Tag Archives: California

A Fishing Vessel Ran Aground at the Sonoma Coast. Could It Have Been Saved?

It was nearing midnight and too dark for captain Chris Fox to see the land or determine how far offshore he was. But he knew he was too close. The water was shallow. The F/V Aleutian Storm was on a sandbar. Fox needed help. The engine and all other onboard systems were still working, but Fox knew he could hold the 57-ton fishing vessel only so long before the waves drove it ashore. Fox radioed the U.S. Coast Guard for help, which wasn’t immediately forthcoming—not in the way he had hoped, at least. The February loss of the Aleutian Storm is the latest controversy surrounding the Coast Guard’s local response to grounded vessels. While the details of each emergency are unique, they are viewed with similar frustration and pain by some who believe more could—and should— have been done to save them from breaking apart on land. Still, critics like veteran Fort Bragg fisherman Chris Iversen, a friend of Fox’s, sense déjà vu in the pattern of lost vessels—each briefly in a position for a possible save only to later run aground. Photos, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 14:34

Santa Cruz salmon fishermen facing challenges keeping afloat

The abrupt end of salmon season, announced on April 10, has left commercial fishermen across the Central Coast grappling with economic fallout and seeking alternative income sources. “It’s frustrating to see, and I’m losing faith that we might ever even have salmon season again,” said Heidi Rhodes, CEO of H&H Fresh Fish Market. “It’s just been honestly catastrophic. We’re all waiting, just trying, hoping some federal disaster relief will come. It’s been really hard to stay afloat,” added Rhodes. In February, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced an allocation of over $20.6 million in fishery disaster funding for last year’s closure. “The disaster relief doesn’t make anyone money; it’s a band-aid on a wound that can’t stop bleeding,” said local fisherman Tim Obert. Video, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 10:19

Salvage crews complete recovery of Aleutian Storm, and find a surprise

The last of the wreckage of the Aleutian Storm has been hauled away from south Salmon Creek Beach after final salvage operations that yielded a surprise about the boat’s construction that helps explain some of the challenges when it ran aground. An unusual, 4-inch thick and 4-foot-wide slab of steel that ran 36 feet along the bottom of the commercial fishing vessel’s keel may be the reason it was immovable after it grounded in the surf Feb. 9 south of Bodega Dunes Campground, a representative of Parker Diving Service said. “It anchored that vessel into the sand so when they were either trying to turn it and pull back to sea in those first couple of days and have a tug tow it, it kept snapping the line,” Nunn said. “I know the owner tried desperately to get it back to sea.” Photos, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 06:31

What does a California ban on salmon mean for the livelihood of fishermen?

This time of year, Ben Hyman of Wild Local Seafood would like to be out on a boat, fishing for salmon. But for the second year in a row, federal fishery managers have closed all salmon fishing in California. The decision has devastated the state’s fishermen.  “The Sacramento River system and the various rivers that stem from it are major producers of king salmon. Some of the largest runs in the world, and especially on the West Coast, have [come] from this river system,” Hyman says. “A lot of the fishing seasons are determined by how many fish make their way up the rivers. “Last year’s closure cost California fishermen approximately $45 million, with some sources saying that is only a fraction of the loss. Hyman says many of his colleagues have left the industry, including third-generation fishermen and those in the business for more than 50 years.  more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 07:42

Fresh Off the Boat

California fisheries are considered a “Legacy Industry” that sustains local families while helping to attract tourists. Shockingly, the California commercial fleet that included 5,000 boats in 1980 diminished to only 464 vessels by 2022, and Fort Bragg is home to 103 of these registered commercial fishing boats. The fish catchers who are still fishing are finding it increasingly necessary to “adapt or die.” Fortunately, Noyo Harbor seems to have some very resourceful people who have taken this challenge to heart and devised some innovative ways to help get the freshest fish onto your dinner table.   Dan Platt, aka Captain Dan, is a commercial fisherman, diver, and owner of Noyo Harbor Tours in Fort Bragg. He owns two boats: the Zhivago, a converted 1931 former Coast Guard craft for fishing, and The Noyo Star, his eco-friendly electric tour boat. The recent tough times in California fisheries encouraged Dan to think outside the box. To improve his bottom line, he is sometimes able to sell his fish direct from his boat to customers on the dock, cutting out the middleman.  more, >>CLICK TO READ<<10:20

Commercial salmon fishermen eye Klamath dam removal with cautious hope

At 76, he still fishes for salmon alone. Standing in the cockpit on the stern deck of his wooden trawler, Elmarue, he can keep an eye on all six wires; when one of the lines starts to dance, he brings the fish in, stunning it with his gaff while it’s still in the water. Then he uses the tool to hook the salmon behind the gills and swings it onto the deck. “By the way, I want that fish cleaned and chilling in a single water flush within half an hour; that’s the standard,” says Dave Bitts. “I want you to enjoy eating it as much as I enjoyed catching it.”In April, for the second year in a row, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously to close California’s commercial and recreational ocean salmon fishery. The closure was based on woefully low numbers of adult salmon expected to return to several California rivers. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 12:58

RWE to start seabed surveys at floating wind site offshore California

Site investigation survey work will soon start at RWE’s floating wind project site off the coast of Northern California, where the Germany-based offshore wind developer plans to build its first commercial-scale floating offshore wind farm, Canopy. RWE will be performing initial site investigation surveys during 2024 and 2025, with the first activities beginning in June 2024. The work will involve mapping the seafloor so the best locations for the wind turbines, anchors and electric cables can be assessed. The surveys will also provide data that will help better understand biodiversity, habitats, and other environmental factors to ensure responsible planning and design that minimizes the impact on ocean ecosystems, according to the developer. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 08:11

Sonoma County Offers Marina Fee Waiver As Salmon, Crab Seasons Nixed

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is offering a lifeline to the local commercial fishing community devastated by the canceled salmon and shortened Dungeness crab seasons, Sonoma County Regional Parks announced Monday. The board authorized the Bodega Bay Marina Temporary Fee Waiver Program, which provides monthly dock fee waivers at three marinas operated by the county. Waivers are offered to active commercial fishermen and charter fishing vessels who can show evidence of six commercial landings between 2021 and 2023. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 09:09

Retired Commercial Fisherman Captain Nick Mosich has passed away

For over thirty years the fishing vessel Mauritania patrolled the Eastern Pacific searching for tuna to bring home to market. At the helm was Captain Nick Mosich. He was hardworking, practical, and stoic. Always among the top producers, he was admired for his devotion and skill in his never-ending pursuit for tuna. His father was a fisherman, and his mother a homemaker. In 1949, he left Loyola to join his father in the fishing industry, where they worked side by side for a decade. In 1950, he met and married the love of his life, Barbara. They went on to have two children, and he was a dedicated family man.In 1960, Nick became owner of F/V Mauritania. At the time, the vessel was a bait boat, meaning it fished for tuna using bait and poles. The boat was converted to a purse seiner and for over thirty years he sought schools of tuna from Mexico to Peru. More than a fishing savant, Nick was devoted to his crew, and treated them as family. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 13:37

Dungeness crab fisherman expand testing of pop-up traps amid CA’s continuous early season closures

For Brand Little and the crew of the Pale Horse, fishing for Dungeness crab is an increasingly tight business. Like the rest of the fleet, he’s watched the crabbing season shrink, with early closures meant to protect migrating whales from becoming entangled in trap lines. But this season, he’s still pushing his traps into the sea, weeks after last month’s official closing. It’s part of an experimental program that’s now expanded to more than two dozen boats. All using special pop-up trap systems, designed to avoid entanglements. “It’s a lot more work. Takes maybe three to four times as long as traditional gear. It’s not easy, but what we’ve been going through isn’t easy either. I mean, we’ve had 80% of our opportunity taken away,” Little said. Video, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 08:09

SLO County judge rules against local fishermen

A San Luis Obispo County judge last week rejected a request from Morro Bay and Port San Luis fishermen for a preliminary injunction to stop wind energy companies from surveying the ocean floor. Signed into law in Oct. 2023, Senate Bill 286 requires the statewide strategy for wind energy to include best practices for addressing impacts to commercial and recreational fisheries. Local fishermen argue wind companies have failed to follow best practices because they have not put protocols in place to protect the fishing industry. San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen found the requirements in Senate Bill 286 vague. Specifically, when the protocols and protections need to be in place: before or after work is completed. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 08:48

Rare ‘football fish’ washes up near Cannon Beach

A deep-sea angler fish, called a Pacific football fish (Himantoliphus sagamius) has been found by local beachcombers just south of Cannon Beach. Living in complete darkness, at 2,000 to 3,300 feet, these fish are rarely seen. In fact, only 31 specimens have been recorded around the world. While a handful of football fish have been recorded in New Zealand, Japan, Russia, Hawaii, Ecuador, Chile and California, this is the first one reported on the Oregon Coast to the knowledge of personnel at Seaside Aquarium, who announced the find. Photos, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 10:38

SLO County fishing industry in peril, judge to consider injunction

Geographic survey work by Equinor’s Island Pride last seven days

Fishermen from Morro Bay and Port San Luis are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop wind energy companies from surveying the ocean floor. Local fishermen report catch numbers are down 67% to 70% since one company recently began using sonar off the coast. On Feb. 29, two groups of commercial fishermen filed a legal challenge against the state’s wind energy plans, arguing the process violates their constitutional right to fish. The lawsuit asks the court to revoke survey permits and not to allow any new permits until proper mitigation and protections are in place. Sam Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen found this is a proper case for a preliminary injunction, according to an order to show cause. Judge van Rooyen ordered Equinor to show cause why he should not order the injunction at a hearing scheduled for May 15.  more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 13:53

Tire toxicity faces fresh scrutiny after salmon die-offs

For decades, concerns about automobile pollution have focused on what comes out of the tailpipe. Now, researchers and regulators say, we need to pay more attention to toxic emissions from tires as vehicles roll down the road. At the top of the list of worries is a chemical called 6PPD, which is added to rubber tires to help them last longer. When tires wear on pavement, 6PPD is released. It reacts with ozone to become a different chemical, 6PPD-q, which can be extremely toxic — so much so that it has been linked to repeated fish kills in Washington state. The trouble with tires doesn’t stop there. Tires are made primarily of natural rubber and synthetic rubber, but they contain hundreds of other ingredients, often including steel and heavy metals such as copper, lead, cadmium, and zinc. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 17:07

Biden administration plans to tee up offshore wind across the nation’s coastlines

The Biden administration is planning to boost offshore wind energy production, announcing up to a dozen opportunities for industry to bid on chances to build wind turbines in U.S. oceans over the next five years. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is slated to announce the lease sales at a conference in New Orleans. The 12 potential opportunities Haaland is announcing include sales in the central Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Maine, Gulf of Mexico, the New York Bight and off the coast of Oregon, California, Hawaii and a yet-to-be-determined U.S. territory. These sales were described as potential sales that could occur rather than ones definitely slated to happen, and if former President Trump wins election, he may want to cancel them. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 14:56

Wind Energy off Morro Bay Faces Fisher Lawsuit and Marine Sanctuary Issues

Three new wind farms in the waters north of Santa Barbara County have run into a few obstacles in their attempts to bring offshore wind to the Central Coast. On top of discussions with government agencies and the Northern Chumash tribe, the three developers face a lawsuit from two San Luis Obispo fisheries claiming that “best practices” are not being used in the process of approving and building off the coast of Morro Bay. The lawsuit was filed by the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization (MBCFO) and the Port San Luis Commercial Fishermen’s Association, who claim that the equipment used to survey underwater land for offshore wind development could be harmful, and possibly deadly, to sea animals in the area. They added that this would infringe on the fishermen’s right to fish and be detrimental to the commercial fishing industry in all of California. Photos, charts, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 09:50

Crab fishermen test pop-up fishing gear to reduce whale entanglements

Traditionally, the Dungeness crab fishing season runs from November through June using vertical line fishing gear that spans from the surface to the seafloor. After whale entanglements spiked from 2015 to 2018, the Dungeness crab season has faced delay or closure since 2019. Season closures are affecting the fishing business, but now during this closure, a handful of commercial fishermen such as Brand Little, are testing a whale-safe kind of fishing gear, called “pop-up” or “ropeless” fishing gear, hoping the state will authorize this alternative for use next season, so fishermen can still work. Commercial fisherman Brand Little described how the first test of the spring season went with about 20 fishermen. Video, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 08:59

Some Fishermen Blame California Water Policies for Salmon Season Closures

The Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously recommended the closure of all California commercial and recreational ocean salmon fisheries through 2024, after a similar closure last year, blaming drought, climate and other factors for dwindling stocks. “While incredibly painful to fishing families and fishing communities, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Associations supports the closure,” said George Bradshaw, president of PCFFA. “We all need to be doing everything we can to give Californias salmon a chance to recover. It has to be an all hands-on deck effort to ensure survival for our Central Valley and Klamath salmon runs.” Video, more, >>click to read<< 09:14

Federal advisory group recommends curtailed Oregon ocean salmon fishing again; closing California season

Recommendations for the ocean salmon seasons off the coasts of Oregon, California and Washington were made last week with some OK news for some fishermen and devasting news for those in California. Once again. The Pacific Fishery Management Council — which oversees fishing along the West Coast — voted unanimously Wednesday to once again shut California’s commercial and recreational chinook salmon fisheries through the end of the year. Its recommendations are similar to those made in 2023, which was the first time such a closure occurred in 14 years. Oregon and Washington fared better – but still not very good. more, >>click to read<< 08:18

California’s ocean salmon fishing season closed for second year in a row

California’s commercial and recreational ocean salmon fishing season is set to be closed for the second consecutive year, another blow to the state’s beleaguered industry suffering from the combined fallout of drought, climate disruption and deteriorating ocean conditions. Already, a new request is underway for yet another federal disaster declaration to help alleviate some of the wide economic damage from the closure, affecting not just the fleet but many associated businesses that depend on the fishery, one of the state’s most lucrative. Many fishermen, already resigned to a severely limited season if any at all due to depleted stocks, had backed the full closure. “For nine months now, we’ll probably be without income. When you look at overall impact, it’s significant. Do we want the closure? Obviously, no. Is it necessary? Yes,” said Dick Ogg, a Bodega Bay commercial fisherman and president of the Bodega Bay Fishermen’s Marketing Association. Photos, more, >>click to read<< 07:43

California – Crabbers likely to use new gear next season

Typically, the Commercial crab season starts Nov. 15, but the 2023-24 season was delayed for a fifth year in a row and eventually postponed to start in January 2024. The short season could spell change to come for fishermen since Salmon season might be on the chopping block next. David Lowe, a captain of the Jacqueline L. fishing vessel in Pillar Point Harbor, said it wasn’t the best season but his team will be experimenting with netless pop-up gear for the next season. “There’s 14 boats here that are [experimenting with pop-up gear],” said Lowe. “They’re going to see how it goes this year, because of all the whale and turtle entanglements.” more, >>click to read<< 10:49

SLO County fishermen sue Coastal Commission, offshore wind companies. ‘We’ve got rights here’

The Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization and the Port San Luis Commercial Fishermen’s Organization are suing the California Coastal Commission, State Lands Commission, three offshore wind development companies and environmental consulting company CSA Ocean Sciences Inc to stop the approval of permits for site surveys, according to a complaint filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Feb. 29.The lawsuit asks the court to block state agencies from issuing site survey permits until a statewide plan is developed to protect fisheries from offshore wind development. links, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 12:31

Federal Funding Allocated for Salmon Fishing Disaster

On April 6, 2023, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) acted unanimously to recommend a full closure of California’s 2023 commercial and recreational ocean salmon seasons due to extremely low population estimates for Sacramento and Klamath river fall Chinook salmon. Within hours of the recommendation, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his administration’s request for a federal fishery disaster declaration to support impacted communities. Looking ahead to the 2024 season, the PFMC will consider the alternatives for the 2024 salmon seasons at its meeting April 5-11 in Seattle. This meeting is open to the public. more, >>click to read<< 11:45

Toxic Dust Threatens California Salmon Population, Lawmaker Seeks Solution

For the first time in more than three decades of fishing for salmon near Bodega Bay, Dick Ogg will motor his white and navy boat, Karen Jeanne, north this summer past his typical fisheries in hopes of finding the multicolored species along the Oregon coast. There aren’t enough salmon left off the California coast for Ogg to sell on Bodega Bay’s historic docks. “We, as fishermen, have nowhere to turn,” he said. Fishery managers are signaling they may cancel California’s commercial salmon season for the second year in a row, which means the 71-year-old has two options: temporarily traveling to Oregon to catch salmon or barely making ends meet luring in rockfish and sablefish. Ogg, often in a gray hoodie and wiry sunglasses, wishes there was a solution for boosting California’s salmon schools. He describes the species as “having one of the greatest spirits” an ocean-fairing creature can have. Photos, more, >>click to read<< 11:34

Salmon populations are struggling, bringing economic woes for California’s fishing fleet

The season typically runs from May to October, but California Chinook salmon populations have declined so severely in recent years that fishery authorities are considering whether to adopt severe restrictions this season or impose a ban on fishing altogether for the second consecutive year. For those whose livelihoods revolve around catching salmon, the shutdown has brought hard times and widespread frustration. “It’s devastating. It’s absolutely devastating,” said commercial fisherman Chris Pedersen. “They’re literally killing the salmon fleet.” Pedersen, who is 64 and has been fishing for salmon since he was a boy, turned to other work over the past year to make ends meet. He has fiberglassed boats, delivered meals and built sheds at a horse ranch. “You’ve got to do whatever you can to live,” he said. Photos, video, more, >>click to read<< 07:48

Man found dead inside fishing boat that hit rocks near Point Reyes

A Half Moon Bay man was found dead after his fishing boat crashed into rocks Thursday afternoon near Point Reyes, officials said. The Coast Guard sent a rescue swimmer to the wrecked boat, The Westerly. The swimmer could see someone inside but could not get into the cabin. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office sent rescue helicopter Henry 1 to the boat near Chimney Rock, and a paramedic and tactical flight officer descended by rope onto the boat as waves battered it and it was listing on its side. The damaged boat then began to sink. The helicopter rescue crew broke into the boat’s cabin where they found the man dead. He was later identified as Matthew Paul, 49. The crew extracted Paul’s body and it was airlifted to the Marin County Coroner’s Office, which continues to investigate his cause of death. Video, more, <<click to read<< 11:42

1 person found dead on crashed fishing boat at Point Reyes

A person was found dead in a crashed fishing boat found by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Helicopter Unit (Henry-1) on Thursday. At around 4:30 p.m., Henry-1 responded to calls of a boat that crashed into the rocky shoreline near Chimney Rock in Point Reyes. A rescue swimmer from the U.S. Coast Guard was deployed and located a person in the boat. However, the swimmer was unable to access the cabin without breaching equipment, the sheriff’s office said. Video, more, >>click to read<< 19:29

Sonoma County’s fishing community facing uncertain future with potential salmon season closure

In 2024, California’s ocean salmon fishing industry stands at a critical juncture. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), cognizant of the challenges salmon populations face due to years of drought and environmental pressures, has laid out three potential paths for the salmon fishing season off California’s coast. Dick Ogg, president of the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association, explains. “They need to come up with three options, each impacting us differently. Some options might leave a little room for commercial activity, but it’s all quite uncertain,” underscoring the dire straits faced by those who rely on the sea for their livelihood. The potential for another season of deep cuts or complete shutdowns looms large, posing not just an economic challenge but a threat to a way of life cherished by many generations. “This cuts to the heart of Bodega Bay,” Ogg said. “We’re a real working fishing community.”  more, >>click to read<< 18:17

Fisherman is seriously injured when boat runs aground in Santa Barbara

A fisherman suffered a serious head laceration and was taken to the hospital Wednesday evening after his lobster boat ran aground in Santa Barbara, according to the Santa Barbara City Fire Department. Only one person was aboard the 25- to 30-foot Martha Jane, which ended up on the shoreline below Mesa Lane, fire Battalion Chief Jim McCoy told Noozhawk. The details of the incident were unclear, McCoy said, but the man apparently became trapped somewhere on board and was unable to control the vessel, McCoy said. more, >>click to read<< 11:17

California’s commercial salmon fishermen face another disaster of a season amid proposed federal restrictions

A regional fishery council is mulling three proposals for commercial salmon season, with one canceling the season entirely and the other two severely limiting how long the season would last and how many salmon could be taken.  While two of the proposed options do offer limited commercial fishing opportunities, at least one local fisherman says the restrictions would significantly curb the viability of salmon fishing. “These really aren’t a viable option for anyone,” said Tim Obert, a Ben Lomond resident who’s been fishing salmon commercially for close to 20 years.  Obert is president of the Santa Cruz Commercial Fishermen’s Association, sits on the state of California’s Dungeness Crab Task Force and is also a part of several working groups that advised the council in coming up with the alternative proposals. more, >>click to read<< 11:07