Category Archives: Pacific

Remembering the World’s Most Famous Sea Captain

Phil Harris died on Feb. 9, 2010 — but his spirit lives on. Fans and friends from around the world mourned the loss of their favorite TV sea captain when he died seven years ago today, on Feb. 9, 2010. Without him, “Deadliest Catch” may not have caught on with millions of TV viewers around the globe. None of us can order Alaskan king crab without thinking of him and the men he worked with, and the near-death experiences they endure doing their jobs. No screenwriter could have come up with a character Captain Phil, and no Hollywood set can match the setting the film crews captured in the long-running hit TV series. Without Captain Phil, though, none of it would have been possible. “Deadliest Catch,” which debuted in 2005 on the Discovery Channel, helped change the direction of reality TV. Continue reading the story here 17:31

The perils of approving a marine sanctuary

The word sanctuary has a nice sound. A holy place or natural retreat for animals. Add marine. Marine sanctuary. A safe place for Dory. Add Native Americans. It’s a trifecta: Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Sounds so beautiful. Or is it? Our San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has had two hearings on this subject in recent weeks. Other cities and agencies have also been hearing this proposal. But, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against the establishment of a sanctuary off our coast. How can this be? Proponents for the sanctuary delivered 12,000 signatures on petitions to demonstrate local support. On the other side, the opponents appeared to have fewer than 400 supporters. On one hand, thousands of local citizen have faced off against the small business community as represented by commercial fishermen, ranchers, farmers and the Chamber of Commerce. An analogy may be that this is a case of popular vote versus the Electoral College as we saw in the recent presidential election. Another wrinkle is the name of the sanctuary. Although “Chumash” is used in the title, the only state and federally recognized Chumash Tribe, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has not endorsed the sanctuary bearing their name. Another state recognized tribe, The Salinan Tribe, has not endorsed the sanctuary either. What’s going on? Great read! Read the story here 08:56

North Pacific Fishery Management Council gets review of Bering Sea pollock program

After two years of almost ceaseless contention, the North Pacific regulatory waters have cooled down for now. The Council oversees all federal fisheries between three and 200 miles off the Alaska coast. One of eight regions, the North Pacific fishery is by far the country’s most profitable, having produced two-thirds of the country’s total seafood value in 2015. Over the last two years, the council has been in battle mode over chinook salmon and halibut bycatch, and Gulf of Alaska groundfish catch shares. There have been parades of protest and industry stand-downs and rural Alaska villages emptied to give impassioned pleas alongside Seattle fishing crews and captains. At the council’s Seattle meeting Feb. 1-6, the council rested for the most part, taking scant public comment and few final actions. Rather, it focused on some of the structures behind the chaos, reviewing catch share programs and looking for areas to tune up following two years of pushing the gas. After indefinitely tabling a Gulf of Alaska catch share system four years in the works at its meeting this past December, the council reviewed the schematics behind the Bering Sea pollock fishery, Alaska’s largest fishery by volume. Read the rest of the article here 20:36

North Pacific council director a possibility for Assistant Administrator position at NMFS replacing Eileen Sobeck

Chris Oliver, the executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for the past 16 years, didn’t ask for a consideration as the new assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service; rather, the most powerful fishing industry voices in the nation’s most profitable region asked. He doesn’t know if the new administration will offer it or if he’d want it if it did. Still, looking at his history, knowledge and reputation, he seems in many ways a natural fit. Oliver said when it became known that the current administrator, Eileen Sobeck, won’t be staying with the new administration, parts of the fishing universe aligned. In the North Pacific and elsewhere, catch share systems are a contentious issue; Oliver said in an interview he’s already had fisheries stakeholders from other regions probing for what his intent would be with their respective fisheries. Oliver’s answer sums up both his attitude and in part that of the new administration. “It’s not my call,” he said. “What makes sense in the North Pacific…may not make sense in New England, or in the Gulf of Mexico. Read the story here 10:47

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

Crabbing: an inherently dangerous job

Some may wonder if the 2017 Dungeness crab season was ill-fated: First delayed by weeks to make certain crab were free of domoic acid toxin, delayed again after processors proposed lowering the price paid to crabbers, and then it started with a capsizing near the mouth of the Columbia River that could have cost five lives except for quick intervention by another crabbing boat. Today’s crabbers and fishermen have to be smart and rational to survive — literally and economically. Delays in the season also often have strategic components involving jockeying over price, and competition over crabbing grounds. Sometimes crabbers wait to allow an early-season storm to pass. Read the op-ed here 18:59

Bay-Delta Water Case Against EPA Advances

A federal judge refused  Tuesday to dismiss allegations that the Environmental Protection Agency shirked its duty to review temporary changes California made to its water-quality standards during the drought, an action that environmentalists say shrank the state’s salmon and steelhead fish populations. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar denied a motion by the EPA to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Bay Institute and Defenders of Wildlife. Tigar said their claims are not moot and that they plausibly alleged that the EPA was required under the Clean Water Act to review the changes to more than two dozen water quality standards to protect fish and wildlife in the Bay-Delta Estuary. Read the story here 13:42

SLO County supervisors vote 3-2 to oppose Chumash National Heritage Marine Sanctuary

After hours of public comment and discussion, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 passing a resolution to oppose the proposed Chumash National Heritage Marine Sanctuary. Prior to the 9:00 a.m. meeting, protestors rallied in front of the County Government Center in downtown San Luis Obispo, holding signs in support of the sanctuary,,, Opponents of the sanctuary argue it’s unnecessary.  “The marine sanctuary is an overreaching regulatory issue and we don’t need it here on the Central Coast,” said Amber Johnson, a local political consultant. Others who also opposed the sanctuary said it would hurt the small commercial fishing industry and that there doesn’t need to be another layer of government. Chris Voss, a commercial fisherman from Santa Barbara, said he’s experienced the negative side of coastal sanctuaries.  “Their declaration that they will not interfere with local fisheries has not been the case,” Voss said. Read the story here 09:00

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

Why doesn’t Supervisor Compton support Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary? It IS Federally Funded, you know!

Opinion by Brad Snook, co-chair of Surfrider Foundation – San Luis Obispo Supervisor Lynn Compton, a SLO County Supervisor, is wrong to deny SLO County the federal funding of cultural education, marine research, and a new local stakeholder effort that a Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary could bring. It’s Federal funding! Why wouldn’t a coastal supervisor, like Lynn Compton, support the Sanctuary, too? Supervisor Compton says she is concerned about “local control”. Supervisor Compton’s district, which is the coastal section of southern SLO County, is pivotal in decisions on whether SLO County will choose to protect the quality of its air, water, and county land. Read the rest here 08:20

Coast Guard rescues 3 fishermen at mouth of Columbia River when vessel began taking on water

The Coast Guard rescued three commercial fishermen after their vessel began taking on water at the mouth of the Columbia River early Sunday morning. Coast Guard boat crews aboard 47-foot motor life boats, from Station Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco, Washington, assisted in dewatering the vessel and safely towing it into Skipanon Marina. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector Columbia River received the mayday call from the captain of the fishing vessel Coastal Reign at 3:20 a.m., reporting they were taking on water from an unknown location after striking a submerged object. An aircrew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was immediately launched as were the MLBs. The aircrew arrived on scene first at 3:38 a.m. and the boat crews arrived shortly afterward. The crew aboard one of the MLBs passed a P-6 dewatering pump to the Coastal Reign and then put a crewmember aboard the vessel to help set it up. After dewatering the vessel, an MLB crew towed it to safety mooring it at 4:40 a.m. The sea conditions at the time of the rescue were 6-foot swells and the winds were about 15 mph from the west. A Captain of the Port order was placed on the Coastal Reign to ensure the damaged vessel is repaired properly and passes an inspection by a Coast Guard marine inspector before operating again. Listen to the May Day call  link 12:25

Domoic Acid raises its ugly head again…crab fishing closure

Commercial crabbing closed from Coos Bay north jetty to Heceta Head due to domoic acid The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce the closure of the commercial crab fishery from the north jetty of Coos Bay to Heceta Head, just south of Yachats, due to elevated levels of domoic acid in crab viscera. The area is also closed to recreational harvest. Crab meat remains safe for consumption. Domoic acid levels are elevated only in crab viscera, or the guts, of crab sampled and tested from this area of the Oregon coast. The closure is limited to that portion of the central coast. Areas south of Coos Bay and north of Heceta Head remain open to commercial crabbing. Read the story here 07:38

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

2 Plead Guilty to Sinking 54-Foot Fishing Boat to Collect Insurance

Two men pleaded guilty in San Diego Wednesday to conspiring to destroy their own vessel, a 57-foot boat used for charter sport-fishing trips, in order to fraudulently collect an insurance payout. Christopher Switzer, 39, and Mark Gillette, 37, each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when they are sentenced March 6 in U.S. District Court. They are required to reimburse the U.S. Coast Guard more than $15,000 for the price of launching a rescue helicopter and other costs. Last Oct. 11, the defendants headed out to sea on their boat, the Commander, from its homeport in Mission Bay and went toward Long Beach. Switzer and Gillette had planned to intentionally sink the Commander and submit a claim to their insurance company, according to Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari D. Fitzwater. The defendants admitted they attempted to sink their boat by destroying plastic PVC piping in the engine room, which caused sea water to flood into the vessel. They also pumped sea water onto the vessel and punctured its bulkhead to let sea water spread faster throughout the boat. Read the full story here 20:08

Fishermen’s Benefit Fund holds crab feed fundraiser – Proceeds help fishermen and their families

The 29th annual Deep Sea Fishermen’s Benefit Fund Crab Feed is being held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Warrenton Community Center, 170 S.W. Third St. Fresh Dungeness crab, cole slaw, garlic bread, drink, dessert, and all the trimmings are being served. The cost is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and those younger than 12, or $10 for a half crab dinner. This event is sponsored by the Deep Sea Fishermen’s Benefit Fund, a nonprofit which maintains an emergency fund to help fishermen and their families. Link 14:53

Washington Rep. Liz Pike Slams Oregon Gov. Kate Brown – Oregon’s decision compromises salmon and integrity

I applaud our own Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for its 7-2 vote on Jan. 14 to reach a compromise that has our state moving in the right direction for conservation of endangered salmon and steelhead. This recent decision removes all commercial gill nets from the lower Columbia River during the spring and summer runs and allows commercial nets in the fall in selected areas — but only through 2019 with the commitment to remove all gill nets completely after that time. This two-year extension of fall gill netting is a compromise to the original plan in favor of the gillnetters, to allow more time to develop selective commercial fishing methods and help the commercial fishery achieve financial goals. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced to the entire Pacific Northwest that her environmental conscience is for sale to the highest bidder when she recently appointed former gill net industry lobbyist Bruce Buckmaster to Oregon’s commission. His deciding vote is a slap in the face to tens of thousands of recreational anglers in Oregon and Washington who agreed to pay a new salmon endorsement tax each season over the past three years in order to fund the promised Columbia River reforms agreed to in 2012. Read the op-ed here 12:21

Lift cable snaps, boat slips at Port Townsend marina

A cable snapped on a Port of Port Townsend boat lift while it was lowering a boat into the Boat Haven Marina, causing minor property damage and a small fuel spill in the marina.The cable broke just after 9 a.m. Monday morning. The Port of Port Townsend’s smaller boat lift was being used to lower a 56-foot fishing vessel, Bernice, back into the marina waters, according to Rodger Slade of Towboat U.S., formerly Vessel Assist of Port Hadlock. “It didn’t drop the boat but it was kind of at an awkward angle,” said Abigail Berg, the port’s finance director, speaking on behalf of Greg Englin, port operations manager. Read the story here 16:11

Ventura FD put out Series of Arson Fires – Commercial fishing vessel a total loss

On January 31st at 1:46 AM,  Ventura City firefighters responded to a report of a boat fire in the Ventura Harbor. Upon arrival responding crews found a 50 foot commercial fishing boat 6 feet off the ground in dry-dock fully involved in. Fire suppression efforts initially concentrated on protecting an adjacent building and boat from the flames.  Firefighters were able to suppress the bulk of the flames on the burning boat within 20 minutes of arrival. The boat, however, was a complete loss. Three additional small fires were discovered in the same boat yard at varying intervals throughout the firefighting operations: A fire involving a propane tank of a fork lift, a debris fire in a workshop area and a smoldering rag on the stern of another boat in dry-dock. Read the story here 15:32

Man charged with punching police canine during suspect pursuit

A 54-year-old Coos Bay man, one of three arrested on Friday afternoon after police responded to a report of criminal trespass in progress, is accused of punching a police canine as the animal was assisting in his apprehension. Deputies from the Coos County Sheriff’s Office arrived at an address on Gurney Drive, near North Bend, at 12:32 p.m. on Friday, and upon arrival learned of “an ongoing property line dispute.” One deputy saw a man, later identified as Steven R. O’Daniels, 38, of North Bend walk away from the deputy and into a shop-style building on the property. O’Daniels’ wife remained with the deputy “to explain her side of the story.” When a records check revealed O’Daniels had two outstanding warrants in Clatsop County for failure to appear on commercial fishing crimes, the deputy approached the shop and called out for O’Daniels to tell him he is under arrest. Deputies located O’Daniels near Waymire Lane with assistance from Odin and several callers. O’Daniels was arrested on two outstanding warrants and held at Coos Count jail on $1 million bail. Read the story here 08:46

Feds Facing Order to Redirect Klamath River Water for Salmon

Two Native American tribes sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last year, claiming its bungled management of Klamath River waterways allowed a deadly parasite to infect 91 percent of endangered juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon.  The Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribes say they depend on the salmon for subsistence, income and for traditional ceremonies that define their people. Lawyers for the federal government and an industry group of farmers and ranchers argue that diverting water to help salmon will harm businesses that support local jobs and communities and threaten another set of endangered fish, the shortnose sucker and Lost River sucker. In separate complaints against the federal government, the tribes say infection rates caused by the deadly parasite C. shasta, should have required the bureau to review its Klamath Irrigation Project’s impact on threatened salmon two years ago, but the bureau failed to take action in violation of the Endangered Species Act.During a hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III agreed the bureau should have reviewed the project when infection rates climbed to 81 percent in 2014 and 91 percent in 2015, well beyond the maximum 49 percent estimated in a 2013 biological opinion issued by co-defendant National Marine Fisheries Service. Read the story here 16:47

Oregon did the right thing in backing off gillnet ban on the main Columbia River. Washington state should too.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is to be commended for recognizing that a 2013 policy dictated by former Gov. John Kitzhaber to kick commercial salmon fishing off the Columbia River has failed. It isn’t just Lower Columbia River residents who think so. Bobby Levy, former commission chair, commented on Facebook, “Oregon Fish and Wildlife commissioners did the fair and right thing! I applaud you!!” Levy led the commission in 2012 and 2013 when the two fish and wildlife commissions of Oregon and Washington state headed down the path to implementing the Kitzhaber scheme. Never fully thought out, gutting a centurylong tradition of supplying local consumers with some of the salmon we support with our taxes and electric rates was largely the product of intense lobbying by one subset of recreational fishing, embodied by the Northwest Sportsfishing Industry Association. A long-successful alliance between different salmon-fishing interests was cast aside, resulting in a loss of important unified advocacy for salmon recovery in the Columbia estuary and basin. Evicting gillnetters from the main stem of the Columbia by the end of 2016 was premised on a number of assumptions, including: Read the rest of the op-ed here 08:29

Study says predators may play major role in chinook salmon declines

A new study shows that increased populations of seals and sea lions are eating far more of Puget Sound’s threatened chinook than previously known, potentially hampering recovery efforts for both salmon and endangered killer whales.  Seals and sea lions are eating about 1.4 million pounds of Puget Sound chinook each year — about nine times more than they were eating in 1970, according to the report, published online this month in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Most of these chinook are small fish migrating to the ocean, which ultimately reduces the number of adults returning to Puget Sound. The study estimates that seals and sea lions are decreasing potential returns by about 162,000 adult chinook each year. That’s twice the number eaten by killer whales and roughly six times as many as caught in Puget Sound by tribal, commercial and recreational fishers combined. Read the rest of the story here 21:16

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

Oregon details its Columbia River fee expenditures

Since 2014, Oregon has spent $2.4 million it collected from a $9.75 Columbia River Endorsement tag on largely recreational fishing enhancements and research. None went to the commercial gill-net industry. At the request of The Oregonian/OregonLive, the released a dollar-specific, detailed accounting of expenditures from the endorsement fund late Friday. Agency officials hope to have the information available soon on the department’s Web site. Also detailed is $2.5 million set aside by the Oregon Legislature — $1.5 million per biennium – for assisting a transition of commercial fishing away from mainstem gill-netting. None of that money went directly to the commercial industry either. There is an additional $500,000 biennial fund for commercial netters to invest in newer, alternative fishing equipment, but department officials said no one has yet applied for any of the accumulated $1 million. Read the story here 12:04

Shad: Following the history and biology of a East Coast transplant

Shad were one of the largest commercial fisheries in the East during the 19th century, but overharvesting and heavy pollution prior to the environmental enlightenment of the 1970s saw the population drop faster than heavy shad dart in a slow current. Commercial harvests on the East Coast declined from nearly 20 million pounds in the 1870s to less than 2 million a hundred years later. In 1871, forward-thinking individuals at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service decided to transport shad from New York’s Hudson River to the Sacramento River in California’s Central Valley. The reasoning for this move was, in part, to add commercial and sport fisheries, as well as add another plentiful food source to the quickly swelling population of a post-Gold Rush California. Read the story here 08:41

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

These California and Oregon farmers lost water in 2001. Now they want to be paid.

Northern California and Oregon farmers who lost irrigation water in 2001 for the sake of fish are plunging into a climactic courtroom battle for tens of millions of dollars in compensation. Years in the making, the trial set to start Monday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims near the White House involves a lot of money, but that’s not all. For other Westerners, too, it can have broader implications, clarifying what the government may owe for water steered away from crops toward environmental protection. “It’s a civil rights case, at bottom,” farmers’ attorney Nancie Marzulla said in an interview. “It involves the protection of private property. We all expect the government to respect private property rights.” The same court ruled in 2001, for instance, that the federal government had taken water without paying compensation to California’s Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District and others that had been deprived of water for the sake of the delta smelt and the winter-run chinook salmon. The judge later concluded the water districts were owed $13.9 million plus interest, and the case is still cited. Read the rest of the story here 15:10

Bumble Bee Pleads Guilty in Industrial Oven Death of Worker Jose Melena

Bumble Bee LLC pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the death of a Wilmington man who was cooked for two hours while trapped inside an industrial oven working at the company’s Santa Fe Springs plant. “I’ve … been a prosecutor for more than 20 years. I’ve tried more than 40 murder cases, and this is the worst circumstances of death I have ever, ever witnessed,” a deputy D.A. said. “I think any person would prefer to be, if they had to die some way … to be shot or stabbed than to be slowly cooked to death in an oven.” The pleas — which were anticipated under a $6 million settlement reached with the San Diego-based company in 2015 — stem from the Oct. 11, 2012, death of 62-year-old Jose Melena.  Melena entered a 35-foot-long cylindrical oven used to sterilize cans of tuna at the plant. Co-workers, who were unaware that he was inside the oven, loaded 12,000 pounds of canned tuna and inadvertently trapped him in the back of the oven. He was found dead after the two-hour sterilization process. After the 2015 hearing, Chun described the circumstances of Melena’s death as “about as bad as you can imagine.” Read the rest of the story here 13:31

Experts say BC salmon stocks not diminished by sea lice outbreak for now

The price of salmon has shot up more than 15 per cent over the last three months, thanks to fish stocks being hit worldwide by an outbreak of sea lice. In Norway and Scotland, two of the world’s largest suppliers of salmon, sea lice outbreaks have made prices rise by a full 50 per cent, coupled with a huge algae bloom in Chile, the world’s second biggest producer of farmed salmon, and global production is down by nine per cent. But the market for Pacific salmon is not likely to see the same price spikes, according to Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, who says that sea lice has so far been less of a scourge for Pacific Coast salmon. The tiny, naturally occurring parasite, found in both wild and farmed salmon, last proved to be a menace on the West Coast in 2015, when infestations were at their highest in five years.  Read the story here 07:49

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

Oregon lawmaker promises ‘dog fight’ over gillnets in legislature

Oregon and Washington approved different plans for managing commercial fishing on the Columbia River this month, and one elected official predicted “there will be consequences” for walking away from a two-state compromise that would’ve phased out gillnets this year. Sen. Fred Girod (R-Stayton), said he was outraged by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s vote Friday to keep allowing gillnets on the river, and he’s considering introducing either a ban on the fishing method altogether or charging a fee to commercial fisherman on the river. “We’re all trying to figure out what we can do,” Girod said. “I can guarantee there’s going to be a dog fight.” Oregon and Washington had pledged to phase-out gillnets on the main channel of the river as part of a compromise that averted a messy ballot fight in Oregon in 2012. The reforms didn’t apply to tribal fisheries. Read the story here 08:44

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

Crab Boat washes up onto beach at Port San Luis

A boat broke free of its mooring and washed up onto a beach at Port San Luis on Sunday morning. The co-owner of the boat launch facility tells KSBY the 35-foot crab boat crashed into the rocks before coming to rest on the beach. It reportedly belongs to Port San Luis Harbor Commissioner Bill Barrow who is also a commercial fisherman. About a dozen fishermen volunteered their time to help remove critical pieces of equipment off the boat. Read the full story here 17:44

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

Today’s Dungeness crab fisherman must be smart, rational to survive

Some may wonder if the 2017 Dungeness crab season is ill-fated: First delayed by weeks to make certain crab were free of domoic acid toxin, delayed again after processors proposed lowering the price paid to crabbers, and then it started with a capsizing that could have cost five lives except for quick intervention by the Ballad. Today’s crabbers and fishermen have to be smart and rational to survive — literally and economically. Crab around the mouth of the Columbia this season never exceeded safe levels of marine toxin, but the industry is united in striving to preserve the reputation of Dungeness crab as a pure, premium product. For this reason alone, it’s sensible to take every precaution. Delays in the season also often have strategic components involving jockeying over price, and competition over crabbing grounds. Sometimes crabbers wait to allow an early-season storm to pass. In this instance, the closure went longer than most anyone wanted. Read the op-ed here 10:41

On Friday, the commercial fishery won the day – Gillnetters get continued access to main Columbia channel

By a tight 4-3 vote, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission veered away from an outright ban on gillnetting in the main channel of the lower Columbia River and set the state at odds with neighboring Washington on how to manage protected salmon and steelhead. The commission heard more than six hours of staff reports and strikingly discordant testimony from commercial gillnetters and recreational anglers, who have argued for years over who gets to catch how much of seasonal salmon runs, and what methods they may use. On Friday, the commercial fishery won the day, their case made by a parade of gritty Astoria gillnetters who spoke of generational ties, community businesses and family fortunes at risk if they were no longer able to make a living. Read the story here 08:06

Oregon will defy joint fish management on the lower Columbia River

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission ripped a hole Friday in the 99-year-old fabric of concurrent fish management on the Columbia River. With a split 4-3 vote, commission members defied the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s attempt to negotiate the long-contested Columbia River Management Plan. The plan required a switch from gill-netting to selective commercial fishing on the mainstem below Bonneville Dam. It also gave priority allocation of mainstem salmon harvest to sport anglers. Friday’s vote, however, indefinitely extends gill-netting for fall chinook salmon from Sauvie Island to Bonneville Dam and for summer chinook in the entire lower river. Read the story here 07:28

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

Crawling with crab! Temporary glut slows processors

A perfect storm of weather, strong catches and domoic acid worries has led to a glut of crab on the market, overwhelming processors and making it harder for fishermen to find buyers for the high-value crustacean. Dave Hubbard, captain of the fishing vessel Katrina, said he waited 58 hours to unload 25,000 pounds of crab his crew had caught between Garibaldi and Klipsan Beach, Washington. On Monday, the Katrina docked at the Port of Astoria’s Pier 2, its catch unloaded by workers from Bornstein Seafoods. Hubbard said processors were hit by icy weather on land preventing delivery trucks and workers from coming and going. The processors have boats on catch limits, he said, based on the amount of crab pots they drop. “Everyone’s jammed up,” said Steve Fick, owner of Fishhawk Fisheries in Astoria. Read the story here 16:05

Washington State Commercial and Sport fishermen demand transparency in setting salmon seasons

Commercial and sport fishermen are demanding change when it comes to the annual process that determines who gets to fish how much salmon and when. It’s called the North of Falcon process, and it involves several months of private meetings between federal, state, and tribal representatives. They typically start in February. The meetings are not open to the public, but a petition that’s gained more than a 1,000 signatures is just one sign of rising tides against the process, as non-treaty recreational and commercial fishermen rally for transparency. Tribal representatives defend their push for fishing restrictions over the last few years, pointing to low salmon returns. In 2016, the North of Falcon process took so long, the fishing season was canceled for weeks as the state and tribal co-managers stood at a stalemate. Read the story here 09:18

WATCH: Fishing Vessel Battles Chetco River Bar (Nearly Loses)

Check out this amazing video posted to facebook showing an inbound fishing vessel crossing the Chetco River (Brooking) bar near Brooking, Oregon. The footage is grainy but if you watch and listen closely it’s easy to see what’s happening. According to the person narrating, the video shows the 24-meter dungeness crab vessel F/V Pacific Hooker battle a strong current while inbound. In the first half you can see two guys standing out on deck, but luckily it looks like they head in right before things got really bad. At the two minute mark a HUGE wave take out just about everything on deck. The person in the video said the vessel actually had to back off and turn around. Read the rest here, and watch the video 08:18

Washington adopts Columbia River salmon fishing reforms

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission agreed here Saturday to implement in 2017 the most sweeping lower Columbia River salmon fishing reforms in decades, including the elimination of gillnets in the main stem of the river during spring and summer. By a 7-2 vote, the commission decided to go ahead with implementation this year of reforms first adopted in early 2013 and phased in during a four-year transition period. Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission will address the issue Friday, and there are indications it might not agree with Washington’s position. In a nutshell, the reforms allocate more chinook salmon to sportsmen in the main Columbia and restrict gillnetting to off-channel sites like Youngs Bay, Tongue Point and Blind Slough near Astoria.  The reforms also call for any commercial fishing that remains in the main lower Columbia to be done with live-capture methods — such as purse seines and beach seines — designed to harvest hatchery stocks and release wild fish. Read the story here 08:14

Forty-foot fishing trawler run aground near Powell River

Mounties are investigating after a 40-foot fishing trawler ran aground in a village north of Powell River on Thursday. The vessel ran into trouble and slammed into the marina in the small community of Lund around 10 p.m. According to witnesses, people onboard intentionally crashed into the marina to keep the boat from sinking. Police have remained tight-lipped on the incident, only saying that it’s under investigation. Crews worked to get the trawler off the sea floor on Friday. Video, read the rest here 14:45

Ballard-built fishing schooner retired, finds a new home at Northwest Seaport

After more than a century of hard fishing in the North Pacific Ocean, the 1911 halibut schooner, Tordenskjold, is retiring to become an operational museum ship and education platform at Northwest Seaport on Lake Union in Seattle. On December 27th, the boat was drydocked at Fishing Vessel Owner’s Marine Ways (located at Fishermen’s Terminal), the shipyard that has cared for the boat for much, if not all, of its 105 years afloat. There, it spent a week undergoing a final inspection survey, laser scanning and repainting before being transferred to Northwest Seaport. Read the story here 15:13

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

Squid boats dot Malibu coast – Roughly 40,157 tons of squid landed this season

Almost every night this winter, bright lights have appeared off the coast of Malibu. It’s an eerie sight on a foggy evening, suggesting something unearthly or supernatural, but the only thing these ghostly lights portend is the presence of Doryteuthis opalescens, the common market squid. It’s a good omen for California’s seafood industry. Market squid is one of California’s largest commercial fisheries, and tons of frozen California calamari are shipped all over the world each year. However, the species had almost entirely disappeared from Southern California waters last year. The absence of squid is being blamed on El Niño. California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist Laura Ryley studies squid. While concerns are being raised over the potential impact of prolonged ocean warming on the species, the return of more normal temperature conditions in the Pacific this winter appears to have signaled the return of the squid. Read the story here 09:22 

El Nino, Pacific Decadal Oscillation implicated in domoic acid shellfish toxicity

Using a combination of time-series data spanning two decades, the scientists not only showed a clear link between domoic acid and these larger climatic phenomena, but also developed a new model to predict with some accuracy the timing of domoic acid risks in the Pacific Northwest. The model is based on interpreting the status of the “Oceanic Niño Index” and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation – both of which are measures of climate, ocean water movement, currents and temperature. It’s designed to help coastal resource managers more effectively monitor this issue and protect public health. The findings were made by researchers from Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The work was primarily supported by NOAA. Read the article here 08:01

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

Coast Guard assists 6 aboard disabled fishing vessel off Long Beach, Wash.

The Coast Guard assisted a commercial fishing vessel safely back to shore after the crew of the vessel reported taking on water approximately 4 miles offshore of Long Beach, Washington, Sunday afternoon. The crew of the Tracer was uninjured and the vessel was safely moored in the Port of Ilwaco, Washington. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Command Center received  a mayday call via satellite phone at 11:35 a.m. The original report was a loss of engine power and taking on water with six people on board. An aircrew aboard anMH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was diverted to assist but was unable to communicate with the Tracer’s crew, so they passed a radio to the crew. The aircrew remained on scene until a crew aboard a47-foot MLB from Station Cape Disappointment arrived on scene.  The MLB’s crew delivered a dewatering pump and assisted the Tracer in regaining engine power and then helped the crew control the flooding.  The vessel’s crew started back toward Ilwaco with a precautionary escort from the MLB crew once it was safe to transit. The sea conditions encountered on scene were 5-foot swells and 30 MPH winds. Link 20:07

Coast Guard, crew of the F/V Sea Ballad rescue 5 fishermen near Columbia River

The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan commercial fishing crew rescued five people from the water after the fishing vessel Star King, a 55-foot stern trawler homeported in Astoria, capsized and sank near the entrance to the Columbia River early Saturday morning. All five fishermen were pulled from the water by the crew of the fishing vessel Sea Ballad and were transferred to the Coast Guard 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew, from Station Cape Disappointment, who transported them to the station in Ilwaco, Wash., where they did not need medical attention. Watchstanders at the Sector Columbia River command center received the first mayday calls from the Star King via VHF-FM radio channel 16 at 4:31 a.m. All five fishermen were accounted for by 5:10 a.m. The fishing trawler’s captain first reported they were taking on water and listing hard to starboard before suddenly capsizing and sending all five crewmembers into the water. “The quick, selfless actions taken by the crew of the good Samaritan crab vessel Sea Ballad and the fact that the Star King’s crew put on survival suits saved five lives today,” said Chief Petty Officer Justin Urbano, command duty officer, Sector Columbia River. “The Coast Guard had a quick response, but these fishermen were out of the water before we arrived on scene.” The sunken Star King is not blocking navigation, but is a hazard to navigation and all mariners need to be on the lookout if they transit the area. Link Watch video here 12:23

West Coast Crab Strike is Over

Oregon crab fishermen Friday came to an agreement with processors, ending an 11-day strike over the cost companies will pay this season for their harvest. In December, processors — primarily Pacific Choice Seafood, the largest on the West Coast — agreed to $3 a pound, but on Dec. 26 backed off that price, offering $2.75. At that point, crab fishermen tied up their boats and refused to fish. This week’s negotiations resulted in a $2.875 price — right down the middle, said Brookings fisherman Bernie Lindley.  “Happy? I don’t know,” Lindley said of the final price. “In a successful negotiation, nobody’s happy and nobody’s pissed. For me, personally, I wish it would’ve been resolved more fairly for the fishermen, but we’re back to work, and so be it.”  Read the story here,  08:10

Whither the crab? Monterey Bay pulls empty pots Click here
Crab strike ends; crabbers, Pacific Group agree to $2.875 per pound price Click here 
‘Today is a Good Result’: Dan Occhipinti, general counsel at Pacific Seafood Group Click here

Breaking: Crabbers end strike – heading out to drop their pots

Commercial crab fisherman bargained for a little bit of an increase in the landing prices for their crab. The crab processors agreed to raise their last offer of $2.75/lb up to $2.875/lb and so the crab boats are headed out to sea. Read the story here 19:05

Thirty-six Washington Lawmakers back Columbia River salmon reforms

Thirty-six Washington lawmakers have signed on to a letter urging the state Fish and Wildlife Commission to push ahead in January with full implementation of the bistate Columbia River salmon reforms. Reforms adopted by Washington and Oregon in early 2013 allocated more chinook salmon to sportsmen in the main Columbia and restricted gillnetting to off-channel sites like Youngs Bay near Astoria. The reforms also called for commercial fishing that remained in the main Columbia to be done with live-capture methods — such as purse seines and beach seines — designed to harvest hatchery stocks and release wild fish.” Oregon is proposing to undo the plan based on a desire to significantly increase commercial gillnet fishing industry profits, rather than ensuring the viability of the commercial fishing industry as defined in the bistate agreement,’’ according to the letter. Read the story here 16:56

Quinault Indian Nation join West Coast crabbers on strike

Fleets from Central California to the Canadian border are refusing to fish as the crabbing season opens along the coast. The strike is due to a price drop before Christmas, when Pacific Seafood began offering $2.75 per pound instead of $3. John Corbin, an Oregon fisherman and chairman of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, said crabbing is expensive, especially with the substantial amount of bait that is used. “They’re getting us on both ends here,” Corbin said. “They’re charging us more for bait and they’re wanting to pay less for the crabs. So, it’s just cutting into the bottom line, and we just can’t do that.” On Wednesday, crabbing opened on Washington state’s coast, but no crabbing vessels set out. The Quinault Indian Nation has also joined commercial crabbers in the strike. Read the story here 16:02

Pacific Choice play for pocket change threatens to sink a second crab season – End crab strike: Pay the full $3

North Coast commercial crabbers had a bad enough time last season, thanks to domoic acid spikes. But at least they could blame that on algae blooms and health concerns. This season could be undone by something entirely within human control: The unwillingness of seafood company Pacific Choice to shell out 25 cents more per pound for Dungeness crab meat. Crab prices have been set at $3 per pound since the November opening of the season; Pacific Choice wants to pay 25 cents less. The price dispute has put another crab season on hold. Local crab boats, if they stooped to selling crab for $2.75 per pound, would lose between $7,000 to $10,000 per average medium to small boat, according to the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association. Read the op-ed here 07:50

Strike Update – Crab fishermen stand strong, hold out for Pacific Seafoods pre-negotiated price

Commercial crab fishermen continue to strike along the West Coast, hoping processors will pay the $3 opening price that was negotiated prior to the season opening. Instead, wholesale buyers and processors have not budged on the $2.75 per pound they are now offering. The $3 per pound price was negotiated prior to the Brookings and Port Orford crab opening on Dec. 18. The price was lowered on Dec. 26, just eight days after that partial opening of the fishery. In response, crab fishermen from Morro Bay, Calif., to the Canadian border have tied up their boats. One local processor is Bandon Pacific in Charleston, a division of Pacific Seafood, which owns and operates more than 38 processing and distribution facilities from Alaska to Texas, with many of them on the West coast in coastal communities throughout the Pacific region. John Corbin, president of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, and a fisherman who lives in Seaside and fishes the Columbia River, said there has been “really no change” since fishermen decided to strike. Corbin said fishermen all along the coast in different ports have been meeting daily via phone conference, but processors have not met with them. Read the story here 10:51

California court case could disrupt WDFW Wild Future Initiative

A decision made in a California court case may change the trajectory of a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife initiative that would raise fees for resident commercial fishers and lower the fees for non-residents. Last December the U.S. 9th District Court of Appeals determined that California’s nonresident fee differential for numerous commercial fishing permits, licenses and vessel registration was constitutional. A group of out of state fishers challenged California differentiating between resident and non-resident fishers under the Privileges and Immunities Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. So what does the decision mean in Washington State? Well, the California lawsuit was the premise for the WDFW Wild Future initiative, which would essentially not differentiate fees for resident and non-resident commercial fishers, something the WDFW has called “equalizing the fees.” Read the article here 20:47