Category Archives: North Pacific

Wild or hatchery fish: opinions vary on large pink return

Pink salmon seem to be showing up everywhere in creeks and along beaches all around Kachemak Bay and the outer coast of the Peninsula. Pinks are returning to systems that have historically never supported salmon. That has caused some head scratching in the fishing community, and there are differing theories as to why pinks are colonizing new systems. This summer was a significant year for commercial fishermen in Lower Cook Inlet. Glen Hollowell, area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says two million pink salmon were commercially harvested, double the historic average. click here to read the story 09:10

Salmon trollers get winter season in Southeast Alaska

The good news for commercial salmon trollers in Southeast Alaska is they will have a winter season for king salmon starting up next month; the bad news is that winter season may be shortened this year. Trollers have been concerned over the possibility of no winter season and what low king numbers mean for the future of the fishery. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced September 20 that the winter troll season will open October 11th. It could remain open through the end of December but managers will have to wait and see about fishing opportunity later in the winter. click here to read the story 11:44

Instead of fighting global competition, Alaska’s salmon industry is (reluctantly) embracing it

Forty years ago, Alaska had a near monopoly on supplying the world with salmon. But then Norwegian fishermen began experimenting with salmon farming — raising fish in enclosed ocean pens. By the 1990s, international salmon farming had taken off, not just in Norway, but also in Canada, Scotland and Chile. As global supplies skyrocketed, Alaskan salmon prices plummeted. “In 1988, the price for Sockeye salmon in Alaska was well over $2 a pound. By about 2000, the price had fallen to 40 cents a pound,” says Gunnar Knapp, an economist and fisheries expert with the University of Alaska, Anchorage. click here to read the story 07:05

Fishermen feel betrayed on habitat initiative

Three years ago, I remember a wave of optimism in the fishing community here in Southeast, as we rolled through the season and headed into an election for governor. For the first time in recent memory, we had a candidate who spoke our language. As someone who grew up on the coast in a fishing community, saw how Prince William Sound was devastated by the oil spill, and vowed to deliver “fish first” policies once in the governor’s office, Bill Walker claimed to understand our values. His selection of Byron Mallott as a running partner seemed to confirm that we had reason to be hopeful. Fishing communities voted for the Walker/Mallott ticket in droves. Today, I think I can speak for many fishermen: We feel betrayed. click here to read the op-ed 10:27

Crew abandons F/V Akutan in Unalaska’s Captains Bay

The F/V Akutan no longer has a crew and the ship’s 130,000 pounds of salmon has been offloaded. The processor has been anchored in Unalaska’s Captains Bay since late August and there’s no indication the boat will be leaving soon. “The reality of it is, there’s just a huge legal ball that needs to be worked through before any real decision can be made,” Unalaska Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin said. After a disastrous fishing season as a processor in Bristol Bay, the vessel’s owner went broke, the crew went unpaid. and now the ship is disabled and unable to move. click here to read the story 14:57

Trade groups want 10-year requirement removed from Magnuson-Stevens Act

As Congress gets ready to address reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Act, representatives from commercial fishing interests are urging lawmakers to revisit some of the current law’s regulations they feel have hindered the industry. In particular, they’re urging officials to do away with language that caps rebuilding plans for overfished species to 10 years. It’s an arbitrary figure that has too rigidly applied across all federally managed species, said Lori Steele, the executive director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, at a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. click here to read the story 10:50

The Magnuson Stevens Act and its Ten Year Rebuilding Timeline: Science or Fiction? By Meghan Lapp – click here to read the article

From Captain Jack Molan – Book Launch! We have lift off!

My book of short stories, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!” is available on Amazon, both paperback and E-Book (click here) This covers thirty years in the Bering Sea, the stories will grab you! Please share with your friends, in the new world of self publishing, its the best way to spread the word. After reading, please visit Amazon and leave a review. The reviews are really important and will get the book more exposure. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did writing.  Click here for a short video about how I came to write such a tail. 16:57

Our Friend, Groundswell Fisheries Movement Founder Stephen R. Taufen has passed away

Stephen R. Taufen, a prolific writer on commercial fishing issues, was air ambulanced to Anchorage, and was hospitalized at Providence Hospital with an inoperable hematoma. Stephen was in intensive care for a few days, and later, out of intensive care, was lucid, and appeared to be recovering. Stephen’s hematoma began growing again, he lost consciousness and, with family advice and consent, has been removed from life support. Stephen passed away this morning at 03:45. He was the Founder of Groundswell Fisheries Movement. Truthfully, we have lost a great man who cannot be replaced. We extend our sympathy and sorrow to all that know him, his mother, his brother, and his friends. Steve was a man with heart, dignity, and fairness. Perhaps a look at Groundswell and the content he posted on his website will give people a sense of what he stood for. He was always loyal to the underdog. 10:46

Hearing! 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday – MSA Reauth – Oversight of Fisheries Management Successes and Challenges

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene the hearing titled “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Oversight of Fisheries Management Successes and Challenges” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. The hearing is the third of the series and will focus on the perspectives of commercial, charter, and recreational fishermen on the state of our nation’s fishery laws. click here to read the press release This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov. 23:24

Average year for coho harvest in PWS, but prices are up

Commercial fishing for coho salmon is winding down in Prince William Sound. Gillneters at the mouth of the Copper River are seeing a relatively average year with about 170,000 fish harvested so far. While the harvest is typical, the price this year is not. Coho are fetching about $1.50 per pound at the docks, about double the average price. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Jeremy Botz expects fishing to stay open another week. click here to read the story 21:07

Prolific writer Stephen R. Taufen hospitalized

Stephen R. Taufen, a prolific writer on commercial fishing issues, was air ambulance to Anchorage, and is now hospitalized at Providence Hospital with an inoperable hematoma. Stephen was in intensive care for a few days, and later, out of intensive care, was lucid, and appeared to be recovering. Stephen’s hematoma began growing again, he lost consciousness and, with family advice and consent, has been removed from life support. He is the Founder of Groundswell Fisheries Movement, Advocacy Against ABUSIVE TRANSFER PRICING & CATCH SHARE QUOTAS. click here to visit Groundswell.  I love you, Brother. 18:57

At Larsen Bay, a cannery where the tenacious rhythm of salmon season holds sway

The steam whistle exudes a pink cloud as it announces break time. A forklift loaded with cookies and hash browns zips from the mess hall across the wooden planks on which the Larsen Bay salmon cannery is built. The forklift stops in a corridor within a corrugated metal warehouse. “Form Two-Lines,” a hand-stenciled sign instructs, pointing to either side of the table. The staff places the food on the table, alongside oversized coffee thermoses. It’s time for mug-up. Icicle Seafoods employees rush past other handmade signs on their way to the cookies. Slime line workers with rubber-soled shoes and hairnets pass signs warning “Do not enter, hot cans!” at the juncture where golden tins are transferred from the cavernous pressure cookers, called retorts, into the building where the cans cool. click here to read the story 10:26

Some Alaska fisheries had a record-setting year for wild salmon. But no one wanted to gut all those fish

At the outset of the salmon season, fisherman Everett Thompson was looking forward to a banner year. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game had estimated that 41 million wild sockeye salmon would come to Bristol Bay, an eastern nook of the Bering Sea formed by the Alaskan Peninsula. Ultimately, 59 million salmon returned—the most since 1980—leading to record hauls in parts of the region, which contributes 40 percent of the world’s annual sockeye harvest.  For a state that prides itself on sustainable salmon and ranks its seafood industry just below oil and gas, this should have been good news. As the annual migration reached its peak around July 4, Thompson and his deckhands were netting 15,000 pounds of salmon in six hours. Then he got an unexpected call from the plant manager. The message: Stop fishing. click here to read the story 09:28

Do humans have it wrong? Treating salmon as commodity may threaten their wild existence

As once-uncountable Northwest salmon stocks have dwindled, humans have tried a number of remedies to bolster or replace the disappearing fish. We’ve caught them at dams and trucked and barged them past obstacles. When the fish return home, we strip them of their eggs, fertilize them in buckets and grow new generations of baby salmon in hatchery raceways. But what if humans have it all wrong? What if those efforts are not just not working, but actually reducing the salmon’s odds of survival? What if hatchery fish do more than just dilute the genetic fitness of the wild, native salmon that evolved to live and spawn in particular conditions in specific stretches of individual streams? click here to read the story 16:00

Coast Guard Medevacs Man from Fishing Vessel 154 Miles East of Kodiak, Alaska

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew medevaced a crewman from the fishing vessel Cape Greig 154 miles east of Kodiak, Tuesday. The Jayhawk crew safely hoisted the ill crewman and transferred him to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Kodiak. Coast Guard District 17 Command Center watchstanders in Juneau received notification from Discovery Health Partners stating the 50-year-old crewman was experiencing symptoms of appendicitis. Watchstanders briefed the duty flight surgeon who recommended a medevac. –USCGwatch video click here 12:48

NIOSH regional reports highlight top dangers in commercial fishing industry

Vessel disasters and falls overboard are the primary hazards experienced by workers in commercial fishing – an industry with a fatality rate 29 times higher than the national average – according to a recent NIOSH analysis of four U.S. regions. NIOSH reviewed overall commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and the East and West Coasts from 2010 to 2014. Researchers found that 184 fatalities occurred in the four regions: Alaska recorded 45, the West Coast had 30, the East Coast reported 60 and the Gulf of Mexico experienced 49. Vessel disasters (capsizes, fires, groundings, sinking) accounted for the most deaths with 80, followed by falls overboard with 53. Other categories included onboard, onshore and diving. click here to read the story 23:24

Federal Judge Evokes Dr. Seuss in Upholding Seafood Regulations

Invoking Dr. Seuss, a federal judge on Monday quoted from the 1960 classic “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” to uphold a regulatory regime intended to cut down on seafood fraud and protect U.S. fishers from unfair competition. Despite a challenge to the rule by a slew of U.S. seafood importers, harvesters and processors, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta found that the traceability rule, which requires importers to document the supply chain of imports from their origin to their arrival in the U.S., was lawfully implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service. click here to read the story 18:32

Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program – 2017 Awards

NOAA Fisheries has awarded more than $2.3 million to partners around the country to support innovative bycatch reduction research projects through its . Bycatch of various species–fish, marine mammals, or turtles–can have significant biological, economic, and social impacts. Preventing and reducing bycatch is a shared goal of fisheries managers, the fishing industry, and the environmental community. click here to read the notice 14:10

Alaska Department of Public Safety reaches out to fishermen in effort to combat opioid abuse

Earlier this year, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker issued a disaster declaration to combat opioid abuse in the state. Since then, more time and resources have been dedicated to the issue. This summer, some of those efforts are aimed at getting the attention of the fishing community. “We haven’t had something of this magnitude before,” said Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, “It’s not just about fishermen, it’s about lumberjacks, it’s about concrete pourers and everyone else out there,” Though the letter was sent specifically to fishermen, the commissioners said its part of a wider effort, and they’re not singling out one industry. click here to read the story 22:38

Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation – Icy spray, heavy pots may have doomed Seattle crab boat F/V Destination

What caused the February sinking of the Seattle-based Destination in the Bering Sea? On the morning of Feb. 11, crab-boat skipper Daher Jorge received a Coast Guard radio request to assist a Bering Sea search for a missing vessel — the Seattle-based Destination. But Jorge’s own boat, the Polar Sea, was burdened by a thickening mantle of ice that made it more vulnerable to sinking. His crew had been unable to break off all that ice while at sea, so Jorge felt compelled to reject the call for assistance and head to port in Alaska’s Pribilof Islands. “That was the only reason we did not go. For our own safety,” Jorge testified during two weeks of hearings held earlier this month in Seattle by a Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation into the sinking of the Destination and loss of all six of its crew. click here to read the story 12:44

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

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew medevaced a crewman from the fishing vessel Unimak, a 183-foot fishing trawler, near Cold Bay, Alaska, Friday.  The Jayhawk crew safely hoisted the ill crewman from the Unimak, which was 46 miles northwest of Cold Bay, at 8:52 p.m. and transported him to emergency medical personnel at the Cold Bay Clinic at approximately 9 p.m. Coast Guard District 17 Command Center watchstanders in Juneau received notification from Health Force Partners stating a Unimak crewman had symptoms of dizziness and weakness, along with general confusion. A Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended a medevac. click here to watch video 09:14

The Pie Analogy – Fleet consolidation and loss of fishing jobs a hot topic at MSA hearing

Senator Dan Sullivan brought his Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard to Soldotna on Wednesday for a hearing on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. One theme was addressed by many of the dozen invited experts who testified. Fleet consolidation is a predictable outcome of limited access privilege fisheries, or LAPs in the acronym-filled parlance of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA. A limited access fishery is one that has been privatized in some way. For example, in the Bering Sea, the crab fishery was rationalized more than 10 years ago, resulting in a fleet today that is just a fraction the size it was before privatization.,,, In his testimony, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten asked that Congress not take any action that would further consolidation. click here to read the story 08:32

Fish pie – Everyone wants a piece

Representatives of the haves and have-nots of American ocean fisheries gathered in a packed college classroom here on Wednesday to offer Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, their ideas on what he could do with the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act. The now 40-year-old federal fisheries legislation is the legacy of the late and revered Alaska Sen.Ted Stevens.,,, And there is no doubt the MSA has problems when it comes to dealing with recreational fishing. Anglers, charter-boat operators, commercial fishermen and environmental groups are at the moment all in a Gulf of Mexico scrum fighting over red snapper. It is in many ways a tussle that almost makes the long-running fish war in Cook Inlet look tame. click here to read the story 08:25

Magnuson Reauthorization, let’s get it right this time – Nils E. Stolpe/FishNet USA

When the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) became law 0n April 13, 1976, one of its primary selling points, along with reserving the fish and shellfish in our coastal waters out to two hundred miles for U.S. fishermen, was that the eight regional Fishery Management Councils that it established had as voting members both government employees who were involved in fisheries management and private citizens who were knowledgeable about fisheries. Ideally this made for balanced decision making, allowing for both the official view of what’s going on in particular fisheries and the on-the-water observations of people with an actual working knowledge of the fisheries, and with the Secretary of Commerce required to sign off on any fishery management actions. (It’s important to note that this was well before supposed environmental crises were supporting a multi-billion dollar industry.) click here to read this article. 12:21

Feds review annual bowhead whale quotas for Alaska Native hunters

Federal officials are reviewing annual catch limits for 11 Alaska Native communities whose subsistence hunters are authorized to harvest bowhead whales. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the public has until Sept. 14 to comment on quotas for a six-year period to begin in 2019. The International Whaling Commission, which has final say on quotas for subsistence harvesting of large whales, meets next in Brazil in 2018. click here to read the story 10:46

‘Deadliest Catch’ tragedy: Sig Hansen in tears as crab fishermen friends are lost at sea

Crab fishing is a dangerous profession and that was made tragically clear on Tuesday night’s emotional episode of “Deadliest Catch.” On the Discovery Channel show, the captains were devastated to learn that the Destination, the ship of their friend Jeff Hathaway, had gone missing off the coast of Alaska. Hathaway and his crew couldn’t be found. The Bering Sea had been fierce all winter and as the episode began, veteran Sig Hansen noted, “We have had our close calls. It makes me wonder, how many chances do we get?” Sadly, unbeknownst to the skippers, the coast guard was searching for a missing vessel that had set off a distress signal. click here to read the story 09:53

Quinhagak commercial fishermen struggle after two years without a buyer

Several weeks ago, the financing fell through on a plan to bring the “Akutan,” a floating fish processing vessel, to Kuskokwim Bay. For the second summer in a row, fishermen in the coastal community of Quinhagak have nowhere to sell their catch; many in the village are now struggling to make ends meet. Timothy “Johnny Boy” Matthews doesn’t remember when he started fishing commercially.,, Matthews has a family of his own now. He bought his own limited entry permit a decade ago and spent his summers selling silvers to a newly opened processing plant in Platinum. It’s owned by Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF), a corporation that is supposed to use its Bering Sea fishing quota to support economic development in the area. But CVRF decided not to re-open its plant last year,,, Audio, read the story here 12:17

State-of-the-art facility in Harris Harbor matches boat watcher’s growth

Captain Ed Page, the Executive Director of the Marine Exchange of Alaska, stood on the roof of their new $4-million facility on the edge of Harris Harbor.,, The private nonprofit has just moved in and started operations from their new location last week. MXAK monitors vessels — everything from huge cargo ships to fishing vessels and Native whaling boats — on more square miles of ocean than any organization of its kind in the world. It’s an area stretching from the Dixon Entrance to the Beaufort Sea. click here to read the story 18:01

Unified command established in response to potential sinking of fishing vessel Akutan

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the city of Unalaska established a unified command in response to potential pollution from the fishing vessel Akutan near Unalaska, Alaska, Friday. Personnel from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, the State of Alaska, the city of Unalaska and Resolve Marine Services, a salvage and repair company, are coordinating and overseeing the removal of environmental hazards, including anhydrous ammonia and various petroleum products onboard the fishing vessel Akutan. The unified command determined the steps taken by the vessel owner and operator as inadequate to prevent a potential pollution incident. The approximately 166-foot fishing vessel began transiting to Dutch Harbor from Bristol Bay earlier this month. Due to various mechanical issues the vessel anchored in Captains Bay where it remains, deteriorating. click here to read the press bulletin 12:36

Fish Stocks And Our Balance Of Payments

Our balance of payments is overly burdened by our consumption of seafood: We import approximately 90% of the seafood that we eat. Given our natural resources, we should be net exporters of seafood. The total value of edible and non-edible fishery imports in the United States was $35.8 billion in 2016. The total value of edible and non-edible exports was $21.3 billion. The imbalance does not imply only a shipment of dollars abroad. It also implies a number of jobs exported, a number of jobs that could be created in this country, were we not to import that much more seafood than we export.,,, The reason for the imbalance in our accounts with other nations is not due to lack of fish in our waters. Not to put too fine a point on it, the imbalance is due to rules and regulations imposed by our National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that prevent our fishermen from catching fish. click here to read the article by Carmine Gorga 09:21