Category Archives: North Pacific

Kodiak fishermen may soon be able to sell fish from their boats

“I’m glad that we’re doing this. It will give the smaller fisherman a chance to make a little more coinage. It makes us feel more like a fishing town where you can go down to the fisherman’s boat and buy his catch.” Last year, the council was presented with a petition with 67 signatures asking for this change to the city’s code. Currently, in Kodiak, a person isn’t allowed to go to a fishing boat to buy fish or any other kind of fresh seafood. “I think this is the type of example we’ve talked about in terms of economic development and ways that a municipality can help facilitate business, growth and development.” click here to read the story 21:31

Salmon complete 1,000-mile journey, and life

On a morning with biting air in the single digits Fahrenheit, this river smells like sulfur and is splashy and loud. Bald eagles and ravens swoop in the updraft of a nearby rock bluff in what looks like play. In early November, a time when shadows lengthen and deep cold hardens the landscape, chum salmon have returned to spawn in the lower Delta River. In spots, the water is so shallow that dorsal fins wiggle in the frigid air. Some fish get frostbite on really cold days. Now is the peak of one of Alaska’s last great animal migrations of the year. click here to read the story 10:11

Historic Fishing Vessel Gets New Home in Downtown Kodiak

A historic fishing vessel has been given a permanent home in downtown Kodiak after 12 years of refurbishment and sitting in storage. click here to read the story, and from May 27, 2013, Kodiak’s Thelma C prepared for new home – After more than a year of restoration, the Kodiak Maritime Museum’s Thelma C is ready for its new home on the Kodiak waterfront. On Saturday, volunteers finished cleaning the Thelma C restoration site at Kodiak College, preparing the wooden fishing boat for storage until construction is finished on a permanent display stand downtown click here to read the story The Thelma C Restoration Project click here 15:33

Seattle-based Alaska crab fleet alerted to new hazard: They’re carrying heavier pots

Alaska crab boats carry stability reports meant to guide the safe loading of up to several hundred crab pots that may be used to bring in a catch from the turbulent Bering Sea. But Coast Guard spot checks found that most of these documents significantly underestimate the weights of the steel-framed pots. The checks were spurred by a Coast Guard investigation into the Feb. 11 sinking of the Seattle-based Destination and the loss of all six of its crew. One of the vessel’s pots — retrieved from the Bering Sea bottom in July — was found to weigh more than the Destination’s stability report had assumed, according to testimony in a Marine Board of Investigation into the disaster. click here to read the story 10:46

Little red salmon

The wolves of Southwest Alaska share something in common with the wolves of Denali, according to a new National Park Service-sponsored study, they love fish – salmon to be specific. Following on the pioneering work of U.S. Geological Survey biologist Layne Adams in Denali National Park and Preserve in 2010, researchers who spent five years monitoring the diets of six wolf-packs in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve have documented high use of salmon by wolves there. A few Lake Clark area wolves even appear to have adapted to a prey-switching strategy that takes advantage of the decades that Alaska state salmon managers have devoted to boosting salmon runs to streams draining into Bristol Bay. click here to read the story 14:38

Coast Guard medevacs man from fishing vessel near Cold Bay, Alaska

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew forward deployed to Cold Bay, Alaska, medevaced a man Wednesday from the 154 -foot fishing vessel Defender 260 miles north of Cold Bay. The Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the man at 10:45 a.m. and safely transported him to St. Paul where he was transferred to commercial medical services. He was later transported to Anchorage, Alaska, for further medical care. click here to read press release 11:27

Alaska tops nation in total fishing volume for 20th year

The annual report detailing national and regional economic impacts of U.S. fisheries totaled $9.6 billion in value in 2016 with Alaska as usual producing more than the rest of the nation combined. Alaska produced 58 percent of all landings and for the 20th straight year brought in the highest volume, according to the 2016 Fisheries of the United States report by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The top spot for all ports in the nation went to Dutch Harbor, which brought in 770 million pounds with Alaska pollock accounting for 89 percent of that volume. click here to read the story 16:43

Commissioner, 3 employees are leaving embattled Alaska fishing agency

One of the two leaders of an embattled Alaska commercial fishing agency is leaving his job, he said this week. Ben Brown, a commissioner at the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, said in an email that he’s resigning to take a job at a Juneau arts organization. His departure comes within the same month as three other commission employees’, according to a former colleague. Brown and Bruce Twomley, CFEC’s other commissioner, have both earned more than $130,000 a year to supervise the fishing agency even though their most essential work — limiting access to fisheries and ruling on permit applications — has slowed dramatically. click here to read the story 08:58

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

Senior NOAA appointee calls for retraction of paper on illegal fishing

A top US official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was recently appointed by President Donald Trump, has called for the retraction of a paper that suggests the country exports a significant amount of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The paper, published July 6 in Marine Policy, estimated that in 2015 approximately one-fifth of Alaska pollock exports to Japan were either illegal, unreported, or unregulated — a value of as much as $75 million. click here to read the story 15:17

Sitka Police – Suspect identified in Eliason Harbor fishing boat shooting, held on $100,000 bail

Sitka Police Department have released more information about the suspect of a shooting Saturday evening that left one man injured. 35-year-old Nathan Leask has been identified as the suspect who allegedly shot a man on a commercial fishing boat before fleeing. Sitka Police say they received a call around 5:30 p.m. that a man had been shot on a commercial fishing boat in Eliason Harbor. “Upon arrival, officers located an adult male with a gunshot would on his thigh and blunt force trauma to the head,” said the press release from Sitka Police. “Leask had entered the vessel occupied by the victim and female and a physical altercation had broken out.” Leask was apparently armed with a handgun during the fight. It was said to have discharged, resulting in the injury. click here to read the story 18:46

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

Alaska salmon season a success in global market

It was a generally good salmon season for Alaska, except for one species. “It was a disastrous year for chinook harvest.” That’s Andy Wink, a seafood economist with the consulting firm McDowell Group. Wink says while king salmon may be the most famous salmon species among Alaskans, it also makes up the lowest total value of all the different commercial salmon species. “Sockeye, pink salmon, chum salmon, those are the species that for the commercial fleet really move the needle in terms of total value.” click here to read the story 19:25

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

Coast Guard reminds icing dangers, vessel stability for winter fishing season in Alaska

The Coast Guard reminds commercial fishing vessel operators to be aware of the dangers of icing and vessel stability as the winter fishing season gets underway across Alaska. A vessel’s center of gravity can rapidly rise when freezing spray accumulates high above the main deck. Icing conditions exceeding 1.3 inches increase the risk of capsizing and sinking. Operators should use all available resources to determine if icing and freezing spray is forecast in their location for the next 48 to 72-hour time window. If icing conditions are forecast or present, operators should seek shelter, reduce speed, change course and manually remove ice.  click here to read press release 15:55

NOAA: American Fisheries Remain a Strong Economic Driver

Commercial and recreational fisheries remain a strong contributor to the United States economy, according to the annual Fisheries of the United States report released today by NOAA.
Saltwater recreational fishing remains one of America’s favorite pastimes and a key contributor to the national economy,,, Also in 2016, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.6 billion pounds of seafood (down 1.5 percent from 2015) valued at $5.3 billion (up 2.1 percent from 2015). The highest value commercial species were lobster ($723 million),,, click here to read the report   click here for infographics 15:27

Prelude to war – A news analysis

The mayor of Kenai, Alaska is “extremely disappointed” with the Alaska Board of Fisheries, and the mayor of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough less than pleased but “satisfied” with the Board’s big compromise. The big compromise itself? The Board will avoid both Wasilla and Kenai in favor of a 2020 meeting in Anchorage. So contentious has become the issue of Cook Inlet fishery management that politicians now argue over minutiae while the bigger issues plaguing the Inlet’s fisheries are ignored. click here to read the story 10:46

Last Hope: Coast Guard Alaska Search and Rescue

Every year boats from Washington state head to Alaska for one of the most dangerous jobs known to man: commercial fishing. Those crews often face hurricane-force winds and giant waves. So, there is a dedicated group of people ready to jump at a moment’s notice to keep them safe. It’s 5:00 a.m. in Kodiak, Alaska – where only a few fishing vessels still sit idle. Most are on the open sea for salmon season, but on this morning, the crew of the Laguna Star prepares to head out for weeks in search of a big catch. Sitting in a salvage yard a mile away is another vessel – the Miss Destinee, just seven days after a wave capsized the boat. Two deckhands drowned inside. click here to read the story 08:02

‘Cautious optimism’ surrounds value of Alaska salmon fishing permits

It’s steady as she goes for the values of Alaska salmon fishing permits, with upticks in the wind at several fishing regions. “There’s a lot of cautious optimism,” said Jeff Osborn of Dock Street Brokers in Seattle. As well there should be after a salmon fishery that produced 225 million fish valued at nearly $680 million, a 67 percent increase over 2016. Bristol Bay drift salmon permits trade more than any other due to sheer volume (1,800), and it’s no surprise the value is increasing after one of the best fishing seasons ever. click here to read the story 14:31

Declared unfit for human or animal consumption – Eighty tons of contested Bristol Bay salmon trashed in Anchorage landfill

Some 158,318 pounds of highly contested Bristol Bay salmon from the F/V Akutan have reached their final destination: the Anchorage landfill. This summer, the custom processor was supposed to process up to 100,000 pounds of salmon a day for Bristol Bay Seafoods LLC, a small group of fishermen. But nearly everything that could go wrong did. The vessel’s owner went broke, the crew wasn’t paid, and when 158,318 pounds of fish came off the boat in early September, the third-party testing group NSF declared it unfit for human or animal consumption. click here to read the story 09:17

Alaska fisheries thrive — yet industry is on the edge

It has been a really good year across most of Alaska’s commercial fisheries. Salmon prices are up, harvests are good, fuel costs are down, and there’s more: The world’s appetite for nutritious, wild-caught Alaska fish, caught in clean waters, is growing. Alaskans’ track record for managing fisheries in a sustainable manner, both near-shore and further at sea, reinforces our reputation for responsible stewardship. Life is good.,,, Seafood employed 56,800 workers in 2015-2016 and this industry annually contributes $5.2 billion to the state’s economic output. But as good as this sounds, the fact is that this traditional industry is actually fragile,,, click here to read the story 21:45

Red king crab fishery off to a slow start

The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery is off to a slow start, compared to last year, according to Miranda Westphal, shellfish biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska. The season opened Oct. 15, and on Monday, just over a week into the fishery, only 1.5 million pounds had been landed. In the same time period last year, the boats had hauled in 6 million pounds. The fishery’s performance, though, is not unexpected, and is in line with what biologists learned during pre-season surveys. She said 52 boats were fishing on,,, click here to read the story 20:29

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

Scaling back hatchery salmon could mean huge losses for fleet

Salmon hatcheries play a huge role in Alaska’s fishing industry. But what effect are all those hatchery salmon having on Alaska’s wild stocks, which are even more valuable? In Part 1 of this 2-part series, KCAW’s Stephanie Fischer looked at the Wild Hatchery Interaction Study, an 11-year project researching the genetic consequences of hatchery salmon straying into wild streams and cross-breeding with wild stocks. In this story, Fischer examines the economic consequences on the industry, should Alaska ever have to scale back its hatchery programs. click here to read the story 08:25

Record high prices, strong demand for Canadian snow crab bodes well for Alaska

The top executives of Royal Greenland and Ocean Choice International (OCI) noted demand has remained strong for Canadian snow crab in 2017, despite record-high prices caused by reduced supply from the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery. In April, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) cut the 2017/2018 total allowable catch (TAC) for the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery 22% year-on-year — to 35,419 metric tons — causing prices to increase to record levels of over $8 per pound (for 5-8 ounce size crab) during the season, sources said. The Newfoundland season started on April 6 and finished between May and August, depending on the area. click here to read the story 18:38

Board of Fisheries declines request to cap Kodiak sockeye harvest

The Board of Fisheries won’t take up an out-of-cycle request to cap Kodiak sockeye salmon harvests during certain periods of the season, though it won’t be the last time the issue comes up. The board declined to accept an agenda change request that proposed a new management plan for the commercial purse seine fishery in the Kodiak Management Area setting weekly and seasonal limits on sockeye salmon harvest. The request, submitted by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, raises concerns brought to light in a recent Alaska Department of Fish and Game genetic study showing that Kodiak seiners catch hundreds of thousands of Cook Inlet-bound sockeye salmon during the summer. click here to read the story 08:57

After 32 summers fishing with his dad, Cambria songwriter says goodbye to Alaska

Songwriter-singer Van William, a Cambria native son, says his recently released music video and the new songs he performs are deeply, profoundly personal.,, He says the music is a reflection of who and where he’s been, and his life’s successes, upheavals and heartbreaks, which — as is the case for most folks — helped to shape the person he is now. He said his summers spent in Alaska have “always been a huge part of who I am,” but “I’ve never been able to share much of it with anyone other than my immediate family. This video highlights how life feels up there and how heartbreaking it is to say goodbye to my years as a commercial fisherman.” Excellent video, photos, click here 20:53

This Alaska teen’s biggest catch was a 57-foot whale. Animal-rights activists didn’t like it. He’s not backing down.

He sat on stage, the governor on one side, the lieutenant governor on the other, his parents at the end, and he told a story bigger than the conference room, a story of a life on the wild lands and in the rough seas. Chris Apassingok of Gambell on Monday told how he helped catch a massive bowhead whale in April when he was 16, and how radical animal-rights activists went after him and his family. The whale changed their world. But the critics won’t change how he lives, he told the First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth Conference, a precursor to the upcoming Alaska Federation of Natives convention. click here to read the story 17:48

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

“The fact is, law abiding, licensed commercial fishermen are considered by our government to be the most dangerous people in America.”

In September 1983 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Balelo v Baldridge decided the first court challenge against the government policy of placing federal observers on commercial fishing vessels to monitor their operations. The plaintiffs were Pacific tuna purse seiners. This the first observer program in the American fishing industry was enacted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The first observers spent many weeks on the high seas with the fishermen at a time when there was literally no other way to assure that the newly enacted law — meant to bring the mortality of marine mammals in the tuna fishery as close to zero as possible — was being followed by these operations. It was provided for in this portion of the MMPA that the captains be given notice well in advance of the required observer trips and that the funding be fully covered by Congress. click here to read the story 19:21