Tag Archives: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Bering Sea Crab harvests set: Kings still in decline, snow and Tanner see bump

Commercial fishermen will be allowed to harvest a total of 45 million pounds of snow crab from the Bering Sea waters this year, with 4.5 million of that set aside for Community Development Quota groups and the rest for individual fishing quota, or IFQ, holders. That’s about 34 percent larger than the limit last season, which was also an increase over the previous year. Bering Sea Crabbers Association Executive Director Jamie Goen said that’s good news for the fleet. However, members of the fleet also think that TAC could have been a lot higher had the National Marine Fisheries Service been able to conduct its regular surveys. >click to read< 08:29

Several Fisheries around Alaska asking for disaster relief – Five legislators ask Dunleavy for disaster declaration

Several fisheries around the state are asking for disaster relief from the state and federal government due to low returns, low prices due to the pandemic, and alleged mismanagement. Seafood processors are also struggling. Southeast Alaska is asking for disaster funds due to low coho returns and low prices on the heels of a disaster declaration in 2016 due to a crash in pink salmon numbers. >click to read< 10:36

Chum, Chinook returns fall short across Yukon, Western Alaska

Poor chum and coho returns led to some of the lowest commercial harvests in decades across much of Western Alaska and biologists are unsure why far fewer Yukon chinook are making it to Canada in recent years. The Yukon River summer chum return of approximately 733,000 fish was sufficient to meet the minimum escapement goal for the entirety of the massive drainage but it did not allow for a significant commercial fishery and was far less than expectations. Fishing was closed through the first half of the run while it was unclear if a harvestable surplus of chum would be available according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary Yukon River summer fishery summary. >click to read< 14:55

State of Alaska releases plan for $50m in fishing sector COVID-19 relief

The state has released its plan to divvy up $50 million in federal pandemic payments to Alaska’s fishing industry workers hard hit by COVID-19. Federal guidance suggested that the state should set aside more than half of the CARES Act funding for processors, about a third for commercial fishermen and 5 percent for sportfishing guides and lodges. But in a draft released on Oct. 5, the Department of Fish and Game proposes an even split between charter guides, the commercial fleet and seafood processors at 32%. >click to read< 13:22

Bush Caucus urges reduction in halibut bycatch caps

Five members of the Alaska Legislature’s Bush Caucus have asked Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang to advocate for a reduction of halibut bycatch caps during the virtual North Pacific Fishery Management Council now underway. “Millions of pounds of halibut are discarded as bycatch every year,”,,, The Bush caucus noted that halibut fishermen lose a portion of their annual allocation of halibut every year due to the currently high bycatch caps. >click to read< 08:27

Southeast’s commercial Dungeness crab summer season the second highest on record

Commercial salmon fisheries in Southeast are looking to be a bust this year, but that’s not the case for Dungeness crab. This summer’s harvest ended up being the second highest on record. But the value of the fishery was not near a record breaker. Fishermen brought in 5.81 million pounds of crab in a commercial season that ran from mid-June to mid-August. Joe Stratman leads crab management in Southeast for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “What was taken this summer is more than double the previous ten year average,” he said. >click to read< 11:40

Petersburg to send salmon disaster declaration request

The numbers of salmon caught in the region this summer are some of the worst since Alaska became a state. “As far as the net fisheries go in Southeast, the net fisheries being the drift gillnet fishery and the purse seine fishery, we are looking at some all-time lows for salmon harvested in those fisheries,” said Troy Thynes, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s region one management coordinator for commercial fisheries. “The region 10-year average for the seine ex-vessel value is about $73.5 million,” Thynes said. “So this year’s value of eight million (dollars) is considerably less than that. And then the gillnet ex-vessel value, the recent 10-year average is about 27.4 million and right now we’re looking at around seven million, again very preliminary and we still have ongoing fisheries. These numbers will change.” For further comparison, the salmon harvest last year topped 101 million dollars and the year before 133 million. >click to read< 18:46

Bizarre salmon season winds down short of state projections

On top all the other effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been a strange year for Alaska’s commercial salmon fisheries. As the fisheries are winding down, the total landings are about 17 percent behind the projections statewide. The Copper River sockeye run was a flop, as was the chum run statewide, and the silver salmon harvest was down everywhere except Kodiak and Bristol Bay. Prices were down, too, and processors had the extra expense and responsibility of keeping workers healthy in remote communities at close quarters. >click to read< 22:14

Prince William Sound coho, chum, sockeye harvests still rising

Even as the 2020 season is winding down, the catch of coho, chum and sockeye salmon is rising in Prince William Sound. Preliminary statewide harvest numbers compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game showed that as of Wednesday, Sept. 2, the commercial catch for Prince William Sound had reached 24.3 million salmon, including some 21.3 pink, 1.9 million chum, 937,000 sockeye, 130,000 coho and 4,000 Chinook. The latest figures showed a boost of 95,000 humpies, 30,000 coho and 1,000 sockeyes since ADF&G’s Sept. 1 preliminary report. The Copper River District meanwhile was open for a 24-hour commercial fishing period on Thursday, Sept. 3. >click to read< 19:12

Humpy harvest in PWS surges to exceed 12M fish

Harvests of over 9 million pink salmon over the past week have pushed Alaska’s yearly total to over 25 million fish, including upwards of 12 million humpies caught in Prince William Sound. Alaska Department of Fish and Game finfish area management biologists in Cordova said the cumulative pink salmon harvest in the Sound through Aug. 1 alone was estimated at 10.5 million common property fish and 1.5 cost recovery fish. Preliminary commercial salmon harvest data compiled by ADF&G through Tuesday, Aug. 4, put the total commercial salmon harvest in Prince William Sound at 11.2 million fish, including 12.3 million pink, 1.9 million chum, 902,000 sockeye, 4,000 coho and 4,000 king salmon. >click to read< 19:03

Humpy catch on the rise – ADF&G data shows PWS salmon harvest at over 9.4M fish

An estimated 800,000 were harvested in Prince William Sound on Sunday, July 19, boosting the cumulative pink salmon harvest to an estimated 5.6 million common property fish, and the overall estimated commercial catch for the fishery to 9.4 million salmon. Still fishery managers in the Cordova office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said that the Valdez Fisheries Development Association needs some 409,000 humpies for brood stock and has recommended a closure within Port Valdez. >click to read< 09:57

Southeast Alaska Dungeness crab catch starts strong again, price drops

It’s not as large as last year’s haul. But the catch from the first week of the fishery has topped 960,000 pounds and is expected to increase with additional landings from that first week still to be tallied. Effort is down substantially. Only 119 permit holders landed crab in that first week, compared to 170 in that first week last year. The recent average is 147 permit holders landing crab. The average price has also dropped from last year. It’s around $1.72 a pound compared to $2.97 a pound in 2019. >click to read< 13:17

Salmon harvest coming in below forecast

Commercial harvests of Alaska’s iconic salmon are generally below expectation so far this season, particularly in the Copper River, where the preliminary catch to date includes 81,228 reds, 5,815 Chinooks and 1,296 chums. And overall for the drift gillnet harvesters and purse seiners in Prince William Sound, so far it is a smaller run that forecast, with a preliminary collective harvest of some 736,453 fish. That’s according to statewide data compiled by biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, who update their preliminary harvest report daily and post. >click to read< 09:42

Salmon set to return, Poor Kenai king returns will restrict start of Cook Inlet, Copper River counts keep commercial fishing closed

The start of the massive Bristol Bay commercial sockeye fishery is fast approaching but this year is bringing with it a level of uncertainly rivaled by few others even in the volatile fishing industry. Fishery participants and observers generally expect a softer market and lower prices for Bristol Bay sockeye due to several factors, >click to read<. Poor Kenai king returns will restrict start of Cook Inlet fishery – That means the fishing time for East Side   Cook Inlet setnetters will be no more than 36 hours per week, as long as the sport gear and harvest restrictions remain in place, per the Board of Fisheries paired restrictions plan for the sport and commercial fisheries that are often in conflict. >click to read<.  Copper River counts keep   commercial fishing closed – There seems to be a decent chance commercial fishing in   the Copper River District could resume soon despite a dismal start to the famed early season salmon fishery. >click to read< 16:26

Third time was the charm

Light winds, fog and rain spread over Prince William Sound on the eve of a 12-hour Memorial Day fishery, then turned overcast during the holiday, as the commercial fishing crews netted some 1,467 Chinook and 33,752 sockeye salmon. The catch boosted the total harvest to date to an estimated 45,537 fish, including 4,935 kings and 39,823 red salmon, well over five times the individual catches on May 14 and May 18. The first two 12-hour openers were so slow that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game cancelled fishing for the third opener on May 21. Now the fishery appears to be picking up speed. “It’s still not good,” said veteran harvester Jerry McCune,“We’re getting further behind every day. Hopefully things will pick up in June.” >click to read< 17:15

After cancellation of the third Copper River period, ADF&G okayed a 12-hour opener on Memorial Day

Light winds, fog and rain spread over Prince William Sound as veteran harvester Bill Webber headed out to sea on the eve of the Memorial Day opener for the famed Copper River wild salmon fishery, hoping perhaps that the third time’s the charm. The third time, that is, because the first opener on May 14, and the second opener on May 18 proved so below the forecast that Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists halted the anticipated third opener on May 21, then decided on May 22 to go ahead with a third 12-hour opener on Monday, May 25. “The wind isn’t bad, maybe 15 miles an hour, a little foggy, a little rainy,” said Webber, owner of direct-to-consumer Paradigm Seafoods, from the helm of his boat, >click to read< 10:57

Coronavirus: Cordova faces big decisions over how to run its famous early-season salmon fishery

The famous Copper River drift gillnet season, known for prized fish that fetch high prices and high demand across America, is the earliest salmon fishery to start in the state, usually kicking off the first or second week of May. Thousands of fishermen and processing and support workers are expected to enter Cordova, a community with about 2,500 year-round residents and a hospital without any ICU beds. Some residents have called on officials to restrict travel into town, seeing it as the best way to keep the new coronavirus from spreading. >click to read< 09:18

Herring spawn setting new records near Craig

Herring are spawning in a big way near Craig on Prince of Wales Island in southern Southeast Alaska. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported 30 nautical miles of active spawn observed near Craig on Friday, April 10. That’s the largest single-day active spawning event on record for the area. And it beats the record set the day before, Thursday, a day that saw over 25 nautical miles. The area has a spawn on kelp commercial fishery underway. Fisherman catch herring and release them in floating net pens, called pounds. Those fish then lay eggs on kelp suspended in those pounds. The herring eggs and kelp are harvested together and sold. >click to read< 07:23

Coronavirus: Togiak herring fishery’s only processor says it aims for “zero impact” to communities

In early March, Icicle Seafoods locked down operations and stopped bringing on new crew members due to the pandemic. It says the workers on board its floating processor haven’t had contact with anyone off the vessel since then.,,, “Our plan is to bring the Gordon Jensen up to Togiak here at the end of the month. We’ll anchor off off shore, and we’ll keep our crew and staff on board the vessel for the duration of the fishery,” he said, adding that Icicle plans to have “zero impact” on the communities.,, Two seine boats and three gillnetters are expected to tap the 80-million pound quota in Togiak this spring. Tim Sands, an area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the shrinking participation from processors and fishermen is due to the lack of market for herring. >click to read< 18:33

Coronavirus: Bristol Bay fishermen urged to delay travel to the region until at least May 1

On Thursday, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which represents the Bristol Bay drift gillnet fleet, issued its first COVID-19 advisory to the fleet asking that non-local Bristol Bay Fishermen delay travel to the region until at least May 1 and listed the state mandated quarantine protocol for anyone who does travel to Alaska from out of state.,, Since Alaska enacted a limited entry permit system, the share of permits held locally by Bristol Bay residents has declined by more than 50 percent, according to a 2017 University of Alaska Fairbanks analysis. Many drift fishermen make the trip each summer from Washington, Oregon or California. >click to read< 07:49

Humpy run into Price William Sound forecast is above average

Forecasts for the 2020 fishing season show a robust run of pink and chum salmon into Price William Sound, along with a healthy run of kings and below average return of wild and hatchery salmon to the Copper River. The area forecast released by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Tuesday, Jan. 28, also put wild sockeye returns to Coghill Lake at slightly below average. >click to read< 09:20

Rockfish closure another blow to Southeast fleet

Southeast Alaska fishermen won’t get to target yelloweye rockfish in 2020, and that’s another notch in tightening belt for the area fleet. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the full-year closure on Dec. 31, spanning both the commercial and recreational sectors. Targeted fishing for all nonpelagic rockfish, which includes species like yelloweye, quillback, tiger and china rockfish, will be closed across the region due to declining populations of the fish. >click to read< 11:00

GHL down for Pollock pelagic trawl fishery

A directed fishery for walleye pollock using pelagic trawl gear in the Prince William Sound registration area will open at noon Jan. 20 with a guideline harvest level 2,988 metric tons, down 684 metric tons from last year’s quota. Registration for this fishery will be issued only to individuals who possess a 2019 miscellaneous saltwater finfish permit card for trawl gear. The deadline for registration is 5 p.m. Jan. 13. >click to read< 09:01

As the marine mammal takes a bite out of the fishing industry, A modest proposal for hunting sea otters

Phil Doherty doesn’t think sea otters are cute. Sure, he can see why tourists might get a kick out of watching the fuzzy critters reclining in waves with clams on their bellies, fixing to chow down. But to Doherty, co-director of the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association and the commercial fisherman he represents, those cuddly otters are eating their bottom line. >click to read< 15:07

Fishermen participating in Alaska’s largest herring fishery have a huge quota to fill next year. But the primary customer isn’t buying.

“I’m a recovering herring fisherman,” joked Bruce Schactler. Schactler, who lives in Kodiak, has been fishing in Togiak off and on since 1985. But he won’t be returning this summer. “The market is so bad that Trident will not be buying fish this year, so we’re not going. Every ton that is frozen and shipped off to Japan is a loser. There’s no money being made,” he said. >click to read< 07:06

2019 salmon season fell short in some areas

As nearly every commercial salmon fisherman in Upper Cook Inlet can tell you, the 2019 season fell far short in every department. The commercial harvest came in at about 2.1 million sockeye, 37% below the most recent 10-year average, and the total run, forecast for 6 million sockeye, fell 13% short,,, Lower Cook Inlet, meanwhile, had a better season with a commercial harvest of 2.4 million fish of all species. >click to read< 18:07

Southeast Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to illegally harvesting $35,000 worth of sea cucumbers

A Southeast Alaska commercial fisherman has been convicted for his role in illegally harvesting nearly 7,500 pounds of sea cucumbers near Prince of Wales Island. Jonathan McGraw Jr., of Naukati Bay, pleaded guilty to fishing in closed waters and providing false information on a harvest report. Both are misdemeanors. In 2018, McGraw and two others were charged with illegally fishing in a scientific preserve near Whale Pass. That area has been closed to fishing since the 1980s. >click to read<  21:13

Opposite forecasts for SE pinks, Bristol Bay reds; Cook Inlet busts

Biologists are forecasting another weak pink salmon year for Southeast and another strong sockeye salmon run for Bristol Bay coming in the 2020 season. The forecasts for Southeast Alaska and for Bristol Bay, released in late November, continue the trends of the past few years in both areas. In Southeast, biologists are forecasting about 12 million fish to be harvested, with a range of 7 million to 19 million fish. >click to read< 11:51

Bristol Bay red king crab fishery trends toward closure as fleet reports slow fishing, aging stock

This season, the 54-vessel fleet has reported slow, spotty fishing, and the stock continues to show signs of decline. The current quota — 3.8 million pounds — is the lowest since the fishery was rationalized in 2005. “A lot of boats had to scratch their way through the season,” said Ethan Nichols, assistant area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “There were only one to two large schools of legal males that were reported to us from captains out on the grounds. So the season was definitely a bit of a grind.” >click to read< 20:18

2019 PWS salmon harvest worth nearly $115 M, Statewide, 206.9 million fish brought in $657.6 M

Preliminary harvest figures compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put the value of the statewide commercial catch of 206.9 million salmon at $657.6 million, including $114.9 million for the 57.8 million fish caught in Prince William Sound. State biologists estimated the Prince William Sound harvest to include 18,399 Chinooks, averaging 18.42 pounds each, garnering fishermen an average,,, >click to read< 13:58