Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Pollock down, cod up

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council this week set the 2022 total allowable catch for Alaska groundfish, and the news is mixed.

Most notably, the Eastern Bering Sea pollock TAC is down 19 percent to 1,111,000 metric tons.

In the Gulf of Alaska, the Pacific cod TAC is up 39 percent to 24,111 tons.

For the full rundown of Alaska groundfish TACs, see the tables here:

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Trident to acquire factory trawler Starbound

Here's a press release that obviously leaves some important questions unanswered.

Epic Togiak herring forecast

The Togiak herring forecast is out, and a staggering volume of herring looks to be up for grabs.

The state is projecting a potential harvest of 65,107 tons in the sac roe fishery.

Of course, with demand for herring roe no better than it is, we might expect the harvest will fall well short of that mark.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Is Russia part of the problem?

Bycatch is a hot topic right now, especially given the dismal salmon returns to Western Alaska.

Some people believe the problem rests with the U.S. trawl fleet in the Bering Sea.

But the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is looking farther afield. It has sent a letter to the State Department requesting help obtaining information on the catch of Western Alaska Chinook and chum salmon in Russian fisheries.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Governor orders bycatch task force

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has issued an administrative order to establish an Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force.

"It's imperative that the state's fisheries are managed in a way that ensures their success for future generations," Dunleavy said in a press release. "By bringing together stakeholders, to include sport and commercial fishermen, federal and state fisheries managers, lawmakers, and the general public, this task force will provide valuable recommendations to help better understand and address the issues of bycatch."

Recent declines in halibut, crab, and certain salmon stocks have "focused attention on the issue of bycatch," the press release said.

The task force will have 13 voting members appointed by the governor, and two nonvoting members of the Legislature.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Bristol Bay's glowing outlook

The state's Bristol Bay forecast is out, and it shows potential for a stupendous catch of almost 60 million sockeye.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Bycatch in the spotlight

The Alaska House Special Committee on Fisheries will meet at 10 a.m. Monday for "an informational hearing on bycatch in Alaska fisheries."

The committee won't be taking public testimony. Click here for the list of invited witnesses.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

More CDQ news

The Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. is looking for a new president and CEO.

A big CDQ deal

Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., one of the state's community development quota companies, is acquiring a controlling interest in Bering Sea trawl operator Glacier Fish Co.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Chuck Bundrant crosses the bar

Here's an obituary from Trident Seafoods.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Clem Tillion crosses the bar

Clem Tillion, a legend in Alaska politics and fisheries, has died, the governor's office says.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Snow crab fishery to open with modest quota

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game today announced a Bering Sea snow crab quota of 5.6 million pounds and a bairdi quota of 1.1 million pounds.

Monday, October 4, 2021

APICDA, Trident settle

The Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association and Trident Seafoods have settled their legal tussle over the False Pass fish plant.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Troll fishery in jeopardy?

The Wild Fish Conservancy is celebrating progress in its legal challenge to Southeast Alaska's Chinook salmon troll fishery, which the Seattle-area group contends is a threat to "starving" killer whales.

Bristol Bay's big year

The commercial harvest of 40.4 million sockeye salmon was the fifth-largest harvest on record, says this season summary from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Can you hear me?

A new report says the U.S. Coast Guard should prioritize upgrades to its Alaska maritime search and rescue communications system, which has been plagued with outages.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Chinese warships spotted

The U.S. Coast Guard says its cutters, during a patrol in the Bering Sea and Arctic region, on Aug. 30 encountered Chinese military ships including a guided missile cruiser and a guided missile destroyer. A few more details here.

'Years of flagrantly illegal conduct'

The federal government has entered this court filing explaining why it has slapped Alaska pollock industry players with many millions of dollars in Jones Act penalties.

The matter involves a "scheme" to transport seafood unlawfully to the East Coast, and centers on a tiny railroad — about 100 feet long — that "goes nowhere."

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Shell-shocked crabbers urge 'bold actions'

Facing a rare and devastating season closure of the lucrative Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, a crabbing organization says the outlook for snow crab isn't good, either.

More in this press release from Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Indy Walton named to Board of Fisheries

Gov. Mike Dunleavy today announced the appointment of Indy Walton to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Walton takes the seat previously occupied by Abe Williams.

The governor's office provided this background on Walton:

Mr. Walton received his degree in education from Brigham Young University and worked as an educator in Alaska for five years. He has been commercial fishing for 37 years, with 22 years of setnetting in Bristol Bay and Kodiak and 15 years of driftnetting in Bristol Bay. Indy has owned a lodge for the past three years on the Kvichak River and has worked as a licensed financial adviser with Edward Jones Investments for the past 19 years. Additionally, he has coached hockey in Soldotna for the past 23 years.

Calamitous crab announcement

The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, historically one of Alaska's most valuable shellfish harvests, will be closed this season due to stock weakness. Here's the announcement.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Peter Pan implements vaccine requirement

Details in this press release.

"Peter Pan's COVID-19 vaccine policy does not apply to its fleet," the company notes.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

UFA seeks new skipper

United Fishermen of Alaska, the state's flagship commercial fishing organization, is seeking a new executive director.

That's because the current executive director, Frances Leach, who has held the job since January 2018, is leaving to start a Juneau lobbying firm.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Jim Balsiger to retire

Jim Balsiger, Alaska regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, is planning to retire. His last day will be Nov. 30.

Balsiger has been the agency's Alaska chief since May 2000. He would be away from Alaska for a time to serve as acting head of NMFS in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Balsiger lives in Juneau and says he intends to remain there after retirement.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Sitka outbreak

The City and Borough of Sitka this week reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Sitka Sound Seafoods.

Local officials did not specify the number of positive cases.

But this state COVID-19 summary cites 12 new nonresident cases with "purpose seafood" in Sitka.

Sitka Sound Seafoods is a unit of North Pacific Seafoods.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Friday, August 6, 2021

Kodiak fisherman draws prison time, $1 million fine

Details in this press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Bristol Bay's big haul

The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon catch now stands at more than 36.4 million fish, surpassing the state's preseason forecast. And we're still seeing large daily catches!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

North Pacific Seafoods changes hands

North Pacific Seafoods, a major salmon processor in Alaska, has new ownership.

A June 23 filing with the Alaska Division of Corporations indicates the new owner is Kanaway Seafoods.

Kanaway does business as Alaska General Seafoods, which is part of the Canadian Fishing Co., better known as Canfisco. The parent company of Canfisco is the Jim Pattison Group, a diversified holding company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The previous owner of North Pacific Seafoods was Japanese titan Marubeni.

Dave Hambleton remains as president of North Pacific Seafoods, the June 23 filing shows.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Norton Sound disaster declaration

Federal officials this week approved a disaster declaration for the 2019 Norton Sound red king crab fishery.

Bristol Bay sinking, death reported

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Nushagak Bay
Type: Fishing vessel sinking, rescue
On July 1, 2021, at approximately 0554 hours, Alaska Wildlife Troopers heard a call that a commercial fishing vessel was taking on water on the south end of Nushagak Bay. Two Alaska wildlife troopers patrolling commercial fishing activities in the area immediately responded to the area aboard a patrol skiff. Prior to arriving on the scene, it was reported that all three individuals aboard the fishing vessel were in the water. The two troopers pulled one of the individuals to safety aboard their skiff, and the other two individuals were pulled aboard other fishing vessels that aided in the rescue. After extensive life-saving efforts, one of the individuals was declared deceased by U.S. Coast Guard personnel at approximately 0938 hours. The other two individuals declined further medical care. The Alaska Wildlife Troopers would like to thank the F/V Fortress and F/V Last Frontier for their assistance during the rescue operation. The identity of the deceased individual will be made once next of kin notifications are complete.

Big day for the Nush

The nearly 1.8 million sockeye taken yesterday was the largest single-day harvest ever in the Nushagak District, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports.

Friday, June 25, 2021

A boost for ASMI

Gov. Mike Dunleavy today announced $3 million for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

"The grant is intended to mitigate unanticipated COVID-19 costs including response to the pandemic and meeting COVID-19 safety precautions," the governor's office said in a press release.

The amount is well short of ASMI's request for $20 million.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Peter Pan, salmon disruptor

Normally, the major processors at Bristol Bay wait until the end of the season to announce what they'll pay fishermen for salmon.

But one processor, Peter Pan, is doing it differently this year. The company, operating under new ownership, today dropped a surprise, announcing a base price of $1.10 per pound for Bristol Bay sockeye.

The Bristol Bay salmon fishery is only just now getting started. The harvest typically peaks around the Fourth of July.

Peter Pan's price trounces the 70 cents processors paid in 2020, the COVID year.

It also serves notice to competing processors — a puny price ain't gonna cut it this season.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Copper River comeback?

After a 15-day fishery closure due to poor sockeye salmon returns, Copper River driftnetters were given another shot Wednesday.

It was their best outing of the season with a catch of 37,981 sockeye, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports.

The department has announced another 12-hour opener for Monday.

The revolving door

Chris Oliver, who headed the National Marine Fisheries Service during the Trump administration, has joined Bering Sea trawl heavyweight American Seafoods as special adviser on government affairs.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Is industry facing a storm over seabird bycatch?

Here's a letter from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council raising concerns that a proposed regulatory change could see fisheries "put at risk of being in violation."

Friday, May 21, 2021

'An all-time high'

Now here's a rarity — a press release from a processor publicly announcing its prices for salmon.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Observer enforcement action

The North Pacific Observer Program 2020 Annual Report discloses this enforcement action, among others:

F/V Seafisher — Crewman Iakopo Jake Vae was charged under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act with forcibly assaulting and sexually harassing a fisheries observer onboard the vessel. A $60,000 notice of violation and assessment was issued.

Sluggish start at the Copper River

Once again, the Copper River salmon fishery is off to a slow start.

Monday's 12-hour season opener produced an estimated 8,200 sockeye, far short of the 27,100 anticipated for the period. The catch averaged fewer than 21 fish per delivery.

Gillnetters also caught 1,960 Chinook salmon during the opener.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has scheduled another 12-hour opener for Thursday in the Copper River District.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Better prices for Bristol Bay?

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has just published its preseason sockeye market outlook, and its sounds quite bullish for higher ex-vessel prices this year.

"Wholesale market conditions for Bristol Bay sockeye products appear very favorable heading into 2021, compared to the 2020 season," BBRSDA says.

The base ex-vessel price was a disappointing 70 cents per pound in 2020, a season plagued with pandemic uncertainty.

Details are now emerging, however, of certain price adjustments and bonuses for last year's harvest. Check out the Bristol Bay Fishermen's Association price chart.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Juneau watch

The state House of Representatives just passed House Bill 28, which eliminates the need for commercial fishing vessels to be registered with both the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission and the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Yukon gloom

Here, in a nutshell, is the 2021 run outlook for Yukon River salmon:

Chinook — poor
Summer chum — below average
Fall chum — below average
Coho — below average to average

The department expects no directed fishery for Chinook.

Will the Yukon ever see a return to better days?

Uncle Sam's big buy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will buy pollock, sockeye salmon and other products in "the largest single seafood purchase in the department's history."

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Dealing with Russia and China

State legislators have introduced a pair of resolutions aimed at troublesome overseas markets.

Senate Joint Resolution 16 — Calling on President Biden to immediately seek and secure an end to the embargo imposed by Russia on seafood imports from abroad so that Alaska seafood producers' access to the Russian domestic seafood market is fully restored.

Senate Joint Resolution 17 — Requesting the U.S. Trade Representative bring a renewed focus on the plight of producers of seafood in the state and the United States and to compel China to comply with its commitment to increase its imports of seafood products from the United States.

Abe is out

State legislators yesterday confirmed all of the governor's appointments to the Alaska Board of Fisheries with the exception of Abe Williams, who was rejected by a vote of 18 yeas to 41 nays.

Click here to see how the lawmakers voted.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Protecting oceans, or creating bureaucracy?

Alaska Congressman Don Young says he's introduced legislation to "direct NOAA to establish the American Fisheries Advisory Committee." Here's the press release.

Seining way up north

This 2021 Norton Sound salmon season outlook says "there will be an experimental purse seine fishery targeting pink salmon."

Monday, May 10, 2021

Pay the man

The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled against factory trawl operator Fishermen's Finest, which had challenged the state landing tax as unconstitutional. Here's the court's 31-page opinion.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

OBI's image

Deckboss notes that OBI Seafoods, the company created in 2020 through a merger of Ocean Beauty and Icicle, has a new logo. Like it?

Thursday, May 6, 2021

It's nearly salmon time!

The Copper River District is set to open for the season at 7 a.m. May 17. Here's the announcement.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

More on those orcas

The National Marine Fisheries Service has provided more information regarding the two orcas taken as bycatch last year.

The orcas died as a result of the bycatch. Or as NMFS put it: "Unfortunately, this was a marine mammal bycatch mortality incident."

NMFS declined to name the vessel involved, saying that information is confidential. However, the agency would say this much: "The killer whales were incidentally taken in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands flatfish trawl fishery."

NMFS provided an observer's photos from the incident. "All identifying information and metadata have been removed or blurred out in these photos in accordance with Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act confidentiality provisions," the agency said.

Readers are advised the images are fairly grisly, and you might find they take a bit of time to download. See the photos here.

What else?

"Observers were able to collect tissue samples from the whales, which have been sent to a lab for genetic analysis and possible identification for stock of origin," NMFS said. "This analysis has not yet been conducted, as regular lab activities have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Bycatch of orcas in Alaska fisheries is not unprecedented. NMFS cited its most recent technical memo on human-caused mortality and injury of Alaska marine mammals. Search "killer whale" for a number of regrettable orca encounters with fishing vessels and gear — not only trawl but also longline and pot.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021


The National Marine Fisheries Service recently posted an agency statement to "clear up the disinformation surrounding a photo being circulated on social media of two orca whales taken as bycatch by a trawler in Alaskan waters."

The statement perhaps clears up the disinformation, but it doesn't cure the lack of information about this unfortunate bycatch event, which is said to have occurred a year ago.

Deckboss is pursuing more info, namely:

• What happened to the orcas? Did they die as a result of the bycatch?

• What fishing vessel was involved?

We're also requesting a copy of any incident or investigative report associated with this case. And we're asking the agency to officially release any photos or videos.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Who will lead NMFS?

Whenever we have a change of presidents, it's fun to speculate on who will lead the National Marine Fisheries Service, the chief agency regulating commercial fishing in America.

Deckboss can't claim to have any inside information on the Biden administration's potential choice for the job. But we've heard a few names mentioned, and here they are in no particular order:

Paul Doremus, currently the acting head of NMFS

Karen Hyun, chief of staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parent agency of NMFS

Matt Strickler, secretary of natural resources and chief resilience officer for the commonwealth of Virginia

Linda Behnken, a Sitka commercial fisherman, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association, and tireless sustainable fisheries advocate.

Friday, April 23, 2021

ASMI fishes for funding

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute last month put in this letter to the governor requesting $20 million to "mitigate past and ongoing economic harm to the Alaska seafood sector in markets that were depressed, lost and permanently altered due to the global pandemic."

Deckboss is trying to ascertain what came of this request.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Council tightens written comment policy

Details here.

Juneau watch

The At-sea Processors Association, which represents Bering Sea pollock factory trawlers, is set to give a legislative presentation at 3:30 today on "Barriers to Global Seafood Trade."

Monday, April 19, 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Watch your mouth

At its April meeting, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has been considering, among other things, halibut and salmon bycatch in the trawl fisheries.

The council also has been grappling with another issue — unruly public comments posted to its website.

Aside from reflecting unfamiliarity with the council process, some comments have included profanity or threats, the council reports.

Here's one example Deckboss was able to snag off the council's website before it was scrubbed.

The council is now looking at reforms to its public comment policy. Ideas include delaying or screening comments before posting. Read more about it here.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Fish politics

Saturday could be an especially interesting day in the Alaska Legislature.

Starting at 1 p.m., the House Fisheries and Resources committees will meet jointly to consider the governor's appointees to the state Board of Fisheries.

Two of these appointees face serious opposition.

Abe Williams is a Bristol Bay commercial salmon fisherman. He also works for the company looking to develop the Pebble mine, a fact that makes Williams a controversial pick for the board.

United Fishermen of Alaska is opposing Marit Carlson-Van Dort for continued service on the board. UFA says she's not truly a commercial fishing representative but rather a favorite of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.

Upper Cook Inlet salmon outlook

The state is forecasting a commercial harvest of 1.6 million sockeye this year, about 1 million fish below the 20-year average.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Halibut hullabaloo

A bunch of Alaska legislators are weighing in on the halibut bycatch debate.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021

More COVID dollars coming

Looks like Alaska is in line for another $40 million in federal fisheries assistance related to the coronavirus pandemic. Details here.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sitka Sound herring harvest gets underway

Here's the latest update from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Save halibut, or save observers?

A number of businesses are coming to the defense of a trawl fleet possibly facing tighter halibut bycatch limits in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.

Among them is Saltwater Inc., an Anchorage provider of fishery observers.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Should Alaska seafood qualify as organic?

Industry organizations are pushing to make Alaska seafood eligible for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic label.

Here's a letter the organizations just sent stating "we believe there is truly no more organic product than wild-caught Alaska seafood."

Sitka herring watch

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery will go on two-hour notice effective at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Juneau watch

A proposal to raise the state's fuel tax is again up for debate in the Alaska State Capitol.

House Bill 104 would, among other things, double the tax on motor fuel used in watercraft to a dime per gallon.

However, the bill specifies that "a watercraft licensed ... and used for commercial fishing is entitled to a motor fuel tax refund of 5 cents a gallon if the tax on the motor fuel has been paid."

With that provision, the bill has the support of United Fishermen of Alaska.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Fiber and fishing

GCI plans to run a subsea fiberoptic cable out to Unalaska and wants "no adverse interaction with the fishing industry."

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Scandies Rose tragedy

The U.S. Coast Guard recently concluded a lengthy public hearing into the loss of the fishing vessel Scandies Rose, which sank on New Year's Eve 2019 in heavy seas southwest of Kodiak Island.

Of the seven crewmembers aboard, two were rescued and five were never recovered.

As part of its hearing, the Coast Guard posted numerous exhibits including this subsea survey report on the sunken vessel. Readers are advised that some images and details in the report may be disturbing.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Bigger salmon haul predicted

The 2021 salmon forecast is out, and a much larger catch is expected this year.

The state is projecting a statewide commercial harvest of more than 190 million salmon.

That compares to last year's tally of about 118 million.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Into the fray

The state is looking to join the fight against a lawsuit seeking to shut down the Chinook salmon fishery in federal waters off Southeast Alaska.

Crab crisis?

The Board of Fisheries has scheduled a March 16 special meeting to consider an emergency petition to close the Norton Sound commercial red king crab fishery for the remainder of 2021.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Juneau watch

The House Labor and Commerce Committee is planning a hearing tomorrow on seafood industry safety.

The hearing is expected to focus, at least in part, on a proposed but ultimately canceled $450,000 fine against Copper River Seafoods.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Do released halibut survive?

The International Pacific Halibut Commission is looking to conduct a recreational discard mortality study.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Halibut time! Sablefish too!

The halibut season opens at noon local time Saturday.

The open comes a good bit earlier than last year, when the halibut fishery started on March 14.

The sablefish season also opens at noon tomorrow.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

F/V Haida Lady afloat again

The F/V Haida Lady, which sank near Cobb Island south of Sitka, has been raised with lift bags and dewatering pumps, the U.S. Coast Guard reports. This is the boat as seen Wednesday. USCG photo

Juneau watch

Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, has been named chair of the House Special Committee on Fisheries.

She takes the gavel from Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, who is now speaker of the House.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Bristol Bay's price discontent

After last season ended, Bristol Bay salmon fishermen grumbled over the 70 cents per pound the major processors paid for sockeye. It was a huge drop from the $1.35 paid the prior season.

The reason for the price drop would seem evident and understandable: COVID-19 and the anxiety it created in the markets.

Nevertheless, Bristol Bay fishermen remain angry over last year's fish price.

Many hope the processors will come through with supplemental payments for the 2020 catch.

This week, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which represents drift gillnetters, posted a white paper examining last year’s disappointing sockeye price and options for what the fleet could do about it. Here's a summary of the paper.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Seiner reported sunk near Sitka

Here's a situation report from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Seafood truck involved in traffic fatality

The Alaska State Troopers report a Pacific Star Seafoods truck was involved in a fatal traffic accident Friday on the Seward Highway.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Getting closer on CARES Act payments

The state has received federal approval for its CARES Act fisheries assistance spending plan. Important details here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Monday, February 22, 2021

Akutan restarts

Trident Seafoods says it has resumed operations at its Akutan processing plant after a monthlong COVID-19 outbreak forced a pause.

Bering Sea medevac

A crewman who suffered "a crush injury to the arm" was hoisted off the fishing vessel Alaska Ocean over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard reports.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Metlakatla case dismissed

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit the Metlakatla Indian Community filed against the state seeking off-reservation fishing rights in Southeast Alaska.

Unalaska at risk

The city of Unalaska is reporting dozens of new, industry-related cases of COVID-19, and is warning the situation is quite serious.

"The community is most definitely at a high local risk factor for COVID-19, in fact, more serious than at any time since the start of the pandemic," the city said in a news release today.

Unalaska, of course, serves as the hub of the Bering Sea fishing industry.

Good work if you can get it

The governor has appointed Melvin Smith to the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

And who is Melvin Smith?

This public radio report has the scoop.

'A total loss'

A Trident Seafoods processing vessel, the 233-foot Aleutian Falcon, reportedly has been destroyed by fire at the Port of Tacoma.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Cantwell takes the gavel

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, is the new chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The committee's vast range of oversight includes oceans, fisheries, weather, and the Coast Guard.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Fish politics

Two legislators with serious fish connections now sit at the top of the legislative leadership in Juneau.

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, was elected in January as Senate president. He's a Cook Inlet commercial drift gillnet fisherman.

And today comes news that Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, was elected speaker of the Alaska House. She served for a number of years as chair of the House Special Committee on Fisheries.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Monday, February 8, 2021

OBI Seafoods reports one COVID case at Petersburg

Details in this press release.

Troll quota stays steady

State fishery managers today announced a troll treaty harvest allocation for 2021 of 148,500 Chinook salmon, the same limit as last year.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Help urged for seafood processors

"Federal support to help seafood processors weather the pandemic is urgently needed — without it, our nation's entire seafood industry may falter," says this congressional letter to the Biden administration.

Friday, January 29, 2021

COVID hits another big trawler

The city of Unalaska today reports:

An outbreak has been identified on the F/T Araho with 20 positive cases onboard from their crew of 40. Coordination of care and plans for the vessel are being developed.

Halibut uptick

The International Pacific Halibut Commission wrapped up its annual meeting today, setting a coastwide catch limit of 39 million pounds.

That's an increase of 6.6 percent from last year.

The commission recommended a season of March 6 to Dec. 7 for all directed commercial halibut fisheries in Canada and the United States.

More numbers in this press release.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Just feeding the orcas?

A trawl fleet representative defends the practice of halibut deck sorting.

Trident's Akutan oubreak balloons

Trident Seafoods now reports that 266 workers at its Akutan processing plant have tested positive for COVID-19, making this one of the largest U.S. seafood industry outbreaks to date.

Also, Trident is reporting five confirmed cases aboard its factory trawler Island Enterprise.

OBI hires Peter Pan's can man

"OBI is the largest producer of Alaska canned salmon, so I am thrilled to bring my expertise to the company," John Daly says in this press release.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Who needs a lobbyist?

Now that the Alaska Legislature has launched a new session, Deckboss decided to take a dive into state records to see who is employing a lobbyist this year.

A group called the Alaska Salmon Hatchery Alliance is paying power lobbyist Kent Dawson an annual fee of $60,000.

Records indicate the alliance includes the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., the Valdez Fisheries Development Association, the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc., the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, and the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association.

Here are some other fisheries organizations employing help in Juneau. We list the lobbyist or lobbying firm, and their fees.

• Pacific Seafood Processors Association, Legislative Consultants, $60,000

• Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Reed Stoops, $45,000

• Groundfish Forum, James Lottsfeldt, $42,000

• APICDA Joint Ventures, Jerry Reinwand, $40,000

• At-sea Processors Association, Legislative Consultants, $40,000

• Purse Seine Vessel Owners, Kent Dawson, $35,000

• Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, John Walsh, $35,000

• Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., John Walsh, $20,000

Friday, January 22, 2021

More virus trouble

The city of Unalaska is reporting that Westward Seafoods, owner of Alyeska Seafoods, has "temporarily halted production based on a cluster of positive cases of COVID-19 identified during surveillance testing of the workforce at the Alyeska plant."

Turnover at the top of NMFS

With the change of presidential administrations, it would appear the top leadership has changed at the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The agency's website now lists Paul Doremus as the acting director of NMFS.

He replaces Chris Oliver, who helmed NMFS through the Trump administration. Oliver previously was executive director for the Anchorage-based North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Who will the Biden administration tab as permanent NMFS chief? Let the speculation begin.

Here's your Copper River salmon forecast

The state is a forecasting harvest of 652,000 sockeye this year at the Copper River.

That's certainly nothing to write home about. But it would sure beat last year, when the Copper River driftnet fishery pulled in fewer than 100,000 sockeye.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Trident calls a COVID timeout

Trident Seafoods is pausing operations at its Akutan processing plant.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Aleutian outbreaks

As the huge Bering Sea groundfish harvest swings into action, the coronavirus is menacing the industry.

Significant outbreaks have been reported at the UniSea processing plant in Dutch Harbor, and at Trident's Akutan plant.

And the city of Unalaska today reported an outbreak on the fishing vessel Ocean Peace.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Trump's boast

President Donald Trump recently vetoed S. 906, a bill that would have affected the California swordfish fishery and the Alaska halibut fishery.

Trump's veto message explains the action and also asserts:

My administration has done more for American fishermen than any president before me.

That's quite a statement considering the landmark actions of previous presidents. Some examples:

President Gerald Ford in 1976 signed what is today known as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

President Bill Clinton in 1996 signed the Sustainable Fisheries Act. And in 1998, he signed the American Fisheries Act into law.

President Ronald Reagan established the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone with a 1983 presidential proclamation.

Going farther back, President Andrew Johnson in 1867 signed the treaty for the purchase of Alaska, which has proven to be a pretty good place for fishing.

Friday, January 15, 2021

More COVID relief for halibut, sablefish fleet?

Here's a letter asking for emergency action to "allow those individuals that have IFQ in their own names to be exempt from being on a vessel when their quota is being fished."

Another fishy bill

State Sen. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, has filed Senate Bill 44 requiring the Board of Fisheries to "prioritize personal use fisheries when implementing fishing restrictions to achieve a management goal."

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Sitka herring outlook

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting a whole hell of a lot of herring this year in Sitka Sound, but expects only a limited commercial harvest. More details here.

The Sitka Sound sac roe fishery was dormant the past two years as the fish were too small to suit buyers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Juneau watch

The Alaska Legislature opens a new session on Jan. 19, and legislators have prefiled some bills of interest to the commercial fishing community.

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, is again offering a bill establishing a buyback program for commercial salmon setnet permits on the east side of Cook Inlet. The legislation is filed as Senate Bill 29.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, is sponsoring House Bill 52 providing that operation of the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery is "a compatible use within the boundaries of the Kachemak Bay State Park."

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, is sponsoring House Bill 28 providing a registration exemption to commercial vessels already licensed through the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Biden's pick to lead the Commerce Department

President-elect Joe Biden has named an East Coast governor, Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, as his commerce secretary.

The Commerce Department houses the National Marine Fisheries Service, which regulates the commercial fishing industry.

CDQ companies work a major crab deal

Here's the press release.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Peter Pan sale closes

A new ownership group has acquired processor Peter Pan from Japanese seafood titan Maruha Nichiro.

Here's the press release.