The halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries closed with little fanfare Nov. 7, with only one regular commercial buyer and one private buyer in Homer accepting fish.
Kodiak and the surrounding areas got some mixed news about the bairdi Tanner crab fishery scheduled to open Jan. 15.
The Bristol Bay Times is reporting that the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery is off to a slow start compared to last year, according to Miranda Westphal, shellfish biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska. The season opened Oct. 15 and as of Monday, just over a week into the fishery, only 1.5 million pounds had been landed. In the same time period last year, the boats hauled in 6 million pounds.
The Alaska Board Of Fisheries declined an Agenda Change Request to take up the Kodiak salmon management plan out of cycle, submitted by United Cook Inlet Drift Association at a work session last week.
Seafoodnews.com is reporting that serious reductions are inevitable for both the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska cod quotas and the quotas will be down dramatically.
Upper Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishermen once again endured a below-average season, at least in terms of sockeye salmon, in spite of exceeding run forecasts.
Homer’s Cook Inletkeeper is monitoring a number of streams in the Cook Inlet watershed for temperature and finding some troubling results, according to a newly released paper in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.
Prince William Sound is expecting the largest pink salmon harvest on record this year, a stunning 58.9 million fish, while the Copper River sockeye run is expected to come in at a modest 889,000 fish, with an additional 1.2 million sockeyes forecasted for harvest from Prince William Sound, mostly from the Main Bay hatchery facility.
There are some spring learning opportunities for fishermen and deckhands coming up soon.
The Alaska spring herring season kicked off in Sitka Sound on March 19 with a 3-hour and 20-minute opening that rounded up 3,500 tons of sac roe herring, followed by a very short 15-minute opening three days later that scooped up around another 3,800 tons, which brought the season total to about half of the 14,600 ton quota.
The 2017 halibut season got underway as scheduled on March 11 despite uncertainty from President Donald Trump’s administration that had instructed every federal agency to remove two regulations for each one put in place, as well as put a 60-day hold on any new regulations.
Alaska fishermen and others who rely on programs funded by the federal government are wondering whether the federal resources will be available to keep the industry safe and productive.
While setnet salmon fishermen in Upper Cook Inlet potentially saw some easing of restrictions on their fishery at the Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings in Anchorage taking place the last 15 days, the drift fleet has not necessarily been so fortunate.
The International Pacific Halibut Commission is preparing for its annual meeting beginning Monday, Jan. 23. While things seem to have stabilized, there are still some areas expected to go down, most notably Area 2C in Southeast Alaska, where the plan is to reduce the catch by nearly 18 percent. Area 2C rose 6 percent last season.
Adding to a long list of salmon fisheries that did not produce as expected in 2016, the Copper River drift gillnet fishery fell well short of expectations, in spite of above average time and effort.
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game preliminary report, the notoriously dangerous Copper River Flats sockeye/king salmon fishery, which opened, as usual, to much fanfare on May 16, was expected to produce 21,000 chinook, 1.62 million sockeye and 201,000 coho salmon through the end of the season.
Once again, the 2016 Upper Cook Inlet salmon season fell far short of expectations.
The 2016 commercial harvest of around 3 million salmon was 12 percent less than the most recent 10-year average harvest of 3.5 million salmon of all species, but even lower for sockeyes.
The dollar value was also lower, coming in at $22.3 million, 23 percent less than the 10-year average.
While all five species of salmon are caught and sold in Cook Inlet, sockeyes have made up almost 93 percent of the value for at least the past 20 years.
A mini-price war on the Homer docks turned out to be a boon for a small handful of halibut fishermen this week, with one fishermen selling his large fish, over 40 pounds, for $7.80 per pound. The lowest price on the dock was $7 straight.
Halibut prices have been strong all year, but the flurry of price increases this week went into uncharted territory.
Turmoil is roiling the Bristol Bay salmon fishery long before boats start ramming each other and running over nets.
One major issue is price, which last year averaged 50 cents per pound before refrigeration and production bonuses.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its annual Commercial Fisheries Management Report for the 2015 season in Upper Cook Inlet.
While the report does extensively cover what happened in the salmon fisheries, it also covers lesser known harvests such as razor clams, smelt and herring, in addition to regulatory changes, enhancement efforts, participation and ex-vessel prices.
Also included are personal use and educational fisheries.
Bad weather, zero state funding to prosecute the fishery, and the early arrival of the fish has thrown a bit of a wrench in to the gears of the Togiak sac roe herring fishery.
“Windier than all get out,” is how area management biologist Tim Sands described current weather conditions.
As of Monday, the total harvest was 7,489 tons, out of a total quota of 28,782 tons.
There is no doubt that 2016 sets or breaks records across the board.