Commercial fishing is a bedrock industry in Alaska, and has been for more than a century. Every year scores of fishermen net millions of migrating salmon, challenge the icy Bering Sea to trap king crabs, lay miles and miles of baited hooks for halibut, and scoop up enough pollock for a zillion fish sticks. And when fishermen aren't out fishing, they're usually talking about fishing. That's what this blog by Wesley Loy has been all about for the two years he has written it.
Last set - 4/10/2009 7:36 pm
Seeking a PFD fishermen will actually wear - 4/10/2009 7:28 pm
Advice for mariculture: Grow West - 4/10/2009 7:26 pm
Anti-Pebble pitch to Anglo American - 4/10/2009 7:19 pm
Safety issues send two boats back to Hoonah - 4/9/2009 5:35 pm
Palin’s board pick draws fire - 4/2/2009 10:46 am
Cook Inlet fisherman named to board - 4/1/2009 4:51 pm
Wrangell deal back on? - 3/31/2009 9:56 am
Posted: September 17, 2007 - 12:22 pm
A loyal reader alerted The Highliner to this surprising item: A petition has been filed to list the Lynn Canal population of Pacific herring as threatened or endangered.
Click here to read a notice from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The Juneau office of the Sierra Club filed the petition on April 2, the notice says.
“After review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted,” the notice says.
Posted: September 13, 2007 - 5:03 pm
Ed Rasmuson, a former Anchorage banker, has informed Gov. Sarah Palin he will resign from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council effective Jan. 1.
And he's got some suggestions for his replacement.
Click here to read his letter to the governor.
Posted: September 13, 2007 - 3:03 pm
Here's an update from the U.S. Coast Guard on that suspected high-seas driftnetter intercepted in the western Pacific (The Highliner, Sept. 10).
To see other cool pictures, click here.
Sept. 13, 2007
CUTTER BOUTWELL TRANSFERS CUSTODY OF LU RONG YU 6007
Posted: September 12, 2007 - 5:55 pm
The U.S. Coast Guard is looking into a fire that burned the 50-foot fiberglass fishing vessel Kepala to the waterline Tuesday.
The three-man crew jumped into a life raft, and the Good Samaritan boat Tri-K picked them up and took them to Cordova, the Coast Guard reported.
Here’s the press release:
Sept. 12, 2007
COAST GUARD INVESTIGATES THE CAUSE OF KEPALA BOAT FIRE IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
Posted: September 10, 2007 - 7:58 pm
A U.S. Coast Guard cutter tangled with a suspected illegal fishing boat off the coast of Japan last week, and now is escorting the vessel toward a rendezvous with Chinese authorities.
The cutter Boutwell had been on its way to an enforcement summit in Russia when it helped intercept a boat engaged in illegal driftnet fishing about 500 miles east of Hokkaido, Japan, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis. A Japanese patrol plane first spotted the boat.
Posted: September 10, 2007 - 1:17 pm
Alaska’s limited entry law has survived yet another legal challenge.
On Friday the Alaska Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling and rejected Walter Pasternak’s appeal for a state permit for the Chatham Strait sablefish longline fishery.
The state Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission in 1985 established the maximum number of permits for the fishery at 73.
Pasternak, of Sitka, argued this number was too restrictive. He also claimed the CFEC hadn’t given him enough credit for his past involvement in the fishery, which precluded him from qualifying for a permit based on a scoring system.
Posted: September 7, 2007 - 8:09 pm
The Highliner is sure everyone knows about the tussle between commercial longliners and charter boat operators over halibut. Heck, that fish fight has been going on since, oh, the Reconstruction.
But the conflict between the two fleets runs deeper than just who can catch how much halibut.
It also involves what they catch by accident, or target after limiting out on halibut.
In most Alaska fisheries we see bycatch – the unintended capture of one kind of fish while pursuing another.
A bycatch species of major concern is rockfish – what East Coasters call red snapper. These fish grow slowly and can live a century or more. They are susceptible to overfishing and usually don’t survive being hauled to the surface and then tossed back into the sea. So they need protection.
Posted: September 5, 2007 - 2:13 pm
The National Marine Fisheries Service has just released its latest annual report on the halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota program.
The report, formerly known as the “Report to the Fleet,” covers the 2005 fishing year, and is loaded with interesting data on the halibut and sablefish fisheries, which have been under IFQ management since 1994.
The Highliner is especially drawn to the tables on page 30, which show the radical shrinkage in the halibut and sablefish fleets since IFQs took effect.
As you might recall, back in the derby days everything afloat – from rugged longline schooners to canoes, it seemed – raced to sea in any kind of weather to hook halibut in openers lasting as little as 48 hours.
Posted: September 4, 2007 - 11:45 am
We were naturally curious to learn more about Professor Daniel Bromley’s work for the state (The Highliner, Aug. 27).
So we fired a few questions to Denby Lloyd, state fish and game commissioner and Alaska’s lead representative on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Here’s what we got.
Wesley, as you can imagine, I won’t normally be responding to blogs, but I appreciate this opportunity to address your questions publicly regarding a contract the state has with Dr. Daniel Bromley, an economics professor with the University of Wisconsin. While not particularly newsworthy in and of itself, there does seem to be some public concern and misapprehension about this contract, so we’ll see if this helps.
Posted: August 31, 2007 - 11:57 am
An organization called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) this week issued a press release saying “attacks” on fishery observers have risen and federal regulators are ignoring the problem.
Observers are typically young biologists who ride aboard large commercial fishing boats and keep track of what’s caught, kept and tossed overboard. Alaska has the nation’s largest observer corps.
It’s a tough job in an isolated, dangerous workplace. Often the observer is a female working alone amid a crew of male fishermen. So reports of interference, harassment or worse are to be taken very seriously.
Posted: August 31, 2007 - 11:51 am
Check out the press release below.
It touts what sounds like a laudable effort to pack kids off to school with wild Alaska pink salmon in their lunchboxes. They call it a “power lunch.”
Now, at the risk of stirring up a hornet’s nest here in the nation’s salmon breadbasket, The Highliner confesses he is skeptical. Do kids really want salmon for lunch?
Just ask the federal government how popular salmon is as a school lunch item. I have.
Anyway, for your consumption, here’s the press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Salmon Salad Sandwiches – The New Power Lunch for Children
Posted: August 29, 2007 - 5:25 pm
We'll publish this item in our newspaper tomorrow:
By WESLEY LOY
Lawyers for commercial fishermen and others claiming harm from the 1989 oil spill want the U.S. Supreme Court to either reject Exxon Mobil’s appeal of a $2.5 billion punitive damages award or grant a larger amount.
The lawyers made the request in a petition sent to the high court Tuesday.
The petition comes about a week after Exxon appealed, arguing the $2.5 billion ordered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is grossly excessive.
Supreme Court justices are not obliged to hear the epic civil case.
Posted: August 28, 2007 - 1:07 pm
Alaska State Troopers are investigating reports of Prince William Sound salmon fishermen using skiffs to drive fish out of streams – a definite no-no in the commercial fishing rule book.
The incident occurred Aug. 23 in Iktua Bay in Prince of Wales Passage, near the Armin F. Koernig hatchery in the remote southwestern Sound.
According to people who called in complaints, some purse seiners used skiffs to drive salmon out of streams and also planted people on shore with plungers to help with the herding, said Bert Lewis, seine management biologist with the Department of Fish and Game in Cordova.
Posted: August 28, 2007 - 1:03 pm
Prince William Sound has produced its best haul of pink salmon ever.
Purse seiners have cracked 60 million pinks and might be headed to 62 million in the final, exhausting days of the season, said Bert Lewis, seine management biologist with the Department of Fish and Game in Cordova.
The old record was 59.9 million fish in 2005.
About three-quarters of the pinks were born in hatcheries and released into the Pacific.
Posted: August 27, 2007 - 4:52 pm
Of the five species of salmon harvested commercially in Alaska, pink salmon are the most numerous.
And, boy, do we have a passel of pinks this year, especially in Prince William Sound.
According to the Department of Fish and Game, purse seiners likely will bag a record catch in the Sound this season, exceeding the all-time high of 59.9 million pinks in 2005.
Pink salmon historically have been a low-value fish stuffed into cans for retail in the Lower 48, the Southern states in particular.
But lately pink salmon economics have improved, with the average dockside price running at a relatively fat 16 cents a pound this year.
Posted: August 27, 2007 - 2:59 pm
Many industry players expect the state to push soon for changes to “crab rationalization,” the sweeping overhaul of Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab fishery management that began in 2005 and continues to churn controversy.
Daniel Bromley, a University of Wisconsin economist and fish policy philosopher, could have considerable influence in whatever is proposed.
Bromley’s fairly revolutionary ideas evidently are of keen interest to officials in Alaska, whose governor controls five of the 11 seats on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
The state awarded Bromley a $25,000 contract in April 2006 to provide “periodic, confidential policy advice” to the Alaska’s fish and game commissioner. The contract was extended through this month for another $25,000.
Posted: August 21, 2007 - 7:09 pm
The Pacific Seafood Processors Association, whose members include major seafood packers involved in the Bering Sea bottom fish, crab and salmon fisheries, have written up this position paper on the proposed Pebble copper and gold mine.
You be the judge, but the way The Highliner reads it, the PSPA board feels resource development projects deserve the chance to seek permits, but a project that jeopardizes fish – or sales of fish – is not OK.
Posted: August 21, 2007 - 7:06 pm
As expected, Exxon Mobil Corp. has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, its final effort to avoid paying billions of dollars in punitive damages to thousands of commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs claiming harm from the 1989 oil spill.
Now let’s wait and see if the high court takes the case.
Click here for the company’s 40-page petition.
In May the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco made its last ruling: Exxon owes $2.5 billion.
Exxon thinks that's way too much.
With interest – and assuming the 9th Circuit decision stands, of course – Exxon could have to pay close to $5 billion, the amount an Anchorage jury originally awarded nearly 13 years ago.
Posted: August 20, 2007 - 12:53 pm
Ships that process Bering Sea pollock can continue to visit Prince William Sound to process salmon, under a federal court ruling last week.
It’s a loss for Sea Hawk Seafoods Inc. of Valdez and a group called the Non-AFA Processors Association, which had sued the federal government claiming it should have barred the ships from entering the Sound.
The plaintiffs argued that because the ship owners were granted lucrative “monopoly” shares of the world’s largest commercial fishery – Bering Sea pollock – under the American Fisheries Act of 1998, they were barred from expanding into other fisheries such as salmon.
Posted: August 17, 2007 - 10:41 am
The National Marine Fisheries Service is holding an open house Tuesday at its new $51 million Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute in Juneau.
Here’s the press release:
Aug. 13, 2007
NOAA FISHERIES HOLDS OPEN HOUSE AT TED STEVENS MARINE RESEARCH INSTITUTE
NOAA Fisheries Service invites the public to an open house at the new Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute at Lena Point in Juneau, Alaska from 3:30 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2007. Tours of the facility start from the main lobby.