Please take a moment to thank these businesses http://www.akgillnet.org/?page_id=191 which have renewed their USAG Membership for 2012 or 2013 and encourage other support sector businesses to do the same
USAG Dues. Not a member yet? Fill out and mail a membership form with your check for$300 to USAG, PO Box 20538, Juneau, AK 99802. ADFG’s preliminary estimate is that the SE gillnet fleet grossed $35,315,218—that means you have a valuable fishery to protect
Don’t forget, dues must be current to participate in the USAG fleet insurance program which has some major improvements this year including better rates and expanded coverage.
Save the Date: Juneau USAG Port Meeting with ADFG and DIPAC, May 15 at DIPAC at 7PM –pre-season forecasts and new cruise ship tracklines.
Drills to go
A new app guides fishermen through onboard safety drills from their Smart Phones or iPads. It’s called FVdrills and is an Apple-based app created by Leigh McCue of Virginia Tech in partnership with the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, or AMSEA.
“This app is really handy,” said Troy Tirrell, a commercial fisherman and marine surveyor in Cordova. “It has suggested drills as well as check off lists, such as location of safety gear, shut off valves, and life rafts. It gives skippers and crews a convenient, hands-on way to do drills and share important safety information about the boat.”
The app is free and can be downloaded on iTunes. An Android version is expected soon. For more information, contact AMSEA at 907-747-3287 or www.amsea.org.
Administration Includes Begich Request for ‘Simpler Plan’ in National Oceans Policy (4/16). Begich criticized the initial plan, requesting a simpler approach and objecting to the original call for multiple planning agencies that would expand an already bureaucratic system and make it difficult for states to navigate. The redrafted plan was released today by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
“We asked the Obama administration to go back to the drawing board to revise and simplify their top-down approach,” said Sen. Begich. “Their original Oceans Policy was really just ocean zoning with no meaningful role for the affected states and regional fish councils and did not include opt-out provisions. I appreciate the administration’s willingness to listen to my concerns and urge Alaskans to look closely at this revised plan to see if it works for them. If not, they now have options.” More
NOAA plans to shut down agency for 4 days (4/16). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to shut down most agency operations for four mandatory furlough days in July and August in response to sequester-related budget cuts, according to the agency’s acting chief.
“In the constrained budget environment in which we find ourselves, there are no easy or painless options available,” Kathryn Sullivan told employees in a Monday email. “We are working to ensure that mission-critical or life-saving products and services are still provided.” More
NIOSH to fishermen: wear your PFD (4/19). It’s not one size fits all, but there are enough styles of personal floatation devices out there now to fit every commercial fish harvester’s needs, says Ted Teske of the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.
“Our message to fishermen is find something that works,” Teske told participants in COMFISH Alaska 2013 in Kodiak on April 12.
To help them do that NIOSH worked with several dozen commercial fishermen in Alaska who volunteered to wear a variety of PFDs for 30 days and complete an evaluation form for each one.
There are enough varieties of PFDs now for all gear types in all fisheries to find one that works, and the cost of the PFDs has come way down too, he said. More
AMSEA course teaches injury prevention (4/19). Ergonomic injuries, also often referred to as musculoskeletal disorders, are very common among commercial fishermen, but a new workshop offered by the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association offers plenty of tips on prevention.
Ergonomics is the science of adapting work stations, tools, equipment and work methods for more efficient, comfortable and error-free use by people, AMSEA explains in its new pocket guide to ergonomics, “Strains, Sprains and Pains: Ergonomic Injury Prevention for Commercial Fishermen.”
Jerry Dzugan, director of AMSEA, made copies available to a class at Kodiak April 13, as he engaged a group of commercial fish harvesters in discussion and demonstrated how they can use ergonomics to reduce back problems, carpal tunnel and more by simple changes on deck and with tools to reduce injury and increase efficiency. The two-hour session was part of COMFISH Alaska 2013, the state’s largest commercial fishery trade show. More
Draft SE otter population assessment out (4/19). The Southeast Alaska sea otter population well-more than doubled over the past decade. That’s according to an estimate from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which released a draft of its revised stock assessment this week (4/18). As Matt Lichtenstein reports, the numbers have been out for a while but the public now has a formal chance to comment on them. More/KFSK Audio
USCG – new versions of forms. The US Coast Guard has developed new versions of two important forms: CG-2692 – Report of Marine Casualty and CG-2692B – Report of Required Chemical Drug and Alcohol Testing following a Serious Marine Accident. The forms, in PDF format, can be filled out on a computer. (March 2013). Courtesy Bryant’s Maritime Blog
BOARD OF FISH CONFIRMATION
Search Underway to Find a Bristol Bay Resident to Sit on the Alaska Board of Fish (4/15). Last week’s Legislative rejection of Vince Webster from King Salmon for another term on the Alaska Board of Fisheries has prompted a search for another Bristol Bay resident to sit on that Board. KDLG Audio Worth a listen
EDITORIAL: Scapegoating Webster is a setback for Cook Inlet (4/11). On April 8, a joint session of the Alaska Legislature confirmed 87 of 88 appointments put forth by Gov. Sean Parnell and rejected a third term for Board of Fisheries member Vince Webster by a single vote.
Not that relations between commercial and sport stakeholders in Cook Inlet weren’t frosty prior to the vote, but the campaign waged against Bristol Bay setnetter Webster by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association is yet another chill to any hope of thawing the perpetual conflict now exacerbated by low returns of Kenai River kings.
Never mind that the Board of Fisheries vote was 7-0 to adopt a new escapement goal range put forth by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for Kenai kings based on new sonar counters, or that the same full board unanimously refused to adopt any new management measures at its statewide meeting in late March.~~~
It most certainly is, and the 30 legislators gullible or susceptible enough to fall for KRSA’s talking points about Webster should take a hard look at the composition of the Board of Fisheries they just created with just one member from Southeast — commercial fishermen John Jensen from Petersburg (no relation to this writer) — and nobody from Alaska’s best-known fishery in Bristol Bay.
The current composition of the board is now tremendously out of whack with four members bearing the KRSA stamp of approval and just two — Jensen and Sue Jeffery of Kodiak — with commercial fishing experience. More
Legislature playing with fire by killing Board of Fish Nomination in Alaska (4/15). The rejection of Vince Webster for a 3rd term on the Board of Fish, after a furious lobbying campaign by the Kenai River Sportifshing Association is a dark day for Alaska. It raises the specter of another fish grab by recreational interests – who will overthrow scientific management and shared constraints when they have to take their share of fish harvest cutbacks. Alaska’s fisheries have succeeded because of their scientific management – the legislature stepping in to ‘Send a Message’ to the ADF&G is a very bad sign. John Sackton Video
Gov Parnell. Appointments Receive Legislative Approval (4/8). Governor Sean Parnell released the following statement after the Alaska Legislature approved Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Dianne Blumer, Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Pat Kemp, and 87 out of 88 board and commission appointees.
“I am very proud of these Alaskans who are clearly dedicated to service,” Governor Parnell said. “They will play an instrumental role in guiding Alaska to a positive future.”
The Legislature voted down the reappointment of Vince Webster to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Governor Parnell phoned Mr. Webster after the vote to personally thank him for volunteering six years of service to the State of Alaska.
“It is disappointing, discouraging and disheartening when bad information or politics prevent a qualified Alaskan from serving our state,” Governor Parnell said. “I appreciate Vince’s willingness to serve these past six years.”
The Legislature’s action requires the governor to make a new appointment to the Board of Fisheries, subject to confirmation by the Legislature. Link
Opinion. Organization should be reprimanded for behavior (4/15). The Kenai River Sportfishing Association’s behavior of late is entirely worthy of a “time out” given to an immature child acting inappropriately. KRSA unethically tapped into a private United Fisherman of Alaska (UFA) teleconference with the intent of furthering their unique form of sleazy politics. KRSA then shared the ill-gotten teleconference info with others with the intent to disparage and worse. KRSA viciously spun and twisted facts and then used them to assault and discredit Vince Webster as he was considered for confirmation by the Legislature for a seat on the Board of Fisheries. KRSA’s unethical behavior reflect on just what the true nature of the intended contribution to our community KRSA would have.
It would be this writer’s suggestion that KRSA be afforded a lengthy time out until such time that they have demonstrated consistent and documentable behavior playing by the rules that those of us with a moral and ethical compass would consider standard operating procedure. Included in this “time out” should an unwillingness of news media (Clarion included) to use KRSA, its executive director of self-ascribed importance, or any of its board, as a credible source for anything save the time of low-water on the tide. Certainly KRSA and company have demonstrated a command of what is low, low, low. Link
Opinion. What’s in store for next fish board appointee? (4/19). A decade ago Ricky Gease wrote the Alaska Board of Fisheries declaring Soldotna too dangerous for a board meeting. The board has not deliberated in Soldotna since then. Recently the Kenai River Sportfish Association has eavesdropped on a UFA board meeting forwarding info to Karl Johnstone, fish board chairman. Most recently KRSA “bombed” legislators in Juneau with e-mails against the re-appointment of Vince Webster.
This machination was driven by the desires of KRSA to have a majority on the board of fish for the 2014 Cook Inlet cycle. In the past KRSA sent a delegation to Bristol Bay to interview past board of fish members/appointees Dr. White and Russell Nelson. Cook Inlet commercial fishermen have not had a rep on the board for 30 years. Now that Vince Webster has been hammered by KRSA, Robin Samuelson has decided to speak out against Bob Penny, KRSA, and their divisive bullying behavior. Back when Coffey, Dersham, and Engle were on the board some called it the Anchorage Board of Sportfish. Cook Inlet commercial fishermen should have a rep on the board for their 2014 regulatory cycle.
For the last decade we have witnessed the media blitz against bullying in school. Now politicians, lawmakers, the board of fish, law enforcement, and many others have decided to lay down and tolerate the bullying behavior of KRSA, an educational 501c3 non-profit with significant and unethical political over-reach.
If their expectations are not met in Governor Parnell’s next appointment will KRSA send more e-mails to Juneau; or drones? Link
Legislature’s fisheries research funding tops $12 million (4/18). Fisheries projects throughout the state would receive a boost in the Legislature’s budget.
The Legislature’s fiscal year 2014 capital budget included more than $12 million to study Alaska’s fisheries, much of it for work in Cook Inlet including drainages in the Matanuska-Susitna borough.
Topping the list of projects was $7.5 million for Gov. Sean Parnell’s Chinook Salmon Research Initiative. In Parnell’s version of the budget, that item came in at $10 million. Parnell’s research initiative included an additional $20 million over the subsequent four years, for a total $30 million, five-year effort.
The initiative, which was a response to declining king salmon runs throughout the state, is meant to look at what was happening to the salmon. As proposed, the undertaking would look at 12 indicator river systems from Southeast Alaska to the Arctic, gain a better understanding of the factors affecting salmon, and offer strategies to enhance viability and increase returns.
The budget would also include $2.5 million to look at Susitna River drainage salmon and $2 million for king salmon in Northern Cook Inlet.
Those projects would be undertaken by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, or ADFG.
ADFG’s Susitna drainage project would look at research, restoration and enhancement, while the Northern Cook Inlet funding is specifically for enhancement. More
Fishermen’s Fund benefits now at $10,000 (4/19). Alaska’s Fishermen’s Fund, an emergency medical fund for commercial fishermen now has a benefit limit of $10,000, up from the old maximum of $2,500, program director Velma Thomas told participants in COMFISH Alaska 2013 on April 11.
The fund, which is financed from revenue received for commercial fishing licenses and permit fees, has approved 185 claims since the fiscal year began July 1, with another 100 claims still pending, she said.
A lot of the claims are for hand and back injuries, and more than 50 percent of the claim applicants have no other insurance, said Thomas, who works for the Alaska Division of Workers’ Compensation. More
Ghost Boat Legislation Clears the House (4/5). A bill that would give cities and boroughs in Alaska the ability to deal with derelict and abandoned vessels is on the move in Juneau. On Friday House Bill 131 received a unanimous vote in the Alaska House. More/KDLG Audio
SE king quota drops again (4/5). The Southeast Alaska king salmon quota is down again for the second year in a row. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced this week that the allowable harvest will be 176 thousand kings for all gear types, commercial and sport. That’s 90 thousand fewer fish than last year, which was down about 30 thousand from the year before.
The quota is based on a combined forecast of US and Canadian chinook runs managed under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. According to Alaska Deputy Fish and Game Commissioner Dave Bedford, those populations are down again. That’s with the exception of the Columbia River, where there’s a different issue. More
Local seafood company makes big move (4/11). One of Petersburg’s small seafood processors is about to get a lot bigger. Tonka Seafoods has bought a long-unused cannery building and dock from Trident Seafoods. The move to the much larger, waterfront facility will mean a major expansion for Tonka which plans to substantially increase the company’s production and workforce once the plant is fully up and running within the next year. More/KFSK Audio
Conference committee compromises on state operating budget (4/14). Work on the state operating budget wrapped up Saturday as the conference committee of House and Senate members appointed to resolve differences between the two chambers’ versions of the budget produced a compromise document.
Over the course of the past week, the committee picked through items in the budget where allocations, language or both differed between the two versions of the budget, deciding whether to take the House version, the Senate version or a compromise somewhere in between the two. ~~~~
Of the $550,000 in the Senate version for salmon stock identification in Southeast Alaska, $440,000 was accepted by the conference committee.~~~~
The conference committee agreed with the Senate version on funding for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which would have seen a $485,800 cut to its state funding under the House version of the operating budget. More
Fishing Vessel Energy Audit Pilot Project Announced (4/10). A fishing vessel energy audit pilot project under way by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation is asking for owners of fishing vessels to volunteer to participate in the project.
The vessel owners will receive free audits in exchange for information regarding energy systems and use during normal fishing operations on their vessel and approximately one to two days of vessel and owner time in order to coordinate and perform the walk-through audit.
Due to limited funding, the pilot project will be restricted to vessels between 30 feet and 125 feet in length. Julie Decker, development director for AFDF, said they would like to hear from vessel owners by June 15.
DIPAC celebrates repayment of $42 million loan to state (4/3). Juneau salmon hatchery Douglas Island Pink & Chum recently made its last loan payment to the state of Alaska, marking an end to 33 years of debt acquired in starting and operating the facility.
Since 1987, DIPAC has repaid a total of $23 million in loans, plus $19 million in interest to the state, for a combined total of more than $42 million, according to DIPAC Executive Director Eric Prestegard.
“We’re very proud of the fact that we have made a very good contribution (in producing fish), but at the same time (we have) been able to pay back that sort of what was considered for many years to be a monstrous debt that was probably gonna sit over our heads into eternity,” Prestegard said. More
Egan, Stedman join new Senate ‘Coastal Caucus’ (4/3). Five Alaska state senators, including Southeast Alaska Sens. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, released a joint statement Tuesday announcing the formation of a Senate Coastal Caucus.
Egan and Stedman are joining Sens. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak; Donny Olson, D-Golovin; and Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna to constitute the caucus.
Stedman said Alaska’s coastal senators have worked together in the past, but that this move makes that affiliation into a more formal organization within the Senate majority caucus, of which all five senators are members. More KCAW Audio (4/4)
ASMI uncertain over future funding (4/18). The Alaskan Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) faces uncertainty over funding for its international promotions, as it waits to hear if congress will re-authorize the bill which awards it.
For the financial year 2013, ASMI was awarded $4.3 million through the US Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program – slightly less than the $4.5m requested, and which was received the previous year.
But FY2014 funding levels remain uncertain and subject to the political actions of the government and congress, ASMI’s annual report said.
“It is possible that the Farm Bill, which MAP is funded under, may not be re-authorized,” it said. “This would leave ASMI seeking international marketing program funding elsewhere.”
The funding received from MAP makes up around 20% of the institute’s overall spend plan of $22.5m, which is dedicated to all programs, domestic and export. More
Alaska’s FAO-based certification to cover 80% of salmon industry (4/17). The United Nations FAO-based Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) program is set to cover the bulk of the 2013 Alaska salmon harvest.
“We want buyers to understand that approximately 80% of the salmon harvest will be available under the RFM certification program,” Michael Cerne, executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), told Undercurrent News.
All salmon in Alaska has RFM certification at the fishery level, but in order to achieve this plan for 80% of the industry being certified, some companies still need to get chain of custody certification, Cerne said.
“I’ve called all the processors in Alaska and they have confirmed their intention to get the certification,” Michael Cerne, executive director for ASMI, told Undercurrent News. ”I don’t know for sure that they’ll pass, but I’m assuming that they’ve been through the MSC chain of custody certifications in the past, so I would assume they will not have any problems.” More
Alaska’s GM salmon protest comes to P.E.I. (4/18). A member of Alaska’s state government is meeting with P.E.I. politicians Thursday to share concerns over genetically-modified salmon.
Representative Geran Tarr doesn’t want the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve AquaBounty’s fast-growing salmon. AquaBounty’s GM fish grow at twice the rate of regular salmon. One of the company’s facilities is in Bay Fortune, P.E.I.
Tarr launched a resolution last month in Alaska calling on the FDA to require more research before approval, or at least require AquaBounty salmon be labelled GMO. That motion was supported unanimously in both the house of representatives and the senate.
Tarr told CBC News the sale of genetically-modified salmon could economically devastate her state’s $500-million wild fishery. More
Fishing Regulations Force Market Vendors to Sell Alaskan Salmon (4/9). This summer and fall, state officials are expecting strong numbers for salmon in Puget Sound and in Washington rivers. But you won’t find much – if any – Washington salmon at farmers markets. You’ll be buying Alaskan fish instead.
That’s because the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (WFWC), which regulates the state’s salmon fishery, has heaped restrictions on the industry. The result is limited opportunities for commercial fishers to go after salmon here. So limited, in fact, many drive their boats to Alaska, where fewer restrictions exist. More
A Look at Alaskan Seafood (3/29). Alaska might seem far away for most Americans, but its seafood is making its way across the country. “You see it everywhere in the States,” Tyson Fick, from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, says. “King crab… snow crab, five species of salmon, halibut, black cod, sablefish, Pacific cod, and then weird ones like sea cucumbers and geoducks… 55 percent of all the seafood caught in the United States comes from Alaska,” he says. More/Video
Sockeye scramble hits before supply is clear (4/4). Even though the low Bristol Bay sockeye forecast could be as much as 25% off, and the overall sockeye harvest forecast is on par with last year, buyers in the US and Europe are already preparing for the worst.
Yet as buyers scramble to secure supply from Alaska sockeye producers in time for the upcoming season, it remains unclear whether there will actually be a shortage of sockeye from Alaska this year.
Although the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG)’s sockeye forecast for Bristol Bay is down 20% from last year, that number could be much too low, said one economist.
“It could easily be 25% above or below [the harvest],” fisheries economist Gunnar Knapp told Undercurrent News on Wednesday. More
RDC. ASMI Alaska Seafood Market Trends and Opportunities (4/4). Video and Powerpoint
Airship builders aim to join Alaska skyline (3/29). It’s been nearly a century since the rounded form of an airship – better known as a blimp – graced Alaska’s airspace.
That will change this summer when Skyship Services Inc. flies its 200-foot Skyship 600 into Anchorage, the first visit of such a ship since 1927. While the oblong aircraft are more commonly seen above NFL games or other major televised events, the visit to Alaska isn’t so much a novelty as the testing of new waters.
Though not entirely new. More