Alaska's 2017 Copper River Salmon Run Forecast Would Tie 2016 as Lowest in Decades
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released a Copper River forecast on Friday for 2017 that anticipates a king salmon run that would tie 2016 as the smallest since 1980. The ADFG's 2017 chinook salmon total run forecast of 29,000 is about 34,000 less than the 18-year average total run size of 63,000. The forecast for the king salmon return is barely more than the minimum escapement goal of 24,000. After accounting for sport and subsistence harvest, that would allow for a commercial harvest of just 3,500 of the species. Additionally, ADFG forecasts 1.5 million sockeye to return to Copper River, the third-lowest in the last 20 years.
John Sackton writes why the Alaska Board of Fisheries' decision to deny a well-researched plan for a small Bairdi fishery this year put out of date science over the interests of the “economy and well-being” of the people of the state. The reason the Bairdi was closed was not for lack of a surplus of harvestable males. Instead, it was due to the poor survey results for females even though there were real issues with the conclusion that female abundance was below the target threshold Sackton writes. "At a time where the financial future of the state and many communities are on the line, to forgo that revenue due to poor science or the inability to adjust models to current data is simply not an acceptable outcome," Sackton says in today's story.
In other news, UK restaurant chain Burger and Lobster may be in serious financial trouble because of the high cost of lobster meat. The restaurant chain, which opened a 170 seat location in Manchester said it is struggling to pay back debts after racking up a pre-tax loss of more than £7m (US$8.7 million), according to accounts filed with Companies House. The chain has already sold off its loss-making 300-seat Cardiff site. Burger and Lobster has also ditched its £20 ($24.95) fixed price policy for its burgers, lobsters and lobster rolls last year, dropping burgers to £16 ($19.96) and pricing lobster dishes between £19 ($23.70) and £54 ($67.36).
Meanwhile, biologists say Nova Scotia's haddock biomass in the Bay of Fundy and Georges Bank are potentially massive. A population assessment for the southern Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy estimates that 264 million haddock were hatched there in 2013 and survived their first year. This means the population of adult haddock in those waters could be around 100,00 metric tons this year and in 2018. On Georges Bank, the population is predicted to be even bigger, with Canadian and American scientists estimating the 2013 hatch at 1.3 billion fish. "We're seeing signs of it now, but we would expect to see the fish at the larger, more commercially harvestable sizes in a couple of years," said Alain d'Entremont, chief operating officer at O'Neil Fisheries in Digby.
Finally, a Massachusetts District Court judge granted a motion for a delay in the trial for both Carlos Rafael and Antonio Freitas. Rafael's attorney asked for a 5 week continuance based on another upcoming trial, and also on possible talks with the US attorney to settle the case. Rafael is accused of falsifying fish landing information, and selling fish not counted against his quota allocation, in violation of numerous federal fisheries statutes. The tentative date for a trial for Rafael, if it comes to pass, would be after March 20th.
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