Tag Archives: Gulf of Alaska

Chignik fishermen stuck ashore as sockeye run fails

Communities around the Gulf of Alaska are struggling with low sockeye returns, and villages near the Chignik River are no different. The region is experiencing its weakest recorded run in the last in 50 years.  Fishermen are stuck waiting for a commercial opener,,, There’s really only one thing to talk about in Chignik Bay these days — where are the sockeye? “Shock is pretty much the guaranteed feeling of most people as kinda everybody walking around dazed.” according to Ben Allen, a local fisherman. It’s to the point where residents have pulled their subsistence nets voluntarily to try and get every salmon they can up the Chignik River.,, And, like other nearby communities, red salmon is the main source of income that keeps the lights on in the village. >click to read<18:12

Salmon struggles extend to unprecedented restrictions at Chignik

A tough sockeye salmon commercial fishing season is shaping up in the Gulf of Alaska, from the Copper River across to Kodiak Island and back to the mainland at Chignik. And the Yukon River is seeing dismal chinook salmon returns, although the summer chum run is strong. “I haven’t put my net in the water once,” complained Chignik purse seiner Roger Rowland on June 26. “It’s literally the worst run ever.” Rowland commented from the fishing district on his cellphone, via teleconference in an Unalaska City Council meeting, about 300 miles to the southwest where he lives, during a break between votes. >click to read< 18:36

We can’t survive more cuts to Alaska king-salmon quota

Alaska salmon fisherfolk have been giving up a disproportionate portion of their harvest — over 50 percent, at least — to rebuild damaged stocks elsewhere. A few seasons ago in Chatham Strait, Karl Jordan, a third-generation Alaska salmon fisherman, came out to watch as I brought up an ashy-lipped, prismatic monster on the troll gear. Forty-five to 50 pounds. Spots on his tail an inky black. It was the second week of July, the king salmon opener just closed after we had caught our treaty quota. “Looks like a Columbia River hatchery fish,” Karl said. “Let him go.” If Karl was correct — and he usually is when it comes to fishing — that salmon had swum north from Washington’s Columbia River to spend its life in the Gulf of Alaska. >click to read<20:21

Social media post criticizes Trident Seafoods, Gulf of Alaska trawl fleet for halibut bycatch

A fisherman based out of Homer posted images on social media of halibut bycatch headed for the grinder at Kodiak’s Trident Seafoods processing plant. The post got a lot of attention online and sparked criticism of Trident, the Gulf of Alaska trawl fleet and a body that regulates the commercial fishing industry. Trident is the largest primary processor of seafood in the United States and is heavily invested in Alaska. “We’re a company built by fishermen for fishermen and we don’t just buy pollock or cod or crab or salmon or halibut, we buy everything that we can sustainably harvest and feed the world with. Halibut is a very important part of our business,” said Lumsden. Longtime fisherman Erik Velsko says if Trident really cares about halibut and sustainability some things need to change. >click to read<18:59

Halibut trash

Only in Alaska, which likes to claim title to the world’s “best-managed fisheries,” would halibut now retailing at prices in excess of $20 per pound be ground into fish meal to feed animals, shrimp and maybe even farmed salmon – the bane of Alaska commercial fishermen. Photos of halibut and other, trawl-caught bottomfish headed for the grinder emerged from Kodiak this weekend as Alaska fishermen started into a fishing season where the targeted harvest of halibut by both commercial fishermen and anglers has been seriously restricted because of conservation concerns. >click to read<18:20

Kodiak Island Borough Assembly support changes to Chinook by-catch limits

King salmon are causing some trouble for Kodiak’s trawl fleet. The problem, too many are being caught as by-catch. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is currently looking at changing the Chinook prohibited species caps for the Gulf of Alaska for non-pollock catcher vessels in the trawl sector. The purpose of the adjustment would be to reduce the risk of fishery closures. If too many kings are caught in certain commercial fisheries, they’ll be shut down. In 2015, the Pacific cod and flatfish trawl fishery were closed because of this and it cost Kodiak millions >click to read<17:54

Halibut quotas for 2018 come in slightly lower than expected

The total allowable catch for the 2018 Pacific halibut season in the Gulf of Alaska and Southeast will be set slightly lower than what U.S. commissioners on the International Pacific Halibut Commission had asked for. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will publish a final rule in the Federal Register Tuesday setting combined charter and commercial quotas in Southeast, area 2C, at 4.4 million pounds. That’s about a 17-percent drop from the total allowable catch in 2017. >click to read<17:39

Governor Walker calls for federal disaster declaration for Pacific cod fishery

Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott signed a letter last week asking the federal government to declare the 2018 Pacific cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska a disaster. That could make the fishery eligible for federal relief funds, although who specifically would receive money would be figured out later.,, According to the letter, the value of the 2018 Pacific cod harvest is looking at a more than 80 percent drop in revenue from the five-year average. Barbara Blake, senior adviser to Walker and Mallott, said crossing that 80 percent threshold makes the fishery eligible for a disaster declaration. >click to read< 08:28

UPDATED: Tsunami warnings canceled – 7.9 earthquake in Gulf of Alaska, tsunami warnings issued for coast

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.9 hit deep beneath the Gulf of Alaska early Tuesday, and a tsunami warning was issued for coastal areas from British Columbia to the Aleutians. As of 3 a.m. there were no reports of significant waves or damage. The quake was centered 181 miles southeast of Kodiak, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center. The quake was 6 miles deep, the center said. The magnitude was initially reported to be 8.2 but was later downgraded to 7.9. >click here to read< 07:24

Tsunami warnings canceled after magnitude-7.9 earthquake off Alaska – Forecasters canceled tsunami warnings for Alaska and the US and Canadian west coasts Tuesday after an earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska stoked fears of damaging waves. >click here to read< 08:30

Coastal communities to ask for disaster declaration after cod forecast reduced by 80 percent

Kodiak officials already are drafting a disaster declaration due to the crash of cod stocks throughout the Gulf of Alaska. The shortage will hurt many other coastal communities as well. Gulf cod catches for 2018 will drop by 80 percent to just under 29 million pounds in federally managed waters, compared to a harvest this year of nearly 142 million pounds. The crash is expected to continue into 2020 or 2021. Cod catches in the Bering Sea also will decline by 15 percent to 414 million pounds. In all, Alaska produces 12 percent of global cod fish. click here to read the story 12:39   

Kodiak officials prepare for ‘disaster’: An 80 percent decline in Gulf cod catches in 2018

Kodiak officials already are drafting a disaster declaration due to the crash of cod stocks throughout the Gulf of Alaska. The shortage will hurt many other coastal communities as well. Gulf cod catches for 2018 will drop by 80 percent to just under 29 million pounds in federally managed waters, compared to a harvest this year of nearly 142 million pounds. The crash is expected to continue into 2020 or 2021. Cod catches in the Bering Sea also will decline by 15 percent to 414 million pounds. In all, Alaska produces 12 percent of global cod fish. click here to read the story 09:12

The “blob” is gone, but it’s left a troubling legacy on B.C.’s Pacific coast.

The blob is the popular name for a huge patch of warm water that featured record temperatures — in some cases, three to four degrees Celsius above normal — in the Northeast Pacific starting in 2013 and running through late 2015 and early 2016. Scientists are now concerned that young fish feeding at sea during the blob’s presence did not have enough nutritious food to eat — and that could translate into reduced adult fish to harvest going forward. click here to read the story 08:07

Tanner crab fishery to open in Kodiak for first time since 2013

Nat Nichols, Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologist for the Groundfish, Shellfish & Dive Fisheries, says the last opening was in 2013. He says ADF & G conducts an extensive trawl survey program between Dutch Harbor and Kodiak focused on tanner crab in the Gulf of Alaska. “This year we did 363 stations. About 200 of those are in Kodiak, so quite a few stations around Kodiak to assess tanner crab abundance.,, Meanwhile, the Dungeness crab season, which opened in May and June, closed last week. click here to read the story 17:35

Pacific Ocean ‘blob’ appears to take toll on Alaska cod

Gulf of Alaska cod populations appear to have nose-dived, a collapse fishery scientists believe is linked to warm water temperatures known as “the blob” that peaked in 2015. The decline is expected to substantially reduce the Gulf cod harvests that in recent years have been worth — before processing — more than $50 million to Northwest and Alaska fishermen who catch them with nets, pot traps and baited hooks set along the sea bottom.,,,  Scientists don’t ascribe the blob specifically to climate change. Gulf of Alaska temperatures — influenced by atmospheric conditions such as wind strengths — have always fluctuated over time. But researchers have never before tracked such an extreme heat wave that spread across such distances and penetrated to such depths. click here to read the story 11:52

Cod numbers in the Gulf of Alaska fall dramatically

Last month, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which regulates groundfish in Alaska and other federal fisheries, received some shocking news. Pacific cod stocks in the Gulf of Alaska may have declined as much as 70 percent over the past two years. That estimate is a preliminary figure, but it leaves plenty of questions about the future of cod fishing in Gulf of Alaska. The first question that comes to mind when you hear the number of Pacific cod in the Gulf dropped by about two-thirds is what happened? click here to read the story 21:14

International Pacific Halibut Commission to revisit minimum size limit

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, which regulates halibut fisheries in U.S. and Canadian waters, is set to take a fresh look at the minimum size limit during its meeting cycle this winter. The current limit allows commercial fishermen to retain fish larger than 32 inches, but the size of mature halibut has been shrinking over the years, which has some wondering whether the limit should be reduced or removed altogether. click here to read the story 09:16

Gulf of Alaska cod stocks at all-time lows

Pacific cod numbers in the Gulf of Alaska are at all-time lows, according to early looks at data collected from the 2017 summer survey. Steve Barbeaux, a fisheries biologist for the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, said scientists believe that the warm water mass known as the blob may be responsible for the low numbers. “It seems that this warm water that occurred that we’re calling the blob may have increased natural mortality for the 2012 year class and probably 2014, 2015, and 2016 as well,” Barbeaux said. click here to read the story 13:32

We’re On Board with These Two Fishermen – Salmon Fishing Season Starts Today

Our town of Cordova, Alaska is humming with the sounds of diesel engines firing up, big trucks hurrying around the harbor and fishermen catching up with each across the docks. This week holds so much excitement and anticipation here. Today, May 18th, the fleet of 540 fishermen from this tiny coastal community take off for the Gulf of Alaska where we’ll be setting our nets to catch the first wild salmon making their way back to the Copper River. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game carefully monitors our fishery for long term sustainability and have designated the salmon season to start this week with a 12 hour commercial fishing period starting bright and early at 7 am on Thursday. Click here to read the story 07:42

Where Is America’s Next War? Alaska. And the enemy is not who you’d expect.

It’s war in the Gulf and the US Navy is on hand to protect us. No, not that Gulf! I’m talking about the Gulf of Alaska and it’s actually mock war — if, that is, you don’t happen to be a fin whale or a wild salmon. This May, the Navy will again sail its warships into the Gulf of Alaska.  There, they will engage in military maneuvers and possibly drop bombs, launch torpedoes and missiles, and engage in activities that stand a significant chance of poisoning those once-pristine waters, while it prepares for future battles elsewhere on the planet.  Think of it as a war against wildlife, an assault on the environment and local coastal communities. click here to continue reading the article 11:57

Alaska fishermen lobby Navy to delay training exercises scheduled for May

The required permits are not yet in hand but the U.S. Navy is moving ahead on plans to conduct war training exercises in the Gulf of Alaska for two weeks in early May. Meanwhile, nine coastal communities have signed resolutions asking the Navy to instead conduct its training between September and mid-March, less-sensitive times for migrating salmon, birds and marine mammals. “It’s not that we don’t want the Navy to do their training — it’s the time and locations,” said Emily Stolarcyk, program director for the Eyak Preservation Council of Cordova. “The community resolutions say that we are the people who depend on commercial, subsistence and recreational fishing,” she added. “The Navy exercises are planned during the most important breeding and migratory periods for salmon, birds, whales and marine mammals. About 90 percent of the training area is designated as essential fish habitat for all five species of Pacific salmon. May is the worst time to be doing this.” continue reading the article here 11:07

Sitka assembly opposes summertime Naval exercises

Operation Northern EdgeThe Sitka assembly has gone on record opposing training exercises by the US Navy in prime fishing habitat in the Gulf of Alaska next summer. Most members agreed that the use of live explosives and powerful sonar could be harmful to fish and marine mammals — and detrimental to the state’s fishing industry. Emily Stolarcyk, with the Eyak Preservation Council in Cordova, was quick to point out that the resolution under consideration was not anti-military. The proposed training area occupies around 70,000 square miles of the Gulf of Alaska, between Kodiak and Sitka. Roughly 90-percent of the area is designated Essential Fish Habitat. “This is about finding common ground between two very different user groups who have to use the same area — mainly commercial fishermen and the US Military. So what we’re asking for is for the Navy to make adjustments to their current plans to practice in the summer. We want them to go back to what they’ve historically done, and practice in the winter.” Read the story here 10:17

Ten Day At Sea Joint Mission Successfully Tallies 20+ Violations

clip_image002_001On March 10, 2016, two Alaska Wildlife Troopers, a public safety technician, and a NOAA Enforcement Officer got underway for a 10-day at-sea operation in the Aleutian chain, Alaska. The joint patrol mission was focused on conducting at-sea boarding’s, as well as inspections of state and federal commercial fishing vessels and processors operating in the Gulf of Alaska. What they thought would be a relatively smooth mission, turned into much more than they bargained for. With days of 40 knot (46 MPH) winds, 10-15 foot seas, and snow, “it was more than I’m used to,” said Enforcement Officer Noah Meisenheimer of the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Office. Aboard the State of , the crew wasn’t in imminent danger. But, on day eight of the nearly 1,300 nautical mile trek, a nearby vessel was. It was a particularly stormy evening when the vessel Stanley K had its anchor wrap around the propeller. By the end of the at-sea patrol, the Stimson team had successfully conducted this rescue mission, inspected more than 100 cod pots, boarded for examination 35 commercial vessels, and audited four seafood processors.  In total, eight federal and 13 state violations were documented.  Read the rest here 14:51

Hurricane-force winds out of the Gulf of Alaska sent huge waves traveling down the West Coast

Like a gigantic pinwheel, an intense 965-millibar storm with hurricane-force winds in the Gulf of Alaska last week moved into the Pacific Northwest. These winds blew for more than 36 hours over a wind fetch — the distance the wind blew over water — that exceeded 400 nautical miles. The friction between the wind and the ocean’s surface generated 48-foot seas. The greater the wind speed, the higher the waves. When these high seas moved out from under the winds, they became longer-period swells. By late Wednesday night,,, Read the article here 09:06

Big groundfish harvest boosts Alaska seafood employment

trends-labor-groundfish-pngEmployment in Alaska’s commercial fishing sector grew last year, boosted by a  swell in groundfish harvests, state labor economists reported today. Driven by large catches of pollock and cod in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands, the number of commercial fishing jobs in Alaska grew by .7 percent in 2014, according to the Alaska Department of Labor. Jobs specifically tied to groundfish jumped by nearly 25 percent, or about 350 jobs, with gains made during every month of the year. Read the rest here 09:47

Warm Gulf of Alaska leads to unusual happenings, worried scientists – Fishermen used to the unusual

“I’m really worried. I’m very concerned. Hot water, lots of nutrients, potentially harmful alga blooms, and other species we don’t even know about … this is the time when exotic species get a foothold and just explode,” said Juneau-based marine ecologist Michelle Ridgway. Troller Jim Dybdahl, who’s from Hoonah and has been fishing for about 30 years, said recently that he hadn’t noticed anything unusual this summer. He hasn’t heard other fishermen talk about abnormalities either. In fishing, you get used to the unusual, Dybdahl said. Read the rest here

Alaska – Early salmon catches underweight – “We’ve seen small fish before, But nothing like this.”

Workers statewide from offices of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, or ADFG, are just beginning to notice an early in-season trend of smaller-than-average fish. Throughout the state’s early season salmon fisheries, particularly sockeye and chum, fish are coming in shorter and lighter for their age. “It’s still pretty early in the game,” said ADFG fisheries scientist Eric Volk. “That being said, fish are a little bit smaller than they usually are. It may not be a pattern this early, but we have seen declines in size-at-age.” Even seasoned fishermen are puzzled. Read the rest here 15:23

Once again, Lu Dochtermann tells it like it is

Once again, Lu Dochtermann tells it like it is, in the decades long fight to reduce pacific_halibut for trawl catcher processors targeting other species for export.  He calls the crying misbehaving bottom trawlers “outlaws” that they are.  The NPFMC letters so far number in the 300 pages realm.  Lu’s stands out because this is about disaster economics, politics, and he sees it for the ruckus that it is – and calls for PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH cutbacks commensurate, in parity with, those the directed halibut commercial fleet has taken (over 70% drops in allowed catch of the target species itself).   He’s on board his halibut boat right now in the Gulf of Alaska as he submitted his testimony with the assistance of his office. Read the rest here 22:54

For pollock surveys in Alaska, things are looking up

Scientists have been conducting fish surveys in the Shelikof Strait for decades. But in February of this year, scientists moored three sonar devices to the seafloor and pointed them up toward the surface. The devices have been recording the passage of fish above them ever since. Because underwater devices cannot transmit data in real time, the sonar systems have been storing their data internally, leaving scientists in a state of suspense since February. But suspense turned to satisfaction last week when, working in cooperation with local fishermen aboard a 90-foot chartered fishing vessel, scientists retrieved the moorings from the bottom of Shelikof Strait. Read the rest here 17:31

Upcoming Alaska Navy training exercises prompt protest plans for Saturday

A Navy training exercise planned in the Gulf of Alaska has sparked heated opposition in a small commercial fishing town nearby whose residents say the drills are taking place in the critical habitat of breeding and migratory marine life. Migrating salmon and other marine animals will be harmed by explosions, sonar and up to 352,000 pounds of debris that includes toxic materials like mercury, lead and cyanide, said Emily Stolarcyk, program manager for the Eyak Preservation Council. Read the rest here 07:53

Pacific Ocean warms up along Oregon Coast, drawing unusual visitors

“As far as climate scientists know, it could be a weird aberration or it could very well be something that could stick around for a while,” he said. Or as Northwest Fisheries Science Center Director John Stien put it, “We’re seeing some major environmental shifts taking place that could affect the ecosystem for years to come.” Nate Mantua, another NOAA scientist, said the conditions are so unusual that he believes they won’t be long-lasting. Read the rest here 07:37