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About Us              2015 Annual Meeting – June 27

The United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) was incorporated in 1980 to represent the 570 drift gillnet salmon fishing permit holders in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. UCIDA’s purpose is to enhance and perpetuate the interests of this valuable commercial salmon fishing industry.

Wild Alaskan salmon have been commercially harvested in Cook Inlet since 1882. Over the past twenty years, the drift gillnet fishing fleet has harvested more than 271 million pounds of salmon, primarily sockeye salmon. The combined efforts of the drift and set gillnet fisheries in Upper Cook Inlet have produced average annual harvests of over 23 million pounds of wild salmon for the American and world markets during the past twenty years. Five percent of the world’s supply of sockeye salmon comes from Cook Inlet.

UCIDA’s Board of Directors and staff work to promote responsible management to ensure the long-term health of this abundant salmon resource and the resulting opportunities and benefits it provides. The day-to-day work of UCIDA covers an extremely broad range of issues that ultimately affect salmon, their harvest and marketing. These may include fishery management, invasive species, oil and gas lease sales, navigation issues, endangered species acts, oil spill response, local, state and federal regulatory issues and both state and federal litigation.

The nine members of the Board of Directors serve staggered three-year terms. Elections are held at annual membership meetings. Members (Upper Cook Inlet drift gillnet permit holders) and Associate Members are encouraged to attend all Board meetings.

 

 

Office Manager – Audrey Salmon – info@ucida.org

Board of Directors

David MartinPresidentF/V Kaguyak
Erik Huebsch1st VPF/V Williwaw
Ian Pitzman2nd VPF/V Stephanie Anne
Paul MackieSec/TreasF/V Lorri Lee
Ilia KuzminDirectorF/V Currency
John McCombsDirectorF/V Katydid
Lavrentii (Larry) ReutovDirectorF/V Intrepid
Steve TvenstrupDirectorF/V Alaskan Lady
Dyer VanDevereDirectorF/V Swift Arrow

 


43961 K-Beach Road, Suite E
Soldotna, Alaska
(907) 260-9436

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Southwest Alaska May Hold Key to Understanding Disease Plaguing West Coast Sea Stars

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [KUCB/Seafood News] by Annie Ropeik - April 24, 2015

A mysterious virus that’s been wiping out sea stars on the West Coast since 2013 has spread all the way to Southeast Alaska -- but it hasn’t made it to Southwest. That’s what a group of researchers found last month in Unalaska and Kodiak.

Now, they hope the islands’ healthy sea stars will give them new clues about how the virus works. KUCB's Annie Ropeik has more.

It’s low tide on a sandy beach outside Unalaska’s Captain’s Bay, and local scuba diver Josh Good is wading around in a rocky tide pool. It’s full of urchins, kelp and sponges. But Good is looking for something a little higher up the food chain.

Good: "This is a solaster. Solaster stimpsoni. And they’re predatory. They’re pretty awesome."

He’s holding a 10-legged sea star, about a foot wide. It’s bright orange with purple stripes. The solaster eats sea cucumbers -- but it can be food itself for bigger sea stars.

Good: "He was just in these rocks upside down. Probably trying to get back in the water."

Further out, Good finds more stars of all different shapes and sizes. But there’s one thing they have in common -- they’re healthy. And that’s big news, when stars up and down the West Coast and into Alaska have been dying off from sea star wasting disease.

Ian Hewson is a researcher at Cornell University. He visited Unalaska and Kodiak about a month ago, working with divers like Good to check if local sea stars were infected.

"We actually looked at about six different species of sea stars, and we collected samples from four of those and took them back to the lab," Hewson says. "We can confirm that we didn’t detect the virus, which is normally associated with this disease further south."

It’s been seen in Homer, Seward, Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan. Huge numbers of stars develop lesions, lose limbs and finally disintegrate into mush.

Now, Hewson wants to know why that’s not happening in Southwest, and he’ll study samples from the healthy stars to find out. One theory, he says, is distance.

"There’s a big break in what’s known as biogeography of sea stars between Kodiak and, essentially, the Kenai Peninsula," Hewson says. "It’s just a pretty deep stretch of water that not a lot of material goes between."

That break could protect Unalaska and Kodiak, if the virus spreads how Hewson thinks it does -- on juvenile sea stars. They’re spawned in the water, then float away from their parents and usually settle among new populations.

"So it’s almost as though, you know, you’ve got the daycare center, if you will," Hewson says. "They’ve obviously got some pathogen out in the environment, and they’re bringing it home and infecting the adults."

But the virus might not be all that’s causing the disease. In the Southwest samples, Hewson says he’ll be on the lookout for outside influences that could differ from infected areas.

"What we’re not terribly sure of is whether adverse environmental conditions makes it more susceptible to this virus, or whether, perhaps, it makes the symptoms more obvious to us," he says. "So these are the types of questions that we are trying to work on."

And it’s just the beginning of what they hope to do. If National Science Foundation funding comes through this summer, Hewson’s team will be back to the Southwest to collect entire stars.

They'll quarantine them and infect them with the virus down South, Hewson says, "and then perform some very crucial experiments in our work related to understanding how this disease progresses from a completely healthy to a wasted-away sea star."

Understanding that process could be the key to a mystery that’s having a major impact on the ocean. Wasting disease affects almost all species of stars -- but especially bigger ones. Hewson gives the 3 foot-wide sunflower star as an example.

"That becomes a really dominant, keystone carnivore in the ecosystem," he says. "It’s like your great white shark for an invertebrate."

It’s so high up on the food chain that it has a bigger effect on the ecosystem when it dies off.

"Things that they normally eat have become really, really abundant. And those things include things like urchins, for example," Hewson says. "Urchins play this pretty big role in controlling the amount of algae on rocky substrates, but because they’re herbivores, they actually consume kelps and things. And so when you get these big booms of urchins, basically the kelps disappear."

Back on the beach in Unalaska, Josh Good is looking at a healthy ecosystem -- where sea stars are keeping the whole food chain in balance.

Good: "The Aleutians are teeming with life. There’s so much life here. And everybody goes to warm places to dive, and really there’s way more life and biodiversity here."

Good was happy to hear that Unalaska’s sea stars are safe from wasting disease for now, but he and other locals are still keep an eye out for signs of change. Good does it every week, underwater and in his kayak. In fact, he was setting out for a paddle as soon as he put his sea stars back where he found them.



Michael Ramsingh
SeafoodNews.com 1-732-240-5330
Editorial Email: Editor@seafood.com
Reporter's Email: michaelramsingh@seafood.com

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Spot Prawn Recovery in Prince William Sound Due to Careful Management by ADF&G

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker - April 24, 2015

The spot prawn (Pandalas platyceros) fishery in Prince William Sound is back, largely due to the commitment of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s shellfish managers to a rebuilding plan based on sound research and precautionary principles.

It didn’t start out that way. In 1960, when the first commercial shrimp landings were recorded, the season was open year round with no harvest limit. Pots were dropped throughout the Sound, a 100-mile -square area at the northernmost reach of the Gulf of Alaska.

Landings were low for the first two decades, staying below 25,000 pounds per year. Only nine vessels participated in the fishery in 1978. But with markets expanding, effort increased and in 1986 the fishery peaked with nearly 90 vessels harvesting more than 290,000 pounds.

The expansion was tempered in 1982 when a guideline harvest range was adopted. Two years later, managers split the season and establishing a guideline harvest range for each season as well as an experimental harvest area that was open year round.

By 1988 the experimental area had closed due to a collapse in harvest and declining abundance. In 1990 the experimental area was abolished, the spring season shortened, gear limits imposed, and gear specifications (7/8-inch rigid mesh requirement) put into place. Finally in 1992 the commercial fishery closed due to low abundance.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill in the spring of 1989 came at the beginning of what would have been the spring season for spot prawns. ADF&G began an annual spot shrimp stock assessment survey that year.

Early results of the survey concluded that PWS spot shrimp likely declined as a result of overfishing and unfavorable environmental conditions. Key findings in the initial research shows that spot shrimp are particularly susceptible to risk of overfishing due to a few key life history characteristics.

They are hermaphroditic, beginning life as males and later transitioning to females; can live longer than 7 years; and they rarely travel far. Because they don’t move they are susceptible to depletion, and because they begin as males and become females as they attain a larger size, fishing pressure typically has the greatest impact on the larger, female, segment of the population.

Since the commercial closure in 1992, spot shrimp abundance has slowly but steadily increased. In December 2008 the Alaska Board of Fisheries adopted a new management approach and built a plan to resume commercial shrimping around several conservation measures.

The first specifies that a minimum harvestable surplus of 110,000 lbs of spot shrimp be achieved before a commercial fishery can occur.

Second, 40% of the harvestable surplus is to be allocated to the commercial fishery and 60% to the non commercial fisheries (sport, personal use, and subsistence).

Third, the area open for commercial pot shrimp fishing is to rotate annually between three different areas in the Sound (Areas 1, 2 and 3) so that no one area is under constant fishing pressure. Several areas popular with recreational shrimpers are off-limits to commercial vessels to minimize gear conflict between users.

The fourth allows ADF&G to determine the number of shrimp pots a commercial vessel can operate based on the number of vessels registered to participate, estimated catch per unit effort (CPUE), and the magnitude of the guideline harvest level (GHL).

Fifth, gear can only be operated between 8 am and 4 pm unless modified by emergency order. This year the season is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., when all pots must be removed from the water.

Sixth specifies that fishermen participating in the commercial shrimp pot fishery must call the managing ADF&G office in Cordova each time landing shrimp to report their harvest and call weekly to report log book information.

After the 18-year closure, the PWS commercial pot shrimp fishery opened again in 2010 with a guideline harvest level of 55,000 lbs and a limit of 20 pots per vessel.

This year’s season opened April 15 with 53 vessels registered to harvest the 67,000 lb. Gear limits have been set at a maximum of 60 shrimp pots per vessel.

In-season management is key to this fishery and many others in Alaska. Regional managers have the authority to respond immediately to changes in effort or landings. The announcement of future fishing periods is dependent on prompt catch reporting and harvest levels.

The majority of harvesters are licensed to direct market their catch themselves but a number of fishers also sell to a few larger processors who supply local grocery stores and other markets.



Peggy Parker, Science and Sustainability Editor
SeafoodNews.com 1-781-861-1441
Editorial Email: Editor@seafood.com
Reporter's Email: peggyparker@seafood.com

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Trident Opens Huge New Fishmeal Plant in Naknek

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Bristol Bay Times] by Hannah Colton (with KDLG’s Matt Martin) April 24, 2015

Bristol Bay’s newest processing plant, a multimillion- dollar fishmeal plant owned by Trident Seafoods of Seattle, will begin operations this month with herring serving as a test run.

Last weekend, workers were wrapping up construction on the new fishmeal plant in Naknek. The facility was still enclosed by unfinished drywall and wooden stairs stood in place of a future elevator. Project Manager Bob Bates stood in front of the largest piece of machinery in the plant: a 50-foot, 60,000-pound dryer.

Bates says the dryer, which looks like a giant rolling pin in the center of the warehouse, was brought in when the site was still mud and dirt, and the building was built up around it.

“The inside of this thing looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, with all the teeth and the blades and everything in it to mix it, and turn it, and churn it through,” said Bates. A quarter mile of tubing will transport all the fish parts left over from filleting or canning – including head, guts, fins, and bones — from Trident’s processing plant to the new $15 million fishmeal plant.

After it is ground and dried, the salmon byproduct may become animal feed or fish oil pills, perhaps in one of the separate Trident-owned businesses that churn out these fishmeal-based products.

The Naknek fishmeal plant is not the first Trident has built on Alaska’s coast. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation have been tightening down on how processors handle the millions of pounds of fish byproduct that are traditionally ground up and cast off to wash out with the tides.

Trident agreed to build the Naknek plant as part of a 2011 settlement with the EPA, which had tallied over 400 alleged Clean Water Act violations against 15 of the company’s Alaska facilities between 2005 and 2009. The alleged violations centered on the unauthorized discharge of fish waste; the EPA said the protein-filled goo settled into layers on the sea floors of Alaska’s bays, causing explosions of microbes in those areas and creating “dead zones” where fish and other marine animals could not survive.

The settlement with the EPA in this case required Trident to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty as well as construct several fishmeal processing plants and invest in other waste reduction and recycling techniques. Trident officials say fishmeal processing helps their business model; they think this is where the Bristol Bay fishing industry is heading anyway.

But some Naknek residents are leery about having a fishmeal plant in town; these facilities have a reputation of being smelly.

Jay King, who runs an aviation service in Naknek, is among those who remain unconvinced that the plant won’t stink up the town. King is not opposed to the plant itself as much as he dislikes its location. “Being next to the post office, the school, the clinic, my brother’s apartment building,” King said, “I just didn’t think it was such a good idea to have a potential odor issue with all of these entities.”

Other residents say that with or without the new fishmeal plant, summertime odor is inevitable in a fishing town like Naknek.

Russell Phelps, a commercial fisherman and member of the Bristol Bay Borough Assembly, said he thinks taking waste out of the water might actually help the odor issue. “The beaches in late July and August stink considerable already,” said Phelps, “so if we could avoid that I’d be very happy.”

Before the borough gave Trident consent to build, a few Assembly members traveled to Newport, Ore., to tour a 20-year-old fishmeal plant that has been upgraded with modern technology similar to what will be used in Naknek. They returned generally less skeptical, and after hearing from plenty of concerned residents, eventually voted to approve the fishmeal plant.

Some supporters think fishmeal may be the future of the fishery, and others appreciate what will be added tax revenue to the borough.

Phelps was among the ‘yes’ voters. “We shouldn’t stop a project just because we think it’s going to stink,” he argued.

Trident has a favorable reputation in Naknek, and the seafood giant says it contributes nearly a million dollars in taxes annually to the borough, as well as tens of thousands in charitable donations. Bates says Trident will do what it takes to remain a good neighbor to the community.

“From day one, the goal was to keep the odor down, clean up the river, and basically produce some meal,” said Bates.

At the heart of Trident’s effort to keep the facility fresh-smelling is a new air filtration system. Standing at the base of a three story metal tube with ducting that snakes around the entire warehouse, Bates described how it is designed to keep the smell of drying fish waste out of the breezy bayside town.

“We’re drawing fresh air down below and we are sucking everything up to insure that we capture all the odors and everything that comes through this facility and gets pushed through these scrubbers,” explained Bates. Inside are thousands of scrubbing balls that look like whiffle balls. Water is sprayed down as the air rises and the odor molecules stick to the water, eliminating most of the stink before it can escape the plant. Residents will just have to wait and see, or rather smell, what happens.

Trident plans to run final tests of the system with water in a few days, but the first true test — with fish heads and guts — will happen once the Togiak herring arrive around the end of the month.

photo: KLDG

John Sackton, Editor and Publisher
SeafoodNews.com 1-781-861-1441
Editorial Email: Editor@seafood.com
Reporter's Email: jsackton@seafood.com

Copyright © 2015 Seafoodnews.com
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#TBT The old Copper River Fleet, 1910. BLM Archives

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