Kelly Hepler, Director of Sport Fish Division resigned from ADFG effective August 11th.Â We wish Kelly well in his future endeavors.
NOAA announced the appointment of Duncan Fields and Sam Cotten to the NPFMC.Â Governor Palin had submitted a list of three names for both seats up for appointment.Â Her preferred alternatives were Duncan Fields and Beth Stewart.Â The press release from NOAA can be read at http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/releases2007/jun07/noaa07-r118.html
Redcorp-Ventures and Refern Resource would like to invite commerical fishermen (gillnet & crab) or any interested individuals to a meeting Thursday, June 21,st at 4:30 pm in Centennial Hall to discuss construction barge traffic for planning purposes to try and avoid interference in fishing operations.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
June 19, 2007Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Chris Zimmer, Â Rivers Without Borders,
ALASKA AND FEDERAL AGENCIES RAISE MAJOR CONCERNS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT REDCORP HOVERBARGE PLAN Salmon Impacts and Lack of Detail Signal Delays for Tulsequah Chief Mine
Â (JUNEAU)Â Alaska and US federal agencies have formally raised a host of concerns about Redcorpâ€™s hoverbarge plan, including significant risks to Taku salmon, a worrisome lack of detail and the need for extensive scientific analysis of the untested technology.Â New information from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of the Interior (DOI) also indicates Redcorpâ€™s fast track permitting and development schedule is unrealistic and the hoverbarge plan faces a very uncertain future.
â€œRedcorp clearly has a large number of hurdles before Alaska agencies will even consider granting them permits for the hoverbarge,â€ said Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders.Â â€œThe agencies rightly have strong concerns about Taku salmon and are insisting they need more details about the proposal and more time to analyze it.Â Southeast Alaskaâ€™s most important salmon river is no place to experiment with unproven and high-risk technology.â€
The junior Canadian mining company Redcorp Ventures is pushing to reopen the Tulsequah Chief Mine, an abandoned mine just across the BC-Alaska border that has been leaking acid and toxic heavy metals into the Taku watershed for decades.Â This winter, Redcorp announced it is placing on hold its plans to construct a 100-mile access road from Atlin, BC to the mine site, about 40 miles northeast of Juneau.
It now plans to use an amphibious tug boat and a hovercraft- like barge to access the mine via Juneau and the Taku River.
In May ADFG biologists wrote and sent to DNR two memos outlining a long list of concerns and problems with Redcorpâ€™s hoverbarge proposal.Â The memos outline serious risks to the Takuâ€™s fishery which, according to the McDowell Group, supports hundreds of jobs and provides about $8 million in annual revenues.
Important concerns from the memos include:
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œdamage [to] valuable salmon spawning and rearing habitat which will lead to
reduced numbers of salmonâ€
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œthis critical habitat area of the lower Taku River watershed should [not] be the
testing ground for the unproven application of this technology.â€
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œnone of the information provided by the applicant demonstrates prior use of
this equipment in an environment like that of the Taku River.â€
Rivers Without Borders (RWB) has learned DNR staff is taking the ADFG concerns seriously and have requested a significant amount of information from Redcorp in a June 13 letter.Â RWB also learned that the need for additional data, for significant revisions to Redcorpâ€™s permit applications and for Alaska agency staff to have adequate time to analyze the hoverbarge proposal will take far more time than Redcorpâ€™s schedules and promotional materials indicate.
â€œRedcorp is trying to fast track this process for its own financial reasons.
Alaskaâ€™s first priority has to be the salmon and the working families that depend on the fishery.Â We are glad state and federal agencies recognize the importance of the Taku to Southeast Alaska and will put this proposal through the most stringent review possible. That means no permits unless Redcorp proves this experimental technology wonâ€™t harm the Taku fishery,â€ said Zimmer.
In comments submitted to the BC government June 13 DOI focused on the difficulty of analyzing the hoverbarge proposal since â€œthere is no experience in using the ACB [hoverbarge] with the amphitrac [tow vehicle].â€Â DOIâ€™s six pages of questions reflect most of the ADFG concerns related to water quality and salmon.Â The US EPA concurred with DOIâ€™s comments and added a specific request for a detailed cumulative effects analysis.
ADFG noted numerous significant omissions in Redcorpâ€™s General Waterway/Waterbody Application and Coastal Project Questionnaire, both required as part of the Alaska permitting process.Â DNR confirms that the two applications will have to be re-done and that a Land Use permit application has yet to be submitted.Â Redcorp says it will issue a Volume Two Project Description in July, which may provide the information needed for a more detailed analysis, but information from DNR and ADFG suggests that Volume Two will likely be significantly delayed.
â€œRedcorp has to amend two Alaska permit applications due to serious errors and omissions and hasnâ€™t yet submitted the third required application while US and Alaska agencies are raising strong concerns and demanding much more detail about this untested hoverbarge,â€ added Zimmer.Â â€œI canâ€™t imagine how Redcorp can meet its optimistic project schedule given this level of scrutiny and the entire hoverbarge proposal is now in question.â€
ADFG announced today (6/19/07) the Chatham Blackcod fishery quota for 2007.Â Â Each permit holder will receive as his share 14,450 pounds, down from the 2006 split of 19,550 lbs each.Â This is a 28% decrease from the 2006 quota.Â
The Dept. provided notice in the 2006 Chatham sablefish news release dated May 5, 2006, that updated biomass and harvest rate data could be anticipated for the 2007 fishery.Â The May 2006 news release also indicated that unless the 2000-year class recruits strongly into the fishery in 2006 it was likely that the quota would be reduced in 2007. There has been no definitive evidence of strong recruitment of the 2000 year class into Chatham Strait.Â
The reduced annual harvest objective (AHO) for 2007 is a result of two main factors: 1) a 15% decrease due to the difference between the 2004 biomass estimate and the 2007 forecast and 2) a 13% decrease due to application of an updated harvest rate which was calculated using standardized data.Â The Dept. has determined that the harvest rate used from 2004-2006 (0.138) was inappropriately high and the update harvest rate (0.116) is more in line with rates accepted by agencies managing adjacent sablefish fisheries.
2C Management MeasuresÂ for 2008
The Council took final action and recommended two preferred alternatives to move forward through the proposed rule process.Â The first action is a combination of management measures that includes a.) no harvest by skipper and crew for halibut; and line limits (number of lines fished cannot exceed the number of paying clients) b.) Annual limit of four fish per angler and c.) a two fish bag limit with one fish of any size and one fish 32″ of less in length (minnow fish). The second preferred alternative is if the Charter GHL is stepped down because of a drop in the CEY the proposed recommendation is a one fish bag limit for theÂ entire season and no harvest by skipper and crew; and line limits.Â The vote on this option was close with a vote of 6 to 5.Â One council member voting in support of this alternative pointed out that “to vote against this motion is voting for allocation which is not what was analyzed.Â The action for today is to choose the management tool to meet the GHL”Â After the two preferred alternatives are published in the proposed rule, only one will be published in the final rule and implemented.
Compensated Reallocation between the Commerical and Charter Sectors in Areas 2C and 3A
Â The Council accepted most of theÂ stakeholder recommendations and the AP reorganization.Â They did add back into the motion a pro-rata reduction with compensation option with further explaination of what was meant.Â
The complete motion is attached as a word document for viewing.Â These are my notesÂ regarding the actions taken by the Council.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the following information correcting information contained a May 30, 2007 News Release concerning Federal Fisheries Permit requirements for trollers participating in the troll fishery in the EEZ. The department has conducted a very detailed regulatory review and a review of Board of Fisheries intent language and found that Chapter 28 Groundfish regulations requiring the full retention of Demersal Shelf Rockfish (DSR) only apply to vessels fishing for groundfish unless otherwise specified. The salmon troll fishery is not specified in the DSR full retention and reporting regulations (5 AAC 28.171) and therefore that regulation is not in effect for the troll fishery. As a result of this review, the provisions of 50 CFR Part 679.4(b)(2) that require a vessel that fishes in the EEZ for any non-groundfish species and that is also required to retain any bycatch of groundfish must obtain a Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP) is also not in effect for the salmon troll fishery. All troll vessels that have an FFP may retain and sell up to the 10% bycatch limits and must forfeit to the state revenue above that limit. Note: Any troll vessels that do not have an FFP, who do fish in the EEZ and do catch groundfish may not retain those fish.
NOAA Fisheries publishes guided sport halibut fishing regulations for SE Alaska
NOAA Fisheries today issued new regulations for guided sport halibut fishing in Southeast Alaska (Area 2C).
“The new regulations keep the current sport fishing bag limit of two halibut per day but require that, if two fish are taken, at least one of them is no more than 32 inches long,” said Doug Mecum, Acting Administrator for NOAA’s Alaska Region. “Enforcement officers must be able to accurately measure the fish. It can be filleted, but the entire carcass, with the head and tail as a single piece, must be retained onboard until all the fillets are offloaded.”
The new regulations apply only to halibut harvested by anglers fishing from a vessel with a hired operator in International Pacific Halibut Commission Area 2C. The complete new regulations will be published in the Federal Register on June 4, 2007 and posted at www.fakr.noaa.gov.
The new regulations, effective June 1, 2007, are designed to remain in place for the entire sport fishing halibut season, but may be superseded by charter halibut fishing management measures currently being considered by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The charter halibut fishing season ends December 31.
The intended effect of the new regulations is a reduction in the number of pounds of halibut harvested by the guided sport charter vessel sector in Area 2C, while minimizing negative impacts on this sector, its sport fishing clients, and the coastal communities that serve as home ports for the fishery.
“The State of Alaska appreciates the efforts NOAA Fisheries has made to modify the one-fish bag limit that the Halibut Commission proposed,” said Denby Lloyd, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “This new regulation will help stabilize charter harvests in Southeast Alaska without being as onerous as the Commission’s proposal; it will retain domestic management of the fishery; and we are confident it will result in fewer negative impacts on state-managed species.”
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates that the 32-inch maximum size restriction for one of two potential halibut taken by charter vessel clients would reduce the overall harvest in Area 2C by the charter vessel sector by about 518,000 pounds (234.8 metric tons).
NOAAâ€™s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nationâ€™s living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries in Alaska, please visit our websites at www.fakr.noaa.gov or at www.afsc.noaa.gov.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America’s scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
ADFG just released the following news release about the requirement for a federal fisheries permit because of Demersal rockfish.
Date: May 30, 2007Â Time: 1:00 p.m.
FEDERAL PERMIT REQUIRED FOR TROLLERS FISHING IN FEDERAL WATERS
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the following information concerning Federal Fisheries Permit requirements for trollers participating in the troll fishery in the EEZ. The state groundfish regulation adopted by the Alaska Board of Fisheries requiring full retention of demersal shelf rockfish has been in effect since July 25, 2000. 5AAC 28.171 ROCKFISH POSSESSIONÂ AND LANDING REQUIREMENTS FOR EASTERN GULF OF ALASKA AREA requires that â€œ(a) in the Southeast District, a CFEC permit holder must retain, weigh, and report all demersal shelf rockfish taken.â€ The DSR assemblage is defined to include yelloweye, canary, china, copper, quillback, rosethorn and tiger rockfish. This regulation was adopted since it is considered necessary for the sustainable management of DSR. The Southeast District encompasses all waters of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska east of 144Â° W. longitude including waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) east of 144Â° W. longitude.
The EEZ is defined in groundfish regulation 5AAC 28.010 (b) to mean â€œall the waters adjacent to a registration areaâ€¦â€ (state waters within 3 miles of the Alaska coastline) â€œâ€¦seaward to a boundary line drawn in such a manner that each point on the line is 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured.â€
In a recent News Release NOAA Fisheries/NMFS has interpreted 50 CFR Part 679.4(b)(1) to requireany troller fishing in the EEZ to possess a Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP) because ADF&GÂ groundfish regulations currently require the full retention of demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) caught in the troll fishery.
The following News Release was posted on the NOAA Fisheries/NMFS web site:
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/index/infobulletins/bulletin.asp?BulletinID=3571 on April 13, 2007:Because of the above interpretation, on behalf of salmon troll fishermen who are planning to fish in the EEZ or who think they may fish in the EEZ, when the EEZ opens during the summer troll season on July 1, the Department recommends trollers obtain a Federal Fisheries Permit. Trolling in the EEZÂ without an FFP could result in federal enforcement action. To obtain this permit troll fishermen should submit an FFP Application As soon as possible in order to receive the FFP prior to the opening of the summer troll fishery on July 1. The FFP application form can be found at http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/ram/FFPAPP.pdf or may be requested from NMFS by calling the Restricted Access Management Program at either (800) 304-4846 or (907) 586-7202 and selecting Option 2. The department has been informed by NMFS that applications generally require 10 days to be processed following receipt. If you already possess an FFP for another fishery, but do not have an FFP for the troll fishery, you must resubmit an FFP application and check the â€œtrollâ€ box on the application.
Please note:Â Only persons who are U.S. Citizens are authorized to receive or hold a Federal Fisheries Permit.
The committee was split on their recommendations with the 5 new Democrats supporting the recommendations and the 4 Liberal members opposed.Â The report recommends that the Northern Coast of BC reinstate the moratorium against any new fish farm permits keeping this area farm free and that within five years all salmon farms be converted to closed containment net pen systems.Â Some state that the technology is not developedÂ andÂ test have proved unsuccessful in raising fish in closed containment systems.Â One news article on this report stated thatÂ the BC Fish farming industry is a $453 billion dollarÂ industry.Â