United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) announced it will be hosting a free webinar for commercial fishermen with Alaska officials to explain recent updates to Mandates 10 and 17, and to conduct a question and answer session. The webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 27 at 10 a.m. AKDT (11 a.m. PDT). Registration to participate in the webinar is required. You can register here.
COVID-19 testing is currently available for the commercial fishing fleet at Fishermen’s Terminal. Testing will be available through Tuesday, June 30. Testing includes both a nasal swab (PCR) to test whether a person is positive for the coronavirus, and serology testing to determine whether a person has antibodies for the virus. A single PCR test is $280 per person; a combination PCR/serology test is $330. Discovery Health, a Seattle based medical consulting company with strong ties to the commercial fishing industry, is providing this service in collaboration with the University of Washington and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Currently, testing is available by appointment only. To schedule an appointment or to learn more, please call Discovery Health at 206.309.3507, or send an e-mail to: [email protected]. Discovery Health has plans to ramp up testing in the coming days to align with demand.
United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) will be distributing flyers containing a “Message to the Fleet,” regarding the importance of complying with Mandate 17 and other local health mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The fliers will be widely distributed throughout Alaska and will be posted at harbors, processing plants, tender vessels, and other locations. A link to the “message” can be found here
The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security Act” (“CARES”) included $300 mil. in direct relief payments to commercial fishermen and other seafood businesses for losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 7, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the states of Washington and Alaska will each receive $50 mil. of the $300 mil. previously appropriated by Congress. The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission will work with both states to develop spend plans consistent with the CARES Act and NOAA Fisheries’ guidance. For more information, you can find the Commerce Secretary’s press release here.
Members in the House and Senate wrote letters to the leadership in their respective chambers asking for additional relief for the seafood industry in the next relief/stimulus bill. The House letter, led by Reps. Huffman (D-CA), Graves (R-LA), Palazzo (R-MS), and Schrader (D-OR) and signed by 45 Representatives, requests $2 billion in USDA funding specifically for seafood purchases and an additional $1.5 billion in fisheries assistance. The Senate letter, led by Sens. Merkley (D-OR), Murkowski (R-AK), and Wyden (D-OR) and signed by 25 Senators, requests $2 billion in USDA funding specifically for seafood purchases and an additional $1 billion in fisheries disaster assistance.
NOAA Fisheries collects verifies, documents, and responds to reports of large whale entanglements. The agency recently released a summary of whale entanglement information on the West Coast for 2019. In 2019, entanglement reporting on the U.S. West Coast continued to be higher than what had occurred historically prior to 2014, although fewer reports were received than in some of the recent record high years. A total of 26 whales were confirmed entangled off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California in 2019. Similar to recent years, humpback whales continue to be the most common species entangled with 17 separate entanglements confirmed in 2019. There were also eight gray whales confirmed entangled and one confirmed minke whale entanglement. The 2019 summary can be found here. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has submitted an application to NOAA Fisheries for an ESA “take” permit for the Coastal Dungeness crab fishery for entanglement incidents involving ESA listed humpback whales.