Saturday, December 28, 2013

27 questions on Kenai king management

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has posted an interesting set of frequently asked questions on Kenai River king salmon management.

The concise, four-page FAQ focuses on the 2013 season, and delves into issues such as escapement policies, how fish are counted, and research projects.

Of course, low king returns to the famed Kenai have caused a lot of angst for all user groups in recent years.

The department's FAQ comes in advance of the state Board of Fisheries meeting on Upper Cook Inlet finfish, starting Jan. 31 in Anchorage. That could be a brawl.

Deckboss himself learned a lot from the FAQ, and highly recommends you read it.

As a sample, here are a couple of questions from the report:

Q23: How many late-run Kenai River king salmon were harvested inriver in 2013?

A23: Inriver sport fishing mortality was 1,620 late-run Kenai River king salmon, including 1,578 fish harvested and 42 fish from release mortality.

Q24: How many late-run Kenai River king salmon were harvested commercially in 2013?

A24: An estimated 2,256 late-run Kenai River king salmon were harvested in the Upper Subdistrict set gillnet commercial fishery in 2013. This estimate is based on the total harvest of king salmon in the fishery and genetic stock identification data collected from harvested king salmon. A total of 426 king salmon were harvested in the Central District drift gillnet commercial fishery.

Kookesh back on hook in subsistence fishing case

The Alaska Court of Appeals has reinstated charges of subsistence salmon overharvest against former state Sen. Albert Kookesh and two others.

Here is the court's opinion.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's not funny, but damn!

Following orders on deck is a fact of life in commercial fishing. So is the possibility of serious injury.

Here is a recently filed lawsuit that combines both those realities in bizarre fashion.

The gist of the matter is on page 5 of the suit.

Greg Blakey crosses the bar

Greg Blakey has passed. Friends tell Deckboss he died in a motorcycle accident in Mexico.

Here's a death notice with guestbook.

Blakey was chief executive of Snopac, a seafood processing company with a long history of Alaska operations.

Icicle Seafoods acquired Snopac in 2012.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sharing the wealth

Coastal Villages Region Fund has approved a second round of funding for its People Propel initiative.

Coastal is an Anchorage-based company operating under the federal Community Development Quota program. It manages commercial fish harvests on behalf of a group of Bering Sea villages in the area of the Kuskokwim River delta.

With People Propel, Coastal offers village residents substantial subsidies for the purchase of boats, motors and nets.

Coastal evidently is doing great, certainly well enough to help buy some outboard boats and fishing gear.

Coastal's executive director, Morgen Crow, drew a $475,000 salary plus a $420,000 bonus in 2012, the company's latest annual report shows.

Six other staffers received in excess of $205,000.

Seeking answers for Chinook decline

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget contains $10 million for ongoing research on Chinook salmon, returns of which have been low in recent years.

One research project involves a planned juvenile Chinook survey in the northern Bering Sea.

The Department of Fish and Game is looking to charter a trawl vessel for the survey, to be conducted next September. For more specifics, see page 5 of this invitation to bid.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Coast Guard loses one of its own

The U.S. Coast Guard says Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Obendorf has died from injuries suffered during a November response to a disabled fishing vessel in the Bering Sea.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pushing pinks

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors is holding a special meeting Tuesday in Seattle.

A major item on the agenda is a plan to market this year's huge pink salmon pack.

Alaska had a record catch of more than 215 million pinks this season.

A lot of pinks go into tall cans, and that's the product form ASMI appears to be most interested in promoting.

The goal is to clear inventory before the next fishing season.

The major market for canned pink salmon is the South, in cities such as Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Louisville, Nashville and Raleigh.

ASMI is considering lots of tactics, such as placing 55-cent coupons in the aisles of 10,000 supermarkets.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pollock stays steady in Bering, leaps in Gulf

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set the 2014 total allowable catch (TAC) for Alaska groundfish.

Here are the TACs for key species and the percent change from 2013.


Eastern Bering Sea pollock, 1,267,000 tons, up 1.6 percent
Pacific cod, 253,894 tons, down 2.3 percent
Yellowfin sole, 184,000 tons, down 7.1 percent
Pacific Ocean perch, 33,122 tons, down 5.6 percent
Atka mackerel, 32,322 tons, up 24.7 percent
Sablefish, 3,150 tons, down 15.3 percent


Pollock, 174,976 tons, up 44.6 percent
Pacific cod, 64,738 tons, up 6.8 percent
Pacific Ocean perch, 19,309 tons, up 17.7 percent
Sablefish, 10,572 tons, down 15.5 percent

The TACs are subject to U.S. commerce secretary approval.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bummer forecast for Stikine kings

The 2014 run forecast for large Stikine River king salmon is 26,000 fish, too few to open fisheries in early May, the Department of Fish and Game says. More details here.

Bristol Bay setnetters sue over tender sinking

Several salmon setnetters at the Igushik River, on the west side of Bristol Bay, are suing Trident Seafoods and others over the sinking last summer of the tender Lone Star.

The sinking caused a fuel spill that forced a shutdown of the setnet fishery.

A tender is a vessel used to haul fish to a processing plant. The Lone Star was working for Trident.

In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court at Dillingham, the setnetters are seeking compensation for lost fishing income and other damages.

The plaintiffs also allege that during salvage of the vessel, salmon off the tender was allowed to wash up on the beach, attracting bears that gorged on the fish and then ransacked setnetter cabins.

Click here to read a press release and the lawsuit.

Monday, December 9, 2013

More on halibut catch sharing plan

Here's the official announcement from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Halibut catch sharing plan: 'It's a go'

The federal government has approved the halibut catch sharing plan.

"It's a go," said Julie Speegle, spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau.

The final rule is to be published soon in the Federal Register, and will contain no surprises, Speegle said.

The catch sharing plan establishes a clear allocation of halibut between the rival charter and commercial fleets.

With the federal approval, the plan can take effect in 2014, Speegle said.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Editing out that 'fishy' taste

On Tuesday, we posted a link to a National Marine Fisheries Service feature titled 10 Myths about Marine Aquaculture.

Some folks with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, as well as the Alaska office of NMFS, didn't care for the feature. They requested, and got, changes to item No. 1 on the list of "myths."

Here is the original version:

1 Farmed fish and shellfish doesn't taste as good.

Taste is a matter of personal preference. In 2011, people in the U.S. ate over one billion pounds of shrimp and the majority of that is farmed — people must like it! In a recent survey, farmed salmon was preferred over wild salmon by Washington, DC area chefs. Most wild and farmed salmon are different species so you would expect them to taste different just as turkey does not taste like chicken. Some people prefer the fishier taste of wild salmon and many prefer the milder taste of farmed. Luckily, both are very good for you!

And here is the edited version now on the NMFS site:

1 Farmed fish and shellfish doesn't taste as good.

Taste is a matter of personal preference. In 2011, people in the U.S. ate over one billion pounds of shrimp and the majority of that is farmed — people must like it! Most wild and farmed fish are different species so you would expect them to taste different just as turkey does not taste like chicken. Some people prefer the taste of wild fish and many prefer the taste of farmed. Luckily, both are very good for you!

21 percent cut for halibut suggested

The staff of the International Pacific Halibut Commission this week recommended catch limits for the 2014 season.

As you can see from the chart below, we appear to face another year of general decline.

The commission will set final limits at its annual meeting Jan. 13-17 in Seattle.

Numbers are expressed in millions of pounds.

Regulatory area2013 catch limits2014 staff advice% change

Click here for a map of IPHC regulatory areas.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Engine dealer penalized over Bristol Bay boats

To settle a federal air pollution case, RDI Marine has agreed to pay a $39,000 fine and replace or modify diesel engines installed on six Bristol Bay commercial fishing vessels.

More details in this press release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Potential comeback seen for Sitka herring

The Department of Fish and Game today announced a preliminary quota of 17,592 tons for the 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery.

A harvest that size would signify a huge recovery from this year's disappointing 5,688-ton tally.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013