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June 27, 2015 Annual General Membership Meeting

1:00 – 5:00 at the American Legion in Old Town Kenai

All members are welcome; membership dues may be paid at the door.

 

ABOUT US

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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Ak Sen Murkowski Writes NOAA over recusals of Alaskan delegates on halibut bycatch vote

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton May 28, 2015

Sen. Lisa Murkowski sent a letter to NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eileen Sobeck protesting the decison to recuse two Alaskan Members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.



"The recent Recusal Examination for the June 2015 NPFMC decision is particularly troubling. Of the eleven voting members of the NPFMC and the seven members who have been determined to be affected by the decision on BSAI halibut PSC limits, the only two required to recuse themselves from the vote are Mr. David Long and Mr. Simon Kinneen, two Alaskan members. With such an important final decision on the table, this creates an inequity and lack of representation of Alaskan interests. The Council, by nature, is comprised of many stakeholders in the fishery. The recusal of two Alaskans before such an important vote seems to damage the core structure of the process."



Murkowski then went on to say that under Magnuson national standards, it was important to protect fishing communities, especially a community like St. Paul which has been exclusively dependent on fisheries since the federal government ended the fur seal harvest in the 1970's.





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

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Alaska Members of Council Appeal Recusals that Could Change Halibut Bycatch Votes

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [ALASKA JOURNAL OF COMMERCE] By DJ Summers - May 28, 2015

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will spend the first four days of its weeklong meeting in Sitka beginning June 3 deciding on a series of deep cuts in the halibut bycatch allocation for the Bering Sea groundfish bottom-trawl fleet, but it may do so without a majority of the votes on the final decision coming from the Alaska delegation.

The council, which has 11 members with six appointed from Alaska, could hold a final vote without two Alaska members, David Long and Simon Kinneen, unless the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, reconsiders its decision to recommend them for recusal.

The council is considering cuts of up to 50 percent to the current annual bycatch allocation of 7.8 million pounds to the Amendment 80 fleet, a group of about 18 catcher-processor trawlers that harvest flatfish species.

Kinneen and Long were both recommended for recusal from the final vote on May 12 by the council’s designated NOAA General Counsels, Lauren Smoker and John Lepore, in consultation with the Department of Commerce Office of the General Counsel, Ethics Law and Programs Division.

Kinneen was recused from the June meeting based on the fishing interests employer, the Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., or NSEDC.

NSEDC is one of six Community Development Quota groups made up of 65 Western Alaska villages that collectively receive 10 percent of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands harvest.

NSEDC also owns subsidiaries that collectively harvest more than 435.6 million pounds, or 10 percent of the groundfish harvest. NSEDC wholly owns Siu Alaska Corp., which partially owns Glacier Fish Co., BSAI Partners LLC, and Glacier Bay Fisheries LLC. Glacier Fish is part owner of Iquique U.S. LLC.

Long works a captain and fish master for Glacier Fish Co., and is recused for the same 10 percent harvest interest as Kinneen.

Most of that fishery tonnage is pollock, which forms one of the two main objections to the recusals from Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten, who also sits on the council, Kinneen, and Long.

Kinneen, Long and Cotten sent letters on May 22 to Mary Beth Ward at the NOAA Office of the General Counsel requesting a review of the recusals.

“For a council member to be recused from voting on a council decision,” wrote Cotten, “there must be a ‘close causal link between the decision and an expected and substantially disproportionate benefit to the (member’s) financial interest.’ Here, as NOAA repeatedly emphasized, the council decision will have ‘no direct effect’ on the pollock fishery.”

Unless the decision is overturned, the recusals will meaningfully shift the balance of votes on the council for this final action.

“This puts a really undue burden on Alaska,” Long said. “We have six voting members, and if two of us are recused we no longer have our majority. And you want to have all your members voting on an issue like this.”

Other than the six Alaska seats, three members are reserved for Washington state representatives, one for an Oregon representative, and one for the Alaska Region administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS.

With Alaska delegates Kinneen and Long recused from the vote, the final decision will be between four Alaskans, four from the Pacific Northwest, and the federal seat.

Jim Balsiger, the Alaska Region NFMS administrator, will also be removed from the final vote. Balsiger’s wife, Heather McCarty, lobbies for one of the groups directly impacted by the decision, the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association. CBFSA is the CDQ group for St. Paul, which has pushed hard for the bycatch reductions as a particularly hard-hit halibut-dependent community.

NMFS Alaska Region Assistant Administrator Glenn Merrill will serve in Balsiger’s place.

Most recently in that capacity, Merrill voted with the Pacific Northwest delegation to oppose an amendment to the final Bering Sea chinook bycatch reduction package in April that would have lowered the fleet’s hard cap from the original motion.

The recusals

Kinneen and Long both dispute the basis for the recusals, which they said is stretching the concept of “conflict of interest” to its extreme.

According to Smoker, fishery management council members are exempt from conflict of interest laws that might affect other federal employees. However, in 1998, Congress wrote a list of exceptions to the exemptions and incorporated a list of recusal requirements effective as of 1999.

According to the statute, “no affected individual may vote on any council decision that would have a significant and predictable effect on a financial interest disclosed in his/her report.”

To make the grade for recusal, council members must have significant interest in the fishery about which they will make a vote. General counsel defines “significant interest” as a greater than 10 percent interest in the total harvest of the fishery or sector of the fishery, a greater than 10 percent interesting the marketing of processing of the total harvest, of a full of partial ownership of more than 10 percent of the vessels using the same gear type within the fishery.

Smoker said that since 1999, the North Pacific council has made 10 or 15 recusals.

The Sitka meeting will make three in as many council meetings. Kinneen was recused from the council’s April meeting, where it voted in favor of chinook salmon bycatch cap reductions for the Bering Sea pollock fleet.

Kinneen made the same objection to his recusal from the April council meeting, which had several key amendments come down to a single vote.

“They’ve included pollock harvest in the groundfish goals,” said Kinneen. “There’s nothing in the action here that could be restraining on pollock harvest. It’s included in those other fisheries, but that pollock harvest could be impacted is not reality.”

The three council members also object to the aggregation of subsidiaries in recusal considerations.

“Because the Council will make individual decisions on sectors of fisheries under the various options, the recusal analysis should have been conducted by individual fishery sector,” Cotten wrote.

All three council members requested that NOAA General Counsel make its decision before the June 2 meeting.

The issue

The International Pacific Halibut Commission manages directed halibut in the North Pacific. The North Pacific council manages bycatch. As the biomass of legally harvestable halibut biomass in the North Pacific has declined, the allocations for the directed fishery have dipped to low levels while the bycatch remained static.

The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fleet now takes the bulk of halibut removals. At the current projected harvest level, International Pacific Halibut Commission biologists estimate that 93 percent of all 2015 halibut removals in the Bering Sea would be from bycatch, not the directed halibut fishery.

Directed halibut fishermen who have seen their quotas crash over the last decade favor heavy bycatch cuts.

The groundfish fleet, which could potentially have millions of dollars cut from its income stream if forced to close by reaching reduced bycatch caps, favors voluntary measures.

The North Pacific council voted on Feb. 8 to release an amended table of halibut bycatch reduction options for public review. The council will take final action on the reduction proposals at its Sitka meeting.

The motion added options for 40 percent, 45 percent and 50 percent cuts to each of the originally proposed reductions and was part of a larger package of halibut bycatch reduction proposals and studies that received no action. It was introduced by council member Duncan Fields of Kodiak and passed with a 9-2 vote.

Since then, public input has swelled.

The Alaska legislature’s coastal representatives sent a letter to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council expressing support for 50 percent halibut bycatch cap reductions for the groundfish fleet in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.

“Over the past decade,” the legislators wrote, “more than 62 million pounds of halibut has been caught, killed, and discarded as bycatch in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands. During the same period, landings of halibut as the target species have declined from an already alarmingly small 52 percent of the total removals to only 34 percent of removals. This startling dynamic, in an ever worsening state, has continued for too long.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Lyman Hoffman, Donny Olson, Dennis Egan, and Peter Micciche, along with Reps. Bryce Edgmon, Bob Herron, Neal Foster, Cathy Munoz, Paul Seaton, Dan Ortiz, Jonathon Kreiss-Tompkins, and Jim Colver.

In Washington, a petition implored Gov. Jay Inslee to intervene on behalf of the jobs brought to the state by the trawlers that operate in the Bering Sea.




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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Three Openings allowed on Copper River this week as Escapements Are Double Forecast

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton - May 28, 2015

The Copper River Sockeye fishery is approaching its peak, as escapements have surged to more than double the forecast for this date, and catches are rising also but still below forecast.



According to ADF&G, escapements to the upper Copper River are now around 183,869 fish as of May 26th, vs a forecast amount of 79,048 for this date.



Harvests to date for sockeye are 248,832 fish. For the latest opening on Monday May 25th, which was 36 hours, total harvest was 138,000 sockeye, vs a preseason estimate of 177,000 for this period.



The two charts below illustrate the surge in escapement; and the fact that the peak for 2015 may be later than average, and also later than last year.



ADF&G announced two 24 hour openings, one today (Thursday) and another Saturday (May 30th).



The charts are first, the current run timing chart for Copper River Sockeye, which includes up to statistical week 22, which is May 24th this year. The second chart show escapement, which has surged to much higher than forecast, at least through the current week.




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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Alaska's Tight Budget Likely to Pinch Salmon Fishery Management This Season (Fish Radio)

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Fish Radio with Laine Welch] May 28, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Alaska’s fisheries could get corked due to the state budget stall. More after this

An AMSEA trained fisherman is more likely to survive an emergency at sea. The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association provides Coast Guard accepted training for fishermen across Alaska. Learn more at amsea.org

Federal grants are available to help “Made in America” companies compete with imports and save US jobs. Learn more at www.nwtaac.org

Next week more than 20,000 state workers could get 30 day layoff notices due to the Alaska legislature’s inability to pass a state budget. Workers would be off the job by July 1, at the start of the state fiscal year. It’s all happening at the heart of salmon season, and those and other state fisheries could get corked by the lawmakers’ inaction.

“There is some budget – but how we proceed through the fiscal year from July 1 is still what we’re working on. It’s about 27 or 28 percent of our normal amount. So there is some operating capital for us to work in the field, and do our management jobs and responsibilities.”

Jeff Regnart is director of Commercial Fisheries at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.

"This year has some record forecasts and those ex-vessel dollars are going to be higher than average. That means to me that we are going to be out there and we’re going to manage these fisheries. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have to make some changes, based on the fiscal climate but we’re going to make sure that we do our very best to have the tools so we can maximize the opportunity, maximize the catch in these fisheries. That, to me, is our main mission."

Regnart says the major focus will be on the ‘significant’ salmon fisheries, such as sockeyes at Bristol Bay and Southeast pinks.

“The salmon fishery is short. In the next three months we’ll all know what happened and it will all be over. It is compressed and we need to be able to respond to that. I can’t tell you that it will be exactly like what’s happened in the past few years; very likely, it would be different. But we’ll do our darndest to make sure we can make the calls necessary to provide access to that resource.”

Other salmon regions could feel more of a management pinch.

Kodiak, South Peninsula, North Peninsula, Cook Inlet, PWS, we can go around the horn and all those are significant fisheries to the state and the users and our plan is to put them in the water. We might have fewer enumeration programs, we might have to fly fewer aerial surveys, we might have fewer people at the front counters in some of our offices – all those are possibilities. But the essential function of allowing access to that resource in a sustainable way, we are going to try to preserve. Other state fisheries besides salmon could be put on hold.

“Other fisheries? I think there will be an impact across the board. We’re just going to make sure to put our resources where they make the most sense. Salmon, you got one chance and if you miss it, you miss it and you’re done until next summer. We very much are recognizing that. other fisheries that aren’t salmon that could be put off if it’s possible from a biological perspective and maybe taken at another time, we’ll look at that.”

Alaska’ fishery managers will continue to devise the best ways to use the funds available. Regnart says it will be a continuous work in progress.

“Whatever amount we have we are going to protect the resource, number one; and then allow access to harvest the surplus. When it comes to salmon, that’s our job.”

Find links to all of Alaska’s fish catches at our website www.alaskafishradio.com and on Facebook.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods - who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com)

In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.



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

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