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: October 24, 2008 - 5:34 pm
I just attended a U.S. Coast Guard press briefing on the Katmai disaster, and we heard a stirring account of a helicopter crew’s rescue of four survivors.
We also got official word from the Coast Guard’s Mark Hamilton, captain of the port for Western Alaska, that the 93-foot cod boat sank in Amchitka Pass, about 100 miles west of Adak Island.
Searchers know it sank because the Katmai’s skipper, who was among those rescued from a life raft, reported seeing the vessel go down, Hamilton said.
We’re writing a package of stories now for tomorrow’s newspaper.
Posted: October 24, 2008 - 11:14 am
Here’s new Coast Guard video showing an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter hoisting survivors Wednesday from a life raft off the fishing vessel Katmai, believed to have gone down some 100 miles west of Adak in the Aleutian chain.
Posted: October 24, 2008 - 11:04 am
The four survivors from the apparent sinking of the commercial fishing vessel Katmai are in Anchorage today giving statements to investigators, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.
Meantime, an extensive air and water search continues in remote Aleutian waters west of Adak Island.
Two of the 11-man crew remain missing, while five bodies have been recovered from the frigid seas.
The 93-foot Katmai encountered trouble early Wednesday and the crew ended up in the water. The boat, which had been en route to Dutch Harbor with a load of Pacific cod, hasn’t been located.
The Coast Guard has a C-130 search plane, a helicopter and the cutter Acushnet on the scene looking for the remaining two crewmen, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis.
Posted: October 23, 2008 - 8:54 pm
Looks like the Katmai had been on the sale block recently. Click here to see a cached Google page of the listing.
“Katmai is a world class vessel,” said the listing, which asked for a "reduced" price of $647,500.
Posted: October 23, 2008 - 8:49 pm
The owner of the doomed fishing vessel Katmai has now released the names of the crew members.
Capt. Henry Blake III, 39, of Massachusetts
Adam Foster, Shoreline, Wash.
Guy Schroder, Anchorage
Harold Appling, Anchorage
Carlos Zabala of Helena, Mont.
Robert Davis, Whatcom County, Wash.
Cedric Smith, Portland, Ore.
Glenn Harper, Portland, Ore.
Jake Gilman, Camas, Wash.
Joshua Leonguerrero, Spanaway, Wash.
Fuli Lemusu of Salem, Ore.
Posted: October 22, 2008 - 11:53 pm
The U.S. Coast Guard has just released this footage shot from a search plane showing life rafts and the fishing vessel Courageous searching for the lost cod boat Katmai and its crew.
Posted: October 22, 2008 - 10:50 pm
The U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed that two more bodies have been recovered from the cod boat Katmai, which remains missing in the Aleutians west of Adak.
The Good Samaritan fishing vessel Patricia Lee found the two bodies about 8:40 p.m., a Coast Guard spokesman said.
That means nine of the Katmai's 11 crew members have now been accounted for. We have four survivors, five dead and two still missing as the search continues tonight.
Posted: October 22, 2008 - 7:29 pm
Here's the latest news from the U.S. Coast Guard on the apparent sinking of the cod boat Katmai:
• A Coast Guard helicopter lifted four survivors off a life raft at 4:30 p.m. They were in fine condition, good enough to stay on the chopper to help in the search for more survivors.
• Four crewmen remain missing.
• Three bodies were recovered through the afternoon. A Coast Guard helicopter picked up one and the Good Samaritan fishing boats Courageous and Patricia Lee each picked up another.
We don't have any names yet of the survivors or victims.
An air and water search is to continue through the night. Let's pray those strobe lights lead to more survivors.
Posted: October 22, 2008 - 5:04 pm
Jim Halpin, my colleague here at the newspaper, reports the Coast Guard is in the process of rescuing four survivors from the missing cod boat Katmai.
The Coast Guard also reports finding two bodies.
The boat had a total of 11 aboard.
Posted: October 22, 2008 - 12:44 pm
A major search is building at this hour for a fishing boat that’s missing in remote Aleutian Islands waters with 11 crewmen aboard.
Crews on U.S. Coast Guard aircraft responding early this morning to a radio distress signal found signs of a potential disaster, including a survival suit, a partially deflated life raft, an emergency beacon and strobe lights in the North Pacific about 100 miles west of Adak Island.
“They have not seen any signs of the fishing vessel or the people aboard the fishing vessel,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Levi Read.
The boat is named the Katmai and is 93 feet long. It was hauling a catch of Pacific cod back to the major fishing port of Dutch Harbor, Read said.
Posted: October 21, 2008 - 11:35 pm
The Highliner received a sad note late last week. It was from a crewman aboard a big factory trawler called the Highland Light.
It seems the 270-foot ship returned to port in Seattle before daybreak last Wednesday, having wrapped up the year’s pollock fishing in the Bering Sea.
There, the company brass met the crew and told them they were out of a job, that the ship won’t be fishing when the next pollock season opens in January.
The guy signed the note, “one of a hundred ... still shook up.”
Posted: October 21, 2008 - 5:44 pm
As we reported Monday, a fish processor, Sea Hawk Seafoods Inc., is asking a federal judge to design a whole new plan for splitting up hundreds of millions of dollars Exxon Mobil Corp. has paid as punitive damages for the 1989 oil spill.
Some commercial fishermen plaintiffs fear the Sea Hawk challenge could mean many more months of delay in receiving long-awaited spill checks.
Judge H. Russel Holland of Anchorage evidently agrees.
On Monday he issued this two-page order saying the Sea Hawk challenge “has the potential for derailing months of effort” to distribute the punitive damages to thousands of fishermen and other plaintiffs by year’s end.
Posted: October 19, 2008 - 9:42 pm
We'll publish this story in our newspaper tomorrow:
By WESLEY LOY
It took better than 19 years for commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs to win sizeable punitive damages from Exxon Mobil Corp. for the disastrous 1989 oil spill in Prince William Sound.
Now that some money is in hand – about $383 million – it still could be months away from distribution.
Because of new legal squabbling among the plaintiffs about how to slice the pie.
It’s the kind of situation Anchorage federal Judge H. Russel Holland warned about last year, when he told lawyers in the epic case it would be “an embarrassment” to allow infighting to delay a payout.
Posted: October 17, 2008 - 5:37 pm
So, the National Marine Fisheries Service today said it’s listing Cook Inlet beluga whales as an endangered species.
That’s alarming for developers, port operators, oil drillers and city wastewater treatment plant operators around the Inlet, on the shores of which much of the state’s population is clustered.
What does the listing mean for commercial fishermen?
Over the years, I’ve generally heard it won’t mean much, as fishery interaction with the white whales is minimal.
But today, some big voices warned the listing could hurt the fishing industry.
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens: “Both commercial and sport fishing will be impacted, which could potentially impact billions of dollars currently being brought to Alaska’s economy in the form of harvest, export and tourism.”
Posted: October 16, 2008 - 10:30 pm
The Stevens campaign sent us a press release this afternoon crowing about United Fishermen of Alaska’s endorsement of the state’s senior senator.
It comes on the day Ted Stevens took the witness stand in his own defense in a Washington, D.C., trial on charges he failed to report gifts on his Senate financial disclosure forms.
The campaign also passed along this Fishing Update touting some of the senator’s recent initiatives.
Posted: October 15, 2008 - 5:34 pm
The board of United Fishermen of Alaska, the state’s top commercial fishing group, today announced endorsements for national and state offices up for grabs in the Nov. 4 election.
In general, we see that UFA favors lots of incumbents, including embattled U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, who is standing trial on federal charges of making false statements on financial disclosure forms.
The Highliner also notes that UFA makes no endorsement in the tight race for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. That race pits incumbent Republican Don Young against Democrat Ethan Berkowitz.
Posted: October 15, 2008 - 11:29 am
A new crab fishing season opens at noon today in the Bering Sea.
So far, 52 boats have signed up. Most will be chasing Bristol Bay red king crab. The catch limit this season is 20.4 million pounds, the same as last season.
Laine Welch in Kodiak reports several processors have agreed to pay crabbers a tasty $5 a pound, reflecting improved demand for the enormous spiders.
After they clean up the king crabs, boats will start targeting snow crab and bairdi Tanner crab this winter.
It’s been several seasons since the “deadliest catch” has actually resulted in a dead crabber or sunken boat.
Posted: October 13, 2008 - 7:39 pm
I’m a tad late posting this, but I thought I’d let you know we’ll again see no herring fisheries next spring in Prince William Sound.
Will the roe-rich little shiners ever return?
Here are the dismal details:
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Sept. 30, 2008
Based on current herring stock assessment information, the 2008-2009 food and bait fishery and all 2009 spring herring fisheries including the purse seine and gillnet sac roe harvests, the spawn-on-kelp in pound fishery, and the wild spawn-on-kelp harvest are closed. The Prince William Sound herring biomass estimate is below the minimum spawning biomass threshold of 22,000 tons. According to 5AAC 27.365(b) Prince William Sound Herring Management Plan, no fishery may be opened if the estimated spawning biomass is below this threshold level.
Posted: October 10, 2008 - 12:52 pm
The global credit crunch and banking crisis is enough frighten even The Highliner.
No place has been harder hit than Iceland, where the government has taken over just about all the banks including one called Glitnir.
Glitnir might ring a bell. It’s been very active in financing seafood industry investments around the world, including in Alaska.
We told you about one such deal last year in which Glitnir played a role in the sale of Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods Inc. to a private equity firm (The Highliner, Sept. 26, 2007).
The Wall Street Journal today published a terrific article that places Iceland’s banking collapse in the context of its long heritage as a commercial fishing nation. Not only that, the piece does a great job of explaining just how these banks got into trouble.
Posted: October 9, 2008 - 10:07 am
Greenpeace today sounded the alarm about the health of the Bering Sea pollock fishery, one of the world’s biggest harvests by weight.
The environmental group says the Anchorage-based North Pacific Fishery Management Council needs to take fast action to halve the catch, based on the latest federal science.
"We are on the cusp of one of the largest fishery collapses in history," declares one Greenpeace campaigner.
The Highliner is posting a Greenpeace press release below. But he also intends to go fishing for the opposing view.