commercial fishing

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.

Courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Over the last year, warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska, infamously known as the blob, have dissipated. Warmer water temps are thought to have a hand in massive bird die-offs and a decline in Pacific cod stocks. Now that the three-year period of summer-like marine conditions is over, scientists and fishery managers are eager to assess the full impact of the blob.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Salmon runs in Prince William Sound are predicted to be average or below average in 2018.

 

For seiners, wild pinks are expected to come in about 20 percent under the 10-year average for even years, but Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Charlie Russell said hatchery fish are expected to pick up some of the slack.

Debate over halibut quotas expected to heat up

Jan 19, 2018
Creative Commons photo by Ed Bierman

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, or IPHC, will set the total allowable catch for halibut along the West Coast next week. At its interim meeting back in November, IPHC scientists suggested slashing 2018’s catch by 24 percent for both commercial and charter operations, a reduction of about 7.5 million pounds. That potentially large cut is likely to lead to heated debate during the commission’s meeting in Portland.

KBBI

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, or the IPHC, will kick off its annual meeting in Portland Monday. The international regulatory body is expected to slash the total allowable catch of halibut on the West Coast by 24 percent due to declining stocks. With potentially less Pacific halibut on the market, prices are likely to increase, but a new direct competitor on the East Coast may hamper the market’s ability to compensate for lower halibut stocks in Alaska.

Aaron Bolton, KBBI News

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been trying to find out if hatchery fish from operations in Tutka Bay Lagoon and Port Graham have been straying into wild fish habitat, and over the past four years, they found that very few of those fish are colonizing wild streams. But scientists found that a number of hatchery fish from Prince William Sound are winding up in streams around Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet. That trend has left scientists and regulators with more questions than answers.

Halibut commission to revisit minimum size limit

Oct 26, 2017
Creative Commons photo by Ed Bierman

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, which regulates halibut fisheries in U.S. and Canadian waters, is set to take a fresh look at the minimum size limit for commercial fisheries during its meeting cycle this winter. The current limit allows commercial fishermen to retain fish larger than 32 inches, but the size of mature halibut has been shrinking over the years, which has some wondering whether the limit should be reduced or removed altogether.

Since the 1990s the size of mature halibut has been falling.

Courtesy of Fish and Game

Commercial fishing for coho salmon is winding down in Prince William Sound. Gillneters at the mouth of the Copper River are seeing a relatively average year with about 170,000 fish harvested so far. While the harvest is typical, the price this year is not. Coho are fetching about $1.50 per pound at the docks, about double the average price.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Jeremy Botz expects fishing to stay open another week.

Do fishing regulations impact family dynamics?

Sep 5, 2017
KBBI

There is a lot we don’t know about the impacts fishing regulations have on the fishing industry here in Alaska. Scientists have tried to find answers to several questions for years, from dwindling numbers of king salmon to the interactions between marine mammals and various fisheries. One social scientist wants to know the impact those regulations have on the lives of fishing families. 

Marysia Szymkowiak, a social scientist, is conducting a study for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fishery division regarding the home life of Alaska’s fishing families.

Prince William Sound's pink salmon run shows up late

Jul 12, 2017
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Up until Monday, numbers of pink salmon returning to Prince William Sound looked like they may be a repeat of last year’s dismal run, but the fish are beginning to show up and the harvest is underway.

“On Monday, the common property fishery took about 2.5 million fish. Yesterday, it’s looking about 1.2 million,” Charles Russel said, Alaska Fish and Game’s Area Management Biologist for the Prince William Sound area. “Today, initial reports say that fisheries may be close to yesterday, but we’re a little bit behind, but still catching good numbers of fish.”

Gov shutdown may impact fishing and tourism in Homer

Jun 19, 2017
KBBI

Alaska’s Legislature has been at an impasse for months on the state budget. Gov. Bill Walker called legislators back for a second special session Friday and voiced his dissatisfaction with their progress. With a potential state government shutdown about two weeks away, Homer’s fishing and tourism industry could suffer.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is still working through the kinks of a potential government shutdown on July 1.

“This has never happened in Alaska. We’ve never faced this,” Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotton said.

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