AMSEA Drill conductor workshop in Sitka December 1st

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) offers a Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor workshop in Sitka on Saturday, December 1, from 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. at NSRAA at 1308 Sawmill Creek Road. The workshop is free to commercial fishermen and will help fishermen meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements for drill conductors on fishing vessels. Online registration is available at www.amsea.org or by phone at 907-747-3287.

New Offshore Aquaculture Bill Threatens Commercial Fishermen

The push to open oceans to industrial fish farming is moving forward. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is prioritizing the development of ocean factory farms, which add pollution, threaten commercial fish species, produce unhealthy seafood and harm coastal communities.

Now Congress is catering to offshore aquaculture. There is now a new bill to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act introduced in Congress: “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture” or AQUAA. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association has prepared a sign-on letter for commercial fishermen. As explained in the letter, “industrial seafood farms threaten the integrity of the wild fish populations that are key to our industry’s success, and the coastal communities we support.”

Farmed fish escape, competing with wild stocks and introduce a host of lethal diseases and parasites to healthy wild fish. Marine pollution degrades the marine ecosystem through wastes, feed, and chemical treatments. ALFA asks fishermen to read and sign on to the letter.

The sign-on letter is available through the following link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdx6VjmFa3Hkc4saDkDvN2nq0YU5pb8rXmhrD_j7tzRPdJ7UQ/viewform

ALFA Seafood Raffle Winners Announced

On Sunday, ALFA wrapped up its annual seafood raffle by drawing five lucky winners - Ron Hegge, Patty Dick, Milton Farvour, Stephen Rhoads, and Deborah Lyons. each winner will receive a 10 pound box of premium Alaska seafood. Each box will include king salmon, halibut, black cod and rockfish.

Winners will have to decide whether to enjoy the fish themselves or send it it Fedex, at no cost to the winner, to a lucky friend or family member.

Congratulations to the winners and every raffle ticket purchaser who helped to support ALFA’s work to promote sustainable fisheries and thriving fishing communities. ALFA fishermen Jeff Farvour, Phil Wyman, Norm Pillen and Greg Jones donated fish for the raffle. Seafood Producers Cooperative and Sitka Sound Seafoods also provided staff unloading and processing time to contribute to the effort.

Marine Ecosystem workshop in Sitka

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and National Marine Fisheries Service will hold a workshop “Exploring Linkages in the Marine Ecosystem” on November 14, 2018 at the Sitka Sound Science Center’s Karsh Classroom. According to the organizers, the workshop will “discuss how Sitka residents interact with, benefit from, and understand the ecology of their local fisheries.” The workshop will also consider how to track and measure those benefits over time. Organizers encourage Sitka residents to participate in order to inform research about impacts of changing ecosystems and management conditions.

The first workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a session focused on human dimensions. The objective of that session is to identify ways to measure the relationship between community well-being and fisheries. The second workshop will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on focus on ecological connections. A specific emphasis will be on salmon and sablefish and the biological and environmental factors that drive those fisheries.

The organizers will provide refreshments.

Electronic Monitoring Enrollment Deadline November 1

Upcoming Electronic Monitoring Deadline - November 1


The window of opportunity to participate in the 2019 Electronic Monitoring Program for federal pot and longline fishermen in the North Pacific is closing soon. Vessels wanting to opt-in to the electronic monitoring selection pool, or opt-out, must do so before November 1 through the Observer Declare and Deploy System or “ODDS” website. Those wishing to remain in the selection pool should contact their service providers to have their Vessel Monitoring Plans approved. Electronic monitoring is now fully implemented in the North Pacific for both pot cod and longline halibut after years of volunteer work from commercial fishermen across the state. Last June, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved increasing the number of vessels allowed to participate in both the longline and pot fishing selection pools due to expressed interest from commercial fishermen.


Further information can be found at: https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/em-faq

IPHC Regulatory Proposals For Interim Meeting Due October 28th

The IPHC will be accepting proposals for new or amendments to existing IPHC Pacific Halibut regulations for the interim meeting through October 28, 2018. Regulatory proposals for the final meeting have a December 29, 2018 deadline.

The IPHC does not require the submission of draft regulatory proposals for the interim meeting. However, submission by October 28 is highly recommended in order to provide Commissioners and the IPHC with additional time to seek clarification if necessary.

The IPHC has launched a new fishery regulations portal, available at:

https://iphc.int/the-commission/fishery-regulations

Regulatory proposal submission forms are available at:

https://iphc.int/the-commission/form/regulatory-proposal

ALFA receives grant for whale detection and avoidance

The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) is honored to announce a grant award from the NOAA Bycatch Reduction and Engineering Program (BREP) to develop a user-friendly tool that assists fishermen with detecting sperm whales to avoid depredation on longline gear. The tool is a towed hydrophone array that can locate whales up to eight miles away and share this information between a network of fishermen. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration of fishermen, NOAA fishery managers, university-based biologists, and hydrophone equipment developers. The project builds on prior work conducted by the Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Network (SEASWAP) during a 2016 pilot study, applying data and experience gained during that pilot work to automate a real time whale depredation avoidance network in the eastern Gulf of Alaska.

“ALFA’s goal is to provide fishermen with an effective means of detecting sperm whales before setting gear, to facilitate sharing this information with a network of fishermen, and assist the fleet with avoiding sperm whale depredation,” stated Dan Falvey, ALFA research director. “With support from the NOAA Bycatch Reduction and Engineering Program, we hope to turn research oriented towed array hydrophone systems into a plug and play for the longline fleet.”

The three-stage project will: 1) use 2016 filed data to improve automated detection/localization functions, improve the user interface, incorporate automated real time sharing of whale detection data to allow avoidance, and upgrade existing SEASWAP hydrophone hardware; 2) field test the upgraded software/hardware on commercial fishing vessels and 3) incorporate the upgraded systems into ALFA’s whale-avoidance network.

“Sperm whale depredation on longline gear poses an economic challenge to fishermen and complicates stock assessment for fisheries managers,” noted ALFA executive director Linda Behnken. “Fishermen need tools to avoid whale depredation and this support from NOAA’s BREP will allow to create fishermen—and whale—friendly tools.”

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Training the Next Generation of Local Fishermen

Photo courtesy ALFA/Alyssa Russell

What started as one commercial fisherman taking a handful of young people out fishing with him has evolved into a crewmember apprentice program with more than 12 participating boats and 50 apprenticeships over the past four years. Inspired by the need to address Alaska’s “graying of the fleet” – a threat facing commercial fisheries around the country – longtime Alaska salmon troller Eric Jordan on the F/V I Gotta took his first apprentice out in 2014 and was quickly overwhelmed by the demand.

Impressed by the interest, Eric teamed up with Sitka-based Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) to formalize the crewmember apprenticeship program and make it part of ALFA’s Young Fishermen’s Initiative. With the help of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, ALFA was able to expand from two host skippers in 2017 to 12 in 2018, allowing the program to engage more young people and offer apprenticeships in new fisheries.

Read more on the Marine Fish Conservation Blog here

ABOUT ELIZABETH HERENDEEN

Elizabeth Herendeen is based out of Southeast Alaska, where she works with nonprofits such as the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and SalmonState to help protect and promote Alaska’s wild fisheries and fishing communities.

View all posts by Elizabeth Herendeen →

"Congress shouldn’t threaten fisheries’ future"

"H.R. 200 takes a giant step backward by opening the door for certain fishing sectors to exceed annual catch limits, jeopardizing the future for our fish, and increasing uncertainty for Alaska's fishermen.

While we should always strive to improve our laws, we should not be changing the MSA's actual foundation. Instead, we should be remodeling the kitchen, repairing the roof, and making other updates that don't change the actual framework of a law that's already proven effective and beneficial to the American public. We should be bolstering the core principles that have made the MSA such an effective management tool: shared accountability among all user groups to meet annual catch limits, accurate and timely data collection and sharing, and science-based fishery management that prioritizes conservation."

Click here to read the full oped by Carolyn Nichols 

Carolyn Nichols is from Sitka, where she has lived for more than 30 years and has made her living commercial fishing for halibut, sablefish, and salmon.

Image courtesy of Alyssa Russell