Tag: alaska

Alaska Legislature Approves Task Force to Help Commercial Fishing Industry
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Alaska Legislature Approves Task Force to Help Commercial Fishing Industry

Alaska legislators on May 12 approved the creation of a task force to make policy recommendations to help the state’s struggling commercial fishing industry. It is to be modeled after another legislative task force created over 20 years ago to help the salmon industry at a time when harvesters were facing the impact of low prices and competition from farmed fish. The resolution by the House Special Committee on Fisheries, and sponsored by the Alaska Senate Finance Committee, acknowledges the economic distress for harvesters in danger of being without markets and the number of seafood processing facilities for sale, closing or planning to shut down for a portion, or all of, the 2024 fishing season. The task force is to be composed of eight members, with the state senate preside...
Alaska’s Copper River Wild Salmon Fishery Opens May 16: ADF&G
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Alaska’s Copper River Wild Salmon Fishery Opens May 16: ADF&G

Alaska’s celebrated Copper River wild salmon fishery opens on Thursday, May 16 for a 12-hour commercial drift gillnet fishing period, while waters within the expanded Chinook salmon inside closure area closed for that same period. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the opener May 1, noting that subsistence harvest will also be allowed in the Copper River District during commercial fishing periods, until the season ends. ADF&G biologists said their Miles Lake sonar camp was scheduled to open May 7, but that the banks of the river are still covered with shore ice in the vicinity of the sonar sites. Commercial fishing in the Bering River District also are scheduled to open May 16 for a 12-hour commercial drift gillnet fishing period. The next announcement fro...
Seafood Economics Contributes $6B to Alaska’s Economy: ASMI Report
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Seafood Economics Contributes $6B to Alaska’s Economy: ASMI Report

The seafood industry plays a critical role in the state’s economy, employing over 48,000 workers annually and contributing $6 billion to the state’s economy, according to a new report from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “The economic benefits of the seafood industry are felt by all Alaskans,” said Jeremy Woodrow, executive director of ASMI, who released the 2024 update of “The Economic Value of Alaska’s Seafood Industry” report on April 24. Current global challenges notwithstanding, the variety and superior quality of products Alaska has to offer is unmatched, Woodrow said. “Research shows that consumers strongly prefer wild seafood to farmed, they want to add more sustainable seafood to their routines, and they place a high value on the health benefits of seafood,” h...
Study: Alaska Snow Crab Collapse Attributed to Starvation
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Study: Alaska Snow Crab Collapse Attributed to Starvation

Federal fisheries researchers studying the dramatic crash of snow crab in the Bering Sea from 2018 to 2021 have determined that caloric requirements of the crab quadrupled when sea temperatures rose and the crab ultimately starved to death. Snow crabs will eat almost anything they can catch and break open with their claws, a diet that may include fish, shrimp, crabs, worms, clams, brittle starts, snails, algae and sponges, as well as anything dead they find. In 2018, there were more snow crab in the Bering Sea than ever seen before, Cody Szuwalski, a fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, said. So the decline of roughly 10 billion crab from 2018 to 2021 was a precipitous unexpected collapse, he said in a ...
U.S. Senator Sounds the Alarm on Alaska Fisheries
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U.S. Senator Sounds the Alarm on Alaska Fisheries

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, says his first priority in dealing with the economic woes facing the state’s seafood industry is sounding the alarm in Congress and the Alaska Legislature. Sullivan told participants at the state fisheries meeting ComFish Alaska on April 13 in Kodiak that he has told every member of the Legislature that this is a big deal, and that he’s also sounding the alarm with the federal government. “The executive branch of the federal government can do a lot more,” Sullivan said. “If this was a crisis impacting Wall Street or American farmers, they would have been all over this months ago.” Sullivan said that immediate action and long-term policy actions need to be considered for fisheries challenges all over the state. He also propped up his National Sea...
Northern Dynasty, State of Alaska, Seek to Vacate EPA Veto on Pebble
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Northern Dynasty, State of Alaska, Seek to Vacate EPA Veto on Pebble

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is continuing the state’s legal pursuit for the permitting of the proposed Pebble mine by asking the U.S. District Court in Alaska to find the Environmental Protection Agency’s order on state land in Bristol Bay unlawful. A complaint filed April 11 argues that the state is protecting its interests as the landowner from unlawful federal actions, including being dispossessed of its right to manage its own property. The Pebble prospect abuts the Bristol Bay watershed, home of the world’s largest run of wild sockeye salmon. The fishery annually provides thousands of jobs and contributes millions of dollars to the state’s economy. Opponents of the mine contend that the potential adverse environmental impact of the mine would prove a disaster for the fisher...
Silver Bay, Peter Pan Reach Agreement on Valdez Facilities
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Silver Bay, Peter Pan Reach Agreement on Valdez Facilities

Silver Bay Seafoods has acquired Peter Pan Seafoods’ Valdez, Alaska, processing facilities and also plans to operate Peter Pan’s facilities in Port Moller and Dillingham for the 2024 salmon season, the two processors said in an April 4 joint announcement. Shifting operations of these facilities to Silver Bay Seafoods is a component of a larger restructuring effort, which is still being finalized, the two seafood giants said. The larger restricting plan would have Silver Bay acquiring Peter Pan’s’ processing facilities and support sites after the 2024 salmon season. Peter Pan would remain active in conducting the remaining activities needed to close out 2023 operations, including sales and accounting functions. The two companies said that they’re committed to a seamless tra...
Alaska Legislature Boosts Available Injury Payouts from Fishermen’s Fund
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Alaska Legislature Boosts Available Injury Payouts from Fishermen’s Fund

Alaska legislators have boosted from $10,000 to $15,000 the maximum payout allowed for crew injuries and disablement via the state’s Fishermen’s Fund. The fund, which predates statehood, is administered by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. It’s considered an emergency fund payer of last resort. The $5,000 upgrade to the fund was contained in Senate Bill 92, which was approved by legislators on April 4. Clay Bezenek, a commercial salmon and herring gillnetter in Ketchikan, who serves on the board, said that demands on the fund are fewer than they used to be because commercial boat owners are more likely these days to carry medical insurance to cover crew members. He also said the board supports any legislation that modernizes the fund, recalling the d...
Market Forces Pull Alaska Seafood Processing Jobs Into a Downward Trajectory
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Market Forces Pull Alaska Seafood Processing Jobs Into a Downward Trajectory

Global market forces, the low value of the Russian ruble, a trade war with China, large pink salmon harvests and high inflation have led to historically low prices paid to harvesters and processors across multiple seafood species harvested in Alaska. Now economists with the Alaska Department of Labor say much of what happens in Alaska’s upcoming fishing season depends on how many potential processing facility sales actually go through before the season begins. “Long term there should be recovery, but it is hard to say how long it will take, because so many of these factors are external to Alaska and out of our control,” said state labor economist Sam Tappen, who authored an update on seafood processing sales and closures in Alaska with fellow economist Dan Robinson in the April e...
Judge’s Decision Hands Subsistence Management on Kuskokwim River to Feds
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Judge’s Decision Hands Subsistence Management on Kuskokwim River to Feds

A federal court judge in Anchorage has ruled in favor of the Biden administration, giving the federal government authority to give rural residents priority to fish for salmon on the Kuskokwim River, where stocks have dwindled, while the state of Alaska wants the fishery open to all residents. In a decision handed down March 29, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that the state is enjoined from reinstating Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) actions in 2021 and 2022 on fishing on the Kuskokwim River within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. Gleason said the federal government and intervenor-plaintiffs, the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, have shown irreparable harm to enforce rural subsistence priority to federally qualified subsistence ...