Tag Archives: North Pacific Fishery Management Council

North Pacific Fishery Management Council gets review of Bering Sea pollock program

After two years of almost ceaseless contention, the North Pacific regulatory waters have cooled down for now. The Council oversees all federal fisheries between three and 200 miles off the Alaska coast. One of eight regions, the North Pacific fishery is by far the country’s most profitable, having produced two-thirds of the country’s total seafood value in 2015. Over the last two years, the council has been in battle mode over chinook salmon and halibut bycatch, and Gulf of Alaska groundfish catch shares. There have been parades of protest and industry stand-downs and rural Alaska villages emptied to give impassioned pleas alongside Seattle fishing crews and captains. At the council’s Seattle meeting Feb. 1-6, the council rested for the most part, taking scant public comment and few final actions. Rather, it focused on some of the structures behind the chaos, reviewing catch share programs and looking for areas to tune up following two years of pushing the gas. After indefinitely tabling a Gulf of Alaska catch share system four years in the works at its meeting this past December, the council reviewed the schematics behind the Bering Sea pollock fishery, Alaska’s largest fishery by volume. Read the rest of the article here 20:36

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council Meeting in Seattle, WA January 30 thru February 6, 2017

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will begin their meeting week on Monday, January 30, and continue through Monday February 6, 2017 at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel, 515 Madison Street, Seattle, WA. The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are now available.  Meeting FAST FACTS. The Council’s meeting will be broadcast live beginning February 1, 2017 via Adobe Connect  Listen Online.  Visit the NPFMC Website, Click here 20:35

Victorious United Cook Inlet Drift Association file to vacate salmon rule

A Cook Inlet salmon plan will take a lot more work from federal managers in the next few years. The United Cook Inlet Drift Association, an industry group of salmon drift netters, has requested the U.S. District Court of Alaska to vacate a piece of fisheries policy they successfully sued to overturn after an appeal court ruling this past September.In the meantime, the old plan replacing the vacated plan will require some work. “Given the dire situation faced by UCIDA as a result of the federal government’s utter abdication of its (Magnuson-Stevens Act) responsibilities in this important fishery, the Proposed Judgment sought by UCIDA is immediately necessary,” according to the motion filed by UCIDA on Jan. 7. “It would ensure that the checks and balances guaranteed by the Act — including the requirement to use the best available science, to manage the fishery in accordance with the 10 national standards, and to achieve optimum yield — are provided to UCIDA and the fishery in the short term while NMFS works with the council to produce a new FMP.” A three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with commercial fishing groups against a 2011 decision by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to remove several Alaska salmon fisheries from the FMP. Read the article here 08:03

Opinion: State, council fail to help Kodiak trawl fisheries

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has a record for successful fishery management, built on principles known as the Alaska Model. Recently, the council abandoned the Alaska Model and its solid reputation for progressive fishery management. In doing so, the council failed the Gulf of Alaska trawl groundfish fisheries and our community of Kodiak. Led by the state of Alaska, the council voted at its December meeting in Anchorage to “postpone indefinitely” any further work to address the goal of bycatch reduction through a cooperative management program for Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries. Instead, the Council ended a four-year public process to develop a program to achieve this goal. By their action, the state and the council put politics first, and the health of our fisheries and coastal communities came in dead last. Read the op-ed here 17:46

Wow! Council cracks up over catch shares

Everyone in the Gulf of Alaska agrees on one thing: it was the other side’s fault. Depending on who you ask, catch shares are evil incarnate or an angel of good management. Depending on who you ask, they’ll either save Kodiak or kill it. Depending on who you ask, it’s either the State of Alaska’s fault or its credit for not allowing catch shares in the Gulf of Alaska’s groundfish fishery. And depending on who you ask, they’ll either come up again or get sliced up into a handful of other little nibbles at the Gulf of Alaska bycatch problems. Either sighs of relief or defeat leaked from every mouth in the room on this past Dec. 12 when the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees all federal fisheries from three to 200 miles off the Alaska coast, indefinitely tabled a complex range of options for the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. Read the story here! 21:17

No Catch Shares! Gulf rationalization dies a quiet death

Gulf of Alaska groundfish will remain an open access fishery indefinitely after the North Pacific Fishery Management Council tabled a policy package that has enraged fishermen of all stripes over the last year. Depending on who is asked, the council acted at either its best or its worst with the decision. “The council process didn’t work. They didn’t solve the problem,” said Julie Bonney, executive director of the Groundfish Forum, an industry group of trawlers and processors. “They just took the political part first and ignored the management. I have to keep reminding myself, this isn’t about management. It’s about politics.” Others said the council did exactly what it should have done in the face of so many contentious decisions on which so many people expressed opinions. “I think this is actually the best illustration of council process, rather than the worst,” said Duncan Fields, a Kodiak attorney and former council member who was among the most vocal on this subject. “It shows that one gear group with a particular ideology and particular economic interest with very good advocates can’t just jam something through the council,” he said. “The council allows other participants, small boat fishermen, community, stakeholders to also have a voice, and that voice has said a catch share program is not the best public policy. You don’t always get the result you want.” Read the rest here 20:39

Federal judge tosses another fisheries management rule

alaska-halibut__frontFederal judges keep smacking down the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s decisions. For the second time in the last three months, a federal court has overturned a management decision made by the North Pacific council and enacted by the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS. The United States District Court of Washington overturned a 2011 decision relating to halibut quota shares harvested by hired skippers on Nov. 16. Federal courts have overturned several council decisions in recent years. In September, a the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the council’s 2011 decision to remove Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound and Alaska Peninsula salmon fisheries from federal oversight.  In this case, the North Pacific council made a decision in 2011 regarding which halibut quota holders can use a hired skipper instead of being required to be on board the vessel. Read the story here 14:09

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Anchorage December 6 thru 14, 2016

npfmc-logoThe North Pacific Fishery Management Council will begin their meeting week on Tuesday, December 6, and continue through Tuesday December 14, 2016 at the Hilton Hotel, 500 W. 3rd Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501. The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are now available. The Council’s meeting will be broadcast live beginning their first day via Adobe Connect Listen Online 09:16

Following court decision Cook Inlet fishermen wait for direction

salmonfmpConcerned fishermen gathered at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s October meeting in Anchorage to discuss a recent federal court decision that turns control of salmon fisheries in Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound and the Alaska Peninsula over to state management. Though stakeholders brought their suggestions, the council did not direct its staff to any action related to the subject of a salmon FMP. Instead, the council reiterated that the decision will be remanded back to the lower court where it could either be appealed or produce a directive for the council to write a salmon FMP. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council governs federal fisheries, which take place from three to 200 miles offshore. In 2013, industry group United Cook Inlet Drift Association, or UCIDA, filed a lawsuit  to repeal a 2011 council decision, which became Amendment 12 to the Alaska salmon fishery management plan, or FMP. The initial suit was rejected by U.S. Alaska District Court Judge Timothy Burgess in September 2014. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit unanimously remanded the case back to Burgess with instructions to find in favor the plaintiffs. Read the story here 11:48

NPFMC progresses with halibut issues

alaska-halibut__frontFederal fisheries managers took additional steps at their October meeting on halibut issues ranging from leasing of individual fishery shares to prohibited species catch limits, and a review of the halibut/sablefish IFQ program. None of these issues, which were in the early stage of consideration, are on draft agendas for upcoming council meetings Dec. 6-14 in Anchorage or Jan. 30-Feb. 7 in Seattle, although final action on two other halibut issues is anticipated in December. They are charter halibut management measures and the charter halibut recreational quota entry program. On the matter of IFQ leasing of quota shares, which was up for an initial review, the council expanded its suite of options for proposed action to allow leasing of halibut IFQ to community development quota groups in low abundance years. Read the rest here 14:36

Head of UCIDA hopes for fisheries plan based on 10 MSA national standards

ucida-logoAfter the well-publicized court win by commercial fishing groups requiring the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to work with the state to establish a Fisheries Management Plan for salmon fisheries that take place largely in federal waters complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the question is, now what? That will be a topic of discussion at the council meeting taking place this week. In the meantime, David Martin, president of United Cook Inlet Drift Association, one of the groups that filed and funded the suit, commented on what some of the issues are, and the thinking behind the suit. While the suit is still open to the appeals process, after having won a unanimous decision from the Ninth Circuit, the state has expressed reluctance to appeal. Read the story here 15:11

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Anchorage October 3rd – 11th, 2016

npfmc-logoThe North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet the week of October 3, 2016 at the Hilton Hotel, 500 W. 3rd Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501. The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are now available. The Council’s meeting will be broadcast live beginning their first day via Adobe Connect Listen Online. 13:57

It’s time to talk crab season projections – NPFMC to meet to approve catch limits, discuss management plan

red-king-crab-2432px-608x400The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet in Anchorage from Oct. 5-11 to overview crab season projections, hear further discussions of halibut management, and decide what to do about a recent federal appeals court decision that will require more attention to salmon management. The council will approve catch limits for the 2016-17 crab fisheries and review the stock assessment for the last year. Stocks for both snow crab and Bairdi Tanner crab were down according to surveys in 2016, and stakeholders are holding their breath to see if the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will need to close fisheries if abundance doesn’t meet the department thresholds. The crab fishing management plan, or FMP, requires federal scientists to set an overfishing limit, or OFL, and an acceptable biological catch, or ABC. Based on these numbers, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will determine a total allowable catch, or TAC, under its joint management with the council. Read the story here 14:13

Ninth Circuit Sides With Cook Inlet Fishermen

A pair of setnetters push their boat to shore in Cook Inlet in 2013.The Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday that the federal government must manage fisheries in federal waters that require conservation, unless a fishery-management plan cedes control to a state. Reversing a decision from the Alaska Federal Court, the Ninth Circuit panel held that the National Marine Fisheries Service is required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to include the Cook Inlet in its fishery-management plan. It may not hand over control of the inlet to the state of Alaska without first drawing up a plan, according to the 20-page ruling. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has jurisdiction over Cook Inlet. In 2011, the Council voted and passed Amendment 12 to remove the net-fishing areas from its plan, arguing that the plan was vague on management goals and that the state was the most appropriate management authority. However, the amendment was opposed by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund, two groups of commercial fishermen.  However, the amendment was opposed by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund, two groups of commercial fishermen. They argued that the state’s failure to deal with carnivorous northern pike and its improper escapement management have contributed to a 51 percent reduction in the sockeye salmon catch since 1981. Read the story here 08:14

Alaska IPHC board member fined $49K for fishing violation, resigns

IPHC flagJeff Kauffman resigned as the Alaska resident member of the International Pacific Halibut Commission on June 22, shortly after he and two fellow fishermen agreed to a $49,000 fine for harvesting more than 10,000 pounds of halibut over their combined quota limit in June 2012. The settlement the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement agreed to was nearly $13,000 less than the original Notice of Violation and Assessment of $61,781 issued on March 1 of this year. Kauffman, who is the vice president of the Central Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, or CBSFA, and a member of the Advisory Panel to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, did not respond to a request for comment. Interesting article that should raise some questions regarding conflicting relationships. Read the story here 08:40

Many words created few changes to the Gulf of Alaska bycatch reduction package the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is pondering.

02halibut-offloadAt its June meeting in Kodiak, the council held another session dedicated to the plan, which would enact one of several options aimed at reducing the amount of halibut and chinook salmon bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fishery. The council moved three alternatives into a public scoping process but before making adjustments to alternatives, the overarching goals and objectives debate spurred a two-hour word battle among members that the chair found unproductive. Not only should the plan reduce bycatch, as the purpose and needs statement says, but should also “promote increased utilization of both target and secondary species while minimizing economic barriers for new participants and limiting harvest privileges.” The council lingo is meant to protect new entrant fishermen from consolidation and overwhelming entry costs to purchase fishing quota. (This is a long article with lots of info.) Read the story here 20:44

Catch Shares: After 10-year crab review, NPFMC seeks social impact information. Are they blind?

red-king-crab-2432px-608x400The North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved a 10-year review of rationalization on June 10, the program that ended derby-style crab fisheries in 2005 and gave quota shares to vessel owners, captains and processors. The aim was to reduce overcapitalization and create a safer fishery by allowing crew to fish slower with a guaranteed quota allocation compared to the previous free-for-all. The study – The 10-year review charted a continuation of trends found in the five-year review.  Vessel consolidation continued along with quota consolidation, but both somewhat stabilized in the last five years. Fewer people hold quota than before. Each individual quota holder, naturally, holds more quota now than in 2004; 53 fewer people hold Bristol Bay red king crab crew shares now than in 2005. In the two years following rationalization, the crab fleet shrank from 256 vessels in 2004 to 91 in 2006. Read the rest here 12:49

Groundswell – Opposing Catch Share Embezzlements for the Gulf of Alaska

1-5cafb4e98eGulf of Alaska groundfish trawl bycatch amendments for analysis top this week’s North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Kodiak.  First up is the 10-year review of the Crab privatization quota system.  It put roughly 1,350 fishermen out of work and shifted roughly $800 million of labor’s surplus to some sealords — embezzled from captains and crew. Into today’s capital flight torrent enters 40 groundfish trawlers, also wanting a mixed economy of brutish capitalism combined with another socialistic program of government giveaways.  That’s Alternative 2 in the analysis outline, an IFQ proposal.  It will result in more capital fleeing Alaska, robbing our communities of the labor surplus that drives rounds of respending that stimulate coastal economies. Greed and lazy are common economic bedfellows. They’ll embezzle 70% off the top, too.  IFQs are euphemistically called “catch shares,” while those who do fish get less of a share than before. Since they saw trawl IFQs as inevitable politically, a splinter group of weak feeling local fishermen came up with a nonsensical idea to at least get one piece of the giveaway trawl pie, in something misnamed a Community Fishing Association. Read the op-ed here 20:51

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting June 6, 2016 at Kodiak Harbor Convention Center

Blue NPFMC SidebarThe Council will meet the week of June 6, 2016 at the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center, 236 E. Rezanof Drive, Kodiak, AK. The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are available and will be updated as documents become available. Alaska Air is offering Travel Discounts. Details of meetings to be held during the week follow. The Council’s meeting will be broadcast live beginning their first day via Adobe Connect Click here to Listen Online. 14:55

North Pacific Fishery Management Council convenes in Kodiak with Gulf catch shares in focus

The trawl industry already loathes a recent alternative to a North Pacific Fishery Management Council plan. Now the council could add another. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet in Kodiak from June 6-14 to hear a discussion paper that has enraged the trawl industry since late 2015. A new proposal for “innovative policy,” as referred to in the paper, would give the first catch share allocations to Community Fishing Associations to prevent harmful impacts such as the job losses and high cost of entry that have occurred under previous such programs in halibut and crab. This is an official state position, and the North Pacific council holds a six-member majority of the 11-member body that governs federal Alaska waters. Gov. Bill Walker’s administration prioritizes coastal communities’ economic prospects during the state’s oil-driven financial calamity. Part of that stance concerns keeping the fishing industry, the state’s largest private employer, in Alaskan fishermen’s hands. Read the rest here 08:39

Governor Walker names two good Alaskans to North Pacific Fishery Management Council

Blue NPFMC Sidebar“Alaska strong” is the phrase that best describes Gov. Bill Walker’s recent nominations of Theresa Peterson and Buck Laukitis to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, or NPFMC, which is composed of 11 voting members from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest states. Six of those members are nominated by Alaska’s governor. Theresa Peterson is a fisherman, Kodiak resident and multi-term member of the NPFMC advisory panel, as well as a staff member for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. Buck Laukitis also stresses the importance of catering to the demands of the current fleet while also ensuring that the future of coastal communities is not sacrificed in the process. He also comes with a formidable pedigree for the job. Read the rest here 10:07

Washington rep, trawlers scuttle rumors of Gulf legislation

A Washington congresswoman’s office and members of the North Pacific trawl industry deny rumors that they are collaborating on federal fishing legislation that would circumvent the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council regulates federal fisheries from three to 200 miles off the Alaska coast. Currently, the council is considering a regulatory package of several options to implement a quota share system for Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries, one of the last remaining North Pacific fisheries without such a system. Word surfaced that a Washington legislator had crafted language at the behest of the trawl industry to implement a preferred industry alternative at the congressional level. Read the rest here 13:54

Gulf of Alaska fishermen wary of Congressional intrusion into council process

Editor’s note: Stephen Taufen of Groundswell Fisheries Movement did not write the petition distributed by AMCC. This article refers to a separate memo of his own distributed to interested parties in which he alludes to Rep. Beutler. Gulf of Alaska fishermen suspect that Washington, D.C., politics might come into play for fisheries regulations they want left to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. A letter circulated by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council and signed by 250 Gulf of Alaska fishermen and residents was sent to each of Alaska’s three congressional delegation members. The letter asks that the Alaska’s representatives in the nation’s capital oppose any legislation intended to press Gulf of Alaska fisheries regulations. “Specifically, we request our Alaska delegation to support development of a Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management Program (aka catch share) in the Council process so all stakeholders may contribute to a transparent process,” the letter asks. Read the rest here12:05 Additional information by scrolling to the comment section.

North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Anchorage, April 4 thru 12, 2016 – Listen Live

Blue NPFMC SidebarThe Council will meet the week of April 4, 2016 at the Hilton Hotel, Anchorage. Alaska Air is offering travel discounts. The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are available and will be updated as documents become available. The Council’s meeting will be broadcast live beginning their first day via Adobe Connect HERE. Motions will be posted following the meeting. http://www.npfmc.org/  15:40

Alaska trawlers furious about Walker’s council nominations

Two months after a heated meeting, trawlers are again accusing Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten of short-changing their industry. Gov. Bill Walker submitted nominations to fill two seats of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on March 9, sending waves of dissatisfaction throughout an industry segment that claims Walker’s administration is forcing it out of the process at the worst time possible. Trawlers claim nominees were chosen based on fealty to a specific vision of Alaska fisheries rather than experience. Read the rest here 08:07

Victors in suit against NMFS want hired skipper rule scrapped

09halibut-hired-skipper-suitThe victorious plaintiffs in a case challenging a federal rule over hired skippers in the sablefish and halibut fisheries filed a motion Feb. 24 to vacate the National Marine Fisheries Service action. Fairweather Fish Inc. and Ray Welsh filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, in 2014, following the finalization of a regulation that prohibited the use of hired skippers to harvest halibut and sablefish quota acquired after Feb. 12, 2010. A U.S. District Court judge in the Western Washington District ruled in their favor on Jan. 13, finding that the regulation didn’t meet legal muster. The court ruled that NMFS violated the Administrative Procedures Act, and failed to ensure the new rule complied with National Standards 9 and 10 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Read the rest here  14:40

Alaska trawlers furious about Walker’s North Pacific Fishery Management Council nominations

Two months after a heated meeting, trawlers are again accusing Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten of short-changing their industry. Gov. Bill Walker submitted nominations to fill two seats of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on March 9, sending waves of dissatisfaction throughout an industry segment that claims Walker’s administration is forcing it out of the process at the worst time possible. Walker nominated Buck Laukitis of Homer and Theresa Peterson of Kodiak to replace Duncan Fields and David Long among the 11 voting members of the council, one of eight regional councils established by the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Act to oversee federal fisheries from three to 200 miles off the coast. Read the rest here 09:28

Walker names picks for North Pacific Fishery Management Council

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will have two new faces next fall, and the governor’s picks for the seat could push the council toward decisions favorable to small-boat fishermen and coastal communities. Governor Bill Walker announced his nominations for the two seats opening up. Theresa Peterson of Kodiak and Buck Laukitis of Homer were tapped to replace Duncan Fields and David Long, whose three-year terms expire in August. Fields, of Kodiak, has served the maximum three consecutive terms; Long, of Wasilla, simply isn’t being re-appointed. Read the rest here 08:08

Cotten, council get a bycatch reduction plan earful from Gulf of Alaska trawlers

01middlecouncil-trawl-bycatchAn administrative push to keep fishing jobs in coastal communities is butting heads with the trawl industry claiming they provide the jobs in the first place. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will continue studying a bycatch reduction plan unpopular with Gulf of Alaska trawlers. The option, known as Alternative 3, would allocate individual bycatch caps to groundfish vessels in the Gulf of Alaska rather than the target species. The council is making changes at the fleet’s insistence. The council passed a series of chinook salmon bycatch limits and halibut bycatch reductions in 2011 and 2012, leading to bycatch-related shutdowns of the trawl fleet. Read the rest here  13:23

Bycatch spike, meeting spur trawl stand down

Gulf of Alaska trawlers are flocking to a meeting in Portland, leaving behind a halibut bycatch situation the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is attempting to fix. The trawlers have complaints with council process, but are also standing down from a halibut bycatch spike resulting from a pollock price dispute with area processors. Industry sources say the stand down was already underway prior to a letter from prominent Gulf of Alaska trawl organizations on Jan. 28 asking for the council-related stand down. Trawl industry representatives said the two stand downs are unrelated. Thirty-four Central Gulf of Alaska trawlers and 19 Western Gulf of Alaska trawlers have agreed not to fish from Feb. 3-6, showing solidarity with those trawlers traveling to Portland to testify at the council meeting. Read the rest here 15:44

North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland Oregon, Feb 1thru 9, 2016

Blue NPFMC SidebarThe Council will meet the week of February 1, 2016 at the Benson Hotel, 309 Southwest Broadway in Portland, Oregon. The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are available and will be updated as documents become available. The Council’s meeting will be broadcast live beginning their first day via Adobe Connect HERE. Motions will be posted following the meeting. 15:26

Gulf of Alaska fishermen to council: don’t experiment with our fisheries

A majority of Gulf of Alaska groundfish trawlers will voluntarily suspend fishing in order to attend the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland, Oregon the first week in February. They are concerned that the recent State of Alaska proposal to restructure their fisheries would seriously harm their livelihoods and the economies of their fishery dependent communities. “This is really quite unique,” said Julie Bonney, executive director of the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank based in Kodiak, Alaska, in a press release. “Fishermen agreeing to stand down, essentially losing income, in order to make this trip to provide their input demonstrates just how important this change in management is to the fishing industry.” Read the article here 08:28

AK plans to cut salmon bycatch in Bering Sea pollock fishery; Comments wanted

Federal fish managers are proposing changes to the Bering Sea pollock fishery to better reduce bycatch of Chinook and chum salmon, and they want input from the public. The fishery now has separate programs to account for takes of the two salmon species – for Chinook, incentives are provided to each vessel to avoid  bycatch  at all times. For chum salmon, Intercooperative agreements help the fleets avoid areas of high bycatch. The North Pacific Council wants to  integrate the two programs. Read the post here 19:22

Factory trawlers praised for halibut conservation

alaska-halibut__frontWhat a difference a year makes for the halibut bycatch controversy in the Bering Sea at the December meetings of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage. The flatfish factory trawlers, vilified for much of this year, reported vigorous and voluntary efforts at halibut conservation, and even received praise from the Pribilofs. Their zeal was prompted by what might be termed resolution number two-by-four of the fish council last summer, which slashed halibut bycatch by 25 percent. “I’m glad what is happening now is happening,” said Swetzof, who was furious when the issue first arose last year,,, Read the article here 18:32

User conflicts over halibut, salmon on horizon for 2016

pacific_halibutThe year about to end saw the beginnings of some fisheries regulations and legal battles that will either resolve or present further issues in 2016. Halibut has dominated the federal fisheries agenda for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees the Exclusive Economic Zone from 3 to 200 miles off the coast. Shrinking halibut stocks and dual management have collided to produce a fishery bitterly divided among bycatch users, directed users, and charter anglers struggling to make ends meet with fewer legally harvestable fish. Read the article here 16:04

YEAR IN REVIEW: Federal agenda dominated by halibut bycatch concerns

Halibut dominated the federal fisheries process in 2015, with each sector fighting over reduced allocations. Directed halibut fishermen in the North Pacific have watched their quotas drop while the trawl industry prosecuting Bering Sea groundfish has had a relatively static bycatch limit for 20 years. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council governs bycatch while the International Pacific Halibut Commission governs directed removals, and the two have not coordinated on the decline in harvestable halibut biomass. Read the article here 08:38

NPFMC – Pollock gets a 30,000 mt raise, flats take cut

Blue NPFMC SidebarThe North Pacific Fishery Management Council raised pollock quota for 2016, but only by half the requested amount, locked in by the two million metric ton cap for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fishery. The 2016 pollock limit for the Eastern Bering Sea is 1.34 million metric tons, a 30,000 metric ton increase from the 2015 limit but less than half the 65,000 metric ton increase the Advisory Panel recommended and the pollock biomass could’ve handled. Groundfish — which includes pollock, Pacific cod, and flatfish — is capped at two million metric,,, Read the article here 09:50

North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Anchorage, December 7-15, 2015

Blue NPFMC SidebarThe Council will meet the week of December 7, 2015 at the Hilton Hotel in Anchorage, AK.  The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are available and will be updated as documents become available. While the Council meeting is in session, you can follow along at https://npfmc.adobeconnect.com/december2015. 12:24

NPFMC Introduces New Alternative After October Meeting for Gulf trawl bycatch management

Blue NPFMC SidebarThe Kodiak Fisheries Workgroup sent a letter of community input to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council before the council’s meeting in early October. The letter focused on the gulf trawl bycatch management issue. “The new alternative does not do catch shares on those fisheries resources such as pollock, but provides a share instead of the bycatch quota, which is either halibut or salmon. Chinook salmon. And so, if you’re given a share of that bycatch, you can take that bycatch share into a co-op.” Read the article here 12:29

Trawlers may convert to pot gear for cod catches

One of the tools being talked about to help trawlers reduce salmon and halibut bycatch is the opportunity to voluntarily convert to pot gear to catch Pacific cod. It’s an option being discussed by fishery managers as they craft a trawl bycatch reduction plan for the Gulf of Alaska. Sam Cunningham, “The reason someone might be interested in using pot gear, and the reason is that it would have lower bycatch of prohibited species of Chinook salmon and halibut, and when those species are caught incidentally they would be less likely to die because they are caught in pot gear.” Listen, and read the rest here  17:51

Despite factory trawler opposition, Adak wins 5,000-ton cod quota

Despite factory trawler opposition, Adak has won a guaranteed minimum of 5,000 metric tons of Pacific cod each year, in hopes that the local will re-open. The Aleutian Islands Pacific cod catcher vessel fishery and shoreplant delivery requirement was approved last week at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting in Anchorage. While the fish council action doesn’t specify exclusive rights for Adak, it did impose the requirement for cod west of 170 degrees longitude, where the only shore plant is in Adak. Read the rest here 13:24

Alaska’s fishing fatalities are dropping, no matter how you mix the numbers

The deadliest catch is getting a lot less deadly. Last week, the  reported to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council that for the first time in known history, no one died on the job while commercial fishing in Alaska during the last federal fiscal year, which ended Sept. 31. “This is the first year, going back as far as we have records, that we didn’t have what I’ll characterize as an operational-related death,” said Coast Guard Capt. Phillip Thorne, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard in Alaska. That claim comes with a few caveats,,, Read the rest here 08:25

More Catch Shares – NPFMC adds options to Gulf of Alaska bycatch package

no_bullshit_hardhat_sticker-r292a06754eb14e5d84d299ecaac82d10_v9waf_8byvr_512The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has added an alternative to the ongoing redraft of the Gulf of Alaska bycatch management plan. The council now has a broad array of options, including 100 percent observer coverage for Gulf of Alaska trawlers, cooperative catch shares, individual catch shares of both groundfish quota and bycatch caps, and reductions in overall bycatch caps. The plan aims to slow the “race for fish” that accompanies derby-style, open access fisheries, where vessels compete with each other to catch as much as possible within the season dates.  Read the rest here 15:23

McDonald’s urges NPFMC to give Bering Sea canyons careful consideration

“In order to ensure all sources remain comfortably above sustainability standards into the future, we voice our support to the council and ask that it move swiftly to take all appropriate measures to protect the habitat of the Bering Sea canyons and sustain the long-term viability of its fisheries,” wrote Gross. McDonald’s did not, however, come down strongly on either side of the issue that Greenpeace and the pollock fishing industry have butted heads over for years. The NPFMC plans to decide whether to take action on pollock fishing limitation Read the rest here 11:01

Halibut Bycatch: a Disappointing Update

NPC_CouncilOn June 9th (10th?), Alaskan halibut fishermen, who have seen their individual quotas cut by up to 70% over the last ten years gathered to watch the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC or North Pacific Council) vote on reduced halibut bycatch caps for trawl fleets fishing in the Bering Sea. Fact sheets from ALFA,  stories from KCAW, NPFMC’s Environmental Assessment, and our previous blog post all describe the conservation fight over halibut, but here are a few crucial bullet points as a reminder: Read the rest here 12:03

Cameras to remedy observer problems in Alaska?

Enforcement Grade Fisherman Surveilance SystemSmaller boats in Alaska’s offshore fisheries may no longer have to carry human observers in the future, if a plan to deploy cameras proves feasible. At its Sitka meeting this month, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council gave the green light to an inter-agency effort to develop Electronic Monitoring. The council would like to see cameras in action within three years. “Our observer was on board. And our observer was seasick for about half the days. Conditions were cramped, and I got to sleep on the galley table,” said Steven Rhoads,,, Read the rest here 18:07

NPFMC must strike a better balance on halibut bycatch – Charlie Wilber

pacific_halibutThis commentary is written for all those who appreciate halibut. If you eat halibut, catch halibut, or have an interest in a healthy halibut resource you need to be aware of what happened at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Sitka this past week. Simply put, halibut stocks in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) area are down, and the problem is slowly affecting all of us. Read the rest here 11:07

NPFMC cuts halibut bycatch limit by 25% – Nobody’s happy!

The council had a series of options for cuts of as high as 50 percent in the limit for the trawl fleet. Sam Cotten, proposed a 35 percent cut that he called “a bare minimum, maybe even a bit below.”  But Cotten’s motion was amended to a 25 percent cut by Bill Tweit, a Washington council member, who called it a “strong first step” that he said would be followed by more steps to tackle the halibut bycatch. Cotten’s motion was amended to a 25 percent cut by Bill Tweit, He was interrupted by hoots of disagreement from hook-and-line fishermen who attended the meeting and had pushed for a much higher bycatch cut. Read the rest here 07:19 Bering Sea halibut bycatch cut leaves both trawlers and halibut fishermen unhappy, Read the rest here 07:26  Council cuts halibut bycatch in Bering Sea, Read the rest here 07:34

North Pacific Fishery Management Council seeks to reduce veto threat over MSA — but not during its meeting in Sitka.

Blue NPFMC SidebarCouncil members have concerns over amendments that would exempt fisheries decisions from the National Environmental Policy Act, and open the door to potentially biased science. (but, we already have NOAA’s “best available” science!) The final recommendations from the council on changes to the Magnuson Stevens Act won’t be made until another committee — the CCC, or Council Coordination Committee — meets later this month. Read the rest here 13:58

Editorial: Halibut population is wobbling

pacific_halibutMismanagement of bycatch — fish caught by accident while boats net other permitted species — is an offensive waste most recently highlighted by a May 30 story in the Seattle Times. The Times’ focus is on the (tinyurl.com/p9vr49l), but the issues involved are familiar to most commercial fishermen. Longstanding bycatch rules are based on distrust of fishermen and somewhat logical, but obviously counterproductive, notions about how to discourage “accidental-on-purpose” behavior. Read the rest here 19:17

North Pacific Fishery Management Council Meeting in Sitka! June 1st thru the 9th. This is a big one!

Blue NPFMC Sidebar The Council will meet the week of June 1 2015 at Centennial Hall, Sitka. Other meetings will be held during the week, and all can be reviewed in the Agenda by clicking here The Draft Agenda Schedule can be reviewed by clicking here Listen on line while the Council is in session, by clicking here  16:45

Dumping of halibut sparks fight among North Pacific fishing fleets

When Skipper Bill Hayes brings up his trawl net from the bottom of the Bering Sea, he often finds halibut mixed in with the yellowfin sole and other fish he pursues with a Seattle-based trawler.  People often pay more than $15 a pound for halibut at the store. But federal harvest rules only allow hook-and-line fishermen — not trawlers such as the boat Hayes captains — to sell these fish. To make trawlers try to avoid halibut, they are required to dump this “bycatch” overboard. They can’t even donate the fish to a food bank. Read the rest here 08:29  Related articles, click here

OP-ED: Fears Mount over NPFMC halibut bycatch quota vote

I have been an Alaskan since 1996. I live and work in Dutch Harbor and have built a labor and equipment company providing services to the Amendment 80 vessels.  The North Pacific Management Council is meeting in June to decide whether to adjust the Amendment 80 fleet’s allowable halibut by-catch.  The Council’s decision is likely to cost Alaskan jobs.  We have been providing longshore services either directly or indirectly since 1998. Our company has grown from a few hard working Alaskans to a little over 120 employees. Read the rest here  18:37

Is NOAA Stacking the NPFMC Deck? – Alaska members appeal recusals

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will spend the first four days of its weeklong meeting in Sitka beginning June 3 deciding on a series of deep cuts in the halibut bycatch allocation for the Bering Sea groundfish bottom-trawl fleet, but it may do so without a majority of the votes on the final decision coming from the Alaska delegation. The council, which has 11 members with six appointed from Alaska, could hold a final vote without two Alaska members, David Long and Simon Kinneen, unless the NOAA, reconsiders its decision to recommend them for recusal. Read the rest here 08:03

It’s time to reduce Bering Sea halibut bycatch

pacific_halibutThe summer season is upon us and for many Alaskans this means fishing for one of the state’s most prized species — halibut. During the first week in June, federal fishery managers have an important opportunity to take a stand for those of us in Alaska that value and depend on the halibut resource. At their meeting in Sitka, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will vote on measures to reduce the amount of halibut that can be wasted as bycatch in other fisheries.  Read the rest here 21:23

Once again, Lu Dochtermann tells it like it is

Once again, Lu Dochtermann tells it like it is, in the decades long fight to reduce pacific_halibut for trawl catcher processors targeting other species for export.  He calls the crying misbehaving bottom trawlers “outlaws” that they are.  The NPFMC letters so far number in the 300 pages realm.  Lu’s stands out because this is about disaster economics, politics, and he sees it for the ruckus that it is – and calls for PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH cutbacks commensurate, in parity with, those the directed halibut commercial fleet has taken (over 70% drops in allowed catch of the target species itself).   He’s on board his halibut boat right now in the Gulf of Alaska as he submitted his testimony with the assistance of his office. Read the rest here 22:54

2 Alaska fisheries council representatives disqualified from voting on halibut bycatch

pacific_halibutIn a move that throws a curveball into the volatile halibut bycatch issue, two Alaska representatives have been disqualified from voting when the matter comes before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council when it meets June 1-9 in Sitka. Simon Kineen and David Long both must recuse themselves because of their employment by groundfish companies, creating a financial conflict of interest. Ironically, both had voted on the side of halibut small boat fishermen in December. Read the rest here 07:56

Had it with high halibut bycatch? Tell the NPFMC by May 26

pacific_halibutAlaskans across the state are demanding that fishery overseers say bye-bye to halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea. More than six million pounds of mostly small halibut are discarded as bycatch each year in trawl fisheries targeting flounders, rockfish, perch, mackerel and other groundfish besides pollock. In two weeks federal fish managers will decide whether to cut the bycatch level by up to 50 percent. “This is about conservation of the resource in a region that provides halibut for all other regions throughout the state. Really, this is halibut ground zero.”  Listen, and read the rest here 18:29

Guest Opinion: State needs to push for halibut protection – by John L. Beath

pacific_halibutThe Pacific halibut may be an icon of our region, but over the past 10 years in the Bering Sea, it’s become increasingly obvious that we aren’t doing as good a job of protecting them as we should. A total of 62.6 million pounds of halibut were caught as bycatch, harvested unintentionally and thrown overboard dead. To compare, the hook-and-line fishermen targeting halibut only caught 69.7 million pounds in the same area over the same period of time.  Read the rest here 10:52

GUEST COMMENTARY: Bering Sea halibut bycatch cuts critical for conservation

I’ll also be considering what’s coming up after I return to homeport — the June convening of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Sitka. There the Council will take final action on the proposed reduction of halibut bycatch caps in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, or BSAI, region.This decision point comes after a decade of steady stock decline, during which time the directed halibut fishery quota in the BSAI has dropped by 63 percent. Halibut fishermen in the hardest hit region — the Central Bering Sea — are facing closure Read the rest here  13:12