Category Archives: North Pacific

Alaska Fishermen Hauling A Bigger Catch With Gear They Get To Use For The First Time

Longtime Alaska fisherman Bill Harrington has a few choices words about killer whales.  “As far as I’m concerned, they’re only thieves in tuxedos,” Harrington says. He’s retired now, but a video from a decade ago shows him pulling in his line as he curses out a pod of killer whales swarming his boat. His catch is exposed; he is not happy. A sperm whale bursts out of the water and Harrington tells them what he really thinks. He knows even just a couple of killer whales could pick his line clean. But now fishermen are taking advantage of new regulations that let them fish with a previously banned piece of gear. Longline pots >click to read<10:20

2019 Togiak herring forecast signals stable population, says ADF&G

The Togiak Pacific herring fishery will see a large return this spring, according to the recently released Alaska Department of Fish and Game 2019 forecast. Based on aerial surveys and population age, ADF&G predicts the Togiak District Pacific herring biomass will be 217,548 tons. That is a 59 percent increase from last year’s forecast. It will allow for a total harvest in the Togiak District sac roe herring fishery of 26,930 tons. “We feel confident we have a stable population there,” said Tim Sands, area management biologist. >click to read<15:58

NPFMC adopts ecosystem management plan, Pollock TAC rises for Bering Sea, lowers for GOA, while cod TACS drop for both areas

Federal fisheries managers have taken a big step toward better environmental management of vast marine resources with adoption of a new Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan, in the face of dynamic climate changes impacting this vast ocean area. The plan, which sets the stage for developing a work plan for action modules critical to ecosystem protection, was approved during the December meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage. Along with passage of the plan itself, the council tasked its Bering Sea fisheries ecosystem plan team with developing work plans for three action modules.,,, In other action during the week-long Anchorage meeting the NPFMC set the total allowable catch of groundfish for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska. >click to read<18:36

The Jones Act’s Strange Bedfellows

A strange thing happened on December 6th, 2018, when President Donald Trump signed a waiver that allowed the American business, Fishermen’s Finest, to sail its 80.5-meter fishing boat, America’s Finest, out of a Washington State shipyard over objections from special interest labor unions and trade associations. The ship was held in the harbor because its hull was made with too much Dutch steel. This violated the century-old protectionist law, the Jones Act, a little-known law passed in 1920. Even many of those who are hurt by it are unfamiliar with how this cumbersome law that likely costs the American economy millions of dollars every year. >click to read<15:53

Fishing vessel sinks, leaks fuel in Seward Harbor

The weekend sinking of a fishing vessel in the Seward Harbor has prompted a cleanup effort as plans to salvage the vessel unfold. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in a report that it is monitoring the response to the Nordic Viking, which sank at the “T-dock” in the Seward Harbor and was reported to DEC Sunday by the local harbormaster. It’s not clear why the ship sank. >click to read<17:44

Why Does Halibut Cost So Much?

Dishes fly across the galley. Water gushes through the scuppers and onto the deck. Five crew members on the 17.5-meter commercial halibut boat Borealis I walk like drunkards, holding onto anything stable. “We’re going to get bounced around a bit,” Dave Boyes, the boat’s captain and owner, deadpans. My day started at first light, about six hours ago, watching the crew let out 2,200 galvanized circle hooks laced with chunks of pollock, squid, and pink salmon to soak across 13 kilometers of ocean bottom. Then, we ate breakfast and rested in cramped, cluttered bunks while the boat bounced on 1.5-meter waves and—below, in the cold unseen depths—the hooks sunk deep into the lips of the predatory halibut. Now, the crew readies for battle, cinching rubber rain gear and running crude gutting knives across electric sharpeners—a portent of the bloodshed to come. When Boyes toots the boat’s horn, it’s game on. >click to read<08:45

Tomorrow’s fishery

While fisheries biologists in the north are hard at work crunching numbers in an effort to develop their best guess at how many salmon will return to Alaska next year, Atlantic Sapphire is getting ready to load it first 800,000 salmon eggs into a massive, onshore “Bluehouse” in Florida. A “successful 90-day, on site hatchery trial has validated water quality and local conditions,” the Norwegian company said in a report to shareholders in mid-November.,,, The implications for Alaska commercial salmon fisheries are significant, but those who suggest the growing competition warrants some serious discussion as to how the 49th state retains value in its salmon resources are generally vilified as commercial fishery haters. >click to read<12:27

Alaska Board of Fisheries rejects permit stacking, expands subsistence opportunity near Dillingham

Among the highlights at the four-day meeting, the board passed proposals to expand subsistence fishing near Dillingham. Dip net subsistence fishing will be allowed in the area, and subsistence users will be allowed to fish at any time. Since the 1970s, subsistence has been restricted to a three-day schedule during peak sockeye season near Dillingham to in an effort reduce wanton waste. Many testified at the meeting that schedule is unnecessary and onerous. The Curyung Tribal Council applauded the decision.,, The board rejected all proposals related to permit stacking, allowing one person to use extra gear if they hold two commercial fishing permits. They also voted not to extend the length of commercial fishing vessels in the bay. >click to read<10:18

Trump signs Coast Guard bill into law, includes Jones Act waiver for America’s Finest

When Dakota Creek Industries took America’s Finest out for its first sea trial on Tuesday 4 December, it looked like the 264-foot vessel was taking a victory lap. The Anacortes, Washington-based shipbuilder held an event that day to celebrate the Jones Act waiver elected officials were able to get for the processor-trawler. Later in the day, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Coast Guard Authorization Act, which contained the labor provision, into law. The process itself is not quite finished. The Coast Guard will get 30 days to review information  >click to read<12:56

On the waterfront: Portland zoning fight takes shape

Is it a restoration of guidelines to preserve the city’s marine traditions and industry? Or is it a Commercial Street catastrophe waiting to be unleashed? That’s how opposing sides are painting a proposed referendum question that would essentially restore the original language and restrictions of waterfront zoning passed by voters in May 1987. If approved, the amendments would be retroactive to Oct. 30, 2018. “They have been chipping away protections, it is a loose, fluid, insecure situation,” fisherman Keith Lane said Nov. 30 about the need to stop waterfront development. >clip to read<13:36

North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in in Anchorage, December 3-11, 2018

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet December 3-11, 2018 at the Hilton Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska. The Agenda and Schedule are available, as well as a list of review documents and their associated posting dates. Listen online while the meeting is in session. www.npfmc.org13:23

Don Mathews – Reflections of a life on the water

The Newport waterfront is less rich today for the passing of a man who’s determined spirit exemplified the fishing life. A Springfield native who helped pioneer and innovate the Alaska fisheries in the 1970s, Don Mathews was best known on the central coast for piloting crab boats through winter seas and for launching Marine Discovery Tours to help share his knowledge and love of the ocean. Don died at age 69 on Nov. 9 after a battle with cancer. His determination to carve a niche in a brutal world, the struggle to balance family with his own craving for the next fishing season, and his sense of humor and willingness to lend his neighbor a hand are stories that go to the very bone of this harbor. As the surf pounded restlessly in the view from the Mathews home this week, his wife Fran remembered a shared life stretching back three and half decades — to the Alaska port of Kodiak where it all started. >click to read<18:09

Breaking: Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Shakes Alaska, Damaging Roads, Buildings

In Anchorage, Alaska, people took refuge under tables and fled outdoors on Friday morning, as a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck just north of the city. Some roads, bridges and buildings have been damaged, and schools and some businesses are shuttered for the day. Gov. Bill Walker has issued a declaration of disaster. Anchorage police report “major infrastructure damage” across the city. “Many homes and buildings are damaged,” the police department says. “Many roads and bridges are closed.” A tsunami warning was temporarily issued for coastal regions of Cook Inlet and the Southern Kenai Peninsula, but it has since been canceled. >click to read<14:54

Hatchery salmon help Alaska avert fishery disaster

Around mid-August this year, the fishing season in Southeast Alaska looked grim. Some areas had posted the lowest pink salmon landings since the 1970s, and the total pink catch would end up at just around 70 percent of the paltry 23 million fish forecast. For comparison, the 18 million pinks caught in 2016 prompted a disaster declaration from the federal government. But at the end of August, something unexpected happen. Hatchery chum salmon from the National Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) remote release site at Crawfish Inlet, 40 miles south of Sitka, returned in unprecedented numbers, providing a massive shot in the arm for the industry. >click to read<16:38

America’s Finest – Waiver for fishing vessel makes it through Congress

A waiver for the $75 million ship America’s Finest is headed to the president for a signature following approval from both chambers of Congress. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a waiver Tuesday that will allow the fishing vessel to be used in U.S. waters when it approved the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen’s office. The ship was built by Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes. >click to read<10:49

Fighting ALS One Crab Leg at a Time

The Dwyer family has strong ties to Ketchikan and Alaska. Jenny Gore Dwyer was born and raised in Ketchikan. She can trace her family roots back to captain John Gore who sailed with Captain Cook as they tried to discover the “infamous” Northwest Passage. Jenny met her husband Pat on board a fishing vessel in Ketchikan in the mid 1980’s and together they started their fishing business, St. George Marine Inc. After her beloved husband passed away from ALS in June 2013, Jenny became sole owner and president of St. George Marine, working with her children Sean and Brenna to continue to run and grow the family business. Captain Sean Dwyer is currently featured in the Discovery Channel’s hit series Deadliest Catch. More importantly the Dwyer family has become relentless in their goal of eradicating ALS through the Pat Dwyer Fund. >click to read<For more information on the Pat Dwyer Fund >click here< 13:31

Otterskin sewing workshops promote ‘sustainable cottage industry’ in coastal Alaska

A series of workshops in communities around Southeast Alaska aims to expand the practice of traditional Alaska Native skin-sewing with seal and sea otter fur.,,, In the last few decades, things have been looking up for sea otters in Southeast Alaska. The last official count put their number well over 25,000 and growing. “It’s a very thriving population growing probably 10 to 12 percent a year,” Lee Kadinger said. “The otters are starting to show up more around Ketchikan now, so we got to start getting rid of them. They kill all our crab, and I love crab,” Leask said. “There’s got to be a little bit of population control.” >click to read<11:56

Falling overboard is the second biggest killer of U.S. fishermen, second only to vessel sinkings.

From 2000 through 2016, 204 fishermen died after falling overboard. Nearly 60 percent were not witnessed and nearly 90 percent were never found. In every case, not one fisherman was wearing a life jacket. “I think there is a social stigma against it. It doesn’t look cool, it’s a sort of macho thing. I also think there is a lack of awareness of the fact that there are really comfortable, wearable PFDs.” Jerry Dzugan is director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association. >audio report, click to read<16:32

Final harvest numbers in hand, halibut commission set for meeting

All of Alaska’s Pacific halibut fisheries stayed within their quota limits this year, but not all individual sectors within the fishery areas did. The final regular landings update for 2018 from the International Pacific Halibut Commission, issued Nov. 15, outlines the final data available before the first interim meeting of the commission. Overall, all Pacific halibut fisheries for Canada and the U.S. harvested about 26.5 million pounds of halibut, or about 95 percent of the total limit of 27.9 million pounds. >click to read<15:15

One king salmon worth more than a barrel of oil to AK fishermen; Updates for 2018/19

Salmon stakeholders are still crunching the numbers from the 2018 season, which up front has two distinctions: it ranks as one of the most valuable on record to fishermen at nearly $596 million, and at just over 114 million salmon, it’s one of the smallest harvests in 34 years. A breakdown by the McDowell Group shows the sockeye harvest was the second most valuable in 26 years; the chum catch was the third most valuable since 1975. Audio report, >click to read<17:06

Video Release – Coast Guard conducts long-range medevac near St. Paul, Alaska

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew medevaced a man from a commercial fishing vessel approximately 100 miles north of St. Paul, Alaska, Sunday. The crew hoisted and transported a 63-year-old crew member from the 147-foot Blue Attu to awaiting Guardian emergency flight services personnel in St. Paul for further care and transport to Anchorage. He was reported to be in stable condition at the time of transfer. Video, >click to read<13:20

Upper Cook Inlet fishermen seek federal disaster declaration

This season was a sour one for salmon fishermen across the Gulf of Alaska, and participants in multiple fisheries are seeking funding for relief. The Board of Fisheries and Gov. Bill Walker already granted a disaster declaration for Chignik, which harvested next to zero sockeye salmon this year due to an unprecedented poor return to the Chignik River on the Alaska Peninsula. Sockeye salmon runs across the Gulf of Alaska failed to deliver this year, either in timing or in size, at a huge cost to fishermen. >click to read<18:17

Senate passes bill with Jones Act waiver for Fishermen’s Finest vessel

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday, 14 November, overwhelmingly passed a bill that included language giving Fishermen’s Finest a waiver it needs to use its USD 75 million (EUR 66.4 million) fishing vessel in American waters. Senate leaders added the Jones Act waiver for America’s Finest, a 264-foot catcher-processor trawler, in its Coast Guard reauthorization bill. That bill, approved by a 94-6 margin, now goes back to the House of Representatives for its approval of the Senate’s changes. That is expected to happen after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. >click to read<11:48

Port Graham man fakes death, runs up $384K rescue tab with Coast Guard

U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason sentenced 35-year-old Ryan Riley Meganack, aka: “Unga” to serve two-and-a-half years in prison with 15 months to be served consecutively to state sentence. He pleaded guilty to false distress and felon in possession of a firearm, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney for Alaska Bryan Schroder’s office. The long-time commercial fisherman and boat captain was scheduled to plead guilty to sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman in December 2016, the release said. Video >click to read<06:43

To our valued readers here at Fishery Nation.

To our valued readers here at Fishery Nation. You have probably noticed recently there have been no postings on our website. I’m sorry to say that I have recently taken ill and have been hospitalized for the past week in the intensive care unit of my local hospital.
As you know, I’ve made it a priority in my life to keep you all informed on the goings on in our commercial fisheries here in the US and also abroad with stories and information that we feel is important to you, and also stories of interest. For the past seven years we have fulfilled this goal 365 days a year, every single day!
Please bear with me as we get through this situation and I am able to get back on my feet and continue what has become my passion, and mission in life, to keep the commercial fishermen informed and up to date as to the goings on in your industry.
If all goes well this will be a short period of time and I’ll soon be on my feet and able to get back at it.
Thank you one and all for your support and understanding. God bless you all, stay safe out there and please stay in touch with us.

Sincerely,

Borehead

A historical moment in the state of Alaska-Gov. Bill Walker drops out of campaign

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker announced Friday he is dropping his bid for re-election, and threw support to Democrat Mark Begich over Republican Mike Dunleavy. Walker, elected as an independent, made the surprise announcement at the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention, three days after former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott abruptly stepped down from both his office and the re-election campaign over unspecified “inappropriate comments” he made to a woman. >click to read<

Report details economic value of Alaska’s salmon hatcheries

A new report shows that Alaska’s salmon hatcheries created one fourth of the economic value of the state’ total salmon harvest between 2012 and 2016 along with about 4,700 jobs statewide. McDowell Group, the Juneau-based economics consulting firm, based the report on eight of the state’s largest hatcheries, documenting $600 million in economic value. The estimate of jobs was done on an annualized basis, or how seasonal jobs are calculated as if they were year-round. The report, sponsored by the eight private nonprofit hatcheries included in the study, was released as the state Board of Fisheries considers proposals submitted by sportfish interests to curtail hatchery production, citing concerns on the impact of hatchery fish on wild salmon stocks. >click to read<15:55

Snow crab up, king crab quota down in Bering Sea

It’s not much, but there is a red king crab season. And snow crab is up 45 percent, and Tanners are down slightly, but at least that one will go forward due to a revised harvest strategy.,, Nichols expects fewer boats fishing this year, with fishermen combining quotas onto one boat that otherwise would have been fished by two vessels, because of the harvest reduction leading to the efficiency move. At least there is a red king crab season, despite earlier fears of a complete cancelation, according to Unalaska Mayor Frank Kelty. >click to read<11:30

King crabbing set to begin with record low quota

Bering Sea commercial crabbing starts next week, with the smallest quota for Bristol Bay red king crab in over 30 years of 4.3 million pounds, a 35 percent decrease from last year’s 6.6 million pounds. The last time there was such a low number when a fishery was held was in 1985, at 4.1 million pounds, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Assistant Area Management Biologist Ethan Nichols, in Unalaska. >click to read<08:29

Hurricane Michael: Alaska bound factory trawler ripped from mooring, left lying on her side

Hurricane Michael ripped an almost-finished Alaska factory trawler built for a Seattle company from a shipyard mooring in Panama City, Florida, and left it lying on its starboard side in the shallow water of Saint Andrews Bay. “The boat was nearing completion, and because of all the destruction down there we have not been able to survey the vessel,” said Jim Johnson, president of Seattle-based Glacier Fish Co., which is responsible for managing the ship. photo, courier journal>click to read<23:12