Category Archives: North Pacific

SCRUB OBSERVERS ON FISHING TRIPS!

From all indications, on August 14, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commercial fishing monitors will be back looking for a journey unless NOAA steps in and waives the requirement for data-collecting observers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information human observers collect can be temporarily gathered through electronic surveillance, but a momentary waiver has to come directly through your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative in Washington. Let them know as soon as possible because if you don’t email or call them now, don’t think anyone else is going to do this for you. >click to read< 08:11

Alaska and B.C.’s salmon runs expected to be worst ever recorded

Salmon returns on the west coast look bleak this year. Alaska’s salmon returns have been so poor that some communities already are claiming fishery disasters. The socket salmon run on B.C.’s Fraser River is expected to be the worst ever recorded,, in Alaska, the Cordova City Council passed a resolution last week, asking the state to declare disasters for both the 2018 Copper River sockeye and chinook salmon runs and the 2020 sockeye, chum and chinook runs at the Copper River and Prince William Sound,, The Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) says this year may turn out to be the worst for sockeye salmon in the Fraser River since tracking began in 1893, >click to read< 12:56

Pregnant crewmember medevac’d from fishing vessel near St. Paul, Alaska

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak aircrew hoisted a pregnant crewmember from a fishing vessel 200 miles northwest of St. Paul, Alaska, Saturday. Saturday morning, District 17 Command Center personnel received a medevac request from the captain of the fishing vessel Northern Jaeger for a 22-year-old female crewmember reportedly experiencing medical complications due to pregnancy. The a 308-foot factory trawler was located approximately 200 miles northwest of St. Paul. >click to read< 09:12

Humpy harvest in PWS surges to exceed 12M fish

Harvests of over 9 million pink salmon over the past week have pushed Alaska’s yearly total to over 25 million fish, including upwards of 12 million humpies caught in Prince William Sound. Alaska Department of Fish and Game finfish area management biologists in Cordova said the cumulative pink salmon harvest in the Sound through Aug. 1 alone was estimated at 10.5 million common property fish and 1.5 cost recovery fish. Preliminary commercial salmon harvest data compiled by ADF&G through Tuesday, Aug. 4, put the total commercial salmon harvest in Prince William Sound at 11.2 million fish, including 12.3 million pink, 1.9 million chum, 902,000 sockeye, 4,000 coho and 4,000 king salmon. >click to read< 19:03

A Letter to NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver about the resumption of Observer coverage

Mr. Oliver. Recently you sent out an announcement about the resumption of Observer coverage set to begin on August 14th in fisheries where coverage had been suspended due to the Corona virus outbreak for the last 5 months. Personally I find your reasons for the resumption of observer coverage to be not only reckless, but dangerous to the health and safety of the American fishermen who make their living from the sea.,, Yet you, in your infinite bureaucratic knowledge of what is right and what is wrong, think that at this time it is vitally important that observers be placed on fishing vessels where they can endanger the health of not only the crewmen but their families. Interestingly, you have not put your own employees at risk. You have cancelled trawl survey’s for the remainder of this year so as not to risk their exposure to this lethal disease. This despite the fact that the NOAA trawl survey vessels are state of the art, and their crew could actually be quarantined before a trip to assure their safety. I’m sure they would be happy to collect two weeks of pay for sitting around watching TV somewhere. >click to read< 15:05

Alaska fishermen face ‘perfect storm’ of problems during Coronavirus pandemic, but state grants could help

On Friday, the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development announced that the COVID-19 small business grants program was being expanded. Starting Aug. 6, commercial fishermen across Alaska can apply for grants worth between $5,000 and $100,000. Before that date, fishermen were ineligible for help as they typically don’t have business licenses. Many in Alaska’s fishing industry need the assistance. Robert Venables, the executive director of Southeast Conference, said fishermen across the region had been reporting poor returns. “This year it’s been a perfect storm, the slump has continued. The catch is even worse than last year, by far,” Venables said. >click to read< 13:56

Coronavirus outbreaks keep sidelining vessels owned by one of Seattle’s largest fishing companies. No one’s entirely sure why.

It’s not surprising that fishing vessels would become potentially high-risk environments as the pandemic worsened. Like cruise ships, which became notorious Covid-19 hotspots in the early days of the outbreak, fishing trawlers tend to confine people in close quarters for prolonged periods of time. But several additional factors make fishing vessels susceptible to outbreaks: Living arrangements require people to cram into tight spaces together, sharing bunkrooms, dining areas, toilets, and other facilities. “These people are four to a room,” said Dr. Marisa D’Angeli,“They’re in bunk beds. They share a bathroom with the four people [in the] adjacent [room]—so eight people total. People don’t wear a mask when they sleep.” The work environment, which requires people to work closely together in wet, chaotic circumstances, is no less fraught with transmission opportunities. >click to read< 08:08

8 Day Southeast Trolling Shutdown to Start Friday

Southeast Alaska’s commercial troll salmon fishery will close for eight days, starting Thursday, due to low abundance of coho salmon, state Fish and Game officials announced today. The fishery will reopen August 15, they said. “The point of the closure is to try to move fish to the inside,” said ADFG Commercial Troll Management Biologist Grant Hagerman. “They’re not being exploited, they’re passing through the fishery… You’ve got this eight-day closure based on the below average (coho) catch rates and below average returns.” Hagerman said coho catches were low in all six trolling areas. >click to read< 10:07

#PebbleMine: Donald Trump Jr. tweets opposition to Pebble Mine

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted opposition Tuesday to a massive copper and gold mining project in Alaska that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the final stages of deciding whether to permit. Trump Jr. commented on and retweeted a message from Nick Ayers, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Ayers had posted: “Like millions of conservationists and sportsmen, I am hoping @realDonaldTrump will direct @EPA to block the Pebble mine in Bristol Bay. A Canadian company will unnecessarily mine the USA’s greatest fishery at a severe cost. This should be stopped and I believe @POTUS will do so!” >click to read< 06:24

Deadliest Catch Fisherman Mahlon Reyes, Dead at 38

Mahlon Reyes, who was best known for starring in Deadliest Catch has died at the age of 38 after suffering a heart attack. The deckhand’s family have confirmed the news while sharing their “shock” over his tragic death. The sad news has been confirmed by Mahlon’s wife, who said his loved ones are “completely shocked” that he suffered a “massive heart attack”, as he had no existing health conditions his family knew of. His other half confirmed he died in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana after his heart attack last Saturday morning. Mahlon initially survived the heart attack after being rushed to hospital. >click to read< 14:23

Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 31, 2020

It’s the final Bristol Bay Fisheries Report of the season! A few stories about community on our last evening together. The bay smashed expectations this season — the total run is the fifth largest ever recorded. We see how the districts measure up in the last daily run summary of the season. >click to read<10:12

A message from Chris Oliver on National-Level Observer Waiver Criteria; Redeployment in Northeast To Begin

To improve transparency in our approach to observer deployment, we have established national-level criteria for vessels to be waived (released) from observer or at-sea monitor coverage. Going forward, observer or monitor coverage may be waived, for both full and partial-coverage fisheries, on a trip-specific basis if one of the following two criteria are met: (1) Observers or at-sea monitors are not available for deployment; or (2) The observer providers cannot meet the safety protocols imposed by a state on commercial fishing crew or by the vessel or vessel company on its crew. Within our limited authority, our efforts are intended to ensure observers and monitors are following the same safety protocols that fishermen are following. >click to read< 17:50

UPDATE: U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation into loss of F/V Scandies Rose has postponed Pubic Hearing

The U.S. Coast Guard has postponed the public hearing, part of the larger investigation into circumstances surrounding the sinking of the commercial fishing vessel (F/V) Scandies Rose and the loss of five of its seven crewmembers. The hearing was scheduled to take place in Seattle September 8-18, 2020. The decision to delay the public hearing was made to protect the health of the investigative team, the witnesses, and families and to comply with federal and state travel restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. “The public hearing is a critical part of the Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) process, one that requires transparency. Those affected by this tragedy have the right to attend in person and, if we can’t afford them that, we owe them an alternative means,” said Cmdr. Greg Callaghan, MBI Chair. >click to read< 13:57

Trump admin Coronavirus task force urges Alaska to require masks for seafood plants and hot spots

The state should mandate masks, especially in seafood processing plants and places with high or rising case counts, to slow Alaska’s explosive coronavirus infection rates. That’s the recommendation of a July 26 report distributed to states by the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force,,, The update summarized the state’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks to date. The top four involve the seafood industry and together involve more than 350 people: 139 out of about 252 workers at the OBI Seafoods plant in Seward; 85 out of about 119 workers on the factory trawler American Triumph; 76 workers out of about 135 at the Copper River Seafoods plant in Anchorage; and 62 out of about 150 at the Alaska Glacier Seafoods plant in Juneau. >click to read< 09:49

Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 29, 2020

In the penultimate episode of the season, we take a look at the beating heart of our show — commercial fishing. We parse through updates on federal and state relief funding for fishermen, perspectives on the Naknek-Kvichak’s huge year, and a final look at the market. >click to read< 08:11

A Fundraiser: Memorial Expenses for Sig and Helen Decker

On July 28, Julie and Gig Decker learned that they lost both their children, Helen and Sig Decker in a car accident in Petersburg, Alaska. Helen was 19 and Sig was 21. Although both were born and raised in Wrangell, Helen and Sig were in Petersburg fishing side-by-side for the summer to help pay for college. This unimaginable loss comes during an already challenging time. The initial $10,000 in funds raised will go towards funeral costs and related expenses. We are looking to raise $50,000 to fund the rest of the brand new Wrangell Mariner’s Memorial where Helen and Sig will be the first names on the wall. Additional funds raised after that will be used to start a Memorial Scholarship Fund,,, >click to read, and, please donate if you can<21:17

Memorial Fund for Helen and Sig Decker organized and facilitated by United Fishermen of Alaska

Yesterday the unimaginable happened. Julie and Gig Decker learned that they lost both their children, Helen and Sig Decker in a car accident in Petersburg, Alaska. Helen was 19 and Sig was 21. Although both were born and raised in Wrangell, Helen and Sig were in Petersburg fishing side-by-side for the summer to help pay for college. We are asking for an outpouring of support, and have set up a memorial fund organized and facilitated by United Fishermen of Alaska. >click to read<  You can find the GoFundMe organized by UFA >here< 14:20

This is the unimaginable – Four dead in vehicle wreck south of Petersburg – it is linked here for a few reasons. The tragedy that has shocked so many is described, and mentions two other victims in this horrible turn of events. They are identified as Ian Martin, 29 of Petersburg and Dennis Lord, 37 of Elmira Heights, New York.  Bob Thorstenson Jr. manages two seiners, F/V Magnus Martens and F/V Vigilant, says the crew had come into Petersburg to meet a marine mechanic after one of their vessels had engine trouble. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have been on this island with this godforsaken highway, you know,”  >click to read<

Kuskokwim Bay Commercial Fishery Processing At Capacity

Seattle based E&E Foods is buying and processing the salmon on a ship anchored in Goodnews Bay. Chief Operating Officer Ken Eg says that the ship can handle 70,000 pounds of fish per day, and it’s often been buying more than that during recent openings. Eg said that about 70% of that poundage is sockeye salmon. The rest is divided between chum and kings, with coho expected to arrive by the beginning of August. The number of fishermen participating in the fishery has grown from 25 fishing the first openings, to 70. The majority are in Quinhagak, with the rest in Goodnews Bay. E&E wouldn’t disclose how much the fishermen are paid per pound of salmon, but called the price “competitive” and said that fishermen can get extra cash. >click to read<  12:05

Cole Charles Rutzer – Memorial service is planned, date to be announced

Cole Charles Rutzer was born to Greg Rutzer and Lesley Ashby at Providence St. Peter in Olympia, Washington on March 5, 1998. The past few years Cole spent most of his time with his father and captain Greg, cousin Brent Gilbertson and friends Dylan Furford and Kaleb Orton working as a deckhand on the Pacific Dynasty. Cole died on July 2, 2020. His loyal companion, black lab Trigger, stayed with him until the end. Cole’s family plans to hold a service to honor his life near the end of August at Roberta Merino’s home. The date has yet to be set. Details of this gathering will be announced to the community once confirmed. >click to read< 08:03

Juneau processor sanitized, screened, quarantined but Coronavirus still got in

On July 4, a Juneau resident who works at Alaska Glacier Seafoods started showing COVID-19 symptoms. He quarantined at home immediately and got tested. “Unfortunately, you can be contagious for days prior to showing symptoms,” said Jim Erickson, vice president and co-owner of the company. “That’s what makes this disease so hard to get in front of.” Health officials who investigated the case say it resulted from community spread — not from inside the plant. “We’re not sure where he contracted it initially, because he’s probably not sure,” Erickson said this week. “I mean, let’s face it, you could pick it up anywhere.” >click to read< 15:10

Humpy catch on the rise – ADF&G data shows PWS salmon harvest at over 9.4M fish

An estimated 800,000 were harvested in Prince William Sound on Sunday, July 19, boosting the cumulative pink salmon harvest to an estimated 5.6 million common property fish, and the overall estimated commercial catch for the fishery to 9.4 million salmon. Still fishery managers in the Cordova office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said that the Valdez Fisheries Development Association needs some 409,000 humpies for brood stock and has recommended a closure within Port Valdez. >click to read< 09:57

Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 24, 2020

A lull in returns today at 468,000 fish, the daily harvest bay-wide was about half what it was the day before. The total run is 55.9 million fish, about half a million away from last year’s. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the final environmental review for the proposed Pebble Mine. A Seattle-based seafood processor will pay out more than $440,000 to workers at a Bristol Bay cannery, the result of a settlement after the company was sued in June. “We think that it is a fair and just compensation for the workers that were held for 12 days at a hotel without being paid,” said Jonathan Davis, a managing partner of the San Francisco-based Arns Law Firm, which filed the lawsuit. The firm took on the case pro bono, so it will not receive any compensation for its work. The processor, North Pacific Seafoods, was sued for false imprisonment and failing to pay the workers, among other charges.  >click to read< 15:30

Pebble Mine is closer to a federal permit; supporters and critics respond

Lisa Reimers is a board member of Iliamna Natives Limited. She supports Pebble’s development. Her and my dad they’ve both passed now, but they were both big supporters of resource development,” Reimers said. “They thought their families should work. This is a good project, and we want to see something positive happen out in the area. We don’t see any projects coming down the pipeline that would help the area and make it grow, so people can continue to live out there and prosper.”- Bristol Bay Native Corporation’s President and CEO Jason Metrokin says the report fails to really address these concerns. “The final EIS is really no different,” Metrokin says. “To have such significant changes during the process and the later weeks and months of the process just goes to show, at least in our opinion, that the process seems like it’s focused on a political timeline rather than a regulatory timeline.” >click to read< 12:36

Early release of Pebble Mine Final EIS triggers barrage of criticism

Thursday a wide array of Alaska Native, commercial fishing, and sportfishing groups issued statements criticizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Pebble Mine after copies of the document were delivered to interested parties via USPS a day before its publication in the Federal Register. The Final EIS is not a decision on whether the Pebble Partnership will receive the permits it needs to move forward with the mine, but rather it is a scientific document the Army Corps and U.S. Coast Guard will use to make permitting decisions. >click to read< 17:16

United Fishermen of Alaska dismiss Al Gross, endorse Senator Dan Sullivan

The announcement comes as a bit of a body blow to the campaign of his opponent, Al Gross, who presents himself as a commercial fisherman from Petersburg. This is an endorsement that should have come easily for someone with an Alaska gill net permit. Many in the fishing industry are independent voters, and Gross also presents himself as an independent, although he is running on the Democrats’ ticket and with the Democrats’ resources and endorsement. Sen. Sullivan has demonstrated leadership and effectiveness in advancing the interests of Alaska’s fisheries and fishermen across the state, said UFA President Matt Alward. by Suzanne Downing, >click to read< 11:51

Bristol Bay salmon processors are starting to post base prices. They are extremely disappointing.

Fishermen have confirmed that Trident Seafoods, Red Salmon / North Pacific Seafoods, OBI Seafoods, and Peter Pan Seafoods have posted a base price of $0.70 per pound for sockeye. That’s just over half of last year’s base price of $1.35. “Well it’s — it’s ridiculous, because it’s not worth it at all. Because I’m putting all this money in,” says Alex, a captain from Wasilla who fishes for Peter Pan Seafoods. He declined to give his last name. Alex says that coming out of a tough season, he’s extremely disappointed with the prices. >click to read< 10:21

Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 20, 2020

At 52.6 million, the total bay-wide run is now almost four million above the preseason forecast. It’s also more than a million fish over where it was at this point last year! Almost half of the total run is in the Naknek-Kvichak — at 23 million fish, that district has seen the largest run in the bay, followed by Egegik, at 13.9 million fish. All rivers except Togiak have reached or exceeded their escapement goals. >click to read< 13:08

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak crew medevacs an injured fisherman north of Kodiak Island

At approximately 12:45p.m., Sector Anchorage command center personnel received notification from the wife of the fishing vessel’s master requesting a medevac for an injured crew member. District 17 command center personnel directed the launch of an Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew to respond.  At approximately 1:42 p.m., the aircrew landed on a nearby beach and further transported the man to local EMS.  “Good communications from the boat, excellent flexibility and the captain’s expert seamanship enabled a very quick pick-up and transfer of the injured fisherman to medical care.” >click to read< 08:02

A factory fishing trawler is docked in Dutch Harbor with 85 Coronavirus cases. Now it’s headed for Seward.

More than two-thirds of the crew of a huge factory fishing vessel docked in the Aleutian fishing port of Dutch Harbor has tested positive for COVID-19, local authorities announced Sunday. The 85 cases are on board the American Triumph, owned by Seattle-based American Seafoods, one of the biggest players in the billion dollar Bering Sea pollock fishery. The American Triumph, and its crew members who tested positive, are scheduled to depart Unalaska late Sunday or early Monday with American Seafoods medical support personnel on board. They’re scheduled to sail to Seward and arrive by Wednesday,,, >click to read< 09:34

Seattle seafood company reports 6 more crew have Coronavirus in Dutch Harbor

The cases are onboard the American Triumph, which is operated by Seattle-based American Seafoods. Last month, the company announced that more than 100 crew members on three of the company’s six vessels had tested positive for the virus. At the time, experts questioned the company’s decision to mandate a five-day quarantine period, rather than the 14 days recommended by many health officials. American Seafoods subsequently said it had extended its quarantine period to two weeks. The cases announced Friday bring the total tally of positive cases on American Seafoods vessels to 117 since late May, according to spokesperson Suzanne Lagoni. >click to read< 10:18