Monday, May 30, 2016

Crab rationalization a decade in

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is set to meet next week in Kodiak.

One of the items on the agenda is this 10-year review of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab rationalization program.

You remember crab ratz, right?

It was a revolution in crab fishery management, implemented in the fall of 2005. It involved assigning individual fishing quotas to what was a dangerously competitive crab fleet. The program also established processing shares for the companies that pack the lucrative catches of king and Tanner crab.

So, how has this program worked out?

That's what the 10-year review tries to tell us.

Deckboss imagines very few will care to read the full 244-page report. So you might want to skip straight to Page 226 of the document (Page 235 of the PDF) for the summary and conclusion.

One of the most interesting points in the conclusion is that "incremental consolidation continues in both the harvest and processing sectors."

This builds, of course, on the radical fleet consolidation we saw right after rationalization was implemented.

A deeper discussion of fleet capacity and participation begins on Page 69 of the PDF. Some really interesting details there.

And be sure to check out the section on crew employment and earnings beginning on Page 106 of the PDF. My impression from the discussion and tables in this section is that captains and crewmen — those fortunate enough to still have jobs in the reduced fleet — are making considerably more money than they did pre-rationalization. But perhaps you will read the data differently.

The council isn't expected to make any changes to the crab rationalization program at this meeting.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

That's it for Great Pacific

With a new salmon season upon us, one processor is calling it quits.

Seattle-based Great Pacific Seafoods has discontinued operations and will liquidate through bankruptcy.

Here's a Seattle Times article with a link to the bankruptcy filing.

Great Pacific ran processing plants at Anchorage, Kenai and Whittier, and also had operations at Kotzebue.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Starbound victim identified

The crewman who died on the factory trawler Starbound was 19-year-old Daniel Christensen, the King County Medical Examiner's Office said.

The office released these findings:

Cause of death: electrocution
Manner of death: accident

The Seattle Police Department provided the following narrative from the incident report. Names were redacted (deleted), per department policy.

SPD GO 2016-169297

On 05/15/2016, I was assigned as 3B3 as a uniformed Officer. At approximately 0102 hours, I responded to a DOA at 1441 N Northlake Wy.

Upon arrival, SFD (Seattle Fire Department) led Sgt Harris and myself onto a large ship and down into the lower section of the boat. SFD said that the Deceased, ______, had been accidentally electricuted in a large commercial electrical panel.

I investigated the scene and there were no signs to suggest that ______'s death was not accidental. I photographed the scene and I later uploaded the pictures into DEMS.

I then contacted the Worker who discovered ______'s body, ______. ______ stated that ______ arrived on the ship for work at approximately 1745 hours. ______ said that when ______ was not seen around 0000 hours for lunch, the workers all began to search the ship for him. ______ told me that he discovered ______'s body around 0045 hours, slumped down inside of a commercial electrical panel.

I called the Medical Examiner, ______, who arrived at approximately 0307 hours. ______ photographed and investigated the scene. I then requested that SFD respond to assist in extracting ______'s body up out of the ship.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Starbound update

We still know very little about a death that occurred a week ago aboard the factory trawler Starbound.

The vessel was moored in Seattle at the time of what is believed to have been a workplace accident.

The Starbound recently had undergone extensive modification at a shipyard in Anacortes. The work included stretching the vessel to bring its length overall to about 300 feet.

The Starbound is among the largest fishing vessels working off Alaska, harvesting pollock in the Bering Sea.

An attorney for Starbound LLC told Deckboss on Friday that a crewmember was "found unresponsive" in or around the engine room of the vessel last Saturday evening.

The attorney wouldn't discuss the circumstances of the death. He said he was not at liberty to provide the victim's name or age.

The company is cooperating with local authorities and with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, which are investigating, the attorney said.

We've been unable to collect any useful information thus far from OSHA or the Coast Guard.

Ownership of the vessel is complex.

One minority owner is APICDA, the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association. Based in Juneau, the association holds rights under the federal community development quota (CDQ) program to harvest pollock on behalf of Western Alaska villages.

APICDA's latest annual report offers this description of Starbound LLC:


APICDA Joint Ventures owns 20% of this pollock trawl catcher processor. Other partners include Aleutian Spray Fisheries (65%), Barry Ohai (10%) and Karl Bratvold (5%). Aleutian Spray serves as the managing partner. This vessel harvests and processes approximately 80% of APICDA's pollock CDQ quota.

According to its website, Aleutian Spray is a family business established in 1969 by Henry Swasand.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Death aboard factory trawler reported

Deckboss is looking into a report of a death last Saturday aboard the Seattle-based factory trawler Starbound.

So far, we've been unable to obtain an official account of what happened.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Copper River gets going

Copper River salmon fishermen started the 2016 season with a 12-hour opener Monday, and the catch was fairly modest: 1,300 Chinook and 22,500 sockeye.

The fishery will open again at 7 a.m. Thursday for a 24-hour period, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in this news release.

Opening day prices to fishermen reportedly were very high, but average sockeye size was very small, according to one media report.

As usual, the first Copper River salmon of the season arrived in Seattle with considerable fanfare.

Alaska Airlines said it planned to rush deliver 80,000 pounds of fish, working with three major processors — Ocean Beauty, Trident and Copper River Seafoods.

You can see photos of the fishy festivities on Twitter using #CopperRiverSalmon.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

AIFMA rebrands

Deckboss received the following announcement on Friday from the organization formerly known as AIFMA, the Alaska Independent Fishermen's Marketing Association:

Introducing the Bristol Bay Fishermen's Association

We are pleased to announce that after fifty years AIFMA has changed its name to the Bristol Bay Fishermen's Association (BBFA). The new name more accurately describes who we are, where we fish, and the fact that we are organized.

We are glad to make the change and are looking forward to addressing key issues for our membership in the coming years.

BBFA Board Members

David Harsila, President
Matt Hakala, Vice President
Bob Bonanno, Secretary Treasurer
Matt Hakala
Bruce Jolma
Fred Marinkovich
Darryl Pope
Everett Thompson
George Wilson

Bristol Bay Fishermen's Association (formerly AIFMA)
P.O. Box 60131
Seattle, WA 98160
206-542-3930 (under construction)

Representing the interests of Bristol Bay, Alaska salmon fishermen since 1966.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Icicle sold — again

Canadian aquaculture company Cooke today announced a "definitive agreement" to purchase Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods.

Here's the press release.

This is the second time in less than a year that an Icicle sale has been announced.

In June 2015, a deal was announced to sell Icicle to Indonesian interests. But the deal fell through.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lawsuit challenges CFEC dismantling

Here's a lawsuit seeking to block implementation of Gov. Bill Walker's recent administrative order transferring key functions of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission to the Department of Fish and Game.

The plaintiffs are Bob Thorstenson Jr., a commercial fisherman and lobbyist, and United Fishermen of Alaska.

The lawsuit contends the administrative order is unconstitutional and unlawfully sidesteps the Alaska Legislature.

Juneau attorney Bruce Weyhrauch, representing Thorstenson and UFA, is himself a former state legislator.

Naturally, the state is asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit.