Fight over America’s Finest vessel part of bigger processor battle

The mothershippers are fighting with the groundfish shoreplants in a politicized Bering Sea commercial fishing tussle reaching all the way to Washington, D.C. The battle over Pacific cod pits the factory trawlers of the Amendment 80 fleet against Alaska shoreplants and local governments. And in February, it pitted two local governments against each other. A delegation of municipal and business leaders from Anacortes, Wash., traveled to the Aleutian Islands to ask the Unalaska City Council to reverse itself but didn’t change anybody’s mind. The brand spanking new factory trawler America’s Finest remains stranded in an Anacortes, Wash., shipyard, unable to fish in the United States because it hasn’t received a waiver from the Jones Act. >click to read<15:54

Anacortes delegation travels to Unalaska

Visitors from Anacortes, Wash., traveled to the Aleutian Islands last week to urge the Unalaska City Council to stop asking the U.S. Congress to restrict a stranded factory trawler from buying cod at sea. Earlier, Unalaska Mayor Frank Kelty sent the state’s congressional delegation a letter urging “sideboard” restrictions on any Jones Act waiver granted to the new factory trawler America’s Finest. The vessel ran afoul of federal domestic content law when it was discovered it had excess foreign steel in its hull. Now, the state-of-the-art $74 million flatfish factory trawler can’t fish in the U.S., unless Congress grants a waiver. >click to read< 12:531

Harvesting flatfish in the Last Frontier

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

Halibut bycatch issue: A poster child for complex fisheries policy in Alaska

pacific_halibutWhat a conundrum. How does the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council respond to the proposed 50 percent reduction of halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands groundfish fishery requested by halibut fishermen in the region, without significantly impacting the Amendment 80, Trawl and Freezer Long Line vessels in their stead?  Regardless how you look at it or what your personal involvement in any of the above fisheries is, major policy shifts in any of the multiple fisheries in the Bering Sea can absolutely impact,,, Read the rest here 12:08