Link: Anger in Homer, Alaska over halibut allocation

Environment Fishery Halibut Link

There is growing anger to the north of us in Alaska, over halibut allocation policies by the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration.   If Kitimat is the centre of opposition by the recreational halibut sector in British Columbia, in Alaska, much of the opposition is in the town of Homer.

The Homer Tribune is reporting: Chamber members vote to oppose one-halibut rule

Business members of the Homer Chamber of Commerce voted Sunday night in favor of a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service that asks for another look at how halibut are allocated…

Members request NMFS Catch Share Plan allocation to closely approximate the Guideline Harvest Level for Area 3A, the central Gulf of Alaska including Cook Inlet and Homer…

The Catch Share Plan proposal to reduce halibut take on chartered sport fishing boats is viewed as a measure that could damage the charter sport fishing industry in Homer as well as the town’s economy as a whole. That’s a problem for the whole town to deal with, since every bait shop, kayak rental and pottery shop is tied to it, business owners told the chamber….

“We have before us an issue that can break us,” said Jack Montgomery, owner of Rainbow Tours for the past 30 years. “This could tear our town apart.”

And an angry commercial fisherman, Erik Velsko, responds to the vote in this letter to the editor.

My quota has suffered substantial cuts over the last three years as a result of commercial legal halibut biomass decline, and the explosive unregulated growth of the halibut charter industry….Currently, based on 2011’s TAC I am legally able to harvest a little over half of what I had originally purchased, but I realize the resource is changing and the initial shares I bought were not a fixed amount. Fish stocks rise and fall just as our stock market does for a number of reasons and influences…..

Fisheries politics should not and should never be discussed by unqualified, uneducated members of a biased Chamber at the city level. The issues that are at the forefront of this discussion are not city issues; they are federal and they are international and there are two perfectly capable, if not perfect, agencies that do deal directly with the issues at the forefront of this debate – the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service…. here is a reason for the Catch Sharing Plan that goes above and beyond what you and I know about the halibut stocks on an international level, not just what goes on in Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay at the end of a fishing pole.

Links: Japan seeking more sources of LNG

Energy LNG Links

Post-earthquake Japan is said to be one of the main markets for liquified natural gas that will flow through the LNG terminals under construction and proposed for the port of Kitimat. Since the earthquake Japan has been making major purchases of LNG from both Qatar and Russia.

The Doha, Qatar-based, Gulf Times is reporting: Qatar LNG exports to Japan up

Qatar is about to overtake Indonesia as the third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas to Japan, which has been increasing LNG imports to generate electricity to offset capacity lost due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Japan, the world largest LNG buyer, imported 870,072 metric tonnes of LNG from Qatar in July, up 53% on year, finance ministry data showed yesterday.
During the same month, Japan imported 731,557 tonnes of LNG from Indonesia, down 36% from a year earlier, the data showed.
In the first seven months of this year, Japan bought 5.64mn tonnes of LNG from Qatar and 6.33mn tonnes from Indonesia, up 28% and down 15% from a year earlier, respectively.

At the same time, the industry (subscription only) Petroleum Economist newsletter, is reporting that shortages from Qatar is causing concern in the UK natural gas market, Qatar LNG outage rattles UK gas market

UK gas prices jumped over 10% this week after the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer, Qatargas, said it would shut its facilities for rolling maintenance over the coming months. Last year, according to Cedigaz, the UK imported about 20% of the 93.8 billion cubic metres of gas it consumed in the form of LNG, making the country particularly vulnerable to global LNG supply issues.

Japan is still a heavy buyer of liquified natural gas in the spot market, the Platt’s newsletters report. Kyushu Electric secures four spot LNG cargoes over Oct-Nov

Japan’s Kyushu Electric has secured sufficient additional LNG requirements for autumn, with a total of around four spot LNG cargoes for October-November, a source close to the matter told Platts Tuesday.

Kyushu Electric’s additional LNG volumes this autumn could reach 240,000-260,000 mt, assuming that the purchased volumes are the standard 60,000-65,000 mt LNG cargoes, according to Platts calculations.

Obama press secretary questioned on anti oil sands demonstrations

Energy Environment links

U.S. president Barack Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, was asked about the continuing demonstrations  in Washington against the Alberta oil sands and the Keystone XL pipeline proposal during a “gaggle” (an informal news conference) aboard Air Force One en route to Minnesota today.

The White House released this transcript of the brief exchange:

Q Also, anything on these protests outside the White House on this
pipeline? Has the President decided against TransCanada’s permit for the
pipeline? It’s the tar sands pipeline. There have been a lot of arrests
outside the White House about it.

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have anything new on that. I believe the State
Department has — that’s under the purview of the State Department
presently, but I don’t have anything new on that.

Q Is the President aware of the protests?

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t talked to him about it.

Protestors have been demonstrating in a restricted area near the White House and are inviting arrest as part of an ongoing effort to stop the Keystone XL bitumen pipeline from Alberta to Texas. The latest celebrity to take part in the protests was actress Darryl Hannah, who was arrested today, as reported by The Guardian.

The State Department did give its approval to the Keystone XL pipeline on  Aug 26, saying, as reported in The Guardian.

The State Department said the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would not cause significant damage to the environment.

The State Department in its report said the project – which would pipe more than 700,000 barrels a day of tar sands crude to Texas refineries – would not increase greenhouse gas emissions. It also downplayed the risks of an accident from piping highly corrosive tar sands crude across prime American farmland.

Campaigners accused the State Department of consistently overlooking the potential risks of the pipeline.

The largest anti-pipeline demonstration is expected on Sept. 2, when First Nations leaders are expected to join the protests in front of the White House.

Links: Halibut controversy continues

Environment Fishery Links

Comox Valley Echo

Halibut decision tramples rights

>Larry Peterson
I am absolutely stinking mad.
DFO is going to close down recreational halibut fishing as of Sept. 5? This action is an attack on my rights as a taxpaying, law-abiding Canadian citizen.

Victoria Times Colonist

Halibut season end hurts communities

By Lanny Sawchuk, Oak Bay Marine Group

Last week’s announcement of a shutdown of recreational halibut fishing is terrible news for coastal communities.
Our company operates businesses on the coast, including sports fishing resorts and marinas. Several will be severely impacted by this closure. Our employees will soon be dealing with guests unable to fulfil their plans to fish halibut, guests who in many cases travelled from great distances, at great expense, to have that experience. We’re also dealing with cancellations. We’ll be cutting back staffing accordingly, resulting in a ripple effect of lost economic activity for communities.

Micro organisms played key roles in Exxon Valdez, BP cleanup: study

Environment Link

A study by the U.S. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is reporting that microbes, mostly  bacteria, but also archaea (single cell organisms without a cell nucleus) and fungi, played key roles in mitigating both the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and the  BP Deep Ocean Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a news release, Terry Hazen, microbial
ecologist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) says, “Responders to future oil spills would do well to mobilize as rapidly as
possible to determine both natural and enhanced microbial degradation
and what the best possible approach will be to minimize the risk and
impact of the spill on the environment.”

Hazen, who leads the Ecology Department and Center for Environmental
Biotechnology at Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and  has studied
microbial activity at both spill sites, published the paper with colleagues in Environmental Science & Technology. The paper is titled “Oil biodegradation and bioremediation: A tale of the two worst spills in U. S. history.”

The authors say that hydrocarbons have been leaking into the marine environment for millions of years and so “a large and diverse number of microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea and fungi, have evolved the ability to utilize these petroleum hydrocarbons as sources of food and energy for growth.”

Such microorganisms are only a small part of a pre-spill microbial community in any given ecosystem. Hazen says in both the Exxon Valdez and the BP Deepwater Horizon spills, the surge in the presence of crude oil sparked a sudden and dramatic surge in the presence of oil-degrading microorganisms that began to feed on the spilled oil.

“In the case of the Exxon Valdez spill, nitrogen fertilizers were applied to speed up the rates of oil biodegradation,” Hazen says. “In the case of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, dispersants, such as Corexit 9500, were used to increase the available surface area and, thus, potentially increase the rates of biodegradation,” he says.

According to the study, within a few weeks of the spill, about 25 to 30 per cent of the total
hydrocarbon in the oil originally stranded on Prince William Sound
shorelines had been degraded and by 1992, the length of shoreline still
containing any significant amount of oil was 6.4 miles, or about
1.3 per cent of the shoreline originally oiled in 1989.

Microorganisms also played a similar role in the Gulf of Mexico Deep Ocean Horizon disaster, despite major differences in the temperature, environment, ocean depth and length and type of spill, the study says.  Hazen and his research group were able to determine that indigenous
microbes, including a previously unknown species, degraded the oil plume
to virtually undetectable levels within a few weeks after the damaged
wellhead was sealed.

The study concludes that decisions as to whether to rely upon microbial oil biodegradation or whether to apply fertilizers, dispersants, detergents and/or/other chemicals used in environmental cleanup efforts, should be driven by risk and not just the presence of detectable hydrocarbons.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Is that halibut playing a smart phone video game?

Environment Fishery



The International Pacific Halibut Commission is trying a new way of tracking halibut migration using technology invented for smart phones and tablets.

The same high tech that lets your smart phone or tablet know the screen should be horizontal or vertical may help the commission, responsible for the conservation of halibut from the Bering Sea along the Alaska and BC coasts all the way to California, track the migration of the valuable and possibly threatened groundfish.

Commission scientists have tagged 30 halibut in areas 3A (roughly the Gulf of Alaska) and 2C  (the Alaska panhandle north from the Canadian border)  with a combination of external electronic “backpack tags” and electronic internal “gut tags”

The IPHC says the backpack  tag is a black plastic cylinder that measures ~3″ (7.6 cm) long by ½” (1.2 cm) in diameter, It is attached to the dark side of the fish, below the dorsal fin, using a green-coated tagging wire, with a white backing plate that rests on the underside of the fish. Gut tags are surgically implanted in the gut cavity, but have a translucent green stalk that protrudes from the belly on the fish’s dark side. The stalk is made of Teflon, and contains sensors that record ambient light levels.

The  commission says the purpose of the study is to examine whether geomagnetism can be used as a means of tracking halibut migrations.

The tags record the local magnetic field in ways that can be converted into location estimates, based on the strength of the magnetic  field and magnetic declination angle in relation to the poles (which gets steeper closer to the poles) in combination with depth and light data.  The “the pitch and roll detectors” in the phones and tablets that can also track the “the rolling bead in the maze game”  do all the calculations needed to track the fish tag.

Since the halibut feeds on the relatively horizontal bottom of the ocean, the angle of the earth’s crust in relation to the poles should be able to track the migration without the use of GPS which cannot penetrate the ocean depths.

All data is recorded in the tag’s memory and can be retrieved if the fish is harvested. There is enough memory and battery capacity that the data can be recorded every 30 seconds for up to seven years. The IPHC is offering a $500 reward to fishers who may catch the halibut to  return both tags.

If the pilot project is successful, the IPHC will tag another 2,000 halibut along the coast from Oregon to the US-Russia border in the Aleutians.

IPHC News release and fact sheet on halibut tagging  (PDF)   Webpage

DFO closes recreational halibut fishery as internal memo warns of “significant economic impacts in the fishery”

Environment Fishery
Originally posted  Aug 23, 2011  1:15 PT
Updated Aug. 23, 2011, 2104 PT.

.Just after noon on August 22, 2011, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans  quietly announced that the it was closing the Pacific region  recreational halibut fishery as of  midnight Sept. 5,  2011 cutting off charter, lodge and recreational anglers from the fishery.

The commercial halibut fishery will continue, as planned, until November 18, 2011.

At the same time, DFO continued the highly controversial program of allowing those recreational fishers who can afford it to “‘lease” quota from the commercial fishery.

The closure notice posted on the DFO website on August 22. says:

Throughout the 2011 recreational halibut fishing season, the Department has reviewed in-season monthly catch estimates for the recreational halibut fishery. Catch information indicates that the recreational share of the Total Allowable Catch will be achieved in August. Therefore, recreational fishing for halibut under the BC tidal water licence will close effective 23:59 hours September 5, 2011 for the balance of the year. 2012 management actions will be developed this fall and announcements will be made in early 2012.
 Variation Order 2011 – 404 is in effect

DFO did not issue a news release on the closure and the opportunity to
lease, instead only posting the notices on the official notices to
fishery site. That meant that many recreational fishers did not learn
about the closure until the story broke in the British Columbia news
media almost 24 hours later.

Yet at the very same time, DFO did issue a news release,  at 155 pm, also on August 22, about a shell fish closure on the St. Lawrence.

 It is the earliest date that the recreational halibut fishery has been closed. Last year, the recreational halibut fishery closed on October 18.

Although the  total halibut biomass is considered healthy over the long term,  the stocks are low at the moment, probably due the lifecycle of the fish, and most of the existing stock is usually too small for harvest.

An internal memo from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, dated  Sept. 1, 2010, obtained by Northwest Coast Energy News under the Access to Information, outlined three possible closure dates for the recreational halibut fishery in 2010.

The memo gave the deputy minister three options for that year,  September 1, October 1 and “no closure” which would mean that the closure would have come on the traditional date of  December 1.

The documents predict the consequences for the recreational fishery if it was closed on Sept. 1, 2010 consequences that are likely to happen this year.

“An end of August closure does not allow time for the recreational  community  to make contingency plans or to inform clients in a timely manner,”  a problem that recreational fishers and charter operators   have been predicting since the protest meetings last winter.

Since 2003, the Canadian halibut harvest has been divided between the commercial fishery, which gets  88 per cent and the recreational fishery, which includes lodges, charters and individual anglers at 12 per cent.  The recreational fishery has disputed that division since it began.  The recreational halibut fishery has generally exceeded its quota for the past few years.

Thus the DFO memo says that: “Closing the recreational fishery  at the end of August  would reduce the potential  recreational fishery overage significantly. This would assist in Canada’s commitment  to managing within the TAC” (the total allowable catch set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission which sets catch limits for the Pacific US states, British Columbia and Alaska)

The DFO memo adds that an end of August closure would: “Although the recreational  fishing community has been advised of a possible in-season  closures, there will be significant economic impacts in the fishery  and there are concerns about the regular sports fishermen  who continue to  fish in the latter part of the year.”

(more to come)

“Front End Engineering” begins for BC LNG


The Hart Energy  E&P (exploration and production) newsletter is reporting that an Overland,  Kansas based company, Black & Veatch,  a multi-billion dollar, employee-owned engineering firm founded in 1915,  is beginning front end engineering (FEED) for the second proposed Kitimat liquified natural gas facility, BC LNG.

Although no information appears on the Black & Veatch website, the newsletter quotes Tom Tatham, the managing director of  Douglas Channel Gas Services Ltd, the company which will contract with energy firms wanting to export through the BC LNG facility as saying:  We are looking to build the majority of the LNG export facility on a standard Panamax barge to minimize the physical and environmental impact in this scenic area.”

(The name Panamax derives from the maximum size that a barge or ship can be to pass through the Panama Canal, which means the LNG from the port of Kitimat could be shipped to anywhere in the world, not just to the projected Asian market)

 Black & Veatch has developed a process called PRICO which Tatham says  is ideal for this type of application because of its smaller footprint and flexible operations.

Black & Veatch’s engineering planning is scheduled to be complete by January 2012 and will provide a “definitive estimate” that will be used for costing  engineering, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning of the facility.

The newsletter quotes  says Dean Oskvig, president and CEO of Black & Veatch “The global LNG export market is extremely cost-competitive,” and  Oskvig says the company`s process will be scalable and thus allow the partnership to bring liquified natural gas to market at a competitive price.

The Black & Veatch website briefly promotes  the PRICO process as simple, flexible, reliable and economic but gives few details.

The company has an Edmonton based Canadian subsidiary.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Japan Quake Is Causing Costly Shift to Fossil Fuels: New York Times

Energy Link

New York Times
Japan Quake Is Causing Costly Shift to Fossil Fuels

Japan, the world’s third-largest user of electricity behind China and the United States, had counted on an expansion of nuclear power to contain energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, its nuclear program is in retreat, as the public and government officials urge a sharp reduction in the nation’s reliance on nuclear power and perhaps an end to it altogether.

As its nuclear program implodes, Japan is grappling with a jump in fuel costs, making an economic recovery from the March earthquake and tsunami all the more difficult. Annual fuel expenses could rise by more than 3 trillion yen, or about $39 billion, the government says….

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has called for a gradual move away from nuclear energy, and proposed a goal of generating 20 percent of Japan’s electricity from renewable sources, including hydroelectric plants, by the early 2020s. The Parliament is debating legislation to spur that change…

Japan’s liquefied natural gas imports have jumped for three consecutive months, squeezing global supplies amid strong demand from China and other emerging economies…