ComFish Alaska lineup – live or link in this week!

Crab stock updates, impacts of climate change to fisheries, clean harbors, the industry's future are just a few in the ComFish lineup.

by | March 21, 2022

Filed Under Uncategorized

Status of AK crab stocks, markets, climate change, state/federal/ADF&G updates and much more …

Thursday, March 24

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Federal Legislative Update

View Online –

 Presenters – Senator Dan Sullivan & Senator Lisa Murkowski

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM Update from State of Alaska Fish & Game

View Online –

Presenter – Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner of Fish & Game

12:15 PM – 12:45 PM  Bering Sea Crab Populations

View Online –

Presenter – Ben Daly, Alaska Department of Fish & GameBen Daly is the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s research coordinator for commercial groundfish and shellfish in the Westward region including Kodiak waters, the Aleutian Islands, and the Bering Sea. He supervises research and resulting management of commercial marine fisheries and serves as the Regional crab fisheries scientific adviser.

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.

1:00 PM – 1:30 PM Gulf of Alaska Tanner Crab Management & Status of the Stock

 View Online –

Presenter – Nat Nichols, Alaska Department of Fish & GameNat Nichols is the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s area management biologist for commercial groundfish and shellfish fisheries in the Kodiak, Chignik, and South Alaska Peninsula management areas. He primarily works with participants engaged in commercial Pacific cod, black rockfish, Tanner crab, Dungeness crab, red sea cucumber, and weathervane scallop fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska between Kodiak and Dutch Harbor

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.

1:45 PM – 2:15 PM How Is Climate Change Affecting Alaskan Fisheries Now?

View Online –

Presenter – Michael Litzow, Director of the NOAA Fisheries LabMike Litzow is the Director of the NOAA Fisheries Kodiak Lab. He is a fisheries biologist who has studied climate impacts on Alaskan marine ecosystems for the last twenty-five years.

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.  

2:30 PM – 3:00 PM Gulf of Alaska Fishing Communities and Climate Change Adaptation

View Online –

Presenter – Marysia Szymkowiak, Research Social Scientist with NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center Marysia Szymkowiak is a Social Scientist with NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Her research focuses on how people derive value from and make choices about fisheries participation, and how ecological and management changes may affect that participation. Marysia applies mixed methods approaches including participatory methods to ensure stakeholder engagement in the development of science in the North Pacific. Her current work focuses on understanding how Gulf of Alaska fishing communities may adapt to climate change as part of the Gulf of Alaska Climate Integrated Modeling Project; upward mobility and paths of entry for fisheries participants; and extending the incorporation of human dimensions within ecosystem-based fisheries management as part of the Gulf of Alaska Integrated Ecosystem Assessment.

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.

3:15 PM – 4:00 PM What do new commercial fishermen need to know?

View Online –

Presenters – Gabe Dunham, Sea Grant Extension Leader, Fisheries Business Specialist, & Sunny Rice, Petersburg Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent

Sunny Rice is the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Petersburg. She began working in the Alaska commercial fishing industry as a fish slimer in the early 1990s. After a few years as a port sampler with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, she began working in the Petersburg Marine Advisory Program office in 1998. In addition to co-founding the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summits, her work has focused on fishery business development, marine mammal and seabird interactions with fisheries, and general marine science education.

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 25

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM Alaska Seafood Market Updates and Opportunities

View Online –

Presenters – Ashley Heimbigner, ASMI & Bruce Schactler, ASMIAs Communications Director, Ashley Heimbigner supports the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s brand and messaging efforts, domestic consumer public relations, and in-state and fleet communications. Ashley has over 12 years’ experience in domestic and international marketing and promotion of Alaska brands in the tourism, non-profit and food sectors. Living in Juneau, Ashley has been working with ASMI since 2018.

Bruce Schactler is the director of ASMI’s global food aid program. A Kodiak resident and multi-species fisherman since 1976, Bruce represents his industry and his catch by managing the State of Alaska’s interaction with USDA on all things Alaska seafood. Through the program’s efforts, over $100 million in Alaska seafood products were purchased by the USDA purchases for supplemental nutrition programs in 2021 alone. Bruce is also the Marketing Chairman for United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA).

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.

11:00 AM – 11:30 AM Alaska Marine Debris – Information, Efforts, and Opportunities

View Online –

Presenters – Peter Murphy, Alaska Regional Coordinator, NOAA Marine Debris Program & Andy Schroeder, Island Trails Network + Ocean Plastic 

Recovery Project

Peter Murphy serves as the Alaska Regional Coordinator for the Marine Debris Program.  In 2009 Peter started as the MDP’s first Alaska Regional Coordinator. Since taking on this role, Peter has supported and participated in multiple field projects across the State of Alaska, including derelict vessel removal in the Pribilof Islands, sonar surveys in Southeast Alaska, and cleanups in many different parts of the state – learning first-hand the specific challenges and opportunities of addressing marine debris in the unique and diverse environments of Alaska.

Andy has dedicated his career to marine conservation. Originally from the Little Miami watershed of Ohio, he earned a B.S. from Coast Guard Academy (’00) and served two tours in Kodiak, Alaska.  In 2006 he founded Island Trails Network and spearheaded a marine debris program that now claims about 17 different clean-up efforts across the Kodiak archipelago. In 2019 he co-founded the Ocean Plastics Recovery Project to scale up marine debris removal efforts beyond Kodiak, and to develop recycling pathways for ocean plastics. A career mariner, he holds a 200-ton Master’s license and co-owns and operates the research vessels Steadfast and Island C.

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.

In addition, field schedule allowing, Andy Schroeder will also provide updates, insights, and observations from his extensive and ongoing work on marine debris removal, disposal, and prevention, as well as his thoughts for future actions and priorities.

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM Kodiak Waterfront Master Plan

View Online –

Presenter – Michael Sarnowski, Port and Harbors Director for the City of Kodiak, Natalie Lyon,  planner with RESPEC & Mike Tvenge, City Manager of KodiakMichael Sarnowski became the Port and Harbors Director for the City of Kodiak in August 2020. His responsibilities include supervising the operations of Kodiak’s two harbors, shipyard and commercial piers. Michael came into the position with 22 years of leadership and management in the Coast Guard where he was Captain on 3 cutters and commanded a shore unit as well.  He had 4 tours of duty in Alaska totaling 10 years of service in Alaska ranging from fisheries law enforcement throughout the Southeast and the Bering Sea, servicing aids to navigation and conducting preparedness drills for oil spill response.

Natalie Lyon is a planner with RESPEC, based out of the Fairbanks office. She has worked on local planning projects across the state, including the recent Skagway Port Plan. Natalie excels at bringing together differing viewpoints to find consensus on issues. Natalie has a master’s degree in urban planning from Wayne State University.

Mike Tvenge became the City Manager of Kodiak in July 2017.  As City Manager he works on policy and procedure development, plays a key role on capital projects teams, and oversees personnel management and special projects.  Mike is a long-time Alaskan who has lived and worked in Anchorage, Eagle River, and Delta Junction. He was a resident of Delta Junction for 30 years where he served 2 years on the city council and 8 years as city administrator.  Mike has many years of experience in city government from governance to policy setting to day-to-day management. Mike has been active in municipal government on the state level with the Alaska Municipal League and the Alaska Managers Association. 

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.

1:15 PM – 1:45 PM Utilizing Surveys to Better Understand Public Perception of The State of Pollution in Their Local Harbor and Encourage Proper Management Solutions Based on Local Input

View Online –

Presenter – Tav Ammu, Alaska Sea Grant Fellow I grew up in Aleknagik and Dillingham and started working on a commercial fishing boat at 12. I got my undergrad in English from UAF and taught overseas for four years. Then joined the Navy for four years where one of my collaterals was as pollution abatement officer. Obtained my master’s in Marine systems and policies from the University of Edinburgh in 2020 and will be the Marine advisory program agent in Dillingham starting this August. This project, the clean harbors survey, is attempting to better understand public perception about the state of their harbor and how to encourage proper wastewater management by harbor users.

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. 

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM State Legislative Update

View Online

Presenters – Representative Louise Stutes and Senator Gary Stevens

Louise Stutes of the Alaska legislature is in her fourth term representing house district 32. Louise is the former House Majority Whip, she also co-chaired the House transportation committee for 2 terms and is a former Chair of the House Special Committee on Fisheries, for 3 terms. Prior to her current state role, Louise served six years on the KIB assembly. Louise was also a successful business owner for 25 years. Louise maintains her home in Kodiak with her husband Stormy Stutes who is a retired fisherman. Together they enjoy their four children and six grandchildren. The Stutes enjoy their time with their families and the outdoor life of Kodiak Island.

 Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens served for four years as President of the Alaska State Senate and was the National Chairman of the Council of State Governments in 2013.  2022 is his 22nd year as a legislator and his 20th in the Alaska State Senate. Currently, Senator Stevens serves in a Majority Leadership position as Chair of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Special Committee on World Trade. He is also a member of Senate Education, Labor and Commerce, and Resources  Committees. Before his election to the Legislature, Senator Stevens served for many years in Kodiak He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and served as an Army Intelligence Officer.

2:45 PM – 3:15 PM Innovation and the Future of the Alaska Seafood Industry

View Online –

Presenter – Garrett Evridge, Managing Director, Alaska Ocean ClusterGarrett Evridge is from Kodiak. He’s fished commercially across the state, conducted analysis as a seafood economist, and now manages the Alaska Ocean Cluster.

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

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Harmful Algal Blooms and Ocean Acidification: Threats to Food Security and How They Are Being Addressed in Alaska

View Online –

Presenter – Thomas Farrugia, Alaska Ocean Observing SystemThomas joined AOOS in 2020 as the first Coordinator for the Alaska Harmful Algal Bloom (AHAB) Network. After a B.S. in Biology at McGill University, he spent a year as a fisheries observer in the Bering Sea where he developed an affinity for Alaska and its waters. He obtained his M.S. in Marine Biology at California State University Long Beach, before returning to Alaska for his Ph.D. in Fisheries at UAF. He then worked as a stock assessment scientist for the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic, and as a white shark researcher for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Thomas is very excited to be back in Alaska coordinating the awareness, monitoring, research, and response to HABs – a crucial issue impacting public health, food safety and security, and wildlife populations.

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.

Tagged as:

About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


You May Also Like

Pin It on Pinterest