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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
Dino SutherlandSec/TreasF/V Rivers End
Ilia KuzminDirectorF/V Currency
John McCombsDirectorF/V Rayo Verde
Paul MackieDirectorF/V Lorrie Lee
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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Salmon Population Plummeting in Lake Michigan

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Atlanta Journal Constitution] By Keith Matheny - October 13, 2015

They are the king of the Great Lakes sport fish, luring thousands of anglers to Michigan waters every year for a chance to try to land them _ and helping fuel a multibillion-dollar fishing and boating tourism industry.

But the Chinook salmon's numbers are plummeting in Lake Michigan due to a combination of natural forces, unnatural invasive species, and the state Department of Natural Resources' own efforts to dial back the population and prevent a more permanent population crash as happened in Lake Huron about a decade ago.

The salmon population on Lake Michigan is down 75 percent from its 2012 peak, said Randy Claramunt, a DNR Great Lakes fishery biologist based in Charlevoix.

A leading cause is a reduction in alewives, a silvery fish up to 10 inches long that is the salmon's primary prey on the Great Lakes. The alewife population has been decimated by invasive zebra and quagga mussels that have changed the nutrient dynamics of the lakes.

And the salmon population matters for Michiganders, whether they fish or not: The DNR estimates fishermen spent $2.4 billion in fishing trip-related expenses and equipment in the state in 2011.

"We all have a stake _ it's not just the charter boat captains who do this for a living," said Denny Grinold, owner of Fish 'N' Grin Charter Service in Grand Haven. "Coastal communities, hotels, shopping will all be impacted."

The U.S. Geological Survey's Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor conducts annual trawling and acoustic surveys on Lakes Michigan and Huron, looking at the populations of prey fish for the Chinook salmon and other sport fish.

"In recent years, basically what we're seeing is record- or near-record low biomass of alewife," said Science Center research fishery biologist David Warner. He attributes that to the record numbers of Chinook salmon on Lake Michigan in 2012, and their voracious appetite.

Since reintroducing Chinook salmon to the Great Lakes in 1966, the DNR has collected eggs and sperm from salmon migrating into rivers and streams to spawn every fall. The eggs are fertilized and raised in hatcheries, and juvenile fish _ called fingerlings _ are then stocked in the lakes in the spring to help boost naturally reproducing salmon populations.

The DNR has reduced stocking rates since 1999, from 7 million to 2.5 million Chinook salmon, as it saw the alewife populations sink.

The goal now is "to try to bring a better balance between salmon and the prey population in the lake," Claramunt said.

"We're back to 1970 stocking levels; we almost can't go any lower," he said.

In addition to stocking cuts, naturally spawning salmon from that peak year of 2012 also dropped dramatically, due in part to unusually warm conditions and shallow, inaccessible spawning streams that year, Claramunt said. The number of salmon surviving from the spawn that year dropped from 6 million to 1 million, he said.

Further complicating matters, the extremely cold winters of 2013 and 2014 increased the stress on alewife populations.

"We need the warm summers, good precipitation in the spring, and the nutrients coming out into the lakes and getting offshore _ like this year," Claramunt said.

"They are meant to feed in open water on open schools of prey fish. They aren't bottom-feeders, and that's where the round goby go."

The DNR has worked closely with state commercial and sport fishing groups on what to do in Lake Michigan.

"They said, 'Prevent a crash that will keep the fishery down for a decade or more. Take action if you can,' " Claramunt said.

A reduced salmon population is a tough reality, but most fishermen understand, Grinold said.

"The bottom line is, we don't want what happened on Lake Huron to happen on Lake Michigan," he said. "To avoid that collapse, this is something we may have to live through for awhile."

In Lake Huron, it was the same story, but happened sooner. DNR officials had an indicator of problems in the lake by 2003, Claramunt said. By 2005, the salmon population there had collapsed, and hasn't recovered.

"The consumption that happened by predators exceeded the ability of alewife to reproduce at a rate that was sustainable. And you had a crash," Warner said. "Historically, there was a larger biomass of alewife in Lake Huron than there was in Lake Michigan."

Despite the cuts in DNR salmon stocking and natural spawning, Grinold said fishing charters don't seem to be down in his area.

"Only time may tell whether or not that impacts clients booking charters; whether they are satisfied with five, seven fish or less; or do they expect those double-digit figures they may have had a couple of years ago."

There are hopeful signs a salmon crash can be averted in Lake Michigan, Claramunt said. After 2013 and 2014 were "a bust," alewives appear to have rebounded this year.

Whether the salmon population decrease happened in time on Lake Michigan to prevent a replay of the Lake Huron crash is "the key question for me," Warner said.

"That's something we're consistently working on."

Linda Lindner
Urner Barry 1-732-240-5330 ext 223
Editorial Email: Editor@seafood.com
Reporter's Email: llindner@urnerbarry.com

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Research Coming Close to Defining Crab Ages Will Help Alaska Fishery Management (Fish Radio)

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Fish Radio with Laine Welch] October 13, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – How old is that crab? The mystery could be solved…I’ll tell you more after this

ASMI’s Can Do and Cook It Frozen campaigns are designed to keep people eating Alaska seafood all year round. Learn more about the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute at www.alaskaseafood.org

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

Knowing the age compositions of marine stocks is crucial to sound management. Fish can be aged easily by examining their ear bones or scales. Not so with crabs, because they molt.

"For years it’s been assumed that crab that don’t retain their hard parts throughout their lifetime due to growth by molting at which they lose their lose their exoskeleton and it was always assumed everything went with that."

Joel Webb is with the AK Dept. of Fish and Game’s age determination unit in Juneau. About three years ago, he says researchers in Australia and Eastern Canada produced evidence to the contrary.

"Parts of the stomach- the crab and shrimp stomach and the eye stalks are retained through the molt and may be retained through the lifetime. And if you process those structures into very thin sections and look at them under a microscope and shine light through them, there are band patterns present in those structures similar to rings in a tree, or similar to otoliths or scales used to age fish."

Webb says researchers are always trying to determine how many crabs are dying of natural causes, like old age, because that death rate is factored in to fishing quotas.

"It’s a key parameter – plus when you know how big an organism is and what age it is, you know fast it grows. So those two things – the growth rates and mortality rates are key pieces of information for fisheries management and stock assessments."

Fish and Game has funded a study to apply the aging technique with red king crab, Tanner crab and spot shrimp from Southeast Alaska. Preliminary evidence is showing promising results. it might be three to five years before the aging process transfers to the fisheries, but Webb says it will be transformative.

"It’s a phenomenal thing because the availability of age information is transformative for what we know about how these organisms grow and survive. Those are two key pieces of uncertainty as to how we currently manage and assess these populations and set our harvest rates. The availability of accurate information would shift the paradigm in what we know."

Researchers estimate it takes king and Tanner crabs five to six years before they are big enough for harvest. Soon, they’ll know for sure. Find more crab stories at www.alaskafishradio.com

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. 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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