Saturday, August 19, 2017

Processor in peril

Emergency efforts are underway to try to keep a "deteriorating" vessel, the Akutan, afloat at Unalaska.

The 166-foot fish processor is coming off a disastrous salmon season in Bristol Bay, as described in this KDLG story.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fire strikes Peter Pan's Port Moller plant

Cannery fires figure prominently through the history of Alaska's fishing industry, and now we have another example.

Seattle-based Peter Pan Seafoods today released this statement regarding a fire at one of its Alaska plants:

A fire broke out at the Peter Pan Seafoods Inc. Port Moller salmon processing facility around midnight Aug. 16. All crew and personnel are reported safe and uninjured. Damage from the fire is extensive enough to halt operations for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Monday, August 7, 2017

'A very difficult decision'

The state is barring retention of Chinook salmon in commercial and recreational fisheries throughout Southeast Alaska.

More details in this press release.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Missing Bristol Bay fisherman identified

The Alaska State Troopers have identified a fisherman believed to have fallen overboard near Pilot Point as Fredrick Bock, 57, of Ninilchik.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bridge work to aid Ocean Beauty

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has announced a deal for bridge repairs vital to processor Ocean Beauty's Excursion Inlet cannery.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Salmon notes

Here are a few observations from the salmon season thus far.

• The statewide, all-species catch now exceeds 105 million fish. Of these, more than 49 million are sockeyes. But pink salmon catches are soon expected to eclipse sockeye catches. The state has projected a total commercial harvest this year of about 204 million salmon.

• The Bristol Bay season is essentially over, and it'll go down as a strong year. The sockeye catch stands at 37.5 million fish, or 10 million above the preseason forecast of 27.5 million. Major processors sent gillnetters home with a base price of $1 per pound, up from 76 cents last year and 50 cents in 2015.

• Dillingham radio station KDLG has an interesting story about workplace complaints at the Silver Bay Seafoods processing plant in Naknek.

Friday, July 28, 2017

ASMI news

The governor has reappointed Tomi Marsh, of Ketchikan, to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Two bodies recovered from F/V Miss Destinee

Here's a press release from the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Marmot Bay
Type: Capsized vessel, death investigation
On 6/29/17, at 0854 hours, the Alaska State Troopers in Kodiak received a report from the U.S. Coast Guard that they were on scene of a capsized fishing vessel in Marmot Bay. USCG reported that they had recovered two survivors in the water but two crewmembers were unaccounted for off the F/V Miss Destinee. Investigation revealed that while traveling through Marmot Bay en route to Kodiak the vessel was struck by a "rogue wave" on the port side causing it to lay over and eventually roll to the starboard side. The survivors were in the upper wheelhouse and were able to exit the vessel and cling to the skiff which had floated up off the deck of the boat. USCG had assumed case responsibility. On 7/4/17 at approximately 0745 hours, Kodiak AST was advised that the salvage company was able to right the F/V Miss Destinee and began dewatering procedures. The F/V Miss Destinee was towed to the Kodiak harbor. AST along with Kodiak City Fire and USCG Marine Safety Detachment responded to the vessel and located and recovered the remains of the missing crewmembers from inside the vessel. The state medical examiner's office requested that the remains of both victims be transported for autopsy. The two deceased are identified as Joshua Osborne, 18, and Abigail Osborne, 22, both of Wasilla. Next of kin was notified.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Swamped in Bristol Bay

State and Coast Guard officials say four fishing vessels have sunk or beached in Bristol Bay near Dillingham. Radio station KDLG reports the boats might have been struggling with big loads of fish. The F/V Ketok is seen here aground at Ekuk. The Bristol Bay salmon fishery typically peaks around the Fourth of July. The catch so far this season is a rather unremarkable 6.6 million fish. ADF&G photo

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Two missing from capsized vessel at Kodiak

A search is underway for two people missing from the fishing vessel Miss Destinee, which capsized in Marmot Bay, the U.S. Coast Guard reports.

Two other people, including the captain, have been rescued, the Coast Guard says.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alaskan to lead NMFS

Industry favorite Chris Oliver, the longtime executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, has been named the head of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

'Harassed nonstop'

Here's a letter to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council recounting one halibut captain's epic struggle with thieving orcas.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

CDQ feed

Alaska community development quota companies are throwing a big seafood dinner in conjunction with this week's North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Juneau.

Here's the invitation. Notice anything curious?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Oregon's Hyder to leave council

Roy Hyder, Oregon's longtime representative on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, is retiring after the council's June 5-14 meeting in Juneau.

That's the word from Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The council, based in Anchorage, helps regulate federal fisheries off Alaska. It has 11 voting members from Alaska, Washington and Oregon, with Oregon holding only one seat.

"We don't have a replacement yet, but we're talking about it," Dennehy said.

Hyder occupies Oregon's council seat as an alternate for the state's fish and wildlife director.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Prince William Sound salmon joins MSC club

Prince William Sound is no longer excluded — the region's salmon fishery has been certified as well-managed and sustainable under the Marine Stewardship Council program.

Here are the two key documents:

Certification report — Executive summary on Pages 5-8.

Certificate of conformity

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Copper River fisherman pulled dead from the surf

The Alaska State Troopers today released the following:

Location: Copper River flats
Type: Death investigation
On 5/25/17 at approximately 2100 hours, the U.S. Coast Guard received a report that the F/V Dances With Clams was driving around in circles with no one onboard near Pete Dahl Slough, Copper River flats. Two wildlife troopers from the P/V Churchill responded and received assistance from a good Samaritan vessel that could navigate in the shallow water. Just as troopers arrived near the search area, a Coast Guard helicopter dispatched to the scene found the victim and sole operator of the vessel facedown in the surf and unresponsive. The Coast Guard recovered the body and transported the remains to Cordova. The victim was identified as Clifford M. Johns, 69, of Bothell, Wash. No foul play is suspected. Next of kin was notified. Troopers recovered the fishing vessel and brought it back to Cordova. Johns' body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for autopsy.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Two deaths reported

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Seward
Type: Death investigation
The U.S. Coast Guard notified the Alaska State Troopers of a death on a fishing vessel. The F/V Lady Angela was located near Shelikof Strait. Crewmembers aboard the vessel reported the captain, David Duarte, 62, of Seward, had passed away. Troopers met the vessel when it arrived in Seward on 5/12/17 at approximately 0946 hours. The investigation revealed Duarte was last seen alive in the early morning hours on 5/11/17. Duarte was found deceased in his stateroom at approximately 1930 hours on 5/11/17. The state medical examiner's office was contacted and released the body to the family. There are no signs of foul play. Duarte's next of kin was notified.

Location: Twin Hills
Type: Death investigation
On 5/10/17 at 1825 hours, Alaska State Troopers received a report of a body found on the beach near the Togiak Fisheries cannery. Investigation revealed cannery worker James Schneider, 56, of Warrenton, Ore., was found facedown in mud after apparently falling approximately 15 feet from the cannery dock during low tide. Coworkers attempted CPR for 20 to 30 minutes before he was eventually pronounced deceased on scene by Kanakanak Hospital medical staff, Dillingham. The Togiak village public safety officer responded to the scene via boat while Alaska State Troopers arrived a short time later via chartered aircraft. No foul play is suspected at this time. His remains are en route to Anchorage for autopsy. Investigation also revealed that Schneider had an active $1,000 misdemeanor warrant for his arrest out of King Salmon for the original charge of DUI, failure to appear. Next of kin have been notified.

Friday, April 28, 2017

It's go time at Togiak

Herring have arrived at Togiak and the fishery is set to open at 6 tonight.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

'No trespassing'

State officials are refuting claims of exclusive Native fishing rights at Kodiak.

'Bad policy'

The Seattle-based Bristol Bay Fishermen's Association is no fan of House Bill 188, which would allow "regional fisheries trusts" to hold and lease limited entry permits.

Here is BBFA's letter to legislators.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Trollers take a hit

Southeast Alaska trollers have a 2017 quota of 154,880 treaty Chinook salmon, a big decline from last year's 263,197.

Friday, April 7, 2017

New skipper at PWSAC

Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. has named Timothy Joyce as interim general manager. Here's the press release.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Council politics

Organizations representing the trawl industry are most upset with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for nominating only longliners for a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Permits for lease

As the legislative session lumbers on in Juneau, an interesting bill has appeared that would make a big change in how people gain entry to Alaska's commercial fisheries.

House Bill 188, sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, would allow for the establishment of "regional fisheries trusts."

These trusts could hold fishery permits and lease them to Alaska resident fishermen "for a limited period of time," Kreiss-Tomkins says in his sponsor statement for the bill.

HB 188 aims to alleviate the problem of permits leaving rural Alaska communities, as well as the rising price of entering the fisheries.

The bill appears to be a modified version of the bill Kreiss-Tomkins offered last year to establish "regional community permit banks."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A big year for salmon?

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is projecting a 2017 commercial salmon catch of more than 204 million fish.

That would far exceed the 113 million taken last year, when pink salmon runs disappointed in key areas.

Here's the statewide forecast.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sitka herring recap

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery has come and gone, and it appears to have been a good season for seiners and processors.

The industry achieved a full harvest of 14,600 tons, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said today in an announcement closing the fishery.

Deckboss heard no reports this year of vessel collisions or other nastiness in the notoriously feisty fishery.

We've also heard nothing at all about prices paid for herring. If you have details, please share!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Cordova hatchery chief to retire

David Reggiani, general manager of Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., is retiring.

PWSAC, based in Cordova, operates major hatcheries producing millions of pink and other salmon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Bering Sea tragedy

The Coast Guard has suspended the search for the F/V Destination, which apparently sank over the weekend near St. George Island.

The crew of six remains missing.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Board of Fisheries news

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has reappointed John Jensen, of Petersburg, and Reed Morisky, of Fairbanks, to the state Board of Fisheries.

The governor also has appointed Fritz Johnson, of Dillingham.

Johnson, who has served previously on the board, will take the seat now held by Sue Jeffrey, of Kodiak, who is stepping aside after serving two terms.

Here's the governor's letter to legislative leaders indicating his appointments to various state boards and commissions.

Fish board appointees are subject to legislative confirmation.

In other news, state Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, has introduced House Bill 88, which would expand the board from seven members to nine. Here's her sponsor statement on the bill.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Halibut gets a boost

The International Pacific Halibut Commission today announced catch limits for 2017.

The limits total 31.4 million pounds coastwide, a 5 percent increase over last year's limits.

The season will open March 11 and run to Nov. 7.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ailing crewman hoisted off factory trawler

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter today conducted a medevac off the Bering Sea factory trawler American Dynasty.

The patient, 59, was suffering from a possible appendicitis, the Coast Guard said.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A popular pick for NMFS chief

Who will head the National Marine Fisheries Service in the Trump administration?

Many in the industry like Chris Oliver, the longtime executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Check out this letter of support.

Click here for Oliver's bio.

Buyback fails

We told you in November that Southeast Alaska salmon seiners would vote on whether to buy out more permits.

So, how did the election turn out?

"We received 180 ballots of which 132 were for and the remaining 48 against," said Michael Sturtevant, with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

For the referendum to be successful, at least 158 of the 315 permit holders would have had to vote in favor, he said.

A notice with more details will be published soon in the Federal Register, Sturtevant said.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Small sockeye catch projected at Copper River

Here's the Copper River salmon forecast, and it's not pretty.

State biologists are projecting a commercial catch of 889,000 sockeye.

That would be well below last year's catch of 1.18 million sockeye, which itself was nothing to write home about.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Juneau watch

The Alaska Legislature kicked off a new session this week, and lawmakers already have filed some bills of interest to the fishing industry.

House Bill 56 raises limits on certain state commercial fishing loans. The sponsor is Rep. Dan Ortiz, of Ketchikan.

House Bill 29 would prohibit the sale of genetically modified fish in Alaska. The sponsor is Rep. Geran Tarr, of Anchorage.

The major concern for legislators this session will be the same as last year — a multibillion-dollar budget deficit resulting from the decline in oil revenue. This could lead to new or higher taxes for industry and individuals.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

More on those tapeworms

Evidently sensing a potential crisis, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has posted a two-part response to reports of the discovery of a type of tapeworm in wild Alaska salmon.

Press release
Alaska salmon Q&A

Here is the scientific article that got this parasitic PR problem started.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

He's starting to become a big fish

Alaska's junior U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan, has been named chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.

Big news from big trawl company

American Seafoods has named a new CEO.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Court battle over Cook Inlet salmon continues

Two interesting documents were filed yesterday in federal court in Alaska.

UCIDA motion to vacate Amendment 12

Declaration of Erik Huebsch

For background, here's a news item from the November 2016 issue of Pacific Fishing magazine:

Cook Inlet salmon ruling

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 21 ruled in favor of United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) and Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund in a case concerning Cook Inlet salmon management.

The two groups sued the federal government in 2013 and appealed after a loss in the district court.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has jurisdiction over the federal waters of Cook Inlet, the 9th Circuit opinion said.

In 2010, the council began a comprehensive review of the salmon fishery management plan (FMP), and the next year voted unanimously to remove Cook Inlet from the salmon FMP. The government argued in court that the removal amounted to delegation of Cook Inlet to the state of Alaska, which had long managed the inlet’s salmon fisheries.

UCIDA and its co-plaintiff opposed implementation of the council’s action. They have problems with the state’s management of Cook Inlet salmon, saying commercial sockeye catches have suffered over the years.

The 9th Circuit remanded the case to the district court.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Please spare Area 2C!

The International Pacific Halibut Commission has posted proposals for this year's catch limits.

Of particular note is a proposal from a group of fishing associations and processors who say, in part: "Reductions in Area 2C catch limits are not justified by current data or trends."

Area 2C encompasses Southeast Alaska.

Read the full proposal here.

The commission will consider the proposals and set the year's catch limits at its annual meeting Jan. 23-27 in Victoria, British Columbia.