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#02-01-2013 - ComFish News Roundup

Homer Harbor
Homer Harbor (Photo credit: Travis S.)
Jan 30, 2013 - 04:01 PM AKST
IPHC puts off steep halibut cuts, 2013 catch reduced 7.5%
VICTORIA, B.C. — Pacific coast halibut fishermen will see about a 7.5 percent reduction in catch this year, less than many were expecting. The International Pacific Halibut Commission set the 2013 catch limit from Northern California to the Bering Sea at 31.02 million pounds on Jan. 25. Alaska’s portion of the catch is about 23 million pounds, down from about 25 million pounds in 2012. The IPHC is a six-member body created to manage Pacific halibut by a 1923 treaty between the U.S. and Canada with each having equal representation. The coastwide catch is down from 33.54 million pounds in 2012, but greater than the 22.55 million pound “blue-line” harvest considered likely going into the meeting. The blue-line number, presented at the interim meeting in November, would have matched past harvest policy with the current stock assessment, for a more than 30 percent reduction compared to 2012.....

Fast food chain marketing bodes well for wild Alaska pollock
Posted 02/01/2013
by - Margaret Bauman
Plans of McDonald's USA to promote wild caught Alaska pollock in its Filet-O-Fish and upcoming Fish McBites menu item are good news for the state's $1 billion pollock fishery. The Coastal Villages Region Fund, one of six Community Development Quota programs established to boost the economy of Western Alaska, earned $50 million in 2012 alone on its pollock quota, says spokesman Dawson Hoover. CVRF serves some 9,300 residents of 20 villages in Western Alaska, deriving the bulk of its income from the pollock harvest it receives as a CDQ group. CVRF can put 135 people on board the Northern Hawk, its own pollock vessel, and overall has a....

ASMI Takes Shots at MSC During a Committee Meeting Tuesday in Juneau 
For the last year or so a debate has raged within the Alaska seafood industry about eco-labels and which label is right for Alaska's salmon. Several members of the Alaska Legislature heard one side of the argument earlier this week. KDLG's Mike Mason has the story. (2:18)....

State house introduces anti-GE salmon resolution
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 11:51 am
Mary Lochner
The Alaska State Legislature is considering a house resolution “opposing AquaBounty’s petition to produce genetically engineered salmon,” and calling for it to be labeled as “genetically modified” if it goes to market.
The Food and Drug Administration released a Draft Environmental Assessment in December 2012 that found AquaBounty’s GE Atlantic salmon posed no risk to the environment. The FDA has already ruled that the fish is safe for human consumption. It is taking public comments on its environmental assessment through....

Lawmakers Hear About the Importance of Alaska's Seafood Industry 
The size, scope and importance of the seafood industry to Alaska's economy was outlined earlier this week to several lawmakers in Juneau. KDLG's Mike Mason listened in and filed this report. (4:19).....

A New Way Forward in the Gulf: Reduce Bycatch but Protect Alaska's Communities
Posted 02/01/2013
by Rachel Donkersloot - for the Cordova Times
Alaska has some of the world's most abundant and prosperous fisheries and a reputation for science-based management. Fisheries are the life-blood of coastal Alaska and a major driver of the state's economy. So when it comes to managing our fisheries, it's critical we get it right. Today's challenges in sustaining our fisheries and communities touch all Alaskans. We all share concerns about diminishing returns of Chinook salmon and the declining trend in halibut. Salmon disaster declarations, significant reductions in the allowable halibut catch for commercial and recreational fishermen – these hit home in a big way. But while salmon and halibut fishermen are....

Unalaska: City Starts Long-Range Planning at Carl E. Moses Harbor
By Stephanie Joyce
Thursday, January 31 2013
It’s been just over a year since the Carl E. Moses small boat harbor opened, and it’s hard to find anyone who’s not thrilled with the facility. But the city is still trying to figure out how to turn that enthusiasm into long-term commitments. Ray Guardado is a deckhand aboard the 115’ crab vessel Bering Hunter, and it’s his first time tying up at the Carl E. Moses. “Yeah, we normally have to tie up out at the Spit, and it’s a long....

Juneau: Aurora Harbor rebuild moving faster
Posted: January 31, 2013 - 8:55pm  |  Updated: February 1, 2013 - 12:08am
The City and Borough of Juneau Docks and Harbors board decided to push ahead with the first two phases of the Aurora Harbor rebuild project. Docks and Harbors staff drew up several options to leverage or exchange current monies....

The Alaska Fisheries Report with Jay Barrett
Jan 31, 2013
Coming up this week, the IPHC says how many halibut you can catch, the state legislature weighs in on Frankenfish and No Yukon Kings for you! All that, plus, Can’t we all just get along? We had help this week from KFSK’s Matt Lichtenstein in Petersburg, KHNS’ Margaret Friedenauer in Haines, and KDLG’s Mike Mason in Dillingham....

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Vulnerable Dem Begich lays down markers on Alaskan energy
By Ben Geman and Zack Colman - 01/31/13 06:43 PM ET
STATE OF PLAY: Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who could face a tough reelection fight in 2014, stepped up his advocacy for Alaskan oil-and-gas development along two fronts on Thursday. The pro-drilling freshman Democrat floated legislation to provide Alaska a share of revenues from energy development in federal waters off its coast. Begich wants a share for Alaska akin to offshore oil-and-gas revenue-sharing provided to Gulf of Mexico states under a 2006 law. “This is just common sense.....

Murkowski Working On Making In-State LNG Line More Feasible
By Peter Granitz, APRN - Washington DC | January 31, 2013 - 5:32 pm
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski is trying to make a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope more feasible. Environmentalists are welcoming a stretch of pipeline through Denali National Park. Senator Murkowski introduced a bill that would allow a seven-mile stretch of pipeline to run through the National Park. For that to happen, Congress needs to pass a law granting approval. She says it creates an equal playing field for proposed routes along the Richardson and Parks....

The return of Joe Miller
Several years after defeating Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2010 GOP primary then losing to her in the general election (she successfully ran as a write in), tea party star Joe Miller is looking like he might be a Senate candidate again in 2014 when Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is up for re-election. From Real Clear Politics....

Alaska's Begich Makes His Reelection Case
By Scott Bland  //  February 1, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.
Updated: February 1, 2013 | 8:55 a.m.
"Alaskans do not like outsiders coming in," Democratic Sen. Mark Begich says. He is sitting at a conference table in his Senate office, where the desk is decorated with a yellow bumper sticker that reads: "We don't care how they do it in the Lower 48." Begich continues, "'Outsider' in Alaska has a huge capital 'O', underlined and bolded." Suffice it to say, Begich doesn't pay much attention to "the pundits" who see his seat as a brick in the Republican Party's road back to a Senate majority. Begich is one of a handful of red-state Democratic senators whose terms expire in 2014. Senate candidates rarely outperform presidential approval anymore, and with President Obama losing Alaska by 14 points in 2012, Begich looks ripe for the picking by traditional measures. The number of Democratically-held....

Mat-Su Borough offers star-crossed M/V Susitna ferry for free
Suzanna Caldwell
January 30, 2013
Are you a government entity needing a new $80 million ferry? How about a 200-foot-long vessel, billed as the world's first icebreaking catamaran, capable of carrying 20 cars and 120 passengers at a time? Like, really, really in need of a ferry? If so, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough is here to help. In a Jan. 22 letter to the national Passenger Vessel Association, Port MacKenzie Director Marc Van Dongen is offering federal, state and local governments -- including U.S. territories -- the much-maligned Susitna ferry "FREE of CHARGE." The bold, all-caps banner is the latest exasperated attempted by the borough to find a new home for the M/V Susitna, which costs the....

January 31, 2013
Political games are devastating sustainable commercial fishing
Guest Opinion: The state's current Fish and Wildlife Commission creates a wide-open playing field for sports fishing interests to have their way to the detriment of consumers and small family fishing operations alike. By Pete Knutson. Despite the 1995 and 1999 voter rejection of initiatives favoring sport fishing, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission moves steadily to restrict and eliminate commercial fisheries in Washington state. Under a veneer of conservation rhetoric, the commission has reallocated salmon, crab, prawns and now Columbia River Chinook from food fish harvesters to the politically powerful sport industry. On Jan. 12, they voted to eliminate the 150-year-old Columbia River non-tribal commercial salmon fishery, which has....

Submarine Cable Map
TeleGeography’s Submarine Cable Map has been updated for 2013. The latest edition depicts 244 cable systems that are currently active or due to enter service by 2014....

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