Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Salmon notes

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

• The action is starting to pick up at Bristol Bay, where gillnetters had landed 2.6 million sockeye through Monday. The season forecast calls for a bumper harvest of 37.6 million fish, so we could see the bay explode in the next few days as the fishery peaks. Track the daily catch here.

• In Southeast Alaska, the chum salmon return to the Hidden Falls Hatchery has been a huge disappointment.

• At the Copper River, gillnetters have caught just over 1.2 million sockeye and 22,492 Chinook. The preseason forecast called for 2.24 million sockeye and 6,000 Chinook.

• At Chignik, it appears about 50 seine permit holders are taking part in the fishery, down a bit.

• On the Lower Yukon River, chum fishermen are again restricted to dipnets and beach seines instead of gillnets. This allows for the safe release of scarce Chinook.

• Way up north at Kotzebue, commercial salmon fishing is expected to open July 10. At this point, however, the area has only one confirmed buyer compared to three last year.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Trollers 'outraged' over Chinook quota

The summer troll season for Chinook salmon in Southeast Alaska will open July 1.

But the state announcement fails to clearly spell out the quota.

The Alaska Trollers Association says the quota is 237,000 fish. And the trollers are outraged.

Icicle Seafoods to be sold in two pieces

After months of speculation, we now have confirmation that the owners of Icicle Seafoods Inc. are selling the company.

Here's the press release.

Icicle, based in Seattle, is one of Alaska's largest seafood processors.

Paine & Partners, the private equity firm that's held Icicle since 2007, says it has agreements to sell Icicle in two pieces.

Convergence Holdings Inc. will acquire Icicle's land-based wild seafood processing and farmed salmon activities.

Dominion Catchers LLC will acquire Icicle's harvesting and processing vessels as well as the associated fishing rights.

"Convergence and Dominion have agreed to enter into long-term contracts to continue Icicle's diversified seafood operations," the press release says.

Convergence is described as "the latest company established by the Indonesia-based Soetantyo family."

The transaction is expected to close in August. Naturally, no one is revealing the sale price.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Death reported aboard vessel in Larsen Bay

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Kodiak
Type: Unattended death
On 6/23/15 at about 0630 hours, the Larsen Bay medical provider for Icicle Seafoods Inc. notified the Alaska State Troopers of a death aboard a fishing vessel parked in Larsen Bay. Subsequent investigation revealed Steven King, 61, of Randle, Wash., died of apparent natural causes aboard the vessel during the night. Next of kin have been notified.

MSC urges arbitration in salmon dispute

As we observed last month, Alaska's major salmon processors are having trouble rejoining the Marine Stewardship Council certification program.

That's because a group of generally smaller processors, led by Silver Bay Seafoods, holds the MSC certificate for Alaska salmon and appears unwilling to share it.

A recent attempt to settle the matter through mediation has failed.

Now the MSC is urging binding arbitration. And the organization is asking Alaska's governor to help bring the two sides to an arbitration proceeding.

Here's an exchange of correspondence laying out the situation:

Gov. Bill Walker letter to the MSC
MSC Chief Executive Rupert Howes reply

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hull, Cross, Mezirow confirmed to council

The U.S. Department of Commerce has reappointed Dan Hull, of Alaska, and Craig Cross, of Washington, to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The department also has appointed Andy Mezirow as a new Alaska member.

Here's the official announcement.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Silver Bay Seafoods to pay $75K in pollution case

Details in this press release from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nice save

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter today rescued four men forced into a life raft after their fishing vessel began sinking on the Fairweather Grounds near Lituya Bay.

Here is remarkable video of the crew abandoning ship.

The vessel involved, the 73-foot Kupreanof, is homeported in Petersburg, the Coast Guard said.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Alverson, Lane nominated for IPHC

Bob Alverson and Don Lane have been nominated for continued service as U.S. members on the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Here's the official notice.

Alverson is manager of the Fishing Vessel Owners' Association in Seattle. Lane is a commercial fisherman in Homer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What would happen in a shutdown scenario?

If the Alaska Legislature can't work out a budget and the state proceeds with a partial government shutdown come July, what would happen to fisheries management?

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game addresses that question in this press release.