Read the court's decision here!

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set the 2016 total allowable catch (TAC) for Alaska groundfish.

What a difference a year makes for the halibut bycatch controversy in the Bering Sea at the December meetings of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage. The flatfish factory trawlers, vilified for much of this year, reported vigorous and voluntary efforts at halibut conservation, and even received praise from the Pribilofs. Their zeal was prompted by what might be termed resolution number two-by-four of the fish council last summer, which slashed halibut bycatch by 25 percent.

As Arctic ice shrinks, fish will see the region in a whole new light.

With sunlight now permeating previously darkened waters, predatory fish that hunt by sight are set to invade in increasing numbers, scientists predict in a new study.

Understanding how ocean conditions and climate impact salmon year class strength is an objective of the Auke Bay Laboratories (ABL) Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring (SECM) project. The SECM project has collected a time series of indexes that include juvenile salmon and their associated biophysical data in coastal Southeast Alaska (SEAK) since 1997.

Coming up this week, there's controversy over releasing hatchery chums in Southeast, the Kodiak Maritime Museum starts the groundwork – literally – on its new display, and the lamprey fishery on the Yukon is a nice payday before the holidays. All that, and the dangers of fishing with explosives, coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report.

Russian fishing companies would no longer be able to market their pollock catch as “Alaska Pollock” under a provision included in a congressional spending bill expected to gain approval later this week.

Pollock is the biggest volume fishery in the U.S., and huge schools can be found in U.S. waters off Alaska and also in Russian waters. Most of the pollock fleet is based in Washington state.

Evolution is usually thought of as occurring over long time periods, but it also can happen quickly. Consider a tiny fish whose transformation after the 1964 Alaskan earthquake was uncovered by University of Oregon scientists and their University of Alaska collaborators.

A bill poised to pass the U.S. Congress would require the FDA to produce labeling guidelines before it allows the sale of genetically engineered salmon. That’s one policy rider Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she fought for that’s included in the package of year-end spending and tax bills.

Annual fees paid by holders of catch shares in Alaska’s halibut, sablefish and Bering Sea/Aleutian Island king crab fisheries will rise for the 2015/2016 season to meet costs of management and enforcement.

Kristie Balovich, budget officer for the Alaska region office of NOAA Fisheries, said Dec. 10 that coverage fees for the 2015/2016 BSAI king crab fishery went up to 1.48 percent and to 3 percent for halibut and sablefish.

Halibut dominated the federal fisheries process in 2015, with each sector fighting over reduced allocations.

Directed halibut fishermen in the North Pacific have watched their quotas drop while the trawl industry prosecuting Bering Sea groundfish has had a relatively static bycatch limit for 20 years. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council governs bycatch while the International Pacific Halibut Commission governs directed removals, and the two have not coordinated on the decline in harvestable halibut biomass.

Gov. Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a Memorandum of Understanding Wednesday morning committing to cooperation on transboundary issues, particularly related to concerns in Southeast over mines on the Canadian side of the border.

The world's sockeye market is looking a little better than it did in the spring with more fish moving off shelves and out of warehouses, but a recent report says there's still more to be sold. A new trade agreement could offer a little help with that, however.

Each fall, McDowell Group Fisheries Analyst Andy Wink helps that company put together a market report for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

Wink said that so far this fall, sockeye has been selling faster than it did in 2014 for both frozen headed and gutted product, and filets.

For a second year, seafood taken from Alaska waters has tested negative for radiation from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster, state officials say.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have purchased more than 156,000 cases of canned wild Alaska pink salmon worth $5.3 million for distribution to child nutrition and other related domestic food assistance programs for fiscal year 2016. - See more at: http://www.thecordovatimes.com/article/1548usda-buys-53-million-in-canne...

By Congressman Don Young, Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Alaska is our nation’s seafood powerhouse. With nine of our country’s top twenty fishing ports by volume, we understand the vital role our seafood industry has played in our communities in the past, how important it is now, and how central the industry will be in the future. Protecting and enhancing Alaska’s fisheries is one of the top priorities of our delegation.

For longline sable fishers in the Gulf of Alaska, there are few omens of doom more chilling than the enormous shadow of a whale approaching their boat. That’s because in the past several years, male sperm whales, the lone wolves of the ocean, have been behaving strangely. They have been teaming up to hunt fish right off fishers’ hooks, and every year more whales are coming to eat from the fishing line buffet, leading some scientists to speculate that they’re somehow communicating about the richness of the hunting ground and sharing tips.

After a lengthy search, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has a new executive director set to start in December.

The organization, which is funded by a tax on drift fishermen, announced Nov. 12 that Becky Martello would take the top job beginning Dec. 14.

Martello replaces Sue Aspelund, who said last spring that she'd like to resign from the position after holding it for about a year.

What the infamous T-P-P could mean for Alaska's seafood exports, the challenges of counting pink salmon, and The Cannery Project takes us to False Pass. All that and more on this week's Alaska Fisheries Report.

Federal regulators on Thursday approved a genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for American supermarkets and dinner tables.
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The approval by the Food and Drug Administration caps a long struggle for AquaBounty Technologies, a small company that first approached the F.D.A. about approval in the 1990s. The agency made its initial determination that the fish would be safe to eat and for the environment more than five years ago.

The Kodiak Fisheries Workgroup sent a letter of community input to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council before the council’s meeting in early October. The letter focused on the gulf trawl bycatch management issue.

Fisheries analyst for the Kodiak City and Kodiak Island Borough, Heather McCarty, says it encouraged the council to continue analysis on some points that the Kodiak community thinks important, and it furthermore provided a community perspective.

Next year promises to be a big year for sockeye harvests. Both Bristol Bay and Upper Cook Inlet are forecast to have sizable sockeye returns in the midst of global and domestic market hostile to U.S. higher sockeye prices detailed in a new economic report.

With the holiday season coming into full swing in December, retail suppliers of wild Alaska seafood both online and in local shops say sales are on par with a year ago and they are upbeat about a good season.

A new study says levels of toxins responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning are well above the Food and Drug Administration’s limit in the Haines area. One researcher says further testing of commercial crab and shrimp from the area could kill the region’s fisheries.

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would reduce bycatch limits for Pacific halibut in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish fisheries.

Bycatch is also known as “prohibited species catch,” or PSC. The proposed fishery management plan amendment, "Amendment 111," would reduce PSC limits for halibut in specific amounts in four groundfish sectors:

- Amendment 80 sector (non-pollock trawl catcher/processors) by 25% to 1,745 mt;
- BSAI trawl limited access sector (all non-Amendment 80 trawl fishery participants) by 15% to 745 mt;

Alexa Tonkovich, who as international director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute oversaw an $8 million overseas marketing budget, has been named as the agency's new executive director.

The appointment of Tonkovich, who has been instrumental in developing new export markets for Alaska seafood, was announced by ASMI board chairman Barry Collier, who is the president and chief executive officer of Peter Pan Seafoods, during ASMI's All Hands meeting in Anchorage Oct. 21-23.

Hurricane Patricia was a surprise. The eastern Pacific hurricane strengthened explosively before hitting the coast of Mexico, far exceeding projections of scientists who study such storms.
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And while the storm’s strength dissipated quickly when it struck land, a question remained. What made it such a monster?

Explanations were all over the map, with theories that included climate change (or not), and El Niño.

Because of Alaska’s budget crisis, state agencies cut spending this year and are planning additional reductions in the next few years. For the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, those cuts have meant less monitoring of fish runs, a change that will lead to more conservative management and less fishing opportunity.