The Highliner

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.

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Cook Inlet fisherman named to board - 4/1/2009 4:51 pm

Wrangell deal back on? - 3/31/2009 9:56 am

Lost crewman identified

I just got off the phone with state Trooper Thomas Lowy in Dutch Harbor, who identified the crewman who evidently committed suicide by jumping off the commercial fishing vessel Arctic Fox into the frigid Bering Sea.

The victim was Michael Leo Beaulieu, age 40. His commercial fishing license lists his address as Frisco, Colo., but he might have been somewhat transient, Lowy said.

The owner of the Arctic Fox is from Reedsport, Ore. The vessel is a 58-foot seiner rigged to catch Pacific cod using traps known as pots.

Trooper Lowy said the death isn’t suspicious based on interviews with the other five crewmen on the boat, who tried in vain to rescue the uncooperative Beaulieu after he jumped into the water shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday.

“At this point it looks like a suicide,” Lowy said.

The surviving crewmen are shaken up, he said.

“They took it pretty hard,” he said.

Beaulieu didn’t leave a suicide note, but he made “some odd comments” to his fellow crewmen that, in retrospect, could have been signs that he was having issues, Lowy said.

Beaulieu was a veteran commercial fisherman who had crewed occasionally on the Arctic Fox for a couple of years, the trooper said.

The way he took his own life is “something I’d never heard of before,” Lowy said.

However, Lowy said one of his supervisors in Kodiak knew of a case in which a crewman on a fish-processing vessel died after jumping overboard.

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