I found this awesome salmon sculpture hidden by the Seattle Ferris Wheel while enjoying a sunny day in the big city. I would love more info about the sculpture if anyone has an idea about the artist.
NPR’s recent inquiry into the Marine Stewardship Council certification process highlights some growing concerns with the non-profit’s sustainability guidelines. The MSC only certifies renewable, ecological fisheries that have very little impact on other fish species. At least that’s the claim. A few of the MSC certified fisheries, such as the recently approved Pacific pollock trawl fishery, are being heavily scrutinized for their bycatch practices. Pacific trawl fisheries are notorious for massive amount of by catch, and some speculate that the recent lack of halibut and king salmon are direct results of these trawl fishing practices. Alaska processors have lost faith with the certification process, as well. While all of the the 2012 catch will ramin certified by MSC, the coming 2013 season is devoid of the label. The final decision on the MSC certification of alaska salmon, is still being quietly decided among different fishery groups. At one point, the PSVOA claimed that it would uphold MSC practices, but public comments are quickly disappearing on this touchy subject. The lack of MSC certification could keep alaskan salmon out of some of the largest respectable food chains in the states. Whole Foods maintains a strict policy of only selling sustainable seafood. With MSC quickly becoming an industry standard, one must wonder if this is a wise marketing decision for alaskan salmon. Other “sustainable” certification processes do exist. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a color coded system that highlights the viability and ecological footprint of a given fishery. Also, the United Nation’s FAO based Responsible Fisheries Management appears to be the new standard for alaska salmon. The question remains: In an eco conscious consumer driven market, is it wise to have one of Alaska’s premiere fisheries floating in sustainability limbo?
Industry demand for the “sustainable seafood” label, issued by the Marine Stewardship Council, is increasing. But some environmentalists fear fisheries are being certified despite evidence showing that the fish population is in trouble — or when there’s not enough information to know the impact on the oceans.
- Conditions Allow For More Sustainable-Labeled Seafood (wnyc.org)
- Marine Stewardship Council Responds To NPR Series On Sustainable Seafood (npr.org)
- Is your “certified” seafood really sustainable? (theconscientiousomnivore.wordpress.com)
- Canadian chum salmon fisheries awarded MSC (worldfishing.net)
- The Problem With Sustainable Seafood (huffingtonpost.com)
- McDonald’s Fish to be Labeled as “Certified Sustainable Seafood” (foodidentityblog.com)
The best part of commercial fishing is the opportunity to work with incredible people. I was lucky enough to make a friend for life in Jay Fisher. In my earliest years of fishing, I remember Jay working on the F/V Bobetta and trading sets beside the F/V Coral Sea. Over the years, Jay and I became close friends and found ourselves working together on the F/V Kona Rose. I coined the title, “The Fish Whisperer” for Jay because of his level of focus in the skiff. My favorite years of southeast seining were working with Jay. So, I was overjoyed to learn that Jay would be running his own boat, the Jensen Reagan in 2011. The first year of being a captain for Jay was humbling and he found himself back as a crew the following year. The key is, Jay never gave up, and that lesson is most important now. Jay is currently fighting spinal meningitis and finds himself paralyzed from the neck down. Please keep him in your prayers and hope that we see him out on the water again. Good luck, buddy!
In May, Copper River Reds started the salmon season off with a bang. A huge unexpected run pounded the Copper River flats as the season began with triple the amount of forecasted reds. In 2012, 374,000 sockeyes were harvested in just the first two openers. Sadly, the price plummeted to as low as 1.25 a pound in the first few weeks of the record run. The rest of the salmon season of 2012 was fairly lackluster. Bristol Bay had a mediocre run of 20 million fish, which is down from the average of 25 million fish. Prince William Sound was expected to have a huge run and even convinced some southeast salmon seiners to abandon their disappointing southeast pink forecast in hopes of hitting it big up north. This clustering of boats sparked rumors of 90 boat lineups at some of the most famous hook offs in PWS. Southeast fishermen managed to find salvation in hatchery fish, primarily chum salmon, which provided great value to a fishery devoid of their traditional pink salmon. Check here for Laine Welch’s salmon summation for all the stats and facts of salmon in the various districts. Read on for a few more highlights in salmon news from 2012.
Early in the year it was evident that King Salmon runs were in big trouble. Southeast trollers suffered a dismal spring run, and northern regions, such as the Yukon and the Kuskokwim were declared a disaster by fisheries managers. By the year’s end, King salmon was a major disapointment for most of Alaska‘s different fishing regions. The king salmon run on the Kenai was the lowest on record, which goes back to the 1980s.
In October, the Alaska Chinook Salmon Symposium was held to Anchorage to deal with the dramatic declines in Alaska’s most precious species. King salmon declines for commercial fishermen were nearly 40% in recent years. The symposium graced participants with scientific data related to decreased runs throughout Alaska. Fisheries biologist used the term, “Black Swan,” to describe the event, which highlighted the lack of knowledge on the health of chinook run. Basically, there is no hard facts to explain the severe decreases in King salmon. This issue could seriously affect the future of salmon harvests in Alaska, as protection measures for chinook could limit salmon harvests in other species.
Perhaps, the biggest story in 2012 revolves around the concept of GMOs. Genectically Modified Organisms dominate our grocery stores and there is no clear way to differentiate between which foods that contain them and which do not. Many other countries have measures in place to make sure the proper labeling of these genetically altered ingredients. California fought the hardest with the “Right To Know” initiative, which would have distinguished all GMOs from natural products. Sadly, all legislation regarding labeling GMOs was shot down. Then, we have “Frankenfish.” AquaBounty wants to be the first of its kind to create a genetically modified salmon that can grow twice as fast is it farmed counterpart. While the genectically altered salmon concept met strong opposition in the beginning of the year, it was a great surprise when the FDA announced their endorsement of “FrankenFish” over the holiday season. The nation struggled with various GMO legislative efforts throughout the year, but all were ultimately defeated by corporate juggernauts with huge financial lobbying pressures. Sadly, it’s likely that we will see Aquabounty’s salmon in stores by the end of 2013.
The battle between sport and commercial fishermen reached a fever pitch in 2012, as the IPHC released their catch limits at the beginning of the year. Overall, the commercial fishing cuts totaled a 20% decrease, or 7 million pounds less than the previous year. Sport fishermen in B.C. suffered the earliest closure of recreational fishing in history, spawning numerous debates about allocation of halibut rights between sport and commercial fishermen. Halibut continues to be a harsh subject for all fishermen and more cuts are likely in 2013. Scientists now realize that the stocks were being over estimated and the true estimate of the stocks are in a flat phase. Hopefully, with proper management, we will see an upturn in the projected biomass in the near future. Check out more facts here.
The Sitka Sac Roe Harvest prediction was cut short early this spring due to an early spawn and lack of the predicted biomass of 28,829 tons. In just three openers, fishermen harvested 13,534 tons, which is more of an average harvest for the fishery. Recent price fluctuations and the lack of Japanese demand in the wake of the 2011 Tsunami, has created a delicate market. Togiak also had an early spawn event in 2012, leading many to wonder about the predictive models used in the fisheries harvest forecast. On a lighter note, San Francisco herring harvests seem to have a glimmer of hope after years of disappointment. All eyes will be on the Sitka harvest this spring, which has a forecast of 11,055 tons. Togiak will come next will a large predicted forecast of 30,056 tons.
California’s dungeness harvest for the 2011/2012 season was 31,680,250 lbs., with an average price of 2.99 per lb. Oregon crab fishermen harvested 14.2 million pounds at an average price of 2.95 per lb. in the 2011-2012 season. Washington’s Non-Treat Coastal Commercial Landings totaled 8,617,136 lbs. for the 20011/2012 season. This year, both northern fisheries were delayed into the new year due to a “meat fill” issue. Typically, the season begins on Dec. 1. In recent years, the dungeness price has reached record highs and demand remains strong for these west coast delicacies.
Part II will include Bering Sea Crab Landings, Shrimp, Squid, Groundfish, and Dive Fisheries
- State approves new Columbia River gillnet restrictions (tdn.com)
- Salmon runs boom, go bust over centuries (washington.edu)
- Alaska increases estimate of salmon disaster (sfgate.com)
- New chance to comment on genetically modified salmon (thecordovatimes.com)
- ‘Frankenfish on the Menu? FDA Gives Initial Approval (livescience.com)
Chum salmon have played a huge part in this season’s west coast salmon tally. Commercial Purse seining and gill netting for salmon continues into the end of November in Puget Sound. The price is less than expected at around 80 cents. Typically the late season Puget Sound chum fetch a higher price than the Alaskan varieties. However, this season’s Puget Sound chum salmon is nearly 40 cents less than last season’s average price. Luckily, the run was upgraded this season to 550,000 fish. All in all, it should make for a good pay-day. The average crew share should be about 6000 dollars for about 8 actual days of fishing. Good luck to all the captains and crews in this year’s fishery! Here’s a few pics from my one day season last year in the sound on the F/V Quandary.
It looks like the South Sound chum salmon return is much bigger than forecasted.
A story by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission reports that a tribal test fishery conducted near Kingston in October and November revealed the run is stronger, which is good news for all fishermen who pursue these late arriving fish.
To view the story on the South Sound tribal chum salmon test fishery go to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisssion website
- People for Puget Sound is ceasing operations (seattlepi.com)
- Fall fishing best bets include chinook in Puget Sound (seattletimes.com)
- Bainbridge creek sees return of long-sought salmon (kitsapsun.com)
- State commission weighing options to rebalance area shrimp fishery (seattletimes.com)
The severe declines in Chinook salmon over the years have prompted Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to bring together numerous industry leaders to assess the status and livelihood of King Salmon in our local Alaskan waters. The northern regions of Alaska are suffering by the lack of kings, which are a valuable resource for subsistence fishermen in remote villages. Tune in live on the ADFG website to listen and interact with the event. Click here for live streaming. A recent episode of Yukon Men highlights the struggle for salmon on the Yukon River. Its embedded below. A report from Dutch Harbor News highlights the subject, as well.
State fishery managers are asking for input from Alaskans to help solve the case of disappearing king salmon.
A letter went out last week from Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell inviting stakeholders to a two-day symposium in Anchorage later this month titled ‘Understanding Abundance and Productivity Trends of Chinook salmon in Alaska.’ The stated goal is ‘to increase understanding and develop the most complete research plan possible.’
A draft analysis by a newly appointed fisheries research team represents initial efforts by the state to better understanding the causes for Chinook declines. The report, titled “Alaska Chinook Salmon Knowledge Gaps and Needs,” says that from 1994 through 2011, Chinook catches have decreased 7 percent for subsistence users, 40 percent for commercial fishermen and 12 percent for sport users.
- Commerce secretary declares Alaska salmon disaster (seattletimes.com)
- Fishing stopped on Cowichan River as chinook-salmon rescue starts (cowichannewsleader.com)
- Are fisheries disasters linked with climate change? (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Where have all Alaska’s salmon gone? (bbc.co.uk)
- Monster chinook caught and released on B.C. coast is one for the record books (vancouversun.com)
- Commerce secretary declares Alaska salmon disaster (juneauempire.com)
This years meeting will cover a number of issues, including stellar sea lion protection, catch share issues, and crab allocations. The real heat of the meeting will focus on halibut and the battle between the charter and commercial fishermen. Halibut continues to be a tense issue because the quota has been decreased substantially over the past few years. Check below for links to LIVE audio of the meetings. (here) Read below for more info from Bristol Bay Times. AbundentOceans has some great YouTube content from past meetings. I expect that it will be updated soon.
A long list of crabbing issues, decisions on halibut catch sharing, and groundfish regulations look to dominate a fall meeting of Pacific fisheries overseers.
The 15 members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will gather next week, beginning on Wednesday, to discuss fish issues for the Pacific Northwest.
The meeting is being held at the Anchorage Hilton from Oct. 3-9. For those unable to attend the public meeting, online participation is welcomed via http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/.
After hearing initial reports from state and federal agencies, the council will move on to big-ticket items such as halibut, groundfish, stellar sea lions, vessel replacement issues and crab management.
In the halibut world, the council will make a final decision on the halibut catch sharing plan. If approved, the plan may move five percent of the yearly halibut allocation from commercial fishermen to charter and sport operations. There are a total of five options for Pacific halibut allocation on the table. That decision will be the first of the major issues addressed following reports.
- Tensions simmer among B.C. halibut fishermen (cbc.ca)
- World fish supply declining, but there’s hope for recovery (kansascity.com)
- B.C. fishermen sue Ottawa over lowered halibut haul (theglobeandmail.com)
- “Catch Shares” Save Fish Populations–and the Fishing Industry (scientificamerican.com)
- Alaska editorial: King closures expose double standards on bycatch (juneauempire.com)
This summer has been a mixed bag of salmon highs and lows. Copper River started the salmon season with a huge record breaking run of sockeye. Bristol Bay has met many expectations, but the lack of a price jump puts a damper on a successful season. However, King salmon returns are poor. In Kenai, the failiure of the natural king run was considered a disaster. Southeast Alaskan trollers have suffered from the lack of kings, as well. Prince William Sound is the next big show. A huge run of pink salmon is predicted for this year and many boats are still waiting. In southeast Alaska, harvests are expected to be low, but the value and abundance of chum salmon has added some real economic diversity to fishermen. The summer is salmon is almost over, but the real story will still unfold. Will the pinks show up? Read on for more details of the state of salmon this summer.
- Fishing for Kenai king salmon shut down (juneauempire.com)
- Southeast Salmon | Juneau’s Amalga Harbor Heats Up The Fleet (juneautek.com)
- Team to tackle problem of disappearing king salmon (juneauempire.com)
- Big Red: The Season for Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon Is Here (prweb.com)
- Southeast Salmon | Seining For Tsunami Debris (juneautek.com)