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: February 24, 2009 - 5:43 pm
This just in from the U.S. Coast Guard:
U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District
Feb. 24, 2009
Coast Guard terminates commercial fishing vessel
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of the 40-foot commercial fishing vessel Resolution for a safety violation during a boarding Tuesday in Marmot Bay near Kodiak city.
A Coast Guard boarding team from the cutter Mustang found the vessel master operating with a 4-month-old child on board and no immersion suit available for the infant. The Coast Guard requires commercial fishing vessels to operate with an appropriately sized immersion suit available for each individual. The Coast Guard Sector Anchorage commander directed the termination of the voyage.
Posted: February 23, 2009 - 7:27 pm
Here’s some news from Jim Browning at the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation about an interesting conference later this week down in Portland, Ore.
Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation
Feb. 23, 2009
Alaskans aim for more jobs, profits from fish byproducts
Alaskans are taking the lead to derive more jobs and profits from fish byproducts. A conference this week will bring together leading scientists and technologists to share ideas about turning fish wastes into valuable new products.
Posted: February 23, 2009 - 4:10 pm
The state Board of Fisheries is meeting this week in Sitka. As usual in those parts, herring is the hot topic.
Proposal 209 is of particular interest to The Highliner. It would convert the Sitka Sound sac roe herring harvest from derby fishing to equal shares for each of the 50 state permit holders.
The idea might sound familiar. Some seiners tried in 2006 to split up the fishery, but the board shot them down.
Now the proposal is again before the seven-member board, and it’ll be interesting to see if proponents have the votes this time.
Sitka herring is one of the state’s most competitive – and often lucrative – commercial fisheries.
Posted: February 21, 2009 - 7:39 pm
Lawyers overseeing money collected from the Exxon Valdez oil spill are asking a federal judge to approve more payments to a range of commercial fishermen including Bristol Bay salmon gillnetters.
This is darned complicated, but it appears this payout involves money from something called the Alyeska Qualified Settlement Fund, as well as some punitive damages.
For more details and a guaranteed headache, read the documents I’ve linked to below.
The lawyers are asking for permission to pay out about $2.2 million to 3,770 claimants in the “unoiled fishery” category, which includes Bristol Bay and Southeast Alaska fishermen.
Posted: February 18, 2009 - 7:56 pm
We’re a third of the way through this year’s 90-day Alaska legislative session, and lawmakers are nibbling on a few fish-related items.
Here’s some bits and pieces:
• From noon to 1 p.m. tomorrow, the Fish Caucus will hear a presentation from Wanetta Ayers on the Community Development Quota program, a federal initiative that reserves a share of the lucrative Bering Sea fish and crab harvests for the benefit of Western Alaska villages.
You can catch the presentation live or later on Gavel to Gavel.
And if you want to join the discussion, contact your local Legislative Information Office.
Posted: February 13, 2009 - 4:17 pm
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has just released its Bristol Bay sockeye processor capacity survey for the upcoming season.
As usual, the packers are telling the state they can handle the full forecasted commercial catch of 24 million fish. And then some.
Hmm. Does this mean frustrated fishermen won’t see buying limits and suspensions as they have the past few seasons?
A recent study from the Juneau-based McDowell Group found that 37 million surplus fish worth $131 million dockside swam up bay rivers unharvested in the period 2003 through 2008.
Posted: February 13, 2009 - 12:14 pm
Federal Judge H. Russel Holland has ordered more payments to commercial fishermen and other claimants in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case.
This will be the second payout of punitive damages from the case. Lawyers overseeing the money asked for the distribution last month (The Highliner, Jan. 20 and 22).
These payments, totaling $62.5 million, will go to 5,331 claimants or to parties such as the IRS with a hold on a claimant’s payment.
According to the judge’s order, the 13 claimant categories to receive payments in this round are:
Posted: February 12, 2009 - 11:22 am
Top officials in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game were to brief state legislators this morning on the department’s budget for next year.
In a nutshell, they’re seeking a budget about even with the current year spending plan.
That would be an achievement, considering the fact that state oil revenue is down and the governor and lawmakers are faced with having to dip into savings to cover an expected deficit.
Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd is requesting a 2010 operating budget of $180 million, which includes $54.6 million in federal funds.
That compares with the current budget of $180 million, including $55 million in federal money.
Posted: February 10, 2009 - 7:58 pm
Here’s a heads-up from the office of state Rep. Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak:
The Alaska Legislative Fish Caucus will meet at noon Thursday, Feb. 12, in the state Capitol, Room 106. This is a brown bag luncheon. Light refreshments will also be provided. Participation by members of the public is welcome.
The subject will be “Value Challenges in the Bristol Bay Salmon Fishery: Partnerships & New Ideas.” A presentation will be provided by Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
Learn more about tools for increasing the value of the salmon fishery in the Bristol Bay region including:
Posted: February 5, 2009 - 1:21 pm
Federal fishery regulators today approved an unprecedented plan to ban U.S. commercial fishing in the Arctic Ocean.
The Anchorage-based North Pacific Fishery Management Council spent two years developing the Arctic plan in response to climate change and the rapid retreat of sea ice in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas along Alaska’s northern coast.
Some scientists and fishing industry players say it’s conceivable that commercially valuable seafood species such as pollock or crab populations could expand in the Arctic, which could draw fishing fleets.
So far, no fishing of any major scale occurs in the Arctic, and the few surveys of fish stocks there don’t show large populations.
Posted: February 5, 2009 - 12:57 am
Gov. Sarah Palin has reappointed Peter Froehlich of Juneau to a new four-year term on the three-member Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.
The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Legislature.
Posted: February 5, 2009 - 12:27 am
John Moller is Gov. Sarah Palin’s new rural affairs adviser.
Moller, of Juneau, is a familiar name in Alaska commercial fishing circles.
He’s worked as a fisherman, was a longtime manager with the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association, and recently worked with processor Adak Fisheries.
He currently sits on the Advisory Panel of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Moller, 47 years old and of Aleut heritage, will make $89,100 in his new job as rural adviser.
Check out our politics blog for a conversation my colleague Kyle Hopkins had with Moller on Wednesday.
Posted: February 4, 2009 - 7:08 pm
Here’s a story we’re publishing in tomorrow’s Anchorage Daily News:
By WESLEY LOY
Commercial fishing companies that harvest seafood on behalf of Western Alaska villages might collectively owe tens of millions of dollars in back taxes for business activities beyond the scope of their nonprofit status.
Executives for the six companies are asking members of the Alaska congressional delegation to sponsor legislation to block taxes on their Bering Sea fishing income.
The outcome could affect how much economic development money is available for villages, and the pace at which the companies are gradually taking over key parts of Alaska’s huge fishing industry.
Posted: February 4, 2009 - 12:32 pm
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting today through Tuesday in Seattle.
Here are some items of note on the agenda:
• Expect the council to give final approval tomorrow to a plan to manage commercial fisheries in the Arctic Ocean.
Of course, the polar sea currently has no commercial fishing of any major consequence.
But some people believe it’s conceivable they might develop as global warming and the polar ice melt advance.
The council already has key documents – fishery management plans or FMPs – for managing the major commercial fish and crab harvests of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
Posted: February 3, 2009 - 11:37 am
A Washington, D.C., advocacy group called Food & Water Watch is opposing President Obama’s choice for commerce secretary, New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, on grounds he favors offshore fish farming.
Here’s the press release:
Food & Water Watch
Feb. 3, 2009
Senator Gregg a Bad Choice for Commerce Secretary
Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director
"Selecting Senator Judd Gregg from New Hampshire as nominee for Secretary of Commerce would be a bad choice for our oceans, our marine wildlife and coastal communities. Senator Gregg is a strong supporter for offshore aquaculture, the commercial-scale production of fish in floating net pens or cages in open waters. This practice is associated with numerous serious problems including water pollution, habitat damage and disruption of natural ecosystems. Additionally, it can have serious economic consequences on commercial and charter fishing, both important industries in the United States.
Posted: February 2, 2009 - 8:16 pm
So what do suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, most like to watch on television?
“Deadliest Catch,” according to this Fox News report.
“No one can explain why,” the story says.
Posted: January 30, 2009 - 1:48 pm
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.
Posted: January 30, 2009 - 12:47 pm
Here’s some observations from state Rep. Mike Doogan’s e-newsletter today about the Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force, which met possibly for the last time Thursday.
So Long, Cook Inlet Task Force
The powerful Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force, of which I am a powerful member, held what is supposed to be its final meeting on Thursday. We heard Anchorage economist Gunnar Knapp tell us that there’s really no certain way to tell if sport-caught salmon are more valuable than commercial-caught salmon.
Posted: January 30, 2009 - 10:53 am
Here’s a press release from the U.S. Coast Guard about a crewman who deliberately jumped off a Bering Sea fishing boat yesterday and was lost.
I’m expecting more information later today from the Alaska State Troopers in Dutch Harbor.
U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District
Jan. 29, 2009
Coast Guard investigates report of man jumping from fishing vessel into Bering Sea
JUNEAU, Alaska – Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Unalaska is investigating a report of a 39-year-old male jumping into the Bering Sea 11 miles northeast of Unalaska from the 58-foot fishing vessel Arctic Fox while en route to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, at 11:36 a.m. today.