Tag Archives: Alaska Board of Fisheries

Bering Sea Battle breaks out over growth of ‘Super 8s’ in state cod fishery

The success of the state waters Dutch Harbor Pacific cod fishery in the Bering Sea is scaring both the industrial trawl and longline fleets, and even a local Unalaska fisherman who says a new breed of small boats known as Super 8s are catching way too many fish. In 2014, the new fishery opened with 3 percent of the total Bering Sea cod quota, and two years later it more than doubled to 6.4 percent, by votes of the Alaska Board of Fisheries to promote small boat fisheries. And it may get a lot bigger, as the board will soon hear proposals for growing the fishery to 8, 10 or as much as 20 percent of all the cod available to fishermen in the Bering Sea. >click to read<11:28

Chignik fishermen stuck ashore as sockeye run fails

Communities around the Gulf of Alaska are struggling with low sockeye returns, and villages near the Chignik River are no different. The region is experiencing its weakest recorded run in the last in 50 years.  Fishermen are stuck waiting for a commercial opener,,, There’s really only one thing to talk about in Chignik Bay these days — where are the sockeye? “Shock is pretty much the guaranteed feeling of most people as kinda everybody walking around dazed.” according to Ben Allen, a local fisherman. It’s to the point where residents have pulled their subsistence nets voluntarily to try and get every salmon they can up the Chignik River.,, And, like other nearby communities, red salmon is the main source of income that keeps the lights on in the village. >click to read<18:12

Smoke-filled rooms

With the fishing season beginning in the 49th state, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has been holding private meetings to forge an agreement between commercial, sport and other fishing interests on how to manage salmon in Cook Inlet. The reason why is unclear. By law, the regulation of state fisheries falls solely under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Board of Fisheries. One of the first acts of the Alaska Legislature after Statehood in 1959 was to establish a Board of Fish and Game – later split into the separate boards for fish and wildlife management – to insulate resource decisions from backroom politicking. >click to read<10:37

No kings

Snow and ice still cover the tributaries of the Susitna River basin, but already the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is talking about closing the Chinook salmon fishery for the 2018 season. The agency’s fear for the drainages of both the Susitna and Little Susitna mirrors the 2017 fear for the 24,000-square-mile Copper River basin : No king salmon. In the case of the Copper last year, the state was faced with a scientifically calculated Chinook forecast calling for the return of 29,000 of the fish – only 5,000 more than were needed for spawning in streams located behind a gauntlet of commercial, subsistence, personal-use dipnet, and rod-and-reel fisheries. >click to read<14:48

Chinook action plan a ‘question mark’ for conservation and economics

There will be a lot less fishing for king salmon in Southeast in the coming season, after the Alaska Board of Fisheries took dramatic steps to protect dwindling chinook returns to the region’s major river systems. Before wrapping up its 13-day meeting in Sitka on Tuesday, the Board of Fish passed an “action plan” intended to reverse the downward spiral in Alaska’s wild king salmon.  The plan targets three primary rivers — or stocks of concern — but leaves the door open for similar conservation measures elsewhere, should they become necessary. >click here to read< 09:29

Industry tops subsistence on Board of Fisheries herring votes

In a morning of controversial deliberations at the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting Tuesday, subsistence users weren’t successful in herring conservation measures to cut commercial fishing harvests. But a favored backup proposal, No. 106, did pass by a 6-1 vote: 4 square miles in Sitka Sound were added to a 10-square mile protected area reserved for subsistence harvest and barred from commercial fishing. >click here to read< 15:18

Fish Board: Spotter planes out, Chinook actions on hold for now

The Alaska Board of Fisheries voted to ban spotter planes in Southeast salmon fisheries and provided some relief to struggling commercial troll fishermen on Friday, the first full day of deliberations for the board. Though the board made significant changes to Southeast finfish regulations, Juneau fishermen were left with a cliffhanger: salmon action plans aimed at protecting struggling Taku and Chilkat river Chinook — which could leave fishermen docked for a significant part of the season — won’t be voted on until at least Saturday morning. >click here to read< 17:19

Alaska Board of Fish gets earful on herring, salmon proposals

More than 200 people turned out in Sitka to testify about herring and salmon fisheries in front of the Alaska Board of Fisheries on Tuesday. And about two-thirds of those who spoke were concerned over the commercial management of the Sitka sac roe herring fishery. The herring industry wants to maintain the status quo. Fishermen and processors expressed support for the methods used by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to predict how many herring they can safely harvest. >click here to read< 09:38

Southeast fishermen seek relief from expanding sea otter population

Crabbers and dive fishermen returned to Alaska’s Board of Fish this month seeking changes to commercial fishing regulations in Southeast Alaska for crab and other shellfish impacted by a growing population of sea otters in the region. Some told the board that time is running out on their fisheries because otters are eating clams, sea cucumbers, urchins and Dungeness crab. Wrangell crabber Mike Lockabey told the board the commercial Dungeness crab fleet is being compressed because of the otter predation problem. “It is acute,” Lockabey said. “It will not make the next board cycle without losing fisheries. Not just area, fisheries.” >click here to read< 18:03

Fighting the tide

After three years of work, a University of Alaska Fairbanks study of the state’s commercial fishing industry has reached one conclusion nobody in the 49th state wants to talk about and another that not even the authors of the report seem willing to confront. The first conclusion is barely disguised in the report: “Since limited entry programs were implemented in state commercial fisheries, permit holdings by rural residents local to their fisheries have declined by 30 percent. Some regions like Bristol Bay have lost over 50 percent of their local rural permits.” A systemic fail? click here to read the story 17:11

Squid fishery proposed for Southeast as squid follow warmer waters to Alaska

Following warmer waters to Alaska, market squid may be here to stay and at least four Southeast fishermen think there’s enough here to begin catching and marketing them. A proposal to create a squid fishery in Southeast is slated for the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting Jan. 11-23 in Sitka. If adopted, the board would work with fishermen and stakeholders to develop a purse seine fishery for market squid, which are already being caught in lucrative fisheries in California and Oregon. click here to read the story 12:40

Prelude to war – A news analysis

The mayor of Kenai, Alaska is “extremely disappointed” with the Alaska Board of Fisheries, and the mayor of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough less than pleased but “satisfied” with the Board’s big compromise. The big compromise itself? The Board will avoid both Wasilla and Kenai in favor of a 2020 meeting in Anchorage. So contentious has become the issue of Cook Inlet fishery management that politicians now argue over minutiae while the bigger issues plaguing the Inlet’s fisheries are ignored. click here to read the story 10:46

Copper River disaster

This is a developing story – No one seems to have any idea what sort of astronomical price a rare and iconic Copper River king salmon from Alaska might demand when the commercial fishing season opens in about a week – if there are any fish to be sold. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is facing an emergency petition to ban the sale of the big fish in the name of conservation. Alaska subsistence fishermen who are supposed to have a fishing priority but have already been told they will be restricted to a limit of two kings each for the entire season are talking about the possibility of a lawsuit if the state allows the commercial king fishery to open. And even if the start of the fishery proceeds as scheduled on May 18, the opening day catch is expected to be no more than a few hundred fish, if that, given that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has already ordered the closure of fishing areas where most kings are caught. click here to read the article. 09:45

Alaska Crab fishery faces identity crisis, while Fishermen have a tough time finding snow crab

Fishermen are having the toughest time in the past five years finding snow crab, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in Unalaska. The fleet of 60 crab boats had caught 16. 6 million pounds, for 74 percent of the quota in the Bering Sea, ADF&G biologist Ethan Nichols in Unalaska said Monday. But based on the number of crab in an average pot, the catch has plummeted from a peak of 237 to 116 in the most recent weekly tally, he said. The average weight is 1.3 pounds per individual snow crab, he said. continue reading the story hereCrab fishery faces identity crisis.  Is it a bairdi Tanner or is it an opilio Tanner snow crab? Or is it something in between, a hybrid? The Bering Sea commercial crab fishery is facing an issue fundamental to identity, and in what fishery which crustaceans can legally appear. In this issue, it’s up to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Crabbers and their allies in the Pribilof Islands say a hybrid should be considered part of the catch of whatever the fishermen are targeting, whether Tanner bairdi or Tanner opilio. While both have Tanner in their names, the bairdi are commonly known as Tanners, while the typically smaller opilio are called snow crab. continue reading the story here 12:10

Fishy-nomics

As a blunt reminder of the value of salmon to all Alaskans, businessmen and women from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough paraded before the Alaska Board of Fisheries on Saturday to talk business. Money and jobs have always been the rallying cries of commercial fishermen who catch the majority of salmon that make their way into Cook Inlet, the long fiord at the front door of Anchorage. And government, both state and federal, has long been receptive to their financial pleas. When weak king salmon runs in 2012 forced restrictions that put Kenai Peninsula commercial fishermen on the beach, then Gov. Sean Parnell asked for a federal disaster declaration. When it came, the Peninsula Clarion reported, “an estimated 443 permit holders from Cook Inlet’s eastside setnet fishery” vied for $4.6 million in aid. No government entity, however, has jumped in to bail out Mike Hudson, the owner of 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle in Wasilla, even though his business has in recent years been devastated by weak salmon returns linked in part to how Inlet salmon are managed. continue reading the article here 09:40

Cook Inlet Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting to kick off with new faces, old grudges

The Alaska Board of Fisheries has a full plate for its triennial Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting beginning Feb. 23 and running through March 3 in Anchorage. The board will look quite different with three new members since the last meeting and so does the fishery after three years of restriction, tight markets, lawsuits, and accusations of disregarding the best science that revolve around the board decisions at its last Upper Cook Inlet meeting in 2014. Chinook, or king, salmon stocks on the Kenai River and around the state started to plummet in the late 2000s, and in 2014, the Board of Fisheries approved paired restrictions directing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game had to take certain actions when the Kenai king fishery was restricted, including limiting commercial fishing time. Sport representatives generally thought it fair to share the burden of conservation, while commercial fishermen said it hit them harder than the sportfishermen. This year, nearly 200 proposals from commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen will try to overhaul entire fishery management plans, revise escapement goals, expand or contract fishing areas and openings hours, add or remove new gear types and in general try to open up more fishing opportunity for each respective group. Continue reading the article here 08:54

Ringing in new round of ‘fish wars’ as ADFG manages budget

In the face of yet another round of budget cuts, Alaska’s largest private employer, the seafood industry, will have entirely new management schemes to sort out and live under in 2017 alongside status quo projections for harvest in key fisheries. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will take another budget cutback responding to the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit that has yet to be patched. Gov. Bill Walker released a proposed fiscal year 2018 budget on Dec. 15. Among other cuts, Walker proposes a budget of $28.9 million for ADFG. This is a 36 percent reduction from the fiscal year 2015. ADFG will have to find ways to deal with budget cuts to monitor key fisheries stocks, including the iconic king salmon that has fallen in abundance beginning in the late 2000s. Further, commercial fisheries management programs will suffer,,, Fish wars renewed – As usual, much of Alaska’s year will center around salmon. Among the biggest items for Alaska’s state fisheries will be the two-week 2017 Upper Cook Inlet meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Read the rest of the article here 16:25

Alaska dipnetting – Disorderly and unsafe

alaska-dipnetting-medredThe winter meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries is months away but already the weirdness has begun.  At a work session in Kenai-Soldotna this week, the board spent some time kicking around the idea of motor restrictions for the Kenai River to make the popular, personal-use dipnet fishery there safer. The suggestion was brought to the board by 72-year-old Soldotna resident George Parks and picked up by the board’s new vice-chair Sue Jeffery, who termed the Kenai a “disorderly, unsafe fishery.” A commercial fisherman from Kodiak, Jeffery appeared unaware everyone was discussing the wrong fishery. There are deadly dipnet fisheries in Alaska, but the Kenai boat fishery is not one of them. The short stretch of the Kenai open to dipnetting from boats during the short July dipnet seasons does get congested. Some boats have collided, and a few have even taken on water until they sank. But no one has ever died. Read the story here 14:38

Members of Alaska crab industry are holding out hope for high prices and a late fishery.

The Alaska Board of Fisheries hasn’t yet decided whether to review harvest guidelines for Eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab and potentially open the season in January or earlier, or leave the fishery closed entirely for the next two years. Meanwhile, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game cut the quota for snow crab by 50 percent and for Bristol Bay red king crab by 15 percent. Despite the cuts, crab industry stakeholders say the season for Bristol Bay red king crab is moving along at more than a healthy clip. “Some good news from the grounds, the crab look good. They’re heavy. There’s a lot of small crab, females. Folks are seeing pots just plugged with crab — so full they can’t get another one in,” said Jake Jacobsen, director of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange, a crab harvesting cooperative with 188 members that together harvest 70 percent of Alaska’s crab. Jacobsen said that given the density of the fishing, he wonders why the surveys that measure abundance didn’t pick anything up.“The reports I’ve got, maybe the people who aren’t doing so well don’t say anything,” he said. “There’s a lot of very optimistic reports from the grounds. I’m not sure what happened with the survey last summer.” Read the story here 16:53

Fish Board imposter?

roland-mawA former member of the Alaska Board of Fisheries facing multiple felony charges of lying about his Alaska residency to collect Permanent Fund Dividends is suggesting he might have fallen victim to an virtual imposter. The claim comes in a 19-page brief filed for Roland Maw of Kasilof in which his attorney seeks to quash the Maw indictments. Attorney Nicholas Polasky of Juneau argues that a grand jury indicted Maw without any evidence that Maw was the man actually sitting at a keyboard making online reservations to travel out-of-state and purchase resident hunting and fishing licenses in Montana. “Mr. Maw does not necessarily assert that he is not the person who made the statements or engaged in the conduct that is represented in every single exhibit,” Polasky wrote. “However, Mr Maw does not agree that he is the person who made the statements or engaged in the conduct in some of the exhibits.” For that reason, Polasky wants most of the exhibits in the Maw case tossed and the indictment along with them. His request does reveal for the first time the extensive file the state has put together on Maw, the one-time director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association. UCIDA is the most powerful commercial fishing organization in Cook Inlet. Read the story here 13:06

Unalaska joins emergency petition on tanner crab

23tannersizeThis season, the unpredictable tanner crab population isn’t looking so good for Aleutian fishermen. That’s what the state’s trawl survey indicated this summer. But the City of Unalaska has joined an emergency petition urging the Alaska Board of Fisheries to take another look. At a City Council meeting last week, Frank Kelty explained the survey showed low numbers for female tanners. That’s led the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to consider serious conservation measures. “The whole fishery could be shut down,” Kelty said. But the problem isn’t affecting the whole fishery. Kelty said data indicates the eastern tanner stock is struggling with low female biomass, but not the western stock. Read the rest here 10:47

Trawlers banned from Unalaska Bay

Unalaska Bay was completely shut down to trawlers by state regulators last week after a long campaign by the Unalaska Native Fisheries Association representing local small boats. The Alaska Board of Fisheries approved UNFA’s request last week while meeting in Anchorage, closing all waters of Unalaska Bay year-round to groundfish fishing with pelagic trawl gear, according to UNFA member and Unalaska resident Walter Tellman. The fish board voted 6-1 to close the bay to trawlers, he said. Opposed, Tellman said, were officials of  and trawler captains. Brent Paine, the executive director of United Catcher Boats, declined to comment this week on the latest closure. Jim Paulin photo  Read the article here 16:14

Board of Fish adjusts Bristol Bay set net boundaries

IMG_0484Months after the issue was first raised, the state Board of Fisheries made a decision on set net sites affected by erosion. In December, Bristol Bay set-netters went to the board looking for help after erosion had taken its toll on boundaries at their commercial fishing sites. And on March 11, at its statewide meeting and the final regular meeting for board members Fritz Johnson, Tom Kluberton and Bob Mumford, the board agreed to adjust the lines as requested by the affected fishermen, with some modifications. Read the rest here 08:55

Abundant returns, sustained yields testify that Alaska Board of Fisheries isn’t broken

Dolly-Varden-among-sockeye-salmonStarting in 2014, and continuing into 2016, members of United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA), a commercial fishing organization, and two former employees of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who have since became advocates for Cook Inlet commercial fisheries, have claimed the Alaska Board of Fisheries is broken and needs reform. These are serious accusations and should be examined to determine whether there is evidence to support them. Read the rest here 08:29

Native Fishermen’s Group Seeks To Close Unalaska Bay To Commercial Trawl Fishing

adfg-logoA proposal to permanently close Unalaska Bay to commercial trawl fishing is up for discussion at an upcoming Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting. The statewide meeting takes place the second week of March in Anchorage, and Qawalangin tribal president Tom Robinson will be there to testify. He will be speaking on behalf of the  (UNFA). Robinson says this is UNFA’s third attempt since 2008 to get the proposal – numbered 194 – passed by the Board. In 2013, the Unalaska City Council passed a resolution supporting the plan to close Unalaska Bay to groundfish fishing with trawl gear year-round. Read the rest here 08:29

Bristol Bay backlash after Walker taps Ruffner to replace Johnson on Fish Board

JohnsonGovernor Bill Walker announced five nominations to the state board of Fish and Game on Tuesday. On the list again this year for a Fish Board seat is Robert Ruffner of Kenai, who would replace Fritz Johnson, a commercial fisherman from Dillingham. If confirmed, it will be the first time the Fish Board would not have a member from Bristol Bay. When Governor Bill Walker announced five appointments to the state boards of fish and game on Feb. 2, he named a Soldotna scientist for the seat currently held by Dillingham’s Fritz Johnson. That was a surprise for many in the Bay,,, Audio, Read the rest here 11:02

Former Alaska Fish Board appointee Roland Maw charged with PFD fraud

Gov. Bill Walker’s controversial one-time appointee to the Alaska Board of Fisheries was charged Wednesday with 17 counts of theft and unsworn falsification over his applications for six years of Permanent Fund dividends and for commercial fishing permits. Roland Maw is accused of illegally collecting $7,422 in dividends between 2009 and 2014. The charging documents show he did not disclose that he left Alaska for more than 90 days during each of the qualifying calendar years, a requirement. Read the article here 15:16

It’s expensive for fishermen to participate in BOF meets

After 18-plus years of holding Alaska Board of Fisheriesadfg-logo meetings involving mostly Kenai and Kasilof River salmon fishing issues anywhere but near the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, the BOF has once again voted to hold the next round of meetings, which will be held in early 2017, in Anchorage. Gov. Walker campaigned with Upper Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishermen before the election with assurances that he would do all he could to ensure the next meeting would be held on the Kenai Peninsula. Read the article here 15:09

Alaska Board of Fisheries won’t meet on peninsula

The board made the call by a 5-2 vote at the tail end of its Bristol Bay finfish meeting, also in Anchorage. Only two board members, commercial fishermen Sue Jeffrey and Fritz Johnson, voted in favor of a proposal moving the meeting from Anchorage to Kenai Peninsula, where the board hasn’t held an Upper Cook Inlet meeting since the last millennium. “Maybe next time,” said member John Jensen of Petersburg, drawing an outraged cry from the audience. “Why maybe?” called John McCombs, a peninsula fisherman and board member of United Cook Inlet Drift Association. Read the article here 09:51

One permit, One person – Alaska Board of Fisheries rejects Bristol Bay permit stacking

thWZZIY211“There’ll be fewer people able to participate,” said board member Fritz Johnson, a Dillingham resident and commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay. “It’s a rational business decision, but I think the board needs to take a view of this…based on what’s best for coastal communities and what’s best for the resource.” Bristol Bay fishermen in attendance were evenly divided on permit stacking, which the board allowed in the area in 2009 but with a sunset clause for 2012. Opponents said permit stacking would consolidate the fishery into fewer hands, echoing concerns over crab fishery rationalization a decade prior. Read the article here 08:17