Tag Archives: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Sen. Peter Micciche is again moving to establish a buyback program for set-net permits in Cook Inlet

The program would reduce the number of commercial set-net fishermen on the east side of the inlet. Proponents of the bill, like Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association Director Ken Coleman, say that’s to reduce pressure and create a more sustainable fishery in an area that’s been under stress for years. “Our thought was if we could reduce our numbers, then those who would be left behind in a reduction scenario, assuming that some people would leave the fishing community, that those that are left behind would have a better chance for ongoing financial viability,” he said. >click to read< 09:46

Bristol Bay sockeye a high point in the state’s unpredictable salmon season

More than 58 million sockeye salmon returned to Bristol Bay this summer. It’s another in a series of enormous runs to the fishery. The commercial harvest was just as impressive,,, many other areas of the state were far below their forecast. Across all species, the value of the state’s commercial salmon season dropped more than 50% from last year — 56% below last year. 2020 was valued at $295.2 million, while last year was valued at $673.4 million. Harvests were also down by 44%. >click to read< 12:42

Some bright spots for high-value salmon, halibut in 2021

Following the trend of the last several years, the salmon forecast for the 2021 salmon season in Bristol Bay looks positive. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting a total return of about 51 million sockeye salmon, with an inshore run of about 50 million. That’s about 6 percent better than the average for the last decade and 45 percent greater than the long-term average.,, Halibut outlook – Stock numbers in the Pacific halibut fishery are overall still declining, but there are individual bright spots in some regions. >click to read< 10:43

2020 commercial salmon catch, and value took a dive

Commercial salmon harvests proved challenging for the 2020 season, challenged by a global pandemic of the novel coronavirus, with the overall fish catch and its value down considerably from a year earlier. Data released on Monday, Nov. 9 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the all species harvest has an approximate value of $295.2 million, down 56 percent from $673.4 million in 2019. Fishermen delivered some 116.8 million fish, a 44 percent drop from the 208.3 harvested a year earlier, the report said. >click to read< 18:15

Converging forces make for worst Upper Cook Inlet season in decades

Low prices, an oddly timed sockeye run and another year of very poor Kenai king returns combined to result in one of the worst Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishing seasons on record. The 2020 Upper Cook Inlet harvest of roughly 1.2 million salmon was less than half the recent 10-year average harvest of 3.2 million fish and the estimated cumulative ex-vessel value of approximately $5.2 million was the worst on record, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Upper Cook Inlet Commercial Salmon Fishery Season Summary. >click to read< 16:27

In Southeast, this year’s salmon harvest fell by more than half

Southeast Alaska’s salmon harvest was less than half of last year’s haul. That’s according to a preliminary report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released on Monday. Commercial fishermen in Southeast harvested just over 14.3 million salmon across the five species this year: almost 5 million chum salmon, 1.1 million coho, 8 million pinks, 373,000 sockeye and 200,000 chinook. The preliminary ex-vessel value of Southeast’s 2020 salmon fishery was just over $50 million dollars. That’s less than half of 2019’s estimated value,,, >click to read< 11:23

Alaska fishing industry weighs in on state’s $50m pandemic relief plan

A statewide commercial fishing industry group is asking the Dunleavy administration to justify its proposal on how to distribute $50 million dollars in federal pandemic relief for Alaska’s fishing industry. Federal guidance recommends allocating more than half of the CARES Act funds to seafood processors and just 5% to the charter fleet and lodges. But a draft released this month by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommends dividing the allocation evenly between sectors,, United Fishermen of Alaska, which represents the commercial fleet and processors, asked the agency to explain its rationale for boosting the charter fleet’s allocation at the expense of other sectors. UFA’s president Matt Alward signed a three-page letter to the commissioner’s office. >click to read< 12:50

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