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.