Category Archives: Pacific

Second delay idles Newport crab fleet

The commercial Dungeness crab season has been pushed back — again — this time to at least Dec. 31 as fishery managers wait for pockets of light crab to come up to par. While some crab need more time to reach the meat content target of 25 percent, the wait has disappointed Newport fishermen who question extending delay when so much of the product is ready to be brought to the docks. Crab from Coos Bay north appear ready for harvest. Tests conducted Dec. 6-9 showed Newport crab at 26 percent meat content,,, Newport fisherman Corey Rock called the delay another example of a limited number of fishermen dictating the terms of the season to the larger fleet. >click to read<09:17

Letter: Celebrate efforts to make commercial fishing safer

I appreciated seeing Colin Murphey’s photography feature showing our local commercial fishing crews engaged in safety training on Nov. 30 (“Fishing — the Most Dangerous Game,” The Daily Astorian) >click to read<. However, the headline struck me as somewhat inappropriate for the content. The Coast Guard holds a drill conductor training here in Astoria three to four times a year, and Oregon Sea Grant helps get fishermen signed up. Amanda Gladics >click to read<08:49

Rockfish make a remarkable recovery off California coast, prompting federal officials to raise catch limits

Locally caught red snapper was once a staple on Southern California menus and a vital part of the state’s fishing industry. But overfishing took its toll, resulting in federal restrictions nearly two decades ago to prevent their extinction. But with stocks rebuilding faster than anticipated, federal officials on Tuesday boosted catch limits by more than 100% for some species of rockfish in a move they said would help revive West Coast bottom trawlers and sportfishing fleets. >click to read<13:15

Why Does Halibut Cost So Much?

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

Fishermen unite to sue big oil

Almost a month has gone by since fishermen in California and Oregon filed suit against big oil in California’s Superior Court, demanding compensation for damages done to the fishing industry. The lawsuit is colloquially being called the crabbers’ suit because many of the members making up the plaintiff, The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, rely on crabbing for their livelihoods. The federation is suing the fossil fuel industry, including major companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell Oil, under the claim that it has known about the dangers of fossil fuels and climate change for decades but has deliberately hidden information from the public as well as spread misinformation campaigns. >click to read>12:35

Senate Bill 3119 – Senate passes bill making it easier to kill sea lions

A bill that would make it easier to kill sea lions that feast on imperiled salmon in the Columbia River has cleared the U.S. Senate. State wildlife managers say rebounding numbers of sea lions are eating more salmon than ever and their appetites are undermining billions of dollars of investments to restore endangered fish runs. Senate Bill 3119, which passed Thursday by unanimous consent, would streamline the process for Washington, Idaho, Oregon and several Pacific Northwest Native American tribes to capture and euthanize potentially hundreds of sea lions found in the river east of Portland, Oregon. >click to read<09:17

Crab season delayed again in Oregon – Crabbers on hold until at least Dec. 31

Oregon’s Dungeness crab fishery will not open until at least Dec. 31 after testing by state fishery managers revealed crabs are still too low in meat yield in some areas of the coast. The valuable commercial fishery traditionally opens on Dec. 1. In November, fishery managers announced the season would be delayed until mid-December because crabs were not plump enough. The most recent delay is not a big surprise, said Tim Novotny, the spokesman for the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, which advocates for the industry. “It was completely justified,” said John Corbin, a commercial fishermen in Clatsop County and chairman of the crab commission. >click to read<19:38

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

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

Survey again shows drop in halibut stocks in Gulf of Alaska

The 2018 stock status report presented to the International Pacific Halibut Commission at its interim meeting on Nov. 27 shows yet another drop in the biomass of Pacific halibut in the North Pacific — about 7 percent down from the 2017 fishery-independent setline survey. That doesn’t mean every single region dropped, as it’s an average, but Alaska’s three main areas of effort — 2C, the entirety of Region 3, and Region 4 excluding the western Aleutian Islands — all dropped. The most significant drop was in Area 2, which stretches from northern California to Southeast, falling 15 percent. Region 3, which stretches across the Gulf of Alaska out to the Alaska Peninsula, fell 7 percent. >click to read<20:19

A Fundraiser for Injured Crab Fisherman Sean Harvell’s Recovery Fund

On November 26th 2018 while working on a commercial fishing boat, Sean suffered a blow to the head by a crab pot (large crabbing cage). He was rendered unconscious and suffered seizures while en route to the coast guard and then the hospital. He immediately underwent emergency brain surgery to remove pieces of his skull from his brain. Fortunately his surgery went well and he is on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, he has been left with a hole in his skull, needs more surgery ,, Sean had been working on a commercial fishing boat to support his fiancé and two young children. Due to doctors restrictions, he can not travel home before the second surgery. They need some help, >click to read, and please donate if you can.<20:10

Crab fishermen and environmentalists square off over whale entanglements

The issue has pitted two local interest groups against each other: Those who depend on the $68 million California Dungeness crab fishery for their livelihood, and those who advocate shutting down areas to crabbing to protect humpback whales and other endangered species. Caught in between are everyday shoppers who love having Dungeness crab on their tables, but probably wouldn’t want marine mammals hurt in the process. “I’m frankly very scared of what the upcoming season could mean for whales,” said Kristen Monsell, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, an Oakland environmental group that sued the state over the issue last year. The case is due to go before a judge in February. >click to read<13:23

Don Mathews – Reflections of a life on the water

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

Get fresh herring and help kids battling cancer this Saturday

Come get your fresh herring! For the 8th year in a row the Finest at Sea and ‘Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer’ are hosting a fundraiser for kids battling cancer. But this isn’t just any fundraiser, it’s a fresh herring sale, and it’s put together purely by the passion of volunteers who know that 100% of the proceeds go directly to kids with cancer. Last year’s sale raised $106,598! The annual fundraiser was inspired by the 17-year-old daughter of a commercial BC fisherman who was battling cancer. >click to read, buy some herring!<07:36

McGuire tackles crabbing, whale entanglement issues at committee hearing

“Domoic acid levels in the Pacific this year have been trending upwards, especially in Northern California,” McGuire said at the start of the hearing, held at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. “Humboldt, Del Norte and southern Oregon have appeared as hot spots along the West Coast.” And while the 2015 crabbing season and spike in entanglements was one of the more talked-about issues during the hearing, McGuire added, “We do not expect another statewide closure like we saw in 2015.” This year alone, there have been 27 confirmed whale entanglements. That’s down from the 71 reported in 2016, but it is still more than double the state average.>click to read<10:31

California seeks plan to protect whales and Dungeness crab fishery

Whales are a big deal, literally, as the most majestic, largest animals swimming off our shore. What the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has done in the past several years with our partners to prevent whale entanglements in fishing gear is a big deal, too.,, That is why our department is taking actions to protect the whales and our prized crab fishery. The department is working to create a conservation plan that will analyze the effects of crab fishing on whales, identify steps to minimize the risk of whale entanglements in the crab fishing gear, secure funding to implement the plan, and submit it to the federal government for needed approval. >click to read<12:14

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

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

Salmon surge: Habitat improvements paying off on one California river

Near record numbers of chinook salmon are surging up the Mokelumne River, marking the second large spawning year in a row and signaling to fisheries biologists that habitat improvements in recent years are paying off for fish and the people who eat the pinkish delicacies.,,,It is expected to be the best two-year run on the river since records started being kept in 1940, a significant accomplishment given how dismal salmon returns have been over the past three years in virtually every other waterway in California, including the Sacramento River, which last year saw its lowest returns in eight years. >click to read<08:58

Solution to deal with B.C.’s sea lion surplus? Harvest them, group suggests

Sea lion populations have been on the rise for years and wreaking havoc on commercial fishermen’s catches and equipment, according to the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society. Adult male California sea lions can grow to as big as 800 pounds and consume massive quantities of fish as they grow. “Out in the waters and in our rivers, the pinniped populations have just exploded and we know they’re targeting mainly salmon, steelhead, trout and other fin fish species,” said Thomas Sewid. He believes seals and sea lions are over-abundant in B.C. waters and is spearheading a solution to deal with them. “Not just the natives want to start harvesting pinnipeds,” said Sewid. “This is an industry that can explode throughout coastal British Columbia.” >click to read<21:08

Nonprofit would bring sea otters back to Oregon. Commercial fishing industry isn’t so sure

“For about 110 years now, there’s been a big hole in our environment,” said Peter Hatch, a Siletz tribal member living in Corvallis.,, Hatch recently joined the board of a new nonprofit dedicated to bringing the sea otter back to Oregon waters. The group is named the Elakha Alliance,,, But excitement is not the unanimous response. “The notion of full-scale reintroduction of otters makes me feel very apprehensive because we don’t know how that will affect commercial fisheries,” said Newport crabber Bob Eder. Eder’s concerned that reintroduction could change his industry. >click to read<20:33

McGuire to Host Hearing on Whale Protection Efforts and State of Latest Crab Season

Senator Mike McGuire, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (JCFA), and Assemblymember Mark Stone, Vice Chairman, are hosting a comprehensive hearing next week at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. They will kick off the hearing with a State of the State of the California Dungeness Crab Season,,, Then they will transition into the robust efforts the State, Crab Fleet and numerous environmental organizations have been laser focused on: Protecting the Golden State’s majestic whales from entanglement. >click to read<20:30

Commercial Dungeness crab season delayed in Northern California

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a memo Tuesday delaying the Northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality test results. The delay includes Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The northern Dungeness crab fishery is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Dec.16, pending another round of test results tentatively scheduled for Dec. 1. If these results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13. >click to read<12:13

Final harvest numbers in hand, halibut commission set for meeting

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

Washington state asks lawmakers for $90 million to improve habitat for orcas, salmon

If approved, a $90 million budget request to the state legislature could aggressively tackle what’s needed to help Puget Sound’s southern resident orcas survive. A request on Monday by Hilary Franz, the state’s Commissioner of Public Lands, would increases the money already being spent on restoring habitats for salmon, removing barriers that inhibit the fish from reaching their spawning ground, researching ocean acidification, and removing rundown vessels on waterways, according to an emailed statement from the state’s Department of Natural Resources. >click to read<

New regulations for commercial Dungeness crab fishery now in effect

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife enacted new regulations to reduce the risk of marine life entanglements in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear. These regulations became effective on Oct. 30, 2018, and will be in place for the upcoming 2018-19 commercial Dungeness crab season. The new regulations allow no more than two trailer buoys to be used at the surface and establish a maximum distance between the front end of the main buoy to the tail end of the last trailer buoy depending on the depth that a trap is deployed. >click to read<11:34

Orca task force gives recommendations to Gov. Inslee

The state’s Southern Resident orca task force on Friday released its final recommendations for protecting and restoring the region’s endangered whales. The task force submitted the recommendations in a report to Gov. Jay Inslee, who formed the 40-member committee by executive order earlier this year. The report focuses on 36 recommendations to help prevent the orcas from going extinct, according to a news release from the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency that is coordinating the task force. >click to read<

Oregon Crabber: ‘We’ll wait for a better price instead of going out fishing for less of a price’

Local crabbers are once again bracing for a problem they know all too well. The start of the commercial Dungeness crab season is being delayed until December 16 – at the earliest.,, Jeff Sober, a crabber of almost 40 years, said it happens frequently. He is always ready by December – but saves money just case. “We’re just going to be delayed. The season will happen eventually,” he said. “We do have a Christmas market. If we miss out on that, we’ll probably miss out on some money.” >click to read<19:38

Two tough years for tuna Pacific Northwest fishermen

One skipper said it was his worst season in 15 years of fishing. Another classified it a “weird” year with scattered schools and undersized fish. For a second straight year, the news hasn’t been good for Oregon and Washington commercial tuna fisherman. According to official figures from the Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PFIN), commercial landings are down from the previous year, dropping significantly from the 10-year average in both states. August has historically accounted for a majority of the tuna caught in a given season, but this year substantial schools arrived later than anticipated, after a majority of commercial fishermen left or turned their attention to other fisheries. >click to read<08:45

Fishermen head out on opening day of 2018 commercial Dungeness crab season

After several frustrating years of on-again-off-again crab catching operations along the California coast, fisherman were optimistic about hauling in a good catch as the 2018 commercial Dungeness crab season opened Thursday. It was three years ago that the highly anticipated season had to be delayed until March after state fishery officials detected toxic levels of domoic acid in crabs. In addition, fishermen have had to contend with scattered delays and lousy weather. >click to read<

NMFS approves plan for state officials to kill sea lions at Willamette Falls

Protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the state needed federal approval to take lethal action against the pinnipeds, which have been observed gorging themselves on endangered fish at the foot of the iconic waterfall. “This is good news for the native runs of salmon and steelhead in the Willamette River,” said Shaun Clements, a policy analyst for the state on the sea lion issue. “Before this decision, the state’s hands were tied as far as limiting sea lion predation on the Willamette River.” >click to read<22:52

Reeling for Weather

Dave Bitts has been trolling the Pacific waters off the North Coast for decades. “I almost have been making a living out of it for 40 years,” said Bitts. The hum of Elmarue, his 45-foot fishing boat, is often dwarfed by the sounds of his chuckles and his enthusiasm for reeling in the catch of the day. Although semi-retired, Bitts finds any excuse he can to take his boat out on the water.,, Just a few minutes into the trip, Bitts airs his concerns about what he is not seeing. “We should be having big southerlies, big seas, and lots of rain this month. And it’s not happening,” said Bitts. >click to read<13:32