Friday, June 26, 2020

Economic Data Reporting Trawler Meetings



The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will be holding a series of facilitated stakeholder discussions to explore potential revisions to the four existing Economic Data Reporting (EDR) programs. EDR programs are currently implemented in four fisheries: the BSAI Crab Rationalization program, Amendment 80, GOA trawl fisheries, and the BSAI pollock fishery. The Council and the Council’s Social Science Planning Team ( SSPT) are engaging with fishery participants to develop a strategy to assess and improve EDR collections and improve their usability, efficiency, and consistency while minimizing their cost and burden to industry and the government.

The purpose of the EDR stakeholder discussions is generate input and ideas that can inform the Council’s consideration of potential revisions to the four existing EDR programs. Specifically, these discussions will help focus and inform the SSPT’s development of alternatives for the Council’s consideration. The objectives include:
  1. Discuss the Council’s existing EDR programs, including their objectives, the use of EDR information to support decision-making, and the relationship between the data elements collected, economic performance metrics, and the management questions they can inform.
  2. Generate ideas for improving the usability, efficiency, and consistency of existing EDR programs while minimizing their cost and burden to industry and the government.

These discussions will be held virtually. The date and times are to be determined and will be posted at: https://www.npfmc.org/edr/

The Council hopes to hear from a wide range of perspectives and all those interested are welcome to participate. Contact sarah.marrinan@noaa.gov to be added to the email list.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Relaxed Halibut Regs Approved by Commerce Dept. - Effective Now



Liberalized Halibut Regulations that passed the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the International Pacific Halibut Commission, now passes final regulatory review in DC.

Effectively immediately, regulations are revised for halibut sport fishing from charter vessels in International Pacific Halibut Commission regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Southcentral Alaska)

The revised regulations are as follows:

Area 2C:
  • The size limit for retained halibut by charter vessel anglers must be less than or equal to 45 inches or greater than or equal to 80 inches in length.

Area 3A:
  • Charter vessel anglers may keep one fish of any size per day and one fish that is no more than 32 inches in length. 
  • Charter vessel anglers are not subject to an annual limit on the number of halibut they retain. Anglers are no longer required to record halibut caught on charter vessel fishing trips in Area 3A on the back of the fishing license or a harvest record card.
  • Charter vessel anglers may catch and retain halibut on all days of the week. 
  • These revised regulations will remain in effect through the 2020 fishing season.The final rule that implements these regulations is forthcoming and will be published in the Federal Register. In addition to these revised regulations, all other halibut sport fishing regulations remain unchanged. 

The ACA hopes everyone is staying healthy and wishes all a good season under these trying times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

President Trump Restores Science-Based Fishery Management

    On June 5th, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that restored 5000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean to sustainable fishing and science-based fishery management.

    Former President Barrack Obama arbitrarily closed large areas of the ocean to fishing and fishery management. Former President George W. Bush also closed the largest “marine protected area” off Hawaii and also used the Antiquities Act to strip fishery managers of their legal authority to make decisions about when, where and why areas should be closed to fishing.

    Trump’s Executive order does not change any designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments or any protections, it simply lifted the “permanent” ban on commercial fishing in those monuments. Rare species, marine mammals and sea turtles continue to enjoy protection under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Marine Mammal Act, and a fortress of federal legislation that protects our oceans.

    This action is consistent with Trump’s stated policy of ending and reversing decades of double-deals and job-crippling regulations.

    With a pen-stroke, President Obama declared these National Monuments to No Fishing. He bowed to anti-fishing nonprofits (the ones who raise money by advocating total bans on fishing to “protect” the sea creatures they have seen only in cartoons.) 

    Presidents can decree no-fishing zones under the Antiquities Act and skip over the chore of consulting with anybody affected by the fishing regulation.  It's a bad idea because there is no buy-in from fishermen who use the area and can be undone with another pen-stroke. There is a public process, established by Congress, to make fishing regulations called "Fishery Management Councils" -- but that takes time and effort. 

    Fishing closures by area, by season and gear type are all traditional and useful tools in the federal fishery management system. Sometimes it’s necessary to close spawning grounds, or protect an area seasonally to save the seed corn for future fish harvest.

    The fad of creating areas of the ocean that are closed permanently to all fishing disrupts the ability of fish managers to be flexible and use the best available science to ensure the protection of all marine species.

    Goofy grifters run amok in California. Under the direction of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he closed up to 40% of the prime fishing grounds used by recreational anglers.

    Imagine losing your most productive fishing grounds to a raffle fundraiser for groups that hate fishing. 

    That's why it's good news that the Trump Administration restored the management of fisheries in these National Monuments to the Fishery Management Councils. It might give pause to future Presidents seeking to polish their legacies in the waning months of their terms.

    If the promoters for no-fishing zones want to pursue it under the Magnuson Stevens Act, they can make their case that "we had to close fishing to save fishing" at the next Council meeting. 

    Some people were upset:
“In another step to reduce environmental regulations, Trump allows commercial fishing in nation’s only marine monument in the Atlantic” - By David Abel Globe Staff, Updated June 5, 2020
"Trump to reopen Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument for fishing"
By Rachel Frazen - 06/05/20

Thursday, June 4, 2020

F&G Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang Answers Questions

Some highlights:


FISH & GAME COMMISSIONER DOUG VINCENT LANG: Fishing is open and no reason not to do it safely- use social distancing.
Spring bear hunting is open now.

Russian River open June 11 - crowded fishery so be careful.

Question about halibut charters - will current limits stay in effect? A: AK led the efforts to review and relax the halibut restrictions on charters - will happen soon but not yet in effect.

State Parks are open with a few closed due to snow etc locally. Bathrooms and bear bins are functional with regular servicing - use hand sanitizer and keep 6-feet separation. Wipe down common use surfaces like tables etc.

QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC:

Q; Will state officials be enforcing quarantine and mandates in the field? A: We are moving away from mandates and focusing on education and social responsibility.

Q: Are tests available on the airport for travelers?A: some, but we are asking people to get tested at home, before traveling to Alaska. 

Guides and charter operators should be working to be safe and educating their clients about the guidelines.


Q: What is the status of UCI personal use fisheries? A: They are kicking off; Kasilof fishery will be open but Kenai city fees are going cashless this year so be prepared for that. 

Q: When will halibut charter regulations be relaxed? A: Worst case is July but  we are hoping that federal managers will get it done sooner than that. Needs to appear in the federal register. Halibut is a difficult situation because it is managed federally and internationally with Canada. 

DLV encouraged residents to use guides and charters to go fish, a real opportunity to get some deals and take advantage of less crowded conditions and perhaps lower prices.

Corrie Feige of DNR cautioned that woodland fires are risky this year because of Covid-19 and the difficulty in staffing fire crews; use caution in running ATVs in grasslands and take measures to prevent forest fires.