Category Archives: North Pacific

Randy Babich has been fishing Puget Sound and southeast Alaska for 54 years. A lot has changed in that time.

The Paragon is a 56-foot commercial purse seiner moored at Longbranch Marina, a seagoing workhorse that dwarfs the pleasure boats around it.  “I was going to be a dentist,” said the owner, Randy Babich, who just turned 70. “I went through pre-med, pre-dent. My dad always said, ‘Get into a profession.’ ” Babich grew up in Gig Harbor and “got into fishing because my family was into fishing,” >click to read<  07:16

Researchers, marine pilots work to prevent vessel strikes from killing Alaska whales

Over the past decade, federal officials have logged 77 incidents of vessels hitting whales in Alaska waters. About three-quarters of those, were endangered humpbacks. But, it’s not clear why those strikes keep happening. A group of federal researchers and marine pilots have teamed up to combine what scientists know about whale behavior with what marine pilots know about ships.,,, That’s important as NOAA has logged 182 whale strikes in U.S. waters over the last decade. But that’s an undercount: ships aren’t legally required to report when they hit whale. And sometimes they don’t even know it’s happened. >click to read< 12:18

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

Southeast Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to illegally harvesting $35,000 worth of sea cucumbers

A Southeast Alaska commercial fisherman has been convicted for his role in illegally harvesting nearly 7,500 pounds of sea cucumbers near Prince of Wales Island. Jonathan McGraw Jr., of Naukati Bay, pleaded guilty to fishing in closed waters and providing false information on a harvest report. Both are misdemeanors. In 2018, McGraw and two others were charged with illegally fishing in a scientific preserve near Whale Pass. That area has been closed to fishing since the 1980s. >click to read<  21:13

New Environmental Defence Fund Report Details Actions Needed to Create Climate-Ready Fisheries

“Even with the necessary actions to control emissions and investments to reduce carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, changes in the ocean already underway will continue and even accelerate,” said Eric Schwaab, senior vice president for EDF Oceans.,,,  The five pathways articulated in the report focus on steps that can and must be taken by governments, NGOs, fisher organizations, academia and multilateral organizations in order to create greater resilience and sustainability of fisheries. The pathways include: >click to read< 06:57

A dark horizon

If you’re an Alaska commercial salmon fishermen, be forewarned; the farmers in Wisconsin are coming for you. Enter the marketers. “A Better Ocean in Your Backyard” is the new marketing theme of Superior Fresh, a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) farm in America’s Heartland: “Until now, it’s been impossible to get truly fresh Atlantic salmon in the Midwest, not to mention salmon of the incredible quality that Superior Fresh offers. Healthy, delicious, and without the same contaminants you’d find in the wild. And we did it sustainably to boot.” The word that will, or should, jump out to Alaskans (everyone, everywhere) there is “wild.” >click to read< 10:33

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

Pink salmon disaster relief payments delayed

Federal relief payments to permit holders who participated in the disastrous 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fishery have hit another snag, and now won’t be forthcoming until March. News of the payment delay, which was slated to be within six to eight weeks of the Oct. 31 deadline for skipper applications for relief reached Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, on Nov. 15. >click to read< 17:14

Celebrating Small Business: Catch 49 keeping Alaskan fishing local

The brainchild of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), Catch 49 has been working with small-scale fishermen along Alaska’s coastline to provide sustainably-sourced seafood options to the community since 2011. Operating under one of AMCC’s guiding principles, “fisheries management policies should ensure adequate, intergenerational access to fishing opportunities for local residents and communities,” Catch 49 prides itself on providing business opportunities to coastal residents. >click to read< 15:01

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

Bristol Bay red king crab fishery trends toward closure as fleet reports slow fishing, aging stock

This season, the 54-vessel fleet has reported slow, spotty fishing, and the stock continues to show signs of decline. The current quota — 3.8 million pounds — is the lowest since the fishery was rationalized in 2005. “A lot of boats had to scratch their way through the season,” said Ethan Nichols, assistant area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “There were only one to two large schools of legal males that were reported to us from captains out on the grounds. So the season was definitely a bit of a grind.” >click to read< 20:18

Frontiers 190: Iron Men of Bristol Bay

Alaska is a place where much of its history is still fresh, yet with so many stories on the verge of disappearing forever. Such is the case with the double ender sailboat, pushed by the wind and the tides across Bristol Bay in pursuit of salmon. For more than 60 years, they were the workhorses of the canneries that brought in fishermen from all over the world in big sailing ships to work the boats and pull in nets, heavy with sockeyes, all by hand. The sailboats may have been beautiful, but they were dangerous. And although motorized boats appeared on the market in the 1920s, Bristol Bay fishermen weren’t allowed to use them for commercial catches until the 1950s. Video, >click to read< 11:22

Illegal foreign fishing draws congressional eye

Nathan Rickard, representing local shrimpers through the Southern Shrimp Alliance, was one of the people invited to speak on a panel to the subcommittee. He said federal anti-dumping laws helped provide stability to an industry that received a massive hit from imported shrimp beginning in the late ‘90s. “Although the industry permanently had lost many shrimping families, and has struggled to maintain its foothold in some coastal communities, the threat that the industry would entirely disappear has abated,” Rickard said. “The U.S. shrimp industry currently produced about one out of every eight pounds of shrimp that are consumed in our country. >click to read< 10:10

2019 PWS salmon harvest worth nearly $115 M, Statewide, 206.9 million fish brought in $657.6 M

Preliminary harvest figures compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put the value of the statewide commercial catch of 206.9 million salmon at $657.6 million, including $114.9 million for the 57.8 million fish caught in Prince William Sound. State biologists estimated the Prince William Sound harvest to include 18,399 Chinooks, averaging 18.42 pounds each, garnering fishermen an average,,, >click to read< 13:58

Trawl Survey Results Show Northern Bering Sea In Flux

Norton Sound Red King Crab are moving, Arctic cod numbers have dropped significantly, and Pacific cod are continuing to increase as the Northern Bering Sea ecosystem undergoes drastic change. That’s all according to preliminary results from NOAA Fisheries’ trawl survey this summer in the Northern Bering Sea (NBS). Audio,  >click to read< 09:50

Arctic crab invasion reaches new shores

Before 1960, the fishermen that sailed in the Barents Sea knew little about crabs. Then, developments unfolded that ultimately altered marine life on the far northern sea bottom. In fall 1960, Soviet marine biologist Yuri Orlov successfully moved nine female king crabs from Vladivostok to Murmansk. In the following ten years, another 3,000 crabs were moved the Kola Bay. Then, thousand more in the 1970s.,, According to the retired marine researcher, the king crab will continue to spread, and could ultimately reach as far south as the UK, and then even the Gibraltar. >click to read< 09:21

Veterinarian Uses Fish Skin To Help Treat Severely Burned Dog

Back in January, Archer, a dog living in Alaska, was severely burned when his home caught fire. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found Archer consumed by flames. The scared dog ran off when firefighters tried to pick him up, leaving many people worried about his survival. Thankfully, Archer was located near the ocean not long after the fire and was immediately taken to the vet. Since Archer lives in Haines, Alaska, things are pretty remote and emergency vet services aren’t that abundant. Often these kinds of situations call for Dr. Michelle Oakley,,, >click to read< 08:00

Solutions sought to ease conflicts over Southeast Alaska’s rising sea otter populations

A hundred years ago, the fur trade wiped out sea otters in Southeast Alaska. They were reintroduced in the 1960s with 412 animals brought from Amchitka Island and Prince William Sound. Since then, they’ve done really well. The last official estimate in 2012 shows that there are more than 25,000 of them. But their success has changed their environment as they’re a keystone species. “Many of those effects are really disruptive to the existing, you know, commercial activities like shell fisheries that have developed.” >click to read< 07:57

A reminder from Sam Parisi to those interested in creating and implementing a U.S. Fish Bill

Greetings to all commercial fishermen, fish processors, equipment suppliers, politicians, and citizens, that are interested and supportive of creation of the U.S. Fish Bill. It is important that we create an atmosphere of unity and inclusion for all to reach out to their political representation, and inform them of need for a major Bill supporting all segments of the U.S. Fishing industry, and ask that they get involved. I am asking Senator Bruce Tarr, and Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante to attend. The meeting will be held at the Gloucester City Hall November 21 at 7 pm. For developing info, and input of idea’s, please call me!  Thank you, and best regards! Sam Parisi, Gloucester Mass. at 978 491 7722 06:45

Meet the salmon scientist at the center of the Pebble fight

Beneath the steady static of rain on a tin roof, University of Washington aquatic ecologist Daniel Schindler made some soup. On a clear day, he’d be wading through thousands of hump-backed, hooked-jawed sockeye that turn the pristine waters of southwestern Alaska red every year. Schindler has put himself in the middle of the two-decade fight over the Pebble mine, a proposal to build one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines roughly 100 miles east of Lake Nerka. >click to read<  20:01

Salmon harvesting jobs lost in 2018 fisheries

A new report on seafood jobs in Alaska notes that fishery harvest employment declined by 4.9 percent in 2018, erasing most of the gains seen a year earlier. That total decline of about 407 average annual jobs brought the state’s overall employment in harvesting down to 7,924 posts, wrote state labor economist Joshua Warren in the November edition of Alaska Economic Trends,,,  Salmon fisheries statewide lost 7.2 percent, or 328 jobs, >click to read< 10:47

Sitka man arrested after shooting on fishing boat

Sitka police arrested a 35-year-old man accused of shooting a man on a fishing boat Saturday. Police in the Southeast Alaska city were called to a commercial fishing boat in Eliason Harbor at 5:40 p.m. on Saturday on a report that a man had been shot, the Sitka Police Department said in a statement. On the boat, officers found a man with a gunshot wound to the thigh and “blunt force trauma” to his head. The extent of the man‘s injuries was not clear Sunday. >click to read<08:56

Scientists breathe easier as west coast ocean heat wave weakens

Nate Mantua of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the “good news” is that the area of exceptionally warm water is substantially smaller now than it was earlier this year. And while the area about 1,500 kilometres offshore between Hawaii and Alaska is still seeing high temperatures by historical standards, it is “simply not nearly as large as it was and it is no longer strong in areas near the west coast,” he said. Scientists have been watching a marine heat wave that developed around June this year,,, >click to read< 15:01

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

Video: Coast Guard medevacs man near Sitkinak Island, Alaska

The Coast Guard medevaced a man from a fishing boat near Sitkinak Island, Wednesday. A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak hoisted the man who had sustained an arm injury, and transported him to awaiting EMS in Kodiak. Watchstanders in the Sector Anchorage command center received a request for the medevac from the fishing vessel Irene H at approximately 11:53 a.m., stating they were about 3 miles south of Sitkinak. Video, >click to read<16:04

Senator Lisa Murkowski: Investing in seafood industry pays off

Alaskans know just how essential fisheries are to life in the 49th state. The seafood industry is the largest direct employer in our state, providing 60,000 jobs and generating over $5 billion for Alaska’s economy. Over 15 percent of Alaska’s working age rural residents are employed by the industry. And commercial fisheries are a cultural and economic cornerstone in small communities across the state’s 33,000 miles of shoreline. Alaska’s seafood industry also provides for our nation. Catches in Alaska make up more than 60 percent of all seafood harvests in the United States, >click to read< 15:11

Halibut bycatch increases as council considers cod options

Data released preceding the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s upcoming interim meeting shows that almost all the regulatory areas of Alaska from Southeast to the Bering Sea — areas 2C through 4E, respectively — caught more halibut as bycatch in the 2019 season than they did in 2018, with the exception of area 4B, which covers the western Aleutian Islands. Coastwide, from California and British Columbia through the Bering Sea, bycatch increased by more than 1.5 million pounds,,, >click to read<   15:48

Coast Guard confirms serious problems with channel 16

By the time the U.S. Coast Guard issued an alert in mid-October about VHF-FM radio outages throughout Southeast Alaska, word had already spread through the commercial fishing fleet from harvesters worried that mayday calls might go unanswered. “I don’t think the fleet is aware of how severe of a problem this is,” said Jeff Farvour, a commercial harvester from Sitka. “Fishermen usually feel the Coast Guard is on to these things. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be fixed any time soon.” >click to read<  15:11

A Fish Bill Update from Sam Parisi, and a scheduled meeting in Gloucester with all invited!

Dear Fisherynation Readers, I wanted to share some information about a project that I have an interest in seeing advance, a U.S. Fish Bill. I am pleased to let you know that today, a staffer from Senator Markey’s office responded to my request to help draft a Fish Bill. I had a good conversation with the staffer that also requested a meeting with Massachusetts fishermen and local politans to discuss and endorse a U.S Fish Bill. >click to read< 18:07

Unalaska declares emergency as ‘desperate’ air service situation grows after fatal crash

Jay Hebert is a Bering Sea skipper trying to get a group of king crab fishermen out of Unalaska’s flight-dependent port of Dutch Harbor, where a fatal plane crash suspended regular air service this month. They’ve agreed to pay $15,000 for eight seats on a flight he chartered, Hebert says. “That’s how desperate it is.” City officials in Unalaska on Tuesday declared a local emergency and asked for permission to organize three round-trip charters a week given the lack of a “fixed, known date” that regular air service will return ,,, >click to read<  13:46