Saturday, March 31, 2012

Johnstone in, Smith out on Board of Fisheries

Gov. Sean Parnell today reappointed Karl Johnstone to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Johnstone currently is board chairman.

The governor named Orville Huntington to replace board member Mike Smith.

Here's a press release from the governor's office.

Friday, March 30, 2012

IPHC contenders named

Back in February we told you the federal government was inviting nominations for two U.S. seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

So who was nominated? Here's the list.

Ralph Hoard and Phillip Lestenkof currently occupy the two seats, and both are eligible for reappointment. But only one of those names is on the list of nominees.

A new player enters rockfish legal fray

Fishermen's Finest Inc. is seeking to intervene in the lawsuit major Kodiak processors have filed against the federal government over the new Central Gulf of Alaska rockfish catch shares program.

As you will recall, the processors argue the program is unlawful because it created shares only for fishing vessel owners.

Seattle-based Fishermen's Finest operates two large and well-known trawlers in Alaska, the American No. 1 and the U.S. Intrepid.

In its motion to intervene, Fishermen's Finest argues that if the processors win, the company would lose valuable quota.

What's more, a processor victory "would upend the rationalization process for many fisheries in the North Pacific," the motion says.

Rationalization means cutting up a fishery into individual shares. Fishery managers in Alaska have embraced rationalization as a way to alleviate safety and other problems that arise when boats "race for fish."

The processor lawsuit strikes at a burning policy question: Should the government award shares only to fishermen, or should processors receive them too?

While Gulf rockfish is not among Alaska's largest or richest commercial fisheries, it's apparent the rockfish lawsuit could turn into a titanic legal battle.

Deckboss hears we are likely to see more fishing vessel owners file to intervene in the case.

Now property of the USA

To a buyer, or the bottom? James Mason photo

A federal judge in Anchorage yesterday signed this forfeiture decree for the Bangun Perkasa, a suspected high-seas driftnetter authorities seized and took to Dutch Harbor last year.

The judge signed the decree after no one came forward to claim the vessel. The government may now sell it.

Or better yet, says Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, the Coast Guard should use the "pirate" for gunnery practice and sink her.

What's your vote?

Chinook take a dip for Southeast trollers

Southeast Alaska commercial trollers have a Chinook salmon harvest allocation this year of 197,272 fish, down 20,788 from the 2011 preseason allocation.

Here's the announcement from the Department of Fish and Game.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

State looks at financing seafood real estate deal

A state lending agency, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, is weighing whether to team with a bank on a $7.5 million loan to a Juneau seafood processor.

Here's an AIDEA staff memo with all the details.

The AIDEA board meets Friday. Here's the agenda.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Who knew?

Did you know that the "Grand Canyons of the Sea" can be found off Alaska's coast?

And that these two underwater canyons are prominent "Green Belt" features?

And that Bering Sea commercial fishing vessels, including factory trawlers "the size of ocean liners," are dragging nets and longlines through the canyons?

And that these canyons, which are "remarkable biologically," really should be protected?

And that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which is meeting this week in Anchorage and lacks "conservation seats," probably won't do the right thing without a push from Greenpeace and other groups?

Read all about it and see lots of pictures here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ready, set...

Sitka Sound herring seiners go on two-hour notice effective 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Here's the announcement from the Department of Fish and Game.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fuglvog doing his time — in Petersburg!

Arne Fuglvog, the former congressional aide convicted of a federal fisheries violation, is serving his five-month prison sentence at this low-security facility in Petersburg, Va.

That's quite a coincidence, as Fuglvog is from Petersburg, Alaska.

Deckboss hears he reported to prison on March 13.

Fuglvog, 48, is scheduled for release on Aug. 11, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Geoduck groans

For the fifth consecutive week, the commercial geoduck clam fishery in Southeast Alaska is closed due to all harvest areas failing paralytic shellfish poison testing.

Deckboss isn't sure if this is some kind of record. But he's confident dive fishermen must be frustrated with such a long closure.

Here's the latest disappointing announcement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Litigation update

Here's a quick update on a couple of big court cases brought against federal fishery regulators.

First, processors challenging the new Central Gulf of Alaska rockfish catch shares program have filed this amended complaint in federal court in Seattle.

You will note that International Seafoods is no longer listed as plaintiff. Now it's just Trident, Westward, North Pacific and Ocean Beauty taking on the feds.

Second, the state as well as several industry groups on Monday signaled they will appeal their recent defeat in the Steller sea lion case.

They contend the National Marine Fisheries Service lacks justification for imposing extensive fishing closures in the Aleutians to protect the endangered marine mammals.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's not over yet

Last week came word that Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire was nominating Lori Swanson for a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Well, this choice apparently didn't sit well with a large segment of the industry.

Deckboss has intercepted the following email attempting to rally support for an alternate, Craig Cross.

The email is from Jim Gilmore, the Washington, D.C., lobbyist for the At-sea Processors Association, which represents Bering Sea factory trawlers. It's addressed to several major commercial fishing organizations: the Deep Sea Fishermen's Union, the Alaska Crab Coalition, the Fishing Vessel Owners' Association, Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, the Freezer Longline Coalition and United Catcher Boats.

Here's the email:

From: Jim Gilmore
Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2012 6:24 PM
To: 'Mark Gleason'; 'Edward Poulsen'; 'Robert Alverson'; 'Arni Thomson'; 'Theodore Kronmiller'; 'Kenny Down'; 'Brent Paine'; 'Justin LeBlanc'; 'Sara Chapman'
Cc: 'Stephanie Madsen'; 'Craig Cross'
Subject: North Pacific Council seat


By now, you have no doubt heard that Governor Gregoire has selected Lori Swanson as the preferred nominee for appointment to the North Pacific Council with Craig Cross as the second choice.

Among many others within and outside the commercial fisheries, our seven organizations supported Craig's candidacy, urging the Governor to select Craig as the preferred nominee. The issue we now face is whether to continue to press the case with Washington's Senators and Democrat House members or to accept the Governor's verdict.

This appointment seems particularly important since among the three Washington Council seats, it is the only seat to be occupied by a commercial fisheries participant — and that is likely to be the case for the next five years until John Henderschedt reaches the end of his third term. John, of course, is an excellent Council member, but he has changed jobs since his first appointment, leaving the industry with one less seat to represent our diverse interests.

What is startling, and troubling, about the Governor's decision is the disregard shown for the almost unprecedented breadth of industry support for Craig's candidacy, certainly when contrasted with the very narrow support for Lori's candidacy. The trawl, longline, and pot vessel sectors, including both catcher and catcher/processor vessels employing those gear types, and a crewmember union voiced unqualified support for Craig, expressing broad stakeholder support for him to fill the one industry seat available to a $2 billion industry.

Both Lori and Craig meet the MSA requirements for Council appointees. Obviously, I am biased in believing that Craig is still the stronger candidate, but I can see a decision maker viewing the candidates as essentially equally qualified to garner the asterisk as the preferred nominee.

What I find appalling though is that the decision ignores the fact that virtually the whole industry lined up behind one candidate and that in evaluating two qualified candidates, the deciding factor — whatever that was — ran counter to the will and confidence of the industry. The MSA requires consultation with the industry, and the Governor's letter to NOAA Fisheries (attached) details such consultations. But what is the point of holding such consultations if the input received is ignored? Fewer than one-third of the "groups consulted" supported Lori's selection and several of those groups are comprised of essentially the same actors only with a different letterhead. Moreover, the expert agency, WDFW recommended Craig as the preferred nominee. There is no rationale for Lori's selection that trumps the expressed wishes of the vast majority of commercial fishing interests or the recommendation of the state's fishery agency.

Overturning the Governor's recommendation is not an easy task. The question is whether the principle established that the commercial fishing industry's input is not a determining factor in gubernatorial decisions a precedent that we are satisfied to let stand. Practically speaking, it would take essentially universal support and active advocacy of our groups to make the case to Democrats in the Washington delegation that they should weigh in with the Secretary of Commerce for Craig's appointment, overturning the recommendation of a lame duck governor who has demonstrated no regard for constituents who supported her for eight years.

What are the wishes of the group? Perhaps each of you should consider your preferred course of action and communicate your intentions to Craig? If there is sufficient support for moving forward to support Craig, we can have a call to discuss strategies, but I also understand if folks decide that it's time to move on to other issues. Thanks.


Jim Gilmore
Director of Public Affairs
At-sea Processors Association
Washington, DC

Monday, March 19, 2012

Juneau restaurant owners to pay $18,000 penalty

The case concerns illegal purchases of subsistence-caught halibut, says this press release from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.

Jumbo argument coming on shrimp?

The Alaska Board of Fisheries will consider dozens of shellfish proposals during its meeting Tuesday through Saturday at the Hilton Anchorage.

Deckboss has reviewed the list and is particularly intrigued with four proposals on the commercial shrimp pot fishery in Prince William Sound.

The makers of proposals 358, 359, 360 and 361 all want to see the fishery shut down.

They contend commercial shrimpers actually lose money on the fishery, and that continuing the harvest will crash the stock to the detriment of sport and subsistence shrimpers.

All involved target spot shrimp, or prawns, a very large and tasty variety.

The commercial fishery was closed for 18 years due to low abundance.

It reopened in 2010, and again in 2011, producing catches of 45,349 pounds and 52,694 pounds respectively.

State figures show 75 vessels participated in the fishery in 2010, and 44 vessels in 2011.

As for noncommercial harvest, well in excess of 3,000 permits were issued in both 2010 and 2011, with an estimated take of 87,699 pounds and 59,182 pounds respectively.

The commercial harvest worries the proposal authors. They want the board to put a stop to it.

"Prince William has been a great place for friends and families to go do some shrimping and that is going to go away," writes Mike Crawford, in proposal 361. "The value of the resource is much higher for the noncommercial use than the $200,000 that the commercial fishery is worth."

Unless the commercial fishery is halted, adds Jeff Benkert, in proposal 359, the Sound will "become the desert" it was before.

The Department of Fish and Game, in a February management report, said "survey results for 2011 suggest that spot shrimp abundance remains high relative to recent years."

This year's commercial shrimp pot season is set to open April 15 with a 51,240-pound quota.

Fish and Game says it's neutral on what it terms the "allocative proposals."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More territory for snow crabbers

Ice has covered much of the Bering Sea crabbing grounds, bedeviling the snow crab fleet.

Now the state Department of Fish and Game is providing some relief by opening an additional area to fishing, starting tomorrow.

Here's the official announcement.

Thus far, individual fishing quota holders have taken 46.9 million pounds of snow crab, or about 59 percent of the total allowable catch.

The season is scheduled to close at the end of May.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Off we go on another long season

Speaking of halibut, the commercial fishery opens at noon tomorrow and runs until Nov. 7.

The overall Pacific halibut quota is 33.54 million pounds.

Alaska accounts for about three-quarters of the quota, with the rest allocated to British Columbia and the U.S. West Coast.

Good fishing, everybody, and be safe.

Southeast charter anglers get 'trophy' opportunity

The National Marine Fisheries Service today announced the rules for charter halibut anglers this season.

In Area 2C (Southeast Alaska), the one-fish daily bag limit stays in effect. Retained halibut can't exceed 45 inches in length. An exception, however, allows anglers to keep "trophy" fish greater than 68 inches.

In Area 3A (Southcentral Alaska), the rules are the same as last year: Charter anglers may keep two fish of any size per day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parnell likes Dersham, Hull for new council terms

Here's the press release from Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell's office:

March 15, 2012

Gov. Parnell makes nominations to fishery council

JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell nominated Robert "Ed" Dersham and Howard "Dan" Hull for consideration by the U.S. commerce secretary for continued service on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The governor also named Timothy Evers and Julianne Curry as alternate nominees.

"The fisheries resources in the North Pacific are of vital importance to Alaska, and each of these nominees possesses excellent management and conservation skills," Parnell said. "Mr. Dersham and Mr. Hull have served effectively on the council, and Alaska's interests will continue to be well-served by these nominees."

Dersham, of Anchorage, is completing his first full term on the NPFMC, having served a partial term immediately prior. An active charter boat operator and lodge owner in Lower Cook Inlet for more than 25 years, Dersham retired from a career as a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. He also served for nine years on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, worked as a consultant for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and served as a coordinating liaison between the Board of Fisheries and the NPFMC. Dersham earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Oregon.

Hull, of Anchorage, is completing his first term on the NPFMC. He is the owner of Hull Fisheries LLC, fishing for halibut and salmon out of Cordova. He is currently a member of the Alaska Sea Grant Advisory Committee and a former member of the Cordova District Fishermen United board of directors, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council Public Advisory Group, the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. board of directors, the Prince William Sound Fisheries Ecosystem Research Planning Group, and the United Fishermen of Alaska board of directors. In addition to his 30-year career in commercial fishing, Hull also worked as a research associate for the Institute of Social and Economic Research. He earned a master's degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington and a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Dartmouth College.

Evers, of Ninilchik, is currently a member of the Advisory Panel to the NPFMC. A longtime charter operator, Evers owned Deep Creek Sport Shop, Big Valley Lodge and Cabin Rentals, and Fishward Bound Adventures. Evers is the founder and former president of the Deep Creek Charterboat Association, and served on the Central Peninsula Fish and Game Advisory Committee. In addition, he served five terms on the National Association of Charterboat Operators.

Curry, of Petersburg, is the executive director of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association and a member of the Advisory Panel to the NPFMC. Curry participates in commercial fisheries for halibut, sablefish, salmon, herring and crab. She is a member of the board of directors and executive committee of United Fishermen of Alaska, and is the chair of the Petersburg Commercial Fishing Committee. A member of the Petersburg Marine Mammal Center board of directors, Curry earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Northern Arizona University.

With jurisdiction over the 1 million square mile Exclusive Economic Zone off the coast of Alaska, the NPFMC has primary responsibility for groundfish management in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, including cod, pollock, flatfish, mackerel, sablefish and rockfish species harvested mainly by trawlers, longliners and pot fishermen.

Established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the NPFMC is one of eight regional councils dedicated to the oversight of the nation's fisheries.

The commerce secretary is empowered under the law to choose the final council appointees from applicants nominated by governors of coastal states.

Lori Swanson, trawl fleet rep, tabbed for council

Lori Swanson, executive director of Groundfish Forum, is Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire's top choice for a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Gregoire's alternate nominees are Craig Cross and former council member John Bundy.

Assuming the U.S. commerce secretary accepts the governor's preferred pick, Swanson will take over the seat now held by Dave Benson, who terms out in August.

The Anchorage-based council has 11 voting members from Alaska, Washington and Oregon. It helps regulate federal fisheries off Alaska. Members serve three-year terms.

Swanson has served on the council's Advisory Panel since 2006. Her employer, Groundfish Forum, is a Seattle-based trade association of flatfish trawlers.

Here is Gregoire's nomination letter.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Could this help?

Down in Juneau, state legislators are thinking about creating a special endowment to fund Chinook research.

Supporters say runs of Chinook, or king, salmon have declined around Alaska, and something must be done to restore the iconic fish.

Especially concerned are Western Alaska legislators representing constituencies dismayed over depressed Chinook runs to the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers and Norton Sound.

Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome, is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 205, with Rep. Bob Herron, D-Bethel, carrying companion legislation in House Bill 332.

The bills would create an endowment fund, which would be invested. A seven-member board comprised of Alaska's fish and game commissioner and six "public members" from around the state would use the profits to award Chinook research grants.

Assuming legislators support the idea, they'll have to decide how much money to put into the endowment. The bills don't call for a specific amount, although they do make a reference to $50 million.

Certainly, the money is available, as the state is flush with billions of dollars in surplus oil revenue.

But whether a research endowment really has statewide appeal is questionable, as the health of Chinook stocks is varied. Certainly, the Yukon and Kuskokwim runs have struggled, as have other runs such as Kodiak's Karluk River stock. Farther east, in Southeast Alaska, the situation looks better.

The Senate Resources Committee is scheduled to take up SB 205 at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Here is Olson's sponsor statement.

And here's a packet of letters in support of the endowment.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Man overboard was from Pennsylvania

Lower 48 media reports say the crewman lost off a fishing vessel Friday near Sand Point was Joe Haller, of Greenville, Pa.

Here's a western Pennsylvania newspaper story, and here's a TV report out of neighboring Youngstown, Ohio.

The crewman was 19 years old, the reports say.

Contrary to the TV report, the F/V Glacier Spirit was fishing for cod, not crab.

The U.S. Coast Guard has not officially released the victim's name.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Update on man overboard

The U.S. Coast Guard says it suspended the search at 4:42 p.m. for a crewman lost off the fishing vessel Glacier Spirit near Sand Point.

Coast Guard aircraft spent about six hours searching more than 40 square miles without any sightings of the missing crewman.

The Coast Guard said it received a call at 10:26 a.m. from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game requesting assistance in searching for the crewman.

"My thought and prayers are with the victim's family and friends," said Capt. Daniel Travers, 17th Coast Guard District chief of incident management. "Suspending a search without finding the person you're looking for is one of the hardest decisions for the Coast Guard to make."

The Coast Guard hasn't yet released the victim's name.

State records list the owner of the 47-foot Glacier Spirit as Richard Eastlick of Sand Point.

The big show

The place to be this weekend is Boston.

The International Boston Seafood Show, running Sunday through Tuesday, is a giant exhibition — one that many in Alaska's fishing industry find well worth the transcontinental flight.

It's a must event for seafood marketers and dealmakers.

No surprise, then, to find the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute among the show's exhibitors, right there with the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission, the U.S. Catfish Institute, the Norwegian Seafood Council and many others.

Top Alaska seafood processors such as Trident, Icicle, Peter Pan and Ocean Beauty will be there, too, along with competitors like salmon farming giant Marine Harvest.

The show also features a slate of panel discussions.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will deliver opening remarks for a panel on "Seafood Jobs in America."

Another panel will feature aquaculture consultant John Forster. You might recall he once wrote a rather ominous report for the state of Alaska on halibut farming.

The show website offers this description of Forster's planned talk:

Through a collaborative effort among academia, officials, farmers and financiers, Chile's salmon aquaculture industry has made a strong recovery from the impacts of a major disease outbreak. Forster will describe how lessons learned there can be proactively applied in other regions.

Sounds interesting. Too bad Deckboss will be stuck here in the Anchorage snow.

Search on for man overboard near Sand Point

The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a man reported overboard from the fishing vessel Glacier Spirit near Sand Point.

A Coast Guard helicopter and a C-130 airplane are involved in the search.

Weather conditions include winds of 25 mph and 12-foot seas.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yet another factory boat has medical emergency

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted another helicopter medevac today, this time off the factory trawler Northern Hawk southeast of St. Paul.

A 57-year-old crewman reportedly experiencing cardiac problems was safely hoisted and delivered to St. Paul at 6:40 p.m., the Coast Guard said.

Sitka herring seiners in line for huge haul

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued a revised quota for this spring's Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery — 28,829 tons.

That's slightly lower than the preliminary forecast announced back in December.

But dang, it's still a gargantuan number.

Ailing crewman airlifted off trawler Arctic Storm

The U.S. Coast Guard last night airlifted an ill crewman off the factory trawler Arctic Storm, 63 miles west of Cold Bay.

The 52-year-old man was said to be in cardiac distress, the Coast Guard said.

The helicopter, assigned to the cutter Alex Haley on patrol in the Bering Sea, safely hoisted the patient at 11:44 p.m.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peter Pan reports gasoline spill

Alaska pollution regulators are investigating an estimated 3,468-gallon gasoline spill at a Peter Pan Seafoods tank farm at False Pass.

The gas apparently didn't go into the water. Rather, it's in a lined containment area, the state Department of Environmental Conservation says.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fishing restrictions to stay in place in Aleutians

Federal Judge Timothy Burgess today declined to lift controversial commercial fishing restrictions the federal government imposed to protect endangered Steller sea lions in the Aleutians.

But the judge, in a 13-page ruling, gave the National Marine Fisheries Service a March 2, 2014, deadline to complete an environmental impact statement.

Burgess, as you might recall, in January held that NMFS should have done the EIS before imposing the fishing restrictions.

Another head injury reported on a factory trawler

The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting a man was medevaced this morning off the Bering Sea factory trawler Alaska Ocean after he was "struck in the head by one of the vessel's cables."

A Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted Franz d'Alquen, 46, at about 11:20 a.m.

The 376-foot trawler was in calm seas some 50 miles north of Cold Bay. Glacier Fish Co. of Seattle operates the vessel.

Crewman killed aboard factory trawler

A crewman died aboard the factory trawler Alaska Juris this past Thursday, reportedly after a cable snapped and hit him in the head, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

Two rescue helicopters responded and lowered a rescue swimmer to the 238-foot vessel, which was more than 150 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor when the call for help came in, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Charly Hengen.

The crewman wasn't hoisted, however, as he was deceased.

The Alaska State Troopers identified the victim as Andrew Fotu, 25, of Seattle.

The Alaska Juris is part of the Fishing Company of Alaska fleet. The company is based in Renton, Wash.

Southeast seiners face a subsistence fight

The Federal Subsistence Board, at a meeting set for March 21-23 in Juneau, will consider a petition seeking to close or curtail commercial salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska.

Kootznoowoo Inc., the Native corporation for the village of Angoon, submitted the petition to the federal government.

The petitioner asks the feds to exercise "extraterritorial jurisdiction" to protect the subsistence priority for Angoon residents. It contends the state-managed commercial fisheries have interfered with subsistence fishing for sockeye.

Kootznoowoo wants commercial fisheries in the waters around Angoon closed or restricted. This includes fishing districts in Chatham, Icy and Peril straits.

The Native corporation also recommends reducing the harvest area adjacent to Hidden Falls Hatchery, located across Chatham Strait from Angoon.

In advance of the meeting, the Federal Subsistence Board has posted a staff report that looks at the petition, area salmon runs, Angoon subsistence practices and fishery management.

The report concludes by saying "not enough information" is available to know if a total closure of commercial purse seine fisheries would meet all of Kootznoowoo's stated needs.

The report adds, however, that it "appears more likely than not that the commercial purse seine fishery is reducing the number of sockeye salmon returning" to federally managed waters.

To see Kootznoowoo's petition and supplement, go to the Federal Subsistence Board website.

Full Alaska delegation jumps into J-1 visa issue

Here's an update on our recent report that the State Department might stop granting foreign students J-1 visas to work in U.S. seafood processing plants.

As you'll recall, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, was telling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this would be a bad move, that Alaska's seafood industry heavily depends on these student workers.

Now, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, both Republicans, have joined Begich on an objection to the Obama administration.

Looking back a few months, Deckboss wonders about the role this Begich letter might have played in precipitating this looming labor crisis for the 2012 salmon season.

Begich suggested the J-1 program might need "modification," noting foreign students had come to work in Kodiak, Kenai and elsewhere without appropriate housing or transportation, and that their employment had cost local resident workers overtime pay.

Some locals even had to resort to a food bank due to the loss of income, Begich wrote.

"Especially when it comes to placing students in smaller communities, we need to assure there is accountability and we are not over-burdening the local area with additional workers competing for jobs," the letter said.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nice save

A good Samaritan vessel, the Glacier, this morning pulled three people from the water after the 32-foot F/V Cyclone was reported sinking about 20 miles southeast of Kodiak, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The three rescued Cyclone crewmen were reported in good condition following the 7:30 a.m. rescue.

Here is audio of the Cyclone's mayday call and the Coast Guard coordination of the rescue.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Two held on murder charges at Dutch Harbor

Details on our sister site, The Brig.

We're moving closer to Southeast seine buyback

This notice was published today in the Federal Register regarding the proposed buyback of Southeast Alaska salmon seine permits.

The notice lays out a schedule of public meetings to be held in Seattle, Petersburg, Ketchikan and Sitka, and lists people eligible to vote on whether to go forward with the buyback.