June 8, 2015 Community Happenings

SCVB Meets Tonight

A special meeting of the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors will be held 6 p.m. tonight, June 8, at 303 Lincoln Street, Suite 4.

Contact the SCVB office for information at 747-5940 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Awarded National Fish

and Wildlife Foundation Grant to boost Electronic Monitoring

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently announced five grants worth a total of $3 million as part of the “Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program.” The grant awards include $492,553 to the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association to integrate electronic monitoring on as many as 120 small boats in the Gulf of Alaska’s fixed gear fisheries.

In 2013, the National Marine Fisheries Service  expanded at-sea observer coverage in Alaska to include hundreds of small boats that catch halibut, sablefish and Pacific cod with longline gear. Recognizing that many of these small boats cannot accommodate an observer without significant impacts, ALFA has been working with NMFS, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council  and industry associations throughout Alaska since 2010 to develop an electronic monitoring alternative. 

EM systems use a combination of video cameras, GPS and sensors throughout the vessel to capture video footage of each fish on the line. EM technicians later review the video to identify the species of each fish in order to estimate “bycatch,” or non-target species. “It can be a lot easier to carry and maintain a simple camera system on a small boat than an observer,” said Dan Falvey, ALFA EM program manager. “EM camera systems and logbooks are successfully used to monitor the Canadian halibut fishery, and have been since 2008.”

“There is a real need for an EM alternative in Alaska,” Falvey added. “Currently, there are 350 to 400 boats in the 40’ to 57’ size range now required to carry observers, and since the new program began in 2013, 170 of these boats have asked for a release from observer coverage because of bunk space or liferaft capacity issues.”

Much of the work to develop an EM solution for Alaska has been supported by funding from the NFWF through grants to organizations like ALFA and the North Pacific Fisheries Association in Homer. “Without the support of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Alaska Congressional delegation, Alaska would not be at the EM implementation stage,” said Linda Behnken, ALFA’s executive director.

Building on this previous work, the Council is now targeting 2016 for pre-implementation of EM systems on small boats.

“The continued support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has been critical to leveraging the addition funds from NMFS needed to complete the process,” Falvey said. “The new grant funds will be combined with NMFS funding to deploy EM video equipment on up to 120 vessels over the two-year pre-implementation period.”

Falvey also wanted to remind fishermen that to register for the 2016 EM program, vessel owners must contact NMFS by July 27.  Falvey noted that all interested fishermen are encouraged to register, but that participation may be limited by funding.

A recent NMFS letter to fishermen announcing the EM opportunity says priority will be given to hook-and-line vessels 40 to 57.5 feet LOA and to vessels granted a conditional release for life-rafts or bunk space in 2013, 2014, or 2015. Final details of the EM program will be approved by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in October 2015. Registered vessels will be given a chance to “opt out” and go back into the observer pool after Council action.

“ALFA is thrilled to be part of this national effort to advance EM implementation in our nation’s fisheries,” stated Behnken. “EM provides an important source of fishery dependent data and an essential alternative to observers for small boats.”

Vessels interested in EM should contact Liz Chilton with NMFS at 206-526-4197 or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

 

Music Festival

Discussion Set

Music educator Susan Reed will host a free one-hour discussion at Stevenson Hall, 104 Jeff Davis Street,  5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.

Reed will talk about the music and performers that will be featured in the second week of the festival. Guest artists may also be on hand. For more information call 747-6774.

 

Cafe Concert

Set Wednesday

All are invited to join the Matt Herskowitz Trio for a cafe concert at the Bayview Pub 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, to hear classical music ‘‘that really swings.’’

The weekly café concerts are sponsored by the Sitka Summer Music Festival. More information is available at sitkamusicfestival.org.

 

 

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