Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

Here's your Sitka herring forecast

The Department of Fish and Game just posted a quota of 11,128 tons for next year's Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery.

This year's sac roe harvest was 13,923 tons on a quota of 14,649 tons.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Plenty of Togiak herring, again

The state says 24,042 tons will be available for harvest in next year's Togiak sac roe herring fishery.

More details in this forecast.

Last season produced a harvest of 17,403 tons on a quota of 22,943 tons.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Cod trouble

As expected and feared, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has slashed the quota for Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska.

The total allowable catch for Gulf cod in 2018 is 13,096 metric tons, down 80 percent from this year's 64,442 tons.

The council is meeting through the weekend in Anchorage. Its quota recommendations are subject to U.S. commerce secretary approval.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cantwell seeks pollution law relief for fish boats

Read about it here.

Another big Bristol Bay projection

The University of Washington is forecasting a harvest of 33.5 million sockeye next year in Bristol Bay.

That compares to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecast of 37.6 million.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Poor outlook for Stikine, Taku rivers

The Department of Fish and Game says it's very unlikely any directed Chinook salmon fisheries will occur in 2018.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Badass boat

During last month's Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, Deckboss went looking for fish boats and found the Ocean Rover tied up at Terminal 91. The 256-foot factory trawler, part of the American Seafoods fleet, fishes Bering Sea pollock.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Canada's halibut

The International Pacific Halibut Commission is holding its interim meeting this week in Seattle. As always, the panel is weighing a great deal of information such as the 2017 stock assessment and various regulatory proposals.

Here's a little item, taken from a staff report, that certainly caught our attention:

"The IPHC Secretariat continues to hear concern from Canadian representatives regarding the IPHC's current understanding of Pacific halibut biological distribution. Commentary indicates that the current methodology is underrepresenting the amount of the coastwide Pacific halibut stock that is within Canadian waters. Reports of large Pacific halibut and high catch rates are thought to further support this claim. The IPHC is expanding the fisheries-independent setline survey (FISS) in Canadian waters in the summer of 2018. We are confident that this expansion will increase our collective knowledge of Pacific halibut biological distribution, as it will cover a greater range (deeper and shallower depths) than the current setline survey design."

The interim meeting wraps up today.

The commission won't set 2018 catch limits until its Jan. 22-26 annual meeting in Portland.

Juneau man appointed to entry commission

Here's the press release.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Change at the top

Seattle-based North Pacific Seafoods, a major Alaska processor, is getting new leadership.

Here's the press release.

North Pacific Seafoods is part of Marubeni, a Japanese conglomerate.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Upper Cook Inlet salmon forecast released

The state is forecasting a commercial harvest of 1.9 million sockeye salmon next year in Upper Cook Inlet.

This past season tallied 1.8 million sockeye.

Silver Bay's new man

Deckboss just returned from Seattle, where he attended Pacific Marine Expo. It was a vibrant show this year with plenty of industry buzz.

One especially interesting note: John Lowrance is joining Silver Bay Seafoods to help smooth out problems at the company's Bristol Bay plant at Naknek.

Fishermen familiar with the move say Lowrance is taking an ownership stake in Silver Bay.

Lowrance is a respected name in Alaska's salmon industry, having founded Leader Creek Fisheries, a small but innovative Bristol Bay processor. He sold his interest in Leader Creek in 2010.

Trident's warning

A recent federal summary of enforcement actions for the first half of 2017 said a written warning was issued to Trident Seafoods.

Deckboss obtained a copy of the written warning through a Freedom of Information Act request. Read it here.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

U.S. Seafoods penalized $135,000

Details in this press release from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trident invests in APICDA subsidiaries 

Here's the press release.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Southeast pink salmon outlook

Southeast Alaska can expect an "average" harvest of 23 million pink salmon in 2018, says this forecast just out from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Another big year forecast for Bristol Bay

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting a huge harvest of 37.6 million sockeye salmon next year at Bristol Bay.

That would basically match this year's catch of 37.7 million sockeye.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Big fish

National Fisherman magazine, in the December issue, features its 2017 Highliners:

Bob Dooley, of Half Moon Bay, Calif.
George Eliason, of Sitka, Alaska
Bruce Schactler, of Kodiak, Alaska

Thursday, November 9, 2017

UFA's new skipper

United Fishermen of Alaska has hired Frances Leach as its executive director, effective Jan. 5.

Leach, a Juneau resident, was raised in a commercial fishing family in Ketchikan, says this UFA press release.

CFEC upheaval

The Alaska Dispatch News yesterday published an important story regarding the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bering Sea medevac

A crewman was "struck in the head by a 37-pound block of frozen fish," the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Here's a news release.

Pebble enlists a general

Here's the announcement.

EPA and the seafood industry

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been on a tear lately, wrapping up enforcement cases against three companies:

North Pacific Seafoods
Norton Sound Economic Development Corp.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Death reported on Bering Sea vessel

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Dutch Harbor
Type: Death Investigation
On 10/20/17 a death was reported on the F/V Seafisher, a 230-foot catcher-processor in the Bering Sea. The deceased person is David Thok, 42, of Auburn, Wash. Thok reportedly was on shift when he collapsed and became unresponsive. CPR was performed by the vessel's medical officers under telephonic supervision of a physician. Thok was declared dead after resuscitation efforts were not successful. The incident was witnessed by several coworkers and there are no apparent indications of criminal activity. Next of kin have been notified. Thok's body was transported to Dutch Harbor and on to the state medical examiner's office.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Snow crab cut 12 percent

This season's Bering Sea snow crab quota is 18.96 million pounds, down 12 percent from last season.

The fishery opens at noon Oct. 15, but the industry typically waits until after the first of the year to take snow crab.

Fishery managers also have set a modest quota of 2.5 million pounds for Bering Sea bairdi Tanner crab. The bairdi fishery was closed last season.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bristol Bay red king crab takes big hit

Fishery managers have just announced the quota for one of Alaska's most valuable crab fisheries, and it's not very good.

The total allowable catch for Bristol Bay red king crab is 6.6 million pounds, down 22 percent from last year.

The season opens at noon Oct. 15.

Managers also announced that two other crab fisheries, St. Matthew Island blue king crab and Pribilof red and blue king crab, will be closed this season.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Two top agency lawyers leaving

People familiar with federal fisheries management know the large role lawyers play.

And so it's noteworthy when the top two lawyers for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau retire the same week.

They're saying so long today to Lisa Lindeman, NOAA General Counsel's Alaska Section chief since 1990, and Jonathan Pollard, Alaska Section deputy chief since 2007.

No word yet on who will succeed them.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Oregon's new man on the council

Back in June, we told you Roy Hyder, Oregon's longtime representative on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, was retiring.

Now we have word that Steve Marx is Hyder's replacement.

The council, based in Anchorage, helps regulate federal fisheries off Alaska. It has 11 voting members from Alaska, Washington and Oregon, with Oregon holding only one seat.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Processor in peril

Emergency efforts are underway to try to keep a "deteriorating" vessel, the Akutan, afloat at Unalaska.

The 166-foot fish processor is coming off a disastrous salmon season in Bristol Bay, as described in this KDLG story.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fire strikes Peter Pan's Port Moller plant

Cannery fires figure prominently through the history of Alaska's fishing industry, and now we have another example.

Seattle-based Peter Pan Seafoods today released this statement regarding a fire at one of its Alaska plants:

A fire broke out at the Peter Pan Seafoods Inc. Port Moller salmon processing facility around midnight Aug. 16. All crew and personnel are reported safe and uninjured. Damage from the fire is extensive enough to halt operations for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Monday, August 7, 2017

'A very difficult decision'

The state is barring retention of Chinook salmon in commercial and recreational fisheries throughout Southeast Alaska.

More details in this press release.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Missing Bristol Bay fisherman identified

The Alaska State Troopers have identified a fisherman believed to have fallen overboard near Pilot Point as Fredrick Bock, 57, of Ninilchik.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bridge work to aid Ocean Beauty

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has announced a deal for bridge repairs vital to processor Ocean Beauty's Excursion Inlet cannery.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Salmon notes

Here are a few observations from the salmon season thus far.

• The statewide, all-species catch now exceeds 105 million fish. Of these, more than 49 million are sockeyes. But pink salmon catches are soon expected to eclipse sockeye catches. The state has projected a total commercial harvest this year of about 204 million salmon.

• The Bristol Bay season is essentially over, and it'll go down as a strong year. The sockeye catch stands at 37.5 million fish, or 10 million above the preseason forecast of 27.5 million. Major processors sent gillnetters home with a base price of $1 per pound, up from 76 cents last year and 50 cents in 2015.

• Dillingham radio station KDLG has an interesting story about workplace complaints at the Silver Bay Seafoods processing plant in Naknek.

Friday, July 28, 2017

ASMI news

The governor has reappointed Tomi Marsh, of Ketchikan, to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Two bodies recovered from F/V Miss Destinee

Here's a press release from the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Marmot Bay
Type: Capsized vessel, death investigation
On 6/29/17, at 0854 hours, the Alaska State Troopers in Kodiak received a report from the U.S. Coast Guard that they were on scene of a capsized fishing vessel in Marmot Bay. USCG reported that they had recovered two survivors in the water but two crewmembers were unaccounted for off the F/V Miss Destinee. Investigation revealed that while traveling through Marmot Bay en route to Kodiak the vessel was struck by a "rogue wave" on the port side causing it to lay over and eventually roll to the starboard side. The survivors were in the upper wheelhouse and were able to exit the vessel and cling to the skiff which had floated up off the deck of the boat. USCG had assumed case responsibility. On 7/4/17 at approximately 0745 hours, Kodiak AST was advised that the salvage company was able to right the F/V Miss Destinee and began dewatering procedures. The F/V Miss Destinee was towed to the Kodiak harbor. AST along with Kodiak City Fire and USCG Marine Safety Detachment responded to the vessel and located and recovered the remains of the missing crewmembers from inside the vessel. The state medical examiner's office requested that the remains of both victims be transported for autopsy. The two deceased are identified as Joshua Osborne, 18, and Abigail Osborne, 22, both of Wasilla. Next of kin was notified.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Swamped in Bristol Bay

State and Coast Guard officials say four fishing vessels have sunk or beached in Bristol Bay near Dillingham. Radio station KDLG reports the boats might have been struggling with big loads of fish. The F/V Ketok is seen here aground at Ekuk. The Bristol Bay salmon fishery typically peaks around the Fourth of July. The catch so far this season is a rather unremarkable 6.6 million fish. ADF&G photo

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Two missing from capsized vessel at Kodiak

A search is underway for two people missing from the fishing vessel Miss Destinee, which capsized in Marmot Bay, the U.S. Coast Guard reports.

Two other people, including the captain, have been rescued, the Coast Guard says.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alaskan to lead NMFS

Industry favorite Chris Oliver, the longtime executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, has been named the head of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

'Harassed nonstop'

Here's a letter to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council recounting one halibut captain's epic struggle with thieving orcas.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

CDQ feed

Alaska community development quota companies are throwing a big seafood dinner in conjunction with this week's North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Juneau.

Here's the invitation. Notice anything curious?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Oregon's Hyder to leave council

Roy Hyder, Oregon's longtime representative on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, is retiring after the council's June 5-14 meeting in Juneau.

That's the word from Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The council, based in Anchorage, helps regulate federal fisheries off Alaska. It has 11 voting members from Alaska, Washington and Oregon, with Oregon holding only one seat.

"We don't have a replacement yet, but we're talking about it," Dennehy said.

Hyder occupies Oregon's council seat as an alternate for the state's fish and wildlife director.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Prince William Sound salmon joins MSC club

Prince William Sound is no longer excluded — the region's salmon fishery has been certified as well-managed and sustainable under the Marine Stewardship Council program.

Here are the two key documents:

Certification report — Executive summary on Pages 5-8.

Certificate of conformity

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Copper River fisherman pulled dead from the surf

The Alaska State Troopers today released the following:

Location: Copper River flats
Type: Death investigation
On 5/25/17 at approximately 2100 hours, the U.S. Coast Guard received a report that the F/V Dances With Clams was driving around in circles with no one onboard near Pete Dahl Slough, Copper River flats. Two wildlife troopers from the P/V Churchill responded and received assistance from a good Samaritan vessel that could navigate in the shallow water. Just as troopers arrived near the search area, a Coast Guard helicopter dispatched to the scene found the victim and sole operator of the vessel facedown in the surf and unresponsive. The Coast Guard recovered the body and transported the remains to Cordova. The victim was identified as Clifford M. Johns, 69, of Bothell, Wash. No foul play is suspected. Next of kin was notified. Troopers recovered the fishing vessel and brought it back to Cordova. Johns' body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for autopsy.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Two deaths reported

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Seward
Type: Death investigation
The U.S. Coast Guard notified the Alaska State Troopers of a death on a fishing vessel. The F/V Lady Angela was located near Shelikof Strait. Crewmembers aboard the vessel reported the captain, David Duarte, 62, of Seward, had passed away. Troopers met the vessel when it arrived in Seward on 5/12/17 at approximately 0946 hours. The investigation revealed Duarte was last seen alive in the early morning hours on 5/11/17. Duarte was found deceased in his stateroom at approximately 1930 hours on 5/11/17. The state medical examiner's office was contacted and released the body to the family. There are no signs of foul play. Duarte's next of kin was notified.

Location: Twin Hills
Type: Death investigation
On 5/10/17 at 1825 hours, Alaska State Troopers received a report of a body found on the beach near the Togiak Fisheries cannery. Investigation revealed cannery worker James Schneider, 56, of Warrenton, Ore., was found facedown in mud after apparently falling approximately 15 feet from the cannery dock during low tide. Coworkers attempted CPR for 20 to 30 minutes before he was eventually pronounced deceased on scene by Kanakanak Hospital medical staff, Dillingham. The Togiak village public safety officer responded to the scene via boat while Alaska State Troopers arrived a short time later via chartered aircraft. No foul play is suspected at this time. His remains are en route to Anchorage for autopsy. Investigation also revealed that Schneider had an active $1,000 misdemeanor warrant for his arrest out of King Salmon for the original charge of DUI, failure to appear. Next of kin have been notified.

Friday, April 28, 2017

It's go time at Togiak

Herring have arrived at Togiak and the fishery is set to open at 6 tonight.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

'No trespassing'

State officials are refuting claims of exclusive Native fishing rights at Kodiak.

'Bad policy'

The Seattle-based Bristol Bay Fishermen's Association is no fan of House Bill 188, which would allow "regional fisheries trusts" to hold and lease limited entry permits.

Here is BBFA's letter to legislators.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Trollers take a hit

Southeast Alaska trollers have a 2017 quota of 154,880 treaty Chinook salmon, a big decline from last year's 263,197.

Friday, April 7, 2017

New skipper at PWSAC

Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. has named Timothy Joyce as interim general manager. Here's the press release.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Council politics

Organizations representing the trawl industry are most upset with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for nominating only longliners for a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Permits for lease

As the legislative session lumbers on in Juneau, an interesting bill has appeared that would make a big change in how people gain entry to Alaska's commercial fisheries.

House Bill 188, sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, would allow for the establishment of "regional fisheries trusts."

These trusts could hold fishery permits and lease them to Alaska resident fishermen "for a limited period of time," Kreiss-Tomkins says in his sponsor statement for the bill.

HB 188 aims to alleviate the problem of permits leaving rural Alaska communities, as well as the rising price of entering the fisheries.

The bill appears to be a modified version of the bill Kreiss-Tomkins offered last year to establish "regional community permit banks."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A big year for salmon?

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is projecting a 2017 commercial salmon catch of more than 204 million fish.

That would far exceed the 113 million taken last year, when pink salmon runs disappointed in key areas.

Here's the statewide forecast.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sitka herring recap

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery has come and gone, and it appears to have been a good season for seiners and processors.

The industry achieved a full harvest of 14,600 tons, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said today in an announcement closing the fishery.

Deckboss heard no reports this year of vessel collisions or other nastiness in the notoriously feisty fishery.

We've also heard nothing at all about prices paid for herring. If you have details, please share!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Cordova hatchery chief to retire

David Reggiani, general manager of Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., is retiring.

PWSAC, based in Cordova, operates major hatcheries producing millions of pink and other salmon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Bering Sea tragedy

The Coast Guard has suspended the search for the F/V Destination, which apparently sank over the weekend near St. George Island.

The crew of six remains missing.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Board of Fisheries news

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has reappointed John Jensen, of Petersburg, and Reed Morisky, of Fairbanks, to the state Board of Fisheries.

The governor also has appointed Fritz Johnson, of Dillingham.

Johnson, who has served previously on the board, will take the seat now held by Sue Jeffrey, of Kodiak, who is stepping aside after serving two terms.

Here's the governor's letter to legislative leaders indicating his appointments to various state boards and commissions.

Fish board appointees are subject to legislative confirmation.

In other news, state Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, has introduced House Bill 88, which would expand the board from seven members to nine. Here's her sponsor statement on the bill.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Halibut gets a boost

The International Pacific Halibut Commission today announced catch limits for 2017.

The limits total 31.4 million pounds coastwide, a 5 percent increase over last year's limits.

The season will open March 11 and run to Nov. 7.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ailing crewman hoisted off factory trawler

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter today conducted a medevac off the Bering Sea factory trawler American Dynasty.

The patient, 59, was suffering from a possible appendicitis, the Coast Guard said.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A popular pick for NMFS chief

Who will head the National Marine Fisheries Service in the Trump administration?

Many in the industry like Chris Oliver, the longtime executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Check out this letter of support.

Click here for Oliver's bio.

Buyback fails

We told you in November that Southeast Alaska salmon seiners would vote on whether to buy out more permits.

So, how did the election turn out?

"We received 180 ballots of which 132 were for and the remaining 48 against," said Michael Sturtevant, with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

For the referendum to be successful, at least 158 of the 315 permit holders would have had to vote in favor, he said.

A notice with more details will be published soon in the Federal Register, Sturtevant said.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Small sockeye catch projected at Copper River

Here's the Copper River salmon forecast, and it's not pretty.

State biologists are projecting a commercial catch of 889,000 sockeye.

That would be well below last year's catch of 1.18 million sockeye, which itself was nothing to write home about.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Juneau watch

The Alaska Legislature kicked off a new session this week, and lawmakers already have filed some bills of interest to the fishing industry.

House Bill 56 raises limits on certain state commercial fishing loans. The sponsor is Rep. Dan Ortiz, of Ketchikan.

House Bill 29 would prohibit the sale of genetically modified fish in Alaska. The sponsor is Rep. Geran Tarr, of Anchorage.

The major concern for legislators this session will be the same as last year — a multibillion-dollar budget deficit resulting from the decline in oil revenue. This could lead to new or higher taxes for industry and individuals.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

More on those tapeworms

Evidently sensing a potential crisis, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has posted a two-part response to reports of the discovery of a type of tapeworm in wild Alaska salmon.

Press release
Alaska salmon Q&A

Here is the scientific article that got this parasitic PR problem started.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

He's starting to become a big fish

Alaska's junior U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan, has been named chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.

Big news from big trawl company

American Seafoods has named a new CEO.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Court battle over Cook Inlet salmon continues

Two interesting documents were filed yesterday in federal court in Alaska.

UCIDA motion to vacate Amendment 12

Declaration of Erik Huebsch

For background, here's a news item from the November 2016 issue of Pacific Fishing magazine:

Cook Inlet salmon ruling

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 21 ruled in favor of United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) and Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund in a case concerning Cook Inlet salmon management.

The two groups sued the federal government in 2013 and appealed after a loss in the district court.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has jurisdiction over the federal waters of Cook Inlet, the 9th Circuit opinion said.

In 2010, the council began a comprehensive review of the salmon fishery management plan (FMP), and the next year voted unanimously to remove Cook Inlet from the salmon FMP. The government argued in court that the removal amounted to delegation of Cook Inlet to the state of Alaska, which had long managed the inlet’s salmon fisheries.

UCIDA and its co-plaintiff opposed implementation of the council’s action. They have problems with the state’s management of Cook Inlet salmon, saying commercial sockeye catches have suffered over the years.

The 9th Circuit remanded the case to the district court.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Please spare Area 2C!

The International Pacific Halibut Commission has posted proposals for this year's catch limits.

Of particular note is a proposal from a group of fishing associations and processors who say, in part: "Reductions in Area 2C catch limits are not justified by current data or trends."

Area 2C encompasses Southeast Alaska.

Read the full proposal here.

The commission will consider the proposals and set the year's catch limits at its annual meeting Jan. 23-27 in Victoria, British Columbia.