Friday, November 8, 2019

Here's your 2020 Bristol Bay forecast

The state is forecasting a harvest of 34.56 million sockeye salmon next season at Bristol Bay.

That would be a strong haul, though well short of this year's harvest of nearly 43 million sockeye.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Silver Bay Seafoods penalized $82,500

Silver Bay Seafoods paid an $82,500 penalty as part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The case involved Clean Water Act violations at the company's Sitka processing plant, the EPA says.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Salmon tally

The state has released preliminary harvest and value figures for the 2019 commercial salmon season.

The all-species harvest of 206.9 million fish generated an ex-vessel value of $657.6 million, a 10 percent increase from last year, the department said.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Wanted: observers

A report to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council notes "current difficulties in recruiting and retaining observers."

The report says "conversations are underway" about solutions, including "options for allowing providers to hire foreign nationals to be observers in the Alaska fisheries."

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

BBRSDA, BBEDC sue EPA over proposed Pebble mine

Here are the lawsuit and a press release.

Blockbuster pollock sale

Alaska processing giant Trident Seafoods recently secured an enormous sale of pollock products to the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Sept. 25 it had purchased nearly 16.8 million pounds of pollock goods — frozen fish sticks and fillets — for $38.8 million.

The fish will go into child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs, the USDA said.

Trident underbid two East Coast companies, Channel Fish Processing and High Liner Foods.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Slim pickings for king crab

Fishery managers today announced a total allowable catch of 3.8 million pounds for the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, which opens at noon Oct. 15. That's a 12 percent cut from last season.

Managers also announced a TAC of 34 million pounds for the Bering Sea snow crab fishery, a 23 percent increase.

The Bering Sea Tanner crab fishery will remain closed, as the estimated mature male biomass is too low, managers said. Last season's Tanner crab TAC was 2.4 million pounds.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

'Serious concerns'

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting this week in Homer, and one issue confronting the panel is a flurry of complaints about high sablefish bycatch in the Bering Sea trawl fisheries. Here's an example.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Disaster declarations for Gulf cod, Chignik sockeye

The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced a raft of disaster declarations in multiple states.

Julie Speegle, spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau, tells us the declarations include the 2018 Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod fishery and the 2018 Chignik sockeye salmon fishery.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

200-million milestone

Late-season scratch fishing has succeeded in pushing the statewide commercial salmon harvest above 200 million fish.

This is the eighth year Alaska has reached the 200-million milestone. The previous years were:

2013     280.3 million
2015     265.2 million
2017     222.8 million
2005     221.2 million
1999     216.5 million
1995     216.0 million
2007     212.6 million

Congressional hearing set on fishery disasters

Details in this press release.

Bristol Bay's record-setting season

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has posted a summary of the Bristol Bay salmon season, and the numbers are impressive.

The preliminary ex-vessel value of $306.6 million for all species "ranks first in the history of the fishery," the summary says.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Man overboard in Bristol Bay identified

This item appears in the September issue of Pacific Fishing magazine:

Bristol Bay tragedy: Last month, this magazine reported a crewman had been lost overboard from the fishing vessel Pail Rider.

Now we have additional details, including the crewman's name: James "Jamie" Van Elliott, 36, of Stonewall, Louisiana.

"Jamie Elliott, a salmon fisherman, went to his heavenly home due to a tragic accident while fishing in Alaska on July 1," said an obituary published in the Shreveport Times. "Anyone that knew him knew how much he loved to fish, and he referred to the Bering Sea as his 'happy place.'"

An extensive search involving the U.S. Coast Guard and other fishing boats ensued after the man overboard report. But searchers couldn't find him. The Coast Guard said the man wasn't wearing a life jacket.

Elliott's body was finally located on July 6, the Alaska State Troopers tell us.

"His body was found in Nushagak Bay near Clarks Point in the general location where he fell overboard," an agency spokesman said. "The body was found and recovered by another fishing boat in the area."

State records list the Pail Rider's owner as Cajun Endeavors LLC, which is owned by Jonathan Danese and David Danese.

Elliott's obituary mentions "his beloved friend and captain, Jonathan Danese."

Friday, September 6, 2019

Ed Luttrell crosses the bar

We received word this week of the passing of Ed Luttrell.

He was the owner of Kinematics Marine Equipment, whose hydraulic deck gear can be found on many Alaska commercial fishing vessels.

Luttrell had quite a career in fisheries, as detailed in this obituary.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Trident's position on Pebble

Processing giant Trident Seafoods Corp., in a letter to Bristol Bay fishermen, is making clear its position on the proposed Pebble copper and gold mine.

"Trident Seafoods opposes the Pebble Mine project because it poses a significant risk to the many families, businesses, and communities that reply upon the natural resources of Bristol Bay," the letter begins.

Monday, May 13, 2019

'Significant structural deterioration'

Here's the latest situation report on the F/V Masonic grounding southeast of Sitka. It's not looking good for salvage of the old halibut schooner.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Watch those demerit points!

The Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission is recommending legislation "expanding the current demerit point system so that it applies to all types of commercial fisheries, not just salmon."

More details here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Masonic update

The halibut schooner Masonic aground in Southeast Alaska. Here's a situation report from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. USCG Air Station Sitka photo

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

'Mayday, vessel Masonic going down'

The U.S. Coast Guard says it rescued five people from a life raft early today after they abandoned their fishing vessel southeast of Sitka.

The Coast Guard identified the vessel involved as the Masonic, homeported in Sitka.

We haven't confirmed it, but this vessel presumably is the famed wooden halibut schooner Masonic, built in 1930.

The five survivors were taken to Sitka uninjured, the Coast Guard said.

At 2:33 a.m., Coast Guard watchstanders monitoring Channel 16 heard a distress call: "Mayday, vessel Masonic going down."

The life raft was found on the north side of Coronation Island, with all five people aboard wearing survival suits.

"The life raft was tied off to the stern of the grounded fishing vessel," the Coast Guard said.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Vincent-Lang confirmed, Johnstone rejected

State legislators yesterday confirmed Douglas Vincent-Lang as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on a vote of 58 yeas 1 nay.

Marit Carlson-Van Dort, Gerad Godfrey, and Israel Payton were confirmed without objection to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Karl Johnstone was rejected for the fish board on a vote of 24 yeas 33 nays.

To see how legislators voted, click here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

'A rare occurrence'

United Fishermen of Alaska hates the idea of Judge Karl Johnstone returning to the Board of Fisheries, and has submitted this pointed letter of opposition to state legislators.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Sitka's herring bust

It's now apparent we'll see no sac roe herring harvest this season in Sitka Sound.

The fishery has experienced a zero harvest only once before, in 1977.

So, what happened?

"It's not a biomass issue," Aaron Dupuis, a state fishery biologist, tells Deckboss.

Test boats caught many tons of herring, and fishable numbers of herring seemed everywhere, Dupuis said.

The problem was marketability — the fish just weren't large enough on average to interest processors, he said.

And so, the herring are now deep into their spawn, and the fishery won't open this season. A disappointing outcome for a fishery with a legacy of fierce competition and fast fortunes.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A big year for salmon?

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its statewide salmon forecast, and the outlook is bright.

• The commercial harvest is projected at more than 213 million salmon, compared to last year's 115.7 million.

• This year's pink salmon harvest is projected at 137.8 million fish, more than triple last year's tally.

• The projected catch of nearly 29 million chum salmon "would be the largest on record for Alaska," the department says.

• The sockeye harvest is projected at 41.7 million, down from last year's 50.5 million.

The department also has announced a Southeast Alaska treaty troll quota of 101,300 Chinook salmon, which is 5,600 fish better than last year.

Silver Bay's oysters

In a recent letter to state legislators, Silver Bay Seafoods describes its plans to become a major mariculture producer.

Personal use priority?

State Sen. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, has introduced Senate Bill 99, which appears to give personal use fisheries priority over commercial and sport fisheries but not subsistence.

Friday, April 5, 2019

UFA opposes Johnstone

In an "action alert" issued today, United Fishermen of Alaska urges its members to oppose Karl Johnstone's appointment to the state Board of Fisheries.

Johnstone, a retired Superior Court judge, served on the board from 2008 to 2015.

Now he's set to return as one of Gov. Mike Dunleavy's recently announced board appointees.

UFA, the state's flagship commercial fishing organization, said its directors met and voted to oppose Johnstone "based on his actions" during his previous time on the board.

More on the proposed Cook Inlet setnet buyback

A nonprofit, the Eastside Consolidation Association, is pushing for a buyback of Cook Inlet salmon setnet fishing permits.

Here's a presentation the group made to Alaska legislators, who are considering buyback legislation in the form of Senate Bill 90.

Pebble is financing the lawsuit, BBRSDA says

Here's the statement.

Thursday, April 4, 2019


Six commercial fishermen have filed this lawsuit seeking to bar the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association from spending its money on trying to kill the proposed Pebble mine.

Deckboss first learned of this suit from

Monday, April 1, 2019

Gov. Dunleavy appoints four to Board of Fisheries

Here's the press release.

The governor's office also provided these additional notes:

There were four seats open on the Board of Fish, two from expiring terms and two from resignation (Al Cain and Orville Huntington). Israel Payton was reappointed, Gerad Godfrey replaces Robert Ruffner, Karl Johnstone replaces Al Cain, and Marit Carlson-Van Dort replaces Orville Huntington who is now taking a seat on the Board of Game. Johnstone and Carlson-Van Dort take their seats immediately, Godfrey takes his seat July 1, and Payton will continue to serve.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Halibut season opens at noon Friday

Here's a Pacific Fishing magazine article with catch limits and the status of the halibut stock.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cook Inlet setnet buyback proposed

State Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, today introduced Senate Bill 90, which would establish a buyback program to reduce the number of eastside Cook Inlet commercial setnetters.

APICDA to sell Cannon Fish subsidiary to E&E Foods

Here's the press release.

Southeast buyback approved

Southeast Alaska salmon purse seiners have voted to permanently retire another 36 permits from the fishery.

So says this brief announcement from the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association.