Federal Rule Freeze Could Stall Alaska's Halibut Season; Use of Pot Gear for Sablefish
A memo issued by President Donald Trump that freezes all new or pending regulations at executive departments and agencies could delay the start to Alaska's halibut fishery and the use of pot gear for sablefish. The memo delays regulations for 60 days with potential for even longer notices and reviews. That would push the soonest fishery start date to March 27. The halibut fishery traditionally opens in early March. Also potentially stalled due to Trump’s regulation freeze is the use of pots to catch sablefish in the Gulf of Alaska. That gear was approved by federal advisors to start this March as a way to prevent sperm whales from snatching the fish from longlines. NOAA Fisheries in Alaska is aware of the potential impacts posed by the Trump freeze said Tom Gemmell, director of the Halibut Coalition. He said fishery managers are working to ensure that the 2017 halibut and sablefish regulations are published in the rule books on time.
The ISSF has released a report showing that one of the critical elements in the Marine Stewardship Council’s 2.0 standard, the presence of harvest control rules, is almost entirely missing in the tuna sector. According to an analysis by John Sackton, out of 19 distinct tuna stocks in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, North and South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, only 3 have harvest control rules that meet the minimum MSC passing score of 80. All the others cannot yet meet that standard. "In effect, the ISSF is saying that 16 out of 19 global tuna fisheries are not up to the MSC standard in this area," Sackton writes. "This includes 15 of 17 MSC tuna fisheries that are already certified or currently in assessment."
In other news, Alaska seafood exporters are disappointed by President Trump's executive order to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The deal would have cut tariffs on Alaska's seafood exports. For instance, the deal would have helped Alaska's pollock industry by cutting import taxes of 4.2 percent to zero in Japan, the largest consumer of pollock surimi and roe. "We're disappointed that the reduction in tariffs did not take place," said Ron Rogness, a spokesperson for American Seafoods, an Alaska pollock processor based in Seattle.
Meanwhile, Costco Wholesale Corp won dismissal of a lawsuit claiming it didn’t disclose to customers that it was selling farmed shrimp from Thailand that might have been fed with fishmeal produced by abused workers. A San Francisco federal judge threw out the case Tuesday, finding that the consumers who filed it failed to allege the company had a duty to disclose the information about labor abuses in its supply chain.
Finally, fishermen in Maine want to develop a distinct brand for the state's small, day boat scallop fishery and market them as a "super premium" item. By differentiating Maine’s scallops from the rest of the catch, the fishermen hope to build a market that can sustain Maine’s fishery. “I think that if you want to get the most out of the Maine fishery, you’ve got to separate it from the rest of the fisheries out there. You’ve got to market it from a standpoint of what it is: a dayboat fishery that is traceability to the source,” said Dana Temple, who owns Crescent Bay, a wholesale seafood company.
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