SEAFA Sends Comments to NPFMC

SEAFA sent a nine page comment letter to the council regarding the upcoming issues of allocation, compensated reallocation, 3A management measures and on the discussion paper for a comprehensive socioeconomic data collection.

For every 1% of allocation in 2C that is transferred to the charter fishery from the commerical fishery equates into the loss of approximately 100,000 lbs.   

We have attached our comments below. 

 Allocation and compensated reallocation

Data Collection

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Proposed Rule Published to Modify Seabird Avoidance Measures

NOAA Fisheries Service has published a proposed rule that would revise the seabird avoidance measures for the Alaska hook and line groundfish and halibut fisheries.  This rule would strengthen gear standards for small vessels and eliminate certain seabird avoidance requirements that are not needed (written plan).  Based on recent research, seabird avoidance measures would be eliminated in all of Prince William sound, all state waters of Cook Inlet and in most waters of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska Regulatory Area Southeast Inside District.  Pelagic seabirds, particularly the ESA listed short-tailed albatross and other seabird species of concern are rarely observed in these waters.  At the same time specific deployment procedures for certain small vessels in the EEZ would be required. 

Comments on the proposed rule may be sent to 

0648-AV38-SeabirdPR@noaa.gov by October 19, 2007. 

Proposed Rule http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/pdf/E7-18489.pdf 

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Gillnet Task Force Meeting Date Set

The gillnet task force meeting has been set for December 3, 2007 in Haines, Alaska.  If you have any agenda items please contact the SEAFA office or ADFG.

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Purse Seine Task Force

The Purse Seine Task Force will be November 27th, 2007 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in Sitka at the Harrigan Centennial Hall.  The date for the gillnet task force meeting has not been set yet.  Topics can be added to the agenda by contacting Bill Davidson (ADFG) or any of the area management biologists, Bob Thorstenson at Southeast Alaska Seiners Assoc. or the SEAFA office (596-6652) can pass on the request.

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US Coast Guard Reauthorization Act

The House and Senate is working on legislation for the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2007.  In the house version (H.R. 2830) there are several sections that will affect commerical fishermen in Alaska.  Section 307 affects the Fishing Vessel Safety Act.  Changes in this section include:

Deleting references to the “boundary line” and replacing it with 3 nautical miles from the baseline from which the territorial seas is measured.

Safety standards that will require mandatory dockside vessel examinations two out of every five years.  During this dockside examination the language includes a clause that allows enforcement for any other applicable federal laws and regulations.

Requirement mandatory training.  The training program shall be based on professional knowledge and skill obtained through sea service and hands on training, including training in seamanship, stability, collision prevention, navigation, fire fighting and prevention, damage control, personal survival, emergency medical care and weather along with require an individual to demonstrate ability to communicate in an emergency situation and understand information found in navigation publications.

Reference to lifeboats, liferafts and buoyant apparatus are deleted and instead requires survival craft that ensures that no part of an individual is immersed in water sufficient to accomodate all individuals on board.

The exemption from survival craft regulation for vessels under 36 ft in length in inside boundary waters is deleted and these vessel (even the 14ft skiffs) would have to have survival craft onboard as described above.

And the most ALARMING section is where they will require all vessels to be classed by American Bureau of Shipping or another similarily qualified organization (Det Norske Veritas Classification (Americas) Inc.).  Classification is a complicated and expensive process that is usually reserved for vessels over 79 feet in length.  Generally a boat is classified originally as it is being built and the example given to me is 5% of the building cost of the vessel but smaller boat would likely be a higher percentage of the building cost.  The classification must be reviewed every year and this runs in the thousands of dollars.  Vessels built after January 1, 2008 or undergoes a major conversion and is 50 feet in length must be classified immediately.  After January 1, 2018 this applies to all fishing vessels and fish tender vessels that were built before January 1, 2008 and is 25 years or older.  I was told by the one company that it is extremely difficult to classify an older vessel and it is possible that in 2018 most of the commercial fishing vessel will likely be unable to be classified and therefore unable to participate in the fisheries if this section passes.   

Any vessel built after January 1st, 2008 or undergone a major conversion will have to have a load line certificate.

The legislation also has a section regarding ballast water.  It is very possible that our fish holds may be considered ballast tanks and will fall under this regulation.  For example the seine boats that tank down for stability reasons would meet the definition.

The senate version has none of the above section contained in it.  The senate version does have a couple of sections that affect commercial fishermen in Alaska that we approve of.  Maintains the Loran system, provides a small vessel exemption to allow salmon filleting onboard and a section that prohibits maritime liens against fishing permits.

SEAFA’s comments on this draft legislation that was just sent to Conressional delegation staff members and the transportation staff member. 

 SEAFA Comments cg-reauthorization-act-comments-91907.doc

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Assoc. comments ALFA comments

 

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Board of Fish considering Three Agenda Change Requests for Southeast Alaska

The Board of Fish will be considering three Agenda Change Requests (ACR) that will affect Southeast Alaska at their October 9-11 worksession in Anchorage.  They are:

ACR 1:  Add restrictions to the Sitka Sound Herring Fishery to protect Salisbury Sound (section 13A) stocks

ACR 11:  Review of the demersal shelf rockfish management to avoid unattended closures in sport fishery submitted by Sitka Charter Boat Operators Assoc.

ACR 24:  Have state halibut regulations mirror federal regulations for consistencey with the North Pacific Halibut Act and international treaty.

Proposals can be viewed at http://www.boards.adfg.state.ak.us/fishgame/ACRoct07.pdf

Comments can be sent to Board of Fish through September 21st.

SEAFA’s Comments:  BoF ACR Comments 9.07

 

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Ed Rasmusson Submits Resignation to the NPFMC

Ed Rasmusson submitted his resignation to the N0rth Pacific Fisheries Management Council effective January 1, 2008.

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Petition for Lynn Canal Herring Stocks to be Listed under the Endangered Species Act

     The Juneau Group of the Sierra Club submitted a peition to list the Lynn Canal Distinct Population segment of the Pacific Herring under the Endangered Species Act.  National Marine Fisheries Service is taking comments on the petition between now and December 10th, 2007.  Additional information on the request for information from NMFS and the Petition can be viewed on NMFS website:  http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/protectedresources/herring/default.htm

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High Seas Drift Netter Being Turned Over to Chinese Authorities

The Coast Guard issued a press release on the 7th of September outlining a joint investigation into a fishing vessel suspected of illegal high seas drift net fishing five hundred miles east of Hokkaido, Japan.  The US Coast Guard with a Chinese Fisheries Enforcement Officer onboard, intercepted and boarded the Lu Rong Yu 6007 and are now escorting the vessel until it can be transferred to the custody of a Chinese Fisheries enforcement cutter.  They verified that the vessel was rigged for large scale high-seas drift net fishing and the cargo hold was full of various species of fish including shark and swordfish.  They also spotted an additional 3,000 yeards of nearby drift nets in the water which the Lu Rong Yu 6007 claimed was not his.

The full press release is at http://coastguardnews.com/china-us-and-japan-cooperate-against-high-seas-drift-nets/2007/09/08/

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