The Union and Fishing Vessel Owners thank the NPFMC for incremental progress made on Bycatch reduction

Progress is being made with the Council as they are now looking at pelagic and non-pelagic trawl separately - but corrective action regarding the tendering observer exemption and the expansion and refinement of a robust observer program for the partial coverage fleets is essential to the sustainability of the fishery...

Please see the copy below of a recent letter to Council calling for action!

June 20, 2018

Mr. Dan Hull, Chairman
North Pacific Fishery Management Council
605 W. 4th Ave., Ste 306
Anchorage, AK 99501-2252

RE: Future Partial Observer Coverage Changes

Dear Chairman Hull:

    We want to thank the Council for the opportunity provided Fishing Vessel Owner’s Association to comment in Kodiak on the partial- coverage observer program under Agenda Item C-1. The Council action to “include an evaluation of observer effects at finer resolution than gear-level strata, so that observer effects in pelagic and non-pelagic trawl can be investigated,” is an appreciated step forward. This resolution should help focus future observer coverage and a better use of limited funds. However, we want to express our disappointment with the Council not following through with the proposed Council correction to the “tendering exemption” and not asking the staff to look at cost associated with getting coverage levels increased to the 30% for the partial- coverage fleets.     

The abuse of the tendering observer exemption, as described on page 105 of the May 2017 Annual Observer Report, describes the outright subversion of the observer program by certain shore-based entities in their efforts to avoid the needed counting of salmon bycatch. We believe vessel operation incentives to avoid coverage are still present for vessels tendering Pacific cod.  We would also inform the Council that the fact the shore-based processors only receive a warning for their manipulation of bycatch accounting has not gone unnoticed by the harvesters.     

The Council’s failure to look seriously at longer-term solutions for increasing observer coverage was disappointing. We believe the following action would provide beneficial information to the Council relative to costs in expanding coverage to partial-coverage vessels. We continue to support a Council discussion paper that would examine a separate program with a “pay as you go” system for pelagic and non-pelagic trawlers while keeping fixed gear operations within the current ADP observer program. We believe random selection can be a design of both formats. One form of the analysis would be the fee necessary to get fixed gear up to 30% of catch or trips and the cost of the trawl fleet to obtain similar coverage of their tows and/or catch.     

In summary, we want to thank the Council for taking a positive step in looking at pelagic and non-pelagic trawl separately. We request that the Council complete its own proposed correction action to the tendering observer exemption, which, as yet, has not been tasked to staff for completion. Lastly, we request the Council examine our request for expanding and developing a more robust observer program for the partial coverage fleets.

Sincerely,

         Robert D. Alverson                                                      James Johnson         Manager                                                                       Executive Director         Fishing Vessel Owners' Association                          Deep Sea Fishermen's Union

        Robert D. Alverson                                                      James Johnson
        Manager                                                                       Executive Director
        Fishing Vessel Owners' Association                          Deep Sea Fishermen's Union




The United States looks abroad to provide seafood to its citizens

The United States looks abroad to provide seafood to its citizens

Federal data say the United States imported more seafood in 2017 than at any point in its history, and the nation's trade deficit in the sector is growing. Some of the seafood items that American consumers are especially fond of, including salmon, tuna and shrimp, are heavily dependent on foreign imports to make it to U.S. markets and restaurants.

"[Expletive] the Fishermen!"

This article is from the Fishermen's News, July 2018 and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Deep Sea Fishermen's Union

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor - Fishermen's News

THIS SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN THE SENTIMENT FOR years among those elected to represent you in the City of Seattle and the State of Washington. Finally, someone has come right out and said it.

              Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien and his wife were kicked out of a gala reception for the arts in early May. The private reception was hosted by a local business with ties to commercial fishing, and Councilman O’Brien’s presence, in shirtsleeves and suspenders among the tuxedoes and cocktail dressed, was not welcome. The organizers made it clear that his political positions are in direct contradiction to continued success of Seattle’s commercial fishing industry. Having been asked twice to leave, O’Brien was escorted off the premises, spilling his beer along the way. One her way out the door, O’Brien’s wife, Julie, allegedly turned around and shouted to the hundreds of well-heeled guests, [Expletive} the fishermen!’

              Classy.

              This incident came as no surprise to those in the local fishing and maritime industries. Seattle’s recent institutional antagonism toward the fishing industry is well known. As early as 2004, Mayor Greg Nickels famous for welcoming transients to camp on private property, told the press that the fishing industry in Ballard and Fremont was dirty, and he would rather they moved to Kent, a landlocked city south of Seatac airport.

              His successors, Mayors McGinn and Murray, have also been hostile to the businesses in Ballard and Magnolia that rely on the city for transportation infrastructure.

              The state itself has been working to force local, non-tribal fishermen out since at least the 2012 election of Governor Jay Inslee, who has been an outspoken proponent of reserving the state’s seafood resources for the sport fishermen. The Governor’s latest salvo in his efforts to rid the state of commercials fishermen in his “blue” economy initiative, in which he promotes the distant-water fleets that fish outside of state waters to the detriment of local fishermen, which he promoted at another gala event, this one attended by bureaucrats and captains of industry but no local fishermen.

              The “Maritime Innovation Advisory Council” includes a panel or representatives form several state agencies but carefully avoids including any non-tribal commercial fishermen on the panel. Governor Inslee argues that tribal fisheries can supply all the necessary commercials fish to the state’s consumers. Of the three co-chairs leading the group, one is State Representative Gael Tarleton, who represents the state’s 36t legislative district, which includes Ballard and Fishermen’s Terminal, who recently urged the state to prioritize increased recreational fishing over commercial fishing in State waters.

              A study in 2015 found that those involved in the commercial fishing industry in Seattle earned an average of $70,000 – enough to support a family and pay taxes in a city and state that are working hard to chase them away. Julie O’Brien simply shouted publicly what her husband, the Governor and many state lawmakers have been untroubledly been saying privately for years.


China slams Alaska and US Seafoods with 25% Tariff on $1 Billion in Imports

SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [SeafoodNews] by John Sackton – June 15, 2018

China wasted no time retaliating against President Trump’s trade war. The US seafood industry has been hit hard.

China will impose 25% punitive tariffs on a range of US seafood exports worth nearly $1 billion in 2017.

The tariffs will go into effect on July 6th. They are calculated as 25% additional tax on the imported cost of the product, including any previous tariffs.

So if a dungeness crab product was taxed at 12%, the 25% will be on the total cost, ie import cost plus previous tariff.

Virtually no important US seafood product was left off the list.

The tariffs will hit pink salmon, chum salmon, frozen cod, frozen pollock, all flatfish, sockeye salmon, atka mackerel, herring, sablefish, geoduck etc. etc. A full list of the top 25 species hit by the tariffs is at the end of this story.

In 2017, the seafood exports subject to this tariff were worth $987 million.

Using 2017 figures, the value to Alaska of the products hit by the punitive tariff is more than $750 million.

For the West Coast, Dungeness crab , Hake, Geoduck, coldwater shrimp are all hit.

In Maine, live and frozen lobster are hit as well. This will have an immediate impact on the live lobster market, shifting even more Canadian product to China, and leaving the US at a disadvantage in both the Chinese and European export markets, where Canada already has duty free access.

The ramifications are very serious for Alaska as well. All the Alaska products that go to China for reprocessing, such as pollock, cod, and pink salmon, will be subject to the 25% tariff.

The cost of these tariffs will hit the seafood industry, because ultimately there is little choice but to continue to send these products to China. China has become the de facto export destination for virtually all seafood reprocessing done overseas.

When the US imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels, the Chinee government stepped in to eat the increased cost. As a result, the Chinese companies selling solar panels are still selling them in the US.

There is little chance of our industry getting the same support. So through absolutely no fault of our own, most companies will see a big hit to their bottom line, because they will have to agree to lower prices in order to maintain marketability in the face of this 25% increase in costs.

Is there a silver lining? The only positive response I can see from this is the potential to process more fish in Alaska. However, most plants there are near capacity, labor issues abound, and many plants in both salmon and groundfish have reconfigured themselves to freeze and export products, not to fillet and do final packaging.

For the lobster industry, I see no positives whatsoever. Lobster prices have already been coming down, and taking away a major US export market will mean the US domestic lobsters are far more restricted than Canadian lobsters.

China is also the main market for specialty seafoods like sablefish and geoduck. Again, these items will face an immediate 25% tax – pushing up their cost in China.

All in all, this represents the worst outcome feared by the industry. The Chinese are deliberately targeting smaller industries that have little ability to fight back, much as other countries hit by US tariffs are targeting specialty items like bourbon or motorcycles.

In the overall picture, soybeans are the big shoe here. China is the primary market for this crop, one of the largest produced by American Farmers. It was also on the list of tariffs announced today, along with pork. 

Go to SEAFOODNEWS.com to read the rest of BREAKING NEWS: China Slams Alaska and US Seafood Industry with 25% Tariff on $1 Billion in Exports


Pacific halibut groups call out NPFMC over 'inability' to reduce bycatch

Pacific halibut groups call out NPFMC over 'inability' to reduce bycatch

"The Scientific and Statistical Committee, the Observer Committee and the Advisory Panel have all pointed out serious data quality problems with how the Council has supervised the Gulf of Alaska Observer program," said Odergaard and Johnson.

Brother Walter McQuillen reporting from Community Outreach Meeting in Kodiak

 Highly ironic photo of DSFU member John Adams that was used by NMFS during the June 5th community meeting last night to hear from fishermen in the community about their thoughts regarding IFQ (Photo: Walter McQuillen).

Highly ironic photo of DSFU member John Adams that was used by NMFS during the June 5th community meeting last night to hear from fishermen in the community about their thoughts regarding IFQ (Photo: Walter McQuillen).

 

From Walter McQuillen
DSFU Trustee

I was lucky enough to be in Kodiak delivering a black cod trip when the NPFMC was meeting.  I had time to make the IFQ committee outreach meet. The meeting was held so smaller rural communities in Alaska could view their opinions on the problems of halibut IFQ. What I walked away from the meeting was young salmon fishermen are trying to supplement there salmon income with halibut fishing. But with the price of quota it didn't seem to be worth it to them financially.  

All and all it was a very respectful meeting with people trying not to point fingers, and just expressing their thoughts that without outside financial help getting into the fishery wasn't an option right now. 

 


Connelly: Sen. Cantwell on study of giant Alaska mine -- Let us in!!

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F/V Exito crewmen Lee Fleury prepares to throw the grappling hook at a crab pot buoy off in the distance while Lyndon Yockey, rear, runs the hydraulics to manuever heavy crab pots to be stacked onboard.

By Joel Connelly, Seattle PI Published Friday, June 1, 2018

Pacific Northwest fishermen, shipbuilders, suppliers and restaurants must be heard as the Army Corps of Engineers puts together an environmental impact statement on a big proposed mine in Alaska, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has told the Corps.

The Pebble Mine would be built between two of Bristol Bay's major salmon spawning streams, which are part of the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery.  An estimated 51 million salmon are expected to return this year.

The Corps has scheduled nine pubic scoping meetings, all of them in Alaska.  Opposition has been intense not only in the 49th State -- the Bristol Bay Native Corp. is a major critic -- but among Washington boat operators and fish processors.

"There are no public meetings scheduled in Washington State," Cantwell said in a letter to the Corps.  "This expedited process is grossly inefficient, and does not allow my constituents the opportunity to participate in the permitting process in person."

The proposed mine appears on its last legs during the Obama administration.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in an exhaustive study, laid out how miles of spawning habitat that would be ruined, catastrophic consequences of any breach in the proposed tailing dam, and disruption of a pristine, vastly productive corner of Alaska. 

As well, major mining conglomerates withdrew from the project.  Major jewelers, from Ben Bridge in Seattle to Tiffany in New York, pledged not to use metals from the mine.

The developers of the proposed mine sued the EPA, which had moved to block the mine under the Clean Water Act.

The Trump administration "settled" the suit by letting the permitting process go ahead. Cantwell is worried at who is being shut out.

"Pacific Northwest fishermen, shipbuilders, suppliers, sportsmen and restaurants have built an economy around this one of a kind sustainable fishery," she told the Corps.

"The commercial sockeye fishery is valued at $1.5 billion in annual economic output, including $500 million in direct income.  Bristol Bay supports 12,000 commercial fisheries jobs and another 10,000 salmon-related industry jobs across the United States, including thousands of jobs in Washington state."

The Corps has yet to respond to the letter.

(SeattlePI.com writer Joel Connelly can be reached at joelconnelly@seattlepi.com)


Canadian investor backs away from Alaska mine project

 In this July 13, 2007 file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamma. A Canadian company that was courted as a potential partner in a proposed copper-and-gold mine near one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries has backed away from the project. Mine developer Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. says it was unable to finalize an agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd., the potential investor. The proposed mine is near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, which is where about half the world’s sockeye salmon is produced. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

In this July 13, 2007 file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamma. A Canadian company that was courted as a potential partner in a proposed copper-and-gold mine near one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries has backed away from the project. Mine developer Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. says it was unable to finalize an agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd., the potential investor. The proposed mine is near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, which is where about half the world’s sockeye salmon is produced. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

By BECKY BOHRER
The Associated Press
Originally published Seattle Times May 25, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Canadian company that was courted as a potential partner in a proposed copper-and-gold mine near one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries in Alaska has backed away from the project. Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which is seeking to develop the Pebble Mine project in southwest Alaska, said Friday that it was unable to finalize an agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd., the potential investor.

It was not immediately clear what happened or what this means for the project, which has a permit application pending with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Tom Collier is CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, which is owned by Northern Dynasty. In a statement, he said Friday was “business as usual” for him, and that developers are “continuing to press forward.” He said he believes Pebble will secure the funding necessary to continue the permitting process. A spokesman for First Quantum Minerals did not respond to a request for comment. The company posted on its website a release from Northern Dynasty that lacks specifics.

When the two companies announced talks in December, Philip Pascall, chairman and CEO of First Quantum Minerals, said in a release that the Pebble project is widely seen as “one of the outstanding unmined copper projects in the world.” He said his company was “very aware of the environmental and social sensitivity of this project.” Critics of the project, which is located in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, hailed news of the fizzled deal. Bristol Bay produces about half of the world’s sockeye salmon.

Joel Reynolds, Western director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that First Quantum Minerals did the right thing. “We hope First Quantum’s decision closes the door, once and for all, on this ill-conceived and uniquely reckless scheme,” Reynolds said. Northern Dynasty had been looking for a new partner since Anglo American PLC announced it was pulling out in 2013.

The Pebble Limited Partnership last year settled a long-running lawsuit with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that cleared the way for the company to seek permits for the mine project. But the EPA has left open the possibility for future restrictions on development.Collier earlier this year said the company will demonstrate that it can “successfully operate a mine without compromising the fish and water resources around the project.”


FVOA and DSFU asks NPFMC to take immediate action on Bycatch related matters

May 29, 2018

Mr. Dan Hull, Chairman
North Pacific Fishery Management Council
605 W. 4th Ave., Ste 306
Anchorage, AK 99501-2252

RE: C-1 2017 Observer Report

Dear Chairman Hull:

The following comments and requested actions are on behalf of the members of the Fishing Vessel Owners' Association (FVOA) and the Deep Sea Fishermen's Union (DSFU). FVOA is a trade association of 96-family-owned commercial fishing vessel operations that all have sablefish and halibut quota shares fished off Alaska. The DSFU has represented longline crews for over a hundred years. Crews contribute over 25% of the millage fees for the ADP observer program and are concerned that the lack of accountability for halibut bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska is a major contribution to the decline of our halibut resource. All of our members, from both organizations, contribute to the Council's observer program with landing fees. The following comments express their concerns with the current Adaptive Deployment Plan (ADP) observer program for catcher vessels. The concerns expressed are based on comments expressed in the May 2018 Annual Observer Report from National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The members of FVOA have expressed similar concerns in the past in numerous letters and public comment. The Council responded in part to our concerns by voting to develop corrections to the "tendering exemption" for taking observers. Our concern is this action of the Council is currently in the "to do box" and the Council needs to instruct the staff to develop the regulations needed to correct the problems associated with this unique and destructive exemption. The members of FVOA and DSFU request that the Council take this action at the June Kodiak meeting.

The following are observations that the Council should be aware of, found in the Annual 2018 Observer Report. Most of these reinforce the need to fix the tendering exemption.

Notes from the review of the 2017 partial coverage NMFS report (May 2018):

1. Pg. 7 - there is a comment that cancellation rates for selected trips to tenders "is 40 % for hook and line tender and the trawl tender strata." There were 4 Pacific Cod hook­ and-line (HAL) trips delivered to tenders in 2017 and 69 trawl trips delivered to tenders.

There were no tender deliveries of sablefish or halibut. Hence this cancellation factor is associated significantly with trawl tendered trips.

2. Total dollars collected based on 1.25% millage fee for catcher vessels in the GOA 3,821,263 dollars/ $2,436,087 from HAL (63.7%)/ $456,847 from pot (12%) $925,494 trawl (24.3%) Hence the fixed gear participants are paying for at least 75% of the trawlers observer time. FVOA members object to the conclusion that the current program fairly distributes costs.

3. The Observer Science Committee (OSC) says, "There were no major differences between observed  and unobserved tendered trips," despite the  following comments in the annual report

  1. a. Pg. 54- "Although there is strong evidence of bias in unobserved trips relative to (tendered) observed trips, and some vessels conducting an entire fishing season without carrying an observer, the NMFS longer-term recommendation for 100 percent coverage of trawl vessels delivering to tenders may be impractical.... "
    b. Pg. 57 - OSC recommends an alternative model of monitoring salmon bycatch be explored in the partial coverage fleet.....For 3 yrs. of deployment performance review, (inclusive of 2017) the observer program has been unsuccessful in achieving its goal of obtaining an unbiased sample from the Pollock trawl fleet for enumerating salmon bycatch and determining stock of origin.... This solution could be achieved by prohibiting vessels that deliver to tenders from discarding salmon at sea, monitoring those vessels and associated tenders for compliance with electronic monitoring and observing or monitoring all tender deliveries at the plant." The OSC's comments are amazing considering the system failure in 2016 with tendered Pollock in Western Alaska.
    c. See Figure 3-11- the trawl row. Non-tendered trips are not quite 3 days long. If one can deliver to a tender with the observer exemption, trips last up to over 30 days. Pg. 92- "Complaints involved a vessel delivering to a location different from what was logged into ODDS and logging a shore-side or tender delivery and delivering opposite of what was logged". {Note if a vessel hopes to continuously deliver to a tender and avoid observer coverage, but draws an observer on their first trip of the Pacific Cod season, the only way to get out of the observer responsibility is to deliver to a shore-based facility and see if the 83% probability of not getting an observer on the following trip will allow you to  resume deliveries to a tender. {This is our opinion of what is likely happening)
    d. Page 93 - Observer complaints listed as "other complaints" went from 88 in 2016 to 242 in 2017. {At the OAC meeting it was suggested by NMFS a significant number of these were due to changing delivery schedules on tenders, which reinforces the conclusion above.)

4. The rate of covering trawl trips was 18 percent in 2017, however, the non-pelagic trawl only showed a 10 percent coverage rate per pounds landed. {Note when a trip begins there is no rule that a vessel must use or declare the use of a pelagic trawl or a non­ pelagic trawl, in fact vessels carry both. Neither is there an amount of fish to deliver that defines a trip.} There were 2022 trawl trips in 2017, 39 of which a trawler vessel used both types of gear. Based on the 39 trips the OSC recommends not having a strata for pelagic and non-pelagic operations. The fixed gear participants of the OAC disagree. (The fixed gear participants on the OAC have been requesting that trawl be broken out by non-Pollock and Pollock trips as the Pollock trips tend to mask where the bycatch of halibut is really taking place and mask observer effects in general.}

5. The Western GOA (NMFS} tender report shows 39% of the Pacific Cod being delivered to tenders in 2017. If the vessels delivering to tenders are doing so in a non-random determination in order to avoid coverage, then the 39% is compromised as well as the 61% delivered elsewhere for determining forecast of bycatch.

6.

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As you can see with the focus on trips being an underlying design structure of this observer program 63 percent of the coverage falls on fixed gear.

1.     The correction to tendering, previously passed by the council for regulation development, should be moved out of the Council's "to do box" and completed. Since this was previously acted on, this direction needs to be done under staff tasking. This has been recommended by the Advisory Panel and the OAC. The SSC has acknowledged data quality problems with the tendering issue.

1.     It would be helpful to have non-pelagic trawl and pelagic trawl strata included in the Annual Report so we could see what is happening with these two trawl strata relative to bycatch.

2.     It would be helpful to have non-pelagic trawl and pelagic trawl strata included in the Annual Report so we could see what is happening with these two trawl strata relative to bycatch.

3.     FVOA asks for a white paper that would leave the fixed gear catcher vessels in the ADP observer program but have trawl in its own program. One focus of such a paper would be, what millage fee would be necessary for fixed gear to be at 30 percent catch observed and what cost to the trawl strata to have 30 % coverages. Random selection could be designed into both formats.

Sincerely,

         Robert D. Alverson                                                       James Johnson         Manager                                                                       Executive Director         Fishing Vessel Owners' Association                               Deep Sea Fishermen's Union

        Robert D. Alverson                                                       James Johnson
        Manager                                                                       Executive Director
        Fishing Vessel Owners' Association                               Deep Sea Fishermen's Union


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