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:

News release:


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NPFMC posts Newsletter following Oct council Meeting

The newsletter is posted at

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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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 by October 19, 2007. 

Proposed Rule 

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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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