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: March 18, 2009 - 2:49 pm
If you’re looking for something to get your hooks into this weekend in Anchorage, you might check out a new film making its local premiere, “Icy Killers: Secrets of Alaska’s Salmon Shark.”
It’ll show at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Wild Berry Theater, 5225 Juneau St.
Evergreen Films Inc., a Los Angeles production company, says the one-hour documentary was shot in the Prince William Sound area.
The film also will air on the National Geographic Channel, Evergreen says.
The Highliner is personally fascinated with salmon sharks and probably can’t resist Saturday’s showing.
Posted: March 17, 2009 - 4:10 pm
Commercial fishermen are expected to catch nearly 175 million salmon this year, a 20 percent jump from last season's 146 million.
The reason for the big increase: a larger return of pink salmon, say biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
If the forecast proves accurate, this year’s salmon haul will be the 11th largest since statehood, the department says.
Here’s a forecast breakdown by region and species.
And here’s the Fish and Game press release:
Posted: March 17, 2009 - 3:47 pm
A 19-page lawsuit seeks a federal takeover of Alaska’s salmon fisheries.
The plaintiff is Herbert T. Jensen, who identifies himself in the suit as a salmon purse seiner and drift gillnetter living in Cordova.
The suit alleges that state officials are violating federal law in the way they’re managing the state’s salmon fisheries.
Among its several claims:
• The state discriminates against nonresidents, and deprives commercial fishermen of valuable fish, by holding personal use harvests for Alaska residents only.
Posted: March 17, 2009 - 9:40 am
Down in Juneau, the House Special Committee on Fisheries has a couple of interesting hearings scheduled today and Thursday.
From 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. today, the committee will hear from a panel of witnesses on “The Changing Arctic – Issues on the Horizon for Coastal Communities in Western Alaska.”
• Chris Hladick, Unalaska city manager
• Arne Fuglvog, fisheries policy aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski
• Rear Adm. Arthur Brooks, commander, U.S. Coast Guard District 17
• David Benton, executive director, Marine Conservation Alliance
During the same timeframe on Thursday, the committee will hear an overview of the Department of Fish and Game’s Sport Fish Division.
Posted: March 16, 2009 - 11:15 am
Here’s a press release from Alaska Airlines touting “a new quality control program at Alaska Air Cargo designed to keep seafood shipments cold.”
Sounds pretty interesting, though I wish we had a few more details here about how this works.
March 16, 2009
ALASKA AIR CARGO ENHANCES SEAFOOD SHIPMENT SERVICES
Alaska Airlines implements system wide cool chain training program
SEATTLE – Prized wild seafood from the state of Alaska will arrive as fresh as possible at grocery stores and restaurants across the nation, thanks in part to a new quality control program at Alaska Air Cargo designed to keep seafood shipments cold. Alaska Air Cargo is one of the first air carriers to implement a special training program for employees who handle perishables such as fresh Alaska seafood.
Posted: March 13, 2009 - 10:54 am
A new commercial fishery for longnose and big skates is set to open March 21 in Prince William Sound.
Bob Berceli, a biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game in Cordova, tells me 23 boat owners registered for the fishery by the deadline.
Among them are some pretty serious fishermen out of Homer, including some Russian Old Believers, Berceli said.
“We don’t know what the catch rates are going to be,” he said. But his assumption is the modest 300,000-pound quota will go pretty quickly if all those boats participate.
Posted: March 11, 2009 - 7:14 pm
Looks like Trident’s processing empire in Alaska is growing again.
An Anchorage bankruptcy judge this week signaled he’ll approve the sale of financially troubled Wrangell Seafoods Inc. to Seattle-based Trident Seafoods Corp. for $4.35 million.
According to this sale memorandum, the price isn’t nearly enough to cover WSI liabilities exceeding $12 million.
But a sale now would seem to position the Wrangell processing plant to operate during the upcoming salmon season.
The Highliner can’t be sure from the documents on his desk whether Trident actually will close this deal and take over the plant.
Posted: March 11, 2009 - 10:52 am
Do state legislators have any business dabbling in the often absurdly complex world of federal fisheries management?
That question seemed to drown out an otherwise thoughtful hearing yesterday on House Joint Resolution 21.
The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Alan Austerman of Kodiak, would have the Legislature weigh in on an arcane issue now pending before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Here’s the preamble to HJR 21:
Posted: March 10, 2009 - 3:21 pm
Gov. Sarah Palin today said she intends to replace a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Palin nominated Dan Hull, an Anchorage resident who fishes commercially for salmon and halibut out of Cordova, to replace Gerry Merrigan of Petersburg.
Merrigan has been on the council since August 2006 and did apply to serve another three-year term on the panel, the governor’s office said.
Palin today also put in council member Ed Dersham of Anchor Point for a new term.
The governor’s picks are subject to final approval from the U.S. commerce secretary.
Posted: March 10, 2009 - 10:51 am
According to my calendar, today marks the start of a major symposium in Anchorage on “Biology and Management of Exploited Crab Populations Under Climate Change.”
Looks like dozens of U.S., Canadian, Russian and Australian scientists will present talks, papers and posters on a slew of topics.
Here are a handful that caught my eye:
Posted: March 6, 2009 - 6:28 pm
Remember the Icy Mist? That’s the boat that ran aground on Akutan Island last week (The Highliner, Feb. 25).
According to a situation report we just received from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, salvage outfit Magone Marine Services is making plans to pull the boat off the boulder-strewn beach.
The first step, the DEC report says, will be removing 135,000 pounds of Pacific cod.
The DEC is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on "evaluating options for the disposal of the cod," the report says.
National Fisherman magazine had an article in its March 2008 issue about extensive modifications to the 58-foot Icy Mist, including a hull-widening job.
Posted: March 6, 2009 - 11:20 am
This just in from the Alaska Sea Grant folks:
Alaska Sea Grant Program
March 6, 2009
Facing hard times, South Carolina shrimpers look to Alaska for help
Alaska fishermen and business experts share secrets to success
PETERSBURG, Alaska – While Americans consume ever increasing quantities of imported farmed shrimp, shrimp fishermen in places like South Carolina – who have for generations relied on wild shrimp harvests – are finding themselves locked out of markets and undercut in price.
"Shrimpers all over the country have felt the same financial strain from cheaper shrimp imports that fishermen here in Alaska have felt from farmed salmon coming into the country," said Glenn Haight, fisheries business specialist with the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program.
Posted: March 5, 2009 - 11:44 am
St. George city officials just sent me these images of the trawler Mar-Gun, hard aground on the north side of the island. The crew has abandoned ship safely.
Posted: March 5, 2009 - 10:31 am
Click here to listen to the cool-headed distress call from the grounded trawler Mar-Gun.
Posted: March 5, 2009 - 10:13 am
Here's an update we just received from the U.S. Coast Guard:
U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District
March 5, 2009
Mayday call off St. George Island, Coast Guard rescues 5
JUNEAU, Alaska – A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew safely hoisted five crewmen from the commercial fishing vessel Mar-Gun at 7:53 a.m. after the master reported the vessel aground half a mile from St. George Island, Alaska, Thursday.
Coast Guard Communication Station Kodiak received the mayday call from the Mar-Gun at 4:11 a.m. and launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from St. Paul, Alaska, to the vessel's location at 4:32 a.m.
Posted: March 5, 2009 - 10:05 am
A well-known commercial fishing boat, the Mar-Gun, is aground off the north side of St. George Island, the U.S. Coast Guard reports.
The vessel was taking on water just after 4 a.m., then went aground, said Petty Officer Sara Francis.
The five crewmen aboard donned survival suits, and a Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter was on the scene, Francis said.
Winds were blowing about 45 miles per hour. The boat is reported to be in a sheltered area with seas of no more than 6 feet.
The 112-foot, Seattle-based Mar-Gun trawls in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.
More as I get it.
Posted: February 26, 2009 - 7:26 pm
This classified ad ran in our newspaper today:
VALDEZ FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION, INC.
Is requesting proposals for the construction of the foundation and site preparation work for a 200,000 lbs. Cold Storage Facility located at 1815 Mineral Creek Loop Road in Valdez, Alaska 99686. All inquires should be made to Dave Cobb at (907) 835-4874 in Valdez. A copy of the plans may be viewed at the Plans Room in Anchorage, Alaska. The deadline for submittal of proposals is April 17, 2009 at 5:00 p.m.
Posted: February 26, 2009 - 7:15 pm
The Board of Fisheries has rejected Proposal 209, which would have divided the Sitka sac roe herring harvest equally among the 50 seiners holding permits for the fishery (The Highliner, Feb. 23).
It means competitive fishing, not cooperative, will prevail at Sitka, though seiners are free to voluntarily join forces – as they have on occasion – to bag the roe-rich shiners.
Proposal 209 died Tuesday on a 5-2 vote.
Voting against were Karl Johnstone, Bill Brown, Mel Morris, Vince Webster and Bonnie Williams. Voting in favor were Howard Delo and board chairman John Jensen.
Posted: February 25, 2009 - 6:07 pm
This just in from the U.S. Coast Guard on a pretty dramatic rescue today out on Akutan Island involving the beached fishing vessel Icy Mist:
U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District
July 25, 2008
Coast Guard saves Icy Mist fishermen in hurricane force winds
JUNEAU, Alaska – A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew safely hoisted all four Icy Mist fishermen from the western shore of Akutan Island in winds up to 120 mph at approximately 11 a.m. Wednesday.