Category Archives: North Pacific

City struggles to sell unwanted former floating strip club

The city of Kodiak is trying to get rid of what has been called a former floating strip club. The P/V Wild Alaskan vessel was impounded on Dec. 20 and has been held in the Kodiak Shipyard ever since, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Thursday. In August, the city began advertising the vessel as available for purchase by the highest bidder, but it did not receive any bids. City Manager Mike Tvenge said nobody wants the ship. “If you look at it, it’s in need of repair,” Tvenge said. “That’s part of the reason why it was pulled out of the harbor.” >click to read<09:02

Inside the operation that propped up Kodiak fishermen

It was low tide and most of the staff were sleeping, having finished an egg-take shift sometime before 7:00 a.m. The next shift would begin just before high tide, at 2:45 p.m. “We’ve done 200,000 fish already – that’s male and female. We’ve got about 135 million eggs right now,” said Wachter. Kodiak’s hatcheries, as well as those across the state, were originally set up to give fishermen a safety net during years in which wild stocks are low. Alaska’s Private Non-Profit Hatchery Program, however, is currently at the center of a political battle that could see restrictions placed on the number of hatchery-reared fish that are released each year. >click to read<11:48

Commercial Fishers Sentenced to Jail Time For Willful Failure to Pay Taxes on Income

A Southeast Alaskan couple were sentenced today in Juneau for willfully failing to pay their individual income taxes, and instead prioritized spending money on traveling and gambling. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder. Archie W. Demmert III, 58, and Roseann L. Demmert, 61, both of Klawock, Alaska, were sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess to each serve 12 months, plus one day, in federal prison on two counts of willful failure to pay income tax. >click to read<09:06

Alaska Mesothelioma Victims Center Now Urges any Commercial Fisherman with Mesothelioma to call

The Alaska Mesothelioma Victims Center says, “We are reaching out to a commercial fisherman who now has mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure while working on a fishing boat or boats that had a home port in Alaska. A commercial fisherman with mesothelioma typically did not work on just one fishing or crab boat. Typically, we find that these men did everything on the boat from mechanics, repairs, or upgrades. If you are a commercial fisherman and you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or their family, please call us anytime at 800-714-0303. What we want to do is ensure a victim of mesothelioma receives the very best possible financial compensation.” >click to read<18:32

Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers rescue man from a grounded vessel while on training mission

The Coast Guard and Alaska State Troopers coordinated efforts to locate and rescue a boater from a disabled and aground 40-foot fishing vessel 127 miles east-southeast of Cordova, Alaska, Wednesday. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew located the operator of the fishing vessel Gambler while conducting a training flight in the area. The HC-130 aircrew dropped a radio to the man to communicate with him. After coordinating with Alaska State Troopers, the man was rescued from the shore, and was reported to be in good condition with no medical concerns. Video, >click to read<10:48

Cook Inlet fishermen blame rigid management for season losses

Cook Inlet’s commercial fishermen feel that mandated closures played a part in them missing the boat on many of the salmon they could have harvested this season. At a meeting in Kenai on Sept. 28, Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishermen grilled Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten and Gov. Bill Walker with questions about regulation of the fishery and policy changes to support it in the future. Some of the concern is about inflexible management. >click to read<18:36

Southeast dive fisheries, crab seasons start in October

The season for geoduck clam diving starts Oct. 1. The first opening could be Oct. 3 or 4, depending on testing for the toxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. The region’s guideline harvest level is 702,100 pounds. The large clams are plucked from the ocean floor and shipped whole and live to overseas markets, if the clams don’t test too high for PSP or inorganic arsenic. There are a couple of changes for that fishery this year. Past openings have been only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one day a week. The Board of Fisheries last winter approved a 1,000-pound weekly harvest limit. >click to read<12:48

North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Anchorage, October 1-9, 2018

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet October 1-9, 2018 at the Hilton Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska. The Agenda >click here< and Schedule >click here< are available, as well as a list of review documents and their associated posting dates. Listen online while the meeting is in session >click here<17:58

Coast Guard suspends search for man near St. Matthew Island, Alaska

The Coast Guard suspended its search Friday for a man last seen aboard a fishing boat north of St. Matthew Island Thursday. Two Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft crews searched along with the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro and the crews of fishing vessels Clipper Epic, Frontier Spirit and Frontier Mariner for more than 24 hours, covering approximately 894 square nautical miles. The search was suspended at 3 p.m., pending any further developments. -USCG- 08:53

Coast Guard searching for man last seen aboard a fishing boat near St. Matthew Island, Alaska

The Coast Guard is searching for a man last seen aboard a fishing boat north of St. Matthew Island Thursday. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak C-130 Hercules aircrew launched from Kotzebue and is searching for the man along with the crew of fishing vessels Clipper Epic, Frontier Spirit and Frontier Mariner. The man was initially reported missing to the Coast Guard by the master of the 162-foot fishing vessel Clipper Epic at about 12:40 p.m., approximately 60 miles north of St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea. >click to read<09:23

Prince William Sound fishermen test oil spill response skills near Whittier

At first glance, it appeared to be a carefully orchestrated aquatic slow dance, set to the tune of barking sea lions. About 20 small commercial fishing vessels were joined Tuesday by large barges and state-of-the-art tugboats to test new oil spill response equipment on Prince William Sound. Smaller craft towed “current buster” oil booms in tandem with larger fishing boats deploying skimmers that would collect oil from the boom for transfer to a barge tank. It was one in a series of training exercises by Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.’s Fishing Vessel Response Program, which has an annual budget of $8 million. “Without these fishing vessels you don’t have a response plan,” said Jeremy Robida, the spill prevention and response manager for the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council. >click to read<15:30

Bering Sea Battle breaks out over growth of ‘Super 8s’ in state cod fishery

The success of the state waters Dutch Harbor Pacific cod fishery in the Bering Sea is scaring both the industrial trawl and longline fleets, and even a local Unalaska fisherman who says a new breed of small boats known as Super 8s are catching way too many fish. In 2014, the new fishery opened with 3 percent of the total Bering Sea cod quota, and two years later it more than doubled to 6.4 percent, by votes of the Alaska Board of Fisheries to promote small boat fisheries. And it may get a lot bigger, as the board will soon hear proposals for growing the fishery to 8, 10 or as much as 20 percent of all the cod available to fishermen in the Bering Sea. >click to read<11:28

Bristol Bay salmon pay day is biggest on record on largest sockeye run since 1893

It’s a record breaking pay day for salmon fishermen at Bristol Bay, topping $280 million at the docks. That’s 242 percent above the 20 year average – and the number will go higher when bonuses and post season adjustments are added in. Bay fishermen averaged just under $215 million at the docks last year. According to a summary by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, the 2018 sockeye salmon run Bristol Bay of 62.3 million fish was the biggest since 1893, and nearly 70 percent above the 20 year average. It also was the fourth consecutive year that sockeye runs topped 50 million fish. Audio report, >click to read<16:30

Fish out of water: A fishermen’s-eye view of the commercial fishing industry

We’ve all heard the complaints about commercial fishing: It’s unsustainable, its practices are cruel, and it’s ecologically damaging. Online, we can see horrible images of shark finning or clubbing seals or slaughtering whales. It’s easy to believe that commercial fishing is bad. But is it?,,, That’s a lot of eyes scrutinizing fishermen’s every move, and every commercial fisherman has to operate knowing their every practice will be examined. Over the years, formerly common fishing practices have been banned, fishing grounds have gained protected status, and increased regulations have made commercial fishing more difficult and less viable. Most of us will never know the day-to-day grind of the industry, but one local fishing team offered their point of view of the job they love. >click to read<08:55

Pacific Salmon Treaty – Alaska salmon negotiators accept fewer ‘treaty fish’

For more than 30 years, the Pacific Salmon Commission has allocated salmon stocks shared between the U.S. and Canada. It’s re-negotiated every 10 years, and the latest version expires at the end of 2018. Formal talks finished in mid-August. Now, the numbers are out: Alaska will accept a 7.5 percent reduction, compared to 12.5 percent for Canada. In Washington and Oregon, the cuts range from 5 to 15 percent. “There’s some that would consider it to be winners and losers and I think in this case, I think everybody was equally disappointed,” said Alaska Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Charlie Swanton, who headed Alaska’s delegation. >click to read<08:55

Alaska For Real: That shipwreck guy

If you live out in the wilderness in Southeast Alaska you will continually come across evidence of shipwrecks, new and old. My go-to place for hunting down the background details of a wreck is the website www.alaskashipwreck.com researched and written by Captain Warren Good. Having always been fascinated by shipwrecks myself, I asked him what got him interested in the subject and he responded: “During the 1970s, I worked as a seasonal deckhand, mostly fishing King Crab and Tanner Crab in the winter. I had off time between the two fisheries and spent it either in the library attempting to ‘self educate’ or out in the wilderness beach combing, prospecting and treasure hunting. Seasons passed and the number of friends I lost to the high seas kept getting larger.” >click to read<20:10

Biologists, fishermen puzzle over late Kenai sockeye run

First they were underweight, with underwhelming numbers. Then they weren’t there at all. Then they were coming in late, showing up as Upper Cook Inlet fishermen were packing up their gear for the season. The unpredictable and significantly smaller Kenai River sockeye run frustrated a lot of fishermen this year. As of the last day of sonar counts on Aug. 28, about 1.03 million sockeye had entered the river. More than half of them arrived after Aug. 1, leading to a stop-and-start fishery that included significant time and area cuts for commercial fishermen in Cook Inlet and a complete sockeye salmon sport angling closure on the Kenai River from Aug. 4–23. >click to read<16:12

House Bill 56: Cap raised to $400,000 on Alaska Commercial Fishing Loan Fund

New legislation boosts to $400,000 the cap on money that may be borrowed through the Alaska Commercial Fishing Loan Fund to purchase limited entry permits, individual fishing quotas and gear. House Bill 56, sponsored by Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan, was signed into law on Aug. 31 by Alaska Gov. Bill Walker in a ceremony at Fisherman’s Hall in Kodiak. Ortiz said the bill addresses the problem of too many Alaskans are priced out of commercial fishing because they can’t afford a permit, quota or gear. >click to read<13:31

Alaska wary of federal push for marine aquaculture. Everyone should be.

During a recent stop in Juneau, NOAA Fisheries chief Chris Oliver said that wild seafood harvests alone can’t keep up with rising global demand. But there’s another way. “Aquaculture is going to be where the major increases in seafood production occur whether it happens in foreign countries or in United States waters,” Oliver told a room of fishermen, seafood marketing executives and marine scientists.,,, There’s a bill pending in the U.S. Senate that could decide how federal aquaculture is regulated. It’s being backed by an industry group called Stronger America Through Seafood. >click to read<20:58

After spending days aground in Sitka, a sea lion returns to the water – with help from humans

An improvised rescue mission involving a front-end loader and tranquilizer darts returned a desperate and dehydrated sea lion that spent four days meandering around Sitka to the ocean Monday. “It’s a good outcome,” said Julie Speegle of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. “He was last seen catching a fish.” First seen humping down a road near Sitka’s hospital early Friday morning, the Steller sea lion had spent most of the past two days hiding in the woods. Scientists tried to encourage him to travel the quarter-mile to the ocean on his own, but those attempts failed. 12 photos >click to read<17:36

Hatchery chum catch sets new Southeast record

Nine-hundred thousand chum salmon – that was the catch by the purse seine fleet at Crawfish Inlet south of Sitka on Thursday. It looks to be a new record chum catch for a one-day opening in Southeast Alaska. Crawfish Inlet is a new remote release site for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, or NSRAA. It’s about 40 miles south of Sitka. This is the second year of fish returning to that location. NSRAA general manager Steve Reifenstuhl said Thursday’s catch is bigger than any one-day catch on record for the private non-profit’s hatchery at Hidden Falls on the opposite side of Baranof Island. >click to read<09:33

Alaskans worried by prospect of deep-sea fish farms

In a Centennial Hall listening session, Alaskans raised concerns about federal plans to boost open-ocean fish farms under a new strategic plan for the U.S. Department of Commerce. On Friday afternoon, Tim Gallaudet, acting undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, hosted a listening session at the end of a weeklong gathering of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration experts in Juneau. NOAA is an agency of the Department of Commerce, and Gallaudet is among the figures hosting meetings across the country as part of the process that creates the strategic plan.,, Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries and former director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, said concerns about aquaculture are somewhat misplaced. >click to read<09:00

Salvage team refloating F/V Pacific Knight

The 58-foot vessel, which was operating as a tender near Clark’s Point, sank July 25. After more than a month at the bottom of the Nushagak Bay, a salvage team is lifting the ship and will tow it to Dutch Harbor. “The past few days we’ve been passing chains underneath the vessel and connecting them to our crane barge,” explained Todd Duke (Resolve Marine). “We’ve turned it, and we’ve picked the vessel so it’s sitting somewhat upright now. We’ve been using a tool we call an airlift to remove sand and silt from around the vessel so that we can get the chains underneath, and we’ll continue doing some airlift and more chain connections to go ahead and lift this thing completely out of the water.” >click to read<21:25

Southeast pink salmon catch lowest in over four decades

Southeast Alaska’s commercial pink salmon catch will wind up way below forecasts, the lowest harvest in more than four decades. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s pink and chum salmon project leader for Southeast Andy Piston said the region’s commercial catch this summer is 7.3 million fish. “And that would be the lowest region-wide harvest since 1976,” Piston said. “And our Southeast purse seine catch, and that’s the gear group that catches most of our pink salmon, is about 6.5 million which again is the lowest we’ve seen since the mid-1970s.” It’s not the lowest catch ever. >click to read<14:57

Fewer Pollock, cod found in southern Bering Sea survey

Formal results of this year’s NOAA trawl survey of the southern Bering Sea won’t be announced until mid-September, but preliminary data shows a decided warming trend and the presence of fewer Alaska Pollock and Pacific cod than anticipated. “It appears that conditions are such now that we are moving into a warming phase and there is not clear evidence that we will move back into a cold phase,” said Lyle Britt, a research fisheries biologist with NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle who participated in this year’s survey. >click to read<15:41

Alaska’s 2018 commercial salmon harvest 30 percent below forecast, yet some fisheries have boomed

The statewide commercial salmon harvest is about 31 percent below the preseason forecast, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in a statement Thursday. The 2018 season, it said, “has been unusual.” Preliminary numbers show a statewide commercial salmon harvest of about 103 million fish so far. That’s subject to change, because the fishing season isn’t completely over yet. Fish and Game’s forecast in March projected a total statewide harvest of 147 million fish. >click to read<08:03

Gov. Walker declares economic disaster for Chignik fisheries

Citing a preliminary harvest count of 128 sockeye salmon and rapidly declining escapement counts, Gov. Walker declared an economic disaster for the Chignik fisheries region Thursday. According to a Thursday release, the governor’s decision is a result of harvest numbers that pose a threat to communities in the region that rely on subsistence and commercial salmon fishing, including Chignik, Chignik Lake, Chignik Lagoon, Ivanof Bay and Perryville. >click to read<10:06

Senate MSA reauthorization a step back for fishing communities

In July, the House passed H.R. 200 the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” a much needed update of federal fisheries law that allows for both sustainable fisheries management and the long-term preservation of our nation’s fishing communities. Unfortunately, its counterpart bill making its way through the Senate would likely have the opposite effect. The Senate bill, S.1520, or the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018,” introduces changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)—the main law governing U.S. fisheries—that would impose increasingly burdensome regulations on American fishermen and undermine H.R. 200’s goal of increasing flexibility in fisheries management. >click to read<17:51

Alaska Natives believed whale hunt was legal, Enviro group critisizes NOAA

Indigenous hunters in Alaska initially believed they were legally hunting a beluga whale when they unlawfully killed a protected grey whale with harpoons and guns after the massive animal strayed into a river last year, a federal investigative report said. ,, “The hunters also believed that if they were the first ones to shoot or harpoon the whale, the kill would be theirs,” it states. “This comes with a large amount of community pride.”,, The hunt underscores the tension between animal rights activists who want to safeguard at-risk species and indigenous residents who depend on subsistence fishing and hunting as part of their ancient culture and traditions. The Washington, D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute criticized NOAA for not pushing for charges over a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. >click to read<17:02

Small processors carve out a market in Bristol Bay

Standing in a shipping container that’s been converted into essentially a salmon butchery. Sandy Alvarez is filleting a sockeye. People regularly admire her technique but she said the secret behind it is practice. “Well you know people who comment they wish they could do that I usually laughingly tell them. ‘Try doing 1,500 fish for 10 years you probably can!’” Almost a decade ago Alvarez and her husband, a commercial fisherman, set up a little processing plant near their summer home in Naknek. Alvarez’s husband fishes for sockeye and drops off a bit of his catch to his wife who then processes it. Then he sells the rest of his salmon to a larger seafood company. That is pretty typical for small seafood processors in the region. >click to read<22:20