Tag Archives: Alaska

Alaska: Commercial fishermen struggle in coronavirus pandemic

“We tied the boat up, hoping and waiting for things to stabilize a little bit,” said Jim Hubbard, who has been commercial fishing for nearly 50 years. Hubbard’s vessel, Kruzof, has been docked for two months during the coronavirus pandemic. With many restaurants shut down or operating at a limited capacity, it wasn’t worth it to fish. “We learned that about 80% of our seafood goes to the restaurant trade and the species we target, more the commodity-based fish species. It’s really basically gutted our markets,” Hubbard said. “We’re not making money, tourist people aren’t making money, the restaurants aren’t making money, and it just keeps going down,” said Cory Harris. Harris owns the F/V Tribute and just returned to Seward from a recent fishing venture. He wants to make whatever money he can even if the prices aren’t great. >click to read< 11:05

Still slow going for Copper River opener, remains closed at least through Monday, May 25

Opening harvests of the 2020 Copper River commercial fishery, complicated by effort to keep the COVID-19 pandemic at bay, got off to a slow start for the first two 12-hour openers. The overall catch of Chinook and sockeye salmon came in way below forecast. The first two 12-hour periods brought processors an estimated 6,025 sockeyes and 3,255 king salmon, Copper River commercial fishery biologists said. The 372 deliveries from the first opener on May 14 included just 1,473 sockeyes and 1,552 Chinooks. Then on May 18, there were 412 deliveries, with 4,552 sockeyes and 1,703 Chinooks. The projected harvest for the second period alone had included 28,590 reds. >click to read< 16:16

‘We’re open’: Alaska businesses can operate at full capacity Friday, Dunleavy says

Alaska businesses can open at full capacity on Friday and sports can resume, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Tuesday evening. “Friday, we’re open for business across the state of Alaska,” Dunleavy said at a news conference. Alaska will enter phase three and four of the government’s five-phase reopening plan at 8 a.m. Friday. That means restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses can fully open. All churches, libraries and museums can too. Sports and recreational activities can resume, Dunleavy said. It’s the governor’s latest major lift of coronavirus-related restrictions. Previously, certain businesses could only operate at 25% to 50% capacity. “It’ll all be open, just like it was prior to the virus,” Dunleavy said. >click to read< 10:29

Slow going for the Copper River opener

A 12-hour opener marking the start of the 2020 Copper River commercial salmon season proved slow going, with a catch of 1,650 Chinook and 1,500 sockeye salmon, down from 2,300 kings and 20,400 reds in the 2019 opener. Prices for the catch were also down, due to lack of demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, with upscale restaurants that normally feature Copper River entrees following the start of the fishery still closed. Even with fewer fishermen on the grounds, it was tough going. One veteran harvester said his 12-hour effort produced a total of five fish. Worries over a potential low price for the prized fish, coupled with concerns that the novel coronavirus pandemic might stop the fishery lowered the competition for the fish, said Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, who calculated that as much of one fourth of the fleet never left the harbor. >click to read< 08:34

Trident seafood worker the first positive COVID-19 case in Dillingham

Dillingham has its first case of COVID-19. According to state data, the person is an out-of-state resident who works in the seafood industry. It’s the ninth case of an out-of-state resident testing positive for the disease, and it’s the fourth instance of someone testing positive who works in that industry.  The state said in a news release that the individual is a seasonal worker for Trident Seafoods. Trident is arranging for that worker to leave the community today. That person is doing well and does not require hospitalization. Public health nurses have completed a contact investigation and report that no one at that quarantine site had any outside contacts. “They haven’t exposed the community because they haven’t been out in the community,” public health nurse Gina Carpenter said in the state’s news release. >click to read< 18:51

An Alaska commercial fishing season unlike any other kicked off in Cordova on Thursday

Normally, the Copper River gillnet season, the first salmon fishery to open in the state, is known for high-priced fish and celebrity-level fanfare: One of the first fish to be caught is flown to Seattle via Alaska Airlines jet, and greeted with a red carpet photo opportunity. In this pandemic year, things are different all around: The Alaska Airlines first fish photo op will still happen, but the festivities have been tamped down and six-foot distancing and masks are now required. Instead of a cooking contest pitting Seattle chefs against each other, a salmon bake for workers at Swedish Hospital in Ballard is planned. And this year, Cordova’s first-in-the-state salmon fishery will be a high stakes test,,, >click here< 10:15

The 30th annual Blessing of the Fleet has been done differently this year in Juneau

Instead of the annual ceremony at the Fishermen’s Memorial on Saturday, the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial Board posted videos online you can view from their website. President Carl Brodersen said four new names will be engraved on the memorial this year, James Lewis, Bob Bennett, Philip Daniel, and James Beaton. The 2019 names now engraved include Michael Walker, Ross Soboleff, Larry Painter, Lester Cole, William Larsen, John Pasquan, Robert Savikko, Joseph Hyde, Robert Becker, and Patrick Peterson. >click to read< with a link to watch the 2020 Video Ceremony @ http://www.akcfmemorial.org/12:37

Alaska: Reopening of state economy begins

Restaurants, shops and hair salons around Alaska are beginning a cautious reopening under strict state mandates as Alaska works to inhibit the spread of COVID-19, while the economic reopening remains on hold in Cordova. Emergency order 2020-05, issued by City Manager Helen Howarth, reinstates business restrictions lifted by the state on April 24 until May 20. Independent commercial fishermen meanwhile now have their COVID-19 marching orders from state officials, a list of protective measures, procedures, travel and access measures they must abide by, as the influx of seafood workers begins in Cordova. >click to read< 10:25

Strict new pandemic rules are in place for Alaska fishermen and their vessels  – >click to read<

What’s that? Alaska fishing boats to fly quarantine flag

The “Lima flag” is not something most of them have probably ever seen in person. And the requirement is only if they or their crew members are coming from out of state. If they have a crew member who needs to self-quarantine on board for any reason, that yellow and black flag (or maybe a Pittsburgh Steeler’s sweatshirt, if no quarantine flag is to be found) has to go up the mast to warn people to stay away for 14 days. The details of how independent fishing vessels will have to protect coastal communities from incoming coronavirus contamination are laid out in Health Mandate 17,,, >click to read< 08:50

Commercial fishing vessels get COVID-19 mandates – Independent commercial fishermen got their COVID-19 marching orders from state officials Thursday, April 23, a list of protective measures, procedures, travel and access measures they must abide to protect themselves and coastal communities. >click to read< 10:48

Seafood industry visa fix in question after Coronavirus outbreak

With the aid of lawmakers, seafood businesses in Maryland, Virginia, Alaska and North Carolina last month won federal approval of an additional 35,000 visas for non-immigrant workers, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Within days, the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down businesses, including restaurants and retail outlets the seafood industry supplies. Some seafood operations let employees go, while others have hired fewer people than they would in a more typical season. Jack Brooks, president of J.M. Clayton Seafood Co. in Cambridge, Maryland, explained that the seafood industry is a seasonal business and the coronavirus has hit the hardest during the industry’s prime time.  >click to read< 13:16

Coronavirus: Specter of overescapement shouldn’t influence fisheries decisions

The management of sustainable salmon fisheries in Alaska is based on a ‘fixed escapement policy’ where the goal is to allow enough salmon into our rivers and lakes to fill the spawning habitat, and on average produce maximum or optimum long-term fishery yield. When more fish enter streams than targeted by escapement goals, this is referred to as ‘overescapement’ by fishery scientists and managers. So then, if salmon fisheries are restricted in the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, will the resulting ‘overescapement’ cause damage this year, or in future years, to salmon or their ecosystems? >click to read< 07:52

Coronavirus: Togiak herring fishery’s only processor says it aims for “zero impact” to communities

In early March, Icicle Seafoods locked down operations and stopped bringing on new crew members due to the pandemic. It says the workers on board its floating processor haven’t had contact with anyone off the vessel since then.,,, “Our plan is to bring the Gordon Jensen up to Togiak here at the end of the month. We’ll anchor off off shore, and we’ll keep our crew and staff on board the vessel for the duration of the fishery,” he said, adding that Icicle plans to have “zero impact” on the communities.,, Two seine boats and three gillnetters are expected to tap the 80-million pound quota in Togiak this spring. Tim Sands, an area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the shrinking participation from processors and fishermen is due to the lack of market for herring. >click to read< 18:33

Alaska’s Commercial Harvesters Listed as ‘Critical Infrastructure’

Plans are in progress to conduct the multi-million dollar Bristol Bay salmon fishery this summer in a manner that keeps harvesters, processors and the seafood itself safe in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Everyone is working on it on a regular basis,” said Norm Van Vactor of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. in Dillingham, Alaska. “It is literally a plan in progress. We are moving forward with a positive attitude (but) nobody is in La La Land.” Commercial fishermen are now officially identified as “critical infrastructure” by the state of Alaska. >click to read< 08:19

Coronavirus: It’s not business as usual for fishing industry

For Alaska’s commercial fisheries industry in 2020, things will hardly be business as usual. Reports of the first case of novel coronavirus in the state prompted processors to get to work developing plant and vessel response plans in consultation with medical experts to assure the health and safety of employees, harvesters, communities they work in and the fish they will process by the ton. “Everyone is working on it on a regular basis,” said Norm Van Vactor, president and chief executive officer of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. in Dillingham. “It is literally a plan in progress. We are moving forward with a positive attitude (but) nobody is in La La Land.” >click to read< 18:15

Coast Guard, good Samaritan assist vessel taking on water near Sitka, Alaska

The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan assist a vessel taking on water near Sitka, Alaska, Saturday. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka delivered a dewatering pump to the fishing vessel Tamarack, which was taking on water approximately 35 miles west of Sitka Saturday. The crew of Tamarack utilized the dewatering pump to prevent additional flooding. The good Samaritan vessel Pacific Bounty responded to the urgent marine information broadcast, arrived on scene and assisted in dewatering the vessel. Video, >click to read< 06:49

Coronavirus: Bristol Bay fishermen urged to delay travel to the region until at least May 1

On Thursday, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which represents the Bristol Bay drift gillnet fleet, issued its first COVID-19 advisory to the fleet asking that non-local Bristol Bay Fishermen delay travel to the region until at least May 1 and listed the state mandated quarantine protocol for anyone who does travel to Alaska from out of state.,, Since Alaska enacted a limited entry permit system, the share of permits held locally by Bristol Bay residents has declined by more than 50 percent, according to a 2017 University of Alaska Fairbanks analysis. Many drift fishermen make the trip each summer from Washington, Oregon or California. >click to read< 07:49

Fishing industry grapples with fallout from coronavirus response

Like almost all industries and institutions across Alaska, the novel coronavirus pandemic is shaking up the fishing industry. With restrictions changing almost daily and cases spreading across the United States, fishermen are still fishing, but the normal seasonal progression of the industry is likely to hit some rough waters. Travel in and out of Alaska has dropped after federal and state advisories against it, and questions are hovering about how seafood processors and fishing vessels will find the employees they need for upcoming seasons.,, Adding to that, the workers in the seafood industry are often seasonal and come from outside the communities where they work, from elsewhere in Alaska, the Lower 48 or international. That’s something the processing industry is working hard to figure out. >click to read< 17:23

‘Codfish Fever’ – Hungry Gold Miners Craved the Salted Fish, so a Ragtag Fleet Set Off for Alaska

Codfish fever got its start in the years following the discovery of gold in central California in 1848, when San Francisco grew quickly from a sleepy hamlet into a thriving commercial center. Many of those who migrated to California during the Gold Rush were from western Europe. For them, salted cod was a dietary staple.,, Initially, East Coast merchants supplied Californians with salted Atlantic cod shipped via the Isthmus of Panama or Cape Horn. But this was a long, expensive journey for the fish, and California entrepreneurs recognized an opportunity to replace Atlantic cod with Pacific cod. It was one Captain Mathew Turner, an opportunistic merchant, who pioneered the U.S. Pacific cod fishery.  >click to read< 08:43

A new fish processor is buoying King Cove’s fishermen. But,,

King Cove has long been a company town. For decades, its fishermen were frustrated by Peter Pan Seafoods, Inc., the private company that runs King Cove’s own massive processing plant. Especially vexing were the limits: While another processor in the region was buying far more salmon, Peter Pan would only buy 35,000 pounds from each boat, each day, said A.J. Newman, a King Cove city council member who skippers the 58-foot Lady Lee Dawn.“It’s hard to watch your friends catch double what you caught,” said Newman. “Peter Pan had too many boats,,, >click to read< 08:44

Thanks for all the fish: a wild salmon story

I live in a place that’s wedded to salmon. Hundreds of local people in this town of 5,000 are commercial salmon fishermen, scores more fish for themselves or work in an industry tied to salmon. So it makes sense that the local calendar runs on these fish. Schools break up in late May so families can prepare for the salmon season. The ebb and flow of boats from the harbour and local boatyards follow salmon. Tourists do too, thronging into town just as the fish start filling local rivers.It might be odd that Homer calls itself the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World” when it’s salmon that truly captures locals’ hearts. Halibut are dun-coloured flatfish; we think of them as meat that swims. photos, >click to read< 09:12

Alaska: Commercial fishing is a good investment

“This is probably not well-known,” said Sam Rabung, director of the commercial fisheries division for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game… Rabung pointed out that the commercial fishing industry is the largest private sector employer in Alaska, putting almost 60,000 people to work annually. “It contributes about $172 million directly in taxes, fees and self-assessments to state, local and federal governments, and contributes an annual average of about $5.6 billion in economic output to the Alaska economy,”  >click to read< 20:32

Alaska: Seafood industry facing challenges beyond harvest cuts

The Alaska seafood workforce, both on boats and on shore, is aging, and fewer young people are going into careers in the industry. While the graying of the fishing fleet is in part because of the high cost of entry for permits, boats, and equipment, there is also a looming shortage in processing plant workers. >click to read< 07:15

Alaska’s 2019 fisheries bring new records, continued concern

Alaska’S fisheries in 2019 had several bright spots, yet many areas of concern will return into the next year. Once again the sockeye fishery in Bristol Bay was the shining star of the commercial sector. Fishermen caught Bristol Bay’s 2 billionth sockeye salmon since records were first kept. The in-shore run of 57 million fish clocked in at the fourth-largest run on the record books, but the ex-vessel value of $306 million ranks as the best of all time. >click to read< 09:15

Coast Guard experiencing communication degradation in Prince William Sound, Alaska

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders are experiencing intermittent communications within the 3,745 square-mile area of Prince William Sound and may not be able to hear mariners on VHF-FM radio. “As technicians work to analyze and restore Coast Guard radio coverage for Prince William Sound, I urge mariners to listen more carefully to channel 16 and to relay any possible distress calls to the Coast Guard via other means, like HF radio, satellite communications and cell phones,” said Cmdr. Scott Smith, chief of response for Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. >click to read< 06:31

Fishermen participating in Alaska’s largest herring fishery have a huge quota to fill next year. But the primary customer isn’t buying.

“I’m a recovering herring fisherman,” joked Bruce Schactler. Schactler, who lives in Kodiak, has been fishing in Togiak off and on since 1985. But he won’t be returning this summer. “The market is so bad that Trident will not be buying fish this year, so we’re not going. Every ton that is frozen and shipped off to Japan is a loser. There’s no money being made,” he said. >click to read< 07:06

Celebrating Small Business: Catch 49 keeping Alaskan fishing local

The brainchild of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), Catch 49 has been working with small-scale fishermen along Alaska’s coastline to provide sustainably-sourced seafood options to the community since 2011. Operating under one of AMCC’s guiding principles, “fisheries management policies should ensure adequate, intergenerational access to fishing opportunities for local residents and communities,” Catch 49 prides itself on providing business opportunities to coastal residents. >click to read< 15:01

Senator Lisa Murkowski: Investing in seafood industry pays off

Alaskans know just how essential fisheries are to life in the 49th state. The seafood industry is the largest direct employer in our state, providing 60,000 jobs and generating over $5 billion for Alaska’s economy. Over 15 percent of Alaska’s working age rural residents are employed by the industry. And commercial fisheries are a cultural and economic cornerstone in small communities across the state’s 33,000 miles of shoreline. Alaska’s seafood industry also provides for our nation. Catches in Alaska make up more than 60 percent of all seafood harvests in the United States, >click to read< 15:11

Alaska canned pink salmon purchased for food assistance programs

Millions of pounds of Alaska’s 2019 harvest of pink salmon is now earmarked for child nutrition and related domestic food assistance programs, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture purchase of over $25 million in canned product from four processors. USDA officials announced on Sept. 20 the purchase of 442.3 million cases of one-pound tall cans of pink salmon for the federal agency’s food assistance programs,,, >click to read< 10:36

Fisheries disaster declared in multiple fisheries, multiple states

Wednesday,, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced his determination that commercial fishery failures occurred for multiple fisheries between 2017 and 2019 in Alaska, California, Georgia, and South Carolina, while further finding that a catastrophic regional fishery disaster occurred for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama due to extreme flooding events in the Gulf of Mexico. >click to read< 17:41

Sockeye harvest breaks all-time top 5; pinks picking up

The 2019 salmon season has seen plenty of fish return to the state, but far from evenly across regions. As of Sept. 10, commercial fishermen across Alaska have landed 198.4 million salmon of all five species, about 8 percent less than the preseason forecast of 213.2 million. Most of that shortfall is in pink and chum salmon, which haven’t delivered on their forecasts so far, but a surplus of sockeye salmon helped make up for some of that gap. Statewide, commercial fishermen have landed more than 55.1 million sockeye, about 9 percent more than last year and 5 million more than the preseason forecast. >click to read< 07:40