Corkline-News for Southeast Gillnetters, April 21, 2014

22 Apr

NEWS

Top Stories:  JRPT Update…DIPAC Report…Douglas ADFG Office moves to Bill Ray Center for 18 months

2014 Spring JRPT meeting by Chris Guggenbickler (F/VMARANANTHA and USAG Board Member)

After the usual approval of the agenda, previous recommendations and minutes from the December 5 meeting, the next order of business was permit alteration requests (PAR). This is where the RPT looks at new production permitting and the criteria in approving those requests.  In the southern region a representative of each gear group from SSRAA votes as well as the regional supervisor of sportfish, commercial fish and the hatchery program coordinator.  The same goes for the northern region and NSRAA reps.

1.   SSRAA PAR for an increase of 600K green Chinook eggs to be taken at Whitman Lake, and a remote release site of 100K at Deer Mountain hatchery.  This drew considerable discussion as currently there is permitting to release these extra Chinook at Neets Bay, however elements of the department feel the increase of release will create a larger fishery and consequently more wild Chinook may be harvested in this fishery.  The problem is escapement to back Behm Chinook stocks particularly the Unuk, which has not made escapement recently.  Serious discussion about tag data/recovery and the fisheries in the area got a little heated.  Sport fish felt the problem was in the commercial fishery, although a lack of recovered tags in Neets bay cost recovery suggest that this is not the case.  Commercial fish proponents felt the problem fell with sport fish lodges along the returning corridors whose catches are not sampled.  It appears better attempts will be made in the near future to recover tags in all areas.  Ultimately this PAR did pass 6-0

2.   SSRAA PAR, this par did not increase production, but was needed as coho released in Anita are no longer reared at Whitman lake, but incubated at Burnett Inlet, reared at Neck Lake, then transported and released at Anita. Passed 6-0

3.   POWHA PAR to allow incubation at Port St. Nicholas hatchery of 20 Million chums, with release at Port Asumcion which would be a new release site.  This is an attempt to create a site where POWHA can conduct cost recovery to help subsidize the coho program which is not paying for operations currently.  There are many issues with this as it would take a constant supply of green eggs every year from another source, as there will be no brood stock collecting opportunities at Asumcion.  Currently it may not be feasible in some years for SSRAA to provide these eggs as we barely made our own summer chum egg take needs last summer, and intend to create a backup brood stock site which will require more eggs for our own needs, we simply may not have enough eggs some years.  Also it may be more cost effective to subsidize POWHA cost recovery at one of our current sites.  In the end the PAR was amended to 8M release as we felt this was a more realistic release to provide for sufficient cost recovery needs of POWHA.  Passed 6-0 as amended

4.  POWHA PAR to move 2M coho smolt release from Klawock River to Port Asumcion.  The department amended the 2M down to 250K due to the fact they wanted to start small and watch for straying before ramping up to 2M.  Passed.

5.   NSRAA PAR to increase the Gunnuk Creek PAR for the SE Cove Release from 45 to 55M chums.  These fish will be incubated at Hidden Falls.  Passed.

6.   NSRAA PAR to increase, incubated at Sawmill Creek Hatchery, 50M chums, to be released at Crawfish Inlet which would be a new release site and SHA.  This created considerable discussion as there is a nearby chum index stream at West Crawfish.  The department amended to 20M, and the vote failed.  Another motion was made to amend to 30M.  In discussion it was determined the reason for the 20M “cap” was due to a geneticist’s decision with the nearby index stream.  This motion was tabled until after lunch and the genetics lab was contacted about reasoning on 20M.  After lunch it was determined that with the index being a summer chum, and the release a fall return there would be able to go with 30M on the condition NSRAA pays for any additional straying studies needed on the summer and fall return, and evaluate.  Also NSRAA would clean up the SHA of released fish to reduce the chance of them straying. There was concern from the department the troll fleet would not be efficient enough at cleaning up the area, also one or two cost recovery seiners would not be enough to cover the entire area and cleanup would be most efficient with a fleet of nets.    As amended to 30M, passed.

7.   Armstrong-Keta PAR to increase pink production from 85M to 135M with a remote release of 50M at Port Herbert, The department also wanted to reduce the increase to 20M.  This also was brought back up after lunch, and amended for a total release of 105M with a remote release of 50M at Port Herbert.

 8.   NSRAA PAR to add Crawfish Inlet as a remote release site for up to 600K Andrews creek Chinook, does not increase production.  Passed.

The next part of the meeting is where representatives from SSRAA and NSRAA discuss issues on allocation and other issues arising from enhanced fish (The Joint Regional Planning Team).  This is an allocative discussion and the department does not vote on these issues.

Our first order of business was to look at the most recent allocation data.  The 2012 data is final, and the 2013 data is preliminary awaiting settlements and final data. I will use 2013 data as it is most recent and shouldn’t change much.

Allocation guidelines:   seine: 44-49%, troll: 27-32%, gillnet 24-29%

2013 allocation, seine: 40%, troll: 24%, gillnet: 36%

2009-2013, 5yr rolling average: seine: 43%, troll: 17%, gillnet: 40%

There are many factors when looking at these figures, a couple of things to keep in mind is the more recent data is showing fleets coming closer to their ranges, we are doing our best to do this with new production and other methods which do not take from the gillnet fleets current opportunities.  I expect the seine percentage to go up next year as most likely they will not have as many pink salmon to chase.  Also it seems 2013 was a year chum were more likely to “bite” for trollers, this is not always the case.  Also enhanced coho survivals were up and the return was substantial.

Part of the 2011 Industry consensus was to allow chum troll opportunity at Hawk inlet, also the Homeshore was a Chinook access fishery when the main target turned to chum, trollers wanted to recognize this in the Management plan.  The caveat was these fisheries were allowed with a sunset clause so the effects could be evaluated, data collected and a management plan could be implemented.  The data shows 20% of the chums harvested in both fisheries were unmarked, the largest number was 59,000 at Homeshore in 2013.  I argued these were wild fish, previously harvested by other gear groups and we needed to account for this value lost or we could not support this fishery.  This created considerable discussion, although there was no conclusion I am sure we will be looking at the 2014 data closely, and will have further opportunity to comment at the RPT and Board of Fish.  Also the subject of high juvenile Chinook bycatch in this area was brought up.  It appears there is data noted of hook marked juvenile Chinook in the NOAA trawl survey.  The subject of an observer survey of this fishery was brought up.

Every spring the JRPT writes a letter to the commissioner on the recent allocation situation, we presented the percentages and some reasoning. A few other things that should help are nearly 5M new coho releases between SSRAA, NSRAA and DIPAC.  3 year olds will be returning from increases of chum production due to the 2008 industry consensus, they are releases of 12M, Neets and 10M at Kendrick/Mclean.  During this discussion a motion was made to submit a Board of Fish proposal to “reconvene the allocation task force”.  This also generated considerable discussion.  The main reason for many would be to look at the fact we are spending nearly half of the regional’s budgets and water usage on creating kings and cohoes, we are creating hatchery access fisheries for troll all over SE with unevaluated consequences and troll has never been in its range.  Now they are asking to tie us to the dock so they can have more opportunity.  Maybe there was a flaw in the assumptions used in designing the plan.  Eventually it was decided to not submit as a proposal but to write in the letter to the Commissioner about the discussion, that we are considering it, and that it will be on the agenda for the fall JRPT meeting 2014.

Lastly we submitted three placeholder proposals to the Board of Fish.  The Anita and Deep Inlet THA rotational ratios were submitted but dates and ratios are represented by XXX, also the Homeshore/Hawk Inlet proposal will leave room for further modifications.  This will give us opportunity to further evaluate fisheries and allocation to make a better decision in December.

During the NSRAA Par presentation Steve Reifenstuhl, general manager of NSRAA thanked Eric Prestegard and DIPAC for opportunities created from excess revenues.  I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the DIPAC board for contributing in excess of $5.5M in the last two years back in to opportunity for the fleets.  This has helped create net opportunity at Deep Inlet for two years, will help offset costs for SE cove, will help create net and troll opportunity at Neets Bay and help offset shortfalls at POWHA which creates 5M coho which improve troll allocation.

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Recap of DIPAC Spring Board Meeting by Lars Stangeland (F/V VALHALLA and USAG rep to DIPAC Board)

DIPAC’s spring meeting was on March 29th. Here are some of the highlights.

Both the FY15 Operating Budget of $4,841,421 and FY15 Capitol Improvement Budget of $762,200 were approved. Last winter DIPAC created an unencumbered funds policy listing their priorities for dealing with the excess funds. There was a motion to approve this policy as presented, and the policy was approved, knowing that it would be revisited next fall for more discussion and possible changes. The priorities are as follows:

Priority one shall be for programs or projects that provide direct and immediate benefits to the common property salmon fishery. For example, revenue sharing with other aquaculture associations in order to offset their cost recovery needs and create more harvest opportunity for common property commercial fleets.

The second priority shall be for programs or projects that provide for lasting, long term benefits to the common property salmon fishery by means of new production, improvement in fisheries management or better understanding of the salmon resource through research and education. Examples include, funding of other hatchery programs, funding assistance for salmon research, and funding support for fisheries educational programs.

The third priority is for projects or programs that provide indirect benefits to the common property fishery through economic development. Examples include funding for a commercial fishing dock or a common property sport fishing access site.

The next order of business that took up a large part of the meeting was addressing the thirteen funding requests submitted to DIPAC. Of the thirteen eight were approved and will be funded, they are:

1.     NSRAA – 100% Deep Inlet cost recovery, 30% of Hidden Falls cost recovery, development costs of new enhancement programs, and replace shortfall from 2013 Deep Inlet cost recovery – $2.5 million.

2.     SSRAA – Replacement funds for Neets Bay cost recovery fund and POWHA hatchery operations – $2 million.

3.     ADF&G – Fund enhanced / wild interaction study – $2 million.

4.     USFS – Fund fish- pass work on Davidson Creek – $98,000.

5.     Pacific Salmon Treaty Coalition – Research and lobby work for New Treaty Annex – $15,000.

6.     Chinook Futures Coalition – Delist Snake River fall Chinook salmon from ESA listing – $100,000.

7.     DIPAC Scholarship Committee – Fund Fellowship Program – $1,075,000.

8.     Juneau School District – Fund High School Hatchery Tech Program – $23,085.

The remaining five requests were not approved or were sent back to committee for more discussion:

1.     Juneau Economic Development Council – Fund “STEM” Program and fund Ocean Cluster and Research & Development Cluster – $100,000.

2.     ADF&G Sport Fish Division – Land purchase for additional sport fish access near Macaulay Hatchery – $50,000 – $87,500.

3.     Haines Borough Alaska – New commercial drive down float $6,000,000 or any number lower.  This request was referred  back to committee

4.     Juneau Whale Project – Bronze whale sculpture for downtown – a $250 -$ 50,000.

5.     Sitka High School Class of ’71 – Bronze sculpture for Sitka Harbor – $10,000

The remaining balance of $4.6 million was put into the reserve fund. This will ensure DIPAC has the revenue to deal with upcoming water issues with the Salmon Creek dam and pipeline, the source of the hatchery’s water.  Both the dam and upper pipe section are over one hundred years old.

Last winter Yakutat Regional Aquaculture Association (YRAA) sent a letter to DIPAC and also came to a production meeting requesting ten million eyed summer chum eggs to get their show started. DIPAC sent YRAA a letter indicating its willingness to supply the chum eggs for a period of up to four years provided that:

1.     YRAA receives written approval from ADF&G to release DIPAC chums in Yakutat.

2.     Identifies and secures a feasible hatchery site and adequate water supply.

3.     Produces a completed hatchery design that includes incubation, thermal marking capabilities, fish ladder, brood stock and egg take facilities sufficient to support a self-sustaining program.

4.     YRAA receives hatchery permit from ADF&G to operate in the Yakutat area.

Successful completion of these conditions would constitute a situation under which the two parties can get together and finalize an agreement for providing eggs to YRAA.

Haines Sportsman’s Association, INC. sent a letter requesting DIPAC to take over management, funding, and operation of the king salmon incubator located on Big Boulder Creek near Haines and reinstate the net pen program in Lutak Inlet. Norm Hughes will be doing some fact finding and will bring that info back to the production committee next fall.

Wild Pacific Salmon Education Association sent DIPAC a letter requesting limited physical access to the Sheep Creek facility to determine suitability and general state of readiness of the site for use as a facility to enhance pink salmon. Comments and concerns will be forwarded to the production committee for review before the December board meeting.

The Governance, Membership and Nominating Committee met on March 17th. The committee forwarded three motions to the board for consideration at the spring meeting

1.  Motion to approve Chris McDowell for a troll board seat.  Chris sent DIPAC a letter stating his interest in the troll seat along with a long list of relevant fishing, work and board experience. Looks like a good fit. The motion passed unanimously.

2.  Motion to adopt a policy for board travel to annual meetings. This motion was approved.

3.  Motion to reappoint current slate of officers. Sandy Williams will be stepping down as president.

Other information about forecasts, releases, harvests, ponding, and employment opportunities (hey – you never know), can be found on the DIPAC website at www.dipac.net .

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Alaska Department of Fish and Game Douglas Regional Office Move (4/17)

(Juneau) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Douglas Regional Office is temporarily moving. The ADF&G office located at 802 3rd Street on Douglas Island is being renovated during the next 18 months. The office will move for the duration of the construction to the Bill Ray Center at 1008 F Street, directly across the street from the Goldbelt Building on W. 10th Street.

The move will begin on April 21. Public service counters at 802 3rd Street in Douglas will be operating minimally during the week of April 21-25 during the transition. Public service counters will be open for business at the Bill Ray Center starting April 28. All services previously available at the Douglas Regional Office will be available at the Bill Ray Center. The public service area in this new location is situated inside the front door to the left.

All phone numbers for Fish and Game will remain the same. If you have any questions regarding the move, you may call:

  • Division of Sport Fish: (907) 465-4270
  • Division of Commercial Fisheries: (907) 465-4250
  • Division of Wildlife Conservation: (907) 465-4265

We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and will ensure the needs of the public continue to be met at this temporary location.

Please take a moment to thank these businesses  http://www.akgillnet.org/?page_id=191  which have renewed their USAG Membership for 2013 or 2014 and encourage other support sector businesses to do the same

USAG Dues

Haven’t paid your dues yet for 2013?  Drop a check for $300 in the mail today.  Year end notices were mailed around Thanksgiving.

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 $29,555,255 in 2013—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.

If you are not a member of our insurance program, contact John Long, Sea Mountain Insurance  john.long@sea-mountain.com (425) 775-1410 XT 145 work and he will get you a quote.

CALENDAR.
2014
Sep 23-25
.  UFA Board Meeting, Anchorage

2015

Feb 23-Mar3.   BOF SE Finfish, Sitka