United Southeast Alaska Gillnetter’s Association

Corkline-News for Southeast Gillnetters, January 21, 2015

Support the businesses that support you:

Southeast Alaska Pilots
Tender SAVAGE (Tomi Marsh)
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Read and Heed. Implementation of New Requirements for Commercial Fishing Vessels (12/1).   Mandatory examinations and survival craft requirements

What:  USAG Port Meeting
When:  Thursday Feb 5, 2015.  5-6PM
Where: DIPAC Conference Room
Purpose.  Jim Becker is stepping down as the President of the Juneau Chapter and we need to elect a new President.  If you would like to run for office, please contact the Executive Director ASAP.  Only members whose dues are current may vote.  We will also discuss the upcoming Board of Fisheries meeting in Sitka Feb 23 – March 3; and deep draft tracklines in Lynn Canal and Stephens Passage.

The Alaska Fisheries Report (12/15) Coming up this week, President Barack Obama issued an historic executive order Tuesday that excludes the outer continental shelf of Bristol Bay from oil and gas exploration, thereby protecting vital seafood habitat. Also: How salmon may respond to climate change and a summary of the board of fisheries recent meeting in Cordova, coming up, on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from APRN’s Liz Ruskin in Washington D.C., KDLG’s Dave Bendinger in Dillingham, KCHU’s Marcia Lynn in Valdez and CoastAlaska’s Ed Schoenfeld


STATE

 

BOF head Johnstone resigns (1/20). Chairman was told by Gov. Bill Walker that he was being replaced. Alaska Board of Fisheries Chairman Karl Johnstone resigned Tuesday, and a longtime Cook Inlet commercial fisheries advocate has been nominated to replace him.

Gov. Bill Walker named Roland Maw, of Kasilof, to the fish board after calling Johnstone to express his disappointment with the board’s lack of public process during a recent meeting to vet candidates for commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, according to documents released by Walker’s administration.

Johnstone’s resignation is effective Jan. 27. If confirmed by the Legislature, Maw’s term will end in 2018. Maw would be the first Cook Inlet commercial fisherman to serve on the board since 1980.   More

Chenault Respects Governor’s Decision on Johnstone (1/20)

Joint board rejects 3 commissioner applicants; only Cotten advances (1/14). Gov. Bill Walker’s temporary appointee to head the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Sam Cotten, took a big step toward keeping the job permanently following a vetting by the joint boards of fish and game Wednesday morning in Juneau.

Of four candidates, Cotten was only one who the board chose to interview, and they voted unanimously to submit his name to Walker for consideration. More

Fairbanks Daily News Miner. Fish and Game commissioner candidate list whittled to one (1/14)

Joint Board Meeting Materials

Peninsula Clarion. Cotten picked for Fish and Game head; fish board members decline to interview Maw (1/15 updated)

AJC. Cotten receives unanimous support for ADFG commissioner (1/15)

KMXT Audio. Cotten Unanimous Choice for ADF&G Commissioner (1/14)

House speaker, governor voice displeasure with rejection of commissioner candidate (1/16). Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault and Gov. Bill Walker said Friday they were unhappy with a state Board of Fisheries decision to dismiss one of the candidates to lead the Department of Fish and Game before he’d been interviewed.

The Fish Board, in concert with the state Game Board, on Wednesday rejected three of four candidates who applied to be Fish and Game commissioner — all except for Sam Cotten, who Walker named as a temporary commissioner when he was sworn into the governor’s office in December.

One of the rejected candidates was Roland Maw, a Kenai Peninsula resident and director of a fishing industry group whose resume said he has a doctorate in forestry and wildlife management. While the Game Board voted to interview Maw, who paid for his own trip to appear in-person at a Juneau meeting, the Fish Board unanimously voted against him without discussion, and afterward, chair Karl Johnstone declined to explain why. More

Walker moves ahead on state shake-up, names commissioners and board members (1/20). Gov. Bill Walker continued his remake of state government Tuesday with a string of high-profile appointments and removals of commissioners and appointees who work in fish and game management, the justice system and taxation.

The moves amounted to an especially big shake-up for Alaska fisheries management as Walker made permanent his temporary choice of Sam Cotten for commissioner of fish and game, and said he’d appoint an antagonist of the state fish board to a vacancy created by the sudden resignation of the board’s chair. More

Hladick to Join Governor’s Cabinet (1/20
). After 14 years as Unalaska’s city manager, Chris Hladick is leaving to join the cabinet of Gov. Bill Walker.

Hladick was appointed as the new commissioner for the department of commerce, community and economic development on Tuesday.

It’s a wide-ranging job that regulates everything from alcohol — and now, legal marijuana — to consumer energy projects. More

Habitat Director Out, As Walker Administration Shifts Approach To Permitting (1/12). The Habitat Division was all set to release its first batch of revisions in December. They were overhauling plans for the McNeil River refuge, a popular grizzly viewing destination, and for Potter Marsh in Anchorage and the Mendenhall Wetlands in Juneau. But when Republican Sean Parnell lost his reelection bid for governor, all of that was put on hold.

The new Fish and Game commissioner, Sam Cotten, says there were concerns that the management overhaul would reduce the level of public involvement. He says he wants Alaskans to have a greater role in land management decisions. More/APRN Audio

Former ADF&G Commissioner Cora Campbell takes top job at Siu Alaska Corporation

(1/12). Siu Alaska Corporation (Siu) announces that former ADF&G Commissioner Cora Campbell has been selected and hired as its new Chief Executive Officer. Campbell will replace retiring CEO John Eckels who has led Siu from its beginnings six years ago. More

ADFG Appoints Deputy Commissioner (1/13).
Acting Commissioner Sam Cotten is pleased to announce the appointment of Charles O. Swanton as Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Swanton has been Director of the Division of Sport Fish since 2007. Governor Walker has also nominated Mr. Swanton as the State of Alaska’s Commissioner for the Pacific Salmon Commission, which is a presidential appointment. More Fish and Game Sportfish director gets a new job (1/13)
Transition committees release recommendations for Alaska’s future (1/20). The administration of new Alaska Gov. Bill Walker released 17 transition reports Tuesday, packed with proposed priorities for the governor’s four-year term. The recommendations deal with everything from how to manage state savings to tribal governance and paying the unfunded debts of the state’s retirement systems.

The recommendations, from 17 different committees, may provide a preview of some of the subjects Walker will touch on his first State of the State and State of the Budget speeches he’ll deliver Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

The reports, available online here, took shape during a weekend session in Anchorage on Nov. 22-23 that brought together more than 250 people from across the state, meeting in small groups to try and reach consensus on the most important tasks facing the new administration. Some of the goals are specific. Others are general statements of philosophy. More

Fisheries Report                 Subsistence Report

Medred fell overboard accusing commercial fishermen of not contributing (1/19). Craig Medred’s Dec. 30, 2014, opinion piece “Oil pays the way while extraction giants like fishing and mining skate” was just more of the deceptive bravado and vindictive rhetoric that appears to be his trademark. I can easily buy into Medred’s first few paragraphs pointing out that Alaskans have not let wisdom get in the way of mitigating inevitable declining oil revenues, but the apples vs. oranges comparison of tax rates, royalties and revenues scapegoat commercial fishing in particular and obscure economic realities while further politicizing complex issues. More

 

Petersburg’s new drive down dock takes shape (1/20). It was a big milestone Friday for the drive down dock project on the Petersburg waterfront. Tamico, the contracting company building the new dock, lowered a 140-foot transfer bridge into place. That bridge will allow vehicles to drive onto a new 180-foot float still being assembled two miles south of town in Scow Bay. More/KFSK Audio
Alaska writer historian Roppel dies at 76 (1/14). Patricia Roppel, a Wrangell woman who wrote 13 books and more than 100 articles, many about the history of Southeast Alaska, has died.

Her daughter, Cindy Baird, tells The Associated Press that Roppel died of cancer Jan. 6, 2015, in Bellevue, Washington. She was 76.

A Washington state native, Roppel moved to Alaska in 1959. She taught home economics in Ketchikan from 1959 to 1965, the same year she published her first article. More NOTE from Bob King: She wrote the classic book Salmon from Kodiak, a history of Alaska Fish Hatcheries and numerous articles, many on commercial fishing related matters. 


Copper River interested in buying Icicle in full (1/15
). Copper River Seafoods plans to throw its hat in the ring in the Icicle Seafoods sale process that began this week, as Pacific Seafood Group is also being seen as a frontrunner.

This would bring Icicle’s salmon farms’ original owner Rodger May back to his roots with Smoki Foods and its subsidiary American Gold Seafood, which Icicle, under the ownership of private equity Paine & Partners, acquired from May in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

May, now the second largest shareholder in Copper River and the owner of Northwest Fish Company, said he debating the prospect of returning to the salmon farming business. More
Empire Editorial: King salmon research is worth preserving (1/14). “Alaska’s long-lived monarch — the king salmon — has fallen from its throne.”

Those words were published just over a year ago in this newspaper as part of a multipart series on the demise of the king salmon in Alaska’s oceans and rivers. Researchers, scientists, experts, commercial and sport fishermen, guides, subsistence users and policy-makers all sang a similar tune: Alaska’s king salmon aren’t what they used to be.

It’s our instinct to ask “Why?” More

Sitka processor sells ownership stake to Starkist (1/15). Sitka-based Silver Bay Seafoods has sold a twelve percent stake to Dongwon, the Korean owners of Starkist Tuna.

The news of the sale has been public since November, but Silver Bay CEO Rich Riggs added details during a presentation to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce today (Wed 1-14-15). More
Petersburg fishing industry organization hires new director (1/14). A home-grown commercial fisherman is the newest director of Petersburg’s fishing industry organization.

USAG2

26-year-old Megan O’Neil started work as director of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association on January 1st. She takes over from Brian Lynch, who stepped down in December after two years on the job. The PVOA has 70 vessel owners and around 30 businesses in its membership. The group advocates for the local commercial fishing fleet on local, state, federal and international fishery management issues. More/KFSK Audio
Strong king numbers outside Sitka boost winter troll catch (1/14). Southeast Alaska salmon trollers are having a strong winter season, thanks to good catches on the outer coast outside of Sitka.

The winter season started October 11th and the catch of Chinook had topped 24,000 fish by the second week in January. Grant Hagerman, Fish and Game’s assistant troll biologist for Southeast, said the catch is almost double last year’s total at the same time. “Looking back it’s the highest fall catch we’ve seen for 20 years, basically, since the 93-94 winter season, so it’s pretty significant,” he said. More

FEDERAL

Eyak’s sinking leaves Port Alexander isolated (1/20). Four people and a dog are safe today after being plucked from their sinking boat 16 miles south of Sitka.

USAG1
(Photo courtesy of Jake Denherder.)

The loss of the fishing tender Eyak is more than a personal loss for captain and boat owner David Castle, who lived aboard the boat with his dog, Olive. For years, the Eyak has been the main way to get mail, fuel and freight to Port Alexander, a small community of 45 people at the southern tip of Baranof Island.

“It means a whole bunch,” said Debra Gifford, Port Alexander’s mayor. “It changes things drastically here having that service available.” More

KCAW. Four rescued as F/V Eyak sinks near Sitka (1/19)

KTUU. Four people rescued from sinking fishing vessel near Sitka (1/19)

Coast Guard responds to 80-foot sunken vessel near Sitka, Alaska (1/19)

Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils to Hold Meetings Statewide (1/7). The 10 Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils will meet February through March 2015 to discuss subsistence wildlife issues and review proposals to change Federal subsistence hunting and trapping regulations for 2016-2018, as well as other issues affecting subsistence in their regions. The public is encouraged to participate in these meetings in person or by teleconference. More Note: Most, but not all, are listed in the calendar below.
Murkowski Welcomes New Staff Members to Capitol Hill Office (1/9). Senator Lisa Murkowski today announced a number of new hires to her personal office staff in Washington, D.C. The new hires include Ephraim Froehlich, Garrett Boyle, Phillip Dodd, and U.S. Air Force Major Taona Enriquez; they fill vacancies created by recent departures among her staff. The senator also announced that she is promoting her Legislative Director Kate Williams to become her Deputy Chief of Staff. More

My Turn: Tongass Advisory Committee fails tourism (1/13). The battle over the Tongass continues as the 15-member Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC) prepares for its next meeting Jan. 20 in Juneau. The TAC was created to quickly and locally address the future of the Tongass in response to the 2010 “Transition Framework,” a directive focused on the reality that large-scale clearcut logging of Tongass old growth is unsustainable in the long term. The TAC is supposed to recommend a realistic, economically viable path forward, which according to its charter includes not only timber but “the unique and equally important resource values … (of) tourism, recreation, fishing, [and] subsistence.”

The TAC, however, has only a single commercial fisherman and no representatives from the tourism industry. More

NOAA. 2015 MMPA Authorization Certificate (1/15)

MARKETING

Fish 2.0’s Call to Action for Seafood Entrepreneurs and Investors (1/15). Everybody, it seems, wants their seafood sustainable. That growing demand is spurring investor interest in aquaculture, seafood supply chains and technology solutions that address the shortage of affordable, tasty protein that does not deplete already-stressed fisheries. More
Bipartisan Group Introduce Bills to Ban GE Salmon and Require Product Labeling (1/16). In their continued fight against genetically engineered (GE) fish, this week Alaskan Congressman Don Young and Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced two pieces of legislation intended to prevent GE fish from making its way onto the nation’s dinner plates and spreading into the nation’s oceans. More

Lawmakers cracking down on seafood imports (1/20). Seafood imports could be facing new, more stringent regulations.

A new food safety bill introduced Tuesday in the Senate would tighten restrictions on foreign seafood that is exported to the U.S. More
Plumeting Exchange Rates Causing Unpredictable Seafood Market (1/20). Plumeting exchange rates are causing unpredictable seafood market trends, reports Kyla Ganton in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight. Video

Wal-Mart ratchets up sustainability expectations (1/13). ORLANDO, Fla. — With both Wal-Mart and Whole Foods moving aggressively to measure sustainability of their suppliers, Jeff Dlott believes meeting expectations of buyers can be both a requirement for doing business and a market opportunity for produce marketers.

“Don’t kill the messenger, but sustainability is becoming a requirement in major markets,” said Dlott, president and CEO of SureHarvest, Soquel, Calif., at a workshop at the 2015 Potato Expo on Jan. 8. More

Uncertainty reigns over coming impacts from US Foods-Sysco merger (1/16). The pending merger between Sysco and US Foods — still reportedly on hold over the US Federal Trade Commission’s anti-trust concerns — is causing some confusion in the seafood industry over what to expect.

The merged entity would reportedly have 27% market share, up from the 18% Sysco says it has, but this number seems uncertain now given the possible $5bn asset sell off to Performance Food Group the New York Post reported recently. This, however, has come under scrutiny by the Minnesota attorney general, who questioned whether it would bring the company into anti-trust law compliance. More

MINING ISSUES

Mount Polley mine on track for restart (1/18). Beleaguered Imperial Metals (TSX:III), whose Mount Polley mine in central British Columbia breached a tailings pond last summer, has submitted a plan to restart the copper and gold mine.

Local media outlet the Williams Lake Tribune reported last Thursday that the company has submitted the restart plan to the provincial government, which along with Imperial Metals has faced criticism over the breach that sent millions of cubic metres of water and tailings into local creeks and nearby Quesnel Lake. More

Report into Mount Polley disaster due soon (1/16). We should be seeing the report on the massive Mount Polley tailings pond breach soon.

Energy and Mines minister Bill Bennett says the report will be released to the province and First Nations groups in the Williams Lake area first.

“I am hopeful to release the report to the public very very quickly after that.”

Bennett is insisting that this report will have some teeth. More

 

 

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY

Fishing industry could lose up to $41 billion due to climate change (1/16). Climate change is already having a severe impact on the atmosphere and oceans around the world. These changes are also impacting specific economic sectors including the fishing and aquaculture industries. According to a recent report by the European Climate Foundation, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the University of Cambridge, the fishing industry is projected to lose tens-of-billions as the world continues to heat up. More

ADFG launches study on hatchery impacts on wild salmon (1/15). Hatchery salmon and their potential impact on wild populations have been a sticking point in ongoing discussions about seafood sustainability, and a multi-year research project undertaken by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is looking at better understanding the issue.

More than 40 scientists, fishermen, and others interested in the science gathered in Anchorage Dec. 12 for a daylong update on the research progress so far.

ADFG’s study, which is being conducted with the Prince William Sound Science Center, the Sitka Science Center and other contractors, is focused on pink and chum salmon in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska. More

Research finds woody debris benefits fish. Adding logs and other woody debris to rivers and streams is one of the oldest and most common measures to improve fish habitat. But debates continue over how much benefit logjams and other wood structures provide for fish and how much wood is natural or needed in a given river system.

A comprehensive research review by scientists from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center provides new clarity on the question. Large wood such as logs and root wads has always played a natural role in most river systems, the review found, and most studies have concluded that wood placed in rivers remains stable, improves habitat conditions and increases fish numbers – particularly for salmon and trout. More

 

CALENDAR. 2015

Jan 23. Applications due for federal subsistence RAC’s

Feb 9. Comments due BOF Southeast and Yakutat Finfish

Feb 17. Alaska Symphony of Seafood, Juneau, Rockwell Ballroom 6PM

Feb 18-20. UFA Board, Juneau

Feb 23-Mar 3. BOF SE Finfish, Sitka

Mar 11-12. NSRAA Board, Sitka

Mar 13. SSRAA Board, Ketchikan

Mar 17-19. SE RAC, Sitka

Apr 4. DIPAC Board Meeting, Juneau

Posted 8 hours, 49 minutes ago at 2:30 pm.

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Corkline-News for Southeast Gillnetters, December 21, 2014

Support the businesses that support you:

Seattle Marine & Fishing Supply Seattle
Schmolck Mechanical Contractors Inc Ketchikan, Juneau
Sitka Sound Seafoods, Sitka
Sourdough Bar & Liquor, Ketchikan
Stikine Inn, Wrangell
Surf Fisheries Supply (Momoi net sales for SEAMAR, Norm Hughes)
Haines.  (907) 723-4848
ST JUDE (Tender)
Taku Oil (Crowley), Juneau
TOWEGO (Tender)
The Trading Union, Petersburg
Trident Seafoods, Petersburg
More

Read and Heed.  Implementation of New Requirements for Commercial Fishing Vessels (12/1).    Mandatory examinations and survival craft requirements

What:  Puget Sound USAG Port Meeting

When:  Saturday, January 3, 2015, 10:00AM to noon.

Where: Nordby Conference Room, Fishermen’s Terminal, Seattle

USAG Board Members Max Worhatch (President)  and BJ King will provide an update on the February Board of Fisheries, gillnet task force, federal subsistence, deep draft traffic lanes in Lynn Canal/Stephens Passage, USAG insurance program, and answer your questions.  Open to all S03A permit holders, crew, and significant others.  BJ King is the local contact–(206) 910-4773 cell.  If interested in running for the position of Chapter Presidnet, please contact me ASAP.

The Alaska Fisheries Report (12/18) Coming up this week, President Barack Obama issued an historic executive order Tuesday that excludes the outer continental shelf of Bristol Bay from oil and gas exploration, thereby protecting vital seafood habitat. Also: How salmon may respond to climate change and a summary of the board of fisheries recent meeting in Cordova, coming up, on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from APRN’s Liz Ruskin in Washington D.C., KDLG’s Dave Bendinger in Dillingham, KCHU’s Marcia Lynn in Valdez and CoastAlaska’s Ed Schoenfeld


STATE

SSRAA Report by Chris Guggenbickler (F/V MARANTHA, Wrangell) 12/17/14.  Just finished 3 Days of meetings in Ketchikan.  We conducted committee meetings of planning, finance, marketing and board development prior to Wednesday’s full board meeting.  

We passed motions to apply for permitting for a SHA in Carroll Inlet to release up to 600K Chinook and to move 400K Chinook of the new Deer Mountain production to this site if permitted. 

We passed a motion to move the Burnett Inlet summer coho release to Whitman.  This will allow us to collect summer chum broodstock at Burnett in 2017/18 without returning summer coho.  This entails moving 185-230K summer coho to Whitman and returning adults will be used for broodstock, the summer coho release from Neck Lake will remain unchanged.  I know the summer coho at Burnett has been a benefit to a portion of our fleet, but this exchange of species should not be a value loss to our gear group.  If you recall from the RPT report, there is an increase of 6 Million summer chum to be released from Burnett this spring.

Besides the summer coho at Burnett there is currently capacity for 23M summer chum (to Anita) 6M summer chum (Burnett) and 6M fall chum (Burnett),  by moving the coho we will have water to increase our chum rearing by up to 52M more!  Last year we passed and applied for loans to build the cement foundation for this improvement.  This meeting we passed a motion to build the building to bring this facility to full production.

The marketing committee recommended and the full board passed a motion that the Neets Bay cost recovery would be bid in one block for one year, then we disbanded the marketing committee and gave the GM discretion to handle future cost recovery bid issues.

Elections

Mitch Eide and Leif Dobszinsky won the two seine seats, Mitch resigned and the next vote getter Jim Castle was appointed

Tom Sims was reelected for power troll

Craig Ring for hand troll

Dave Klepser for gillnet

We thanked Rudy Franulovich and John Peckham for their many years of service and dedication to SSRAA……their history and participation will be missed.

Also retiring is Susan Doherty as R&E manager for SSRAA.  I know many of you have called Susan over the years and got the “scoop” on returns, her absence will also leave a void that will be hard to fill.

We will also be advertising for a new General Manager as John Burke is expected to retire in the near future as well.  Chris Guggenbickler

Southeast by the (updated) numbersChamber presentation includes cruise ship, fish totals; metal prices and more (12/19).  Armed with informative graphics and a handful of jokes, Rain Coast Data owner Meilani Schijvens updated Juneau Chamber of Commerce members on Southeast by the Numbers, an economic publication Schijvens produced for Southeast Conference.  ~~~~

Seafood industry numbers were record-breaking in 2013, and Southeast Alaska benefited.

The region led the state’s salmon fisheries in everything but sockeye, though halibut and black cod (sablefish) counted for a disproportionately high value.

Schijvens estimated 2014 numbers will be lower, in part due to the two-year schedule for pink salmon. That means 2015 is expected to be a good year.

Seafood is a big deal in Southeast, Schijvens said, it makes up 11 percent of all regional employment and 9 percent of all jobs.

The record catch in 2013 (which, adjusted for inflation might trail behind 2011 slightly) comes with increased manufacturing jobs in the region. Regional processors saw 300 million pounds worth of the fish, with a wholesale value of $624 million in 2013.  More

Lyons: First winner of Di-Pech Fisheries Tech Scholarship (12/14).  Jim Seeland, an Assistant Professor at University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) in the Fisheries Technologies Program, talks about their partnership with Douglas Island Pink and Chum, Inc. (DIPAC) to award an annual $3000 scholarship to a student who shoews promise in the field.

Alexandra Lyons is the first winner of the Di-Pech Fisheries Tech Scholarship. Lyons talks about how studying fishery tech has shaped her professional ambitions.  KCAW Audio

Regional team recommends new hatchery king release for Kake (12/17).  The small Southeast village of Kake could see a hatchery run of king salmon in the future.
The Sitka-based Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association applied for a permit change for a new remote release of up to 200,000 Chinook at Gunnuk Creek in Kake. 
More

Alaska Sea Grant Fishlines (December).

FEDERAL

White House – Coast Guard Authorization Act signed into law (12/18).  The White House issued a statement [located at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/18/statement-press-secretary-hr-669-hr-1067-hr-1204-hr-1206-hr-1281-hr-1378 ] saying that President Obama signed into law a number of bills, including S. 2444 [located athttp://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113s2444enr/pdf/BILLS-113s2444enr.pdf ], the “Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014,” which authorizes fiscal year 2015 appropriations and amends laws related to the Coast Guard; authorizes fiscal year 2015 appropriations for the Federal Maritime Commission; and amends various other maritime-related provisions of law.  Courtesy  Bryant’s Maritime Blog

Longtime House Fisheries Staff Member  Dave Whaley to Retire (12/16).  It is with distinct sadness that we at Saving Seafood report that longtime House of Representatives staff member Dave Whaley has announced his retirement “due to a restructuring of the House Committee on Natural Resources.”

According to Dave’s e-mail to friends and colleagues this evening, decisions regarding the new committee structure will be finalized once the new Congress is sworn in, but tentative plans are for all ocean-related issues to be folded into the current Water and Power Subcommittee.  The new Subcommittee will be the Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee.   Questions about how the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization will be handled by the Committee should be directed to Todd Ungerecht, who will be staying on with the Committee as the Deputy Staff Director.   More  PERSONAL NOTE:  Dave has been a stalwart worker on behalf of the Alaska seafood industry and deserves our thanks for a job well done!

Sullivan Delighted with U.S. Senate Committee Assignments (12/15).  The Republicans in the U.S. Senate today announced their committee assignments for the next two years. Alaska’s Dan Sullivan will come in with the lowest seniority of the 100 senators, primarily because he’s never held elected office before. But it doesn’t seem to have hurt him on the committee score.

Sullivan will serve on Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, Commerce, and Environment & Public Works, and he says he can hardly pick a favorite.

“Well look, I’m pleased with all of them,” he said. “These were actually the four committees that I requested.”

It’s through committees that senators can shape legislation, and their assignments define their sphere of influence. The Commerce Committee is of particular interest to Alaska because it oversees fisheries, as well as the Coast Guard and civil aviation. Alaska’s Ted Stevens chaired the panel near the end of his career.  More

Empire Editorial: Defend the Coast Guard (12/16).  The U.S. Coast Guard rescues Alaskans. Now, it’s the one that may need rescuing.

On Nov. 25, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act, creating the largest reorganization of the U.S. government since the creation of the Department of Defense. As part of the Homeland Security Act, authority over the U.S. Coast Guard was transferred from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security.

Twelve years on, we can safely say that this move has been a mistake.  More

MARKETING

The need for A Global Seafood Sustainability Benchmark (12/16).  There are a huge number of seafood related ecolabels, and the differences among them are creating consumer confusion. Just as retailers faced a multiplicity of food safety certifications in the late 1990’s, so they face a multiplicity of seafood certifications today. The retail community came together and benchmarked food safety certifications, providing certainty, a level playing field, and cost reductions. As a result, retailers no longer have to compete over food safety. Today, a similar initiative is underway with sustainability ecolabel and certification schemes. We look at the positive benefit of this plan in an interview with Lahsen Ababouch, of FAO. Video (3:57)

Can GSSI Help Prevent Seafood Trade Barriers (12/16).  The growth of ecolabel certificaitions, which started out as a good response to a particular problem, have the potential to create market limiting trade barriers without the establishment of an internationally accepted benchmark system as to what constitutes a standard that meets the FAO ecolabeling guidelines. The GSSI project is designed to address this by recognizing all label schemes equally that meet its FAO standard requirements.  Video (3:31)

McDowell.  Fall 2014 Sockeye Market Report (12/16).  Prepared by The McDowell Group to supplement their written report contracted by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, this video will be of interest to Bristol Bay fishermen, seafood writers, seafood industry decision makers and other Bristol Bay fishery stakeholders. Please note: This video does not contain an audio track.  Video

NY Times.  Ask Well: What Fish Is Safe to Eat?  A reader asks whether farmed fish is better than no fish.   Video

MINING ISSUES

Tulsequah mine study outlines Taku River barging (12/17).  Chieftain Metals Corp. has released new details on its plan to barge supplies and minerals to and from the Tulsequah Chief Mine, up the Taku River south of Juneau.

Chieftain is trying to re-open the long closed zinc, copper and gold mine in British Columbia. The company filed an updated feasibility study with Canadian financial regulators earlier this month. It says the Taku is likely to be impassable about 23 percent of the time during the proposed barging season from May to September. Another 23 percent of the time, barges will need a tug to help navigate the river.  More/KTOO Audio

Haines.  Local fishermen debate merits of possible mine (12/4).  A Canadian company is exploring copper and zinc deposits at the Palmer Project site north of Haines. It’s not even a proposed mine yet – but it’s is already dividing the community of Haines. One group having a hard time forming consensus on the issue is the commercial fishing fleet in the Northern Lynn Canal.

Vancouver-based Constantine Metal Resources has found promising deposits at the Palmer site in the last few years and joined forces with a Japanese investing company.

The site is about 40 miles north of Haines, near the Canadian border and the Klehini River, which drains into the Chilkat River. The recent developments have people in Haines staking out positions on whether a future mining operation would benefit or hurt the community.  More/KHNS Audio

Canada OKs KSM mine’s environmental plans (12/19).  A controversial mine near Southeast Alaska’s border has won approval from Canada’s federal government. That worries critics, who say the development could pollute salmon-bearing rivers.

The Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell project’s environmental protection plan got the OK from Canada’s Ministry of the Environment.

The project, known as the KSM, is in northwest British Columbia, northeast of Ketchikan and east of Wrangell.

Brent Murphy, of mine owner Seabridge Gold, says the federal action is an important step.

“It means that the project can proceed. We’ve received both the provincial and federal Canadian governments’ approvals. Essentially, it’s an approval in principle and now we move forward in the permitting phase,” he says.

He says the project has about 100 of the 150 permits it needs. It’s also seeking investors to develop the proposed $5.3 billion mine.  More/KTOO Audio

Canada approves world’s largest copper-gold project (12/19).  Canada’s minister of the environment on Friday gave the green light to Seabridge Gold’s KSM project in British Columbia, the world’s largest undeveloped gold-copper project by reserves.

The joint harmonized federal and provincial environmental assessment process took nearly seven-years and KSM is only the second metal mine in five years to receive approval by Canada and BC.

Since 2006, Seabridge has spent more than $176 million in exploration, engineering and environmental work to bring the project this far.  More

Massive B.C. gold mine near Alaska border gets environmental approval (12/19/14)

Mining News: Miner eyes year-end startup at Red Chris (12/21/14).  Northern B.C. copper-gold mine plugs into grid, mill testing gets under way; startup requires First Nation, provincial approvals.  The nearly operational Red Chris Mine is plugged into the electrical grid, and Imperial Metals Corp. is readying all the components for operations in anticipation of final approvals from the local Tahltan First Nation and Government of British Columbia.

By the end of October, the final leg of the power line that connects Red Chris to the affordable and clean power delivered by the 287-kilovolt Northwest Transmission Line was complete. This milestone is allowing Imperial Metals to test all the major electrical components with the goal of a startup at the copper-gold mine by the end of 2014.

“With power now at the Red Chris mine, we expect crushing operations to begin in November and the grinding and flotation circuits to begin operating in December,” Imperial Metals said in its third-quarter financials released Nov. 14.  More

Mount Polley mine owner given OK to repair tailings pond (12/18/14).   VICTORIA — B.C.’s chief inspector of mines is allowing the owner of the Mount Polley mine to start repairs on the tailings pond that breached, sending a surge of mine waste and water into nearby lakes and rivers.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines says the approval only allows the company to fix the breach and doesn’t allow Imperial Metals Corp to restart its ore-processing operation.

The government says the repair work will ensure that the increased water flow from melting snow this spring won’t result in further environmental or human-health impacts.

The amendment plan was reviewed by several groups, including government, the Williams Lake Indian Band, the Cariboo Regional District, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the community of Likely — the town closest to the spill.  More

Major Tribal Organizations Push U.S. State Department to Act on Transboundary Mine Concern (12/17).  WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA and JUNEAU, ALASKA–(Marketwired – Dec 16, 2014) -The largest tribal organizations in the Lower 48 and Alaska are backing efforts to protect key salmon rivers in Alaska/British Columbia (B.C.) threatened by large-scale mining developments in Canada.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), and the Alaska Native Brotherhood & Alaska Native Sisterhood have recently passed resolutions calling for the U.S. State Department to use its authority under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and engage with Canada to protect threatened transboundary rivers.  More

Shuswap First Nations push mining guidelines (12/16/14).  A new mining policy issued by four Shuswap bands could bring more certainty for companies wanting to develop new mines in the region.

Or it could add a layer of bureaucracy that sends investment out of B.C., similar to the 1990s, when NDP anti-mining policies scared mining and exploration companies away from B.C.   More

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY

Fisheries degrees become more accessible to rural Alaskans (12/12).  With a just a phone line and Internet access, a student anywhere in Alaska can now earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

The school offers the only Bachelor of Arts degree in fisheries in North America and this year adopted two new concentrations within the degree program that will provide students a more focused undergraduate experience. Incoming students will now select a concentration in either rural and community development or business and social sciences.  More

Rising Air, Sea Temperatures are Impacting Fisheries (12/17).    A global warming report released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Arctic air temperatures are continuing to rise at twice the rate of global air temperatures, triggering dramatic changes in the Arctic.

“Arctic warming is setting off changes that affect people and the environment in this fragile region, and has broader effects beyond the Arctic on global security, trade, and climate,” said Craig McLean, acting assistant administrator for the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. McLean’s comment came during a news conference at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco.  More

Alaska fish adjust to climate change by following the food (12/19).  Not all species may suffer from climate change. A new analysis shows that Dolly Varden, a species of char common in southeast Alaska, adjust their migrations so they can keep feasting on a key food source – salmon eggs – even as shifts in climate altered the timing of salmon spawning.

The resiliency of species to climate change may depend on how well they adapt to climate-driven changes in their food and habitat, such as altered growth of plants they feed on. A mismatch in timing between predators and the availability of prey could cause some species to lose access to food. But others such as Dolly Varden that successfully adjust to shifts in climate and prey offer a climate change story with a happy ending, according to the study published in Freshwater Biology. ~~~

But salmon migrations are shifting as the climate warms. Previous research by the University of Alaska and NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center in southeast Alaska’s Auke Creek has shown that pink and coho salmon now migrate to their spawning grounds 10 to 17 days earlier while sockeye salmon migrate eight days earlier.  More

Warming reveals more ore opportunities (12/16).  Researchers who have been able to study frozen mammoths and Stone Age mummies thanks to retreating glaciers aren’t the only scientists who have benefited from the otherwise negative impacts of global warming.

Melting ice has also made it easier for geologists in B.C. to prove known mineral deposits through exploratory drilling that could not have taken place 40 or 50 years ago.

Gwenn Flowers, Canada research chair of glaciology at Simon Fraser University, said there were 30,000 square kilometres of  glacial ice in B.C. in the 1980s, which represented 20% of the non-polar ice in Canada, and 4% globally.

Ten per cent of that ice has melted since the mid-1980s, she said. In recent decades, some glaciers have retreated as much as two kilometres. The Red Mountain underground gold mine near Stewart is one of a handful of new mines being proposed for deposits that only became viable in recent decades, thanks to retreating glaciers.  More

Drifting pole nudges Fairbanks closer to magnetic north (12/21).  FAIRBANKS — It might be time for Alaskans to start turning the compass a bit less to account for planet Earth’s wandering magnetic poles.
Map-image
A five-year update to a magnetic model released Monday shows the north magnetic pole is continuing its inconsistent drift westward toward Siberia. The model, calculated by the U.S. and British governments, is used for technology such as military fighter jets and consumer smartphones. 
More

CALENDAR.

2015

Jan 7.  Comments due BOF Southeast and Yakutat Crab, Shrimp, and Misc. Shellfish

Jan 23.  Applications due for federal subsistence RAC’s

Feb 9.  Comments due BOF Southeast and Yakutat Finfish 

Feb 17-19.  UFA Board, Juneau

Feb 23-Mar 3.   BOF SE Finfish, Sitka

Mar 11-12.  NSRAA Board, Sitka

Mar 13.  SSRAA Board, Ketchikan

Posted 1 month ago at 8:55 am.

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