Pink salmon catch down dramatically from 2015

Alaska’s 2016 pink salmon fishery is set to rank as the worst in 20 years by a long shot, and the outlook is bleak for all other salmon catches except sockeyes.
“Boy, sockeye is really going to have to carry the load in terms of the fishery’s value because there’s a lot of misses elsewhere,” said Andy Wink, a fisheries economist with the Juneau-based McDowell Group.
The historical peaks of the various salmon runs have already passed and the pink salmon catch so far has yet to break 35 million on a forecast of 90 million. That compares to a harvest of 190 million pinks last year.

Website aims to share info about ocean acidification

Alaska is one of a handful of U.S. states to launch a go-to website aimed at keeping ocean acidification in the public eye.
The Alaska Ocean Acidification Network, a collaboration of state and federal scientists, agencies, tribes, conservation, fishing and aquaculture groups, went live last month. Its goal is to provide a forum for researchers to share their findings, and to connect with coastal residents concerned about future impacts on their communities.
Ocean acidification (OA) is caused by the ocean absorbing excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, generated primarily from the burning of fossil fuels for energy. The off-kilter chemistry causes the seawater to become corrosive, making it tough for marine creatures to grow scales and shells.

Who knows more about local salmon than fishermen?

Two big fish stories have been spawned so far by the 2016 Alaska salmon season: 1) sockeyes save the day; and 2) colossal pinks.
A larger than expected sockeye salmon catch that has topped 50 million will salvage a summer that has seen lackluster catches of other salmon species, notably, those hard to predict pinks.
“I think if you’re a Bristol Bay fisherman, you’re probably pretty happy, and if you fished anywhere else in the state, it probably hasn’t been a great season for you,” said Forrest Bowers, deputy director of commercial fisheries at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

‘Crab map’ shows big drop in abundance of legal-sized males

Alaska’s fishing industry was dismayed last week by the sudden news that Jeff Regnart, Director of the State’s Commercial Fisheries Division, will leave the job Oct. 2.
“I’m resigning due to family reasons, aging parents; I just can’t be in the state full-time like this job demands,” Regnart explained.
Regnart started as an Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game field tech in high school. Over the next 30 years, he worked his way to management positions at Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and Bristol Bay.

State Commercial Fisheries Director Jeff Regnart resigns-Sept. 16

Alaska’s fishing industry was dismayed last week by the sudden news that Jeff Regnart, Director of the State’s Commercial Fisheries Division, will leave the job Oct. 2.
“I’m resigning due to family reasons, aging parents; I just can’t be in the state full-time like this job demands,” Regnart explained.
Regnart started as an Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game field tech in high school. Over the next 30 years, he worked his way to management positions at Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and Bristol Bay.

Hulking humpie harvest stinks up pink market- Fish Factor- Sept. 9

Alaska’s pink salmon catch is pushing 180 million fish, making it the second-largest harvest ever recorded. (219 million was the previous record set in 2013). 
  The humpie haul has been pushed by record production in three regions. More than 15 million pinks were taken at the Alaska Peninsula, compared to less than 1 million last year.  Kodiak’s record pink catch was nearing 30 million, triple last year’s take; and Prince William Sound’s harvest so far had topped a whopping 97 million pink salmon.  
 All that fish goes into a competitive global market and — in a word — the pink market stinks.  There is still a glut of pink salmon products stemming from Alaska’s record 2013 catch, and devalued currencies are bedeviling sales with overseas customers.

Budget cuts put snag in Chinook Research Initiative

One of the casualties of this year’s budget cuts was funding for a program aimed at discovering why Alaska’s Chinook salmon stocks have been declining since 2007.
A five-year, $30 million Chinook Salmon Research Initiative launched in 2013 included more than 100 researchers focused on three dozen projects in 12 major river systems from Southeast to the Yukon. Now, the ambitious effort has been cut to just over one dozen projects.
“When we saw we weren’t going to get a third appropriation this fiscal year, we had to step back and narrow the focus, and make sure key projects still had money to continue for at least the next two years,” said Ed Jones, a coordinator with the state Sport Fish Division who oversees the initiative team.
The project has received two $7.5 million appropriations so far, and just over $6 million remains.

DNR to decide on claims to Chuitna water rights

Two hearings this month could change the face of Alaska’s salmon fisheries forever.
On Aug. 21, the Department of Natural Resources will hear both sides on competing claims to water rights for salmon streams at Upper Cook Inlet’s Chuitna River or to a proposed coal mine. If DNR opts for the mine, the decision would set a state precedent.

First seagoing electric passenger vessel to launch next summer

The first seagoing electric powered passenger vessel in the U.S. is set to launch next summer in Juneau.
The E/V Tongass Rain is a 50-foot, 47-passenger catamaran designed for eco-education and whale-watching tours. Its primary fuel source will be rain, delivered to the boat via Juneau’s hydroelectric power grid and stored in a bank of lithium batteries.
The more modern batteries are less than half the weight of traditional lead acid batteries, and provide three times the power and charge three times as fast, said Bob Varness, president and manager of Tongass Rain Electric Cruise.

Bristol Bay sockeye prices dip to 50 cents per pound

Shock and dismay were heard from Bristol Bay fishermen when they finally got word last week that major buyers would pay 50 cents a pound for their sockeye salmon. That’s a throwback to dock prices paid from 2002 through 2004, and compares to $1.20 advanced last year ($1.33 on average after price adjustments).
A late surge of reds produced catches of nearly 13 million in its final week, bringing the total by July 23 to 34.5 million fish. The fish were still trickling in, and state managers, who called the season an “anomaly,” said the final tally will likely reach the projected harvest of 37.6 million sockeye salmon.

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