Monday, June 30, 2014

Bristol Bay busts out

Bristol Bay commercial fishermen are netting some huge sockeye hauls, indicating the run could be peaking early this season.

Here's a rundown of recent daily production:

June 29 — 1.07 million fish
June 28 — 2.04 million fish
June 27 — 2.66 million fish
June 26 — 2.04 million fish
June 25 — 1.40 million fish

The fishing has been so hot that some buyers reportedly have placed their fleets on delivery limits to allow processing plants to catch up.

Through Sunday, the baywide catch totaled just shy of 10 million sockeye.

The state preseason forecast called for a harvest of 16.86 million sockeye for the year.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blotter

Check out The Brig for an avalanche of enforcement news.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Salmon notes

Here are a few highlights from Alaska's young salmon season.

• The statewide, all-species catch stands at about 14 million fish. The forecast calls for a harvest of 133 million salmon for the year.

• Sockeye is the dominant catch so far, totaling more than 11 million.

• In Southeast Alaska, trollers have taken more than 36,150 Chinook salmon in the spring fishery.

• Copper River gillnetters already have exceeded their season forecast of 1.6 million sockeye.

• The action is starting to pick up at Bristol Bay, scene of Alaska's flagship salmon fishery. Gillnetters on Friday landed a monster haul of nearly 2.7 million sockeye, bringing the season tally to 6.8 million. The state has forecast a catch of 16.9 million sockeye for the year.

• On the Lower Yukon River, commercial fishermen using dipnets and beach seines have caught about 600,000 chum salmon, with nearly 4,800 Chinook reported caught and released.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Begich, Young net UFA endorsements

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, says United Fishermen of Alaska has endorsed his re-election bid.

The Begich campaign says longtime Alaska Congressman Don Young, a Republican, also has UFA's support.

Read more here.

UFA is the state's top commercial fishing organization. No word yet whether the group likes Gov. Sean Parnell for another term.

Fukushima radiation update

Testing shows Alaska seafood remains free of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. More details here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kinneen, Henderschedt confirmed for council

The U.S. Department of Commerce has confirmed Simon Kinneen, of Nome, to a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. He replaces the outgoing Eric Olson.

The department also approved John Henderschedt, of Washington state, for another three-year term on the council.

Here's the official announcement.

Is lightning a problem for Alaska fishermen?

Deckboss is seriously respectful of lightning.

I haven't spent enough time offshore to know if lightning is much of a hazard in Alaska waters.

Regardless, please know this is Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

Alaska fishermen, if you've had a bad bolt encounter, please share the story with us!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Norton Sound king crab to open with lower quota

The Norton Sound summer red king crab fishery is set to open at noon Wednesday. Here's the official announcement.

The overall quota of 382,800 pounds is about 23 percent lower than last year's 495,600 pounds.

2 saved, 1 dead, 1 missing in Ugashik capsizing

The Alaska State Troopers posted this at 11 this morning:

Location: Pilot Point
Type: Search and rescue
On 6/22/14 at 0855 hours, Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers Helo-3 and a helicopter from U.S. Coast Guard Kodiak responded to the Ugashik River near Pilot Point for a report of an overturned skiff with four occupants in the water. Preliminary investigation revealed four commercial fishermen were operating a skiff while fishing on the Ugashik River when the skiff capsized, throwing all four into the water. Winds in the area were estimated at 25 mph with stronger gusts; waves were estimated at 4 feet at the time the skiff overturned. Earnest Pierce, 47, of Nine Mile Falls, Wash., and Brandon Michael Park, 24, of West Richland, Wash., were able to climb on top of the overturned skiff until rescued by other fishing boats. An adult male and a 17-year-old juvenile attempted to swim to shore. The older male was later located in the water and was unresponsive. Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. Efforts by rescuers on scene to locate the missing juvenile were unsuccessful. None of the occupants of the skiff were wearing personal flotation devices at the time of the incident. AST is in the process of locating next of kin. Coast Guard search efforts have been suspended pending further information. Efforts by AST and AWT are continuing.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

King copy

Here's Chinook News, a new publication from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ready for more marine protected areas?

The White House yesterday issued this fact sheet on a raft of new executive actions on oceans.

For the record

Here are a few slightly dated news nuggets Deckboss wasn't able to post promptly:

• Sitka-based processor Silver Bay Seafoods is planning to build a new freezer plant for squid in Ventura, California. It's a $22 million project set to open in late spring 2015, a company executive says.

• The National Marine Fisheries Service has published this notice of a proposed amendment to allow the rebuilding, replacement or retirement of American Fisheries Act vessels. This is the Bering Sea pollock fleet.

• China has lifted its ban on shellfish imports including geoduck clams from Alaska and the West Coast. Here's a statement federal officials released a few days ago.

• Gov. Sean Parnell has renominated Dorothy Childers, Gerry Merrigan and Caryn Rea to the North Pacific Research Board. Click here for background on the nominees and the board.

• Jerry McCune of Cordova, president of United Fishermen of Alaska, is running as a Democrat for state representative, District 32.

• We now have some indication of how that $21 million in federal salmon disaster relief will be divvied up. About $9.7 million will go to the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, and $11.1 million will go to Cook Inlet, NMFS says. Still no word on how much will go directly to fishermen.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Higher risk than usual for Bristol Bay processors?

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has posted a new sockeye market analysis.

"This will be the riskiest year in recent memory for Bristol Bay processors," the report says. "Wholesale prices for sockeye are at peak levels and price resistance from buyers is increasing."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hook-injured crewman hoisted off F/V Optimus

The U.S. Coast Guard yesterday airlifted an injured crewman off the 58-foot fishing vessel Optimus.

The 28-year-old crewman had "sustained a severe laceration from a fishing hook," the Coast Guard said.

The helicopter rescue happened 90 miles south of Seward.

Here's a video showing the hoist.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Huge harvest, paltry payoff

Here's the season summary from the recent Togiak sac roe herring fishery.

The numbers look pretty weird.

The harvest was enormous at 25,136 tons.

The payoff was lousy. At an estimated $50 per ton ex-vessel, the fishery was worth a grand total of $1.26 million.

Last year's grounds price was $150 per ton.

Togiak was like church the Sunday after Easter, with very few boats showing up.

Only 17 purse seiners and 24 gillnetters took part in the fishery, compared with 26 seiners and 37 gillnetters in 2013.

Can the once riotous Togiak herring fishery fall any farther?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Who wants a piece of Adak pollock?

A 2004 federal law granted the Aleut Corp., landlord on far-flung Adak Island, exclusive and lucrative rights to harvest Aleutians pollock.

The pollock was meant to help boost economic development at Adak, a former naval station.

But Aleut was never able to make much use of its catch rights due to extensive regional fishing closures related to the endangered Steller sea lion.

Now it appears regulators might roll back the closures, and Aleut is inviting interest from pollock fishermen and processors.

Here's the solicitation.