Tag Archives: Gulf of Alaska

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

Alaska fish processors chase Japanese market for an unusual product — cod semen

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: This is a story about cod semen and the people who love to eat it. Right now, fishing boats are pulling Pacific cod from the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Fisherman are allowed to catch up to 325,000 tons of cod this year. A lot of that cod will become fish sticks or batter-fried filets. But many processors in Alaska also remove the sperm sacs of male cod, a seafood product called cod milt. In Japan, a high-end market exists for cod milt, which goes by the unsettling literal name shirako, or “white children.” Read the rest here  15:25

OPINION: Halibut waste in the Bering Sea is deplorable – By Pete Wedin

alaska-halibut__frontThe Bering Sea directed halibut fishery is in a state of crisis. For the 2015 season, IPHC proposes reduction of the catch limits in Area 4CDE by a whopping 71 percent. How many of us could weather such a cut?In the mean time, trawl bycatch caps in the Bering Sea remain unchanged, and millions of pounds larger than the directed fishery quota. The truly sad thing about all of this is that more than 65 percent of the halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea is caused by trawlers targeting two species: yellowfin sole and rock sole. Read the rest here 09:18

UAF Researchers Montior Gulf of Alaska and Find Waters Warmer

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have been studying the waters in the Gulf of Alaska and found that the warmer than normal temperatures are averaging one to five degrees warmer than the September average of 55-57 degrees Fahrenheit. Read the rest here 15:07

Gulf of Alaska catch share proposals move to analysis

Catch shares in the Gulf of Alaska are one step closer after the North Pacific Fishery Management Council asked for analysis of an alternative structure to reduce bycatch and end the race to fish. Read the rest here 16:18

The Gulf of Alaska is unusually warm, and weird fish are showing up

Something odd is happening in Northern Pacific waters: They’re heating up. In fact, it hasn’t been this warm in parts of the Gulf of Alaska for this long since researchers began tracking surface water temperatures in the 1980s, according to the NOAA. Read the rest here 12:26

Unusual North Pacific warmth jostles marine food chain

Pacific warming waterIndeed, there are three warm zones, said Nate Mantua, leader of the landscape ecology team at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center: The big blob dominating the Gulf of Alaska, a more recent expanse of exceptionally warm water in the Bering Sea and one that emerged off Southern California earlier this year. Read the rest here 08:33

State, federal managers hear about Gulf of Alaska changes

23523_354387901211_7651997_aMembers of the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council met today in Anchorage to discuss the issues of mutual concern, including how to address changes coming for the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. Read more here  13:09

Coast Guard assists disabled tender “Express” in Gulf of Alaska

uscg-logoJUNEAU, Alaska — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa assisted the crew of the fishing tender Express after it suffered an engine casualty in the Gulf of Alaska, 70 miles west of Hoonah, Tuesday. The crew of the 110-foot cutter safely towed the 125-foot fishing tender, with two people aboard, to Hoonah. [email protected]  11:39

New Gulf of Alaska king salmon bycatch limits passed by North Pacific Fisheries Management Council

There was almost certainly going to be a cap. All the other trawl fisheries had one, and concern over the health of Alaska’s chinook runs has only increased in recent years. The question was just how much chinook salmon could the Gulf’s trawl fleet take unintentionally before they would have to pull up their nets and stop fishing, period. continued @ APRN – Juneau

Bering Sea king bycatch, co-op reports and Gulf of Alaska tendering to come back before North Pacific Council

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council asked for reports and discussion  papers on several items this morning, including king bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery, the reports fishing cooperatives provide to the council each  year and tendering in the Gulf of Alaska. continued

Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Ratz: Kodiak assemblies’ letter misses the protective mark by Stephen Taufen

January 26, 2013

In December, the Federal Register declared that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is proceeding on giving away federal fish resources to selected trawl recipients in the Gulf of Alaska. Homer, Kodiak, King Cove and Sand Point are among the most affected — all challenged to economically protect their fishery dependent coastal municipalities and boroughs.

The local city of Kodiak and the Kodiak Island Borough’s joint fishery work group has shown concern and help many meetings over the past seven months, listening to input from all sides.  One must applaud when elected officials get highly involved; but that is only if they truly keep the public’s interests foremost. They could take a lesson from New Bedford’s former Mayor Lang’s firm stance about preserving fishing jobs and protecting the local economy against privatization forces. Read more

Expert Finds Individual Catch Shares Hurt Communities – kmxt 100.1FM – (thank you, Alaska Gal!)

All eyes and ears were on visiting fisheries professor Seth Macinko Tuesday night during the joint session of the Kodiak Island Borough and the City Council. Macinko, who teaches at the University of Rhode Island  has worked closely with catch share management programs thought the world and offered hi take on the growing issue in Alaska. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is working toward a catch shares in the Gulf of Alaska to help address bycatch issues. Macinko said the rationalization of groundfish mirrors steps taken in other fisheries around the world. Listen here.