Category Archives: North Pacific

Humpback whale boosts spirits in struggling Alaskan town

A humpback whale has been frequenting Ketchikan, Alaska, almost daily for the past month, helping to lift spirits as the city reels from a lack of tourism. The whale, nicknamed Phoenix, is feeding on herring and possibly salmon fry with dramatic upward lunges, sometimes just yards from onlookers on docks and walkways. As days shorten and a bleak winter approaches, more residents are discovering the joy of searching for Phoenix throughout the channel fronting the town. photos, >click to read< 08:02

Bering Sea red king crab in high demand

Gabriel Prout, owner of Alibi Seafoods and part-owner of the F/V Silver Spray, brought 175 king crab totaling 1,000 pounds to the docks last week, which he and his crew had caught in the Bering Sea. After the F/V Silver Spray delivered their 28,000-pound quota of crab to a seafood processor, they were free to deliver the extra unblocked quota to whomever they wanted.  Cars lined up for the next six hours until the crab sold out. Prout, who owns and operates the Silver Spray with his family and a friend, brought back triple the amount of crab as last year to sell at the docks. >click to read< 09:43

Coast Guard medevacs chief engineer 70 miles northwest of Saint Paul Island, Alaska

The Coast Guard medevaced a fisherman from a commercial fishing vessel approximately 70 miles northwest of Saint Paul, Tuesday. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak safely hoisted the 43-year-old man, at approximately 12:25 p.m., and transferred him to awaiting emergency medical services personnel in Saint Paul Island for further transport to Anchorage. At 7 p.m. Monday, 17th District command center watchstanders received a medevac request from F/V Frontier Spirit for the chief engineer who was experiencing abdominal pain. >video, click to read< 15:30

Trump Dumps Pebble – administration denies permit

The Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for a controversial gold and copper mine near the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in southwest Alaska. The Army Corps of Engineers said in a statement that the permit application to build the Pebble Mine was denied under both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act.,  The agency “concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest,” according to the statement from Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the corps’ Alaska district. >click to read< 14:41

Marine Board of Investigation: Coast Guard looking for details regarding F/V Scandies Rose ahead of public hearing

After almost a year of investigation into the Dec. 31, 2019, sinking of the F/V Scandies Rose that left only two survivors, investigators are still looking for information before a public hearing in February. The Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation will hold a public hearing into the loss of the F/V Scandies Rose from Feb. 22 through March 5. The public hearing will be recorded and livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person. The MBI is looking into why the 130-foot crabber sank near Sutwik Island on New Year’s Eve, which resulted in the deaths of five crew members,,, The MBI also has the testimonies of the two survivors, Dean Gribble Jr. and John Lawler, who were found floating in high seas and freezing temperatures. >click to read< 13:25

A young black man and a white commercial boat owner made a deal to go fishin’ for tuition. It shouldn’t have worked.

First day of a new job rarely is easy. First day of a job on a commercial fishing boat in southwest Alaska is soul-scorching. “I can handle cleaning,” Jawanza Brown said. “I can handle heavy lifting. I can handle the hard work, you constantly get slapped in the face by a fish because it’s still alive and wants to swim away. But in the nitty gritty, I don’t know what it is, when I have to bleed a fish and put it (in the refrigerated saltwater hold) 2,000 times day, then the slime builds up and eventually, you slip, and you’re on your knees. Every June, the young Black man leaves his Flint MI., home to keep his bargain with an old white boat captain from Bellingham: Six weeks of what Brown calls “pretty crude work” in exchange for the income to pay for four years of college and a chance to have a piece of the world. photos, >click to read< , From June 5, 2017, From Flint to Alaska, Fishing for Hope>click here< 15:08

Opposition mounts to proposal to close part of Cook Inlet to salmon fishing

The southern half of Cook Inlet will have a new fishery management plan in under a month. Commercial fishermen are organizing with the help of their city councils to make sure that plan is not the proposed “Alternative 4,” which would close off federal waters south of Kalgin Island to commercial salmon fishing. “I hate to be overdramatic in a lot of cases, but you could almost call it a deathknell for drift fishing in Cook Inlet,” he said. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is taking public comment on the matter until 5 p.m. Friday. As of Monday, over 80 commenters had voiced opposition to Alternative 4,,, >click to read< 11:32

Seafood industry seeks protection from Russian military exercises in U.S. waters

U.S. Coast Guard capability to safeguard national interests and promote economic security in the Arctic will be the subject of a congressional hearing on Dec. 8, one in which Alaska’s commercial fishing entities have a special concern. “From our vantage point, on the front lines of a changing Arctic, a robust U.S. military presence to protect U.S. interests in the region is simply non-negotiable,” said Stephanie Madsen, executive director of At-Sea Processors. The trade association, based in Seattle, represents six member companies who own and operate 15 U.S. flag catcher/processor vessels who harvest Alaska Pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and Pacific whiting in Pacific Northwest coastal waters. >click to read< 08:26

North Pacific Seafoods faces class action lawsuit for workers’ alleged rodent-infested, moldy lodging and wage theft

The seafood processing industry in Alaska attracts thousands of seasonal workers, many of whom are from out of state. North Pacific Seafoods Inc.,  responsible for roughly 10% of Alaska’s fisheries market and 800 seasonal employees annually, is facing a class-action lawsuit that claims its seasonal workers were provided unsafe, unsanitary working conditions, experienced wage theft and had their complaints to supervisors ignored. >click to read< 12:39

Shipwrecked in storm, retired fisherman gets unexpected rescue in Southeast Alaska

When a retired Southeast Alaska fisherman found himself adrift after his boat suddenly sank in a storm, he didn’t expect to be rescued. But a gadget on board alerted the Coast Guard, saving the 70-year-old man’s life. The man was 70-year-old retired fisherman Kurt Brodersen. “It never occurred to me anybody was gonna come and get me,” The hatch cover was floating off, and I got on the hatch cover,” But when I got about halfway across Union Bay, I saw this red light in the sky,,,  Although Brodersen says he hadn’t checked the batteries in the rescue beacon in a few years, his EPIRB was still working. >click to read< 11:51

True stories from a fishing photographer – The lens doesn’t lie. Fishermen on the otherhand…

Photographing commercial fishing takes a special sort of person — one who doesn’t mind the salty spray of waves, the blood and slime of fish and the “colorful” nature many fishermen possess. Chris Miller, an acclaimed photographer who lives in Douglas, is such a man. Some say Neptune himself molded Miller in his own form and set him forth on his destiny to roam the oceans with a camera in one hand and a trident in the other. When asked about this legend, Miller gets a faraway look as he stares out on the ocean. “I’m a fisherman. I’ll only lie to you,” he says. photos, >click to read< 08:12

2020 commercial salmon catch, and value took a dive

Commercial salmon harvests proved challenging for the 2020 season, challenged by a global pandemic of the novel coronavirus, with the overall fish catch and its value down considerably from a year earlier. Data released on Monday, Nov. 9 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the all species harvest has an approximate value of $295.2 million, down 56 percent from $673.4 million in 2019. Fishermen delivered some 116.8 million fish, a 44 percent drop from the 208.3 harvested a year earlier, the report said. >click to read< 18:15

Summer season a mixed bag for Port Townsend fishermen

With the summer season now well astern, many vessels of the Port Townsend fishing fleet have returned to Boat Haven to undergo routine maintenance and repairs. Joel Kawahara stayed in Washington waters for the summer season, aboard his 42-foot salmon troller, Karolee, based out of Quilcene. Jonathan Moore and his family recently returned to Port Townsend along with their 46-foot Little Hoquiam troller, Ocean Belle, following the close of the summer troll season in Alaska. Mike Carr and his 32-foot gillnetter Miss Melito also just hauled out in Port Townsend,,, >click to read< 10:42

Converging forces make for worst Upper Cook Inlet season in decades

Low prices, an oddly timed sockeye run and another year of very poor Kenai king returns combined to result in one of the worst Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishing seasons on record. The 2020 Upper Cook Inlet harvest of roughly 1.2 million salmon was less than half the recent 10-year average harvest of 3.2 million fish and the estimated cumulative ex-vessel value of approximately $5.2 million was the worst on record, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Upper Cook Inlet Commercial Salmon Fishery Season Summary. >click to read< 16:27

In Southeast, this year’s salmon harvest fell by more than half

Southeast Alaska’s salmon harvest was less than half of last year’s haul. That’s according to a preliminary report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released on Monday. Commercial fishermen in Southeast harvested just over 14.3 million salmon across the five species this year: almost 5 million chum salmon, 1.1 million coho, 8 million pinks, 373,000 sockeye and 200,000 chinook. The preliminary ex-vessel value of Southeast’s 2020 salmon fishery was just over $50 million dollars. That’s less than half of 2019’s estimated value,,, >click to read< 11:23

Behind the scenes with Seattle’s crab experts

It’s king crab season in the Bering Sea. That means around 300 people, including many from Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle, the home port to the North Pacific Fishing Fleet, fly into Dutch Harbor, Alaska, for the harvest. And when king crab season is over, many of these fishermen and women switch to bairdi crab and snow crab. Which means they’ll be busy for four to five months and there will be a lot more crab on the market. As the executive director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a nonprofit trade association that represents the crab industry, Jamie Goen knows a lot about the work that brings crab from the bottom of the sea to our tables. >click to read< 09:19

Demolition nears for old codfish processing plant – what a story it has to tell!

The building is all that remains of what was, at its founding, the first codfish processing plant north of San Francisco. Many of the untreated pilings, eroded by time, tide and critters were driven by Capt. J.A. Matheson when he built the processing plant in September 1891. By October, the former Provincetown, Massachusetts, sea captain’s schooner, Lizzie Colby, arrived from the Bering Sea with its holds full of cod, ushering in an era of fish curing and fish canning that would provide jobs for hundreds and fuel the economy of an infant city, according to news stories at the time in the Anacortes American. >10 photos, click to read< 15:15

Coast Guard hoists man clinging to a piece of debris from water in Union Bay, Alaska

KODIAK, Alaska – The Coast Guard rescued a 70-year-old man from the waters of Union Bay, Alaska, northwest of Meyers Chuck, Sunday. A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the man, who was in the water clinging to a piece of debris.  “What saved this man’s life was his essential survival equipment,” said Lt. Justin Neal, a helicopter pilot from Air Station Sitka. “He had an emergency position indicating radio beacon registered in his name that allowed us to find him quickly, and his survival suit kept him warm long enough for us to rescue him.” Weather conditions at the time of the incident were up to 57 mph winds with 10 foot seas. >click to watch< 07:57

A man on board the fishing vessel Irony, fell into the water and was found clinging to a piece of debris by the US Coast Guard Sunday>click to read<

Look at those!! Golden king crab harvesters bring in the first 2,000 pounds

For the first time in over 30 years there was fresh golden king crab for sale at the dock in Cordova and 60° North Seafoods, LLC plans to sell most of it retail throughout the United States for the coming holiday season. The crew of the Nip ‘N Tuck, owned by Teal Lohse, brought in a catch of 2,000 pounds of golden king crab, weighing on average a little over eight pounds on their first trip, said Rich Wheeler, chief executive officer. “We brought them back to the plant and sold them off the dock,” he said. Locals snapped up about 500-600 pounds of the succulent crab. >click to read< 17:41

Settlement reached in sinking of F/V Scandies Rose for more than $9 million to surviving crewmen and families

The owners of the Scandies Rose have reached a settlement of more than $9 million with two surviving crew and the families of four men who died when the Washington-managed crab boat went down Dec. 31 off Alaska. Jerry Markham, an attorney for the families of three of the deceased, also confirmed the settlement, and said his clients “are relieved and pleased that the matter is settled.” The Scandies Rose disaster took the lives of five crew,,, The two survivors of the Scandies Rose, Dean Gribble Jr., and Jon Lawler, told harrowing tales of a severe list that imperiled the vessel. Both Lawler and Gribble eventually made it to a life raft.,,, >click to read< 10:14

Alaska fishing industry weighs in on state’s $50m pandemic relief plan

A statewide commercial fishing industry group is asking the Dunleavy administration to justify its proposal on how to distribute $50 million dollars in federal pandemic relief for Alaska’s fishing industry. Federal guidance recommends allocating more than half of the CARES Act funds to seafood processors and just 5% to the charter fleet and lodges. But a draft released this month by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommends dividing the allocation evenly between sectors,, United Fishermen of Alaska, which represents the commercial fleet and processors, asked the agency to explain its rationale for boosting the charter fleet’s allocation at the expense of other sectors. UFA’s president Matt Alward signed a three-page letter to the commissioner’s office. >click to read< 12:50

Kenai legislators ask for fishery disaster declaration

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Legislative Delegation sent a letter to Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Wednesday urging him to declare a state economic disaster for the Upper Cook Inlet fisheries and provide for a recovery plan. The industry saw an 82% reduction in the 10-year average ex-vessel value – a measure of the monetary worth of commercial fish landings. The request from legislators comes two weeks after the Kenai Peninsula Borough unanimously issued a declaration of a local disaster for the 2020 Cook Inlet Commercial Salmon Fishing Season. Kenai Peninsula legislators hope Gov. Dunleavy will follow suit. “Commercial fishermen in Upper Cook Inlet experienced one of the worst seasons on record,”,, >click to read< 08:46

Supreme Court hears case in dispute over fisheries landings tax

Millions of dollars of fish landing taxes are at stake in a lawsuit now being deliberated by the Alaska Supreme Court,,  The court heard oral arguments Oct. 21 in a lawsuit brought against the State of Alaska by Seattle-based Fishermen’s Finest Inc. in which the company argues Alaska’s fishery resource landing tax violates a prohibition on taxes or fees levied against goods on the way to export in the U.S. Constitution. Jim Torgerson, an attorney for Fishermen’s Finest, argued that the fish harvested and processed in federal waters by the company’s catcher-processor vessels have started their journey to foreign markets when it arrives at Alaska ports but before being shipped worldwide.>click to read<11:27

Corey Arnold’s best shot: a horse and a cat go fishing for crab

Everyone looks forward to Halloween. You get a bunch of crabbers in a bar and it gets pretty crazy. I’d bought this horse-head costume in advance and, as we were cruising in to Dutch Harbor, my friend Matthew and I were trying out costumes. I took some pictures of him wearing the mask, then my cat came walking by and Matthew grabbed her. Kitty was seven months old. The captain had cats on the boat and I had decided to get one myself. I had gone to the pound looking for one with a mellow temperament, because I knew that, what with all the pots banging around and storms at sea, I didn’t want a pet who would be scared and hiding all the time. Corey Arnold, >click to read< 19:48

Has fish business become media fish politics?

While it is somewhat unusual for an Alaska mayor to write an opinion piece, I have been consistent in sharing my views on fisheries, Cordova’s single largest economic driver. I’m always striving to represent the opinions and needs of my community, even in rare cases where they may diverge somewhat from my own.,, What I have not shared is my deep concerns over the existential threats to our oceans and way of life, but perhaps a few reminders are in order this week, and my opinions regarding these are my own based upon my observations. While Alaska is famous for fish politics, I have trusted Laine Welch,, Laine’s column does a disservice to her readership,,, Respectfully, Clay Koplin, Citizen, Cordova >click to read< 12:02

Coast Guard drops dewatering pump to disabled fishing vessel taking on water near Icy Bay, Alaska

The Coast Guard assisted a fishing vessel taking on water and disabled, six miles south of Icy Bay, Alaska, Wednesday. A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew delivered a dewatering pump at about 9 p.m. to the 55-foot fishing vessel Elise Marie that was taking on water. The Elise Marie crew was able to use the pump to keep up with the flooding while they waited for further Coast Guard assistance. Watchstanders in the Sector Juneau Command Center received initial notification requesting assistance from Elise Marie via InReach device at approximately 7 p.m. Watchstanders directed the launch of multiple assets to assist, including a plane, a helicopter, and Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick. >Video, photos, click to read< 18:33

Alaska Supreme Court hears challenge to fish landing tax

Since the 1990s, Alaska has taxed seafood caught by factory trawlers and floating processors through the Fisheries Resource Landing Tax. Even though the fish is caught outside the 3-mile line in what’s considered federal waters, it’s often brought to Alaska fishing ports before loaded on cargo vessels and shipped overseas. But the Washington state company, Fisherman’s Finest, is now challenging the state’s tax in court, arguing it violates a pair of provisions of the U.S. Constitution that restricts coastal states from imposing tariffs or duties on goods brought into and out of a state. >click to read< 17:28

Coast Guard medevacs fisherman 100 miles off Cold Bay, Alaska

The Coast Guard medevaced a man from a fishing vessel Tuesday approximately 100 miles northwest of Cold Bay. An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the man at 6:55 a.m. and transferred him to awaiting emergency medical services in Cold Bay for further transport to Anchorage. Watchstanders in the 17th District command center in Juneau received the request for the medevac from the fishing vessel Defender at approximately 7 p.m. Monday for a 26 year-old crew member who was experiencing eye and head pain. >click to read< 21:11

Bering Sea Crab harvests set: Kings still in decline, snow and Tanner see bump

Commercial fishermen will be allowed to harvest a total of 45 million pounds of snow crab from the Bering Sea waters this year, with 4.5 million of that set aside for Community Development Quota groups and the rest for individual fishing quota, or IFQ, holders. That’s about 34 percent larger than the limit last season, which was also an increase over the previous year. Bering Sea Crabbers Association Executive Director Jamie Goen said that’s good news for the fleet. However, members of the fleet also think that TAC could have been a lot higher had the National Marine Fisheries Service been able to conduct its regular surveys. >click to read< 08:29

Collins and several colleagues call on NOAA to resume ‘usual operational tempo’

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) should get back to its regular schedule of conducting fisheries research surveys, which have been cancelled since May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and several colleagues. Additionally, NOAA should identify and resolve any challenges created by the pandemic that prevented this year’s surveys to ensure surveys are safely conducted in 2021, the lawmakers wrote in a Sept. 30 letter sent to Dr. Neil Jacobs, acting administrator at NOAA. Among the members who joined Sen. Collins in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Doug Jones (D-AL). >click to read< 09:00