Sunday, November 19, 2006

November Newsletter Articles


The Purse Seine Task Force meeting for 2006 is scheduled for Petersburg on November 28th. If you have topics that aren’t covered below please call ASAP to the SEAS office at 463-5030 or 723-8267 and leave them on the machine or talk with me. You can also email your topics of concern to or leave them with a comment on the running blog at

This year the Task Force will be co-chaired by Bill Davidson and Bob T. Since the SEAS and SRA board meetings follow on November 29th, most of the SEAS board members should also be in Petersburg to attend the Task Force meeting as well. So if you have any burning issues you can contact the board members in your town or area.

Preliminary Task Force Issues

Chatham Strait corridor fisheries impacted by USFS Federal Subsistence management of Kanalku sockeye.

Clarence Strait changing back to 2-2 rather than 4-1

Cholmondeley Sound fall chum issues.

1.9 million cohoes behind on all species allocation- 19% target for seiners, 13% of total all-gear coho harvest.

Seiners out on 2 on the 5 year rolling average on enhancement allocation.
Gillnetters out on high side 3 on the 5 year rolling average.

New Otilith data showing SSRAA hatchery contributions in mixed stock corridors.

McDonald Lake issues.

Potential Homeshore openings during years of high pink salmon abundance.

Odd-Even Cycles.

Explanation of what went wrong with pinks in 2006

Anita Bay corridor fishing in District 8.


Hawk Inlet conservation time and area closures for sockeye in 2006.

ADFG Personnel and longer term retention issues.

Pacific Salmon Treaty renegotiation.

So, add to this list if you would or add to the information so that I or the board might benefit with your added knowledge of many of the issues we’ll be tackling this fall.
You of course are all invited to attend. We’ll find a place to put you up in Petersburg if you can indeed make it.


United Fishermen of Alaska Executive Director Mark Vinsel handed out a cheatsheet to all 3 gubernatorial candidates in Anchorage October 11th. On it were the accomplishments of UFA during the past 3 ½ years as a result of both Governor Murkowski’s cabinet and agenda as well as the leadership and both bodies of the legislature. It’s worth taking a brief look at what’s happened recently when SEAS has been at the core of UFA, helping out by volunteering the time of it’s Executive Director.

43 fisheries bills passed .
Board of Fish changed.
False Pass and Cook Inlet resurrected and almost saved.
And on and on.

Undoubtedly outgoing Senate President Ben Stevens provided tremendous impetus as part of the follow through from his tenure on the Joint Legislative Salmon Task Force. And it certainly reminded us of the task force days when past state Senator Alan Austerman was there every step of the way for the administration this past term as senior fisheries advisor.

Mrs. Sarah Palin met with the UFA board after both Mr. Andrew Halcro and former Governor Tony Knowles. Although all three meetings maintained exceptional dialogue on the important issues facing commercial fishermen today, it was former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin who wowed both small and large boat fleets, earning a bipartisan endorsement reminiscent of the first Murkowski endorsement. The only caveat is that this endorsement was a bit broader, including Sitka and Homer, and a few other places where FHM was weaker.

Sarah Palin is married to a North Slope worker/Bristol Bay setnetter and former drifter. Her understanding of many of the rest of the state’s commercial fisheries issues is yet being shaped but she is very intelligent and a quick study. She is the most likely to allow other reasonable, non-competing uses for our natural resource base in Alaska.

UFA Environmental/Fish Farm Issues Chairman Mr. Bruce Wallace hosted Cam Toohey of Dutch Shell and Bruce Jenkins of Northern Dynasty to speak on Peninsula Offshore Drilling and the Pebble Project respectively. It is apparent that there needs to be more work and studies completed prior to any assessment of future impacts by either of these projects. A preponderance of UFA groups are very wary of the severity of Pebble’s impact. A small group of Bristol Bay native commercial fishermen showed up to support the Pebble Project.

UFA’s board roster numbers 37 people. Thirty three (33) fishing associations from around the state along with 4 at-large board members elected from the UFA individual membership. These are amongst the most knowledgeable and talented individuals representing commercial fishermen in Alaska. The average Executive Director at the UFA board has been around for over a decade at this game and the board list is like a who’s who list of Alaska commercial fishing industry icons. I am always in awe of this group when I’m working with them. Our newest group to rejoin is the CRAB group, represented by the talented Linda Kozak of Kodiak.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

EXXON date for SO1A is December 1st....

If you are unsure of your EXXON unoiled claim, please call me. All of my numbers are on the newsletters.

December 1st is the final date to have any changes to Exxon's numbers for your poundage for the years 1989,1990 and 1991. ( for SO1A, SE purse seine)

Call me at the office or on my cell phone if you are unsure of your status.


Friday, November 10, 2006



Hope your hangover is over from the worst pink salmon harvest in Southeast since 1987. And although not enough time could ever pass to help us forget the lousy aspects of the summer ( besides the biblical proportions of rain), there were a few bright spots in 2006.


Nakat, Kendrick, Anita Bay all came through with decent chum salmon production. The SSSF(Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund) investment and direction from USAG to return chums to Anita Bay has paid off. Certainly it was a bittersweet Nakat season since that will go to the ugly section in 2007, with the discontinuance of summer chum purse seining there. {For what it’s worth, fall chum seining will still be allowed until the end of 2007} But it was with renewed optimism that we saw a resurgence in survival at Kendrick Bay this year. Whether there were remote site problems or whatever the issue we are pleased to see a rebound there. In 2006, SSRAA continued to be a major player in providing production to the seine fleet when we needed it most.

Chichagof Island
Tenakee, Slocum, Basket Bay, Salisbury Sound and the Augusta shoreline were some of the few areas that produced harvestable numbers of pink salmon this past summer. Even the odd-year-only stranglehold that has always gripped Lisianski was broken this past summer with the first meaningful harvest on an even cycle since statehood.

Taku River and Hawk Inlet
Once again the gillnets were swamped with pinks in District 111. We were unable to prosecute a meaningful pink harvest with the weaker overall SE pink runs. Sockeye conservation time and area restrictions at Hawk Inlet also allowed too many swim through the district. This could have placed Hawk Inlet in the BAD or UGLY category but for the fact that we at least had quite a few Hawk Inlet opportunities. And we are pleased that the Taku is remaining extremely productive.

Both Hidden Falls and Deep Inlet made the chums this year. The front office of NSRAA wouldn’t even consider 2006 a blip compared to their historical success. Yet even the leadership at NSRAA must be relieved to see the recent chum productivity slide reverse itself. NSRAA should be rewarded with praise for their longstanding success and contributions to the purse seine fleet. Cohoes made it a great finale when the total of 1.3 million pounds was harvested in August and September by cost recovery at Mist Cove and Hidden Falls. Season ending prices were $1.35 for seine caught coho in the round.

ADFG Management
The men and women in ADFG blue have to be commended for their conservative approach to the overall SEAK pink harvest. I walked a big indicator system in Security Bay this fall and there was a 30,000 escapement where there were 90,000 in 2004. ( That 90K was William Bergman’s estimate—mine was more like 200K). So without any directed fishing at Kingsmill in 2006, with little accompanying harvest rate, the spawner recruit was about .33. That’s 1 fish returning per 3 spawners. At that rate, with management error, we would find ourselves with endangered or threatened species within a few cycles of similar errors.

The Pink Price
Pink prices have inched up to 19 cents at the dock of one large processor. Of course those who got that at the dock paid dearly for the privilege of getting there, most likely eating up the extra 3 cents in fuel costs. The recent frozen price of over $1.00 and the latest bids by the processors to sell to USDA at over $60 a case ( on a 48 tall basis) would indicate that that price is quite some distance from where the price will settle out at and start for the 2007 season. Now there are a number of factors contributing to this price increase and some of those are UGLY like the lack of supply.

II. The Bad

2004 Drought
It wasn’t just that the summer drought that didn’t break until the 2nd week of September, but there were also anecdotal reports of regions that experienced drought-like conditions throughout the winter of 2004-05. Pinks that had held out in salt water until mid-September didn’t have the geographically diverse and healthy spawn that they might have had with earlier entry to fresh water. Perhaps later run systems(mid-August through early September pinks) could have gotten a few more fish by the fleet and into healthy spawning conditions but the normal timed summer pinks were obviously susceptible to the 2004 summer drought.

It was an interesting combination though in Southeast pink salmon spawning streams. Where streams weren’t accompanied by glacial systems, upwelling springs, or high mountain watersheds, we saw virtually the lowest spawning numbers we’ve seen in decades*- even allowing that this was the sub-dominant even SE pink cycle. In the case of Chichagof Island and the Taku, these systems have the necessary drought-survival tools- or at least they worked beneficially to the progeny of the 2004 spawning adults.
However, along the West Admiralty Island shoreline, and in many of the POW and Kuiu Island systems, pink salmon suffered.
*notwithstanding that we still met minimum escapement goals nearly everywhere.

2005-2006 Near-shore Marine and Ocean Conditions
Accompanying the drought were ocean conditions that stunted the growth of each and every hatchery and wild stock pink salmon in the state except for West Kodiak.
Certainly one can attribute to the drought a high percentage of the blame on the SE pink failure. But perhaps equally as important were the low marine survival that seemed to plague statewide pink salmon hatcheries. In Southeast’s single pink salmon facility, 82 million pink fry returned less than 1 million adults to Armstrong-Keta. Likewise, the large spring of 2005 releases of PWS pinks never made it back home in 2006.

Coho apparently fared better than pinks in 2006, even though they both shared the drought issue 2 years ago. The coho were likely large enough to escape the lowest, hottest water and perhaps were able to emerge from the drought with overall less harm than the pinks. In some systems the coho smolts must have entirely left the system in order to survive.

Cholmondeley Sound
Even though escapement was decent in Disappearance and exceptional in Lagoon Creek, 2006 marked another sub-par year at Cholmondeley. This was particularly disturbing since the hatchery chums seemed to enjoy an excellent survival year in southern Southeast.


Southern Southeast
For only the 3rd time in several decades, Northern Southeast ruled supreme over Southern Southeast, throwing the regions’ renowned manager, Mr. Philip Doherty, into such a tailspin that he had to quit and take Julie Deckers old job over at SARDFA. More on Mr. Doherty at another spot in this newsletter. ( He doesn’t belong in the ugly column).

Fuel Prices


Lack of Pinks to fulfill market orders

Need I say more.

Friday, November 03, 2006


SEAS, the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, endorsed Sarah Palin for Governor today. Sarah Palin’s close connection to the commercial salmon fisheries along with SEAS belief that she will be able to bridge the gap that can exist between the Governor and the Legislature were cited as two of the major reasons for support.

The UFA, of which SEAS is a longstanding member, had made this similar decision on October 12th, over 3 weeks ago. SEAS 13 board members are all commercial salmon fishermen and have had a busy and difficult season, but were able to teleconference today. Although there is great respect and admiration for Palin’s two opponents, Andrew Halcro and Tony Knowles, the SEAS board determined that Sarah Palin is the best choice for coastal Alaskan communites where our members live. SEAS is very impressed with the vast majority of Murkowski commissioners and directors and is confident that, with a Palin administration, there will be less change and turnover of our favorite leaders in Commerce, Labor and Fish and Game.

SEAS board of directors hail primarily from Petersburg, Sitka and Ketchikan. They also represent members from the Alaskan communities of Wrangell, Klawock, Juneau, Hoonah, Kake, Homer, Cordova and Craig.

The rest of the SEAS endorsement slate is as follows.

House of Representatives
Bill Thomas- Haines (iceworm district of smaller communities, 34 permits in his district)
Beth Kertulla- Juneau downtown (7 permits)
Peggy Wilson- Wrangell (Petersburg, Sitka, Wrangell, 100 permits)
Kyle Johansen-Ketchikan (33 permits)
Randy Wanamaker- Juneau (3 permits)
Alaska State Senate
Mac Meiners- Juneau (10 permits)

US Congress

The Honourable Donald E. Young