The Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) supports a yes vote for Ballot Measure 1.
For nearly 25 years, AMCC has worked to fulfill its mission: To protect the integrity of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and promote healthy, ocean-dependent coastal communities. Our work is guided by principles based in scientific, Indigenous and experiential knowledge and the voices of those who make their livelihoods from marine ecosystems.
We live in a rapidly changing environment and in many ways Alaskans are on the frontlines. Time and time again, we are confronted with Alaska laws, permitting and climate change policies that are not current or inclusive. Avoiding and/or mitigating potential threats to ecosystem and community health is essential to reasoned and science-based decision-making. Ballot Measure 1 seeks to update the law to better protect fish habitat.
Salmon runs have collapsed worldwide, from Europe to New England to the Pacific Northwest, and degraded habitat has played a significant role in these declines. Alaskans are fortunate to be in a position to learn from these mistakes and ensure they are not repeated.
Ballot Measure 1 ensures Alaskans meaningful opportunity to participate in permit decisions that would allow development substantially impacting fish habitat. This is especially important given the repeal of the Coastal Zone Management Program in 2011 under Gov. Sean Parnell, which effectively and egregiously silenced Alaskan voices on local economic development decisions and activities affecting our lives and livelihoods. Public input is absolutely essential to sound and responsible development in the state of Alaska. An updated permitting process is integral to meeting the challenges we face to ensure long-term sustainability of Alaska’s economy and iconic salmon fisheries.
Ballot Measure 1 would bring more accountability to those that impact fish habitat and more access to the decision-making processes that impact the habitat and health of our cherished and shared resources and ways of life. AMCC urges Alaskans to vote YES on Ballot Measure 1.
AMCC is pleased to announce the 11th annual Kodiak Ocean Boogie on Saturday, November 10th at Tony’s Bar! Enjoy live music, dancing, free appetizers, and an all around good time. Try your luck with silent auction items and auctioned desserts. This is a benefit to support AMCC’s work to promote healthy marine ecosystems and thriving coastal communities.
Buy tickets in advance or at the door. Thank you for your support!
“Graying of the Fleet in Alaska’s Fisheries: Defining the Problem and Assessing Solutions”
The Graying of the Fleet research project won a national award at Sea Grant Week hosted in Portland, Oregon last month. The Sea Grant Association’sResearch to Application Award recognizes notable Sea Grant funded research that elevates public understanding and responsible use of the nation’s ocean, coastal or Great Lakes resources.
The Graying of the Fleet study examines barriers to entry into Alaska commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay and Kodiak Archipelago fishing communities. The research team consists of UAF faculty, Courtney Carothers, AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Director, Rachel Donkersloot, retired Alaska Sea Grant director, Paula Cullenberg, and UAF graduate research assistants, Danielle Ringer and Jesse Coleman. UAF undergraduate student, Alexandra Bateman, also contributed to the study. Alaska Sea Grant and the North Pacific Research Board provided funding for the project.
The three-year study includes a global review of potential policy responses to the graying of the fleet in Alaska in the report: “Turning the Tide: How can Alaska address the ‘graying of the fleet’ and loss of rural fisheries access?” The research team also recently released two journal articles. Another article is currently under development.
“We’re honored that our work has received this recognition,” said AMCC staffer Donkersloot. “From the outset we have worked to meaningfully share project findings with a broad audience. Our team gave more than 60 presentations over the course of this project in local, state, federal and international venues. Last summer we worked with long-time fishermen and industry experts to gather advice that we shared via Public Service Announcements during the fishing season. We are hopeful that our work will continue to inform fisheries policy and better support the next generation of Alaska fishermen.”
The team has also created seven short videos featuring advice to new and young fishermen that are available on the project’s website and the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network website. The final report is available at the North Pacific Research Board’s project database. Other project materials and reports are available at fishermen.alaska.edu.
AMCC’s Catch 49 Program is offering Copper River coho salmon in 10-lb, 20-lb or 30-lb shares, with ordering available online on Catch 49’s website until close of day on September 30, 2018.
- Wild Copper River Coho (silver) Salmon
- 8-12 oz portions
- Skin on, pin bone in, vacuum-sealed and flash-frozen
- Carefully caught and impeccably handled
- Processed by fishermen-owned 60 North Seafoods
- Available in 10-, 20-, and 30lb shares
- Caught by Hayley Hoover of the F/V Obsidian and Tyee Lohse of the F/V Free Ride
Copper River coho, also known as silver salmon, are widely known as the finest coho anywhere in the world due to their high oil content and firm, robust flesh. Averaging about 12 pounds each, Copper River cohos arrive in late August and September, and signal the close of Alaska’s fresh summer season. Kodiak jig rockfish, wild Alaska sablefish (black cod), and Norton Sound red king crab are also available.
Catch 49 offerings are only available in limited quantities for a limited time. If you are not on our e-mailing list and would like to join it so you can be notified about Catch 49 offerings, please email email@example.com and ask to be added to the list. Please visit www.catch49.org to see current offerings.
Alaska seafood is the No. 1 brand featured on all US menus. But the majority of it is exported around the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That’s what makes Catch 49 unique. Originally called “Catch of the Season,” this community supported fishery program provides Alaskans with wild seafood harvested by Alaska’s small-boat fishermen. Catch 49 is one of many initiatives run by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), who is committed to supporting local, Alaska resident fishermen and processors, and facilitating access to local, sustainable seafood to fellow Alaskans who share AMCC’s vision for maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. The Catch 49 program is currently offering Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Catch 49 allows customers in the state to order a share of the season’s harvest from small-boat Alaska fishermen ahead of time. Customers then can pick up their orders at a designated site in Anchorage, Fairbanks or Homer, about two weeks after the ordering period closes. “Although the program is quite consumer focused, we have had a high level of interest from foodservice operators in Alaska,” says Cassandra Squibb, who is helping to market Catch 49 products. “Not only does each offering come with information about the fishery, but we also can provide the name of the captain, the vessel, and exactly where the fish was caught.” Go to www.catch49.org to order 10, 20 or 45 lb shares of high quality, flash frozen Bristol Bay sockeye fillets.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council met in Kodiak June 4-11. Council meetings in fishing communities provide valuable engagement opportunities for both community residents and Council members. Representatives from Alaska Marine Conservation Council attended all meetings, and have developed discussion highlights:
Upon review of a discussion paper examining federal groundfish effort and observer coverage in areas associated with longstanding Tanner crab abundance on the east side of Kodiak Island, the Council voted to take no further action at this time. The areas identified remain a high priority to Kodiak Tanner crab fishermen to better understand the contribution to the Tanner crab stocks in critical crab habitat. Kodiak fishermen were interested in pursuing increased observer coverage in these areas. In 2010 the Council voted to require 100% observer coverage on non-pelagic trawl vessels and 30% observer coverage on pot cod vessels in order to fish in identified statistical areas until the restructured observer program was implemented.
The new observer coverage went into effect in 2013, prior to implementing increased coverage, and thus the increased coverage action was never implemented. Improvements to the observer program have been identified as a high priority and an action to focus coverage in particular areas at this time may hinder a more inclusive approach.
The Council established an ad hoc Community Engagement Committee and will solicit nominations for this committee. The Council adopted a charter that aims to increase participation in the Council process by tribes and rural communities.
The membership of the committee will benefit from rural and tribal representatives and people with necessary expertise in the Council process to accomplish the committee’s goals. The community engagement committee will not replace the Council’s existing community outreach efforts which have very instrumental in the decision-making process but will seek measures to improve communication and understanding between rural communities, tribes and the Council.
Social Science Planning Team
The newly formed Social Science Planning Team (SSPT) met for its first meeting May 8 and 9 and began with reiterating the mission of the group, which is to improve the quality and application of social science data that informs management decision-making and program evaluation. The SSPT will identify data needs, make recommendations regarding research priorities, and advise analysts in efforts to improve analytical frameworks when possible. The SSPT will support the collection and aggregation of social science data in a manner that cuts across Fishery Management Plans and specific management programs within the North Pacific region.
During its two full days of meeting, the SSPT discussed numerous topics including subsistence data, use of existing data in policy analysis, economic data collection of North Pacific fisheries, incorporating qualitative information, moving toward co-production of knowledge and expanding stakeholder engagement. In addition to the current membership of the SSPT the Council recommended that membership expand to include a seat or two to include individuals with expertise in local and traditional knowledge. A call for nominations will be initiated with the intent of further appointments made in October.
During the final day of the meeting in Kodiak the Council responded to public comments in regards to the access challenges into the IFQ halibut/sablefish program and requested that staff develop a discussion to review existing programs that facilitate access opportunities for rural communities and new entrants within limited access fisheries.
The Council requested that the discussion paper include an evaluation of Norway’s Recruitment Quota as a program example along with other global initiatives to provide access that were highlighted in a presentation on the Turning the Tide report earlier in the meeting. The report addresses the growing problem of fisheries’ access in Alaska and provides potential solutions to barriers to entry. The Council requested that the discussion paper consider the efficacy of these programs, including successes and failures in providing fisheries access, the potential functionality of programs within the North Pacific management framework and how these programs may comply with standards under the Magnuson- Stevens Act.
The Council heard from a number of young Kodiak fishermen who own boats, hire crew, seek additional employment to make ends meet, but don’t see a path into the IFQ fishery due primarily to the high cost and risk associated with financing quota.
Dear AMCC Community,
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will be holding its next meeting in Kodiak, June 4-11. These annual meetings in rural communities are valuable engagement for both community residents and Council members. There are numerous occasions to engage in the policy arena during the meeting and evening workshops. The following events offer a venue to share our island stories and the value of the fisheries resource to our island communities.
Fishing Families Workshop – Monday, June 4, 5:15-7:15 p.m., Kodiak Convention Center
Hosted by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Discussion focusing on interactions of fishing families and changing regulations, environments, and socioeconomic conditions in Alaska’s fisheries and fishing communities.
Informal Charter Meeting – Monday, June 4, 7-9 p.m., Fishermen’s Hall
Hosted by Andy Mezirow of the NPFMC, Kurt Iverson with the Regional National Marine Fisheries Service Recreational Sector, and Tyler Polum ADF&G sport fish area biologist. Status update on charter-related issues in the NPFMC process, expectations for charter halibut harvest over the next few years, process overview for charter halibut recommendations each fall, and discussion on Kodiak Charter operators future engagement. Potential discussion on Halibut Charter annual reporting requirements for CQE’s.
IFQ Outreach Session – Tuesday, June 5, 5-6:30 p.m., Kodiak Convention Center
Hosted by The Council
Public outreach session with open forum for stakeholders to give insight on the present state of the halibut and sablefish IFQ Program and provide direction for future actions that might be considered by the Council and its IFQ Committee. The Council is particularly seeking input on issues related to entry-level opportunities and rural participation in the fishery.
Community Reception – Wednesday, June 6, 6 p.m., Afognak Native Corporation Building on Near Island
Open to the public. Enjoy local seafood and commemorate Chairman Hull’s last meeting on the Council.
The Council meeting begins June 6 and the Council will convene for the entire meeting at the Kodiak Convention Center downtown. The meeting starts at 8 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. each day.
Council Meeting Agenda Highlights
Turning of the Tide report presentation by Dr. Courtney Carothers and AMCC’s Dr. Rachel Donkersloot – Wednesday, June 6
The report is a review of programs and policies to address access challenges in Alaska fisheries.
Tanner Crab, Gulf of Alaska groundfish effort and observe data – Sunday, June 10
The Council will be reviewing a discussion paper in regards to federal groundfish fishing effort and observer coverage in important Tanner crab habitat areas previously identified by a local knowledge mapping project on the east side of Kodiak Island. A segment of the identified areas was approved for 100 percent observer coverage in 2010 for a period of time before the implementation of the restructured program. The action was never implemented due to timing issues. The Council will consider potential next steps.
Community Engagement – Monday, June 11
The Council will have a discussion considering the formation of a community engagement and outreach committee structured to foster two-way dialog with rural communities and Native communities.
The full agenda can be found here.
We’re pleased to welcome Jason Dinneen as AMCC’s new Executive Director! A lifelong Alaskan, Jason has had the good fortune of working in communities across the state. Jason spent college summers set netting in Cook Inlet, stick picking along the Beaufort Sea coast, and working on the Exxon Valdez oil spill. These early work experiences gave him a great appreciation for Alaska’s oceans and the value they bring to the Alaska culture and economy. With over 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience in Alaska, Jason has directed a variety of organizations including the Alaska Small Business Development Center as well as overseeing the marketing efforts for Allen Marine’s boat building, tourism and retail operations. He is excited about AMCC’s mission and how he can help AMCC thrive in its next chapter!
It was a busy week at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council) April meeting. Here’s a summary of the important items discussed:
- Taking final action on several charter halibut issues
- Advancing an abundance-based management approach for halibut in the Bering Sea
- Initiating a discussion paper to consider allowing the release of small sablefish
- Expanding a discussion paper on targeting halibut and sablefish with pot gear in the Bering Sea
- Voting to postpone indefinitely the proposal to modify Chinook bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska catcher vessel trawl sector
Abundance-Based Management for Halibut Bycatch
For nearly three years, the Council has been working on developing a policy that would manage halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Island groundfish fisheries. The policy would implement new bycatch caps that are based, in part, on the abundance of the halibut stock, as opposed to using a fixed bycatch cap. AMCC supports this effort because it could improve the conservation and management of the halibut resource while also providing prioritizing access for the directed fishery at times of low abundance.
The Council took a significant step forward at the April meeting, developing draft alternatives based on stakeholder input from the various sectors (i.e., hook and line, trawl, and directed halibut). Acknowledging that these alternatives were only the start of an iterative process, the Council recognized that the industry proposals, as amended by the Council, would serve as a good baseline for analyzing how an abundance-based policy would affect each fishery. Moving forward, the abundance-based management working group will provide a brief update to the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee at the June meeting in Kodiak and bring back a draft environmental impact statement for review in October.
Lastly, in response to directed halibut users’ requests to have the Council develop a mechanism to manage or incentivize a further reduction in legal sized halibut, the Council directed staff to provide a white paper detailing the availability of relevant data from the observer program. This concept offers one of the best linkages between halibut bycatch and directed halibut quotas and we therefore see it as an important concept in helping the Council achieve their stated objective of providing for directed halibut operations in the Bering Sea. This paper will likely be available for review in June or October.
GOA Trawl Chinook PSC Limits
The Council reviewed an action which considered modification of Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) in the GOA non-pollock groundfish and rockfish program catcher vessel trawl fisheries. After careful consideration of new information since establishing Chinook salmon bycatch caps for these trawl fisheries in 2015, a majority of the Council voted in favor of postponing the action indefinitely. The discussion and subsequent analysis was in response to new information provided by expanded observer coverage on under 60-foot trawl catcher vessels in the GOA, as well as ongoing genetic sampling efforts to determine the river of origin for bycaught Chinook salmon. Improved observer data on under 60-foot trawlers revealed bycatch was higher than estimated in the Western Gulf of Alaska and increased genetic sampling suggests 97% of the trawl bycatch in the GOA is from Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. During the development of original bycatch caps, this information was not available to the Council members and is relevant in determining whether such caps are set at the appropriate levels under National Standard 9 of the Magnuson Stevens Act.
New information in the analysis also highlighted the status of Chinook stocks in Southeast Alaska river systems and the magnitude of the declines of Chinook salmon escapement in a number of rivers. In 2017, there were three new listings of stocks of concern and recent data indicates two more rivers may be listed after 2018, with returns forecasted to be one of the lowest on record. In response to the decline, the Board of Fish voted to impose severe restrictions on salmon fishermen in Southeast. The closures will provide corridors for the Chinook salmon to pass to help address numerous unmet escapement goals. Ocean conditions appear to be the primary source affecting the survivability of young Chinook as they experience high rates of mortality their first few years in the ocean. Nonetheless, genetic studies indicate approximately 15% of the trawl bycatch is bound for Southeast.
While it is not possible to know how many of these fish would survive to spawn, efforts to reduce fishing pressure for all user groups will contribute to rebuilding the stocks. Small numbers of spawners, 200-400 fish, may help with the rebuilding plan and may help begin a recovery process. A letter to the Council from the Board of Fish expressed concern with any action that could result in increased Chinook bycatch and noted that negotiations were underway with the Pacific Salmon Treaty and that “increasing the Chinook salmon PSC limits would severely exacerbate already contentious treaty negotiations.” After reviewing the suite of new information, the Council chose a precautionary approach, consistent with the National Standards, and determined it was not the time to continue a discussion of modifying Chinook limits for the trawl fleet.
An unprecedented recruitment of baby sablefish and concern from Gulf of Alaska fishermen about the impacts of harvesting large amounts of small fish led to the initiation of a discussion paper to consider modifying the requirements to retain small sized sablefish in the IFQ longline and pot fishery. The paper will include a discussion of available data to inform discard mortality rates along with consideration of the trade-offs of a minimum size requirement versus a voluntary careful release.
Also, in the IFQ halibut/sablefish fisheries the Council expanded the discussion to consider the ability to target halibut and sablefish in the Bering Sea with pot gear. The discussion is in response to interactions with whales throughout the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Fishermen report increased whale predation and changes in fishing strategies, such as moving to a different location and dropping the gear back down when the whales show up, does not seem to help much. Careful consideration of potential gear conflicts will be a part of the discussion.
Charter Halibut Issues
The Council voted to approve a measure that would require guided and non-guided anglers that are using a sport guide service to remain subject to guided sport fishing limits. Additionally, the Council approved implementation of an annual registration process for transferable and non-transferable charter halibut permits to better understand current use.
Modernizing Fisheries Management Should Benefit All Sectors
By Shannon Carroll and Susie Zagorski for Fisherman’s News
For more than forty years, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has utilized a precautionary science-based approach to fisheries management. This approach has led to some of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world. A key component to this success has been the use of exempted fishing permits (EFPs), which have incentivized innovation, improved sustainability, and developed lasting partnerships between industry and managers.
It is surprising, then, that some members of Congress are seeking to limit the use of EFPs. As introduced, Senate Bill S. 1520 — the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 — does just that by making the EFP process so onerous that it is unlikely to be used in any region. In doing so, S. 1520 will inhibit the ability of industry and managers to pilot new and creative improvements to managing fisheries.
Read the full story here.