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: November 16, 2008 - 3:19 am
Last week, after I posted some lists showing dollar amounts many Exxon Valdez claimants might receive this year, I was besieged with phone calls and e-mails.
The top questions were: Where do I find the lists? And why is my name not on one of them?
To the many who inquired but never heard back from me, I apologize.
Here’s a little Q&A that might clear things up:
Q: Where can I find the lists?
A: I’ve posted two batches so far.
The first was on a Nov. 6 post titled, “How much will you get?”
I posted the second batch just this morning.
Links to the lists are at the bottom of each post.
Posted: November 16, 2008 - 1:28 am
Lawyers controlling money from the Exxon Valdez case have filed more lists of people who might soon receive payments.
These lists cover several smaller claimant categories such as shellfish harvesters and tender vessel operators.
I’m posting the lists below.
For background, read this declaration from Lynn Sarko, a Seattle lawyer and claims administrator. He filed a separate, but similar, declaration for the tenders.
Posted: November 15, 2008 - 9:55 pm
The halibut season closed at noon today.
As usual, commercial fishermen left very few fish in the water.
Harvesters holding individual fishing quotas took more than 47 million pounds of halibut, or 98 percent of the overall Alaska limit, according to the latest report from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
From what I’ve heard, it was another terrific year for dockside prices.
Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if demand holds up for halibut and other Alaska seafood in what evidently is a global recession.
The next halibut season will open in March.
Posted: November 14, 2008 - 5:29 pm
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game just released the tally on this year’s commercial salmon season: 146 million fish harvested, worth $409 million at the docks.
That nearly matches the $417 million seen in 2007, a year that produced a much bigger haul of 213 million fish.
This year’s salmon harvest is the 16th largest since Alaska became a state in 1959, the department says.
Here’s the press release:
Posted: November 12, 2008 - 5:26 pm
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game today released its 2009 Bristol Bay salmon forecast, and it calls for declining sockeye numbers.
State biologists predict a commercial catch of 23.99 million sockeye on a total run of 33.78 million fish.
That compares to this year’s catch of 27.8 million sockeye on a run of 40.4 million fish.
Bristol Bay, in Southwest Alaska, is home to the world’s richest sockeye run.
Forecasting the summer salmon returns is notoriously difficult, and often the catch comes in well above or below expectations.
Posted: November 12, 2008 - 3:58 pm
Sea Hawk Seafoods Inc. has lost its bid for a new allocation plan for Exxon Valdez punitive damages (The Highliner, Oct. 25).
Here’s the 24-page ruling from federal Judge H. Russel Holland.
Posted: November 12, 2008 - 12:31 am
We’re almost sure to see a big cut in the Bering Sea pollock catch next year.
How do I know?
Because I’ve taken a look at the government’s latest stock assessment, which recommends an Acceptable Biological Catch of 815,000 metric tons.
That’s the lowest ABC in over three decades.
If fishery regulators adopt it as next season’s commercial catch limit, it will be an 18.5 percent drop from this year’s level and a 45 percent decline from the peak of 1.49 million tons in 2004.
Posted: November 10, 2008 - 9:46 am
This statement just arrived from Jim Marcotte, executive director of the Alaska Board of Fisheries:
Jeremiah Campbell has resigned his seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Campbell concluded that the demands of his new employment responsibilities did not allow adequate time to properly serve on the board.
The board has over 29 meeting days scheduled between now and March and travel to four different communities. Campbell was first appointed to the board in September 2005 and was reappointed to a term expiring June 30, 2009.
The governor is expected to name a replacement prior to the upcoming Dec. 1-7 regulatory meeting in Cordova.
Posted: November 9, 2008 - 2:29 am
Looks like processors are going to gain ownership of 20 percent of the West Coast whiting fishery.
Here's the story:
Federal council agrees on West Coast groundfish quotas
The Associated Press
Friday, Nov. 7, 2008
Federal fisheries managers in San Diego approved a new management plan for groundfish, the West Coast's biggest fishery.
The system approved late today by the Pacific Fishery Management Council is known as individual fishery quotas. Starting in 2011, the quotas will allow fishermen to fish when they please for their own specified share of the overall catch.
Posted: November 6, 2008 - 12:04 pm
Caretakers of the $383 million in punitive damages Exxon Mobil Corp. recently paid for the 1989 oil spill are laying the groundwork to distribute a big chunk of the money by year’s end.
They can do it assuming a federal judge rejects an effort by Terry Bertoson, owner of Sea Hawk Seafoods Inc., to re-jigger the distribution plan in an effort to grab a bigger share of the money (The Highliner, Oct. 25).
Federal Judge H. Russel Holland has indicated he intends to rule on the Sea Hawk challenge on or about Nov. 12.
Lawyers representing thousands of commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs say they want to hand out some $150 million before the end of the year.
Posted: November 3, 2008 - 12:39 am
United Fishermen of Alaska still supports re-election of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, despite a jury last week finding him guilty of filing false financial disclosures.
UFA issued a press release Sunday that said in part:
“United Fishermen of Alaska stands by its endorsement of Senator Ted Stevens. Of UFA’s 37 member groups and four at-large representatives of individual fishermen, not one has come forward to request that UFA’s endorsement for Senator Stevens be reconsidered or withdrawn,” said UFA executive director Mark Vinsel.
The press release cites the senator’s “leadership in sustaining fisheries and oceans.”
Posted: October 30, 2008 - 11:22 pm
The Highliner hears that Sue Aspelund has been promoted to the vacant deputy director’s job in the state Division of Commercial Fisheries.
For the past five years, Aspelund has been a special assistant to the fish and game commissioner.
Before that she was executive director of Cordova District Fishermen United and fished commercially for salmon at Bristol Bay.
She’ll fully settle into her new gig on Nov. 17, division director John Hilsinger told his staff this week.
Posted: October 29, 2008 - 11:48 pm
Investigators looking into last week’s sinking of the fishing boat Katmai, which killed seven crewmen, have learned of a recorded mayday call at the Kodiak Coast Guard station that came in 101 minutes before the radio signal that triggered the search for survivors.
“The call is not confirmed to have come from the Katmai, was not heard by the Coast Guard watch stander in Kodiak and not reported as being heard by any other entities,” a Coast Guard press release issued this evening says. “It was discovered upon review of the recorded audio files as a part of the investigation.”
Click here to see the release and hear the mayday call.
Posted: October 29, 2008 - 9:59 pm
Care to guess who’s now arguing the oil spill plaintiffs should be paid sooner, not later?
Lawyers for the energy giant are helping fight a move by fish processor Sea Hawk Seafoods Inc. to reshuffle the allocation plan for punitive damages in the Exxon Valdez case (The Highliner, Oct. 25).
Such a reshuffling could increase Sea Hawk’s share by several million dollars, but also could spawn years more legal wrangling before thousands of commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs ever see checks, say lawyers opposing Sea Hawk.
They want to get on with distributing $383 million right away, and the company that's ponied up the money agrees.
Posted: October 28, 2008 - 11:33 pm
Photographer Marc Lester captured this animated testimony today from Guy Schroder, deck boss on the fishing vessel Katmai.
Schroder and three other survivors from the sunken boat told federal investigators in hearings this week how they survived for 15 hours on a wave-battered life raft.
Here’s the story I wrote tonight for publication in tomorrow’s newspaper:
By WESLEY LOY
Crewmen on the doomed commercial fishing boat Katmai faced multiple threats, from hurricane-force winds to flooding in the engine room.
Posted: October 27, 2008 - 11:24 pm
Here's the story we'll publish in tomorrow's newspaper from the first day of hearings on the Katmai sinking.
By WESLEY LOY
The captain of a commercial fishing boat that sank last week in remote Aleutian waters said Monday he and other crewmen spent a terrifying night trying to cling to a wave-pummeled life raft.
The 11-man crew was forced to abandon the 93-foot vessel Katmai after it lost steering, flooded and rolled over in rough seas west of Adak early last Wednesday, said Henry Blake, who lives in Massachusetts.
Posted: October 26, 2008 - 2:11 pm
The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for the two missing crewmen from the commercial fishing vessel Katmai, which sank Wednesday in remote Aleutian waters west of Adak Island.
Carlos Martin Zabala, of Helena, Mont., and Robert Davis, of Whatcom County, Wash., were among 11 crewmen aboard the Katmai, which had been fishing for cod and was heading to Dutch Harbor with its catch.
Rescuers saved four crewmen from a life raft, and retrieved five bodies from the frigid waters.
The Coast Guard, which continued to search for the two missing men with the cutter Acushnet and aircraft, suspended the search at 9:36 a.m. today.
Posted: October 26, 2008 - 1:19 am
The Highliner is remiss in not telling you sooner that Petersburg commercial fisherman John Jensen was elected chairman of the Alaska Board of Fisheries during a meeting early this month in Fairbanks.
He takes over for Mel Morris of Kodiak.
Posted: October 25, 2008 - 9:59 pm
Here’s a response to the motion from Sea Hawk Seafoods Inc. to toss out the allocation plan for Exxon Valdez punitive damages and replace it with a different plan (The Highliner, Oct. 19 and 21).
David Oesting, lead lawyer for the nearly 33,000 commercial fishermen and other oil spill claimants hoping for checks soon, makes several key points in his 32-page response filed yesterday:
• Sea Hawk is trying to score an extra $7.6 million for itself.
• The processor doesn’t deserve it, having agreed years ago to abide by the allocation plan it is now attacking.
Posted: October 25, 2008 - 8:21 pm
A U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation will begin hearings Monday in Anchorage on the tragic sinking of the commercial fishing vessel Katmai.
The hearings, open to the public, will start at 9:30 a.m. at the downtown Hilton hotel.
The panel could spend several days examining the sinking, which killed five crewmen with two still missing in remote Aleutian waters.
The press release below indicates media coverage will be tightly controlled.
U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District
Oct. 25, 2008
Marine Board of Investigation into Katmai sinking to convene Monday