Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lineup of presenters set for halibut hearing

Here's the agenda for Thursday's legislative hearing on the proposed halibut catch sharing plan.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Coming up short on salmon

The statewide commercial salmon catch, all species, now stands at about 161 million fish, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports.

That's a big total. But clearly, with September just around the corner, we won't reach the preseason forecast of 203 million.

One reason appears to be a shortfall of pink salmon, particularly in Prince William Sound. Returns to Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. hatcheries have been weaker than expected.

Here are a few salmon highlights from around the state:

• In Southeast, purse seiners have bagged 51.2 million pinks, 2.4 million chums, 500,000 sockeye and 300,000 coho. "From this year's combination of good returns, above average pink salmon weights and strong prices, the ex-vessel value of the purse seine fishery this season has now reached $100 million," Fish and Game says.

• Upper Cook Inlet's harvest of 5.1 million sockeye ranks as the area's fifth largest ever.

• Kodiak fishermen have harvested 15.5 million pink salmon, fewer than expected for this date.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Man found dead in Yukon after fish tender flips

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: St. Marys
Type: Death investigation
On 8/24/11 at approximately 0930 hours, St. Marys-based Alaska State Troopers were notified of an overdue Boreal Fisheries tender boat. The boat reportedly was supposed to have returned to the Boreal Fisheries dock, which is approximately 10 miles south of St. Marys on the Yukon River. The boat was last heard from at approximately 2300 hours on 8/23/11. At about 1040 hours, an AST Caravan from Bethel located the boat floating upside down and stationary approximately four miles downriver from Boreal Fisheries. The sole occupant and skipper of the vessel was reported to be Gerald Richardson Minock, 23, of Pilot Station. Approximately 10 boats and 30 searchers initially responded to the scene and searched the river between Pilot Station and Mountain Village. Weather conditions in the area last night were reported to be windy and rainy. At about 1245 hours, troopers were notified that two hunters located a deceased adult male in his early 20s floating in the middle of the Yukon River at the upper end of Thatcher Island below Mountain Village. The male was wearing a Boreal Fisheries life jacket. The body was transported to the St. Marys dock where, upon their return to the village at about 1530 hours, state troopers took possession of the body. The deceased male was positively identified by his next of kin as Minock. There were no obvious signs of trauma and alcohol does not appear to be a factor in this incident. Additional investigation by St. Marys troopers revealed that the 32-foot semi "V" hull with twin outboard motors appeared to have been overloaded, according to a fisherman who observed the boat when he offloaded fish around 2130 hours on 8/23/11. The transom reportedly was partially out of the water and the bow of the boat appeared to be low in the water, which resulted in only 6 to 8 inches of freeboard in the rough waters of the Yukon River. The state medical examiner's office was contacted and requested the body be transported to Anchorage for an autopsy. The body has been transported by state aircraft to Bethel and will be shipped commercially to Anchorage on the next available flight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Collateral damage

The New York Times discovers industry efforts to reduce bycatch.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crewman with facial injuries airlifted to Kodiak

From the U.S. Coast Guard:

Aug. 18, 2011

Kodiak Coast Guard crew medevacs fisherman

An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew today medevaced a 19-year-old fisherman with reported severe facial injuries from Ouzinkie to Kodiak.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage received a call for help at 7:22 a.m. from the crew of the fishing vessel Karen Kay relaying that there had been an incident aboard the 38-foot fishing vessel Kittiwake.

Daniel Cornelius reportedly was injured when a line onboard the fishing vessel parted and hit him in the face.

The Kittiwake diverted to the port of Ouzinkie, arriving at 9:10 a.m. Cornelius was transported to the local medical clinic for further care and preparation for the helicopter medevac to Kodiak.

The Jayhawk arrived in Ouzinkie at 10:45 a.m., safely picked up Cornelius and transported him to Kodiak, arriving at 11 a.m.

Kodiak emergency medical services transported Cornelius to Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center for further medical care.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

'Fluency in Czech and Slovak language preferred'

So, who works in Alaska's processing plants?

If you think it's Lower 48 college kids up for a summer salmon adventure, you'd best get with the times.

Just check out this ad for a production manager over in Cordova.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Alaska Legislature schedules a halibut hearing

The House Special Committee on Fisheries is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. Sept. 1 in Anchorage for an "overview hearing on Pacific halibut management."

Presumably, the hearing will focus heavily on the catch sharing plan the federal government is considering to allocate halibut between the commercial and charter boat sectors.

State Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, chairs the committee. Other members are listed here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More on Fuglvog

The U.S. attorney's office issued this press release on Arne Fuglvog's court appearance today.

Fuglvog update

So, Deckboss attended the court hearing and frankly it was a pretty dull half-hour.

As expected, Arne Fuglvog pled guilty to the fishing violation, and Judge H. Russel Holland accepted the plea.

The judge then penciled in Nov. 18 for sentencing.

A handful of reporters attended, folks I'm sure would have been elsewhere had the defendant merely been a fisherman and not an ex-aide to a U.S. senator.

His day in court

Arne Fuglvog, the former aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, this morning is scheduled to enter his plea to a misdemeanor commercial fishing violation.

Federal Judge H. Russel Holland of Anchorage will preside. Holland, you might recall, presided over the epic Exxon Valdez oil spill case.

Certified, again

Alaska's halibut and sablefish fisheries have been recertified as sustainable and well-managed.

Here's the press release from the Marine Stewardship Council.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Halfway there on salmon

Alaska's commercial salmon catch now exceeds 103 million fish.

We'll need 100 million more to hit the state's preseason forecast of 203 million.

Here are a few news nuggets, culled from the Department of Fish and Game's latest weekly summary:

• Southeast power trollers have caught just under 392,000 coho since July 1. The average price is $1.33 per pound, but the fish are said to be relatively small at an average of 5.3 pounds.

• Southeast purse seiners have bagged 28.1 million pink salmon so far, nearly all from northern districts. At an average weight of 3.7 pounds, and an average price of 41 cents a pound, the pinks are worth about $1.50 each. Effort thus far is 262 boats, just above the recent 10-year average of 259 boats.

• The Upper Cook Inlet sockeye catch has topped 5 million fish, one of the best tallies in decades to this point in the season. Fishing is beginning to wind down.

• The Kodiak pink salmon harvest remains well below projection at 3.9 million fish.

• Norton Sound and Kotzebue each have produced more than 100,000 chum salmon thus far.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Big money for big crab in Norton Sound

The recently concluded Norton Sound red king crab fishery generated a record ex-vessel value. Read all about it here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fuglvog charged criminally, could get prison time

Arne Fuglvog, who resigned Sunday as an aide to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, has been charged in federal court with a criminal fisheries violation.

Under a plea agreement, Fuglvog agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a recommended sentence of 10 months imprisonment, a $50,000 fine and a $100,000 "community service payment."

More on Fuglvog

Deckboss just received the following statement from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's office:

Aug. 2, 2011

Murkowski statement on Arne Fuglvog

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Lisa Murkowski reacts to news that Arne Fuglvog violated a fishing regulation before he joined her staff:

"Prior to joining my staff, Arne Fuglvog violated a fishing regulation by misstating the location where he caught sablefish. I accepted his resignation Sunday, and he will plead guilty to this charge as part of a plea agreement.

"Arne served Alaskans for the past five years on my staff and for over a decade before that in his public service work in fisheries. I thank him for his years of service, but he knows the importance and value of our fisheries, and he also knows what all fishermen understand: fishing laws and regulations must be followed.

"Arne has cooperated fully with the authorities, taken responsibility for his actions, and accepted the consequences."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Some personnel news

Arne Fuglvog has left his job as an aide to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Fuglvog, you'll recall, is a former Petersburg commercial fisherman.

Deckboss naturally is trying to find out more.