The USAG Board of Director would like to thank our individual and business members for their support over the past year. Your support helps us to look out for the interests for the gillnet fleet and the communities you support. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe, prosperous New Year.
Alaska Fish Radio…updated daily by Laine Welch
Point of View. Fish on, speak up (12/18). By Hannah Heimbuch. When I sat down for the start of the Alaska Young Fisherman’s Summit in Anchorage last Tuesday, I didn’t know a single face at my table. I’d driven up from Homer alone in the wee hours, preparing to absorb as much information as one fisherman/reporter could.
But as introductions were made, I realized that I was far from the only local to show up. Six other Homer women stood to give their names and fisheries, which ranged from Cook Inlet to Bristol Bay, with Gulf and Western territories in between. There were about 60 young fishermen present from all over the state, and the Homer contingent made up the majority of the women. Four young men from the village of Razdolna also made the trek north. More
Kenai Council unanimously opposes set net ban (12/23). The Kenai City Council voted unanimously last week to voice opposition to the urban set net fishing ban proposed by the Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance. The resolution comes a little more than a week after the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed a similar unanimous vote to make their opposition official.
Other entities have issued public statements along this same vein, including the Kenai Peninsula Fisherman’s Association, the Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, United Fishermen of Alaska and the Alaska Salmon Alliance.
The office of Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell is expected to make a decision regarding the legality of the initiative shortly after the new year. If it is deemed legal, it could potentially be on the 2016 ballot. Link
UFA Released Updated “Community Fishing Fact Sheets” (12/16). The United Fishermen of Alaska has updated their “Community Fishing Fact Sheets” to include data from 2012. The fact sheets cover specific areas that are generally either municipalities or census areas. More/KDLG Audio Fact sheets: http://www.ufa-fish.org/cff.htm
Opposition could lead to changes in HB 77 (12/18). A proposed bill that Gov. Sean Parnell intended to streamline permitting on state lands and waters ran into a buzz saw of opposition in hearings held last week in Soldotna and Homer by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. “Buzz saw” might be an understatement. With only one person speaking in favor of House Bill 77 out of 125 attending in Kenai and 150 in Homer, opposition to the bill was like a spruce log going into a chip mill.
That level of opposition is what prompted him to hold hearings, Micciche said. After the last session, he said he got more emails on HB 77 than any other issue. In the central Kenai Peninsula, considered more pro-development than Homer, no one from industry could be found to speak for it at hearings there. More
Public Tells Commissioners HB77 Concerns (12/11). A coalition of fisheries related business is holding a public forum in Anchorage tonight on House Bill 77. The controversial legislation would streamline permitting for the Department of Natural Resources. Earlier this week, people packed into the borough assembly chambers in Soldotna for a meeting on the issue. Not one member of the public testified in favor of the bill. More/APRN Audio
Editorial. Our View: Either rewrite House Bill 77 or kill it (12/12). House Bill 77. Without a major overhaul, deep-six this measure
Sen. Peter Micciche has taken the time to do what the Parnell administration would not be doing if House Bill 77 became law — listen to Alaskans on natural resource permitting.
The Soldotna Republican has opposed the bill as passed by the state House of Representatives because it invests far too much power in the commissioner of natural resources to allow developers a free hand on state lands without public notice or knowledge, and kill too many protections of state resources. More
Xtratuf officials promise restored toughness to Alaska customers (12/20). The coastal Alaskan choice of footwear, Xtratuf boots, are once again, trying to prove their ‘tuff-ness’. At the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle last month, the representatives for the brand of boots, Xtratuf, made it clear that after receiving two years of complaints about the deteriorating quality workmanship of their boots, they promise that they have restored the trademark resilience and durability to the brand that had been absent for the past couple of years.
At the Marine Expo, the Xtratuf booth received a flock of dissatisfied customers that were anxious to share their disappointment and frustration in the current quality of the once beloved brand. Xtratuf’s parent company, Honeywell International, moved the production of the Xtratuf brand from Rock Island, Ill., to a factory in China back in 2011. Alaskans, who make up one third of the consumers of the Xtratuf brand, have been claiming that ever since the move to China, the quality of the boots have gone down, even to the point of no longer being waterproof beyond the first few weeks of owning them. More
Senator Murkowski Calls on Walmart to Carry Products Made with Salmon from Alaska (12/18). U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski is continuing to lobby the largest retailer on earth to carry products made with salmon from Alaska. On Wednesday Senator Lisa Murkowski sent a letter to the incoming CEO of Walmart outlining her concerns with the current purchasing practices of Walmart in regards to salmon from Alaska.
Earlier this year Walmart announced that it would only be sourcing salmon products that met the sustainability guidelines put forward by the Marine Stewardship Council. Alaska’s commercially caught salmon are currently eligible to carry the MSC label but the majority of the seafood processors that operate in Alaska have withdrawn their support for MSC and instead have thrown their support behind the Responsible Fisheries Management certification program supported by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. As it stands now Walmart is apparently not stocking salmon products that do not carry the MSC label. More
Begich: NGO Sustainability Certification Too Subjective (12/12). The Responsible Seafood Certification and Labeling Act introduced this fall by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski would prohibit any US federal agency from requiring the use of third party criteria or to certify seafood as sustainable. It came in response to a couple of federal agencies or contractors bypassing Alaska salmon because most of it now lacks endorsement by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Last week Senator Mark Begich said the MSC’s certification model was too subjective, and that if the federal government wants to ensure the seafood it sources is sustainable – and includes Alaska salmon – the procedure needs to change. More/KMXT Audio
Anadromous Fish Commission Says Salmon Catches Remain Near Historic High (12/4). The North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission in Vancouver, British Columbia says the total Pacific salmon abundance in the North Pacific remains at near record high levels. That conclusion was drawn from data compiled by NPAFC members during their annual meeting in mid-November.
Seventy-one participants from Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States participated.
Initial North Pacific-wide 2013 commercial catch data, said NPAFC, indicates high catches of pink salmon, with totals of 313,800 tons in Alaska, 241,292 tons in Russia and 13,171 tons in Canada, plus chum salmon catches of 101,395 tons in Russia and 65,120 tons in Alaska.
Catches of Chinook salmon remained at low levels, with 1,640 tons landed in Alaska, 512 tons in Russia, and 214 tons in Canada. These 2013 commercial catches are preliminary estimates and are incomplete because some regions had not finished their fishery seasons at the time of compilation, NPAFC said in a written statement. More
NOAA. Forecasting Pink Salmon Harvest in Southeast Alaska for 2014. For more information on the 2014 forecast model, including a matrix of selected variables associated with SECM juvenile pink salmon data and SEAK, please refer to the presentation and handout given at the PSTFM held in Ketchikan, Alaska, on December 3, 2013 (handout and presentation in pdf format). Link for more info.
Preseason Forecast is Low for Stikine River Chinook Salmon (12/11). State biologists in Southeast Alaska on Dec. 9 issued a preseason terminal run forecast of 26,000 large Stikine River king salmon in 2014, precluding a directed fishery in early May.
If the first in-season terminal run estimate produced in late May is significantly greater than the preseason forecast, limited directed commercial king salmon fisheries could occur, according to the Wrangell area office for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Post season data for 2013 showed that 423 kings were landed commercially in the troll harvest and 456 kings in the gillnet harvest, plus another 635 kings taken in the sport fishery, said Tom Kowalske, in the agency’s Wrangell office. More KFSK Story
Budget cuts leave Coast Guard short of performance targets (12/12). A top Coast Guard official acknowledged Wednesday that the service had failed to meet several mission performance targets in the 2013 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 and said he expects similar shortfalls in the current fiscal year.
In testimony before the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, Vice Adm. John Currier cited inadequate funding levels along with so-called sequestration – automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that kicked in last spring – as a “contributing factor to reduced performance observed in FY 2013.”
The sequester cut approximately $200 million from the Coast Guard’s training, operating, and maintenance accounts. Pointing to figures from the congressional Government Accountability Office, Currier said that about $2 billion annually would be needed to achieve the Coast Guard’s statutory missions. By comparison, the Coast Guard has operated with a budget between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion in recent fiscal years, Currier noted. More
Sitka moorage hike to take effect Jan 1 (12/23). Moorage rates in Sitka’s harbors are going up next week.
The Sitka assembly last night (Mon 12-23-13) approved the rate hike on second reading, bumping the per-foot monthly charge for permanent berths from $2.64 to $2.80, an increase of a little over 6-percent effective New Year’s Day. More/KCAW Audio
NOTE. The Kenai River Sportsmen Association (KRSA) is running a social media campaign against Cook Inlet salmon fisher men and processors in preparation for the Jan 31-Feb 13 BOF meeting. You can help Cook Inlet processors and fishermen by signing this online petition. The Alaska Salmon Alliance has just made our new Protect Our Kings petition LIVE! Check it out on our website. http://www.aksalmonalliance.org/sign-our-petition/
Sign the petition if you want to send a strong message to Alaska’s decision makers that protecting in-river King salmon habitat should be a first priority. Sign, share, and spread the word!
Mar 29. DIPAC Board Meeting, Juneau
Apr 8. Regional Planning Team (RPT), Juneau
Apr 10. Proposals due for BOF SE Finfish
Feb 23-Mar3. BOF SE Finfish, Sitka