Category Archives: Pacific

Ropeless fishing gear won’t save whales

If you live in one of California’s historic fishing communities like Bodega Bay, (or Coastal New England) you’ve probably heard the term “ropeless” crab fishing gear. That’s the new buzzword for equipment being promoted by environmental groups to solve the perceived problem of whale interactions with fishing gear. These groups have convinced the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to adopt onerous new regulations that will force crab fishermen to adopt expensive, impractical and unproven fishing gear that will put most of us out of business. The truth, however, is something different.  How do we know this? Both the East Coast lobster fishery and the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery, each of which are made up of thousands of independent fishermen, have tested the pop-up ropeless gear and found it to be faulty. >click to read< 09:54

New ice plant at terminal, Community Ice

After the F/V Evolution took on eight tons of flake ice last Friday, Oct. 16, Ed Backus, general manager of Community Ice, walked out the gangway to thank the captain. It wasn’t the first time the boat filled up at the new ice plant. “It’s good ice,” the News-Times overheard someone on the boat tell Backus. The F/V Evolution is a shrimping boat, mixing in the ice as the shrimp is loaded on board. When delivered, the ice and the shrimp are mixed. “What’s important to a shrimp vessel is that the ice stays cold and loose, so they can shovel it easily when they’re mixing it with the harvested product,” Backus said. >click to read<  18:12

Bellingham Dockside Market – From Tide to Table

Rain had been in the forecast, but as my fella and I strolled from the Squalicum Harbor parking lot to Gate 5 shortly before noon last Saturday to attend the soft opening of the Bellingham Dockside Market, glimpses of blue sky belied the prediction of inclement weather. As we joined a stream of other masked shoppers eager to support the new hub that makes it possible for local fisher-folks to collectively sell their catch directly from their boats or adjacent to the dock, By the time we made our way to the F/V Ocean Swell, the crew had sold out of fresh tuna and ling cod but still had plenty of black cod—also known as sablefish—for $6.50 per pound. >click to read< 09:27

Sea lions take big bite out of early salmon runs

Early runs of wild spring Chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River are bearing the brunt of sea lion attacks, a new study suggests. The fish arrive in early spring before sea lions have left for summer breeding grounds and when the pinniped population is especially high at the river’s mouth. These salmon see higher mortality rates compared to later runs and the numbers have started to climb even over prior years, corresponding with a growing number of sea lions recorded near Astoria. >click to read< 08:56

Joe King Hockema – Career Commercial Fisherman

Joe Hockema, 67, of Bend Oregon, formerly of Newport Oregon, passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 7, 2020. His death is attributed to his 2015 diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia. Joe was born December 18, 1952 in Albany, Oregon to Everett and “Dottie” Hockema of Newport, Oregon. Following graduation Joe attended OSU, then joined the Army and served as a MP at the Fort Lewis Army Base in Washington State. Subsequently, he did a brief stint as a logger before embarking on a lifelong career as a commercial fisherman. Joe is survived by his mother, “Dottie”, wife, Carla “Lill”, children, Sarah, Chance, Chandler, Kodiak, siblings; Rex Hockema, and Hal Hockema. >click to read< 19:18

Collins and several colleagues call on NOAA to resume ‘usual operational tempo’

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) should get back to its regular schedule of conducting fisheries research surveys, which have been cancelled since May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and several colleagues. Additionally, NOAA should identify and resolve any challenges created by the pandemic that prevented this year’s surveys to ensure surveys are safely conducted in 2021, the lawmakers wrote in a Sept. 30 letter sent to Dr. Neil Jacobs, acting administrator at NOAA. Among the members who joined Sen. Collins in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Doug Jones (D-AL). >click to read< 09:00

“Challenging,” “Inconsistent,” “Strange” – Rotten tuna season comes to a close

It’s been a stinky season for Washington and Oregon commercial tuna fishermen. The final albacore tuna landings are offloading at local ports this week, ending was has been a tough overall 2020 fishery. “Challenging,” “Inconsistent,” “Strange” and “Worst ever” are some of the words used to sum up the season by local processors, commercial and recreational fishermen. Catch coast wide this season has been about two-thirds of the 20-year average, according to Western Fishboat Owners Association Executive Director Wayne Heikkila, who monitors the commercial tuna fishing season coast wide from California to Washington as part of non-profit group representing 400 albacore fishermen on the West Coast. photos,  >click to read< 18:25

The US Coast Guard has accepted the Birdon America 47C MLB at the National Motor Lifeboat School

The US Coast Guard has accepted the Birdon America 47C MLB SLEP First Article Vessel at the National Motor Lifeboat School in Ilwaco, WA. The boat will undergo a four-month operational assessment by members of NMLBS. The NMLBS trains personnel to become elite Coast Guard surfmen. The 47 MLB is the standard lifeboat of the USCG. The boat is designed to weather hurricane force winds and heavy seas, capable of surviving winds up to 60 knots, breaking surf up to 20 ft and impacts up to three G’s; and, if the boat should capsize, it self-rights with all equipment remaining fully functional. >click to read< 13:24

Coho swarm Willapa: Astounding run brings increased limits

An unexpectedly strong coho salmon return in the Willapa has fishery managers and biologists reassessing run size,,,. Willapa’s commercial gillnetters are hoping to get more fishing days this fall after early limits to avoid impacts on scarcer Chinook. Commercial fishermen are often the canary in the coalmine when it comes to reporting what’s occurring offshore. The first signs of a bigger-than-expected coho salmon run began showing up on the Port of Peninsula docks a couple weeks ago. >click to read< 18:28

New “Gadget”? Underwater noisemaker to scare away seals at Ballard Locks

On a recent morning, after some acrobatics and horsing around, a seal cruising the locks suddenly took an all-business turn. When it resurfaced, it was with a mouth crammed full of coho. The Hiram Chittenden Locks, built more than 100 years ago, allow navigable access from the freshwater of Lake Washington and Lake Union to Puget Sound. But the locks also inadvertently created an attraction for seals. The concrete chute of the locks concentrates salmon, making easy pickings. As salmon runs have declined in Puget Sound, a range of methods has been tried over the years to shut down the buffet. Underwater firecrackers, pingers, even Fake Willy, a faux orca that used to be lowered into the channel in an attempt to scare off seals and sea lions. Now a new gadget is being tested at the locks, intended to startle seals to deter them. >click to leave< 20:20

Crab industry, Oregon continue plans to avoid whale entanglement

New regulations for commercial Dungeness crab fishermen in Oregon aim to get boats on the water earlier in the season and reduce the amount of gear to avoid tangling with endangered whales. “Our fleet is made up of 400 individual businesspeople who each bring a different perspective to the issue,” said Hugh Link, the executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. “For over three years, they have been given the opportunity to weigh in on how best to mitigate the whale entanglement risk,” he continued. “But it is an ongoing process. These upcoming meetings are the next important step and we hope they take the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

Whale ‘roadkill’ is on the rise off California. A new detection system could help.

That so many whales of various species now traverse the California coast is a remarkable comeback tale.,, Today, blue whales and other endangered species, like fin and humpbacks, are recovering, but slowly. But while industrial whaling stopped in the late 1960s (some countries like Japan and Norway do continue commercial whaling on a small scale), these mammals are still frequently killed in collisions with large ships. Most container ships today delivering goods across the ocean are so large that even a collision with a 50-ton whale can go undetected. Ship strikes remain a leading cause of death to whales around the globe, and in some places, like California, they are on the rise. >click to read< 17:46

Judge hears lawsuit over fish farms in Puget Sound

Whether Cooke Aquaculture’s plan to raise native steelhead at fish farms in Puget Sound is a simple business transition or a complex threat to the marine ecosystem is being debated in King County Superior Court. Judge Johanna Bender heard testimony Thursday over Zoom in a lawsuit environment groups brought against the state Department of Fish & Wildlife for granting a permit to the seafood company to raise steelhead. “Did the department make a mistake in comparing the impacts of one type of stock to another, as opposed to comparing it to Puget Sound without fish farming at all?” she said.,, , the state Legislature passed a law that phases out Atlantic salmon net pen aquaculture by 2022 >click to read< 15:48

Senators Introduce Legislation to Establish Offshore Aquaculture Standards

Senators Wicker-R, Schatz -D and Rubio -R introduced legislation, the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act (S. 4723) in the U.S. Senate. The bipartisan AQUAA Act, which has companion legislation in the U.S. House, would support development of an offshore aquaculture industry in the U.S. to increase the production of sustainable seafood and establish new economic opportunities in federal waters. >click to read< 13:43

 First Nations, commercial fishermen demands end to B.C. salmon farms – A broad coalition of First Nations leaders, wilderness tourism operators, environmental NGOs and commercial and sport fishing organizations gathered in North Vancouver Sept. 22 demanding the federal government fulfill recommendations of the Cohen Commission to immediately remove open-net salmon farms from the Discovery Islands, and abolish all others from BC waters by 2025. >click to read<

Four crew members on charter fishing vessel taken to area hospitals after suspected overdoses

San Diego Fire-Rescue responded to a call of multiple suspected overdoses on the fishing vessel Shogun near Fisherman’s Landing. Crews on scene administered Narcan to the four crew members who were then taken to hospitals in various states of consciousness. News 8 learned that two of the people were taken to Mercy Hospital, one to UCSD and it was unclear where the fourth was taken. The Shogun had just returned from a three-day fishing tour and no guests were on board when the suspected overdoses occurred. >video, click to read< 09:38

Port of Toledo continues expansion

“The boatyard used to only go down to there,” Port of Toledo Manager Bud Shoemake said at the Port of Toledo Shipyard on the Yaquina River,,, Shoemake, as he always does, credits good strategic planning as well as the port’s many partners, including the Siletz Tribe, for the growth and success of the port. “Everything we’ve done is because of the plan,” he said. The shipyard currently sees more than 200 boats come in each year, most for regular maintenance. “We call it a shave and a haircut,” said Shoemake — boats getting power washed, a fresh coat of paint and new zincs. >click to read< 10:39

Fisheries officials seize 316 Canadian crab traps set in U.S. water, along with four vessels as part of annual sting

“You have people who push the envelope because it may be worth it for them to do that if they don’t get caught, because there’s money in crab — there’s good money in crab,” he said. “Sometimes getting caught and getting fines may be the price of doing business.” Demsky estimates each set of gear —  including a trap, float, ropes and radio frequency ID chip  —  would cost about $500 to replace. DFO will seek the forfeiture of all of them, and the courts will decide whether the fishers will face fines, the loss of their fishing license or vessels. The fines are often several thousand dollars, but can to go a maximum of $500,000 for a first-time offender, according to Demsky. >click to read< 08:10

Oregon men caught setting stolen crab traps await trial

“Don’t say another word,” he told his friend. “I’ll be right there. Don’t go anywhere and don’t tell anyone.” Two men caught setting stolen crab traps in Cape Falcon Marine Reserve of the north Oregon coast await trial following a joint effort of citizen reporting and solid detective work. Bob Browning has fished Oregon waters all his life. He started fishing off the Garibaldi dock with his family when he was five years old. When he saw a strange object bobbing on the ocean surface, he pointed it out to his client, Dr. Sarah Henkel. Browning steered “The Lady Lee” in for a closer look.,, Browning threaded the rope through his hydraulic lift and started the motor. When a crab pot broke the surface of the water, they knew there was trouble. The line continued. Another crab pot rose from the depths. They reached for their phones to report it. The Investigation,,, >click to read< 18:37

One of nature’s miracles: the salmonid species life cycle

This article describes the amazing way these species begin their lives in clear flowing creeks and streams near the coast, anywhere from the northwest to Northern California, travel miles downstream to enter the salty waters of the Pacific Ocean, mature for a number of years while traveling great distances, and then return to their home stream’s birthplace. At the beginning, the following verse from a popular illustrated children’s text titled Salmon Stream sets the scene: The egg of a salmon, born to travel, Hides in the nest of rocky gravel, Far beyond the shady pool,,, >click to read< 20:02

Fishermen accused of poaching in a Marine Reserve using gear stolen from fellow crabbers

Two North Coast fishermen face criminal charges after allegedly poaching crab in the protected Cape Falcon Marine Reserve using gear stolen from fellow crabbers. Scott Edward Giles, 39, most recently of Ilwaco, Washington, and deckhand Travis Richard Westerlund, 34, of Astoria, face multiple criminal charges, including theft, criminal mischief, unlawful take and fishing in a prohibited area, following an indictment in August.  Given the amount of stolen gear found in his possession, Giles, the captain of the commercial fishing vessel The Baranof, faces felony theft charges. The pots were marked with a variety of paint colors, leading investigators to conclude they had been stolen from other fishermen. The pots were later tracked back to seven different commercial crabbers between Astoria and Newport.,, >click to read< 17:10

Happy 105th Birthday, Esther ‘Essie’ Lindeman

Born Sept. 15, 1915, Esther “Essie” Lindeman of Grants Pass experienced WWI as an infant, the Spanish flu pandemic when she was 3, reached adolescence during the Roaring ’20s and adulthood during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Most innovations that touch every aspect of our daily lives didn’t exist when Essie was growing up on a dairy farm in upstate New York. Radio was in its infancy, television was in the future, and the Internet and social media were unimaginable. Another interest crept into Essie’s life in the ’30s. A neighboring farm boy she “sorta liked” had left home for a commercial fishing adventure on Bristol Bay in Alaska.,, Happy Birthday, Essie! >click to read< 10:21

Offshore Wind Will Deliver Few U.S. Jobs; Lack of Oversight Means Most Jobs Will Be Overseas

New developments have raised serious questions regarding the economic and job benefits from offshore wind energy projects in U.S. waters. Unsubstantiated claims of significant economic growth and investment have exaggerated the benefits of offshore wind energy, and diminished the economic and cultural importance of sustainable American wild-caught fisheries. A new study, conducted by Georgetown Economic Services (GES), finds that “[t]he claim that the huge investments in offshore wind would provide significant job and economic benefits in the U.S. has been grossly inflated.” The study also reaches an important conclusion: many of the jobs and benefits would actually go to the foreign-owned companies currently dominating the wind energy landscape, instead of creating local opportunities. >click to read< 15:45

A Stunning Transformation: More Than a New Shell

Like many fishermen, Justin Yager has a strong interest in responsible harvesting. Similarly, he saw the common sense of rebuilding the Gulf shrimper BJ Thomas after the boat had a serious fire at Newport, Oregon. Built in 1976 at Marine Builders in Mobile, Alabama the boat found its way to the west coast where Justin’s wife, Sara’s grandfather, owned it for some time before selling it on to the next generation. Justin fished the boat for a few years with the crab and shrimp permits that the couple also purchased from Sara’s grandfather. The fire was the impetus for the rebuild that the owners had planned for the boat. ‘We cut off the bow, part of the stern, and the house. We took it right down to the engine room and the fish holds he explained. photos, >click to read< 12:05

Seafood Trade Relief Program: USDA tweaks farm assistance program to fund fishermen hurt by U.S. China trade war

Jeremy Leighton is a dive fisherman based in Ketchikan. But it’s not just geoduck fishermen. Frances Leach heads up United Fishermen of Alaska, a fishing industry group. “China seems to be one of the biggest markets for a lot of our seafood products in Alaska. And not just buying them for consumption, but also processing. We send a lot of seafood over to China to be processed,” Leach said. Now, Leighton and thousands of other U.S. fishermen could be eligible for a new program designed to help fishermen hurt by the tariff on seafood. It’s an Agriculture Department initiative called the Seafood Trade Relief Program. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said it’s a new twist on an old trade war strategy. “There have been long standing U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that provide relief to farmers, when their products exported are hit with retaliatory tariffs,” Sullivan said. >click to read< 10:21

BP, Equinor Partner to Develop Offshore Wind Farms off New York, and Massachusetts

Two of Europe’s largest oil companies will develop offshore wind projects jointly in the U.S. in yet another example of energy giants migrating towards the development of renewables. Equinor of Norway, and has entered into an agreement to sell a 50% stake in two of its U.S offshore wind farm projects to Britain based BP for $1.1 Billion. Empire Wind, located just southeast of the Long Island coast, spans 80,000 acres, with water depths of between 65 and 131 feet. Beacon Wind is located 20 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and covers 128,000 acres. >click to read< 15:40

New Study – B.C. Salmon farms regularly under count sea lice, potentially putting wild salmon at risk

The study shows mandatory sea lice counts performed by the operators of the fish farms drop by between 15 and 50 per cent when they’re not being done during an audit by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). “That isn’t really a minor effect. This is a pretty obvious result,” said lead researcher Sean Godwin, who conducted the research for his PhD at Simon Fraser University. Salmon farms are required to perform monthly counts of the sea lice on their fish and make those numbers publicly available. The counts are self-reported, but fisheries officials perform occasional, pre-arranged audits to make sure the numbers are accurate. If the lice counts pass a certain threshold, the operators are required to pay for delousing treatments. >click to read< 15:59

Coast Guard crew rescues fisherman from surf near South Beach State Park

A Coast Guardsman swam from shore to rescue a fisherman from the surf near South Beach State Park early Tuesday morning after his vessel ran aground and began taking on water. The fisherman was forced to abandon ship after the vessel began breaking apart in 10-foot surf. At approximately 11:40 p.m., Coast Guard Sector North Bend watchstanders received the initial mayday call from a fisherman over VHF-FM radio. The lone mariner aboard a 44-foot commercial fishing vessel, F/V Legend, Commercial Fisherman Matt Davney requested assistance, reporting he was on the south jetty at Newport. >click to read< 14:53

Coast Guardsman swims from shore to rescue mariner south of Newport – A Coast Guardsman swam from shore to rescue a fisherman from the surf near South Beach State Park early Tuesday morning after his vessel ran aground and began taking on water. The Coast Guard said the fisherman was forced to abandon ship after the vessel began breaking apart in 10-foot surf. 3 photos, >click to read< 10:36

Nordic Hosting Public Zoom Meeting Wednesday taking questions, Study Results for Land-Based Fish Farm

Nordic is currently preparing its permit applications for a land-based aquaculture facility on the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt County and has recently submitted the discharge permit applications to the Water Quality Control Board and the Coastal Commission. As part of these applications, a Dilution Study and a Marine Resources Impact study were conducted. Environmental protection is at the core of Nordic Aquafarms’ vision and Nordic is pleased to share the results from these studies. On Wednesday, September 9 at 6 p.m., Nordic will present study results, a general project overview and take questions from the audience,,, for details, and log in information, >click here< 13:57

Lorraine Loomis: What we don’t know about of harbor seals and California sea lions could be hurting salmon, orcas

What we don’t know about populations of harbor seals and California sea lions in western Washington could be hurting salmon, orcas and other marine species — as well as fishing communities and economies — far more than we think. It’s estimated that seals and sea lions eat about 1.4 million pounds annually of threatened Puget Sound chinook and take six times more salmon than Indian and non-Indian fisheries combined. Historically, tribal fishermen never used to see seals and sea lions traveling up western Washington rivers. Today, we need to manage in-river predation by harbor seals of out-migrating juvenile salmon and returning adults — especially the threatened chinook that are their favorite target. >click to read< 10:17

Federal judge rules fishery managers failed to prevent overfishing of northern anchovy

A federal judge has ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must go back to the drawing board and redo the catch limit for northern anchovy — an important food source for whales, sea lions, brown pelicans, and salmon. Judge Lucy M. Koh ordered the agency to issue a new rule within 120 days that accounts for the drastic fluctuations in anchovy populations and prevents overfishing when the stock is low. >click to read< 09:33