commercial fishing

Aaron Bolton, KBBI News

After about five years of work, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s hatchery-wild study is beginning to answer crucial questions: do hatchery pink salmon produce fewer offspring compared to their wild counterparts and do they affect the productivity of the wild stocks they spawn with?

Last week, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources announced some key appointments. Kenai Peninsula sportfishing advocate Ricky Gease will serve as director of state parks.

That’s worrying some commercial fishermen and hatchery proponents because Gease, a known hatchery critic, could have influence over Cook Inlet Aquaculture’s operations in Kachemak Bay State Park.

Photo Courtesy of Holland Dotts & the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.

The partial federal government shutdown has left some Alaska fishermen and others wondering whether federal fisheries set to start in January will open on time. The National Marine Fisheries Service has been affected by the shutdown and many employees aren’t there to answer phones, leaving some with more questions than answers.

Albert Duncan with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s law enforcement office said his division is still running during the shutdown.

Blob 2.0 is bad sign for Gulf of Alaska groundfish

Dec 7, 2018
Photo Courtesy of Holland Dotts & the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.

Fish heavily impacted by a three-year marine heatwave in the Gulf of Alaska may be headed for round two. Commonly referred to as the blob, warmer waters between 2014 and 2017 were blamed for a dramatic decline in Pacific cod and are thought to have negatively impacted other species such as pollock.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council set catch limits for several groundfish species in the Gulf of Alaska Thursday afternoon. Before members set those limits, Stephani Zador with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center updated the council on the latest trends in the Gulf. 

Lower Cook Inlet fishing season summary released

Nov 1, 2018
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its season summary Wednesday  for lower Cook Inlet. In all, roughly 2 million salmon were harvested in the management area. The total commercial catch came in at about 758,000 fish and the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association harvested about 1.2 million fish for cost recovery, valued at $4.6 million.

The total commercial catch was valued at $2.6 million. Most of the harvest came from the southern district. Seiners came home with roughly 55,000 sockeye and nearly 500,000 pinks. Both of those numbers are above the 10-year average.

Alaska State Troopers

Alaska Wildlife State Troopers say four commercial fishermen illegally caught and transported thousands of pounds of salmon near Homer in late July.

Wildlife Troopers Detachment Commander Rex Leath said troopers observed operators of the commercial seine vessels Little Star, Relentless, Northstar and Windstar making a “dedicated effort” in Dog Fish Bay south of Homer to drive salmon out of waters closed to commercial seining.

Alaska State Troopers

Alaska State Troopers say five commercial fishing vessels illegally caught and transported thousands of pounds of salmon near Homer in late July.

According to a trooper dispatch released Monday,  a wildlife trooper observed operators of the fishing vessels Little Star, Relentless, Northstar and Windstar working together in Dog Fish Bay south of Homer to drive salmon out of waters closed to commercial seining and into areas open for commercial harvest. Troopers say the vessels harvested fish in closed waters as well.

Rudy Gustafson

Halibut ex-vessel prices are seeing a slight uptick around the state, which is good news for some fishermen after prices fell about $2 per pound at the beginning of the season.

Doug Bowen works for Alaska Boats and Permits, a vessel and fishing permit broker in Homer. Bowen tracks halibut prices around the Gulf of Alaska, which have a significant influence on the halibut quota he sells for fishermen.  

“We did see the ex-vessel price for halibut perk up a bit where we’re at $6.25, $6.50, $6.75 here in Homer today,” Bowen said.

Prince William Sound pink season on track

Jul 26, 2018
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Commercial fishing for pink salmon is underway in Prince William Sound and unlike sockeye returning to the Copper River earlier this year, pinks are showing up mostly as forecasted.

“Right now, we seem to be tracking right along with the 10-year even average, maybe slightly behind,” Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologist Charlie Russel said. “But the 2018 season in Prince William Sound is shaping up to be a better year than the weak parent year 2016.”

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

As a number of commercial salmon fisheries around the state kick off this week, the outlook for ex-vessel prices is looking good. Fishing economists say between lower run forecasts and strong foreign and domestic demand, commercial fishermen will likely see higher prices this year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean commercial fishermen will earn more this season compared to last year.   

Andy Wink with Wink Research and Consulting said although prices vary by species and region, most fisheries should see stable or higher prices this year.

Copper River sockeye run off to a really slow start

May 23, 2018
KBBI News

The sockeye run on the Copper River is off to an incredibly slow start. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game opened the fishery on May 17 for a 12-hour fishing period.

Gillnetters came home with roughly 1,900 sockeye and returned on Monday for another opening, but fishing still remained slow with only 3,400 fish winding up in nets.

Fish and Game biologist Jeremy Botz said those numbers are well under what the department expected.

Courtesy of Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association

A controversial plan to move part of a hatchery operation to the head of Tutka Bay near Homer is complete. Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association placed two net pens at the head of the bay on April 26.

The hatchery association is in the process of moving fish into the pens. Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association Executive Director Gary Fandrei said the pens will be removed once the 20 million pink salmon it plans to raise at the site can be released.

Aaron Bolton, KBBI News

Boat and fishing vessel owners will likely be required to meet new registration and title requirements next year. The change is part of Senate Bill 92, which passed through the state Legislature this week. The bill aims to give the state, municipalities and individuals more tools to hold owners of derelict and abandoned vessels legally liable.

The Senate sent the bill to Gov. Bill Walker’s desk Thursday after the House passed the legislation earlier this week.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting 2018’s lower Cook Inlet pink salmon run to be a modest one despite disastrous runs in 2016, this year’s parent year. A number of 2016 pink salmon runs were declared a federal disaster.

Area Management Biologist Glenn Hollowell said the commercial harvest was limited to about 70,000 pinks that year.

Board of Fish re-establishes hatchery committee

Mar 12, 2018
Courtesy of Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association

The Alaska Board of Fisheries re-established a committee on hatchery operations Friday at its meeting in Anchorage. The board took up the issue after an emergency petition was filed in December calling for a committee to look into issues of straying hatchery fish and the impact on wild stocks.

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