Category Archives: North Pacific

Humpy invasion

While West Coast Americans – Alaskans among them – worry and fret about farmed Atlantic salmon escaping to invade the Pacific Ocean despite decades of failed stocking efforts aimed at helping them do so, the Norwegians, Scots and other Europeans are facing a real and significant problem with an invasive Pacific salmon – the ubiquitous Alaska humpy. The smallest of the Pacific salmon, the humpy – or pink salmon – is by far the most common species in the 49th state. Of the 224.6 million salmon caught in Alaska last year, 63 percent, some 114.6 million, were pinks, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.  And Northern Europeans are now worried the highly adaptable and voracious humpy could become a common species in their coastal waters. Blame the Russians. >click to read<15:52

Deadliest Catch’ – Keith Colburn Sitting This Season out Because His Back “Is All F–ked Up”

It’s not his dangerous job that has taken Captain Keith Colburn out of commission — it’s a nasty infection. So what happened to Keith on Deadliest Catch, exactly?  As Keith revealed in the June 5 episode of the reality show’s 14th season, he has osteomyelitis — a severe bacterial infection — in his spine. “My back is all f–ked up,” he told his crew. He also said his vertebrae look like they’ve been doused in battery acid. According to the Mayo Clinic, infections can reach the bone through the bloodstream or from nearby tissue. Osteomyelitis was once considered incurable, but these days it can be successfully treated with surgery and intravenous antibiotics. >click to read<17:11

Unexpected bounty

Good news at last for salmon-loving Alaskans who’ve watched sockeye returns to the fabled Copper River spurt and falter this year. No, the Copper hasn’t witnessed the miraculous return of tens of thousands of overdue fish, but there are now indications that the disastrously weak run there might be limited to the wild, 26,000-square mile watershed near the Canadian border. An unexpected bounty of sockeye has shown up at Bear Lake on the Kenai Peninsula and the early return of sockeye to the Kenai’s Russian River looks to be tracking the 2017 return, albeit it a week late.,,, Commercial fishermen had harvested 125,000 Bear Lake sockeye through Thursday – about seven times as many as through the same date last year, according to Fish and Game. >click to read<12:34

Horrible timing

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was Wednesday lobbying Alaska residents to buy Chitina dipnet permits to fish the Copper River even as the troubled, 2018 return of sockeye salmon to that big, muddy drainage was fading so badly that Cordova commercial fishermen pleaded to have the dipnet fishery shut down. “As of today sonar counts are well below projected counts and remain below the minimum threshold of 360,000 sockeye salmon for spawning escapements,” the Cordova District Fishermen United said in a letter to state officials. “In light of the weak early run component, restrictive closures on commercial fishing openers, and no noticeable increase in counts at the sonar currently, it is in the best interest of our sockeye runs to close the Copper River personal use and sport fisheries.” >click to read<18:26

Why this super ship is making enemies in Alaska and on Capitol Hill

A few weeks ago, Helena Park reluctantly repainted her brand new, $75-million, fishing boat to mask its name, “America’s Finest.” It no longer seemed appropriate since the vessel might never fish in American waters. “There’s no ‘finest’ in America anymore. It will be someone else’s ‘finest.’” says Park, who’s the CEO of Fishermen’s Finest, a Washington-based fishing company. The ship’s troubles started when Park’s company made powerful enemies in Alaska and on Capitol Hill. Remote coastal communities that rely on fish processing plants for employment are worried ultra-modern fishing ships like America’s Finest, with its own on-board factory that can process over 500,000 pounds of fish a day, will make them obsolete. Along with rival fishing companies and Alaska’s representatives in the Senate, they’ve devised a strategy to stop America’s Finest from ever leaving the shipyard — using an obscure, century-old law called the Jones Act. Video, >click to read<13:50

NOAA law enforcement researches sexual harassment, assault among fishery observers

Women are harassed and fear for their safety much more than men when they work as fishery observers. That’s according to a report that NOAA’s office of law enforcement officials presented about sexual harassment of observers to a meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Kodiak this past week. The report shared preliminary data from an ongoing survey and although the sample size is small, the survey reveals stark differences between the experiences of female and male observers. >click to read<09:07

Optimism scarce as commercial fisheries start up in Southeast

Activity is picking up in the harbors in Petersburg this week as fishing boats and tenders prepare for the start of several commercial fishing seasons, but optimism is a little scarce on the docks. Fishermen this summer are feeling the impacts of reduced catches, low forecasts and increasing competition from marine mammals. In South Harbor, Charlie Christensen is readying the Erika Ann for some tendering work in the early summer. Then he’ll switch over to seining once pink salmon start coming in. He has a long list of bad news for his fishing season, stretching back to management decisions by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for golden or brown king crab. He also points to whale predation on black cod,,, >click to read< 17:22

With New Kuskokwim King Salmon Data Released, Bering Sea Bycatch Restrictions Come Under Review

New state data reveals that the number of king salmon returning to the Kuskokwim River has been inflated for decades. Now, the state is recommending that the body governing the Bering Sea pollock fishery adopt this new information. If it does, restrictions on the fleet’s bycatch of king salmon could tighten, and a long-voiced demand from Kuskokwim residents could be met. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Kodiak, Alaska this week. It’s scheduled to make a decision by Monday on how many king salmon can be caught incidentally by commercial fishing boats targeting pollock in the Bering Sea. >click to read<08:33

No commercial opener for Copper River salmon fishery

Faced with a sonar count that is the ninth lowest on record since 1978, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the Copper River district of Prince William Sound would remain closed to commercial fishing. The midday announcement on June 6 assured that the district would open to subsistence fishing on June 7. Cumulative commercial harvest to date is the second lowest harvest in the last 50 years, ADF&G said in an announcement from its Cordova office. Harvesters were advised, however, that the commercial fishery might open on short notice, should indices of sockeye salmon abundance support such a fishery.  >click to read<11:12

Bristol Bay – How to avoid a Coast Guard ticket this season

As Bristol Bay fishermen put in long hours preparing their boats for another salmon season, the Coast Guard is just as busy making sure those vessels come home safely. “We put in 10-, 12-, 14-hour days some days trying to go as long and hard as we can,” said Russell Hazlett, a commerical fishing vessel examiner with the Coast Guard in Anchorage. “We’re only there for a short amount of time and have a small window to get it all done.” This month, Coast Guard crews will check flares, charts, navigational signals, fire extinguishers, emergency position-indicating beacons and survival suits on up to 450 boats across Bristol Bay at no charge. They won’t penalize operators for any problems they discover at the dock,,, >click to read<09:47

Famous Crab Fishing Boat Gets a New Crane

Captain Sig Hansen has been fishing crabs in Alaska aboard the F/V Northwestern for more than 30 years. In 2005, Discovery Channel aired the documentary TV show “Deadliest Catch”, which portrays real life aboard fishing vessels in the Bering Sea. Since then, he has been one of the most charismatic characters of the globally watched TV show. In April 2018, PALFINGER MARINE received a purchase order from Captain Hansen for a knuckle boom crane (PKM 250) to be used for lifting operations on the iconic crab fishing boat F/V Northwestern. >click to read<13:41

Obituary: Blake C. Painter

Blake C. Painter was born in Astoria, Oregon, on Oct. 20, 1979, to Jeffrey and Marion (Ericksen) Painter. He left us far too soon on May 21, 2018, at the age of 38. A 1998 graduate of Astoria High School, Blake was active in sports both in and out of school. Besides football and baseball, he raced motocross and participated in martial arts.,, Blake was an avid outdoor enthusiast from a very early age, from hunting big game and waterfowl to digging razor clams, snow skiing to water sports, you name it — he did it. And he did it well. He took his love of the outdoors to a professional level when he began commercial fishing with his father aboard the F/V Western Skies while a freshman in high school. >click to read<08:52

Alaska: Prices are up, but commercial salmon harvests and forecasts are down

As a number of commercial salmon fisheries around the state kick off this week, the outlook for ex-vessel prices is looking good. Fishing economists say between lower run forecasts and strong foreign and domestic demand, commercial fishermen will likely see higher prices this year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean commercial fishermen will earn more this season compared to last year. Andy Wink with Wink Research and Consulting said although prices vary by species and region, most fisheries should see stable or higher prices this year. >click to read<08:20

Cordova disaster?

The Copper River commercial salmon fishery will remain closed on Monday, leaving about 550 gillnet fishermen in Cordova to sit in port and ponder what is increasingly looking like a disaster for what is pound-for-pound Alaska’s most valuable sockeye run. Favored fad-fish of high-scale restaurants, Copper sockeye had a reported price on their heads of $8.50 to$9.50 per pound when the season opened, and everything looked good-to-go despite a below-average, pre-season sockeye forecast. >click to read<09:53

North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Kodiak June 4-11, 2018

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet the week of June 4-11, 2018 at the Best Western Convention Center in Kodiak, AK. The Agenda >click here< and Schedule >click here< are available, as well as a list of review documents and their associated posting dates >click here<. Listen online while the meeting is in session>click here<. Visit NPFMC website >click here< 17:07

Coast Guard helicopter crew medevacs 13yo from Fishing Vessel in Chenega

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, forward deployed to Cordova, medevaced a 13-year-old male from Chenega, Alaska, Saturday. The Jayhawk helicopter crew transported the 13-year-old to Anchorage and transferred him to awaiting medical personnel. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received notification from the crew of the Golden Pacific, a 58-foot fishing vessel, who reported that the teen was suffering symptoms of a seizure 30 minutes after falling 18 feet. An EMT on board the Golden Pacific assessed the teen and requested higher care. A flight surgeon for the 17th Coast Guard District agreed and recommended a medevac. >click to read<15:51

“First fish is a celebration of the start of Alaska’s wild salmon season,” – 60° North Seafoods delivers first fish to Anchorage

While the first Copper River salmon hit markets and tables in Seattle on May 18, the first fish arrived in Anchorage on time for dinner on the day of the first opener, thanks to processing newcomer 60° North Seafoods. Out on the Copper River flats, F/V Genevieve Rose captain John Derek Wiese and deckhand Robert Silveira harvested the Chinooks and Reds, quickly offloading them to the waiting helicopter. A helicopter carrying a sling load of the fresh salmon from 60° North, Cordova’s new fisherman-owned seafood processing plant, arrived at the Merle K. (Mudhole) Smith Airport in Cordova on May 17 while the opener was still in progress. The fish were loaded onto a Piper Navajo Chieftain and off to Anchorage. 19 photo’s, >click to read<15:27

Social media post criticizes Trident Seafoods, Gulf of Alaska trawl fleet for halibut bycatch

A fisherman based out of Homer posted images on social media of halibut bycatch headed for the grinder at Kodiak’s Trident Seafoods processing plant. The post got a lot of attention online and sparked criticism of Trident, the Gulf of Alaska trawl fleet and a body that regulates the commercial fishing industry. Trident is the largest primary processor of seafood in the United States and is heavily invested in Alaska. “We’re a company built by fishermen for fishermen and we don’t just buy pollock or cod or crab or salmon or halibut, we buy everything that we can sustainably harvest and feed the world with. Halibut is a very important part of our business,” said Lumsden. Longtime fisherman Erik Velsko says if Trident really cares about halibut and sustainability some things need to change. >click to read<18:59

Norton Sound: Expect Strong Salmon Runs This Summer

Salmon runs in the Norton Sound area are expected to be at least as strong as last year, with the exception of king, or Chinook, salmon. That’s according to Jim Menard, the Norton Sound and Kotzebue area fisheries manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “We think things are going good. And we just don’t want to be surprised with another crash. The sun’s shining right now, and we’re counting on a good year. The only long-term trend we’ve seen is the downward spiral of the king salmon.” >click to read<14:01

Copper failure

The commercial fishing season for Copper River salmon – the most coveted of Alaska fish – is shaping up as a disaster for the isolated fishing community of Cordova. Prices paid to fishermen are now reported at $9.50 per pound for prime fish, but there just aren’t many fish to be had and most of them are small. “Absolutely unprecedented” is how Stormy Haught, the area research biologists for Alaska Department of Fish and Game described the situation Wednesday. Haught is well aware of the long, detailed history of Cooper River commercial fisheries because he’s been back through all the data looking for a parallel to this season that might indicate to fishery managers how they can expect the run to play out going forward. >click to read<08:18

Copper River sockeye run likely to fall well below forecast

The Copper River commercial sockeye fishery is likely to fall below forecast for the second year in a row. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed one of the fishery’s 12-hour openings last week due to low escapement and abysmal harvest levels. That trend continued this week with a slow fishing period on Monday, and the department announced Wednesday that it’s closing the fishery on Thursday for the second week in a row. >click to read<07:40

Snug Harbor’s fishing tender has a long history in crabbing

Commercial fishermen delivering to Snug Harbor Seafoods are attended by a tender vessel with a long history and more equipment than it needs for the job. The Bering Sea, owned by Snug Harbor Seafoods, is a 114-foot retired crabbing boat of iron/steel alloy built in 1973 and originally homeported in Washington state. With wooden decks and the company’s logo emblazoned on its side, it dominates the end of the dock in the Kenai River as workers stocked it with groceries and worked to get it ready for the upcoming season last Friday. >click to read<13:49

One month into the season, Bristol Bay halibut fishermen harvest a quarter of the quota

Bristol Bay fishermen have landed 8,700 pounds of halibut so far. This year’s quota for area 4-E is 33,900 pounds, significantly less than last year’s quota of 58,800 pounds. “It is a reduction,” said Gary Cline, the regional fisheries director at BBEDC. “It’s basically because there appears to be less halibut abundance in the Pacific, not just in area 4-E, but stretching down to southeast and throughout the Bering Sea. And, because of this concern, the regulatory agencies have adopted a more restrictive catch limits for 2018.” >click to read<08:22

Alaska lawmakers call for alliance with other states on Canadian mining issues

A group of Alaska lawmakers wants to team up with Montana and other U.S.-Canada border states in a push to protect Southeast watersheds they say are threatened by rapid Canadian mining development. In a letter dated April 20 and released Friday, 10 lawmakers ask Gov. Bill Walker to work with other U.S. states and the State Department to further protections for Southeast’s salmon-bearing rivers. Canadian mining development, they say, has continued to put the region’s fishing and tourism industries in peril. >click to read<09:15

Canadian investor backs away from Alaska mine project

A Canadian company that was courted as a potential partner in a proposed copper-and-gold mine near one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries in Alaska has backed away from the project.
Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which is seeking to develop the Pebble Mine project in southwest Alaska, said Friday that it was unable to finalize an agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd., the potential investor. It was not immediately clear what happened or what this means for the project, which has a permit application pending with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. >click to read<10:55

Smoke-filled rooms

With the fishing season beginning in the 49th state, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has been holding private meetings to forge an agreement between commercial, sport and other fishing interests on how to manage salmon in Cook Inlet. The reason why is unclear. By law, the regulation of state fisheries falls solely under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Board of Fisheries. One of the first acts of the Alaska Legislature after Statehood in 1959 was to establish a Board of Fish and Game – later split into the separate boards for fish and wildlife management – to insulate resource decisions from backroom politicking. >click to read<10:37

America’s Finest vessel gets 2nd House waiver

The U.S. House, for a second time, has passed a waiver for the fishing vessel America’s Finest, but a path through the U.S. Senate still remains uncertain. A waiver for the $75 million trawler, which is necessary to allow the ship to work in U.S. waters, was included in the National Defense Authorization Act that cleared the House on Thursday morning. “It passed the House, but that and two bucks will get us a cup of coffee,” Dakota Creek Industries Vice President Mike Nelson told the American Thursday.,, But efforts to push a waiver through the Senate have failed so far. >click to read<10:42

Low Copper River sockeye returns leave state mulling closures

Initially poor runs of sockeye salmon on the Copper River have prompted the state to cancel at least one window for commercial fishing from the river, with future opportunities being reassessed based on tracking data. The state Department of Fish and Game issued a Wednesday statement closing a planned Thursday window for Copper River commercial fishing, but allowing a subsistence fishing window on the same day to continue. The statement cited sonar data from Miles Lake as a key factor in the closure. >click to read<19:16

Fight over America’s Finest vessel part of bigger processor battle

The mothershippers are fighting with the groundfish shoreplants in a politicized Bering Sea commercial fishing tussle reaching all the way to Washington, D.C. The battle over Pacific cod pits the factory trawlers of the Amendment 80 fleet against Alaska shoreplants and local governments. And in February, it pitted two local governments against each other. A delegation of municipal and business leaders from Anacortes, Wash., traveled to the Aleutian Islands to ask the Unalaska City Council to reverse itself but didn’t change anybody’s mind. The brand spanking new factory trawler America’s Finest remains stranded in an Anacortes, Wash., shipyard, unable to fish in the United States because it hasn’t received a waiver from the Jones Act. >click to read<15:54

Rammed or shooting the gap? Salmon seiners clash in Prince William Sound criminal case

An unusual criminal case in Cordova that centers on a violent fishing boat collision two years ago is expected to wrap up without jail time. The June 2016 crash between seiners in a Prince William Sound cove near Whittier revealed a dark side of Alaska’s multimillion-dollar pink salmon fishery. Kami Cabana, the 25-year-old third-generation fisherman at the helm of the Chugach Pearl, faced first-degree felony assault charges for what prosecutors called an intentional ramming. Her attorney argued it was Jason Long, the Cordova-based skipper of the Temptation, who was actually at fault: He tried to force his way through a lineup of boats with a dangerous maneuver. Video, >click to read< 11:08