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OBI Shutters Alitak, Kodiak Island Plant
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OBI Shutters Alitak, Kodiak Island Plant

Salmon harvesters at Alitak, located in Lazy Bay on the southern tip of Alaska’s Kodiak Island, are reeling after an announcement from OBI Seafoods that its Alitak facilities would not be buying fish from setnetters or even providing normal services for setnetters during the 2024 season. The operational costs have become uneconomical due to lower harvests, high tender costs and the cost of providing ice and other services, OBI COO Brian O’Leary announced March 11. OBI would be open to purchasing Alitak setnet fish only if the fish are taken to Kodiak, O’Leary said. Maintenance and retail services at the former Lazy Bay cannery at are being halted, the company stated, adding that OBI’s Alitak facility will also not be open for services including ice, laundry, boat labor, garbag...
Pebble, State of Alaska, Back in Court Regarding Mine Defense
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Pebble, State of Alaska, Back in Court Regarding Mine Defense

A Canadian mining company intent on building a copper, gold and molybdenum mine abutting the Bristol Bay watershed has renewed litigation, seeking to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency veto of permits for the Pebble Mine. The lawsuit filed in federal district court in Alaska on Friday, March 15, came on the heels of the state of Alaska’s lawsuit filed March 14 in the U.S. federal claims court asking for more than $700 billion in damages for state lands that Alaska contends were confiscated. Ron Thiessen, president and CEO of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (NDM) in Vancouver, British Columbia, said his company’s priority is to advance the district federal court complaint because overturning the illegal veto removes a major impediment from getting the permit to build the ...
Wespac Science Advisors Endorse Hawaii, Guam Bottomfish Stock Assessments
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Wespac Science Advisors Endorse Hawaii, Guam Bottomfish Stock Assessments

Science advisors to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (Wespac) have endorsed two bottomfish stock assessments for the main Hawaiian Islands and Guam as the best scientific information available. The council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) accepted the stock assessments on March 14. The assessments found that main Hawaiian Islands deep-seven stock is not overfished and not experiencing overfishing and that Guam stock likely is not overfished and likely not experiencing overfishing relative to reference points. The SSC endorsed the 2023 benchmark stock assessment and recommended that the council initiate the process for setting an updated acceptable biological catch and specifying annual catch limits. The council noted that significant improvem...
AFSC Study Looks at Range of eDNA in Marine Fisheries Management
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AFSC Study Looks at Range of eDNA in Marine Fisheries Management

New research by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) in Juneau examines the influence of distance and tides on distribution and concentration of environmental DNA from chum salmon in net pens in Southeast Alaska. It’s another piece of the puzzle as researchers work to understand the overall impact of changing climate conditions on fisheries in the ocean. This study, AFSC research geneticist Diana Baetscher said, addresses one of the critical knowledge gaps in applying eDNA to marine fisheries management. “The idea here is we are able to use eDNA to understand where the fish are,” she said. “What we did with the chum hatchery net pen in Juneau was an experiment to determine where we no longer detect this eDNA. It is just a piece of information floating around in the water...
Cooke Aquaculture Drops Appeal of Canceled Net Pen Leases
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Cooke Aquaculture Drops Appeal of Canceled Net Pen Leases

Seafood company Cooke Aquaculture Pacific has dropped its appeal of DNR’s cancelation of its net pen leases at Rich Passage and Hope Island, Washington state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced March 15. Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz announced the appeal’s dismissal, saying state residents should remember this day as “truly the end of dangerous and destructive net pens in the state. “Cooke Aquaculture has finally realized that its fight to continue to put our waters and salmon at risk was futile. And as the courtroom battles and corporate tantrums fade away, we’re left with a Washington with cleaner waters, stronger habitats, and healthier salmon,” Franz said. This was the final chapter in a story that began Aug. 19, 2017, when 300,000 Atla...
Oregon Legislature Boosts Investment in Marine Reserves
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Oregon Legislature Boosts Investment in Marine Reserves

Oregon legislators have approved a landmark bill aimed at strengthening state marine reserves, plus providing a commitment to ocean conservation, stakeholder collaboration and sustainable management of marine resources. The state Senate vote of 26-3 on March 6 came in the wake of the 10-year anniversary of Oregon’s marine reserves program, and a unanimous 55-0 vote in the House of Representatives earlier that week. The legislation increased by $894,324 for the biennium ending June 30, 2025 for an adaptive management and social monitoring program to support marine reserves. The package includes $479,324 for three permanent positions and related services and supplies, $100,000 for a Sea Grant-based fellow position to support new research, and $315,000 for contracts to conduct fa...
Trident Seafoods Nearing Sales of Alaska Shoreside Plants
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Trident Seafoods Nearing Sales of Alaska Shoreside Plants

Trident Seafoods officials said March 8 that they’re in the final stages of closing deals on the sales of Alaska shoreside plants in Petersburg, Ketchikan and False Pass, with multiple parties interested in a fourth plant. Trident announced in December that it was seeking buyers for all four plants as part of a strategic restructuring initiative. Trident CEO Joe Bundrant said that his company has been intentional about finding buyers “who will take great care of the fleet and employees and who will integrate themselves into the communities.” As of March 13, the potential buyers for the plants have not been publicly identified. Trident Senior Vice President of Alaska Operations Jeff Welbourn acknowledged that it has been an unsettling time, but said Trident is moving as quic...
Calif. Lobsterman Convicted of Abandoning Traps
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Calif. Lobsterman Convicted of Abandoning Traps

A California lobster fisherman has been convicted in Santa Barbara Superior Court of a multitude of commercial lobster fishing violations, including abandoning traps, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said March 5. It was the third commercial lobster poaching conviction for Christopher Miller, 67, of Los Alamos, since 2014. According to the CDFW, Miller pled guilty to falsifying commercial fishing records, harvesting lobster out of season, then abandoning at least 156 commercial lobster traps around Santa Cruz Island and the Santa Barbara Harbor. After closure of the 2021-22 commercial lobster season and being ordered to remove his lobster traps by CDFW wildlife officers, Miller failed to retrieve any of his traps, posing a significant and detrimental hazar...
Coalition Defends Limits on Trawler Halibut Bycatch
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Coalition Defends Limits on Trawler Halibut Bycatch

A dispute over the amount of halibut allowed as incidental catch by trawlers targeting groundfish in the Bering Sea has prompted the newly-formed Halibut Defense Alliance to intervene in litigation on behalf of the National Marine Fisheries Service. The coalition includes commercial fishermen, charter operators, processors and community organizations that represent halibut-dependent communities across Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, who support the NMFS decision to allow more bycatch when halibut abundance is high and less bycatch when abundance is low. As of early March, the Justice Department was preparing the entire administrative record, with all related documents, to deliver to the federal judge in Anchorage. After that, both sides in the case were to bring their arguments...
OBI, Peter Pan Seafoods Score Winning Bids for USDA Salmon Solicitation
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OBI, Peter Pan Seafoods Score Winning Bids for USDA Salmon Solicitation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated OBI Seafoods and Peter Pan Seafood Co. as the awardees of contracts for thousands of cans of wild Alaska pink salmon to be delivered to needy recipients nationwide. A March 6 USDA announcement said that the contracts include 713 truckloads of 14.75 -ounce canned pink salmon valued at $53,882,923 from OBI Seafoods and 242 truckloads of 14.75-ounce canned pink salmon valued at $17,240,660 from Peter Pan Seafood. The food is set to be delivered from May 16, 2024 through Feb. 28, 2025. The purchases were made under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935, which authorizes USDA to support prices of commodities in surplus by purchasing them in the marketplace, and also authorizes USDA to distribute commodities domes...