Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Can cruise ships be powered with dead fish? Norwegian line Hurtigruten is betting on it


"A cruise line based in Norway just announced it soon would power some of its ships with dead fish. And, no, it wasn't joking.

Tromso, Norway-based Hurtigruten on Monday said it would become the first cruise operator in the world to power vessels using liquified biogas (LBG), a fossil-free, renewable fuel produced from dead fish and other organic waste.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

National Coalition for Fishing Communities: An Open Letter to America's Chefs



October 31, 2018 -- WASHINGTON -- The following was released by Saving Seafood's National Coalition for Fishing Communities:

Members of the National Coalition for Fishing Communities have long believed that the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) is one of the great success stories in fisheries management. Originally co-sponsored in the House over 40 years ago by Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Gerry Studds (D-Massachusetts), the MSA has become a worldwide model, and is one of the reasons the U.S. has some of the best-managed and most sustainable fish stocks in the world. The bill is named for its Senate champions, Warren Magnuson (D-Washington) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

But we are concerned by a new "nationwide #ChefsForFish campaign targeted at the new 2019 Congress, to launch after the elections in early November," being organized by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which the Aquarium calls the "next phase" of its "defense" of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Monterey Bay Aquarium described this campaign in an October 25 email sent to its "Blue Ribbon Task Force chefs." The email asked this network of chefs to support the "Portland Pact for Sustainable Seafood" (attached).

On the surface, the Portland Pact matter-of-factly states sound principles:
"Requiring management decisions be science-based;
Avoiding overfishing with catch limits and tools that hold everyone accountable for the fish that they remove from the ocean; and
Ensuring the timely recovery of depleted fish stocks."

However, in the last Congress, the Monterey Bay Aquarium used similar language to falsely characterize legitimate attempts to pass needed improvements to the MSA as betraying these principles. In fact, these changes would have made the landmark law even better.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has repeatedly called on Congress to reject efforts, such as H.R. 200, which passed the U.S. House in July, and was sponsored by the now Dean of the House Don Young, that would amend the Act to introduce needed updates for U.S. fisheries management. If the chefs being asked to sign onto the Portland Pact were to talk to our fishermen, they would know how important these reforms are for the health of our nation's fishing communities.

Any suggestion that the original co-sponsor of the bill would, 40 years later, act to undermine America's fisheries, is inappropriate. In fact, most of the "fishing groups" that opposed Congressman Young's bill, are financially supported by environmental activists and their funders.

No legislation, no matter how well designed is perfect or timeless. In fact, Congress has twice made significant revisions to the MSA, first in 1996 with the passage of the Sustainable Fisheries Act and in 2007 with the MSA Reauthorization Act. Like many other valued and successful laws, the Magnuson-Stevens Act is both working well, and in need of updates.

We agree that "management decisions be science-based." One of the most significant issues with the current MSA is that it requires that fish stocks be rebuilt according to rigid, arbitrary timeframes that have no scientific or biological basis. Bills like H.R. 200, officially the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, would instead require that stocks be rebuilt according to an appropriate biological timeframe determined by the regional councils that manage the stocks.

H.R. 200 would also introduce other important measures that would better allow the councils to adapt their management plans to fit changing ecological conditions and the needs of fishing communities, which will become increasingly important as our coastal areas experience the effects of climate change.

American fishermen, like many American chefs, are committed to sustainable fishing and healthy oceans. Our businesses need sustainable, abundant fish stocks for us to make a living, and we all want a thriving resource that we can pass down to the next generation. We would never endorse a law that would threaten the long-term survival of our environment or our industry. That is why we endorse changes to the MSA that would ensure both.

We ask that any chef who is considering signing onto the Monterey Bay Aquarium letter to Congress first consult the local fishermen who supply them with fresh, quality products to learn how this law affects their communities.

NCFC members are available to connect chefs with seafood industry leaders, who would be happy to discuss how the MSA can be updated to help both fish and fishermen.

Sincerely,

Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries
Kathy Fosmark, Co-Chair
CA

Atlantic Red Crab Company
Jon Williams, President
MA

California Wetfish Producers Association
Diane Pleschner-Steele
CA

Delmarva Fisheries Association
Capt. Rob Newberry, Chairman
MD, VA

Fishermen's Dock Co-Op
Jim Lovgren, Board Member
NJ

Garden State Seafood Association
Greg DiDomenico, Executive Director
NJ

Hawaii Longline Association
Sean Martin, Executive Director
HI

Long Island Commercial Fishermen's Association
Bonnie Brady, Executive Director
NY

Lunds Fisheries, Inc.
Wayne Reichle, President
CA, NJ

Rhode Island Fishermen's Alliance
Rich Fuka, Executive Director
RI

Seafreeze, Ltd.
Meghan Lapp, Fisheries Liaison
RI

Southeastern Fisheries Association
Bob Jones, Executive Director
FL

Viking Village
Jim Gutowski, Owner
NJ

West Coast Seafood Processors Association
Lori Steele, Executive Director
CA, WA, OR

Western Fishboat Owners Association
Wayne Heikkila, Executive Director
AK, CA, OR, WA

Sunday, September 30, 2018

ACA supports KRSA in calling a time-out on expanding pink salmon hatchery production

The Kenai River Sportfishing Association has requested a review of potential overproduction at pink salmon hatcheries in Alaska. Many of us are concerned that hundreds of millions of pink fry are outcompeting other species, especially king salmon, in ocean waters.

Biologists confirm a correlation between high pink years and low king years. While this doesn't prove the cause, it is time to pause the increase in pink salmon hatchery production until we better understand the relationship.

The ACA has submitted a comment letter for the AK Board of Fish meeting in Anchorage October 16, and you can sign a similar letter of comment by October 3rd by using KRSA's handy email form.

Here's the letter ACA submitted:





Wednesday, September 26, 2018

NOAA: New Program Gives Alaska Halibut Charter Operators More Flexibility


New Program Gives Alaska Halibut Charter Operators More Flexibility

From NOAA Fisheries: 

Some charter fishing operators in Alaska will soon have more flexibility to offer their customers additional halibut fishing opportunities through a unique new program.

NOAA Fisheries is implementing a final rule that authorizes the formation of a non-profit recreational quota entity (RQE), which may purchase and hold commercial halibut quota shares for use by charter anglers in International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Southcentral Alaska).

Under this regulatory amendment, the RQE may obtain a limited amount of commercial halibut quota shares under a willing buyer-willing seller model. The harvest pounds associated with the quota shares will become recreational fishing quota (RFQ) that is used to augment the amount of halibut available for harvest in the charter halibut fishery under the Alaska halibut catch sharing plan.

In recent years, restrictions on charter anglers have become more stringent as halibut abundance has dropped and catch limits have been reduced. Typical restrictions include daily and annual limits on the number of fish retained, fish size limits, and closures on specific days of the week.

If the RQE obtains enough quota share, restrictions on halibut size and bag limits could be relaxed for charter anglers in years of low abundance, up to a point where charter anglers could potentially retain up to the daily limit for unguided anglers—currently two fish of any size per day.

This rule implements restrictions on the purchase of quota shares by the RQE. The restrictions vary by regulatory area. In Area 2C, the RQE may purchase no more than 1% of the commercial quota shares in any year, and no more than 10% of the total commercial quota shares for that area. In Area 3A, the RQE’s annual limit of commercial quota share purchases would be 1.2%, with an upper limit of 12% of the total quota shares in the area.

The RQE may hold quota shares indefinitely, but is also allowed to transfer the shares back to the commercial halibut sector—a provision that adds flexibility and contributes to the market-based approach of the program.

This rule, which was recommended by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, is implemented to promote social and economic flexibility in the charter halibut fishery, and is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982, and other applicable laws.

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on September 26, 2018




Council to review state of rules for unguided halibut anglers



From the Alaska Journal of Commerce:

"The North Pacific Fishery Management Council may consider more registration requirements for motorized rental boats for halibut fishing, though a staff report concluded it will put more burden on either the federal or state government to do so.

At its upcoming meeting from Oct. 1-9 in Anchorage, the council is set to review a discussion paper on further registration requirements for boats available for rental to unguided halibut anglers in Southcentral and Southeast Alaska, known by the International Pacific Halibut Commission as regulation areas 3A and 2C, respectively.

In recent years, some have raised concerns that as guided fishermen are restricted to one halibut per day, some turn to self-guided rentals for fishing, where fishermen are allowed to keep two halibut of any size per day." ... read the rest of the Elizabeth Earl's article here

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Juneau charter fisherman appointed to ‘Supreme Court’ of halibut


Juneau charter fisherman appointed to ‘Supreme Court’ of halibut


Richard Yamata takes seat historically filled by commercial interests
By Kevin GullufsenTuesday, September 4, 2018 9:46pm


"A Juneau lodge owner and charter fisherman has been named to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, becoming the first charter fisherman to be seated on a body normally dominated by commercial fishing interests." read more here

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

State, Commerce Departments Appoint Recreational Fisherman to International Pacific Halibut Commission



The Commerce and State Departments have appointed Richard Yamada to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

The Commission makes rules and sets catch limits for halibut harvest and the gear types allowed for the US and Canada.

The two nations signed a treaty in 1923. It created the IPHC to provide sustainable fishery management for halibut.

There are six Commissioners. Each country appoints two fishery industry reps and one agency rep. They meet every January to set rules for fishing seasons and harvest limits for the two countries.

Yamada has 40 years experience as a guide, lodge owner and sportfishing advocate.

He serves as President of the Alaska Charter Association. He serves on the board of the National Association of Charterboat Owners (NACO), and on the Secretary of Commerce’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC).

Yamada will be the first recreational fishing stakeholder to sit on the Commission in its 95 year history.

Contact for more info about the Alaska Charter Association, visit:

For more info about the IPHC: https://www.iphc.int/the-commission

Richard Yamada

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Partisanship shouldn’t undermine our fisheries

Rep. Don Young:

FAIRBANKS — Partisan rancor may be standard operating procedure for most of Washington, but let’s not allow it to unravel the progress we’ve made for our country’s vital fisheries. As my colleagues and my state know, I’ve been on the frontlines for the fight for our fisheries for over 40 years — and I have no intentions of letting up. After creating an initial framework, former Rep. Studds and I collaborated with former Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Warren Magnuson (D-WA) to enact the original Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) in 1976.


Read more...

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Alaska Charter Assn Proposal to Board of Fish: Allow Friends and Family to Fish Subsistence Together

The Alaska Charter Association submitted a request to change regulations to Subsistence Fishing today. 

Code section:
AAC: 5 AAC 75.077

Issue: Recreational Charter Fishing Passenger Vessels and Subsistence Fishing.

Under current rules, Federal regulation states that “once a charter vessel is registered with the ADFG, only the vessel owner and/or immediate family may be on board the vessel while subsistence fishing for halibut." Many charter boat owners with SHARC cards would like to take friends with cards as well. The problem is that many family members with SHARC cards may be unable to fish, and friends with SHARC cards may not have a safe vessel to use to provide their winter pack of halibut. Using multiple vessels when a charter boat is available is inefficient, wasteful and presents serious safety concerns. There is no similar prohibition of friends fishing subsistence on commercial vessels; this would provide parity and fairness to make the change we are proposing.

We propose to allow charter vessels to de-register their vessels in the winter and then re-register them the next spring, to conform with federal rules and still be able to take family AND friends with SHARC cards to subsistence fish. Friends can help out on the trip when family is unable or unavailable to make a trip.

Changing federal regulations to allow for this fix would be much more cumbersome and time consuming, and as the state registers the vessels, this seems like a more direct solution. Without this change, charter boat owners and their friends will be denied safe access to their subsistence rights. THANK YOU for your serious consideration of our proposal, and thanks for all you do! - The Alaska Charter Association. 

Solution:

We propose a simple fix to allow Charter Vessels to be de-registered prior to the end of the year, and then re-registered with ADFG the following calendar year to allow for the vessel owners to bring friends for subsistence fishing. Here is our proposed draft language to 5 AAC 75.077:

Web link for 5 AAC 75.077 is:  http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/aac.asp#5.75.077

(Proposed additions to the code are Bolded and Underlined.)

(a) Before being used to provide sport fishing guide services, a vessel must be registered annually with the department. A business owner, or the owner's authorized agent, shall register each individual vessel operated by the business to provide sport fishing guide services by completing a form provided by the department. At the time of registration, the business owner, or the owner's authorized agent, must provide the current division of motor vehicles boat registration number, issued under 2 AAC 70, or the current United States Coast Guard vessel documentation number of each vessel being registered. 

(b) A person may not engage in sport fishing guide services from a powered or unpowered vessel unless the vessel is registered under (a) of this section and displays a sport fishing guide vessel decal with a current annual sticker issued by the department as follows: 
  • (b)(1) upon initial registration of a vessel, two sport fishing guide vessel decals will be issued by the department for that vessel; one decal must be securely affixed on each side of the vessel and must be displayed in plain view at all times the vessel is used to provide sport fishing guide services; 
  • (b)(2) for the years following the year of initial registration of a vessel, two current year renewal stickers will be issued by the department for that vessel; one current year renewal sticker must be securely affixed on each decal over the previous year renewal sticker and must be displayed in plain view at all times the vessel is used to provide sport fishing guide services. 
  • (b)(3) De-registration of a sport fishing guide vessel is allowed prior to Dec. 31st. This would be permanent for the rest of the year and vessel could not be registered to sport fish charter guided anglers again until after Dec. 31st, of current year. [OR see (e)]
(c) If a decal or current year renewal sticker is lost or damaged, a replacement must be obtained from the department and affixed and displayed as required in this section before the vessel is used to provide sport fishing guide services.
(d) A float tube used to provide sport fish guide services is exempt from the registration and decal requirements of this section. For the purposes of this subsection, "float tube" means a tubular floating device designed to support one person in the water and propelled only by power from the arms or legs of the operator.
(e) De-registration of a sport fishing guide vessel is allowed prior to Dec. 31st. This would be permanent for the rest of the year and vessel could not be registered to sport fish charter guided anglers again until after Dec. 31st, of current year. 

Name: Alaska Charter Association
Address: POB 478
City: Homer
State: AK
Zip Code: 99603

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

USA Today: Go fish: Under President Trump, changing political tide opens water for anglers

WASHINGTON – President Trump is known for hitting the golf course, but his administration is now putting the power of the presidency behind another favorite American pastime: fishing.

During his little more than a year in office, the president has promoted the iconic, multibillion-dollar recreational fishing industry that felt marginalized under the previous administration. Barack Obama routinely sided with environmental advocates concerned about long-term damage from overfishing, but Trump, the father of two avid anglers, has tacked in a new direction.

Go fish: Under President Trump, changing political tide opens water for anglers

Federal Register: Halibut Catch Sharing Plan Open for Public Comment (due April 19)

The International Pacific Halibut Commission met for a week in January but the Canadian and American sides could not agree on catch limits. It's a confusing legal territory and we have to feel sorry for the staff that is forced to crank out this regulatory sausage. From the summary of the Federal Rule, followed by a link to the full document:

"NMFS is implementing this interim final rule to establish regulations for 2018 Pacific halibut catch limits in the following International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) Regulatory Areas: Area 2C (Southeast Alaska), Area 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska), Area 3B (Western Gulf of Alaska), and Area 4 (subdivided into five areas, 4A through 4E, in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of Western Alaska).

"This interim final rule revises a catch sharing plan (CSP) for guided sport (charter) and commercial individual fishing quota (IFQ) halibut fisheries in Area 2C and Area 3A, revises regulations applicable to the charter halibut fisheries in Area 2C and Area 3A, and revises a CSP for the commercial IFQ and Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) halibut fisheries in Areas 4C, 4D, and 4E. 

"This action is necessary because the IPHC, at its annual meeting, did not recommend new catch limits or specific CSP allocations and charter management measures for Areas 2C, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, and 4E for 2018, and the 2017 IPHC regulations are in effect until superseded. This interim final rule is necessary because immediate action is needed to ensure that halibut catch limits, charter halibut fishery management measures, and CSP allocations are in place at the start of the commercial IFQ and CDQ halibut fishery on March 24, 2018, that better protect the declining Pacific halibut resource. 

"This action is intended to enhance the conservation of Pacific halibut and is within the authority of the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to establish additional regulations governing the taking of halibut which are more restrictive than those adopted by the IPHC.

Effective March 19, 2018, through December 31, 2018. Comments must be received by April 19, 2018.

Open Comments on the Federal Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (Due April 19)

Click Here for the Final Rule.

Enviros Alarmed: "The Rise of the Recreational Fishing Lobby"



"In 1976, when Congress first passed comprehensive legislation to begin managing the nation’s fisheries, its primary goal was to push foreign factory fishing fleets further from U.S. shores.1 At the time—however absurd it seems now—there was no legal mechanism in place to prevent other countries’ vessels from vacuuming out waters as close as 12 nautical miles from shore. On fair days, Russian trawlers could be seen from the beaches of Massachusetts and the rocky coasts of Alaska.

Recreational fishing was an afterthought for federal regulators. The concept of overfishing—defined as taking more fish out of the ocean in a year than the remaining population can replace—was still new, so policymakers did not consider that anglers with rods and reels, primarily casting from the beach or small pleasure boats near shore, could cause ecological damage. In addition, the vast majority of recreational fishing was carried out in state waters, which, in most states, extend to just three nautical miles from shore."

NOAA walks back talk of renegotiating halibut treaty



"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration removed a reference to renegotiating the “Halibut Treaty” between the U.S. and Canada from a press release Wednesday. NOAA issued the release Monday to announce the final regulatory rule for the 2018 halibut season, but later removed the reference."

Click here to read the full story from KBBI Radio in Homer, AK.

Monday, February 5, 2018

SEC. 302. CLARIFICATION OF LOGBOOK AND ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

From Our Friends at NACO:

"We ask that you fax a request yourselves asking to have the House version match the Senate version so that we can do away with this unnecessary burden."

NACO's Letter to Coast Guard 

Re: SEC. 302. CLARIFICATION OF LOGBOOK AND ENTRY REQUIREMENTS.


"The 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act included a new requirement for USCG Inspected Passenger carrying vessels to provide and keep onboard new logbooks to include a dozen types of entries from maintaining crew working hours to providing injury and damage reports. These logbooks were intended for vessels on an international voyage and travel from an Atlantic to Pacific port but the language was applied to all USCG COI Passenger vessels. The 2010 requirement created an unnecessary and burdensome regulation for small family business operations and the USCG has yet to implement rulemaking on the 2010 Act."


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Deadlocked: IPHC Fails to Agree on Halibut Catch Limits for 2018

"Worst Meeting Ever," says Commission Chair

ACA Board members Richard Yamada and Mike Flores have been in Portland, Oregon all week working at the International Pacific Halibut Commission's annual meeting.

There is a great deal of scientific concern abut the recruitment of juvenile fish into the Pacific Halibut stock. The Science team at the IPHC recommended significant reductions in harvest levels coast-wide. 

The Commission is made up with 3 Canadian representatives along with 3 Americans. There are several advisory boards including one from the processor industry and another from the directed fisheries called the Conference Board. 

Serious Conservation Concerns

Although fishermen are seeing good fishing now, the IPHC's stock surveys show that there is a serious decline in new year-classes of fish. Too much fishing at this point could dig a deep hole and risk "eating the seed corn." 

The Canadians resisted significant reductions despite the serious conservation concerns. They disagreed with the way the IPHC "apportions" or allocates fish between countries and regions. 

Six major commercial and recreational fishing associations, including the ACA, recommended taking the advice of the scientists and biting the bullet before it bites us. The Conference Board majority adopted recommended measures that are predicted to have a 93% chance of even lower stock levels next year. Canada sought catch levels for its fishermen that have a 99% chance of lower levels next year.

Sean McManus, of the Deep Sea Fishermens Union, warned against too much fishing pressure. "The fishermen who support higher levels of fishing than recommended aren't going to be around to take responsibility when the stock collapses. They won't blame themselves, they'll blame you" (the Commission.)

Stalemate

On the last day of the session, the Commission was unable to reach an agreement on the catch limits. When no agreement is reached, the regulations revert to the status quo of last year's regulations. That would cause grave risk to the overall resource, as many fishermen testified in public comment. 

The US agreed to take a reduction that would go halfway down to the science recommendations (which used to be called "The Blue Line.") Emotions were strained and Commissioners seemed near a breaking point on Friday. Canadian Commissioner Ryall made an emotional appeal to increase British Columbia's share of the overall allocation.

If the regulations are not approved by March 24th, according to NMFS Staffer Rachel Baker, the Secretary of Commerce can publish the US-suggested catch limits in the federal register as long as they are lower limits than the status quo (2017) regulations.

US Side Approves US Catch Limits

The Commissioners did set "suggested" catch limits for the charter sector in areas 2C and 3A. Assuming catch limits of 810,000 pounds for 2C and 1.79 million pounds for 3A, the regulations for 2018 would be as follows: 

PLEASE NOTE: THESE REGULATIONS ARE NOT FINALIZED (BUT LIKELY WILL BE):

2C: Reverse slot limit, U38-O80, and a one fish daily bag limit with no annual limit.

3A: One fish any size, second fish 28 inches or less. Four fish annual limit. Vessel and permit trip limits. Closed all Wednesdays, Tuesdays closed July 10 - August 14.

The Commissioners agreed to have a conference call in February. Hopefully they can put a stamp on an agreement. 

Terms of US Commissioners end March 31st. The Trump Administration is expected to make appointments before then. Nominations for the US seats on the Commission are being accepted now.


 

International Pacific Halibut Commission in Session