Process local lobster first, say Val Comeau fishermen after devastating processing plant fire

Steve Ferguson said he wonders what will happen next as they wait to see if the buyer they deal with at Les Pêcheries de Chez-Nous factory will be able to help them out. While a large part of the plant was destroyed in a fire, a portion of the processing plant not damaged is set to resume processing lobster this week with about a third of the staff. The company said 331 people were working at the plant at the time of the fire, and 100 lobster fishermen sold their catch to the plant. Local fishermen want to make sure their catch will take priority over lobster being brought in from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  “At the end of the day, if they can’t produce our lobster from here, why are they bringing so much from other provinces. >click to read< 15:15

Coronavirus: NOAA Cancels Five Large-Scale Fishery Surveys

NOAA announced Friday that it will cancel five out of its six large-scale research surveys in Alaskan waters this year due to COVID-19. The canceled surveys include the Aleutian Islands bottom trawl survey, the eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey, the northern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey, the Bering Sea pollock acoustics survey, and the Fall Ecosystem Survey. The Alaska Longline Survey is not affected.  “We determined that there is no way to move forward with a survey plan that effectively minimizes risks to staff, crew, and the communities associated with the surveys. For instance, conducting the key groundfish and crab surveys in a limited timeframe would require extraordinarily long surveys, well beyond standard survey operations,” >click to read< 11:47

After cancellation of the third Copper River period, ADF&G okayed a 12-hour opener on Memorial Day

Light winds, fog and rain spread over Prince William Sound as veteran harvester Bill Webber headed out to sea on the eve of the Memorial Day opener for the famed Copper River wild salmon fishery, hoping perhaps that the third time’s the charm. The third time, that is, because the first opener on May 14, and the second opener on May 18 proved so below the forecast that Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists halted the anticipated third opener on May 21, then decided on May 22 to go ahead with a third 12-hour opener on Monday, May 25. “The wind isn’t bad, maybe 15 miles an hour, a little foggy, a little rainy,” said Webber, owner of direct-to-consumer Paradigm Seafoods, from the helm of his boat, >click to read< 10:57

Con groups propose total lobster fishing ban

According to the Center for Biological Diversity and several other plaintiff conservation groups, the area “has increasingly become important right whale foraging and socializing habitat in recent years. The conservation groups filed their request last Friday, three weeks after the judge ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) violated the federal Endangered Species Act when it continued to allow lobster fishing with gear that used fixed vertical buoy lines in which whales could become entangled. As a practical matter, a ban on the vertical lines that connect traps on the sea floor to marker buoys on the surface would amount to a total prohibition against lobster fishing in the area south of the two Massachusetts islands. While scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a few others have experimented with “ropeless” lobster trap gear (laughter and scorn, erupts from the crowd),,, >click to read< 09:18

Memorial Day: Remembering those that served. Thank You.

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Lars Petter Austnes: Longtime commercial fisherman was known for his big heart, Viking spirit, has passed away

Lars Petter Austnes of Edmonds, Washington passed away on April 29, 2020 at the age of 64. Lars was born October 2, 1955 in Ålesund, Norway, the third child of four to his parents Edvin and Henrikke Austnes. In 1985, he moved to Ballard in Seattle, Washington to work with other Norwegian fishermen in the growing Alaskan Pollock industry in the Bering Sea. Upon arrival, he began his long employment for Glacier Fish Company, owned by the heroic leader and friend, Erik Breivik. He started on the company’s Northern Glacier Catcher/Processor as a Bosun. Lars Lars married Kim Starwich of Ballard October 19, 1991. Lars and Kim have been residents of Edmonds since 1990 and have two daughters, Annika (25) and Kristin (24). He loved and cherished his wife, girls, and dogs dearly. >click to read< 21:20

NPFMC meets online to resolve halibut issues

Federal fisheries managers met online in mid-May to approve emergency action necessitated by the impact of the novel coronavirus,, The session, announced in late April, allowed for harvests, processors and other fishing industry entities until one day in advance of the May 15 meeting to submit written comments through links on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s agenda on five emergency requests. Those requests ranged from allowing all holders of individual fishing quota to make temporary transfers of that quota to eligible hired masters during the pandemic to increasing IFQ end-of-year rollover provisions. The council approved the transfer for the rest of the 2020 season for quota shares owned by all halibut and sablefish IFQ holders, based on a request from 11 industry leaders. The council also recommended to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, a request from the halibut charter industry,,,>click to read< 18:34

‘A drink and a good yarn’: Neils Harbour man reveals the secrets to a life well lived, as he turns 100

Ron Ingram of Neils Harbour will celebrate a love of hard work, a life at sea and the occasional ‘nip of rum’ when he celebrates his 100th birthday later this month. It won’t be quite the celebration he’d hoped for. Ingram’s family had planned an open house. Ingram, who still lives on his own, was hoping people could drop by. Those visits from friends are what he misses most during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ingram moved to Neils Harbour, a small fishing village in northern Cape Breton, about 75 years ago. Born and raised in Grand Bruit, N.L., he started fishing when he was nine, according to daughter Kathy MacKinnon. He moved to North Sydney at 18. Newfoundland was part of the British Empire then, he said, and he had no choice but to continue fishing. photos, >click to read< and Happy Birthday, Ron Ingram!

Dramatic footage reveals full extent of damage from massive fire that tore through warehouse on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf

Dramatic photos have revealed the full extent of damage from a fire that engulfed a warehouse on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf early Saturday morning. Pictures taken after the blaze was extinguished show the structure destroyed by the fire, with its walls and roof collapsed. The blaze broke out shortly before dawn, sending a thick plume of orange smoke out across San Francisco Bay. Later in the morning, dozens of firefighters were seen surveying the smoldering building as smoke continued to billow across the city. lots of photos, video, >click to read< 13:52

Presidential order on aquaculture draws environmental concerns over proposed fish farm, like pollution and escapements?

The federal waters of the contiguous United States are free of aquaculture farms, but a new executive order from President Donald Trump could hasten attempts by fish farm companies to take the plunge. Southwest Florida could be at the forefront of the push for more farms as a pilot program works through a permitting process. Environmental groups worry the order will greenlight offshore operations, creating concentrated sources of pollution and putting wild species at risk. The executive order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth was signed May 7,,, Ocean Era, formerly Kampachi Farms, is waiting on permits for its pilot finfish farm, Velella Epsilon. The farm will be about 41 miles southwest of Sarasota in the Gulf of Mexico and raise 88,000 pounds of almaco jack fish each year. >click to read< 10:45

Ahoy! Boat accident on State Road

A boat landed on State Road late Friday morning. Mariner Jason Gale told The Times he was hauling an old bay scallop boat, the Double Digit, when someone cut him off, and he was forced to lock up his brakes. Gale said the boat hurtled partway off the trailer it was on, and when he turned into the parking lot of SBS, it fell completely off onto the road. Gale asked SBS owner Liz Packer for a helping hand. 3 photos,  >click to read< 07:56

Fire Tears Through San Francisco’s Pier 45 Fishing Offices, Equipment at Fisherman’s Wharf

The four-alarm fire at San Francisco’s Pier 45 will put a real strain on the fish and crab industry that’s an important part of Fisherman’s Wharf. Several dozen fishing businesses are located on the rear of the pier, including offices, vehicles and equipment. Hundreds of thousands of crab pots were lost at a cost of more than $300 apiece, leading to a burned plastic smell in the area. The fishermen and crab fleet keeps most of their gear at Pier 45. “It’s a complete wipeout for the majority of the crab fleet there,” California Coast Crab Association President Ben Platt told KCBS Radio. >click to read or listen< 22:31

Here’s What Cast Members of ‘Wicked Tuna’ Make per Episode

The Wicked Tuna cast members’ salaries look a whole lot different than when the show kicked off back in 2012. And crew and deckhands always make far less than captains, or crew members who have risen to stardom either because the network saw potential, or their personalities stood out for TV. When it first aired, the crew reportedly pulled in between $2,000 and $3,000 per boat, per episode, separate from whatever fish they hauled in. As of 2019, that figure was up to $10,000 per episode — but some of the longstanding series stars may make up to $100,000 per show. >click to read< 17:46

“I’m in fear of my livelihood,” “They really don’t listen to us.” Florida shortens stone crab season over industry objections

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the shortened season and other new limits are necessary to sustain Florida stone crabs,,,    The agency’s scientists said many crabs don’t survive their claws being removed, and crabs have been overharvested since the late 1990s. Its data, challenged as inaccurate by the industry, showed the fewest pounds of stone crab claws harvested since 1986 during the season that ended last year.  Wholesale claw prices in some areas have tanked from low demand, as diners avoid restaurants and consumers reduce spending amid concerns about the economy. The commission said Gov. Ron DeSantis may reduce the amount of money crabbers must pay for next season’s trap certificates as part of a crab-industry bailout related to the virus. >click to read or listen< 15:14

This is very cool! Happy Birthday! Celebrate the Lobster Lady’s 100th birthday on TV

The Rockland Historical Society will bring its June program to everyone at home this year. The program will be a documentary film, “The Lobster Lady,” based on the lifelong career of Virginia Oliver who started lobstering with her older brother when she was eight years old. Oliver will turn 100 June 6. She is, no doubt, the oldest licensed lobster fishing person in Maine and probably the World. With 92 years of experience, Oliver is looking forward to starting a new season. She lobsters with her son, 77-year-old Max Oliver. Weather permitting, they go out three times a week. Both have their own traps. Oliver has 200 traps of her own. >click to read< 12:05

Alaska: Commercial fishermen struggle in coronavirus pandemic

“We tied the boat up, hoping and waiting for things to stabilize a little bit,” said Jim Hubbard, who has been commercial fishing for nearly 50 years. Hubbard’s vessel, Kruzof, has been docked for two months during the coronavirus pandemic. With many restaurants shut down or operating at a limited capacity, it wasn’t worth it to fish. “We learned that about 80% of our seafood goes to the restaurant trade and the species we target, more the commodity-based fish species. It’s really basically gutted our markets,” Hubbard said. “We’re not making money, tourist people aren’t making money, the restaurants aren’t making money, and it just keeps going down,” said Cory Harris. Harris owns the F/V Tribute and just returned to Seward from a recent fishing venture. He wants to make whatever money he can even if the prices aren’t great. >click to read< 11:05

Ireland: Warning fishing industry is on brink of collapse due to lack of Coronavirus support

Ireland’s €1.2 billion fishing industry is on the brink of collapse, according to industry representatives who say it has been decimated by the collapse in domestic and EU markets since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. But they also say the government’s lack of appropriate help could prove to be the final nail in the coffin. The representatives point to the fact that Agriculture Minister Michael Creed recently announced more money for harbour repairs than for packages to help fishermen and women. They also say a scheme he announced last week to help pay the costs of boats that can’t fish because of the crisis is “not fit for purpose”. >click to read< 10:25

BREAKING: Crews battle 4-alarm fire at San Francisco’s Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf

Crews are battling an enormous fire a San Francisco warehouse on the city’s iconic Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf Saturday morning. Firefighters told our sister station KGO-TV that additional structures and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien ship are threatened. The ship is one of two remaining fully functioning Liberty ships launched during World War II. It’s unclear what ignited the flames. Crews say no one has been hurt. The fire was first reported around 4:40 a.m. local time. As of 5:49 a.m., the fire department said crews were making progress on the flames. >click to read< 09:22

Two survivors of 42 days adrift at sea struggle to return home to Marshall Islands

Two Marshallese men who survived a six-week, 1,640km drift are well and awaiting their return home from Weno, an island in Micronesia. A third man, who was in the boat when it left Marshall Islands on April 2, reportedly jumped into the sea 17 days into the 42-day open ocean drift. Earlier this week, the Micronesian government’s patrol vessel transported the two men from isolated Namoluk Atoll to Weno for medical check ups. “The sea was rough and my husband kept telling Junior to remain on the boat, but he jumped from the front end of the boat,” she said of her phone call. >click to read< 08:42

After two weeks, the Coast Guard, and good Samaritan rescue 2 men – presumed lost at sea

The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued two fishermen, Monday, who were presumed lost at sea, 23 miles northeast of Cat Island, Bahamas. Rescued were Domingo Jimenez, 45, and Ramon Castillo, 29, both from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a report from the good Samaritan vessel Signet Intruder crew reporting they were flagged down by two people in a vessel, who reported to have been adrift for approximately two weeks. The watchstanders directed the launch of an OPBAT Jayhawk helicopter crew to assist. “These two men were presumed lost at sea but were found and safely rescued because a good Samaritan spotted them,” Video, >click to read< 18:48

Buyers setting catch limits, processors struggle with labour shortages, ‘Lots of lobster, but we can’t bring them in’

“Pretty good catches so far. But almost everybody’s on a quota right now,” said Gerard Whalen, a long-time fisherman in Naufrage in eastern P.E.I. “We’re seeing lots of lobster, but we can’t bring them in.” “We just can’t get rid of them,” added Lucas Lesperance, who docks a few boats down from Whalen. Lesperance said he’s pulled up about 1,000 pounds of lobster some days, but his buyer has only been accepting 600-700 pounds.  According to P.E.I.’s Seafood Processors Association, that is the big problem across the industry. Executive director Jerry Gavin said Island processing plants — which rely heavily on temporary foreign workers — are about 200 workers short this season. >click to read< 17:23

Still slow going for Copper River opener, remains closed at least through Monday, May 25

Opening harvests of the 2020 Copper River commercial fishery, complicated by effort to keep the COVID-19 pandemic at bay, got off to a slow start for the first two 12-hour openers. The overall catch of Chinook and sockeye salmon came in way below forecast. The first two 12-hour periods brought processors an estimated 6,025 sockeyes and 3,255 king salmon, Copper River commercial fishery biologists said. The 372 deliveries from the first opener on May 14 included just 1,473 sockeyes and 1,552 Chinooks. Then on May 18, there were 412 deliveries, with 4,552 sockeyes and 1,703 Chinooks. The projected harvest for the second period alone had included 28,590 reds. >click to read< 16:16

Something Big is in the works at the Port of Toledo’s Shipyard, Repair work continues, unabated!

JH Kelly ironworker crews are close to half way through the job of constructing the port’s towering new work building. When completed later this year this year the $5.1 million, 90-foot tall structure will provide the yard with a contained, all weather environment to conduct painting, sandblasting, welding, and other work. Repair work at the Toledo yard has continued unabated despite the ongoing national health crisis and its impact on the larger economy. >click to read< 14:17

Hawaii Fish Council Urges Trump To Open Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument To Fishing

The council’s latest push comes on the heels of an executive order President Donald Trump signed on May 7 that’s meant to slash federal regulations and ease environmental burdens on American aquaculture and commercial fishing industries in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, two of Trump’s top advisors, Joe Grogan and Peter Navarro, said the president’s new order would “help reduce pain in the grocery checkout line — and also strengthen U.S. food production against foreign competition.” A provision in Trump’s order calls on the nation’s eight regional fishery management councils to submit “a prioritized list of recommended actions to reduce burdens on domestic fishing and to increase production within sustainable fisheries.” Skeptics, including U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman,, Trump’s order gave each council 180 days to submit recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce. >click to read< 12:42

State of Maine: Lobstermen are feeling the pinch

Maine lobstermen are in a world of hurt, caught in a two-pronged assault on their livelihood. The pincer claw is the pandemic, causing their market to collapse. The crusher claw? That would be the latest lawsuit over whale rules.,, Even the elders in the fishing community are rattled. They are usually the ones who face fluctuations in the market with zen-like calm. It’s been down before, they say, and it will come back. Every year is not going to be a record-breaker. This time they’re worried. Younger fishermen who have gotten accustomed to record catches every year have taken on significant debt (bigger boats, newer trucks) and are freaking out. Jill Goldthwait >click to read< 11:09

Unsung Heroes: Austie Bourke – The fight for survival

Murrisk Harbour, where Austie Bourke left in 1947 on a journey which saw him and two others lost at sea for three weeks before being miraciously found alive off the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Several people tried to break the news to Maria Bourke but she was having none of it. Her husband was surely dead, they tried to gently tell her. Lost at sea for three weeks, he could not have survived. It was past the stage for them of hoping he would be found alive and slimmer by the day were the chances of even finding a body. But nobody knew Austin ‘Austie’ Bourke like Maria and her faith in him was not founded in denial; rather it was rooted in her knowledge of him always returning to his beloved Murrisk during a lifetime of peril at sea. “No storm could beat my husband,” she insisted, 73 years ago this month. Maria Bourke was right. >click to read< 10:03

Boatbuilder Ralph Howard Sorensen Jr.

Ralph was born in Edmonds, WA, and maintained his home there, graduating from Edmonds High School in 1946. He attended Everett Community College before being called to serve his country in the Korean War,,, He went on to became an apprentice boat builder at Howard Anderson Boat House, which later became Anderson Marine next to the Edmonds ferry terminal. Ralph specialized in building commercial fishing boats. He started his own boat shop called Tidewater Boat Works, where he built gillnetters, trollers, seiners, and did repairs on sailboats or anything that floated and was made out of wood. >click to read< 09:07

Always NC Fresh! NC Commercial Fishing Resource Fund Launches New Campaign, NCFA Weekly Update for May 22, 2020

Glenn Skinner, Executive Director of NC Fisheries Association (NCFA) and NCCFRF Committee Member, stated, “The Always NC Fresh public relations campaign could not have come at a better time as many of our fishermen have been hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19.” Skinner added, “Commercial fishing has been a part of North Carolina’s coastal communities and economy for hundreds of years, and it was time for us to reintroduce our fishermen to the citizens of this great state. We have a great story to tell and we’re proud to be a part of this new campaign.” “Commercial fishermen are good people who are a fundamental part of the economy and way of life in North Carolina’s coastal communities,” said Brent Fulcher, NCFA Chairman.  >click to read< 08:04

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for May 22, 2020>click to read< to read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here<

Fishing boat catches fire and sinks in Narragansett Bay

The Northeast Sector of the United States Coast Guard says that a 40-foot fishing boat sank in the Narragansett Bay Thursday afternoon following a fire on the boat. The Coast Guard said they received a report of a boat fire around 11 a.m. Thursday about 2.5 miles southeast of Point Judith. The three people on board were safely rescued and brought to shore by a crew from STA Point Judith. They were then transferred over to local EMS, the coast guard says. >click to read< 20:57

For troubled Outer Banks commercial fishing industry, Coronavirus is one more blow. Louisiana, too.

At the state and federal level, increasing regulatory requirements and catch quotas, fueled in part by aggressive lobbying of elected officials by the well-funded recreational fishing industry, have caused even more commercial fishermen to leave the industry. And now COVID-19 strikes another blow to the solar plexus of an industry that, no pun intended, can barely keep its collective heads above water. And interviews with two local operations — of distinctly different sizes — help shed light on how the COVID crisis has affected the Outer Banks’ commercial fisheries. Mark Vrablic of the Willie R Etheridge Seafood Company, one of the last remaining large-scale seafood distributors in Wanchese, minced no words when he described the losses created by the worldwide pandemic.  >click to read< 19:15

Shrimp industry in Louisiana hit hard by Coronavirus pandemic – Shrimp processors are shut down and the baskets that are usually filled are empty. Brown shrimp season started on Monday, and so far it hasn’t been good. “Absolutely terrible, last year I had 42 boats going out during brown shrimp season, this year I only have 9 boats,” said Craig Napoli, C&A Seafood. >click to read<