Input Sought for Vessel Disturbance on Harbor Seals

NOAA seeks public input on potential conservation measures to protect harbor seals from vessel disturbance 

NOAA Fisheries has filed with the Federal Register an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit public input on the issue of vessel interactions with harbor seals in glacial fjords in Alaska. Once published, a public comment period will be open for 60 days.

The agency is considering whether additional management measures may be necessary to preserve the important function and productivity of tidewater glacial habitat in Alaska, reduce disturbance of harbor seals by vessels, and minimize the change of long-term impacts to the population in Alaska. At this time, NOAA Fisheries is only seeking input and is not proposing to adopt any specific additional management measures.


Ecosystem Committee to Meet by Teleconference

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Ecosystem Committee will meet by teleconference in Anchorage, AK.

The teleconference will be held on March 19, 2013 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Alaska Standard Time).

Governor Welcomes Gasline Progress

February 15, 2013, Fairbanks, Alaska – Executives from BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and TransCanada submitted a letter today meeting Governor Sean Parnell’s benchmarks for gas pipeline progress. The companies’ letter states the concept selection phase for an Alaska liquefied natural gas (LNG) project has been completed.

Petition to List 44 Species of Corals as Threatened or Endangered

90-Day Finding on a Petition to List 44 Species of Corals as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act

We (NMFS) announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list 44 species of corals off Alaska as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted.

More Than 500 Years of Federal Service

Milestones: Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Sixteen staff from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) retired between August 2012 and January 2013.  The group includes program and division directors, research fishery biologists, IT specialists, a zoologist, and a program analyst, who together have contributed to the NOAA mission, and the Center’s mission particularly, for more than 500 years.  Their individual contributions have made, in part, the Center what it is today – one of the most productive and most respected marine research institutions in the world.  Each has worked for the federal government for at least 20 years – and one for 52!  Those years in public service reflect well on the Center workplace and are a testimony to the dedication of our staff.

International Pacific Halibut Commission Appointments

In Spring 2012, NOAA Fisheries publicly solicited nominations for two presidential appointments to serve as U.S. Commissioners to the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). While the nomination list included many strong candidates, the combination of a number of factors resulted in the decision to re-initiate this public nomination process.

These factors include heightened interest by diverse user groups, the lapse of time since original nominees expressed interest in an appointment, and considerations of balanced representation on the Commission. In their official IPHC duties, Commissioners represent the interests of the United States and all of its stakeholders in the Pacific halibut fishery, while working to develop the Pacific halibut stocks to levels that will permit the optimum yield from the Pacific halibut fishery. Thus, NOAA is again soliciting nominations for two individuals to serve as U.S. Commissioners to the IPHC.



Scientists from NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center today announced that the 2012 abundance estimate for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale population is 312 animals, a small, but not scientifically significant increase over last year.

The populations have been as low as 278 whales and as high as 366 during the past decade. The overall population trend for the past 10 years for Cook Inlet beluga whales shows them not recovering and still in decline at an annual average rate of 0.6 percent, indicating these whales are still in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.


Amendment 12 Salmon Fisheries

NMFS issues regulations to implement Amendment 12 to the Fishery Management Plan for Salmon Fisheries in the EEZ off the Coast of Alaska (FMP). Amendment 12 comprehensively revises and updates the FMP to reflect the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Council) salmon management policy and to comply with Federal law. This action is necessary to revise specific regulations and remove obsolete regulations in accordance with the modifications in Amendment 12. This action promotes the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws.

Effective January 22, 2013.


IPHC: End in Sight for Steep Halibut Quota Cuts

By Sean Murphy
Pacific halibut fishermen have had little reason to smile over the past few years, as declines in stock coupled with corrections in estimates by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) scientists have led to a steep drop in quotas.

At IPHC’s recent meeting on 28 to 29 November, new data seems to suggest even more quota reductions for 2013, but there is some hope that the decline will level off after that.

Alaska Predicts 2013 Sockeye Salmon Drop

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is predicting a drop in sockeye salmon harvests for 2013 by nearly 20 percent compared to the 2012 harvest, according to its salmon forecast released earlier this week.