Advisory Committee.  The AC plans on submitting written testimony to NMFS by the December 10th deadline.

http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/protectedresources/herring/default.htm

 

 

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Alaska Public Health Issues fish consumption Guidelines

Today, on Oct. 15th the joint departments of Public Health and Social Services (HSS) and Dept of Environmental Conservation (DEC) published a news release with new fish consumption guidelines.  The news release states that “the health benefits from eating fish far outweigh any potential risk from the small amounts of contaminants found in most Alaska fish.”  The concern is over the wide variation of mercury content among the 23 species of fish sampled from Alaska waters between 2001 and 2006.  Mercury is very low in all species of Alaska salmon and the State’s ongoing free program that monitors mercury levels in the hair of Alaska women has received no reports of unsafe mercury levels.

“Only five species of sport-caught Alaska fish had high enough mercury levels to warrant limiting consumption to two meals or less per week for these sensitive groups (women who are or can become pregnant, nursing mothers and children under the age of 12).  Yelloweye rockfish, large lingcod (40-45 inches) and large halibut (50-90 lbs) can be eaten as often as twice a week , while salmon shark and spiny dogfish, very large lingcod (over 45 inches) and very large halibut (over 90 pounds) can be consumed as often as once a week.  Because commerically caught halibut weigh an average of about 33 pounds, halibut purchased from stores or restaurants is safe for this group to eat up to four times a week.”

HSS Fish Facts and Consumption guidelines homepage:  http://www.epi.hss.state.ak.us/eh/fish/default.htm

News release:  http://www.hss.alaska.gov/press/2007/pdf/pr101507fish-consumption.pdf

 

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NPFMC posts Newsletter following Oct council Meeting

The newsletter is posted at http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/newsletters/NEWS1007.pdf

There is a lot of information in this newsletter regarding salmon bycatch, crab rationalization, call for nominations and appointments, socioeconomic data collection, polock trip limits, arrowtooth MRA’s, COA Pacfic Cod sector splits and much more.

They had the following to say about the halibut issues:

Charter Halibut

The Council received a number of reports related to charter

halibut fishery management, including reviews by its SSC of two

reports by ADF&G Sport Fish Division staff on charter halibut

discard mortality data and estimation procedures for charter

halibut, demersal shelf rockfish, and shark harvests. SSC

comments are posted on the Council’s website.

The Council reviewed final estimates of 2006 charter halibut

harvests by ADF&G Sport Fish Division staff. The Area 2C

charter harvest was 1.804 M lb, which is 26 percent over the Area

2C GHL of 1.432 M lb. The final estimate is about 225,000 lb

lower than last year’s projection of 2006 harvest. Last year’s

projection was high by 12.4 percent. The Area 3A charter harvest

was 3.664 M lb, which is 0.37 percent over the Area 3A GHL of

3.650 M lb. The final estimate for Area 3A is about 284,000 lb

lower than last year’s projection of 2006 harvest. Last year’s

projection was high by 7.7 percent. The differences between the

projections and final estimates are due almost entirely to

differences in the numbers of fish harvested.

The Council reviewed a draft analysis of proposed measures to

reduce charter halibut harvest to the Area 3A GHL of 3.65 Mlb.

The Council also reviewed a supplemental analysis that

incorporated the final 2006 harvest estimates. The Council

approved release of the analysis to the public and scheduled final

action in October 2008, after final 2007 charter halibut harvests

will be released by ADF&G. Potential management measures

include: (1) No more than one trip per charter vessel per day; (2)

No harvest by skipper or crew and a limit on the number of lines

to not exceed the number of paying clients; (3) Annual limits of

four fish, five fish, or six fish per charter angler; (4) Reduced bag

limits of one fish per day in May, June, July, August, September

or for the entire season; (5) Requiring one of two fish in a daily

bag to be larger than 45 inches or 50 inches; or (6) Requiring one

of two fish in a daily bag to measure less than, or equal to, 32

inches, 34 inches, or 36 inches. The public review draft of the

analysis will be available in August 2008. The Council

recommended, that the ADF&G Commissioner issued, an

emergency order for 2008 for the same line limits and prohibition

on retention of halibut by charter skippers and crew as was

implemented in 2007 in Area 3A.

The Council reviewed a preliminary analysis of options to set an

allocation between the charter and commercial halibut sectors and

options for a compensated reallocation program, in which a

Federal, State, regional non-profit, or individual entity would be

allowed to purchase commercial halibut quota shares (QS) for use

in the charter sector. Elements of the compensated reallocation

program were sent to the Halibut Stakeholder Committee as part

of its development of a permanent solution to the growth in the

charter halibut sector during its meeting on October 30 through

November 1 in Anchorage.

The Council replaced the compensated reallocation approach with

a market-based reallocation approach in the current analysis. The

initial charter allocation would be a common harvest pool for all

charter moratorium permit holders. The charter allocation would

not be a hard cap that would result in closing the fishery when the

charter allocation is exceeded. Instead, the “buffered hard cap”

would address each year’s overage in subsequent years through

an annual regulatory analysis of management measures that

take into account the projected CEY for the following year

and any overages by the charter industry in the past year.

This will result in the charter industry “paying back” the

commercial industry by the number of pounds by which it

exceeded its allocation in a future year. In factoring such

payback into its subsequent allocations, the Council will not

revisit or readjust the sector split. An allocation overage

would trigger the regulatory process automatically, in

contrast with current GHL management. Any underages

would accrue to the benefit of the halibut biomass and

would not be reallocated or paid forward.

The annual regulatory analysis would examine a suite of

potential measures in its management toolbox. The Council

identified two tiers of measures to manage the charter

common pool for a season of historic length. Tier 1

measures include: (1) One trip per vessel per day; (2) No

retention by skipper or crew; (3) Line limits; (4) Second fish

of a minimum size; and (5) Second fish at or below a

specific length. Tier 2 measures would be analyzed if staff

identifies in the preparation of the analysis that Tier 1

options are inadequate to constrain harvest by the charter

common pool to its allocation. These include (1) Annual

catch limits; (2) 1 fish bag limit for all or a portion of the

season; and (3) Season closure on either monthly or subseasonal

basis. Specific suboptions that were analyzed in

previous GHL analyses would be included.

Due to the lag in implementation after an overage,

management measures will, in general, be slightly more

restrictive than necessary for conservation purposes. In

providing predictability and stability for the charter sector, it

is likely that charter fish may be left in the water. Individual

moratorium permit holders would be allowed to lease

commercial halibut IFQ, or use the IFQ resulting from

commercial QS already in their possession, to allow their

clients relief from those regulations that would be

implemented for the common pool, so long as that relief did

not result in less restrictive regulations than in place for

unguided anglers. The qualification criteria to hold

commercial QS would not be changed to allow charter

moratorium permit holders to purchase QS for use in the

charter sector.

Staff will provide a report on recordkeeping,

implementation, and enforcement issues related to the

proposed allocation/market-based reallocation program in

December 2007. Initial review of the analysis is scheduled

for February 2008, with final action scheduled for 2008.

Implementation would likely not occur prior to 2010 to

facilitate implementation of the moratorium program in

2009, at the earliest. The Stakeholder Committee will also

report on its recommendations for a permanent solution,

along with comments on the market-based approach

outlined above, and elements of the compensated

reallocation program that were not moved forward by the

Council in October. The Council’s motion and committee

meeting material will be posted on the Council’s website.

Staff contact is Jane DiCosimo.

 

The DEcember meeting will be preliminary review to answer questions staff raises regarding the allocation and interim marketbased transfer of IFQ’s and for the Council to receive the STakeholder committee report on the long term plans with compensated reallocation.

The Council now expects the allocation initial review to occur in Feb. and final decision at the April Council Meeting.

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Board of Fish Worksession Actions

     The Board of Fish worksession was in Anchorage on October 9 & 10th.  At the meeting, Mel Morris was elected Chair and John Jensen was elected Vice-Chair.  Vince Webster was selected as the board representive on the NPFMC workgroup on Bering Sea Salmon Bycatch.  A board committee was established with Larry Edfelt and John Jensen to work with staff and the public to develop recommendaitons on eco-tourism fishing.  They set limits on accepting written comments at 100 printed pages per individual or group relating to proposals at any one meeting prior to the two week comment deadline before meetings and 10 printed pages per individual or group after the two-wwek written comment deadline.

The Sitka Charter Boat Operators Assoc proposal #11 to review the demersal shelf rockfish management to avoid unintended closures in the sport fishery was denied.

The Southeast meetings for the winter of 2008-2009 were set as follows:

Southeast and Yakutat crab, shrimp and misc shellfish (including Dungeness, King and Tanner) January 18-27, 2009 in Petersburg

Southeast and Yakutat finfish (including salmon, herring and groundfish) February 17-26, 2009 in Sitka

Proposal deadline is April 10, 2008 at 5:00 pm and Agenda change request deadline is August 22, 2008 at 5:00 pm

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King Salmon in Chile and Argentina have become Naturalized

Some rivers in Chile and Argentina have been colonized by king salmon from  an ocean ranching program in 1978 to 1989.  There were two hatcheries located in Southern Chile.  They raised and released hundreds of thousands of chinook smolt which came from the Columbia River.  They believe that farmed salmon are another possible source of the naturalized runs.  The article in SEAFOOD.COM stated that these runs might become large enough to support a commercial fishery. 

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Council Action on Halibut Charter at Oct ’07 meeting

     The Council finished taking action on halibut charter agenda items Friday afternoon staying on schedule.  The Advisory Panel accepted most of SEAFA’s changes as recommendations to forward to the Council.  Following the AP meeting a working group of commerical and charter members met together and discussed the AP’s recommendation.  The charter industry finally recognized that the motion as written was a long term action item because almost everything being looked at took outside federal or state legislation.  The working group pared down the AP recommendation to an interim step for analysis of an initial allocation decision that must be managed for (not the current GHL which is “may” manage for) and the ability for charter operators to LEASE commerical IFQ’s to allow the charter operator to offer additional halibut above the managment restrictions up to the current limit allowed for non-guided halibut fishermen.  For example, the 4 fish annual limit for charter clients, a charter operator if they leased commercial IFQ’s could allow a client to retain more than the 4 fish annual limit as the non-guided fishermen have no annual limit.  With a one fish daily bag limit the charter operator with IFQ’s could offer the second fish.  The leasing of commerical IFQ’s would be limited to 10% and can be done through the Council and federal regulatory process.   A draft of the motion is included below.  Consider this a draft until the Council publishes the motion as I tried to capture all the amendments but may have missed something.

The Council will be releasing the 3A GHL management measures analysis out for public review with some changes as recommended by the SSC and AP panels.

The Council made another motion that will pass the compensated reallocation aspects of the motion that were stripped out back to the stakeholder committee to roll back into the long term solutions.  The stakeholder committee will be meeting at the end of October to finalize a package of long term solutions to the Council in December.

The Council was asked to review their decision on the 4 fish annual limit.  this was discussed but no formal motion was made.  The issue might come back up in December.

A final decision on allocation will no longer occur at the December meeting,  It will likely come up at the April meeting, with an initial review in February. 

State Council motion with amendments 10.07

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