Category Archives: North Pacific

Making a better “hot dog of the sea”

When people think of Alaska seafood, salmon and halibut come to mind. But the state also produces a lesser-known fish product sought after all around the world: surimi, the base for imitation crab. Now the guy who helped establish surimi in America — more than 30 years ago — is on a mission to improve how it’s made. Tyre Lanier is a food scientist at at North Carolina State University, where he’s been since the 1970s. He has a background in the science of hot dogs. >click to read<16:22

Tough Conditions – A windy start for Togiak herring fishing Sunday

The Togiak herring fishery opened this morning at 6 a.m. It has been a windy start for the state’s largest sac roe herring fishery. Gusts over 30 miles per hour are posing a challenge for fishermen said area management biologist, Tim Sands. “The seine fleet is over there, and it’s pretty tough conditions today because of weather. I know some fish is being taken, but I don’t think a lot.”
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game surveyed the district Saturday and concluded the enough herring had arrived to meet the threshold for opening the fishery—35,000 tons. >click to read<20:13

Commercial Fishing in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone – What was being caught and where back to 1950

What is the status of commercial fishing in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, the waters from 3 to 200 miles off our coastline? Generally speaking – something that the “bureaucrats in charge” have developed a great deal of facility in doing – it’s pretty good. Since the National Marine Fisheries Service started getting serious about tracking commercial landings (or at making those landings readily accessible) in 1950, the total weight of our domestic landings has increased from 4.9 billion to 9.8 billion pounds. The value of those landings, when corrected for inflation, has increased from $3.3 billion to $5.2 billion, almost as good. Nils E. Stolpe/FishNet USA >click to read<17:03

Still on the hook

Alaska officials are denying they’ve officially cut a deal to let off easy Kami Cabana, the now notorious seine-boat skipper indicted on charges of felony assault with a weapon after a Prince William Sound ramming, but they admit plea bargaining is underway. The 27-year-old Cabana was at the controls of the 58-foot, 81-ton Chugach Pearl in the summer of 2016 when a 49th state fish war escalated into actual ship-to-ship combat. Part of a Cabana-family led effort to wall of the back of Hidden Bay on Culross Island about 20 miles east of Whittier prior to a commercial, pink salmon opening, Cabana took aggressive action when the F/V Temptation tried to run the blockade. >click to read<08:04

Harvesters charged with killing Stellar sea lions

A commercial fisherman and his deckhand have been charged with harassing and killing 15 Steller sea lions found dead during the opening of the 2015 Copper River salmon fishery. Jon Nichols, 31, of Cordova, captain of the F/V Iron Hide, and deckhand Theodore “Teddy” Turgeon, 21, of Wasilla, are charged with harassing and killing the Steller sea lions with shotguns and then making false statements and obstructing the government’s investigation into their criminal activities, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Anchorage said April 19. >click to read<09:14

UFA Announces Officer and Executive Committee Changes

United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) announced the transition in its leadership effective April 15, with the election of Matt Alward succeeding Jerry McCune as president, Bob Kehoe replacing Alward as vice president, and new executive committee members Rebecca Skinner and Sue Doherty. Jerry McCune has served most recently as UFA president since 2014, as well as from 1992 to 1996, and has served as a paid or volunteer lobbyist for UFA throughout the past two decades. He was named to the UFA Alaska Seafood Industry Hall of Fame among the initial inductees in 2009, and will continue to serve on the UFA executive committee. Matt Alward represents North Pacific Fisheries Association on the UFA board and,,,>click to read<18:37

Haines Fishermen’s Alliance to advocate for salmon, habitat in face of large mine

A new Haines fishermen’s group called the Haines Fishermen’s Alliance will work to advocate for salmon and salmon habitat. “It is a group of fishermen outside of the group that was already started and has been around for many, many years, which is the Lynn Canal Gillnetters Association, a group of like-minded people who have serious questions about having a large-scale industrial mine above the watershed that is feeding our industry, our fish,” said Haines resident JR Churchill, who helped form the group. >click to read<17:11

Biologists expect early 2018 Togiak herring run

This year, Togiak could see one of the earliest herring harvests ever recorded. “We’re going to fly our first survey on Friday. And then I expect we’ll be seeing herring by [April] 20th, if not sooner,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist Tim Sands.  That would be the Togiak fishery’s second-earliest start on record. The earliest recorded date a biomass was spotted in the district was April 14, 2016. But because of the unusual timing, fishing only began three days later. Herring spawn timing depends largely on water temperature >click to read<16:06

Key leadership changes afoot for United Fisherman of Alaska

Leadership changes are afoot for the United Fisherman of Alaska (UFA) this month, with a number of key seats being passed down following a standard election period, the collective announced on 12 April. Effective as of 15 April, Matt Alward will succeed Jerry McCune as president, Bob Kehoe will take over Alward’s former role as vice president, and new executive committee members Rebecca Skinner and Sue Doherty will be sworn in. >click to read<09:42

Kodiak jig fishermen explore other markets during poor cod season

Kodiak processors and fishermen are seeing the effects of the 80 percent cut to cod quota in the Gulf of Alaska. Some small boat fishermen who previously relied on targeting cod are turning to other means to make a profit. One way to do that is to join a community supported fishery, or CSF. That’s what some Kodiak jig fishermen are doing to bolster their incomes. Jig fisherman Darius Kasprzak holds up a scrap piece of iron from WWII. He says he picked it up off a beach and uses it as a weight for his line. “When people were making money cod fishing, you’d just buy lead weights, but those days are over.” >click to read< 14:36

Deadly success?

Twenty-eight years ago, the state of Alaska banned fish farming in favor of salmon ranching. The idea was simple: Catch a bunch of fish, squeeze out their eggs and sperm, mix the two together, hatch the eggs, raise the little fish in a hatchery, dump them in the ocean, wait for them to come back, and net the money. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe this: From 1985 to 1994, before the hatchery program seriously geared up in the Prince William Sound, the commercial catch of sockeye (red) salmon in Cook Inlet averaged about 5.3 million fish per year.>click to read<10:34

Pacific salmon ‘more abundant than ever’, new study claims

Pacific salmon are generally “more abundant than ever.” That is the provocative conclusion of a new paper published in Marine and Coastal Fisheries by Greg Ruggerone of Seattle’s Natural Resources Consultants and James Irvine of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The study used historical commercial catch and escapement data for the entire Pacific region for both wild and commercial hatchery salmon over a 90-year period, up to 2015. There is one caveat, however: Ruggerone and Irvine analyzed only data for pink, chum and sockeye salmon. >click to read<09:13

The Boat at the Bottom of the Sea

Captain William Prout was up early. Or was it late? During crabbing season it was sometimes hard to tell the difference. The day before, Friday, February 10, 2017, Prout and his crew had offloaded a batch of snow crab on the remote Bering Sea island of St. Paul. Then they’d turned the Silver Spray around and motored back out to the fishing grounds to collect their remaining crab pots. At 5am on Saturday, Prout pulled his anchor and pointed his bow southeast. Hours of darkness still remained—dawn came late on the Bering Sea in February. Captain Prout stayed in the wheelhouse, drinking coffee with his son and looking out at the icy night, as the Silver Spray churned along. >click to read<20:06

Podcast: “F/V Destination, Do You Copy?”

It was the kind of disaster that wasn’t supposed to happen anymore. On February 11, 2017, the fishing vessel Destination disappeared in the Bering Sea on its way to the crab grounds. The boat went missing with an experienced crew, in unremarkable weather conditions, yet there was no mayday and rescue crews could find no life raft or survivors. For the past year, reporter Stephanie May Joyce has been following the investigation into what went wrong, and how this mysterious tragedy has changed Alaskan fishing. >click to listen<18:01

Commercial fishermen hit hard by king cuts

Commercial king salmon fishermen will have a tough time making ends meet this summer. The all-gear harvest limit for Chinook salmon — the pot of king salmon divided between gear groups in Southeast — is about 40 percent smaller this year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Wednesday. The reduction, from nearly 210,000 fish in 2017 to 130,000 in 2018, is based on an index of the abundance of fish ADFG expects to spawn on Southeast and transboundary rivers this summer. ADFG is expecting record-low returns of king salmon,,, >click to read<10:36

North Pacific Fishery Management Council Meeting in Anchorage April 2-10

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet the week of April 2-10, 2018 at the Hilton Hotel, 500 W. 3rd Avenue, Anchorage, AK. The Agenda and Schedule are available as well as a list of review documents and their associated posting dates. Listen online >click here< while the meeting is in session. NPFMC link

China’s fish

The national seafood media was Monday atwitter with speculation China might impose tariffs on American seafood, and Alaska Commissioner of Commerce Mike Navarre was trying to spin the state’s proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) project as some sort of shelter against a looming U.S.-China trade war. “For now, China appears to be leaving Alaska seafood alone,” added reporter Liz Raines. There was no “appears” about it.,, Why? Because China – sometimes with the help of North Korean serfs – has turned Alaska fish into a moneymaker for China. >click to read< 14:16

Voices of Alaska: A call to fishermen

Things are getting sideways out there in the ocean. Nearly every fishermen who’s motored in recent years along the Peninsula coast and around to Bristol Bay would probably agree. I do it every year, working my way from Kodiak to Naknek over the course of a week. And the last 10 years, with increasingly warmer water, have brought one weird phenomenon after another. Massive sea bird die offs. Whale strandings. Extraterrestial looking tropical species on the beach. The forage fish are heading for colder deeper waters at odd times.,,Now, the Pebble Mine,, >click to read<11:37

Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018 – bill nets solutions for overfishing

A new bipartisan bill introduced in U.S. Congress this month encourages a science-based approach to significantly reduce the overfishing and unsustainable trade of sharks, rays and skates around the world and prevent shark finning. The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Daniel Webster, R-FL, and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA, along with co-sponsors Rep. Bill Posey, R-FL, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-MO, and Rep. Walter Jones, R-NC., >click to read<09:39

With Sitka herring too small and too few, many seiners head home

Though the Sitka sac roe herring fishery has been on standby since March 20th, they’ve only caught a quarter of the quota. Many boats have left town in a fishery that was non-competitive this year and appears to be petering out. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will continue to survey for harvestable schools this weekend. Their research vessel, the R/V Kestrel, has returned to Petersburg. >click to read<14:56

Finding local seafood is getting easier at America’s top fishing port, if you’re imagining a fish market, wipe away that image.

Unalaska is America’s fish capital. More seafood is hauled into Dutch Harbor than anywhere in the country, but for residents it’s not easy to find fresh fish unless they catch it themselves. At the local grocery stores even seafood caught in the Aleutians is exported before landing in freezer cases. But it’s getting a little easier to get locally caught seafood on the dinner table. It doesn’t happen often in Unalaska, but fishermen can sell their catch directly to customers. If you’re imagining a fish market, wipe away that image. Buying fresh seafood means going directly to a boat like Roger Rowland’s. >click to read< 14:13

Third Medevac in Three Months for F/V Golden Alaska

On Thursday, a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter from the cutter Stratton medevaced a 59-year-old crewmember from the factory trawler Golden Alaska about 35 nm northwest of Cold Bay, a small fishing port in the Aleutian Islands. The individual was reportedly suffering from inhalation of unknown chemicals. Weather on scene was favorable, with calm seas and light airs. The aircrew safely hoisted the man aboard from the Alaska’s bow and brought him to Cold Bay, where he was transferred onto a LifeMed aircraft ambulance and flown to Anchorage. >click to read<10:16

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

Alaska Senate passes Stedman’s sea otter resolution

The Alaska Senate passed a resolution Wednesday calling on the federal government to take steps to increase the harvest of sea otters in Southeast Alaska. Senate Joint Resolution 13 is sponsored by Sitka Republican senator Bert Stedman. It asks the federal government to transfer management responsibility to the state government or National Marine Fisheries Service, instead of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It also urges federal agencies to work with the state and other interest groups to produce a management plan for otters, recognizing their impact on crab, clams, urchins and other sea creatures. >click to read<11:07

The Secret Lives of Commercial Fishermen – Corey Arnold

In the early 2000s, Corey Arnold worked on commercial fishing boats in some of the world’s most dangerous waters, taking photos of the job whenever he had the chance. Soon galleries and magazines were paying attention. In 2008, Arnold shot a story for Outside in Bristol Bay, Alaska, about environmental threats from the proposed Pebble Mine. During that assignment, he discovered a seasonal fishing community at Graveyard Point, near the mouth of the Kvichak River, and established his own salmon operation. (An excellent photo article.) >click to read<16:50

Fields withdraws name from fish board consideration

It was a quick dip into the state fisheries politics pool for Duncan Fields. The Kodiak resident on Wednesday withdrew his name from consideration for the Board of Fisheries, a little less than two weeks after Gov. Bill Walker announced his nomination March 16, according to a press release from Walker’s office. Fields, a commercial salmon fisherman and former member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, had become a flashpoint of controversy among sportfishing groups because of his background in commercial fisheries.>click to read<10:47

Fleet catches a quarter of herring quota in non-competitive fishery

The Sitka sac roe herring fishery stood down on Tuesday (03-27-18), as the Alaska Department of Fish & Game carried out aerial surveys of Sitka Sound. According to a press release issued at 3:30 pm., weather during the flight was poor with 20 knot winds and snow squalls. No herring were spotted from the air. So far, ADF&G has permitted the fleet to fish twice this week in northern Sitka Sound. The fleet landed approximately 2,400 tons during a five hour opening on Sunday (03-25-18) and 400 tons during a four-and-a-half hour opening on Monday (03-26-18).  >click to read< 22:44

Fishing Vessel Sees Large Fuel Savings

The 305-foot factory trawler f/v Golden Alaska is powered by twin MAK six-cylinder engines and has a large boiler used to support large fishmeal-fish oil processor and hoteling galley needs of the 130-person crew and factory personnel. The vessel is in its fourth year and eighth pollock season using the Fitch Fuel Catalyst on output of dual centrifuges for a 5,300-gallon day tank. They get approximately 18 months service from each core and now are on their third one. >click to read< 21:58

Looking into why a winch fail-safe never took off

The emergency stop button on a machine could mean the difference between a lost finger and a lost arm. And when it comes to one machine on fishing vessels – winches – the risk is there. So, why aren’t more fishermen in Alaska buying into an emergency stop button that’s been around since 2007?  Vendors gather in a room for Kodiak’s annual commercial fisheries trade show, ComFish. Brad Tibbs is manning the booth for Kolstrand, a fisheries equipment business based out of Seattle. Kolstrand sells their winches with optional emergency stop buttons. But Tibbs says they haven’t taken off.>click to read<20:34

Herring fishery underway near Prince of Wales Island

Fishing has started in another commercial herring fishery in Southeast Alaska this month. Fishery managers expect herring could be starting to spawn this week in a spawn-on-kelp fishery near Craig and Klawock on Prince of Wales Island. The guideline harvest level is a big increase from last year, set at 1,667 tons. That includes 742 tons not caught in a herring food and bait fishery this winter. “After quite a downturn from last year, we’re seeing a real strong presence of fish out here,,, >click to read<18:42