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 8, 2008 - 11:21 am
The Highliner has heard some pretty pious comments over the years about how pollock harvesting practices are more responsible on the Alaska side of the Bering Sea than on the Russian side, and how product quality is better, too.
Now a top U.S. pollock harvester and processor, Seattle-based Trident Seafoods Corp., is partnering with Gidrostroy Holding Co., which Trident describes as “a large, well-established salmon and pollock harvesting company headquartered on Sakhalin Island.”
Posted: October 8, 2008 - 10:35 am
Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association has announced a major Bering Sea crab deal with Seattle fishing company Snopac Products Inc.
APICDA, one of the state’s six Community Development Quota companies, is buying substantial crab-processing rights from Snopac. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.
Larry Cotter, APICDA chief executive, said the deal will benefit St. George, an island at the center of the Bering Sea and one of APICDA’s constituent communities.
Cotter told me in an e-mail: “We are simply doing what we are supposed to be doing – investing in our communities (a little bit at a time).”
Posted: October 8, 2008 - 9:59 am
The Highliner has been grossly remiss in not attending any of the hearings so far, but now he has another chance – the joint legislative task force on Cook Inlet salmon is meeting again tomorrow.
The agenda sounds pretty interesting.
Bruce Twomley of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission will talk about a potential buyback of commercial fishing permits, which some see as a cure to conflicts with sportfishermen and low salmon returns in the upper drainage.
Also, Ray Riutta of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute will talk about the agency’s management practices and salmon promotions.
Posted: October 7, 2008 - 3:17 pm
Here’s a press release making it quite clear the charter fleet isn’t happy with the halibut sharing plan the North Pacific Fishery Management Council passed Saturday.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Halibut Catch Sharing Plan Proposes Strict Limits on Guided Anglers
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Oct. 6, 2008 – Members of the Charter Halibut Task Force testified before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) here last week as the NPFMC met to decide on a specific allocation for guided recreational anglers. On Saturday, Oct. 4, the NPFMC voted 10 to 1 to adopt a catch sharing plan (CSP) to allocate halibut between commercial fishermen and guided recreational anglers in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska. The CSP was based on a motion offered by Gerry Merrigan, a commercial fisherman from Petersburg, Alaska. The CSP is expected to take effect in 2011 if approved by the Secretary of Commerce.
Posted: October 7, 2008 - 10:57 am
Here's the winning motion on the halibut charter boat issue.
Recommend you have a cup of coffee and a calculator handy.
Posted: October 6, 2008 - 2:15 am
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting in Anchorage through Tuesday, has been forced to postpone its review of the crab rationalization program (The Highliner, Oct. 4).
The reason was the three-plus days the council needed to square away the halibut charter boat issue.
Presumably, the council will get to crab at its December meeting in Anchorage.
Posted: October 4, 2008 - 10:34 pm
Here's my story for tomorrow's newspaper:
By WESLEY LOY
Federal regulators late Saturday approved a controversial plan to settle a long-running fish feud between commercial halibut fishermen and their charter boat rivals.
Members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Anchorage, approved the plan by a vote of 10-1 after more than three days of public testimony and parliamentary wrangling.
The plan, if the U.S. commerce secretary approves, will apportion the available halibut in two Alaska regions, Southcentral and Southeast, among the commercial and the charter fleets.
Posted: October 4, 2008 - 12:36 am
Another big item on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council agenda this weekend is whether to pursue major changes to the crab rationalization program.
The program truly revolutionized the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands king and Tanner crab fisheries beginning three years ago, replacing the wild and wooly derbies with individual fishing and processing quotas.
Some see considerable flaws and injustice in the program and would like the council to reform the revolution, if not blow it up entirely.
On Friday, however, the council’s Advisory Panel – made up of industry, environmental and community representatives – poured water on the idea of making major changes.
Posted: October 3, 2008 - 11:22 pm
Here’s the latest on the battle for halibut down at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Late today, the state’s lead council representative – the key player in this forever allocation fight – finally made his move, dropping a motion on the table outlining his idea of an equitable split of the fish between the commercial and charter fleets.
The complex motion from Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd looks to be a significant departure from the “catch sharing plan” under consideration at the start of this week’s meeting.
It sets out a series of “triggers” for how to divvy the fish according to abundance, and focuses on the main bone of contention in this debate – the daily bag limit for charter anglers.
Posted: October 3, 2008 - 9:48 am
Here’s the story we published in today’s newspaper on the halibut charter wars:
Two fleets battle over allocation of halibut catch
FISHING: Decision by council could come as early as today.
By WESLEY LOY
Federal fishery regulators meeting this week in Anchorage are trying again to end a 15-year battle between two competing fleets that hook halibut for a living.
The proposal now on the table would divide the available halibut between the commercial fishing fleet, which historically has caught the lion's share of the fish, and the charter boat fleet, which has been taking a growing share in recent years.
Posted: October 1, 2008 - 12:43 pm
Here’s an interesting something we got late Tuesday from state prosecutors:
State of Alaska
Department of Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 30, 2008
Southeast Sport Fishing Guide Fined $8,000 for Allowing Clients to Fish for an Over Limit of Halibut
(Anchorage, AK) – Johnathan Rodriguez, age 35 of Ketchikan, Alaska, entered a guilty plea on September 24, 2008 in Craig District Court to two counts of allowing sport fishing charter clients to keep an over limit of halibut. Superior Court Judge David George sentenced Rodriguez to pay a fine of $20,000 with $12,000 suspended, revoked his guide's license and fishing license for a period of 13 months with 12 months suspended (Rodriguez is prohibited from guiding from May 1, 2009 – June 1, 2009), and placed Rodriguez on probation for a period of three years.
Posted: October 1, 2008 - 12:40 pm
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council begins work today on yet another bold attempt to settle the interminable battle between two halibut fleets – the commercial fishermen and the charter boat captains.
With the supply of halibut limited, of course, both fleets aren’t too keen on surrendering any fish to the other side.
So this week, we can expect the usual cavalcade of guys making impassioned pleas down at the council, which is meeting at the Sheraton hotel.
By around Friday, council members likely will vote on whether to recommend the following measures to the U.S. commerce secretary:
Posted: September 29, 2008 - 8:52 pm
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game today announced catch limits for the Bering Sea crab season opening Oct. 15.
Bristol Bay red king crab, the state’s most valuable crab fishery, is unchanged from last season’s 20.4 million pounds.
Snow crab is down 7 percent to 58.6 million pounds.
The small bairdi crab fishery is down 23 percent to 4.3 million pounds.
The numbers would seem to be a mild disappointment, as limits for all three fisheries took big jumps last season and crabbers no doubt were hoping for more upward momentum.
Posted: September 26, 2008 - 11:57 am
Here’s a notice I received this morning from Sheela McLean, spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau:
On Monday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. (East Coast time), NOAA Fisheries headquarters is holding a telephone press conference to discuss findings in a new Report to Congress that concludes there is a significant shortage of stock assessment scientists which will hamper NOAA’s ability to meet its many new mandates.
The shortage is also affecting state fisheries agencies, regional fishery management councils, NGOs and others.
“It’s an important story for young people and for communities that lack jobs because it alerts them that there are good jobs in a little known field if men and women are willing to study the math, biology and computers to pursue this important career. These folks are the unsung heroes of many environmental success stories. It’s their science that helps us rebuild fish, mammal and turtle stocks,” according to Monica Allen, NOAA Fisheries Public Affairs.
Posted: September 25, 2008 - 4:17 pm
United Fishermen of Alaska board members are meeting at the Anchorage Hilton today and tomorrow, listening to a cavalcade of political candidates fishing for an endorsement.
I expect we’ll get an update over the weekend.
Meantime, here’s a press release from one congressional candidate who today made his pitch to the state’s foremost commercial fishing organization:
For Immediate Release
Sept. 25 2008
Berkowitz Unveils Plan in Response to Exxon Court Ruling
Addressing the United Fishermen of Alaska, House Democratic nominee Ethan Berkowitz today introduced his plan to restore accountability and deter reckless conduct for corporations operating in American waters.
Posted: September 23, 2008 - 11:16 pm
Alaska’s congressional delegation again has hope of securing a set of tax breaks for commercial fishermen expecting payments soon from the Exxon Valdez court case.
Past efforts to win the tax breaks have failed. But on Tuesday the Senate passed them.
Now it’s up to the House and the president.
Here’s an abbreviated press release from Sen. Lisa Murkowski:
United States Senator
For Immediate Release
Sept. 23, 2008
Senate passes Exxon Valdez oil spill provision
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, today won Senate approval of legislation that would give plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case the ability to increase retirement contributions and provide tax relief through income averaging.
Posted: September 22, 2008 - 10:15 am
Word out of Washington, D.C., this morning is that the trial of Alaska’s senior senator, Ted Stevens, has begun.
The first step is jury selection, with opening arguments to begin perhaps on Wednesday.
A federal grand jury this summer indicted Stevens, 84, on seven felony counts (The Highliner, July 29).
The case centers on what prosecutors say was the senator’s failure to disclose some $250,000 worth of house renovations and gifts he accepted from Bill Allen, an old friend and former owner of an oil field services company called Veco Corp.
Stevens, who is running for re-election this fall, says he intends to prove his innocence at trial.
Posted: September 19, 2008 - 11:52 pm
It’s been a long while since we’ve touched on the subject of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council possibly making big changes to the still-young Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab rationalization program (The Highliner, Oct. 8)
Well, that process is well under way and is on the agenda for the council’s next meeting Sept. 29 through Oct. 7 in Anchorage.
As we’ve noted in the past, some hanker for a major counterrevolution to the revolutionary ratz program.
But one industry segment is urging a go-easy approach: the six Community Development Quota companies that harvest Bering Sea fish and crab on behalf of Western Alaska villages.
Posted: September 19, 2008 - 11:13 pm
Feeling like venting on the high price of gas and diesel?
Here’s your shot.
The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and United Fishermen of Alaska are offering a quick and easy online survey asking fishermen how killer fuel prices have affected their business, and how they’re fighting back.
Click here to take the survey.
Sea Grant’s Paula Cullenberg, a Bristol Bay salmon setnetter, said high fuel prices have hit Alaska fishermen especially hard this year.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” she said. “Alaska fishermen are very good at reacting to all sorts of unexpected challenges with creative solutions. Our hope is that through this survey, we can offer these solutions to others.”
Posted: September 14, 2008 - 9:24 pm
Here's the latest from the U.S. Coast Guard on that missing Petersburg halibut fisherman:
U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District
Sept. 14, 2008
Coast Guard Suspends Search for Petersburg Man
JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a 52-year-old Petersburg man who was reported missing on Sept. 12 after failing to return on Sept. 11 from a three-day fishing trip in Frederick Sound.
A Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Sitka located the overdue vessel, Hurricane, aground on Cape Fanshaw with no one on board. Hurricane's engines were running and the catch on board was not cleaned and spoiled. Information retrieved from the vessel's navigation system and laptop indicated that no entries had been made after 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 9.