Corkline-News for Southeast Gillnetters, December 7, 2013

11 Dec

Please take a moment to thank these businesses  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 this year?  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 (425) 775-1410 XT 145 work and he will get you a quote.

USAG News.  The USAG board held its annual meeting in Ketchikan December 3.  Highlights of the meeting:

  • The 2013 slate of officers was continued for 2014:  Max Worhatch (SUMMER BREEZE, Petersburg) –President, Chris Guggenbickler (MARANANTHA, Wrangell) –Vice President, and Byron “BJ” King (DRIFTER, Puget Sound) – Treasurer.
  • Dan Pardee (SENTRY, Juneau) was appointed to fill out the term of the At-large Northern board seat that was created by the resignation of Cheyne Blough.  The Board would like to thank Cheyne for his service to the gillnet fleet over the years.
  • Shaun Haseltine (SWEET WOODRUFF, Klawock) was appointed to the At-large Southern board seat effective 1 January 2014.  After discussion with several possible candidates, Shaun emerged as the consensus candidate .
  • Arnold Enge (MOON SHADOW, Petersburg) decided to step down from the board At-large South seat after serving continuously since 1983.  Arnold will continue to serve the fleet on the Northern Panel and as USAG’s resident historian.
  • The Board is discussing strategy and reviewing potential board of fish proposals for the Feb/Mar 2015 BOF meeting.  Proposals are due to ADFG by April 10, 2014.
  • There will be no insurance profit sharing this year due to a major fire that eliminated the “profit”.  Our insurance group has grown this year due to better rates and terms that went into effect in November 2012.  The Board will continue to review each applicant for the profit sharing group, with an eye to minimizing risk.  USAG’s requirement for bilge and smoke alarms and an automatic stove fuel oil cutoff will continue in force; these requirements are considered before a vessel can move from the “side” fleet to the “profit sharing” fleet.
  • Membership continues as a high priority as we move into a BOF cycle.  Increased membership builds “clout” in the political and BOF arenas, along with providing the financial resources needed to effectively advocate for the gill net fleet.
  • The Board voted to OPPOSE the “Setnet Initiative” which seeks to ban “shore gill nets and set nets” in non-subsistence areas of the state (e.g. Juneau, Ketchikan, Cook Inlet).  USAG will work with other groups to oppose the initiative in the Legislature and at the ballot box.  The initiative supporters are well funded and politically connected.
  • The Board voted to contract a lobbyist for the 2014 Legislative Session to work primarily on fishery related budgets and to oppose the setnet initiative.
  • We will continue to monitor mine development in BC and Southeast and will be contacting our Congressional and Legislative Delegations to encourage activation by the federal and state governments.
  • We received a briefing by the Forest Service on restoration projects and we will continue to monitor projects to ensure they do no harm to commercial salmon stocks, help habitat and fish passage, and that funds are spent wisely.

Gillnet Task Force.  The Gillnet Task Force met in Ketchikan December 4.  Presentations by ADFG and the aquaculture associations are posted on the USAG website:

Joint Regional Planning Team- December 5.  From Chris Guggenbickler (SSRAA and USAG board member).

The first order of business of the 2013 fall JRPT (joint regional planning team) meeting after the usual approval of agenda, previous minutes, etc was a

PAR (permit alteration request) from SSRAA, this PAR was to take an increase in fall coho production which was slated for Neets Bay release and spread out a portion of that release between    Nakat and Anita Bay.  Currently there is a release of 225K at Anita and 300K to Nakat.  The PAR was to increase each remote site to 600K, this being a common number for two transports of 300k and 3 net pens of 200k per pen.  The department had an issue with the straying potential of these fish as there seems to be evidence to support the concept that remote releases stray more than fish raised and released from the same hatchery site.  The Idea is that Hugh Smith escapement data may be skewed by strays from Nakat.  Fortunately the PAR passed, 4/2 with both sportfish and commercial fish regional supervisors opposed.

On the north end, DIPAC had a PAR in to create a release site at Lena cove to move some fish out of Auke bay to alleviate congestion in the area.  The PAR was for 325K king salmon smolt.    The timing on this project would mainly benefit the sport fisheries.  The motion failed in a 3/3 vote with industry voting in opposition.

Next, there were a couple agenda items pertaining to allocation and possible recommendations or BOF (board of fish) proposals.

Even though representatives of the net fisheries spent two evenings and part of another morning discussing possible scenarios or solutions an agreement was not reached.

A proposal was presented from the Chum Trollers Association to close the THA in Deep Inlet during early August for 15 days to net groups for troll opportunity.  There was never a motion tabled, but comments lead to a statement by one of the net groups about possibly the need to open up the allocation plan.

Also there was discussion on continuing to look at disparities in accrued values by the troll fleet.  It appears that the value difference on king salmon value to the troll fleet could be 15% more than present calculations due to harvest rates and prices in the different spring, summer and winter fisheries.  Furthermore there appears to be an inaccurate value of troll coho assessment due to size differences between summer, fall and different sized coho.  I am told this value difference is around $1M.

The spring RPT meeting has been set for the 8th of April in Juneau.  This is two days prior to the BOF deadline for finfish proposals.

NSRAA Board of Directors Fall Meeting (Sitka November 12 & 13).  From Richard “Botso” Eliason (LAUREL C) (NSRAA and USAG Board member)

NSRAA’s commercial contribution to the fleet was $18 million in 2013.

 Deep Inlet Rotational fishery

With the modified Deep Inlet gillnet schedule the gillnetters took 52% of the run compared to the seine harvest of 48% inside the THA. Total harvest by all groups in Sitka Sound was seine 50%, troll 20% and gillnet 27%. Due to the sunny weather and the fish holding outside the THA the troll fleet set a new record catch of 454,000 chums.  Due to old permitting errors NSRAA is able to increase the Medvejie portion of the run by another 7 million fry.

During the last day of the meeting under the “Deep Inlet Schedule” the Chum Trollers Association (CTA) notified the board that they (CTA) will be asking for a 14 day stand down during the peak of the chum fishery in August.  This was not received well by the net fleet since the Chum Trollers have 7 day a week access to the chums out front in Eastern Channel already. Another point made by the CTA was that they were going to the BOF with this issue as well as rescinding the 2king:1chum regulation at Hidden Falls, this creating another troll chum fishery, possibility at the expense of the current seine fishery that has been established since 1988.

New Hatchery and release locations

This fall the NSRAA and ADF&G staff held a meeting in Sitka to decide which areas in northern SE were preferred sites for either a new hatchery or remote release. In a nut shell Thomas Bay was thought to freeze over in the winter and our Petersburg Reps were going to look into that aspect further. Thomas Bay has plenty of water and NSRAA has always felt if a hydro was ever built there we certainly would be more interested. Port Malmesbury in southern Chatham Straits would provide a place for a release site although water may be an issue. Southeast Cove near Kake, a project we are involved in with Gunnuk Creek Hatchery, this would need a permit to increase eggs at Hidden Falls.

A remote release site in Crawfish Inlet south of Sitka seems to be the more logical place since the site is within three hours of our new Sawmill Creek Hatchery in Sitka. Staff has been directed by the board to budget and apply for permits at the 40-50 million chums, hatchery modifications at Silver Bay that do not reduce the coho production models in place already.

Meeting materials are here


Dec 10-11.  Treaty Northern Panel, Juneau

Dec 12.  SSRAA Board Meeting, Best Western The Landing, Ketchikan

Mar 29. 
DIPAC Board Meeting, Juneau

Apr 8.  Regional Planning Team (RPT), Juneau

Apr 10Proposals due for BOF SE Finfish


Feb 23-Mar3.   BOF SE Finfish, Sitka