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.
Catch49 is for Alaskans, by Alaskans
Unique Alaska CSF is in its fourth year.
Originally published March 21, 2018 on intrafish.com
Alaska seafood is the No. 1 brand featured on all US menus. But not much of it stays inside Alaska, where the majority is exported around the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That’s what makes Catch 49 unique. This community supported fishery (CSF) 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). “All profits go towards AMCC’s fisheries conservation efforts, so the program is definitely unique in that sense,” Cassandra Squibb, who is helping market the CSF, told IntraFish. “Second, we are committed to supporting local, Alaska resident fishers and processors, and serving as a conduit in providing local, sustainable seafood to fellow Alaskans who share our values for maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem.” She said the CSF strives to procure seafood species that many Alaskans simply don’t have the opportunity to try, such as Norton Sound red king crab, Kodiak tanner crab and Prince William Sound spot prawns. The CSF 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,” she said. “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.”
Almanac on sale now!
If you haven’t purchased a copy of the Young Fishermen’s Almanac yet, get one while supplies last! They will be available to purchase in-person at AMCC events and online here.
Upcoming events – join us!
Kodiak Jig Rockfish Taco Night
Wednesday, March 21, 4-6 p.m., Kodiak Island Brewery
Suggested Donation: $5
Join AMCC, the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute for a taco feed! Meet new faces, see familiar ones, and enjoy beverages and locally caught rockfish tacos!
Stories Above the Bay
Friday, March 23, Noon to 1:30 p.m. at Best Western Kodiak Inn
Entertainment, Alaska-style. We are celebrating the Young Fishermen’s Almanac! Hear personal stories and poetry and enjoy art, all from Alaska fishermen. We will be serving some delicious Kodiak jig-caught rockfish chowder made by Monk’s Rock Coffee House. If you haven’t purchased a copy yet, the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac will be available for sale!
Boat. Work. Break.
Wednesday, April 4, 6-10 p.m., 49th State Brewing Company
You’ve probably been working all spring. Take a night to relax and get to know your fellow Alaska fishermen, policymakers and marine advocates! Hosted by the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association for a night of stories, poems and film honoring the next generation of fishermen. There will be signups for skippers, policymakers and crew to be members of the apprenticeship program and/or the AYFN. Food will feature 49th State Brewing Co. fish tacos made with Homer longline-caught halibut.
Hiring Local Seafood Sales Coordinator
The Alaska Marine Conservation Council is seeking a fish-loving individual to serve as our Local Seafood Sales Coordinator. This part-time position is responsible for helping to scale up AMCC’s local seafood sales programs and promoting AMCC’s branded seafood hub (Catch 49). This position works closely with an array of fishing and processing partners, chefs, restaurants/breweries, other staff members, as well as marketing contractors.
For more information, please click here.
Latest Catch49 offerings
It’s almost that time of year… spot prawn season! Pre-order your Prince William Sound spot prawns today through Catch 49. Other exciting offerings coming up will be for Kodiak rockfish, Kodiak tanner crab, Norton Sound king crab, and Homer Pacific halibut.
Advocacy trip in Washington, D.C.
AMCC, the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, and six Alaska fishermen traveled to Washington, D.C., last month to advocate for programs like the Young Fisherman’s Development Act (YFDA). Jamie O’Connor, Danielle Ringer, Christopher Johnson and Matt Alward, along with AMCC staff members Shannon Carroll and Theresa Peterson were in attendance. This federal legislation would support our next generation of fishermen by providing grants to encourage training, education, and workforce development which are absolutely essential to ensure the continued health and prosperity of our fishing families and coastal communities.
We we fortunate to meet with Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, Congressman Young, and 14 different congressional offices and staff from across the country to share our thoughts on the YFDA, as well as the need for science-based management and accountability in all sectors of the fishing industry.
While we were there, we submitted 742 signatures AMCC had collected in support of the Young Fishermen’s Development Act and our MSA platform.
Young Fishing Fellowship update
Check out our current list of fellowship projects here.
Update from Deputy Director Shannon Carroll
If we want to support federal fisheries, we must first look at what the MSA is doing well. Currently, MSA allows regional fishery management councils to have flexibility when it comes to how their fisheries are managed. This means they can effectively use exempted fishing permits and partner with industry to reduce bycatch, habitat impacts, and implement ecosystem-based fishery management or quota banks. The MSA also provides rigorous standards to protect the long-term sustainability of our fisheries through science-based annual catch limits. The results are clear-since 2000, nearly 40 fisheries have been rebuilt across the country!
So, what should Congress prioritize during this round of reauthorization?
1. Consider the strengths of the current law. Regional flexibility has allowed the bill to remain responsive to changes over time. Maintaining science-based provisions of the bill will ensure healthy fisheries into the future and encourage accountability.
Our flight banked beside the National Mall on approach as the sun set orange over Washington D.C. This was my first trip back since I left my job as a Senate staffer eighteen months before. To get my nerves ready to land, I jacked some nostalgic rock into my headphones. Some of the fishermen flying in with me had never made this landing; some, like me, had seen it many times. This time, however, I was a constituent representing my community, an Alaskan, and a fisherman. Much like before, my job on this trip was to connect Alaskans to their representatives in our nation’s capital. But now, I was also here to share my own story.
“My name is Jamie O’Connor and I’m a fifth-generation salmon fisherman from Bristol Bay,” I’d begin. “I was fortunate enough to grow up fishing with my parents and great-grandparents. Which gives me a special, long view on what happens when you manage your resource for sustainable harvest. In Bristol Bay, it’s resulted in the largest, most sustainable salmon fishery in the world.” I’d pause, waiting for that fact to sink in before continuing. “And we maintain those runs through strong, science-based fisheries management. So, I’m here to ask that we maintain that focus in the Capitol, fund the necessary science, and use it to ensure that my great-grandchildren, and the generations that follow them, may benefit from the fishing culture and livelihood that has given me so much. Someday it will be their turn to feed the world.”
I repeated that introduction thirteen times over two days with varying delivery to offices on and off the Hill. So did the eight other fishermen in our group. While each of our stories were a little different, each supported the science-based management policy we’d flown 4,000 miles to discuss and each connected to the staffer or Congress Member sitting across the table in its own way. Sharing your story is sometimes all you can to do to stand up for what you and your industry need, young fishermen. So don’t be afraid to trade out your slickers for a blazer once in a while. This work is equally important and we can’t keep fishing without it.
Jamie is a fifth-generation fisherman from Dillingham, Alaska.
Fishermen, pilots, and a noisy librarian raised her at the family set-net operation on Ekuk beach.
She graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a degree in journalism and public
communication. Then spent a year building Senator Dan Sullivan’s new front office and internship
program, before returning to Bristol Bay with the salmon run. And that’s where you’ll find her, each
summer for the rest of her life.
Fellowship Application Deadline Extended to March 7th and We have added another awesome partner organization.
We have extended our deadline for applications until Wednesday, March 7th! Plus, we’ve added another awesome partner organization. Join Ecotrust for the opportunity to coordinate an Anchorage-based “Know Your Fisherman” fair and support other seafood business/markets activities. This fellowship is focused on strengthening connections between seafood producers and local seafood consumers. For more information, to apply today, and for other fellowship opportunities click here: https://www.akyoungfishermen.org/20182019-fellowship-opportunities