AMCC Blog

Catch Up with the Council |May 2020

Date Posted: June 1, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council held a special meeting on May 15th to review emergency requests because of COVID-19 in the Halibut/Sablefish IFQ program and Charter Halibut fleet restrictions. Under the provisions of an emergency rule, the Council examined requests on transfer provisions, vessel caps, rollovers, and season length in the Halibut/Sablefish IFQ program along with charter concerns.

A provision in the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides authority for rulemaking to address an emergency. The action under consideration must result from recent, unforeseen events or recently discovered circumstances and presents serious conservation or management problems in the fishery. In addition, the immediate benefits of the emergency action must outweigh the value of the standard rulemaking process, which provides advance notice, public comments, and careful consideration of the impacts on participants.

The Council voted to allow the temporary transfer of halibut and sablefish IFQ for all quota shareholders for the remainder of the 2020 fishing season. IFQ holders may transfer quota for any reason to address unprecedented circumstances because of COVID-19. Overall, council members emphasized support for the owner onboard provision of the IFQ program but felt the rare circumstances and impacts of an unforeseen pandemic warranted the emergency rule change.

The Council also voted to support management measures to reduce halibut charter harvest controls in area 2C and 3A in response to reduced angler effort because of  COVID-19. In area 2C, charter fishermen will maintain a one halibut daily limit with an upper size limit of 80 inches and a lower size limit of 45 inches.

In area 3A, annual limits and day of the week closures will be relaxed, and the charter fleet can catch two halibut a day, one of any size and the second fish equal to or less than 32 inches.

Councilmember Andy Mezirow, a charter fisherman from Seward, introduced the motion and expressed the need to provide increased flexibility for the charter fleet during this economically challenging time.

The Council voted in support to remove vessel cap regulations for IFQ halibut harvested in Bering Sea regulatory areas 4B, 4C, and 4D for the remainder of the 2020 IFQ fishing season.

Circumstances in the Bering sea lead to the decision that an emergency exists with COVID-19, and there are management problems in the Bering Sea. Councils members cited concern with foregone harvest in the remote region with travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, among other regional challenges. The request to remove vessel caps in other areas, including the Gulf of Alaska, was not deemed a management concern with the number of vessels and capacity to harvest available quota.

The Council voted to take no action on the request for a year-round fishery or an increased IFQ end of year rollover provision up to 30% due to management complications and lack of emergency rule justification. 

The Council will meet via webinar in June along with the Advisory Panel and the Science and Statistical Committee. The abbreviated meeting will include time-sensitive management issues such as setting harvest limits for scallops and Bering Sea crab species. 

The Council will also review the preliminary analysis of an action which would amend the Fishery Management Plan to manage the salmon fisheries that occur in Federal in the waters outside the 3-mile state waters line in Cook Inlet. Council staff are working on the logistics to provide the opportunity for verbal public testimony during the meeting and are encouraging stakeholders to submit written comments to facilitate the process of the virtual meeting.



The Powerful Impacts of Climate Change on Fisheries

Date Posted: May 27, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog
Peterson’s fishing vessel “The Marona”

The opportunity to make a living in commercial fishing lured me to the place that would become the center of my universe 33 years ago. I live on Kodiak Island—a wind-blown, rugged wonder in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA).

Commercial fishing powers Kodiak’s economic engine. In 2018, the city of slightly more than 6,000 ranked 4th in the nation for seafood landings by volume (391 million), and 8th by value ($104 million). The resiliency of the fishing industry in the Kodiak Archipelago is, in large part, due to the diversity of species found around the island. Salmon, halibut, Pacific cod, sablefish, pollock, rockfish and numerous species of crab comprise the major fisheries.

Working as a seafood harvester in Alaska has always been associated with ups and downs of fish abundance and price. These uncertainties are understood, and fishing businesses work to mitigate the associated risks. The past few years, and this year especially, have been challenging for Alaska fishermen like me.

This year, the industry is dealing with something we didn’t foresee or have a plan for: COVID-19. Commercial fishing fleets and seafood processors are working with local, state and federal government bodies to create strict health mandates to both protect our supply chain and reduce the spread of the virus. We take our role as food producers in our nation’s essential workforce very seriously, and we’re doing everything we can to respond to this crisis and keep our businesses healthy and the supply of sustainable seafood flowing.

At the same time, we continue to face potentially devastating impacts from climate change on the species on which we depend. Resilient fishing communities like Kodiak are now vulnerable in ways we’ve never seen. We trust the COVID-19 crisis will pass, but the threat of climate change will require longer-term commitment to address.

The recent collapse of the Pacific cod stock in the Gulf of Alaska is one such scenario. The rapid decline was unexpected, and it came at the fleet like a sucker punch.

In 2018, there was an 80% decrease in the catch limit for Pacific cod from the previous year. Scientific information revealed that the decline of the stock was the result of an unusually warm water mass known as “the blob.” The blob continued from 2014 to 2016, and warming temperatures were prevalent throughout the water column, leaving nowhere for the fish to escape.

In late 2017, when the North Pacific Fishery Management Council met to set catch limits for the upcoming year, the stock assessment was grim for Pacific cod. The combination of climate-related impacts on the stock and lower projected numbers of adult and juvenile cod lead to a dramatic cut to catch limits with hopes that the fishery would recover. Science-based fishery management is the accepted cornerstone of sustainable fisheries in Alaska, and fishermen attending the meeting accepted the data and the decision. It was clear that ongoing scientific information was critical, and Alaska fishermen advocated to increase funding and offered the use of their vessels to conduct additional surveys to supplement the regular surveys administered by NOAA Fisheries. Unfortunately, due to ongoing funding challenges, additional funding was not secured to conduct further surveys.

In 2019, the GOA experienced a second heatwave (which may have been part or the initial ‘blob’ or a new marine heatwave), adding to the stress of the marine ecosystem, which had not yet recovered from the impacts of the previous warm years.

When the North Pacific Council met in December of 2019, the science once again pointed to a grim outlook. The stock assessment surveys for Pacific cod projected that the measure of cod abundance (spawning biomass) would be at an all-time low. So low, in fact, that the stock hovered just above the threshold under which it would be considered overfished. For the first time since the enactment of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976, the directed Pacific cod fishery was closed in the Gulf of Alaska. A federal fisheries disaster has been declared, and $24 million has been allocated for fishery disaster relief, to support both direct aid to fishermen as well as research.

Kodiak, Alaska

The Pacific cod experience provides a glaring example of the impact of climate change on species that provide both sustenance and economic viability for subsistence and commercial fishermen. Ecosystems that are usually able to maintain themselves are being pushed to the limit of tolerance—but what do we need to know and do to mitigate this risk?

In Kodiak, the fishermen continue to support scientific data and offer resources from the fleet to better understand what the future of fishing looks like amidst the impacts of climate change. A comprehensive understanding of these impacts on the marine environment can only be understood through science, the foundation for responsible fisheries management. Fishermen are ready to contribute to data needs through citizen science and methods to utilize the fishing fleet to fill gaps. We also need a management system that can quickly respond to this science, as the North Pacific Council did in making the difficult decision to shut down the fishery in 2020.

In reflecting on my island home, we are a resilient, adaptive fishing community with a will to survive. As with the current COVID-19 crisis, we have the will and the tools to survive, but we need support, and we need others to understand what is happening to a healthy marine ecosystem like the GOA because of our changing climate. Perhaps through sharing these personal stories, we can get a better understanding of what’s at stake.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Theresa Peterson is Alaska Marine Conservation Council’s (AMCC) longest serving staff person (14 years!), an active fisherwoman and long-time resident of Kodiak, home to the nation’s largest fishing fleet. Theresa has a diverse fishing portfolio: setnetting for salmon, fishing for tanner crab, longlining for halibut and jigging for cod. Fishing is a family business for Theresa and her husband Charlie and their three children. A tireless advocate for local fishermen, Theresa supports many aspects of AMCC’s Working Waterfronts and Fisheries Conservation programs and is active in community fisheries at a variety of levels. She formerly served as a voting member on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, an important and influential body in Alaska’s fisheries management decisions.

(Originally published by Ocean Conservancy)



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Seeking Input

Date Posted: April 9, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog

NOAA recently stood up a team of experts from across the agency to collect and analyze COVID-19-related impacts on the U.S. commercial seafood industry, including wild harvest and aquaculture. They are interested in learning about the virus’ impacts on their employees, their business, the businesses they support, and the broader seafood supply chain.

They are also looking at impacts on the recreational, subsistence, non-commercial, and tribal fishing industries. With this effort, they are interested in assessing immediate and long-term needs to secure and enhance the resilience of the U.S. seafood and fisheries industries. NOAA will continue to work with the Administration and Congress on this important, unprecedented COVID-19-driven effort.

Stakeholders interested in sharing information on the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses can submit that information to NMFS.COVID-19@noaa.gov.



The Cares Act and Commercial Fishermen

Date Posted: April 4, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020.  At $2 trillion, it is the largest economic stimulus/relief package in US history.  Its primary intent is to counterbalance the unusual financial stress placed on individuals, small businesses, borrowers, and certain sectors of the economy by the coronavirus pandemic.  Similar measures were taken during 2008 to prevent the economy from slipping even further during the housing crisis, and this is no different.  

If you are fishing crew or a captain whose season usually occurs between now and June 30, 2020, but has been disrupted by the pandemic you may be eligible for assistance:

Unemployment Compensation benefits – an increase of $600 per week for unemployment benefits for up to four months as well as an expansion of benefits for those who would otherwise not normally qualify (like self-employed individuals and independent contractors).  We’d recommend anyone who may be eligible to apply ASAP with their state unemployment office. 

Your position as a fishing business owner may entitle you to specific benefits:

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan/Grant for Business Owners – you may be eligible for up to $10,000 in grant funds (not a loan, does not have to be repaid).  Apply here, approximate time to complete application is 10 minutes.  I would urge any business owners to apply to this as it is the most straightforward of the relief programs.
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for Business Owners – More technical than the Disaster loan/grant, but more funding available, check info here.  Some portion may be forgivable.  Program available until June 30, 2020.  Likely most applicable to fisheries currently in operation (i.e. paying people now) and experiencing economic disruption from COVID-19.  Applications are best routed through your banking/lending institution. Smaller credit unions may have faster processing times than larger banks.
  • Payroll Tax Credit – Employers are eligible for a 50-percent refundable payroll tax credit on wages paid up to $10,000 during the crisis. The credit would be available to employers whose businesses were disrupted due to virus shutdowns and those that had a decrease in gross receipts of 50-percent or more when compared to the same quarter last year.  Keep in mind, if you use this tax credit, you cannot utilize the PPP Loan. 
  • Extended Tax Filing and IRA contribution Deadlines –  The deadline has been extended from April 15th, 2020 to July 15, 2020.  You can also extend (as usual) until October 15.  This may be wise in case you are expecting to need fishing income from Spring/Summer 2020 to cover your 2019 tax bill or maximize retirement account contributions, especially those for a Solo 401k.

More details on the above programs can be found here on the US Chamber of Commerce site.

Your off-season work may also be experiencing disruption from COVID-19, in which the below benefits may apply to all commercial fishermen:

  • Recovery Rebates (Immediate Individual Direct Payments) – If you earn up to $75,000 as a single taxpayer or $150,000 as Married Filing Jointly taxpayers (on your most recently filed tax return), you can receive $1,200 per adult and $500 per qualifying child (under age 17) as a direct payment.  This is subject to limits and phaseouts that can be seen here.  This is not taxed as income.  This credit is a one-time rebate, but policymakers may consider additional rebates if the downturn is prolonged.  Funds will be received quicker if you have direct deposit information on file with the IRS.
  • Unemployment Compensation benefits – see the above section on unemployment for crew.

The CARES Act is over 800 pages long and is still being interpreted.  I have chosen to share the parts of this bill that I believe are most relevant to commercial fishermen.  Please understand the above is meant to inform you of what your options for benefits may be, but you will need to clarify if they will appropriately apply to your individual situation.

Robert Seid is a financial advisor and Partner at Blue Summit Wealth Management, an independent wealth advisory firm in San Diego, CA. He also captains an Alaska commercial fishing vessel in Bristol Bay. His experience in both industries provides him the perspective to share financial guidance specifically geared for commercial fishermen. To learn more about how Robert and Blue Summit can help you and your operation succeed, please visit www.bluesummitwealth.com.

Robert started in the Bristol Bay fishery in 2011 as a green crew member, walking the yards to find his first opportunity. His love for nature and adventure found a home in Bristol Bay and, after his first year on the water, he was hooked. He has returned every year since and purchased his own vessel in 2019. As a skipper, his dedication to commercial fishing has only continued to grow.




Financial Minute with Robert Seid – The Value of Depreciation

Date Posted: March 30, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog

Commercial fishermen have financial landscapes containing both unique challenges and opportunities.  From seasonal cash flow & large, unpredictable boat expenses to corporate tax structures & small business ownership, our financial situations are far from the norm.  The following tips have been compiled by a skipper, for skippers.  Creating wealth as a fisherman takes skill.  Preserving and advancing that wealth takes wisdom.  I hope that the below gets your gears turning on how you can achieve the best financial future for your operation, your family and yourself. 

“Depreciating an asset means deducting the cost of something you bought for your business, like a vessel, a permit or large machinery purchases.”


WHAT DOES IT MEAN? 

Depreciation is an often misunderstood topic, but extremely valuable to commercial fishermen. We have many opportunities to use this financial planning tool. In fact, it’s more like deducting or expensing, which is a topic that brings a smile to every business owner. Depreciating an asset means deducting the cost of something you bought for your business, like a vessel, a permit or large machinery purchases. Particularly relevant to fisherman is Section 179 of the tax code which allows for accelerated depreciation/expensing of up to $250,000 of an asset in a single year. Also of direct relevance, is the ability to depreciate fishing permits or quota. These are classified as intangible assets and can only be depreciated (via amortization) over a 15 year period. We will go over these figures in a case study below.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? 

The first and primary benefit is a direct reduction in taxable income for the years you depreciate, and thus a direct reduction in your tax burden for that year. The second reason to depreciate is because money has a time value. Money now is always more valuable than the same amount of money in the future. Depreciation means you have more capital at your disposal now, which means you can invest and reap returns in your operation, or in more traditional investments like stocks, bonds or real estate. The flip side to depreciation is that the cost basis of the asset is also reduced by how much you depreciate it, meaning that upon sale of said asset, your capital gain will be higher. Again, even though you have to pay later, the fact that you were able to use this capital sooner is extremely valuable. Also, you are moving whatever dollars you depreciate from being taxed at income rates in the present, to being taxed in the future at capital gains rates, which are usually more favorable.

CASE STUDY: 

To start his operation, Tom buys a boat for $250,000 and a permit for $150,000 in 2020.  During his first season, his net income (after expensing and deducting smaller business items and paying crew) is $200,000.  On his 2020 tax return, Tom can use Section 179 to accelerate depreciation on the boat for the dollar amount of $185,000, and amortize his permit for $15,000.  This brings his taxable income down to zero.  In future years, he still has $65,000 of boat value to depreciate (which could all be utilized in 2021 if desired) and can depreciate his permit $15,000 each year for the next fourteen years.  Reducing his season’s net income of $200,000 down to zero saved Tom approximately $50,000 this year (if taxed at 25%).

Overall, having more money in the near term allows you to invest in your operation and continue to strengthen the Alaska economy.  Perhaps the refrigeration system you can now afford also contributes to a higher market price for your product, thus improving the wider economic system.


Robert Seid is a financial advisor and Partner at Blue Summit Wealth Management, an independent wealth advisory firm in San Diego, CA. He also captains an Alaska commercial fishing vessel in Bristol Bay. His experience in both industries provides him the perspective to share financial guidance specifically geared for commercial fishermen. To learn more about how Robert and Blue Summit can help you and your operation succeed, please visit www.bluesummitwealth.com.

Robert started in the Bristol Bay fishery in 2011 as a green crew member, walking the yards to find his first opportunity. His love for nature and adventure found a home in Bristol Bay and, after his first year on the water, he was hooked. He has returned every year since and purchased his own vessel in 2019. As a skipper, his dedication to commercial fishing has only continued to grow.



Kicking off the 2020-2021 Fishing Fellow Program

Date Posted: March 23, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog
Working Waterfronts Director, Jamie O’Connor

Did you know that AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Director, Jamie O’Connor, started out as a Young Fishing Fellow? She’s here to kick off our interview series with former fellows. 

What was your Young Fishing Fellowship project? 

I worked with the commercial fishing trade association down here in Homer, North Pacific Fisheries Association (NPFA), on a membership audit and community outreach. I called all of their members and got to interview them about their fishing lives, impacts on the community, and what they needed from NPFA. We then presented what we found to the Homer City Council and to the NPFA Annual Meeting. They also introduced me to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Process and took me to my first Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit, and United Fishermen of Alaska meeting. 

What was your most meaningful takeaway from the fellowship? 

I made what I know to be lifelong friendships during my time as a fellow. For me, it was really an aha moment. I’ve been fishing my whole life believing that I’d have to grow up and hang up my slickers during the winter to support my habit. There was an uncomfortable duality there, being entirely fishy in the summer and then barely talking about it all winter as I went to school and worked in other industries. The fellowship showed me a winter gig where I could bridge my education and experience in communications and politics with my heart and life in coastal Alaska fisheries.  

What are you working on now? 

 Now I run AMCC’s Working Waterfronts program working on fisheries access and policy and attend every NPFMC meeting to advocate for small-boat fishermen and conservation. You never know where the connections you make will lead. 

Do you have advice for future Young Fishing Fellows? 

The fellowships are really flexible, so once you’re hired work with your mentor to make the most of your skillset. Also, learn as much as you can from the host organization. There are so many groups doing important and fascinating work on behalf of our coastal communities and fisheries. Once you’re in you may never get out!

Now Accepting Applications!

2018 Fishing Fellow, Grace Allan KBNERR

The Application period is open for the Young Fishing Fellows program 2020-2021! For more information, please visit the Young Fishing Fellows FAQ page. Read more about this year’s hosts below, and fill out your application here. Applications are open until May 4, 2020.

Fishing Fellows serve as steering committee members for the Alaska Fishermen’s Network. This work will include; coordinating with AKFN on 1-2 events, communications, and planning the direction of the Network at 1-2 strategic planning gatherings and/or calls.

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, Sitka AK

ALFA is an alliance of small boat commercial fishermen committed to sustainable fisheries and thriving coastal communities. Under the leadership of the ALFA team, the Fishing Fellow will focus on the advocacy, policy, outreach and communication of ALFA’s programs.

North Pacific Fisheries Association, Homer AK

NPFA is a multi-gear, multi-species regional organization that represents fishermen and their families out of Homer, Alaska. The Fishing Fellow will learn from a highly engaged group of fishermen focusing on community outreach and the history of commercial fisheries in Homer.

Alaska Fishermen’s Network, Statewide AK

The Alaska Fishermen’s Network works to connect young and rising fishermen to resources and each other so that they may be successful in their careers and communities. The fellowship will focus on strategic planning for the next five years of the network and coordinate the steering committee.

Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Homer AK

The KBNERR fellow will review and assist with the development of a citizen science forage fish project that will include information on chinook salmon diets in the Kachemak Bay area. The fellow will have an opportunity to assist with data collection of chinook salmon stomach contents using community-donated images, analysis of diet composition, and communication of the ecological implications of the science to various community members

Copper River / Prince William Sound Marketing Association, Cordova AK

Copper River / Prince William Sound Marketing Association is a regional seafood development association. A Fishing Fellow will work on the #FishingforAlaska public relations campaign to share the value of small-boat commercial fishermen to Alaska. The campaign currently consists of a website, ads running on the digital displays in the Alaska Airlines terminal at the Anchorage airport, print ads in Edible Alaska, and regular social presence on FB and Twitter with weekly sponsored posts targeting Alaska residents of voting age.

Homer Charter Association, Homer AK

The Homer Charter Association’s Fishing Fellow will work to reach a consensus between impacted user groups in halibut management area 3A ahead of the upcoming Catch Share Program Review at the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.



From Catch 49’s Freezer to Your Car

Date Posted: March 18, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog

One of the many things coming into focus during these trying times is the need to strengthen our local food web. Luckily, Alaskans have some of the healthiest wild food on the planet swimming in our pristine waters. Catch 49 is committed to helping deliver that precious resource to your dinner table while doing everything we can to keep our team, customers, and community safe and healthy.

Starting Thursday, March 19th, the Catch 49 Distribution Center will shift to curbside seafood pickups only. Upon arrival at our Anchorage Distribution Center, please remain in your vehicle and contact us at 907-231-7213. Catch 49 team members will meet you outside of the shop at your vehicle and will load your shares of seafood directly into your vehicle.

We are also implementing shortened operating hours: Curbside seafood pickups are available Thursdays from noon – 3pm. If you have additional questions, please contact us at catch49@akmarine.org.

Fill your freezer with delicious Copper River and Bristol Bay salmon, spot prawns, tanner crab, and more from Catch 49!



ComFish Alaska 2020 Postponed to September 17th-19th

Date Posted: March 12, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog

KODIAK, ALASKA, MARCH 12, 2020 — Current world-wide concern over the COVID-19 paired with the State of Emergency Declaration by Alaska Governor Dunleavy requires a reexamination of major annual events. An abundance of caution has led the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce ComFish Committee to postpone ComFish Alaska 2020 until September 17th-19th.

ComFish Alaska has been a leader of fisheries education delivering policy, technology, and scientific connections and networking for the last four decades. Postponement of ComFish Alaska allows both exhibitors and attendees the opportunity to enjoy the highest caliber trade show and forum schedule available without inhibition.

We look forward to welcoming all our exhibitors, speakers, and attendees to the Convention Center, Fishermen’s Hall, and Best Western Harbor Room in September. Still on the schedule will be the first ever Fisheries-Themed Fashion show, hosted in conjunction with the Kodiak Arts Council, as well as the tried and true Rockfish Taco Feed, Public Receptions, Processor Recognition events, and Fishermen’s Showcase.

Information will be updated as it becomes available at www.ComFishAK.com

RELEASE MARCH 12, 2020
Contact: Kodiak Chamber of Commerce Sarah Phillips Executive Director
Phone: (907) 486-5557
Email: ChamberDirector@Kodiak.org


A Milestone in the Fight for the YFDA!

Date Posted: February 25, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog

January 28th, 2020 marked a major victory for proponents of the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA) (H.R. 1240, S.496) as the House Natural Resources Committee approved the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC)-sponsored legislation.

Championed by Reps. Don Young (R-AK), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Jared Golden (D-ME), this nonpartisan legislation aims to address the graying of America’s fishing fleet through the establishment of the first federal workforce development program for commercial fishing in the United States.

 “I had the opportunity to invest in commercial fishing in the 1980s. After three decades I can say with authority that things have changed. Nearly all the dynamics of running a successful commercial fishing business are more challenging; from the regulatory process to the technological changes to the overall business plan, it’s harder. The bill will support rising fishermen to get education, training, and mentorship to stay afloat,” says AMCC Fisheries Policy Director and commercial fisherman, Theresa Peterson.

Modeled after the Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development Program which aims to support young entrants as they endeavor to join an aging pool of food producers, the bill would institute the creation of a nationally sponsored Young Fishermen’s Development Grant Program. Through partnerships and collaborations with nongovernmental, community-based fishing organizations, and school-based fisheries, fishermen under the age of 35 will be eligible for education and training.

“Commercial fisheries look very different now than they did when my parents and grandparents entered the fishery. My generation is experiencing new barriers and uncertainties from increased political pressure from mining interests and large population centers, to climate change. A program like YFDA could help give us the tools and education to maintain involvement in our historic fisheries and improve workforce development resources for new entrants,” AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Program Manager / Policy Analyst Jamie O’Connor. 

The bill, which has been making its way through D.C. since 2017, has deep ties to Alaska Marine Conservation Council’s “Graying of the Fleet” project. Conducted between 2014 – 2017, the project examined the social, cultural, economic and geographic factors impacting local participation in fisheries in the Bristol Bay and Kodiak Island regions. Lead investigator and former AMCC employee, Rachel Donkersloot, worked in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant, before presenting her findings nationally and internationally.

Among one of the more startling findings from Donskersloot’s investigation was the average age of Alaska fishery permit holders. In 2015, the average was 50, nearly 10 years older than in 1980. Additionally, the number of Alaska residents under the age of 40 holding fishing permits has fallen from 38-percent of the total number of permits in 1980 to 17-percent in 2013.

In an effort to support commercial fishing opportunities for new entrants in coastal Alaskan communities, AMCC led the charge for the creation of YFDA legislation with support from national partners involved in the Fishing Communities Coalition. Through advocacy trips to Washington D.C., collecting signatures, providing research, and encouraging Alaskans to write their lawmakers, AMCC has championed this legislation for years.

“Alaska’s economy and people are supported by our robust small-boat commercial fisheries, which anchor meaningful livelihoods for families in coastal communities and summon a diverse workforce in the processing sector. Our food systems need young harvesters. Consolidation of harvest opportunity is alarming beyond the implications on fishing culture – increasingly, we find our connection to nutritious food outsourced to entities that have no direct accountability to the people they feed or the ecosystems that sustain their operations. Young harvesters see this happening and, in spite of daunting forces beyond their control, are starting businesses to address the issue. The Young Fishermen’s Development Act addresses a real need for a workforce that is critical for Alaska’s future, and AMCC will continue to be its champion,” says AMCC’s Interim Executive Director, Marissa Wilson.



Catching Up with the Council: February 2020

Date Posted: February 25, 2020       Categories: AMCC Blog

In early February, the Council met in Seattle and covered a diverse range of topics in fisheries management.

The Council adopted additional charter halibut management measures for 2C and 3A. It also recommended a series of restrictive actions to reduce charter halibut harvest in the two regions based on allocation recommendations to the charter sector after the International Pacific Halibut Meeting in February.

International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) regulatory areas in Alaska from NOAA

The Council discussed Halibut Abundance Based Management in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and received stakeholder input on methods to streamline the process of linking halibut bycatch to halibut abundance. The Council focused the proposed action on Amendment 80 (A-80) fleet which is made up of BSAI non-pollock catcher processors (bottom trawlers) and is responsible for about 60% of the BSAI halibut bycatch. 

In addition, the action will consider an element that factors halibut bycatch at times of low abundance, when the coast-wide biomass of halibut falls below a spawning stock biomass of 30%. The analysis is scheduled to come back to the Council for the initial review in October. In the interim, a discussion paper is scheduled to come back to the Council in June which will focus on breakpoints to consider high, medium and low halibut abundance, performance metrics and incentives for the A-80 fleet to reduce bycatch, and a mechanism to further reduce the halibut bycatch limit in years of low directed halibut harvest limits in areas 4C, D, and E in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands. 

The Council will look at reducing halibut bycatch in other trawl fisheries through another action on the agenda in June. A limited access program for the BSAI trawl limited access fishery includes elements to reduce the amount of halibut bycatch allowed, regardless of abundance, and thus the Council limited the scope of abundance-based management to the A-80 fleet.

The Council reviewed the development of two action modules based upon recommendations from the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan. One module to develop protocols for use of local knowledge, traditional knowledge and subsistence in fisheries management and another to develop a plan to evaluate short to long term effects of climate change on fish, fisheries and the Bering Sea ecosystem. The work plans for these important issues in ecosystem-based fishery management are under development by two task forces which then make recommendations to the Council.



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