Article Category: News

Federal Port Infrastructure Bill Passes

Federal Port Infrastructure Bill Passes

Supporters of the commercial fishing industry received some good news in late 2023 when the federal legislation known as H.R. 4618—commonly called the Supporting Commercial Fishing in Port Infrastructure Projects Act— passed both the House and Senate as part of the Maritime Administration Reauthorization Act. The legislation, introduced in mid-July and sponsored by Rep. Val Hoyle, D-Ore., was approved in mid-December and is expected to be signed into law by President Biden in the coming days. It explicitly allows ports to apply for infrastructure grants to support commercial fishing, and in turn boost coastal communities’ jobs and economies.  Hoyle has said she introduced the act because current law didn’t make it explicitly clear whether ports can apply for Port Infrastructure Develo...

Disaster Determination Issued for Squaxin Island Tribe Salmon Fishery

NOAA Fisheries announced Jan. 12 that U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo has determined that a commercial fishery failure due to a fishery resource disaster occurred in the 2020 Squaxin Island Tribe Puget Sound fall chum salmon fishery. The determination is in response to a request filed in July 2021 by Squaxin Island Tribe Chairman, Kristopher Peters, who detailed in a letter that the fishery’s abundance of Puget Sound fall chum was so low in 2020 that it resulted in closures for conservation of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound state commercial fisheries. “Puget Sound tribal fisheries were adversely impacted by the extremely low abundance,” Peters stated in the letter. “With very few chum salmon to harvest, our entire community suffered and needs financial rel...
Russian Seafood Imports Loophole Gets Squeezed Shut

Russian Seafood Imports Loophole Gets Squeezed Shut

In an effort to level the playing field for America’s commercial fishing industry, an executive order issued by the Biden administration in December has shut the door on the U.S. import of Russian seafood. The expansion of executive order 14068 prohibits importation into U.S. domestic markets of all seafood “harvested in Russian waters or by Russia-flagged vessels, even if these products are then transformed in a third country.” The action provides a long-sought end to a situation in which Russian seafood continued to pour into U.S. domestic markets long after Russia’s 2014 ban of the import of American seafood. The executive order was approved Dec. 22. Beginning on that date, no new contracts can be signed to import Russian seafood from other countries. Also, any existing contracts m...
Sitka Sound Herring Forecast for 2024 is a Record 81,246 Tons

Sitka Sound Herring Forecast for 2024 is a Record 81,246 Tons

Alaska fisheries biologists have set the guideline harvest level (GHL) for the 2024 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery at 81,246 tons (162.5 million pounds) with a forecasted average weight of 120 grams across all age classes. That’s greater than any prior forecast or estimate of spawning biomass for Sitka Sound herring. The forecast is an increase from the model estimate of the 2023 mature pre-fishery herring biomass of 292,669 tons, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologists said, in announcing the GHL on Dec. 22. The magnitude of the 2024 forecast is largely the result of the 2023 model estimated pre-fishery herring biomass—which was much larger than the forecast and influenced in part by the unforeseen size of the 2020-year class—and the forecasted abundance of age-...
Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Make Dungeness Crab California’s Official Crustacean

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Make Dungeness Crab California’s Official Crustacean

California State Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) and other lawmakers in early January introduced legislation to recognize the Dungeness crab as California’s official crustacean, coinciding with its opening day, Jan. 5. “Let’s recognize the importance of the Dungeness crab to our state, to the commercial fishing industry and the communities that depend on its health and abundance,” Wood stated. Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) is the principal coauthor and Assemblymembers Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) and Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) are coauthors of the bill, titled AB 1797. “The Dungeness crab is an iconic crustacean in California and one that has made a significant contribution to the economies of coastal communities in California and to those in the commercial fishing industry,” ...

NOAA Fisheries Report Details Decades of Whale Entanglements in Alaska

NOAA Fisheries has issued a report on 31 years of killer whale entanglements in Alaska, saying that additional research is needed to learn more about the behavior of the orcas to speed development of innovations to reduce the number of whales trapped in commercial fishing nets. Researchers noted that suggestions and innovations by harvesters to reduce killer whale gear interactions could be applied statewide. The summary report covers 37 orca entanglements from 1991 through 2022, including 30 in the Bering Sea, one in the Arctic, one in the Gulf of Alaska and five in Southeast Alaska. The reported cases included 20 whales entangled in trawl gear, 10 in longline gear, two in pot gear, two in kelp gear and one each in a mix of gear, anchorage line and unknown line. Of the trawl net entang...

WCPFC Boosts Bigeye Tuna Catch Limit to 6,554 Metric Tons

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has increased the Hawaii longline fishery catch limit of bigeye tuna to 6,554 metric tons, a jump of 3,000 metric tons. The Dec. 11 announcement came from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council following the conclusion of the 20th regular session of the commission at Rarotonga, Cook Islands. The revised tropical tuna conservation and management measure (CMM) is expected to be in effect from 2024 through 2026. The CMM increases catch limits for five nations with fishing limits for longline-caught bigeye contingent on reports from human observers and/or electronic monitoring. The measure, which covers nearly 60% of the global tuna supply, establishes international rules for bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin tuna harv...
New Funding Reinvigorates Efforts  to Recover Oregon River Salmon, Trout

New Funding Reinvigorates Efforts to Recover Oregon River Salmon, Trout

With $27 million in funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, NOAA is supporting four major projects to bring threatened salmon and trout species back to Oregon’s Willamette River watershed. An influx of $27 million from the Office of Habitat Conservation under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act is reinvigorating efforts to restore threatened salmon and trout species in Oregon’s Willamette River watershed. “This funding is a true lifeline to restoration practitioners who have been working to recover Endangered Species Act-listed Upper Willamette River Chinook and steelhead,” NOAA Fisheries Biologist Anne Mullan said. “These species are on the downward trajectory, but this funding gives us hope.” Multiple major dams on...
$27M in Federal Funds Allocated for Restoring Oregon Fish Habitat

$27M in Federal Funds Allocated for Restoring Oregon Fish Habitat

NOAA Fisheries says that $27 million from major federal legislation is slated to be used to help restore threatened salmon and trout species in Oregon’s Willamette River watershed. Funds from the Office of Habitat Conservation under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act will give hope to restoring species that are on a downward trajectory, NOAA Fisheries biologist Anne Mullan said. NOAA announced the funding Jan. 2. Awards for the related habitat restoration were granted by NOAA to the McKenzie Watershed Alliance, American Rivers, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Clackamas Partnership. Specific efforts are to include restoring floodplain and side channel habitat to provide spawning and rearing habitat; removing multiple barriers to fish passage th...
Coast Guard Tows Disabled Fishing Vessel to Adak, Alaska

Coast Guard Tows Disabled Fishing Vessel to Adak, Alaska

The Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley towed a disabled fishing vessel with eight people aboard to Adak, Alaska on New Year’s Day, according to a Jan. 3 news release. The Haley towed the 127-foot fishing vessel Aleutian No. 1 into Adak and transferred it to the f/v Erla-N. The Erla-N then completed towing the disabled vessel, where it was moored at the pier with the help of Alex Haley’s cutter boats. Watchstanders in the Coast Guard 17th District command center initially received notification from the master of Aleutian No. 1 at 5:57 a.m., reporting the vessel’s crew had fouled its prop, were unable to conduct repairs, and were drifting about north of Amchitka Island, 575 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor. The Alex Haley was recalled from a mid-patrol break and transited 575 miles in the Bei...