Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wakefield Fisheries Symposium Will Focus on Climate Change

The 31st Wakefield Fisheries Symposium, set for May 9-12, 2017 in Anchorage, will focus on impacts of the environment on dynamics of Arctic and subarctic species of commercial, subsistence and ecological importance.

Hans-Otto Portner of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany is to be the keynote speaker, Alaska Sea Grant officials said.

Portner heads the Integrative Ecophysiology group at the Institute and was the coordinating lead author of the Ocean Systems chapter of the fifth climate change impact assessment report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change.

The symposium will focus on effects of warming, loss of sea ice, ocean acidification, and oceanographic variability on the distribution, phenology, life history, population dynamics, and interactions of these species, and how a better understanding can inform management of fish and invertebrates in a changing ocean to benefit affected communities, Sea Grant officials said.

Co-chairs of the symposium steering are Franz Mueter, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, and Anne Hollowed, of the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Also invited to speak are Anna Neuheimer, University of Hawaii; Christian Mollmann, University of Hamburg; Brad Seibel, University of South Florida; Charles Stock, NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and Kathy Mills, Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program coordinates and sponsors the symposium in partnership with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service, and North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

More information is online at

Icicle Sues Maersk over Damaged Shipment

Icicle Seafoods has filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the Southern District of New York against Maersk for $85,070 in damages, after a shipment of frozen Pacific cod from Dutch Harbor was declared unfit for sale to the customer in Spain.

Icicle contends, in the lawsuit filed in New York on Aug. 12, that there was negligence on the part of the Danish international container shipping firm or its subcontractors regarding the shipment of 810 bags of frozen Pacific cod.

The litigation notes that a consignment of 810 bags of frozen Pacific cod in a refrigerated container was delivered in good condition about Feb. 17, 2015 to Maersk at Dutch Harbor for transport to Vigo, Spain. The shipment left aboard the M/V Lindavis about Feb. 17 and was discharged at Tanjung Pelepas Container Terminal in Malaysia on March 30, due to alleged temperature anomalies.

The consignment was then put into a reefer container on March 31 and held for inspection. On April 22, 2015, a cargo inspector at Malaysia deemed the cargo unfit for sale to the intended customer, the lawsuit said.

The cargo was then returned to the Port of Tacoma on Aug. 14, where it was determined to be unfit for human consumption and destroyed.

Meanwhile Icicle submitted a claim to Maersk on April 17 for damages sustained.

On March 23, 2016, Maersk advised Icicle that they considered Aug. 14, 2015 to be the final discharge date and that the one year statue of limitations would expire on Aug. 14, 2016.

According to Icicle, the invoice value of the consignment was $76,152, and additional shipping costs of $8,917 brought the total loss to $85,070.

Saildrone Technology Tracks Pursuit of Pollock by Fur Seals

Fisheries researchers using Saildrones surveyed more than 1,700 miles within the fur seal foraging area of the Bering Sea this summer, measuring and locating walleye pollock that are the main food source for northern fur seals.

The unmanned drones are giving the Alaska Fisheries Science Center new insight into foraging habits of female northern fur seals, whose populations have been dwindling since the 1970s, says Carey Kuhn, an ecologist with the center, who has been blogging the project.

The next step will be analyzing all the data from the fur seal tags and devices on the Saildrones, an effort that will take Kuhn and her colleague, fisheries biologist Alex De Robertis, a couple of months to process. Knowing where the pollock and other prey sought by the fur seals in summer months are available may help unravel the mystery of why the seal population continues to decline, she said.

The researchers tagged 30 adult female fur seals at their breeding grounds during the breeding season and in addition to returning to the breeding grounds in the fall to measure the tagged seals, they get diet analysis from scat in the rookeries and fish bones, Kuhn said.

Reduced prey availability is just one hypothesis for the decline of the fur seal population. Before any decisions are made that would affect related management of the pollock fishery, Center researchers need to understand what is going on with the ecology of the fur seals. “Our goal isn’t to make those types of decisions without strong scientific backing,” Kuhn said.

Once the data is compiled it goes to NOAA’s Alaska regional office, which oversees the northern fur seal conservation plan, and it is there that any management decisions are made.

PCCRC Offers $500,000 for Research Projects

The Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is seeking letters of intent through Sept. 26 for 2017 research projects seeking a portion of the $500,000 available to fund those studies.

The PCCRC was established in 2000 to improve knowledge about the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea through research and education, with a focus on commercial fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.

Through the end of 2014, the PCCRC put over $20 million into marine research and education at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

The center provides grants to faculty and research stipends to graduate students for research on pollock, other groundfish, fisheries for these species, and on marine mammals, plus funds for marine education, technical training, and equipment, and for research in the area of marine resource economics.

Details on how to apply for funds and other relevant information on letters of intent for projects can be found online at

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Seafood Harvesters Seek New Executive

A Washington, DC-based non-profit whose mantra is ensuring a plentiful and lasting seafood harvest for America is looking for a new executive director.

Seafood Harvesters of America put the word out this week, asking interested parties with plenty of background in the fisheries industry to read the job description at

The application deadline is Sept. 8. Anyone interested is asked to send a cover letter and resume to

The organization is hoping to attract candidates very well informed about the seafood industry who also have skills in communications, non-profit management, government relations and sustainable seafood.

Current Harvester board members include two with plenty of experience in Alaska’s commercial fisheries, Buck Laukitis of Homer and Brent Paine of Seattle. Laukitis is a veteran harvester who also serves on the board of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation. Paine has served as the executive director of United Catcher Boats since that organization was formed in 1994.

Alaska Board of Fisheries Proposals Online

A total of 276 proposals up for consideration by the Alaska Board of Fisheries during its 2016-2017 meeting cycle are now online in the state board’s proposal book at

They may be downloaded individually, or in sections or for entire meetings from that website. A total of 46 proposals are online for the Lower Cook Inlet finish meeting, to be held Nov. 30 through Dec. 3 at the Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor’s Center in Homer, including amendments to the Cook Inlet sablefish management plan and Cook Inlet rockfish management plan, both from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Another 23 proposals will be up for discussion when the board meets at the Kodiak Convention Center Jan. 10 through Jan. 13 on Kodiak finfish issues, including rockfish, Pacific cod and salmon management plans.

At the Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting in Anchorage Feb. 23 through March 8, the board will consider 170 proposals, including some related to the Central District drift gillnet fishery management plan, Kasilof River salmon management plan, and Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon management plan.

The last 34 proposals will be taken up by the board during its meeting on statewide king and tanner crab and supplemental issues, except Southeast Alaska and Yakutat, from March 20 through March 24 in Anchorage. These include issues such as the fishing seasons for the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands, and the shellfish onboard observer program.

Alaska’s Pink Salmon Numbers Way Down

Alaska salmon harvests reached the 99 million fish mark through Aug. 16, with the preliminary harvest of 52 million sockeyes exceeding a forecast of 47.7 million reds, while the 33 million pinks caught was far below the forecast of 90 million humpies.

The humpies, said a spokesman for one major processor, are big, but the numbers are way down. Even for an even numbered year, when the harvest of pink salmon traditionally falls far below odd numbered year harvests, this harvest is looking to be one of the worst humpy harvests in years.

Just what is behind the low return of pink salmon, nobody is sure, but given the income they contribute to paying the overhead in processing plants, the low catch is raising some concerns.

A year ago, the harvest of pink salmon in Alaska reached 190.5 million fish, and the projection for 2016 was 90.1 million, this being an even year, to bring the projected total statewide commercial salmon harvest to 161 million fish.

In 2014, the last even year, pink salmon harvests reached 95.8 million fish, on the heels of the record pink salmon harvest of 219 million humpies in 2013 was worth $277 million.

There are surprises every year in Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, and among the pleasant ones this year were the late, but then steady harvest of sockeyes in Bristol Bay. The Chinook salmon projection for this year was 99,000 kings in areas outside of Southeast, but to date the 337,000 kings caught have included 250,000 from Southeast, leaving the overall total some 12,000 short of the forecast.

The coho salmon projected harvest this year is 4.4 million silvers, and the chum projection is for 18.7 million fish. Those fisheries are now underway, with preliminary harvests of 1.9 million and 11.7 million fish respectively.

A harvest to date report released this week by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute showed that harvests of all five salmon species were lingering below the harvest pace of a year ago, sockeyes by 3 percent, kings by 42 percent, cohos by 20 percent, and chums by 25 percent, while humpy harvests were 63 percent behind the last even year, 2014.

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