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: August 16, 2007 - 12:16 pm
Surely you’ve heard of the Marine Stewardship Council.
The London-based organization formed with considerable fanfare about a decade ago to evaluate the world’s commercial fisheries and certify the best of them as sustainable and well-managed.
The idea is to encourage responsible fishing, to build consumer confidence and, of course, to boost sales of goods qualified to display the MSC label.
Alaska’s fishing industry jumped on the MSC bandwagon in a big way with the salmon, pollock, halibut, sablefish and Pacific cod fisheries winning certification.
Posted: August 14, 2007 - 4:55 pm
Gov. Sarah Palin has just named two new people to the board of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and tabbed one sitting member for another term.
The new appointees replace Don Giles, president of large processor Icicle Seafoods Inc. of Seattle, and Duncan Fields of Kodiak, who represented small processors on the board. Their three-year terms expired, a Palin spokeswoman said.
Here’s the press release:
Office of the Governor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2007
Governor Palin appointed Tom McLaughlin and Jack Schultheis, and reappointed Kevin Adams, to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s board of directors. The seven-member board includes representatives from the seafood processing and harvesting industries, and works to increase the value of Alaska’s seafood resource through promotions in both domestic and overseas markets and providing the industry with food safety and quality assurance training.
Posted: August 13, 2007 - 10:23 am
Alaska’s congressional delegation – Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young – on Friday sent us a press release announcing federal agencies have awarded these grants:
U.S. Department of Commerce
• $195,278 to the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association for Western Alaska marine salmon studies.
• $200,000 to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to develop an estimate of the subsistence harvest of halibut in Alaska.
• $335,552 to the North Slope Borough for bowhead whale research.
National Science Foundation
• $743,677 to the University of Alaska Anchorage to assess salmon harvests in Arctic communities.
Posted: August 10, 2007 - 1:58 pm
What a surprise – commercial fishing remains the nation’s most dangerous occupation, according to the latest national fatality census.
Last year 51 “fishers and related fishing workers” lost their lives, according to the report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s up from 48 fishing deaths in 2005.
But the raw death totals don’t tell the main story.
The fatality rate last year was 141.7 per 100,000 people employed in fishing. That’s a far higher rate than for aircraft pilots and flight engineers, loggers, structural iron and steel workers, farmers and ranchers, electric power line workers, roofers and truck drivers.
Posted: August 9, 2007 - 8:37 pm
The Highliner has heard some interesting dock talk about Icicle Seafoods Inc. selling out to Fox Paine, a San Francisco private equity firm (The Highliner, Aug. 5).
So he decided to Google some key words: Fox Paine and Glitnir.
That netted this press release showing that Fox Paine is well-acquainted with Glitnir, an Icelandic bank heavily involved in seafood industry finance. In fact, as the press release indicates, Glitnir and Fox Paine honcho W. Dexter Paine III hosted a high-profile luncheon at this spring’s European Seafood Expo in Brussels.
Posted: August 6, 2007 - 6:08 pm
The administration of Gov. Sarah Palin has just named a new state sportfish director. Here's the press release.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 6, 2007
Charlie Swanton Appointed Director of Sport Fish for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
JUNEAU – Commissioner Denby Lloyd today announced the appointment of Charlie Swanton as director of the Division of Sport Fish for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). Currently, Swanton is the Southeast Regional supervisor for Sport Fish with the department.
Posted: August 5, 2007 - 9:01 pm
Here's a story we'll publish in tomorrow's newspaper.
By WESLEY LOY
Executives with one of Alaska’s largest seafood processing companies announced Sunday they intend to sell the operation to a California private equity firm.
Icicle Seafoods Inc., based in Seattle, is one of the biggest processors of Alaska salmon, halibut, pollock, crab and other seafood.
Executives said Sunday they have agreed to sell company to Fox Paine Management III, an investment company based near San Francisco.
The sale price was not disclosed.
Until last year, when it sold its shares, Fox Paine was a major owner of Alaska Communications Systems, an Anchorage telecom company.
Posted: August 3, 2007 - 9:23 pm
Tomorrow the U.S. Coast Guard marks a special occasion: its 217th birthday.
So how many lives would you say the Coast Guard has saved since its start in 1790?
More than 1.1 million, according to the Coast Guard historian’s office.
Now, this is fun. To commemorate the birthday, the Coasties have put together this Top 10 list of their most significant rescues.
No surprise that the Hurricane Katrina operation tops the list.
Posted: August 3, 2007 - 12:12 pm
Little wonder the salmon tender Whale hit well-marked rocks outside the Kodiak harbor the other day (The Highliner, Aug. 1).
State troopers jailed the man at the helm, Forrest Lee Rice, 42, of Ninilchik, on charges of felony driving under the influence, refusing a breath test and violating probation.
It seems Rice, who was alone on the 82-foot wooden boat, has multiple DUI charges on his record, according to state records.
The Kodiak Daily Mirror quoted a trooper as saying Rice “appeared to be highly intoxicated” as well as uncooperative.
Posted: August 3, 2007 - 12:10 pm
You might recall Kjetil Solberg’s court fight with a former partner a couple of years ago for control of the fish-processing plant he helped found on far-flung Adak Island back in 1998.
Well, Solberg is in court again, this time against his former attorney, Christopher Cyphers, who helped Solberg keep the helm of Adak Fisheries.
In a lawsuit now pending in state Superior Court in Anchorage, Solberg and Adak Fisheries contend that Cyphers “blackmailed” his way into a lucrative but “bogus” employment agreement.
The suit seeks repayment of “all fees and salaries” paid to Cyphers under the agreement, and alleges he also has refused to return a company truck.
Posted: August 2, 2007 - 12:34 pm
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting today and tomorrow in Anchorage on a weighty subject – the fate of the endangered western population of Steller sea lions.
You remember the sea lion. A court battle a few years ago, coupled with regulatory action, led to broad restrictions on commercial fishing in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.
While those restrictions haven’t appreciably reduced the number of pollock, cod and Atka mackerel the fleet catches, they surely have made life more costly and complicated for the industry.
Posted: August 1, 2007 - 12:38 pm
The Highliner is loathe to make sport of a mariner’s misfortune, but often he can’t help but chuckle at the irony of a stricken boat’s name. To wit the Whale, photographed here after it ran aground Monday in Kodiak's St. Paul Harbor.
Fortunately, the fishing vessel spilled no fuel and she was refloated without assistance on a 9-foot tide yesterday, said the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Posted: August 1, 2007 - 11:33 am
Unless you’ve been vacationing off planet, you know by now that U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, the godfather of federal fisheries law, has come under some scrutiny by federal authorities engaged in a broad public corruption investigation in Alaska.
Whether anything sticks remains to be determined. In the meantime, the senator’s long, long record of involvement not only in fishing but many other industries likely will be analyzed.
Congressional Quarterly yesterday carried a piece questioning whether Stevens is improperly trying to set up Trident Seafoods Corp. with a publicly funded airport for its massive fish-processing plant on remote Akutan Island in the Aleutians. The CQ story is tacked on below.
Posted: July 30, 2007 - 12:11 pm
Icicle Seafoods Inc. has agreed to pay a $900,000 civil fine for pollution violations on its processing ship the Northern Victor.
Icicle failed to clean up a seafloor offal pile dumped from the ship in Udagak Bay near Dutch Harbor, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleged. The company also was accused of other violations, including discharge of seafood waste over annual limits specified in Icicle’s federal pollution permit and failing to monitor effects of the dumping.
Cleanup of the waste pile was a chore Icicle was required to perform when the company acquired the 380-foot pollock and cod processing ship in 1999. Under its permit, Icicle was supposed to clean up the pile by September 2002 but failed to get it done, the EPA alleged.
Posted: July 27, 2007 - 5:29 pm
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough today took a poke at Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishermen, accusing them of catching more than their share of the run.
“Once again, the commercial fishing fleet for the Upper Cook Inlet enjoys an abundance of fish, while upstream the Susitna drainage gets but a trickle,” begins this news release.
So how about it, drift gillnetters and Fish and Game, y’all agree?
Posted: July 27, 2007 - 11:59 am
State pollution regulators are annoyed with the owner of the Nordic Viking, the fishing boat that hit the rocks over in Prince William Sound last weekend, spilling an estimated 3,500 gallons of diesel from one of its breached fuel tanks.
According to a letter from the Department of Environmental Conservation, the spill cleanup effort has been, um, unsatisfactory. And the state might send the owner a big bill.
“Containment and cleanup have not proceeded in a timely manner,” warns the letter.
Posted: July 27, 2007 - 11:49 am
Sen. Ted Stevens and colleagues yesterday introduced the U.S. Coast Guard budget bill for next year with some interesting items for Alaska’s 17th District, the nation’s largest USCG district by area.
These are from the senator’s press release:
Forward operating facility in the Aleutians. This provision would authorize the USCG to construct or lease a helicopter hangar facility in the Aleutian Islands-Bering Sea operating area. The facility would help reduce rescue response times by allowing the Coast Guard to stage assets closer to fishing grounds.
Small-vessel exemption from definition of fish-processing vessel. This provision would provide new opportunities to salmon fishermen in Alaska by allowing each vessel to process and send up to 5 metric tons of salmon to market per week.
Posted: July 26, 2007 - 2:10 pm
The grounding last Saturday of the Nordic Viking has disrupted commercial salmon fishing in one corner of Prince William Sound.
The Department of Fish and Game has closed part of Port Gravina to fishing due to spilled diesel, engine oil and hydraulic fluid.
The Nordic Viking, homeport Kodiak, is a Bering Sea crab boat that was working as a salmon tender when it fetched up on a rocky island in Port Gravina near Olsen Bay.
Seiners were working in the area, chasing pink and chum salmon. Some had a hard time avoiding the fuel spill, judging by this photo from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Posted: July 23, 2007 - 9:49 pm
The Highliner was intrigued by a filing Alaska Rep. Don Young’s campaign treasurer, Robert Bohnert, made recently with the Federal Election Commission.
It seems a Seattle-based industry trade group, the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, donated seafood over several years for Young’s annual “crabfeed” in Washington, D.C. The donations were improper, so Bohnert proposed refunding about $2,400 to make it right.
The filing caught the attention of the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, which last Wednesday published a short article headlined, “Young Got Fishy Donations.”
You be the judge. Click here to see the filing.
Posted: July 23, 2007 - 8:14 pm
Here's a story we'll publish in tomorrow's newspaper.
By WESLEY LOY
State lawyers have opened an antitrust investigation into the pending merger of two giant Japanese seafood companies with major processing and fishing operations in Alaska.
Officials decided last week to begin the probe, said Cora Crome, fisheries policy adviser to Gov. Sarah Palin.
The decision comes after Palin sent letters last month to the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission, urging them to closely scrutinize the merger.
Palin cited a long list of worries, including the potential for the combined company to consolidate Alaska processing plants, and for local fishermen to receive lower prices for their catches.