Thursday, July 23, 2015

Togiak fishermen seek protection

Update: The Board of Fisheries will meet at 2 p.m. Friday to consider this matter.

Togiak District gillnetters have submitted an emergency petition to the Alaska Board of Fisheries seeking an extension of the district's unique "superexclusive" status.

Togiak is the westernmost of Bristol Bay's five salmon fishing districts, and historically the least productive.

Fishing reportedly hasn't been good this year at Togiak, and the petitioning gillnetters don't want to see fishermen from other districts transferring in to compete for sockeye.

They want the district's superexclusive protection extended by nearly three weeks, to Aug. 15.

No word yet on whether the Board of Fisheries will convene a public meeting to consider the petition.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

50 cents for Bristol Bay fish

Deckboss hears reliably that a major Bristol Bay salmon processor, Alaska General Seafoods, is sending its fishermen home with a base price of 50 cents per pound for their sockeye catches.

That's a huge drop from last year's base price of $1.20 per pound.


Rival processor groups have reached a deal to end their conflict over Marine Stewardship Council certification of Alaska salmon.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Salmon notes

Here are a few items of interest from Alaska's commercial salmon season thus far.

• The statewide, all-species salmon catch stands at 73.5 million fish. Of these, 38.4 million are sockeyes and 27.8 million are pinks. The season forecast calls for a statewide harvest of 221 million salmon.

• Just like that, the Southeast Alaska summer troll Chinook salmon season is over. The Department of Fish and Game says the fleet caught the full 150,000-fish allocation during the eight-day opener that began July 1. Managers say 729 troll vessels made landings, and catch rates were "very good."

• The Prince William Sound pink salmon seine harvest through July 16 is estimated at 22.4 million fish, including pinks taken for cost recovery at the Valdez hatchery. "This is a record cumulative total for the date," the department says.

Rough riders

The gillnetter St. Charliett alongside the tender Tempest during heavy weather yesterday in Bristol Bay. The fishery's remarkable late surge continues, with the catch at nearly 29 million sockeye coming into the weekend. Our thanks to Jack Molan, captain aboard the tender Cornelia Marie, for the fine photo.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bristol Bay's late rally

What a weird season at Bristol Bay.

Through the Fourth of July, the catch was a demoralizing 8 million sockeye salmon.

Since then, the sockeye have stormed in and landings have surged.

Gillnetters scored big on Friday and Saturday with catches of more than 2 million fish each day, and the grand total now stands at nearly 19 million fish.

The season, however, is still likely to end in disappointment as the preseason harvest forecast of 37.6 million fish seems out of reach.

That's especially so if lots of gillnetters have to call it quits, pull their boats, and head home to their families and regular jobs.

As for prices? Well, we still haven't heard anything reliable on that front.

Have you?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Who killed the sea lions?

A commercial fishing group, Cordova District Fishermen United, is offering $5,000 for information leading to the conviction of whomever is responsible for a Steller sea lion slaughter near Cordova.

With the $2,500 federal officials have offered, the total reward is now $7,500. More details in this press release.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bristol Bay bust?

Gillnetters in Bristol Bay have taken just over 8 million sockeye salmon through the Fourth of July.


Independence Day usually marks the peak of the Bristol Bay fishery, and so we would have expected a much bigger harvest by now considering the state's preseason forecast of 37.6 million fish.

Alas, we've seen plenty of seasons when the catch came in way under, or way over, the forecast.

This looks like one of those way under years. Even if the industry doubles the current tally, we'd have only 16 million sockeye for the season, far below last year's harvest of 28.8 million.

Still no word on fish prices. But an unexpectedly small harvest should push up prices substantially, don't you think?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Injured man hoisted off seiner near Sand Point

The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday airlifted an injured man off a fishing vessel near Sand Point.

The 28-year-old patient was reported to have a head injury. He was aboard a 48-foot boat listed in state records as the Capt'n Jay, a purse seiner.

Here's a video of the rescue.