Tag Archives: Gulf of Alaska

“Wind is the culprit,” – NOAA study shows wind influence in GOA Pollock abundance

As Bob Dylan famously said “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” The study conclusively shows for the first time that year-to-year variation in the geographic distribution of juvenile Pollock in the Gulf is driven by wind direction, which may keep juvenile Pollock in favorable habitat, or push them into currents and on to less favorable conditions. “Wind is the culprit,” according to AFSC biologist Matt Wilson. “The consequence is that when a large proportion of the juvenile population is transported to the southwest many of those fish are likely lost from the Gulf of Alaska.” >click to read< 11:17

A research expedition returning to Victoria puzzled by a no-show of the fish after an initial big haul

“It is a little difficult for people to accept that scientifically, no catch is sometimes as important as large catches. I think this is the case here,” said Richard Beamish, who is organizing the $1.45-million expedition with fellow B.C. scientist Brian Riddell. “We had relatively large catches of pink, chum and coho early in the survey and there were no salmon in the same area a few weeks later.” It is clear that there are probably large schools of species such as coho that are moving over large areas in response to some factor, Beamish said. The chartered trawler Pacific Legacy No. 1 left Victoria on March 11, headed up to the southern part of the Gulf of Alaska and fished off Dixon Entrance. On Friday, it was 513 miles off Cape Beale, west of Ucluelet. The team expects to return to Victoria on Tuesday. >click to read< 10:32

U.S. Commerce allocates $35M for P-cod, Chignik fisheries disaster relief

Fishermen affected by the 2018 Pacific cod and Chignik sockeye disasters will soon have access to about $35 million in relief funding. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross allocated about $65 million to fisheries disaster relief, about $35 million of which is for Alaska,, about $24.4 million will go to the Pacific cod fishery disaster and about $10.3 million to the Chignik sockeye fishery. The funding was appropriated when Congress passed the 2019 Consolidated and Supplemental Appropriations Act. >click to read< 15:02

F/V Scandies Rose: Coast Guard searching for crew members of crab vessel that sank in Gulf of Alaska

The Coast Guard has not officially identified any of the crewmembers. The crew placed a mayday call around 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Coast Guard said. McKenzie said she didn’t know what time the two crew members were found, or what their condition is. McKenzie said investigators don’t know what might have caused the ship to sink. Efforts right now are focused on finding the remaining five fishermen, then an investigation will launch into what caused the vessel to sink. She said families of most of the crew have been notified. >click to read<  20:46

Coast Guard searching for 5 Fishermen after crab boat sinks near Sutwik Island. 2 Fishermen were rescued>click to read< 14:36

2020 Forecast: Bristol Bay still looks bright, but fishermen face cuts in cod, crab and halibut

Judging by the forecasts, 2020 could be an eventful year in Alaska’s commercial fisheries. Even though not all the forecasts and catch limits are rosy, there are some bright spots, such as an increased eastern Bering Sea snow crab total allowable catch and another promising forecast for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. However, fishermen this winter are looking at tighter limits in some groundfish fisheries, particularly in the Gulf of Alaska. >click to read< 11:50

Resident orcas’ appetite likely reason for decline of big Chinook salmon

“We have two protected species, resident killer whales and Chinook salmon, and we are trying to increase abundances of both—yet they are interacting as predator and prey,” said lead author Jan Ohlberger, a research scientist at the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “Killer whales don’t show a lot of interest in Chinook until they reach a certain size, and then they focus intensely on those individuals.”>click to read<  19:02

Extremely low cod numbers lead feds to close the Gulf of Alaska fishery for the first time

A stock assessment this fall put Gulf cod populations at a historic low, with “next to no” new eggs, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research biologist Steve Barbeaux, who authored the report. At their current numbers, cod are below the federal threshold that protects them as a food source for endangered Steller sea lions. Once below that line, the total allowable catch goes to zero — in other words, the fishery shuts down. >click to read< 08:32

Uneven status of Pacific halibut revealed by annual data

Following the trend of the past several years, overall Pacific halibut biomass seems to be down again. The most recent stock assessment presented to the International Pacific Halibut Commission for its interim meeting on Nov. 25-26 shows a coastwide decline in spawning biomass, though that decline isn’t even across all areas. That’s a continuation of a trend seen in stock assessments since 2015. Particularly, surveys have indicated lower numbers of halibut in the central Gulf of Alaska. >click to read<  08:40

Opposite forecasts for SE pinks, Bristol Bay reds; Cook Inlet busts

Biologists are forecasting another weak pink salmon year for Southeast and another strong sockeye salmon run for Bristol Bay coming in the 2020 season. The forecasts for Southeast Alaska and for Bristol Bay, released in late November, continue the trends of the past few years in both areas. In Southeast, biologists are forecasting about 12 million fish to be harvested, with a range of 7 million to 19 million fish. >click to read< 11:51

Battered by a marine heatwave, Kodiak’s cod fishermen may not be fishing in the Gulf for much longer

From the last peak in 2014, the level of mature, spawning cod crashed by more than half in the Gulf, according to stock assessment data — 113,830 metric tons in 2014 to 46,080 metric tons in 2017. They’re now below the federal threshold that protects cod as a food source for endangered Stellar sea lions. As soon as the population dips below that line, the fishery closes. The whole federal cod fishery in the Gulf will most likely be shut down for the season in January. >click to read<  10:36

Increase in observer fees has people in the fishing industry questioning how their dollars are being spent

In Kodiak’s Dog Bay harbor Jake Everich is puttering around the galley of his trawler, the Alaskan. He bought his boat in March to fish for rockfish and pollock around the Gulf of Alaska. It’s just under 75 feet — a relatively small operation. Everich is among the fishermen affected by a recent decision from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to increase observer fees from 1.25 to 1.65 percent of their catch value.,,, For Everich, the bigger issue is how that money is going to be used. He says the data observers collect, and sometimes observers themselves, can be unreliable.  >click to read< 07:10

Bristol Bay Native Corporation to acquire two giants of Alaska’s Pacific cod fishery

Clipper Seafoods and Blue North Fisheries are freezer longline catchers, two giants of the Pacific cod industry. Clipper has six hook and line vessels, and after retiring one of its vessels, Blue North will have four. Now, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation is poised to acquire all of them. “Blue North and Clipper Seafoods, as of Friday last week, have officially merged together. And then BBNC’s intentions are to acquire the merged companies – the Blue North Clipper Group – on Sept. 30.” Audio,  >click to read< 18:20

Kenai River sockeye push liberalizes bag limits; commercial catches rise

After a slow start to their season, things are looking up for Upper Cook Inlet’s commercial fishermen. Total salmon landings reached 1.4 million after the July 29 fishing period, with more than 1.1 million sockeye so far. The majority of those landings have come from the Central District drift gillnet fleet and east side setnets, with setnetters on the west side, Kalgin Island and in the Northern district bringing in about 150,000 salmon between them, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Elizabeth Earl >click to read< 15:29

Salmon researchers seek funds for expanded expedition in 2020

Organizer Richard Beamish, emeritus scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, is seeking $1.5 million from governments, the private sector and non-profit organizations — the same groups that funded his 2019 expedition. Next year’s survey would again be supported by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, an international organization based in Vancouver. The 2019 expedition was a signature project of the International Year of the Salmon program, which is backed by the Anadromous Fish Commission, as well as the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization and other partners. >click to read<20:27

Fishing Disaster

I learned about the magnitude of the Gulf of Alaska as a youth in Yakutat when my father decided we would take up commercial fishing. He lost everything; boat, nets and almost his son. Commercial fishing is serious business in Alaska waters!,,, My father was a civilian contractor on the White Alice early warning system during this time in the mid-1960s,,,,As a youth who had attended 7th grade at Orah Dee Clark Junior High school in Mt. View, I was an angry kid. My father determined he needed to get his family out of Anchorage before I ended up in jail. My stepmother could not control me while Dad traveled the state working at the various sites. by Donn Liston>click to read<07:47

Expedition breaks new ground in the lives of Pacific salmon

Fisheries scientists have estimated for the first time that 54.5 million Pacific salmon are living in the Gulf of Alaska — providing a valuable new tool to predict how many fish will be returning to B.C. streams to spawn this fall. This new comprehensive count is critical for First Nations, commercial and recreational fishermen, coastal communities, businesses relying on the wild fishery, and fisheries managers trying to figure out why some stocks have declined drastically in certain years or crashed altogether. >click to read<10:40

International team of salmon scientists back in port, raring for another mission

The organizer of a month-long Gulf of Alaska salmon survey is already thinking about how to raise money for another trip in the winter of 2020, now that the Russian trawler used in the expedition has finished its job and tied up in Nanaimo. “From what I’ve seen, this needs to be done again,” said Richard Beamish, who came up with the idea of the expedition to mark the International Year of the Salmon with the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. Future surveys would build on data collected by the 21-member volunteer team of international scientists from the five salmon-producing Pacific Rim countries: Canada, Russia, the U.S., Korea and Japan. >click to read<11:52

Researchers aim to find where Pacific salmon spend their winters

An international team of scientists is heading to the Gulf of Alaska for a ground-breaking research survey to uncover the secret lives of Pacific salmon in the winter. Discoveries coming out of a 25-day research cruise using a trawler in the North Pacific are expected to help countries do a better job of managing, conserving and restoring salmon stocks, including improving forecasting of returns. “I say it’s the great black box because we basically lose track of the salmon after they leave our coastal waters,” said Brian Riddell, president and chief executive of the Vancouver-based Pacific Salmon Foundation, a key backer of the endeavour. The team is made up of six Canadian scientists, eight from Russia, three from the U.S., and one each from Japan and South Korea.>click to read<13:41

Year in Review: A dismal year for salmon and halibut in the Gulf, Bristol Bay booms, battles over hatcheries

This summer was a disappointment for salmon fishermen across the Gulf of Alaska, both in the timing and in the numbers. Salmon fishermen from Kodiak to Southeast saw poor harvests and poor profits this year due to unexpectedly small runs of sockeye, king and pink salmon. No. 2: Records smashed in Bristol Bay, Norton Sound, No. 3: Hatchery battles at the Board of Fisheries, No. 4: Halibut hardships, falling quotas and prices, >click to read<11:35

One king salmon worth more than a barrel of oil to AK fishermen; Updates for 2018/19

Salmon stakeholders are still crunching the numbers from the 2018 season, which up front has two distinctions: it ranks as one of the most valuable on record to fishermen at nearly $596 million, and at just over 114 million salmon, it’s one of the smallest harvests in 34 years. A breakdown by the McDowell Group shows the sockeye harvest was the second most valuable in 26 years; the chum catch was the third most valuable since 1975. Audio report, >click to read<17:06

Upper Cook Inlet fishermen seek federal disaster declaration

This season was a sour one for salmon fishermen across the Gulf of Alaska, and participants in multiple fisheries are seeking funding for relief. The Board of Fisheries and Gov. Bill Walker already granted a disaster declaration for Chignik, which harvested next to zero sockeye salmon this year due to an unprecedented poor return to the Chignik River on the Alaska Peninsula. Sockeye salmon runs across the Gulf of Alaska failed to deliver this year, either in timing or in size, at a huge cost to fishermen. >click to read<18:17

PFD’s – A case for life jackets for all: By Roger R. Locandro

Andre Penton of Fogo Island died June 27 this year in a boating accident on a pond not far from his home in Joe Batt’s Arm. The Fogo Island community mourns his death,  with condolences to his wife Rita, his three sons and their families. Although his death was not directly due to drowning, it brought back my own memories of dangers on the water.,,  People drown. Don’t take any chances on or around the water. I took chances and almost paid for it with my life. Some years ago, I was commercial seining for salmon in the Gulf of Alaska, out of Cordova. >click to read<22:49

Alaska’s 2018 commercial salmon harvest 30 percent below forecast, yet some fisheries have boomed

The statewide commercial salmon harvest is about 31 percent below the preseason forecast, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in a statement Thursday. The 2018 season, it said, “has been unusual.” Preliminary numbers show a statewide commercial salmon harvest of about 103 million fish so far. That’s subject to change, because the fishing season isn’t completely over yet. Fish and Game’s forecast in March projected a total statewide harvest of 147 million fish. >click to read<08:03

The mysterious case of Alaska’s strange sockeye salmon returns this year

There’s something unusual going on with the sockeye salmon runs returning to Alaska this year. In some places — like Bristol Bay — the runs are strong. In others, like the Copper River or the Kenai River they’re unexpectedly weak. In some places, there are sockeye that are unusually small. In others, sockeye of a certain age appear to be missing entirely. It’s a mystery. In Southeast Alaska, one of the first Fish and Game staffers to notice an unusual trend was Iris Frank, a regional data coordinator and fisheries technician. Frank’s lab is on the first floor of Fish and Game’s Douglas Island office that looks like it hasn’t changed much in the 32 years since she got there. >click to read<18:06

Alaska – Halibut dock prices rebound, but upswing may not last

Halibut prices fell about $2 per pound at the beginning of the season. But there’s good news for some fishermen: ex-vessel prices are increasing slightly around the state. “We did see the ex-vessel price for halibut perk up a bit where we’re at $6.25, $6.50, $6.75 here in Homer today,” said Doug Bowen, who tracks halibut prices around the Gulf of Alaska for Alaska Boats and Permits, a vessel-and-fishing permit broker in Homer. >click to read<16:22

Board of Fisheries declares low Chignik sockeye returns an emergency

Like many Gulf of Alaska communities, far fewer sockeye are returning to the Chignik River than forecasted. Chignik has an early and late run. The combined escapement goal for July 20 is 416,000 sockeye. As of July 18, only 222,000 sockeye had made it upriver to spawn. With no harvestable surplus, the Chignik Management area has not had a commercial fishing opportunity targeting sockeye. Further, some residents say they are voluntarily forgoing subsistence fishing to boost escapement. Audio report, >click to read<13:24

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