Corkline-News for Southeast Gillnetters, October 3, 2013

3 Oct

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.  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 in 2012—that means you have a valuable fishery to protect

If you are part of the fall fleet, 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.

Take a minute to send a message to Walmart and support Alaska salmon and jobs.  Please sign this petition

Oct 9-10
BOF Work Session, Alyeska Resort Girdwood
Oct 10.  USAG Board Teleconference
Oct 23-24.  SSRAA Board, Wrangell
Oct 23-25.  UFA Board Meeting, Sitka
Nov 4-6.   Southeast Alaska Watershed Symposium, Juneau
Nov 12-13.  NSRAA, Sitka
Nov 14.  USAG Board Teleconference
Nov 16.  DIPAC Board, Juneau
Dec 2.  RPT, Ketchikan
Dec 3.  Seine TF, Ketchikan
Dec 4.  Gillnet TF, Ketchikan
Dec 5.  USAG Annual Meeting, The Landing, Ketchikan

ADFG ReportEstimation of Chinook salmon escapement in the Taku River, 2013

ADFG Report. Production, harvest, and escapement of Chilkat River Coho salmon, 2009–2010

Fishermen: lack of affordable health insurance a barrier to industry growth

by Matt Lichtenstein (9/23).  Options for health insurance coverage can be pretty limited in Alaska for small businesses and the self-employed. That includes commercial fishermen, who make up a major segment of the economy. Some in the industry say the cost and lack of access to comprehensive health insurance is a barrier to new fishermen and an ongoing concern for those already in the business. From Petersburg, Matt Lichtenstein has more on the story as part of a CoastAlaska series on health care in Southeast:

For mobile-friendly audio, click here.

I have to disclose right at the beginning, I commercial fish part of the year but this story wasn’t originally going to involve me personally. I was just going to be the usual, detached narrator. I was confident that when I was working on my boat, I was covered by the comprehensive insurance my wife and I get through her state job. In the course of researching this story, I found out I was wrong. But I’ll get back to that later.   More/KFSK Audio

Fish harvesters urged to enroll for health care (10/1).  United Fishermen of Alaska is urging fish harvesters and their families to begin applying for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, under an enrollment plan now under way.

The legislation requires individuals to have coverage as of Jan. 1, 2014 and provides tax credits to help pay for coverage for some individuals, with penalties of $95 or 1 percent of annual income for not having coverage.

The statewide umbrella organization for three dozen Alaska fisheries organizations on Sept. 30 offered the following advice on enrollment:  Self-employed fishermen with no employees can use the individual federal marketplace to find coverage to their needs.  More      Beware of Affordable Health Care schemers (10/1)

Southeast AK sets salmon records.  Fish Radio.  September 24, 2013 Southeast Alaska salmon fishermen have set a record, scoring more than 100 million fish for the first time ever, and it’s not over yet.

In terms of overall value, the Panhandle will likely top Bristol Bay   for the third year in a row. It’s pink salmon that has put Southeast over the top – that preliminary catch stands at nearly 90 million humpies. All other species, except for king salmon, also have yielded some of the best catches ever for drift gillnetters, trollers and seiners.

Seiners have topped their best overall catches by more than 10 million salmon. Gillnetters are seeing the highest catches ever. And trollers have caught the most chum salmon since statehood.

Southeast’s king salmon catch is set each year based on a treaty with Canada. Trollers took nearly 85,000 kings in just six days   – that tapped their quota and meant no more openers this summer. Biologists credit the bumper returns of salmon to favorable ocean conditions, especially over the past year.    Many of the salmon are returning home to Southeast hatcheries – biologists estimate  those fish will contribute 29% of the region’s total salmon harvest  this year.

Second highest for salmon catches is Prince William Sound at over 94 million.  Third is Kodiak at nearly 32 million salmon.  Bristol Bay comes in fourth at 16.6 million. Rounding out the top five is the Alaska Peninsula at just over 12 million salmon this summer.

What happened to Alaska chinook? (10/1).  As the Alaska chinook salmon fishery’s below-normal production level stretched into its 12th year this summer, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) scientists finally became equipped to get some answers as to why.

The ADF&G just received the first $7.5 million installment of a $30m state appropriation, to be dolled out over five years, to study the situation.

“There is a fundamental need to more precisely characterize productivity and abundance trends of chinook salmon stocks across Alaska, gather essential information necessary to understand the root causes of these widespread declines and track population trends in the future,” the ADF&G chinook salmon research team said in its executive summary on the chinook Salmon Stock Assessment and Research Plan for 2013.

Although the species is not at risk of becoming endangered, the reduced survival of fish in the ocean is causing a negative impact on fisheries that depend on chinook salmon, such as native peoples of Alaska.  More

Empire Editorial: A good salmon flip-flop (9/24).  Changes in government policy concerning seafood aren’t always welcomed in Alaska, but a change noted by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Monday is good news indeed for Alaska’s fishing industry.

The General Services Administration has refused, upon review of their policies, to allow non-governmental organizations that “certify” sustainable fishing practices to dictate the sources of fish the federal government purchases, according to a release from Murkowski’s office.

The fact is, third party “certifiers” of sustainable practices are not the same as governmental agencies, and they may have their own agendas. In the case of the Marine Stewardship Council, a London-based group, Alaska salmon was no longer judged by them for sustainability after October of 2012 because eight major Alaska processors dropped financial support of the MSC in favor of what the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, Inc. then called “a broader marketing message.”  More   GSA: Strategically Sustainable

US Senate Subcommittee Hearing.  The Role of Certification in Rewarding Sustainable Fishing (9/24).  Webcast and witness statements

MSC fights back against ASMI, media (9/27).  The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) issued a five-page statement today, lashing out at its critics, including the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and some of the seafood industry media, for what it called “negative and inaccurate statements.”

The MSC has been at odds with ASMI for years, but the statement comes on the heels of a 24 September hearing by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard that examined the need for third-party certification programs like the MSC’s.

In the statement, described as an “open letter and fact sheet,” Kerry Coughlin, regional director for the Americas for the MSC, described the hearing as a “particularly egregious example of biased and inaccurate discussion,” and blasted the committee’s chair, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, for keeping the MSC out of the hearing.  More

Alaska Seafood Hosts Instagram Contest for National Seafood Month (10/1).  October is National Seafood Month, which means there’s no better time to enjoy the abundance of sustainable seafood from Alaskan waters. This year, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is celebrating with the inaugural “Show Us Your Alaska Seafood” Instagram photo contest. Seafood lovers from across the country can show off their culinary skills by preparing a dish with Alaska seafood, snapping a picture, and then tagging it with #alaskaseafood and @alaskaseafood. Running from October 1 to October 28, the contest is open to both amateur and professional photographers. The creator of the best photo will be announced by November 7 and will take home a GoPro HERO3 camera and a winter’s supply of seafood!  More

Alaska saves Russia from caviar shortage (10/2).  Russia has averted a looming shortage of red caviar on the domestic market with the help of supplies from Alaska, whose fishing industry boasted a record output of the delicacy this season, a Russian governmental official said Tuesday.

Wholesale domestic prices for salmon roe jumped 70 percent to 2,400 rubles ($75) per kilogram earlier this year in central Russia due to a poor start of the fishing season, but those prices are now back to 800 to 900 rubles ($25 to $28) per kilogram, a spokesman for the Federal Fisheries Agency said.

Prices were eased down with incoming supplies of frozen Alaskan caviar, imported to Russia at $7 to $9 per kilogram, the spokesman said.  More

Managing the Tongass.  Southeast Conference promotes treating forest as ‘living, breathing organism’  (9/25).  A regional economic development organization is proposing a new long-term strategy to manage the Tongass National Forest. The Southeast Conference says that the forest should become a “net contributor to the nation’s treasury.”

Shelly Wright is the executive director for the Southeast Conference. Wright said the Tongass should be better managed and utilized to not only sustain small Southeast economies, but to also save tax dollars.

“First and foremost, the current plan that’s being used on the Tongass is not working,” Wright said. “The forest service paid $77 million in taxes on the Tongass.”

The five-year plan for the Tongass is currently being rewritten. A forest plan determination from the U.S. Forest Service is expected by the end of September. Wright said the Southeast Conference submitted its plan during the public comment period.   More

2008 Tongass plan to be reviewed, amended (10/1).  The Forest Service has decided to make changes in its Tongass land management plan.

That means users and interest groups will be able to submit suggestions on road-building, logging, stream restoration and wildlife protection.

The agency is required to consider opening the plan for changes every five years. It usually does, but it can choose to leave the document as it is.

Forest Service offices are closed due to the federal government shutdown, so no one was available to discuss the decision.  More

Conservationists celebrate delay of Big Thorne salePotential impact on POW wolf population to be considered (10/2)The sale of 6,186 acres of old-growth trees for harvest in the Tongass National Forest has been halted. U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Beth Pendleton wrote in a Sept. 30 letter that the sale needs to be reconsidered because of a statement from a former state biologist who says the Big Thorne timber harvest would wreak havoc on the wolf-deer ecological dynamic on Prince of Wales Island and possibly lead to extinction of the island’s wolf population.

Dr. David K. Person is a wildlife biologist who has studied Alexander Archipelago wolves and Sitka black-tailed deer in Southeast Alaska for 22 years. Person worked for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game for 15 years before leaving the agency in May 2013.

Pearson writes in his August statement to the Forest Service, “that the Big Thorne timber sale, if implemented, represents the final straw that will break the back of a sustainable wolf-deer predator-prey ecological community on Prince of Wales Island, and consequently, the viability of the wolf population on the island may be jeopardized.”  More

Prevent dead mariners (10/1).  A new deckhand asks you, “What’s the worst that could happen?” You tell the greenhorn, “You could get yourself or somebody else killed.” It doesn’t get any worse than that. So I thought it was time to take a closer look at how people get killed on tugs and barges.

Let’s look at 10 years of data. Last year there were only five accident fatalities. The good news is that’s less than the 10-year average of approximately 11 fatalities a year. It’s too early to tell if this is an improving trend, but mariners are still being killed on boats and barges.

The following was taken from the “USCG-AWO Safety Partnership, a Review of Crew Fatalities.”

Most of the deaths are deckhands — about two thirds.  More

Bristol Bay Drift Gillnet, Southeast Seine Permit Prices Way Up (9/25).  Just a year ago prices for Bristol Bay drift gillnet permits were way down, with sales in the $113,000 to $115,000 range, and in the spring of 2013, two of those permits sold for $92,000 and $93,000 respectively at Dock Street Brokers in Seattle.

But within the past week, another of those Bristol Bay drift gillnet permits sold for $130,000 and as of Sept. 23, the cheapest one out there was asking $135,000, said Dock Street broker Paul Piercey.  “Compared to last year, it’s way up,” he said.  More  NOTE:  In September SE gillnet permits were at $118,100; up from $104,700 in January.  In December 2010, permits were at $64,600.

Joint meeting set for fisheries game boards (9/28).  Over 40 proposals on topics ranging from advisory committees to the regulation process are on the agenda for joint meeting of the Alaska Boards of Fisheries and Game in Anchorage Oct. 12-16.

In addition to submitting proposals, the public is invited to give oral testimony during the meeting, with all those intending to testify required to sign up at the meeting site at the Anchorage Hilton by 10 a.m. on Oct. 13.

Public written comments may be submitted by hand delivery at any time if 25 copies are provided.

All portions of the meeting are open to the public and a live audio stream is to be available at

Documents submitted to the board will be posted online throughout the meeting.

Advanced copies of meeting materials, including the agenda and roadmap, are at  Link

Economic Value of Alaska Seafood is $6.4 Billion (10/2)A new economic report produced by The McDowell Group in Juneau for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute puts the combined value of Alaska seafood exports and retail value of Alaska seafood sold in domestic markets at an estimated $6.4 billion. Total direct and secondary economic output in the United States stemming from the Alaska seafood industry was estimated at $15.7 billion, the report said. Meanwhile, the Alaska seafood industry directly employed 63,100 workers in Alaska in 2011, making it the state’s largest private sector employer, the researchers noted.

“Put another way,” the report said, “for every Alaska fisherman, processor, or direct support worker, an additional 1.24 US jobs were created by the Alaska seafood industry.”

Of particular importance ASMI officials said, was that the report noted that “seafood is Alaska’s most valuable renewable resource and, with responsible stewardship, jobs created by the industry can be passed down from generation to generation.” Thanks to Alaska’s long-standing responsible fisheries management, Alaska has been able to increase the economic value of the resource over time, creating new wealth in Alaska and the region, making “the cumulative value of Alaska’s seafood resource virtually priceless,” according to the report. The 104-page document is online at  More

The Maritime Economy of Southeast Alaska

Our largest economic sector

As you know, one of our top economic initiatives has been regional maritime industry development (championed by Alaska Ship & Drydock’s Doug Ward). Due to the recent growth of maritime industries across the region, we thought it was time to quantify the economic influence of our “blue economy” in the region. It had never been done before, and we felt this information was key to our ongoing efforts to grow the maritime economy. It turns out that more than a quarter of Southeast Alaska’s work related income comes directly from maritime employment. The report also provides an in-depth focus on maritime success stories in the region.  Click here to download.

Southeast Alaska by the Numbers 2013

Two-year snapshot of regional economic and socioeconomic trends

Our annual Southeast Alaska by the Numbers report shows that the economy of Southeast Alaska is in an expansion phase, and has been since 2008. Between 2010 and 2012 that economic growth intensified-nearly every economic indicator for the region is up, and continuing to rise. The 10-page overview provides analysis on demographics, employment, and earnings; the visitor, seafood, mining, timber, and health care industries; along with public sector developments. Click Here to Download.