Category Archives: North Pacific

Gillnetter heeds siren call of the river – Fishing, family, community. That’s Crouse’s melody.

Crouse didn’t come from a fishing family but he grew up in a neighborhood of fishermen in Skamokawa. “For as long as I can remember I wanted to fish the river,” Crouse said. “In kindergarten they had us make plates out of clay and I drew a gillnet boat on mine.” When he was 14, he asked his basketball coach, Bill Olsen if he could work for him on the river. At 15, he went to Alaska to fish during the summer. “Paul Dretsch worked in a cannery up there and he told me to work there until I found a job on a boat,” Crouse said. “There is a radio station in the Bristol Bay area, and every three hours job listings came up. After my second shift in the cannery, I called someone who was advertising for boat board fish picker. That was my first job up there.” It was everything he wanted and it was more difficult than he had imagined. In his mid-40s now, Crouse works at Wauna four days a week and waits to hear when he can get back out on the river. He rebuilds boats and buys outfits from retiring fishermen when he can. He’ll take what he needs and part and parcel out the rest to sell. His wife, Erla, drives a school bus and works at her coffee shop in Cathlamet, Waterway Espresso. Read the story here 09:16

A Time to Build & Refit

The aging Pacific Northwest fishing fleet is either undergoing or about to undergo a long-overdo upgrade, judging by a major economic report commissioned by the Port of Seattle. Fisheries managers, seafood suppliers, yards and the supply chain all hope an accompanying surge in ship finance “lifts all boats”. For now, the newbuild count is growing apace, slowed just a bit by owners opting for major retrofits amid rich fish harvests. This fisheries upsurge comes with some rising stars of ship design-and-build for vessels set to ply the Bering and Beaufort seas. The ’70s were the heyday of boatbuilding — half of the current U.S. Pacific Northwest’s 400-strong fleet of vessels over 58 feet were built when sideburns were mandatory. The fleet’s boats are so well-maintained, most of them, that they’re still candidates for retrofits of engines, holds, electrical systems and deck machinery.  Read the story here 08:14

Alaska’s Female Fishermen (Yes, That’s Really a Thing) On Gender Labels, Finding Zen and Weathering Life’s Storms 

There’s a hashtag going around twitter to #DressLikeAWoman. It’s pretty much an invitation to challenge the ideas of how women dress, and how what they wear does or does not define them in life. To that end, I spoke with two Alaskan female fishermen (yes, that’s the correct terminology!) to find out about the challenges of being a woman in an almost exclusively male-run industry. Why Fisherman and not Fisherwoman? When I asked why they prefer the term “fishermen” and not “fisherwoman,” Marsh said, “You earn respect as a male or female fisher, so the gender labels are not necessary. You work hard to be one of the crew and respected, not one of “the guys”—there’s a big difference.” Becker weighed in by saying, “My sense is that both men and women who fish have to prove themselves. It’s not an easy or forgiving industry, because mistakes can be dangerous, if not deadly. To rename the category “fisherwoman” or “fisher” could take away from that elite status that we’ve worked just as hard to attain (and sometimes, harder, as with most occupations in the world).” Read the story here 13:39

Coast Guard assists fishing vessel taking on water near Fairweather Ground, Alaska

A Coast Guard aircrew assisted a fishing vessel taking on water with four people aboard in the vicinity of Fairweather Ground approximately 49 miles southeast of Lituya Bay Friday morning. The 53-foot fishing vessel Pacific Star received assistance from Coast Guard aircrews and the good Samaritan vessel Sherrie Marie before getting back underway to Sitka. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Juneau received a report that the 53-foot Pacific Star began taking on water after 9 p.m. Thursday. The captain of the Pacific Star reported taking on water through a hatch on the aft part of the vessel. All donned survival suits and proceeded toward Lituya Bay. Sector Juneau issued an Urgent Marine Information Bulletin and launched two aircrews to assist, one Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk crew and one HC-130 Air Station Kodiak crew. The tug Bering Titan was about 19 miles south of the Pacific Star’s position and escorted the vessel in case the situation deteriorated. At approximately 10 p.m. Thursday, while on scene, an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk crew lowered a dewatering pump to the Pacific Star. The captain reported that pumps were keeping up with the flooding and decided to continue sailing closer to shore. An HC-130 aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak remained overhead and maintained communications with the Pacific Star while the Jayhawk aircrew refueled in Yakutat. At 8 a.m. the Pacific Star safely made its transit to Graves Harbor, where the vessel could dewater and make repairs after determining that the vessel was taking on water through a leaky hatch. The fishing vessel Sherrie Marie was anchored nearby in Graves Harbor and also provided assistance to the vessel. Video 20:42

 

Alaskans should have the final say on Pebble Mine – Sharon and Everett Thompson of Naknek, Alaska,

Pebble Mine’s Canadian, would-be developers are ecstatically peddling a story that their mine’s approval is certain. A new Trump Administration, “desires to see Pebble permitted,” Northern Dynasty’s chief executive said Monday. Because of this, investors are piling on, sending the Northern Dynasty stock soaring in recent weeks. All of these outsiders have forgotten one thing: the Pebble Mine is proposed in Bristol Bay, Alaska, not the South Lawn of the White House. Bristol Bay supports the world’s largest run of sockeye salmon that sustains local communities, businesses and the regional economy. Alaskans hate the proposal despite “alternative facts” being pushed by Northern Dynasty in recent days claiming local support. Let the record show that 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents have said clearly that they don’t want the mine. Statewide, 65 percent of residents have said “no mine.” Read the op-ed here  The notion that the Trump Administration will approve Pebble is shear speculation on the part of Northern Dynasty. Read the story here 09:22

Fishermen forced to share spawning pounds in spawn-on-kelp herring fishery

The spawn-on-kelp fishery allows fishermen to catch herring near Craig and Klawock and put them into floating net pens called pounds. Blades of kelp are also put in there for the herring to spawn on. The eggs are then sold to Asian markets. Scott Walker is the Area Management Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Ketchikan. He’s been helping manage the spawn-on-kelp fishery since it began in 1992. “We have been seeing throughout Southeast Alaska right now a downturn of herring stocks,” Walker said. In the past the fishermen were restricted by the number of blades of kelp they were allowed to use in their pounds. Now, fishermen will also be forced to share a pen with at least five other permit holders. The effort will mean less pounds being used, which is what the state is after, says Walker. Last year 46 structures were fished, the year before it was 76. This year it’s limited to 20 pens. Audio report, read the story here 16:26

Resolution Urges President Trump and U.S. Congress to Mitigate Harm to Alaska’s Fishing Industry Resulting from TPP Withdrawal

Today, Senator Bill Wielechowski (“While I did not support the TPP,,,! D-Anchorage) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 3 (SJR3) urging President Donald Trump, and the U.S. Congress to take action to mitigate the harm caused to Alaska’s fishing industry as a result of the President’s announcement last week that the United States would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The TPP was a sweeping agreement which contained several provisions that could have been problematic to United States manufacture. The agriculture industry, however, including Alaskan seafood production, stood to benefit dramatically. According to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, the U.S. would have seen a 33% increase in intraregional exports, and a 5% increase in U.S. exports among TPP members. Read the rest here 12:39

Southeast Alaska winter troll season slow

Commercial troll fishing for king salmon in Southeast Alaska this winter is not like it has been the last few years. The troll fleet catch and the number of boats out fishing are both well down from last year and also below the five and ten-year averages. By late January, the catch had neared 8,000 Chinook, with more than half of those kings landed in the waters around Sitka Sound. Eight thousand is just one quarter of what the catch was at this time last year.“I would say that the past three years have been phenomenal for the troll fishery so seeing a decrease now doesn’t necessarily mean that the fishery’s terrible, it just means that we’re going back to lower averages,” said Rhea Ehresmann is assistant troll management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Read the story here 19:07

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council Meeting in Seattle, WA January 30 thru February 6, 2017

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will begin their meeting week on Monday, January 30, and continue through Monday February 6, 2017 at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel, 515 Madison Street, Seattle, WA. The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are now available.  Meeting FAST FACTS. The Council’s meeting will be broadcast live beginning February 1, 2017 via Adobe Connect  Listen Online.  Visit the NPFMC Website, Click here 20:35

Steaming toward Seattle, New US factory freezer/processor vessel Araho

The new Araho is a 59.13 metres factory stern trawler with a 14.94 metre beam, built to a Skipsteknisk ST-115 design. It has been built for demersal trawling and is capable of processing and freezing approximately 100 tonnes of H&G flatfish per day. It has an 1100 cubic metre refrigerated hold. This is the sixth new build from Eastern Shipbuilding for the O’Hara Corporation over the last twenty years and by far the largest and most sophisticated vessel, as the first US factory freezer/processor vessel to be built in the USA for 25 years. Video, read the story here 08:18

International Pacific Halibut Commission approves increases in halibut catch limits

Most parts of the Pacific coastline will see an increase in commercial and charter fishing catch limits for halibut this year. The International Pacific Halibut Commission Friday approved a coast-wide catch limit of 31.4 million pounds of the valuable bottom fish. That’s an increase from just under 30 million pounds last year. Several parts of the coast were facing catch limit cuts based on alternatives presented by IPHC scientists. However, commissioners voted to boost harvest limits instead of making reductions. There was some disagreement about the BC catch limit this year. Listen to the audio report or read it here 19:11

Coast Guard medevacs fisherman near Cold Bay, Alaska

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew forward deployed in Cold Bay, medevaced a man from the fishing vessel American Dynasty approximately 60 nautical miles north of Cold Bay, Thursday afternoon. The 59-year-old fisherman was hoisted and transported to Cold Bay where he was met by Guardian Flight personnel for further transfer to Anchorage. Watchstanders at Coast Guard District Seventeen received notification from Health Force Partners requesting a medevac for a crewmember  aboard the American Dynasty who was suffering from symptoms of appendicitis.  The duty flight surgeon recommended the medevac and the helicopter crew was dispatched. Weather on scene during the time of the medevac was reported as 20-mph winds with six to eight-foot seas and four miles of visibility. link 10:46

Harvesting flatfish in the Last Frontier

Docked in Seattle a few days after Thanksgiving, the F/T Constellation is still filled with the smell of coastal Alaska waters; briny ocean and fresh fish. It wafts up from the lower levels and covers the deck. The vessel has been scrubbed and scoured, but the aroma is impossible to shake. The 165-foot vessel spent the better part of 2016 trawling the Bering Sea. For months, it carried several dozen crewmembers, decks full of equipment and freezers full of fresh seafood. It motored in and out of Dutch Harbor, the fishing capital of the Aleutian Island chain. While it’ll spend the early winter in Seattle, the break is brief—the vessel heads north again each year when the fishing season resumes in January. Built in Louisiana and based in Washington, the Constellation is crewed by men from all over the world. But it’s also distinctly Alaskan; part of a hardy fleet fueling local economies throughout the Southwest. Read the story here 13:25

Trump’s nixing of trade pact disappoints Alaska seafood exporters

Alaska seafood exporters are disappointed by President Donald Trump’s decision to officially withdraw from a sweeping trade agreement among Pacific nations that would have eradicated import duties imposed by Japan and other countries on pollock and salmon, the two fish species that bring in the most revenue and create the most jobs in the industry. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have been former President Barack Obama’s signature legacy on trade, would have helped the pollock industry by cutting import taxes of 4.2 percent to zero in Japan, the largest consumer of pollock surimi and roe. Japan imports $248 million of Alaska pollock annually. The tariff costs importers $10 million annually in Japan alone for imitation crab, or surimi, and pollock roe, meaning similar products from nations that don’t face tariffs are more price-competitive. Existing tariffs on red salmon imported to Chile, Japan, Mexico and Vietnam also would have been removed, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Read the story here 14:21

The International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting is underway in BC

The International Pacific Halibut Commission will be deciding on catch limits, other proposed changes to management and season length though Friday in Victoria, British Columbia. “The way we apportion the resource it’s been probably the subject of the most dissatisfaction on the U.S. side over the past couple of years,” said U.S. commissioner and vice-chair Jim Balsiger at the start of the meeting Monday. “All the commissioners I believe on both sides are anxious to come to grips with that, find a harvest policy and apportionment method that works for everybody that we can explain to the people who use the resource and make some progress on that.”  Read the story here  For agenda details of the meeting and link to the webinar, click here 10:40

“Wild Alaskan” owner gets probation in waste dumping case

An Alaska man convicted of illegally dumping human waste into a harbour from a floating strip club he was operating has been spared serving prison time. Darren Byler instead was sentenced in Anchorage Monday to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, in increments of no less than $2,000 a year, beginning this year. U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason warned Byler that failure to pay the fine could result in him going to prison. Federal prosecutors were seeking an 18-month prison term. Byler, who plans to appeal the case, has repeatedly said he was targeted because of disapproval over the business he ran on the 94-foot “Wild Alaskan,” a converted crabbing boat. Speaking to the court before his sentence was handed up, he said the prison term sought by prosecutors was overkill. He repeatedly called it a “poop charge.” “This case was all about an emotionally charged political witch hunt” by various entities, including the Coast Guard and the prosecution, he said in a written statement released after the sentencing. Read the story here 12:30

Tax Incentives Could Help North Pacific Fishing Fleet Rebuilders, Otherwise, Gulf Coast Builders May Have A Competitive Edge

The Seattle-based North Pacific fishing fleet is expected to get $1.6 billion in upgrades or rebuilding over the next decade, but in-state ship builders have been capturing only about a third of such business so far, and cheaper Gulf Coast competitors could eat their lunch as the stakes grow. Washington maritime industry leaders say bipartisan HB 1154 could help provide a net big enough for the state to harvest more of that economic growth. “We can’t miss this opportunity,” Keith Whittemore said. “The boats have to be built in the U.S…but they don’t have to be built in Washington.” Whittemore is the executive vice president of business development for Vigor Industrial Shipyards, a shipbuilding and repair company with 12 locations and 2,500 employees in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Read the story here 11:31

Fishing Company of Alaska is sold, ending a turbulent run in North Pacific harvests

Renton-based Fishing Company of Alaska has sold its three factory trawlers and catch quotas to two other seafood companies, a move that will end more than three decades of its sometimes turbulent operations in the North Pacific seafood industry. The sales agreement to Ocean Peace and O’Hara Corporation was announced Friday in an email by a Fishing Company of Alaska executive to other industry officials that was obtained by The Seattle Times. A sale price was not disclosed. Mike Faris, chief executive of Seattle-based Ocean Peace, confirmed that his company will acquire two Fishing Company of Alaska vessels. Frank O’Hara Jr., executive vice president of O’Hara Corporation, said his company will acquire the other vessel and half of the fishing quotas to harvests. He said these quotas will give his company a more diverse harvest that includes more higher-priced species. Fishing Company of Alaska, which once had a fleet of more than six vessels, was an important player in the trawl harvests that unfold in the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea and off the Aleutian Islands. But Fishing Company of Alaska’s fleet has shrunk over time, in part due to high-seas disasters. Those include the 2007 sinking of the Alaska Ranger that killed five crew and the 2016 demise of the Alaska Juris, which did not result in loss of life but is the focus of a Coast Guard investigation. Read the story here 19:21

Strong harvests, more oversight marked 2016 groundfish fisheries

Last year was a good year overall for groundfish fisheries in the region. With a few standout harvests and favorable proposals with the Board of Fisheries, managers are feeling optimistic heading into the new year. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game oversees several groundfish fisheries within the Cook Inlet Management Area, which extends outside of Kachemak Bay to the north Gulf coast. “These fisheries include Pacific cod, sablefish, a directed pelagic shelf rockfish fishery, lingcod, and a small commissioner’s permit Pollock fishery,” said Jan Rumble, Fish and Game area groundfish management biologist. Pacific cod stood out in 2016 as it was open all year long for pot and jig gear in either a parallel or state waters fishery, Rumble said. Read the story here 11:19

Board of Fish finalizes recommendations on fish habitat permitting

The state Board of Fisheries, the body that sets regulations on state-overseen fisheries, voted to send a letter to the Legislature at its Kodiak meeting, held Jan. 10–Jan. 13 recommending the state review Title 16 of the Alaska Statute, which addresses how the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game should issue permits in streams determined to be fish habitat. Any activity that may use, divert, obstruct or change the natural flow of a body of water determined to be fish habitat requires a permit, granted by the commissioner of Fish and Game. The current statute says the commissioner shall grant a permit unless an activity is deemed “insufficient for the proper protection of fish and game.” The request was born out of a non-regulatory proposal submitted to the board for its 2016/2017 cycle by a group of 13 citizens of various user groups in fisheries. Read the story here 09:46

2017 IPHC Annual Meeting Monday, January 23 through Friday, January 27, 2017 in Victoria, British Columbia

The Ninety-third Annual Meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission will be held from Monday, January 23 through Friday, January 27, 2017 in Victoria, British Columbia at the Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort. Further details on the 2017 IPHC Annual Meeting

Documents, Presentations, and Schedule

Bears vs. salmon: Solving the McNeil River puzzle

Although brown bears kill more than half the chum salmon entering the world-famous McNeil River each year, state fishery biologists and managers don’t believe the bears’ predation is the primary reason for the river’s stubbornly persistent weak salmon runs. Consequently, although the state Board of Fisheries recently designated the McNeil chum fishery a stock of concern, the board also decided against shooing away or killing some of the bears or helping the salmon avoid them — opting instead to allow the chum runs, over time, to recover on their own. McNeil River — named about a century ago for area rancher Charlie McNeil and bounded by McNeil River State Game Refuge and Katmai National Park — drains into the western portion of Kamishak Bay, approximately 100 miles west-southwest of Homer. The entire drainage lies within the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, established in 1967, an exceptional bear-viewing area located near a cascading set of falls that has been drawing wildlife lovers since its creation. Read the story here 09:25

Sentencing reset for “Wild Alaskan” owner

A sentencing hearing has been rescheduled in the case of an Alaska man who was found guilty of illegally dumping human waste into a harbor while operating a crabbing boat that had been converted into a floating strip club. Darren Byler had been scheduled for a Thursday sentencing. But his attorney, John Cashion, says Byler’s flight from Kodiak Island was delayed and the sentencing is now set for 3:30 p.m. Friday. Federal prosecutors are recommending that Byler be sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. Prosecutors say Byler piped raw sewage from bathrooms aboard the 94-foot “Wild Alaskan” into the harbor near Kodiak in 2014 instead of taking it 3 miles offshore. The Bylers were accused of telling the Coast Guard they were properly disposing of the waste. click to read the rest 16:54

Alaska’s Senators push Trump nominees to guard fisheries, rural areas while cutting regulations

Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan pressed Cabinet nominees to consider Alaska’s uniqueness, the difficulties of rural areas and the nation’s largest fisheries at a spate of confirmation hearings this week. Senators can publicly question President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections when they sit on the committee holding a confirmation hearing.  Several of those nominees faced controversy and opposition from Democrats. Hallways were packed with supporters and protesters Wednesday in a Senate office building where three hearings were happening simultaneously. Murkowski pressed her nominees on how they would adjust some their conservative stances to meet her needs for rural and Native populations in Alaska. Sullivan focused on the state’s fishing industry. Both urged peeling back regulations they said are onerous and often a barrier to economic growth or healthy public services. Read the article here 11:29

Commerce Secretary Declares Fisheries Disasters for Nine West Coast Species

The US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker has determined there are commercial fishery failures for nine salmon and crab fisheries in Alaska, California and Washington. In recent years, each of these fisheries experienced sudden and unexpected large decreases in fish stock biomass due to unusual ocean and climate conditions. This decision enables fishing communities to seek disaster relief assistance from Congress. Read the story here 09:54

Drayton Harbor Maritime calls for assistance in effort to restore historic Columbia River salmon boat

Under the watchful eye of the US Coast Guard (USCG), members of Drayton Harbor Maritime (DHM) are continuing a years-long effort to restore a historic sailboat formerly used at the Alaska Packers Association Diamond NN Cannery in Nanek, Alaska. The Trident Seafood Corporation donated the now 111-year-old Columbia River salmon boat to DHM in 2015. Since then, a handful of dedicated shipwrights and craftsmen have begun restoring the historic vessel to use for educational tours in the bay. On January 13, three members of the USCG paid a visit to the restoration site to conduct one of several inspections scheduled to ensure the vessel adheres to strict safety standards prior to it entering the water once again.  The salmon boats set sail in Bristol Bay, Alaska as early as 1884 – an estimated 8,000 of the boats were built between 1884 and 1951 and now only a handful remain. Read the rest of the story here 21:33

Silver Bay Seafoods recruits in American Somoa for Alaska Fish Processing Jobs

The demand for jobs was evident Saturday when about 300 people responded to a company from Alaska’s call for workers. Silver Bay Seafoods is looking to hire 250 employees for the salmon season which runs from June to September. Two officials of the company including Shannon Grant, the Hiring Manager, explained the types of jobs that were on offer, the work schedule and the pay. Many of those who turned up Saturday said they wanted to give it a try and were attracted by the $10-$12 per hour wage, and working in Alaska. Hiring Manager Shannon Grant was quite pleased with the response. Link 16:01

Victorious United Cook Inlet Drift Association file to vacate salmon rule

A Cook Inlet salmon plan will take a lot more work from federal managers in the next few years. The United Cook Inlet Drift Association, an industry group of salmon drift netters, has requested the U.S. District Court of Alaska to vacate a piece of fisheries policy they successfully sued to overturn after an appeal court ruling this past September.In the meantime, the old plan replacing the vacated plan will require some work. “Given the dire situation faced by UCIDA as a result of the federal government’s utter abdication of its (Magnuson-Stevens Act) responsibilities in this important fishery, the Proposed Judgment sought by UCIDA is immediately necessary,” according to the motion filed by UCIDA on Jan. 7. “It would ensure that the checks and balances guaranteed by the Act — including the requirement to use the best available science, to manage the fishery in accordance with the 10 national standards, and to achieve optimum yield — are provided to UCIDA and the fishery in the short term while NMFS works with the council to produce a new FMP.” A three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with commercial fishing groups against a 2011 decision by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to remove several Alaska salmon fisheries from the FMP. Read the article here 08:03

In advance of its annual meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, Jan. 23-27, IPHC posts catch limit proposals

In advance of its annual meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, Jan. 23-27, the International Pacific Halibut Commission accepted proposals through Dec. 31 on catch limits or harvest advice. Of the eight proposals noted so far by the IPHC, six were specific to Area 2C in Southeast Alaska, including one from a group of processors and fishing associations who contend that reductions in Area 2C catch limits are not justified by current data or trends. Area 2C stocks are increasing at current harvest rates, and the Area 2C survey weight per unit of effort is higher than any other IPHC area coast-wide, the proposal said.  The document was signed by Kathy Hansen, Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance; Megan O’Neil, Petersburg Vessel Owner’s Association; Dale Kelley, Alaska Trollers Association; Dan Falvey, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Joe Morrelli, Seafood Producers Cooperative; Don Spigelmyer, Icicle Seafoods; and Mike Erickson, Alaska Glacier Seafoods. Read the rest here 09:40

Tapeworm from Asian waters found in Southcentral Alaska salmon

Scientists have found evidence that a parasite from Asian salmon has been spreading to North American fish, according to a newly released study on samples taken from Southcentral Alaska. The study,(click here) appearing in February’s issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports on the discovery in Alaska salmon of Japanese broad tapeworm. Its authors say the results could mean Japanese broad tapeworms infecting humans have been mistaken for fish tapeworm, a species known by the CDC to affect North American fish. Scientists have found Japanese broad tapeworm, which was first identified in 1986 and can affect humans who consume infected fish raw, in chum, masu, pink and sockeye salmon from Japan and eastern Russia. About 2,000 cases of humans infected by the tapeworm have been reported primarily in northeast Asia, although the study’s authors say infections are likely under-reported. Read the story here 11:24

Study shows Cook Inlet sockeye harvested in Kodiak

New genetic data indicates that many of the sockeye harvested by Kodiak’s commercial fishery may originate from Cook Inlet streams. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game published a study in December compiling three years of research into the genetics of sockeye salmon harvested by commercial fishermen in the Kodiak Management Area. In 2014, local Kodiak-origin stocks of sockeye salmon contributed 88 percent of the harvest, but in 2015 and 2016, they only contributed 58 percent of the harvest, according to the study. Almost all the rest of the harvest was Cook Inlet-origin stocks. In 2014, 8 percent of the harvest turned out to be from Cook Inlet. In 2015, that portion was 37 percent, and in 2016 it was 30 percent, according to the study. Chignik-origin sockeye salmon comprised another 10 percent, according to the study.  Read the rest here 08:56

For the third consecutive year, testing finds Alaska seafood free of Fukushima radiation

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement that seafood samples from Alaska waters in 2016 tested negative for three Fukushima-related radioactive isotopes: iodine-131, cesium-134 and cesium-137. The findings for the tested species – including king, chum, sockeye and pink salmon, as well as halibut, pollock, sablefish, herring and Pacific cod – matched those from 2014 and 2015. “Fish species were chosen for testing based on their importance to subsistence, sport, and commercial fisheries and because they spend part of their life cycle in the western Pacific Ocean,” DEC officials wrote. “Samples of fish were taken by DEC environmental health officers during regular inspections of commercial fishing processors throughout the state.” Department spokeswoman Marlena Brewer said that the samples were tested at DEC’s Environmental Health Laboratory in Anchorage, using portable gamma-ray analysis equipment provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Click here to read the rest 18:26

New North Pacific fleet would cost $11.6B

Rejuvenating Alaska’s large vessel fishing fleet could be nearly an $11 billion boon for Outside shipyards, according to a new McDowell Group report. The Alaska-based research firm pegged $11.3 billion as the cost to completely replace the 414 fishing and processing vessels longer than 58 feet that participate in North Pacific fisheries off the coast of Alaska in a study commissioned by the Port of Seattle and the Washington Maritime Federation. Regulations require boats in Alaska’s salmon fisheries to be less than 58 feet, which makes that length the general delineator between smaller boats focused on near shore fisheries and larger vessels that fish and process catch in federal waters at least three miles offshore. Additionally, most of the more than 5,000 smaller commercial fishing boats that operate in Alaska homeport in the state and nearly all of the larger vessels in federal fisheries have Puget Sound addresses for a host of reasons. While the $11.3 billion baseline figure includes the cost to eventually replace a dozen vessels among the 414 built since they year 2000, according to McDowell Group the fleet averages 40 years old and 87 percent of the vessels were built before 1990. Read the article here 09:14

UPDATE: Tugs tow Coast Guard cutter, disabled fishing vessel back to Kodiak

The commercial tug Anna-T took the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR into tow 230 miles southeast of Kodiak Saturday afternoon and is in transit to Kodiak. The Coast Guard Cutter Hickory, a 225-foot seagoing buoytender home ported in Homer, arrived on scene and will escort the Anna-T and SPAR during the transit to Kodiak. The commercial tug Chahunta is scheduled to take the fishing vessel Lady Gudny into tow later this evening. Initially, the Lady Gudny experienced fuel filter issues at sea after midnight Thursday and became disabled and adrift. The SPAR was directed to get underway to provide assistance. As the SPAR prepared to bring the Lady Gudny into tow Friday afternoon the towline separated, which entangled the SPAR’s propellers and caused the cutter to become disabled. The four people aboard the Lady Gudny were airlifted by an Air Station Kodiak MH-60T aircrew and safely transported to Kodiak with no medical concerns, Friday afternoon. Link 10:29

Coast Guard rescues 4 from disabled fishing vessel 230 miles off Kodiak

The Coast Guard rescued four people from a disabled fishing vessel in heavy seas 230 miles east-southeast of Kodiak, Friday. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60T Jayhawk crew hoisted the four people from the Lady Gudny and transported them to Air Station Kodiak in good health. The Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, a 225-foot seagoing buoytender home ported in Kodiak, arrived on scene Friday morning. The SPAR prepared to bring the Lady Gudny into tow when the towline separated, causing the SPAR to become disabled. Watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District Command Center received notification from Coast Guard Communications Detachment Kodiak at 1:43 a.m. Thursday that the Lady Gudny experienced fuel filter issues at sea. At approximately 7:30 a.m. Thursday the Lady Gudny became dead in the water 230 miles east of Kodiak after it exhausted their supply of fuel filters and were unable to run the engine.  The 17th Coast Guard District directed the launch of the Coast Guard Cutters Hickory and Douglas Munro, and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley to respond and provide assistance to the SPAR. The tug vessels Chahunta and Anna-T are also responding to assist. Weather on scene was reported as 20 to 22-foot seas with 49-mph winds and 9 miles visibility. Link 07:34

Opinion: State, council fail to help Kodiak trawl fisheries

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has a record for successful fishery management, built on principles known as the Alaska Model. Recently, the council abandoned the Alaska Model and its solid reputation for progressive fishery management. In doing so, the council failed the Gulf of Alaska trawl groundfish fisheries and our community of Kodiak. Led by the state of Alaska, the council voted at its December meeting in Anchorage to “postpone indefinitely” any further work to address the goal of bycatch reduction through a cooperative management program for Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries. Instead, the Council ended a four-year public process to develop a program to achieve this goal. By their action, the state and the council put politics first, and the health of our fisheries and coastal communities came in dead last. Read the op-ed here 17:46

Wow! Council cracks up over catch shares

Everyone in the Gulf of Alaska agrees on one thing: it was the other side’s fault. Depending on who you ask, catch shares are evil incarnate or an angel of good management. Depending on who you ask, they’ll either save Kodiak or kill it. Depending on who you ask, it’s either the State of Alaska’s fault or its credit for not allowing catch shares in the Gulf of Alaska’s groundfish fishery. And depending on who you ask, they’ll either come up again or get sliced up into a handful of other little nibbles at the Gulf of Alaska bycatch problems. Either sighs of relief or defeat leaked from every mouth in the room on this past Dec. 12 when the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees all federal fisheries from three to 200 miles off the Alaska coast, indefinitely tabled a complex range of options for the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. Read the story here! 21:17

“What is the price people paid to become a crab fishermen?” – Film maker seeks to preserve Kodiak King Crab History

Matt Stevens is a man on a mission. Born and raised on Kodiak Island in the late 70’s, he has grown up hearing the stories of Kodiak back in the day. A time when men and women journeyed from afar to get a piece of the legendary boomtown. What Stevens wants to know is, “What is the price people paid to become a crab fishermen,” and their stories that came with it. “I have heard so many stories of all these unique people during that time, and it was such a unique era that it would be great to know more about it.  I’m working on collectively gathering the history of commercial fishermen and women in the Kodiak era between the 60’s all the way through the 80’s. Essentially the king crab boom of its day and the stories and history related to that time.” Stevens feels that it is an epic time built on personal experience and memories. A dying history that needs to be preserved before it is too late. Read the story here, and by all means, contribute! 12:49

Alaska commercial fishing picks and pans for 2016

The start of 2017 marks the 26th year for this weekly column on Alaska’s seafood industry that aims to make readers aware of the economic and cultural importance of our state’s oldest industry. Alaska fishermen and processors provide 65 percent of our nation’s wild-caught seafood; it is also Alaska’s most valuable export to more than 100 countries around the world. The bulk of Alaska’s fishing fleet of nearly 10,000 vessels is made up of boats less than 50 feet long. Each is a small business that supports several families. For fishing towns like Kodiak, Cordova and Homer, where 500 to 700 vessels are home-ported, those boats are essentially the majority of our downtown store fronts. Call it a mall in a marina. Here are my fishing picks and pans for 2016 — a look back at the best and worst fish stories of 2016, in no order, plus my choice for the biggest story of the year. Laine Welch  Read the story here 08:51

Japan sees crab prices surge as poached Russian imports sink

Prices of crab, a sought-after delicacy in the year-end and New Year’s period, are surging because of a sharp fall in imports, especially from Russia and Alaska. Imports provide most of the crab distributed in Japan, and wholesale prices are some 30 to 50 percent higher than a year ago. Imports of red king crab, a popular variety, came to about 4,270 tons from January to November, less than half the annual record set in 2012. “This year’s red king crab imports could be on par with the level in 2015, which was the lowest in recent years,” said an official of a major fisheries company. Imports of snow crab, another popular species, have also been falling recently, industry officials said. Crab from Russia has been dwindling due to tighter regulations on poaching and illegal exports that began about two years ago. Before that, more than 50 percent of Russian crab distributed in Japan was poached, the fisheries company official said. Ports in Hokkaido that used to be busy handling crab from Russia are now quiet. Read the story here 16:50

Ringing in new round of ‘fish wars’ as ADFG manages budget

In the face of yet another round of budget cuts, Alaska’s largest private employer, the seafood industry, will have entirely new management schemes to sort out and live under in 2017 alongside status quo projections for harvest in key fisheries. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will take another budget cutback responding to the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit that has yet to be patched. Gov. Bill Walker released a proposed fiscal year 2018 budget on Dec. 15. Among other cuts, Walker proposes a budget of $28.9 million for ADFG. This is a 36 percent reduction from the fiscal year 2015. ADFG will have to find ways to deal with budget cuts to monitor key fisheries stocks, including the iconic king salmon that has fallen in abundance beginning in the late 2000s. Further, commercial fisheries management programs will suffer,,, Fish wars renewed – As usual, much of Alaska’s year will center around salmon. Among the biggest items for Alaska’s state fisheries will be the two-week 2017 Upper Cook Inlet meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Read the rest of the article here 16:25

2016 hauled in mixed bag for Alaska commercial fisheries

As with any season, 2016 had plenty of winners and losers in the Alaska commercial fishing industry. The year started off with a huge sigh of relief from Upper Cook Inlet salmon setnet fishermen when the Alaska Supreme Court over-ruled a decision by a Superior Court judge that would have allowed a ballot measure to ban setnets in “urban areas,” but was targeted at Cook Inlet. If the ballot measure had been allowed to go to a vote and had won, it not only would have made it more difficult to manage the sockeye fishery, but it also would have eliminated the livelihood of the 700 Upper Cook Inlet setnet permit holders, 85 percent of which are Alaska residents. At the beginning of the year, halibut fishermen were feeling optimistic,,, Salmon fisheries across the state fell far short of expectations,,, Read the rest of the story here 11:33

Southeast halibut catch limit may drop in 2017

The International Pacific Halibut Commission is considering a cut of 870,000 pounds to Southeast Alaska’s 2017 halibut quota. The IPHC, the joint Canadian-American body that sets annual halibut harvests, concluded its interim meeting Nov. 30 in Seattle. The IPHC will set the 2017 quota at its 93rd annual meeting from Jan. 23 to Jan. 27 in Victoria, B.C. During the interim meeting, IPHC staff recommended that the entire North Pacific halibut catch be reduced from 29.89 million pounds to 26.12 million pounds. Most of the reduction would fall in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Alaska and in Pacific Canada. Read the story here 09:50

A leaking pipe may have started Alaska Juris demise

Flashlight in hand, a stunned Chief Engineer Eddie Hernandez peered into the darkness to survey the swamped engine room of the Alaska Juris. The cold seawater was waist-deep, and more was bubbling up from a leak, possibly from a busted pipe on the starboard side of the factory trawler. “I wasn’t afraid or anything. I just felt helpless,”  Hernandez was a key witness for Coast Guard officials seeking to unravel the mystery of the Alaska Juris’ demise on a calm, summer day. Officials also are investigating the tangled operations of the vessel’s owner, Fishing Company of Alaska, which teams with a Japanese fish buyer and still operates three factory trawlers whose large crews in remote North Pacific locations net, process and freeze the catch. The hearings offered a gritty look at conditions aboard the vessel, which had benefitted from millions of dollars in investments in maintenance — yet still appeared so unsafe, one engineer said, that he quit this year after spending just a day at port. “The biggest thing that was bugging me was that if I take this job, I’m going to have to lie to my wife and kids about the condition of this boat,” said Carl Lee Jones Read the story here 22:34

Craig Medred: Fish fight end?

The North Pacific Fisheries Council has taken an unprecedented step to try to increase the value of halibut to the Alaska economy by allowing a yet-to-be-created, charter-boat fishing entity to buy fish from willing commercial fishing interests in order to boost sport harvests. Efforts to shift some of the halibut harvest back toward tourism businesses comes in the wake of a study indicating that “individual fishery quotas” created for the commercial halibut fishery in the early 1990s have not worked out quite as planned. A well-intentioned idea, IFQs (Eye-F-Cues) as everyone in the fishing industry calls them, were intended to shift halibut harvests away from big-boat operations toward individual fishermen working as owner-operators of fishing businesses hopefully  based in Alaska. But that isn’t exactly how things turned out. Read the rest of the story here 10:58

Year in Review: Alaska Fisheries – Board shakeup, drifters win, sockeyes up as pinks, crab crash

After a hectic fisheries year in 2015 involving felony charges, forced retirements and resignations, the 2016 Board of Fisheries confirmation cycle was mild, with few of last year’s inflamed arguments. This board shakeup precedes the Board of Fisheries Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting in early 2017, which is held once every three years and is highly charged by the conflicts between user groups. The last two years took a toll on fisheries leadership, including one botched interview, one forced resignation, three failed nominations, a fistful of felony charges against one of those nominees, and two recent resignations — one by chairman Tom Kluberton who cited political burnout and stress, the other by Bob Mumford, coming before he even had the chance to be confirmed by the Legislature. Unlike 2015, Board of Fisheries appointees had no trouble being confirmed in a rare occurrence for the Legislature. In April 2016, the Legislature unanimously confirmed Al Cain, Israel Payton, and Robert Ruffner to the Board of Fisheries, replacing Mumford, Fritz Johnson and Kluberton. Last year, Ruffner’s confirmation hearing went especially wrong after a sustained campaign by sportfishing groups to characterize him as holding commercial fishing sympathies. The Legislature failed to confirm him on a 29-30 vote in 2015 but unanimously approved him in 2016. Read the Year in Review here 11:35

Coast Guard medevacs fisherman near Kodiak Island, Alaska

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew medevaced a fisherman from the fishing vessel Transit in Shelikof Strait near Kodiak Island Sunday morning. The 37-year-old fisherman was hoisted and transported to Kodiak where he was met by awaiting emergency medical services personnel. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Anchorage received a medevac request from the captain of the Transit who reported a crewmember was suffering from seizure like symptoms.   The duty flight surgeon recommended the medevac and the helicopter crew was dispatched.  Weather on scene during the time of the medevac was reported as 7-mph winds with choppy seas and 12-miles of visibility. Link 07:35

Southeast Alaska Dungeness fall harvest was lower than expected

The fall harvest was approximately 403,000 pounds. That’s about 150,000 pounds less than last year. Kellii Wood is a Crab Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. She says they’ve seen harvests like this before but it’s been a while. “It’s definitely down from previous years,” Wood says. “We have been lower but I believe it was in the 90s.” Wood says the harvest is far below the five year fall average of 732,000 pounds. About one-fifth of the year’s harvest comes in the fall. This year was just a little below that. Wood says the recent average is a bit skewed when you consider 2014. It was an unusually good year seeing the third highest fall harvest on record since the 1960s. That fall fishermen harvested about a million pounds. Listen to the audio report here 13:55

No Catch Shares! Gulf rationalization dies a quiet death

Gulf of Alaska groundfish will remain an open access fishery indefinitely after the North Pacific Fishery Management Council tabled a policy package that has enraged fishermen of all stripes over the last year. Depending on who is asked, the council acted at either its best or its worst with the decision. “The council process didn’t work. They didn’t solve the problem,” said Julie Bonney, executive director of the Groundfish Forum, an industry group of trawlers and processors. “They just took the political part first and ignored the management. I have to keep reminding myself, this isn’t about management. It’s about politics.” Others said the council did exactly what it should have done in the face of so many contentious decisions on which so many people expressed opinions. “I think this is actually the best illustration of council process, rather than the worst,” said Duncan Fields, a Kodiak attorney and former council member who was among the most vocal on this subject. “It shows that one gear group with a particular ideology and particular economic interest with very good advocates can’t just jam something through the council,” he said. “The council allows other participants, small boat fishermen, community, stakeholders to also have a voice, and that voice has said a catch share program is not the best public policy. You don’t always get the result you want.” Read the rest here 20:39

North Pacific Fishery Management Council allows sport guides to buy commercial halibut quota

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, master of the nation’s most valuable fishing region, decided on Dec. 10 to implement a new plan that in some ways reflects changing attitudes and economies in the North Pacific and in Alaska. The plan involves allowing guided recreational halibut fishermen to buy up commercial quota through a system called an RQE — a recreational quota entity. This differs from an existing program that allows sport guides to lease, but not buy, commercial quota. Commercial fishermen don’t welcome the change, and in fact see it as one more nail in the coffin of a historical Alaskan enterprise that is more expensive and more difficult to enter that it ever has been. Commercial fishermen think the RQE will usher in the absolute death of Southeast Alaska coastal village fleets in a matter of five years, all at the hands of the tourism behemoths that control more and more of the island economies. “This is the death of a small boat, owner-operator fishery. It’s over,” said Clem Tillion, a North Pacific fisheries fixture and longtime advocate for coastal quota ownership. “Holland America and Carnival (Cruise Line) will buy the quota and hired hands will fish it, and the small boat fleet out of villages is gone.” Read the article here 13:55

Accusations fly at hearing into Alaska Juris sinking

alaskajurisuscgA Coast Guard hearing into the July sinking of the Alaska Juris took a volatile turn on Thursday as a marine contractor once charged with shore repairs alleged that misconduct by some Japanese crew contributed to safety problems. Herb Roeser, owner of Seattle-based Trans-Marine Propulsion Systems, alleged in his testimony that Masashi Yamada, a Japanese entrepreneur with wide-ranging business holdings, wielded behind-the-scenes control of the factory ship’s owner, Renton-based Fishing Company of Alaska. Roeser said Japanese crews working for one of Yamada’s businesses, Anyo Fisheries, “basically ran” the Alaska Juris. Over the years, Roeser said, the Alaska Juris had been weakened by not only age but also improper modifications ordered by Japanese crew and their rough fishing tactics that slammed metal trawl gear — known as doors — against the stern of the vessel and contributed to cracks. Roeser testified that when he stopped working for the company in 2011, he told the U.S. owner, the late Karena Adler, that “you need to put that ship in the scrap yard because nothing good is going to come of it.” Read the rest here 16:11

Executive Order — Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience (includes typo’s!)

Barack ObamaBy the authority vested in me as the President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1. Purpose. As recognized in Executive Order 13689 of January 21, 2015, (Enhancing Coordination of National Efforts in the Arctic), Arctic environmental stewardship is in the national interest. In furtherance of this principle, and as articulated in the March 10, 2016, U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership, the United States has resolved to confront the challenges of a changing Arctic by working to conserve Arctic biodiversity; support and engage Alaska Native tribes; incorporate traditional knowledge into decisionmaking; and build a sustainable Arctic economy that relies on the highest safety and environmental standards, including adherence to national climate goals. The United States is committed to achieving these goals in partnership with indigenous communities and through science-based decisionmaking. This order carries forth that vision in the northern Bering Sea region. Read the rest here 14:56

Federal judge tosses another fisheries management rule

alaska-halibut__frontFederal judges keep smacking down the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s decisions. For the second time in the last three months, a federal court has overturned a management decision made by the North Pacific council and enacted by the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS. The United States District Court of Washington overturned a 2011 decision relating to halibut quota shares harvested by hired skippers on Nov. 16. Federal courts have overturned several council decisions in recent years. In September, a the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the council’s 2011 decision to remove Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound and Alaska Peninsula salmon fisheries from federal oversight.  In this case, the North Pacific council made a decision in 2011 regarding which halibut quota holders can use a hired skipper instead of being required to be on board the vessel. Read the story here 14:09

UPDATE: 2 remain missing after boat sinks near Dutch Harbor

exito-1Neither of the two missing crew members from a 117-foot vessel that sank off Dutch Harbor late Tuesday was found Wednesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Operation Specialist 1st Class Trevor Frommherz, with the Coast Guard’s District 17 Command Center, said that three good Samaritan vessels assisting the cutter Alex Haley with the search for crew from the Exito returned to Dutch Harbor Wednesday afternoon. Three of the Exito’s five crew were rescued shortly after it sank about 14 miles northeast of Dutch Harbor. “We had the Alex Haley stay on scene — they searched throughout the night,” Frommherz said. “There was no sign of the two missing crew members.” Note: It appears the Coast Guard identified the vessel as a fishing vessel, when in actuality the vessel was being used to transporting cargo for Trident Seafoods between Dutch Harbor and the Aleutian community of Akutan. Read the rest here 13:58

Coast Guard medevacs injured fisherman in Pybus Bay, Alaska

coast guardA Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew medevaced an injured mariner off the fishing vessel Vendor in Pybus Bay, near Fredrick Sound, approximately 80 miles south of Juneau, Wednesday. The Jayhawk crew hoisted the 37-year-old man and transported him to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Sitka. Coast Guard Sector Juneau watchstanders responded to a mayday call from the mariner on VHF channel 16. The mariner requested assistance after reportedly suffering from a leg laceration. Watchstanders consulted with the duty flight surgeon and requested the launch of the Air Station Sitka Jayhawk and a Station Juneau Response Boat-Medium. “Having communication and safety devices on board your vessel is critical in Alaskan waters,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Francell Abbott, Sector Juneau watchstander. “Having a VHF radio allowed this mariner to call for help and allowed our crew to quickly get him to EMS.” Weather on scene was 12-mph winds, 1-foot seas. Link 08:39

3 rescued, 2 still missing after fishing vessel sinks near Dutch Harbor

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew and four good Samaritan crews responded to the sinking of fishing vessel Exito after it began taking on water 14 miles northeast of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Tuesday evening. Three of the vessel’s five crewmembers were located by the good Samaritan crew of the Afognac Strait. The crewmembers were brought on board the vessel and are being transferred to Dutch Harbor. The Jayhawk aircrew and good Samaritan crews on the commercial fishing vessels Commitment, Blue North and Northern Lead continue to search for the remaining two crewmembers of the Exito. The crewmembers brought on board the Afognak Strait reported that one of the remaining crewmembers had put on immersion suit and was last seen preparing to abandon ship. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received a phone call at 9:38 p.m., Tuesday, from the owner of the Exito reporting that the vessel was taking on water and the crew was preparing to abandon ship. Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders diverted Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley and requested the launch of the Air Station Kodiak Jayhawk. Link 15:37 About F/V Exito

Mystery surrounds alarm failure on sunken Alaska Juris, a siren that could “wake the dead”

alaska%20juris-image2-jpgWhen water first began flooding into the Alaska Juris on July 26, a network of bilge alarms should have unleashed a cacophony of sound to alert the crew that something was wrong. “The siren can wake the dead. Anywhere on the vessel you can hear the alarm,” said Ben Eche, an electrician who did shore-side work on that alert system, in testimony Tuesday during Coast Guard hearings in Seattle into the sinking of the vessel. All 46 crew members survived. But crew testified the alarm did not go off, a troubling development that prompted Coast Guard officials to question Eche about how the system operated. Eche said he had tested the alarm system while the Alaska Juris was in port, and it worked properly. Read the story here, and watch the proceedings here 11:36

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Anchorage December 6 thru 14, 2016

npfmc-logoThe North Pacific Fishery Management Council will begin their meeting week on Tuesday, December 6, and continue through Tuesday December 14, 2016 at the Hilton Hotel, 500 W. 3rd Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501. The AGENDA and SCHEDULE are now available. The Council’s meeting will be broadcast live beginning their first day via Adobe Connect Listen Online 09:16

Commercial cod fishermen get more space in Kachemak Bay

whales stealing fish from long lines alaskaCommercial groundfish fishermen in Kachemak Bay will get more space to operate after the Board of Fisheries redefined the closed waters in the area. In Lower Cook Inlet, commercial fishermen are allowed to use pots to fish for Pacific cod and have been allowed inside Kachemak Bay west of the Homer Spit and along the southern shore of the bay near Seldovia. However, the main section and a swath extending westward in the center of the bay have been closed by regulation because of concerns for the Tanner crab population, which has dropped off significantly in Kachemak Bay in the last two decades or so. The fishery is mostly small boats, and because the fishery takes place in the fall on the edges of Kachemak Bay, they run the risk of bad weather, so to avoid the poor weather, they have limited area, said AlRay Carroll, the proposer, during his public comments during the Board of Fisheries’ meeting in Homer on Wednesday. Read the article here 10:28

Crewman tells of harrowing escape from sinking Alaska Juris

alaska%20juris-image2-jpgThe evacuation and rescue of the crew of 46 from the sinking Alaska Juris was accomplished without any deaths or serious injuries. But crewman Aaron Hell experienced tense moments as he briefly fell into the chill Bering Sea while trying to climb down a ladder along the side of the sinking vessel and board a life raft. During afternoon testimony, Hell described a multinational crew aboard the Alaska Juris that included Japanese, Mexicans and recruits from African nations. He said they all had to find a way to work together to enable operation of the Alaska Juris, an aging vessel built in the 1970s that motors off to remote locations to catch, process and freeze fish. Read the story here 08:27