Issue: February 2022

Columbia Riverkeeper Sues USACE Over Water Pollution

Columbia Riverkeeper Sues USACE Over Water Pollution

Columbia Riverkeeper, a nonprofit advocate for the water quality of the Columbia River, is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over allegations that the Corps is illegally polluting the waterway with hot water, oil and toxic chemicals. The complaint, filed in early December in U.S. District Court for the eastern District of Washington, contends that four dams operated by the Corps on the Columbia River between Portland, Oregon and Tri-Cities, Washington, discharge illegal pollution in violation of the Clean Water Act. Columbia Riverkeeper announced the lawsuit on its website, citing government studies that show that dams on the Columbia River make the water too hot for endangered salmon and steelhead trout. Last summer Columbia Riverkeeper photographed what it describes as graphic ima...
ZP3 Gene Holds Secrets to Future of Pacific Cod Stocks

ZP3 Gene Holds Secrets to Future of Pacific Cod Stocks

Pacific cod—already weathering climate change in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, far from their ancestral home—face new challenges due to global warming, with the answers to their ability to adapt perhaps centered on the impact of the ZP3 protein in their genome. NOAA Fisheries scientists in Seattle are researching a specific gene region of the genome called zona pellucida, or ZP3, to assess its role in geographic variation among Alaska’s Pacific cod stocks. The fishery comprises the second largest commercial groundfish harvest off Alaska, a multi-million dollar business that provides hundreds of jobs in the hook-and-line, bottom trawl, jig, pot and longline catch- and-processing facilities. According to NOAA Fisheries, the 2019 commercial harvest alone of Pacific cod totaled about ...

From the Editor Cook Inlet Fishing

A decision that was finalized by federal regulators a couple of months ago is likely to have very negative ramifications for anglers in Cook Inlet, and in my opinion, should be rescinded before it goes into effect during the upcoming salmon season. In November, a rule was finalized by NOAA Fisheries that prohibits commercial salmon fishing in the federal waters of Cook Inlet during the 2022 salmon season. The area, which is three nautical miles to 200 nautical miles off Alaska, is referred to as the Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The State of Alaska would continue to manage Cook Inlet salmon fishery sectors within state waters, from the shoreline to three nautical miles out. The measure will be in place for the 2022 Cook Inlet EEZ commercial salmon fishery. It affects the Coo...
Federal Funds to Finance New Alaska Ferry

Federal Funds to Finance New Alaska Ferry

A plan to boost the reliability of the Alaska Marine Highway System with a new ocean-class vessel to replace the 57-year-old ferry Tustumena is now in progress, officials said. The goal is to have the new multi-million-dollar vessel traveling in coastal Alaska by 2027. The new vessel would boost both the vehicle and passenger capacity of the older ferry, from 34 to 52 vehicles and from 160 to 250 passengers. The state’s marine highway system, which serves a number of coastal fishing communities, has been hampered by increasing interruptions of service due to the need for maintenance and repairs of the aging fleet. The replacement vessel, to be competitively bid, is expected to cost $200 million to $250 million, with the money coming from federal dollars secured by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, ...
Commercial Lobster Fisherman Convicted of Poaching in Protected Area

Commercial Lobster Fisherman Convicted of Poaching in Protected Area

After a five-month investigation, a commercial lobster poaching suspect has been found guilty in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced said in December. The conviction of Rustin Craig Wilson, 37, of Lawndale, is on top of prior commercial lobster poaching convictions and occurred while he was on probation for the prior convictions, according to CDFW. The investigation into illegal commercial poaching activity was first launched after a series of complaints from legitimate commercial lobster harvesters operating offshore of San Pedro and Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County. Using a combination of multiple contacts and inspections at sea and at the dock, home visits, analysis of marine navigation equipment seized during the investigat...
NPFMC Votes to Reduce Trawlers’ Halibut Bycatch

NPFMC Votes to Reduce Trawlers’ Halibut Bycatch

Federal fisheries managers have approved a regulatory package which could reduce the future incidental halibut catch from trawlers fishing in the Bering Sea by up to 35%, a move that could result in a multimillion-dollar loss to Washington-based flatfish fishermen. The decision of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on abundance-based management of halibut in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands came on an 8-3 vote after several days of passionate testimony in support and opposition. The council’s decision – made during the Dec. 13 virtual meeting – would have a devastating effect on the federal flatfish fishery off Alaska with no significant improvements to the halibut fishery, according to Chris Woodley, executive director of the Groundfish Forum, a trade association that rep...
BC Takes Drastic Steps to Rebuild Pacific Salmon Stocks

BC Takes Drastic Steps to Rebuild Pacific Salmon Stocks

With Pacific salmon stocks in long-term decline and many of those runs on the verge of collapse, the Canadian government is taking drastic steps in a multi-year program to reduce pressure on exiting stocks and to stabilize and rebuild abundance. “What cannot be debated is that most wild Pacific salmon stocks continue to decline at unprecedented rates—we are pulling the emergency brake to give these salmon populations the best chance at survival,” Bernadette Jordan, the then-Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said before leaving office. She announced in mid-2021 long term closures of specific commercial fisheries and the launch of the Pacific Salmon Commercial Transition Program, which provides harvesters with the option to retire their licenses for fair-market v...
Boat Prep: Getting Your Vessel Ready for the Upcoming Season

Boat Prep: Getting Your Vessel Ready for the Upcoming Season

For every profession there are tools of the trade—equipment that’s vital to success. Chefs have their knives; hairstylists have their scissors. For commercial fishermen, it’s what’s beneath their feet – their boat. It’s the one entity that separates them and their crew from the ocean’s murky depths. And before they head out to sea for weeks or months, their vessel needs to be prepared. “Their boat is their life,” explained Blaise Holly, lead shipwright at Haven Boatworks in Port Townsend, Wash. “All the conditions have to exist to ensure that boat brings you back and all the supply systems (are ready) for your fishing operation. When you’re heading out you want to do everything in your power to make sure your boat’s going to float, it’s not going to burst into flames , and it’s going to...
Aquaculture – Possible Big Moves in 2022

Aquaculture – Possible Big Moves in 2022

Over the last four decades in the U.S., interest in farmed seafood, aka aquaculture—at least at the federal level —has rolled in and out like the tide. However, interest alone has yet to result in the kind of projects that deliver large scale, national impacts. In the last two years alone, numerous aquaculture initiatives had high-level federal attention, including: October 2020, in response to a Presidential Executive Order, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a request for information on the development of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOAs), with an initial focus on sites in the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. In August 2021, NOAA and the Department of Agriculture moved to update the National Aquaculture Development Plan. There should be more to co...
Trident Seafoods Adds C/P Starbound to Its Fleet

Trident Seafoods Adds C/P Starbound to Its Fleet

Trident Seafoods is acquiring the 300-foot at-sea processor C/P Starbound from Aleutian Spray Fisheries Inc. for use in its wild Alaska Pollock fishery, the two seafood firms have confirmed. Modernizing Trident’s aging fleet of catcher processors has been a priority for some time, and the Starbound “aligns perfectly with Trident’s values and vision,” Trident CEO Joe Bundrant said. “With this investment, we improve our efficiency and environmental performance in our continuous effort to better utilize wild Alaska Pollock and Pacific whiting resources, while keeping constant focus on health of fish stocks and the role we play in protecting our natural environment.” Bundrant said that Trident and Aleutian Spray, both family-owned companies, share a commitment to annually invest in fisher...