SE/YKT Board of Fisheries Finfish Meeting: February 23 – March 3, 2015 Sitka, AK
Comment Deadline: February 9, 2015
See Calendar for more!
ADFG Fishery Hotlines
Troll (907) 465-8765 / (907) 747-8765 / (907) 772-3700 / (907) 225-6870
Groundfish (907) 747-4882
Enforcement (907) 478-3377
ADFG News Releases
ADFG SE/YKT Regulations
2014 Chinook Quota
Troll Fishery Management Plans
NEW British Columbia Mining Agenda Threatens Fisheries Habitat Across the Region
ATA and other fishing, environmental, and tribal representatives recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to discuss large scale mining development in British Columbia. The group hand-delivered to the Alaska congressional delegation, US State Department, EPA, and the International Joint Commission a letter signed by 40 businesses, organizations, and tribes that are concerned about the impact Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) and other large mines could have on critical habitat. Alaska’s representatives agree that water quality in transboundary rivers must be protected in the face of industrial mining, so they asked Secretary of State John Kerry to raise the issue with Canada’s federal and provincial governments.
If approved, KSM will be placed at the headwaters of the Unuk River, which flows into Southeast Alaska and is one of the region’s top king salmon producers. Primarily a copper mine, KSM would also produce silver, gold, and molybdenum. Current estimates suggest that this would be one of the world’s largest mines and dwarf anything that Alaska has seen. Seabrige Gold hopes to operate the mine for more than 50 years and extract about two billion tons of tailings. The mine will require two ‘100 year’ dams to hold tailings and the operator will attempt to treat volumes of water on a scale never before seen - 119,000 gallons per minute - with no contingency plan in the event of system failures. Water treatment for acid drainage and monitoring for selenium and other toxins would be needed in perpetuity, yet no one knows who will pay for such measures or mitigate any damages in Canada or Alaska. Another large open pit mine, Galore Creek, is slated for the headwaters of the Stikine River.
Premier Christie Clark has touted British Columbia’s plans to fast-track the opening of eight new mines and expansion of nine others by 2015. 38 mines are currently under permit review; KSM could be approved sometime this spring. There is concern that Canada’s environmental laws have been weakened in recent years, which could mean less protection for fish habitat. ATA believes KSM and some of the other mine developments are a threat to fish and wildlife that both Alaskan’s and Canadian’s rely upon. For many years we have spoken out on proposals to re-open the Tulsequah Chief mine site near Juneau, which is also situated on a transboundary watershed. Various concepts to transport equipment, fuel, and ore have met with resistance by ATA and others, due to the risk posed to the salmon and past failures to adequately protect water quality. Since the 1950’s, acid from the old mine site has been draining into a tributary of the Taku River, which is the largest producer of salmon in Southeast.
JE 3-part series on KSM Mine
US Coast Guard
Safety Rules (still) on Horizon – updated May 2014
The USCG informs us that there are no new safety requirements for the 2014 season. However, we still expect to see some new regulations published for public comment. Monitor the USCG websites for the most current updates on requirements specific to your operation.
Clarification: Mandatory Dockside Inspections
This has been a source of particular of confusion. Here is the current rule:
Mandatory dockside safety exams are not required this season, unless you have to carry an observer, then they are mandatory. All commercial fishermen who operate beyond 3 miles offshore must complete a dockside inspection prior to Oct 15, 2015. At this time, safety inspection decals are only good for 2 years. `
In October 2010 the president signed into law the USCG Authorization Act of 2010. In January 2012 Congress passed the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012. Congress included in both of these laws a number of new safety rules for the commercial fishing industry. Changes include: a revised boundary line definition (3NM from land); new safety equipment and construction standards for uninspected commercial fishing vessels operating beyond the boundary; mandatory dockside inspections every 2 years; onboard logbook requirements for safety gear maintenance and drills; operator training; and revised survival craft requirements - life floats and buoyant apparatus will no longer be allowed as a substitute for a liferaft. Here is an overview of the potential changes: Safety Requirements – current as of May 2014.
Timeline for implementation of these requirements remains unclear. Some provisions, such as load-line rules, will undergo additional rulemaking. You can help keep watch on new developments by monitoring the websites linked above. Be sure to comment on any proposed regulations and you are also encouraged to write the Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee with your concerns. Read ATA’s most recent comments here.
In anticipation of new requirements, Alaska Marine Safety Education Association has been offering free drill conductor training for commercial vessel owners, skippers, and crew. Funding for this program won’t last forever, so if you haven’t had a chance to get in on this excellent class, check soon to see if it is still available. Contact AMSEA for more information on locations and course schedules for this and other class offerings.
Southeast Chinook Mitigation Program
A $15 million Chinook mitigation program was authorized by Congress to help offset the impacts of Chinook quota reductions in Southeast Alaska under the 2009 Pacific Salmon Treaty agreement. Since 2011, funds have been used to assist trollers and anglers with a combination of direct payments, enhancement, and infrastructure projects. The Stakeholders Panel is a collaborative team of trollers, sport fishermen, processors, charter boat operators, Southeast communities, and the state. This group has worked together the last five years to define project areas for mitigation funds. The Panel met in spring 2014 to make its final recommendations to the Governor for the remainder of the mitigation fund. The state will make decisions on the disposition of those monies in early June. Projects proposed by ATA and approved by the state include: ice making and fuel delivery improvements, new hatchery production, processing equipment, work floats, and direct payments to fishermen. Many of these programs have already launched and are providing benefits to Southeast fishermen and their communities.
For more specifics on the program visit the state’s webpage: Chinook Mitiga tion.
Alaska Congressional Delegation Introduces Legislation on GE Salmon
No word yet on FDA's decision on whether or not to allow the sale of genetically modified salmon. In the meantime, a number of efforts continue by the Alaska congressional delegation and others, to prevent the sale of modified seafood, or at minimum, label the product so that consumers can make a choice.
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young have introduced companion bills dubbed The PEGASUS Act, which among other things would prohibit shipping, selling, purchasing, raising GE salmon, or releasing them into a natural environment.
Congressional Bills: S. 246 / H.R. 1667
US House Debate on GE salmon (10:00pm on the video)
ATA Comment on FDA Proposed Approval of GE Salmon
ATA Opinion Piece on GE salmon
Congressman Young Introduces Fish Farm Bill
Congressman Don Young has submitted H.R.753, which would prohibit the permitting of commercial finfish farming in the EEZ until a federal law is passed to specifically provide for the activity.
NOAA and US Department of Commerce aquaculture policies.
The recent cycle of punishing weather and geologic events has affected the lives of so many around the world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of families whose lives have been severely disrupted. So often we focus intently on these far away disaster situations when they are front page news, then go back to our daily lives while others struggle to pick up the pieces. We encourage the members of our industry to prepare your family and property, donate to a local food bank and an emergency relief fund of choice. Please also consider volunteering your time to local and outside response groups.
- West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center
- U.S. State Department
- Red Cross
- Japan Earthquake and Other Relief Options
- Emergency Preparedness
- Tsunamis and SE Alaska