Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Does poor pink season constitute a disaster?

While fishing continues, it's evident the 2016 pink salmon season is a bust.

The statewide commercial catch stands at about 36 million fish, far short of the 90 million forecast.

The harvest is so poor that state Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, wants Gov. Bill Walker to declare a disaster, which could lead to some sort of relief for the industry.

Stutes further suggests giving fishermen a break on making their state loan payments this year.

Kodiak fisheries reporter Laine Welch has more details here.

Stutes chairs the House Special Committee on Fisheries.

In a letter to Stutes, the Walker administration says it's prepared to work with fishermen on loan restructuring or other assistance.

Disaster relief and loan forbearance is bound to hold some popular appeal. That could benefit Stutes, who is seeking re-election this year.

Her challengers include Kodiak independent Duncan Fields, who has fished salmon commercially and served on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Government already is doing much to aid the Alaska salmon industry. In late July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it had purchased nearly $10 million in canned pink salmon for child nutrition and other food assistance programs.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Gangster fishing?

The F/V Temptation with significant damage to its port side.

The Alaska State Troopers are investigating an incident in which a commercial salmon seiner was rammed in Hidden Bay in western Prince William Sound.

It occurred the morning of Aug. 15 during the pink salmon fishery.

Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said three vessels were involved in the incident: the Temptation, Chugach Pearl and Silver Streak.

She was unable to say which boat did what.

But a reader tells Deckboss it was the Temptation that took the hit, as evidenced by these photos.

A 23-year-old crewman aboard the Temptation was injured, Peters said. He reportedly needed a Coast Guard medevac.

Now, we all know Alaska commercial fishing can get a bit rough, with boats swapping curses and even a little paint. Tempers can easily flare on the water.

But this case might have had an extra dimension.

The story goes that a group of cooperating boats had formed a blockade to prevent competing vessels from accessing the pink salmon.

When the Temptation, which was not part of the group, tried to run through, a blockading boat rammed the Temptation midships on the port side.

Did it really happen this way?

Deckboss can't say for sure. All we know is the Temptation appears to have taken a pretty hard lick.

The reader who brought this case to our attention says this kind of rough, organized fishing has gone on for too long and must stop.

Let's hope the troopers can get to the bottom of the Hidden Bay case.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

F/V Aleutian Sable fined $156K

Federal authorities have posted their national enforcement report for the first six months of the year.

One Alaska case carries a $156,091 penalty:

F/V Aleutian Sable — Owner and operator were charged in eight counts under the Magnuson-Stevens Act for failing to maintain a wheel watch on the vessel; for harassing observers, having the purpose or effect of interfering with the observers' work performance, or otherwise creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment; for failing to notify the observers, on multiple occasions, at least 15 minutes before fish were brought on board to allow the observers to sample the catch; and for retaining Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) halibut on board the vessel in excess of the total amount of unharvested IFQ halibut applicable to the vessel category and Regulatory Area 4A in which the vessel deployed fixed gear, and in excess of the IFQ that was currently held by all permit holders aboard the vessel. A $156,091 NOVA (Notice of Violation and Assessment of Administrative Penalty) was issued.

See the report for lots more Alaska enforcement actions, including cases that have settled.

Governor backs off CFEC overhaul

Here's the press release.