ComFish Alaska | Watch the 2022 Forums
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Watch the 2022 Forums

THANK YOU TO THIS YEAR’S FORUM SPONSORS
Thursday, March 24th
Federal Legislative Update
Presenters – Senator Dan Sullivan & Senator Lisa Murkowski

Federal Legislative Update

Update from State of Alaska Fish and Game
Presenter – Doug Vincent Lang, Commissioner of Fish and Game

State of Alaska Fish & Game statewide update.

Bering Sea Crab Populations
Presenter – Ben Daly, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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Eastern Bering Sea (EBS) crab populations have significant ecological and commercial importance. Abundances have fluctuated over the past several decades and are currently at low levels. This presentation provides an overview of stock status, management responses, recent fishery performance, and future outlook with a particular focus on EBS snow crab, EBS Tanner crab, and Bristol Bay red king crab.

Gulf of Alaska Tanner Crab Management & Status of the Stock
Presenter – Nat Nichols, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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This presentation provides an overview of the current status of Tanner crab stocks in the Kodiak, Chignik, and South Peninsula Areas as well as an outline of ADF&G’s recommended updates to Tanner crab harvest strategies that will be considered by the Alaska Board of Fisheries in spring 2022. The department’s understanding of Tanner crab stock dynamics has improved since the current strategies were adopted in 1999; these updated strategies provide for abundance-based exploitation rates that better reflect stock productivity while maintaining stability for fishery participants and modestly improving yield.

How Is Climate Change Affecting Alaskan Fisheries Now?
Presenter – Michael Litzow, Director of the NOAA Fisheries Lab
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Recent advances in attribution science allow us to conclude with high confidence that the string of extreme ocean temperatures around Alaska since 2014 were the result of human-caused global warming. These extremely warm years have apparently impacted several high-value fisheries, including Bering Sea snow crab and Gulf of Alaska sockeye salmon, Pacific cod, and pollock. This combination of climate extremes and fisheries outcomes signals that climate change has already taken us away from the range of conditions that we used to take for granted for Alaskan fisheries. Effectively adapting to climate change will require us all to move from historical perspectives on fisheries variability to a new perspective built on the expectation that current trends will continue.

Gulf of Alaska Fishing Communities and Climate Change Adaptation
Presenter – Marysia Szymkowiak, Research Social Scientist with NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
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Fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and the fishing communities that depend on them are experiencing significant changes in their ecosystems and are at high risk from the continued effects of climate change. Scientists at NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center are examining how fishermen in the Gulf are experiencing ecological changes and what tools fishermen and fishing communities have and need to adapt to these new challenges. This presentation summarizes this work including how fisheries are changing, what fishermen are seeing, how they are responding, and what needs to be tackled for building fisheries resilience. 

What do new commercial fishermen need to know?
Presenters – Gabe Dunham, Sea Grant Extension Leader, Fisheries Business Specialist, & Sunny Rice, Petersburg Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent
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Alaska’s seafood industry is the economic backbone of many coastal communities and the state’s largest single employer. Seafood harvesting jobs are well-paying occupations that require a well-trained workforce. Alaska Sea Grant has been providing support and training for new entrants to commercial fisheries for many years, including through the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit, crew training courses, and FishBiz efforts to provide financial management skills. Tribal, community, and non-profit organizations have been doing similar work to support their members and fleets. Funded by National Sea Grant, we are conducting an assessment to identify the educational needs of new entrants into Alaska’s commercial seafood harvesting and formulate strategies to meet those needs. This project, Food from the Sea: Supporting the Next Generation of Alaska’s Seafood Harvesters and Growers, comes in advance of federal funding for the Young Fishermen’s Development Act. We will present the preliminary results of the assessment to date and gather input on additional education needs of new entrants to the seafood harvesting sector around the state.

Friday, March 25th
Alaska Seafood Market Updates and Opportunities
Presenter – Ashley Heimbigner, ASMI & Bruce Schactler, ASMI
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Join the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute for a marketing update on the Alaska seafood industry. Learn about where your catch is going, the value at home and abroad, and how the pandemic and global economics create challenges and opportunities for Alaska seafood, including the USDA’s federal purchasing programs.

Alaska Marine Debris – Information, Efforts, and Opportunities
Presenters – Peter Murphy, Alaska Regional Coordinator, NOAA Marine Debris Program & Andy Schroder, Island Trails Network + Ocean Plastic Recovery Project
Download Peter’s Presentation | Download Andy’s Presentation 

Marine debris is an issue that is present across the global ocean, and includes items large and small that cause a wide range of impacts to the ecosystem and the important subsistence and commercial activities it supports.  Across Alaska there is an active, dedicated, and collaborative marine debris community working to address and prevent marine debris impacts.  The community includes groups and individuals across government agencies, industry, native and tribal organizations, community organizations, and many others, all working from their expertise and capability to find solutions. Projects use diverse and innovative methods but all have the common goal of understanding, removing, and preventing debris and the impacts it has on the environment. This can be through cleaning debris from shorelines, research to better understand debris presence and impacts, outreach to prevent more debris from entering the ocean, or responding to specific debris events. The NOAA talk will provide an orientation to the unique aspects of marine debris in Alaska, the innovative work being done by groups across the state to address it, and look forward to opportunities and next steps.

Kodiak Waterfront Master Plan
Presenters – Michael Sarnowski, Port and Harbors Director for the City of Kodiak, Natalie Lyon, Planner with RESPEC & Mike Tvenge, City Manager of Kodiak
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Waterfront facilities are a critical element to the City of Kodiak, supporting a large portion of the City’s commerce, industry, transportation, recreational and cultural needs. Balancing these needs is a challenge and as the City plans for the future it is important to encourage a diversity of opportunities. The goal of the 2022 Waterfront Master Plan is to seek that balance and to continue to find ways to support the fishing industry, provide an efficient means of transportation of goods, support the growing tourism industry and establish/maintain open spaces. Join us for an informative and interactive session to learn about elements of the plan and contribute to the planning process.

Utilizing Surveys to Better Understand Public Perception of The State of Pollution in Their Local Introduction By – Gemma Hawley
Presenter – Tav Ammu, Alaska Sea Grant Fellow
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Concern was raised about the Ninilchik Harbor in regard to pollution from the boats.  Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation teamed up with Alaska Sea Grant to create a Fellowship to address this concern.  Originally focused on only Ninilchik Harbor, the program expanded to all coastal harbors throughout the state.  Using three surveys (Harbormasters, Harbor Users, and Community Members), the goal was to better understand the public perception about current conditions, practices, concerns, and solutions in regard to pollution in their local harbors.  This presentation will showcase the results from those surveys, throughout the state of Alaska as well as localized responses from Kodiak.  Through this better understanding, state regulators and harbormasters are able to focus their efforts on areas of greatest need and allow managers to develop local solutions to pollution control based on the needs and concerns of boaters and the broader community. Using lessons learned from those responses as well as input from a previous survey done in 2016 by Alaska Clean Harbors, to direct the next steps being done to encourage proper pollution management in two communities of Alaska: Dillingham and Ninilchik.

State Legislative Update
Presenters – Representative Louise Stutes & Senator Gary Stevens

State of Alaska Legislative Update from Representative Louise Stutes and Senator Gary Stevens

Innovation and the Future of the Alaska Seafood Industry
Presenter – Garrett Evridge, Managing Director, Alaska Ocean Cluster
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Since statehood, Alaska has led innovation in wild fisheries. This leadership position is under threat due to climate change, global competition, and politics, among other factors. Join Garrett Evridge from the Alaska Ocean Cluster for a discussion about challenges, opportunities, and factors that will determine the future of the industry.

Harmful Algal Blooms and Ocean Acidification: Threats to Food Security and How They Are Being Addressed in Alaska
Presenter – Thomas Farrugia, Alaska Ocean Observing System
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Water quality plays an integral part in the food security and economic well-being of Alaska. The oceans in particular are a primary source of food for coastal communities, and an economic driver for commercial fisheries and mariculture operations. However, two potential threats to food security in Alaska – harmful algal blooms (HABs) and ocean acidification (OA) – are likely to intensify with climate change. This presentation will detail the threats posed by HABs and OA, how these threats are being monitored, researched, mitigated, and communicated in Alaska, and the role of the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS). In addition to providing accurate and reliable ocean data, AOOS houses two collaborative networks that facilitate the crucial work being done on HABs and OA. Though they are distinct, HABs and OA can work synergistically with each other and with other changes in the oceans to produce multi-stressor impacts on Alaska’s socio-ecological environment.

Saturday, March 26th
Kelp Mariculture in Southwest Alaska; Opportunities and Assistance
Presenter – Tamsen Peeples
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Mariculture is a new industry with the potential to diversify the economy of coastal Alaska.  Alaska entrepreneurs applying to participate have exploded across the state with new farms being permitted and coming online every year. AFDF in partnership with SWAMC and APICA is looking for motivated individuals in Southwest Alaska eager to start an aquatic farm. With funding from the USDA, we are able to offer technical assistance to develop site plans, business plans and submit new farm applications.

Skipper Science Program Report
Presenters – Hannah-Marie Garcia, Alaska Sea Grant Fellow & Heather Bauscher
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In 2021 the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Tribal Government and SalmonState’s Salmon Habitat Information Program (SHIP), along with commercial fishing industry partners, kicked off a groundbreaking program with commercial fishermen in Alaska using a smartphone app to collect their ecological observations, including changes in fisheries and ocean conditions.  Skipper Science’s key tool is a smartphone app that allows fishermen to log observations in real time from the fishing grounds. This data can be a valuable resource for researchers, managers and policy makers and we hope to build the program even more in 2022.  This forum will include representatives from ACSPITG and SHIP presenting highlights and lessons learned from the 2021 season, goals for 2022 and provide information to fishermen about how to be part of SkipperScience 2022.

“Water Haul”
Presenter – Catie Bursch

Kodiak Maritime Museum is honored to present Homer fisherman / artist Catie Bursch and her commercial fishing-themed art series, “Water Haul.” Catie has been fishing at her Ugashik Bay setnet site in Bristol Bay for decades and her art springs from her experiences there. Made from objects and materials familiar to commercial fishermen, the eleven art constructions in the exhibit tell stories of work, community, loss and reverence for the natural world.