Monday, May 16, 2022

It's all over at Togiak

Fishery managers today closed the Togiak herring fishery for the season.

The harvest total is confidential, as only two processors registered for the fishery — Silver Bay and Ocean Beauty.

Coming into the season, the quota for the Togiak sac roe fishery was huge at 65,107 tons.

But participation in the fishery was extremely low, with only eight seiners taking part and no gillnetters.

The ex-vessel price reportedly was $100 per ton, which has become the default grounds price in recent years pending sale of the product. Togiak herring are valued primarily for their roe content.

Honoring Clem Tillion

The Alaska House of Representatives on Sunday approved a citation in memoriam honoring Clem Tillion.

It wasn't unanimous, however.

The vote was 33-1 in favor of the citation, with Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, voting "nay."

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Star of Bengal expedition

Details here.

$131.8 million in disaster relief coming

Federal officials recently announced the allocation nationally of $144 million for fishery disaster relief.

Of the total, $131.8 million is coming to Alaska. Here's a rundown of the affected fisheries:

• 2019 Norton Sound Red king crab fishery: $1,433,137

• 2020 Norton Sound, Yukon River, Kuskokwim River, Chignik, and Southeast Alaska salmon fisheries, and 2021 Yukon River salmon fishery: $55,928,849

• 2018 Upper Cook Inlet eastside setnet and 2020 Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries: $9,404,672

• 2018 and 2020 Copper River and Prince William Sound salmon fisheries: $34,326,265

• 2019-20 Eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab fishery: $12,935,199

• 2020 Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod fishery: $17,772,540

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says it will develop spend plans for the funding.

In the past, fishery disaster spend plans have provided funds for research, and for direct payments to fishermen, processors, communities, and others.

When will the money be distributed? Probably no time soon, if past experience is any guide.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Salmon season is nearly here!

The Copper River District will open for the season at 7 a.m. May 16, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced.

Friday, April 29, 2022

More change at CFEC

Melvin Smith, chairman of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, has submitted his resignation citing "medical reasons."

The governor has appointed Glenn Haight to serve as the new chair of CFEC effective May 7, a spokesman for the governor's office said.

Haight only recently was named to the commission and is awaiting legislative confirmation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

All set at Togiak

The Togiak herring fishery will open at 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced.

An enormous quota of 65,107 tons is up for grabs this season in the sac roe fishery.

Friday, April 22, 2022

A super sockeye season in the forecast

The state is forecasting a commercial harvest of more than 160 million salmon this year, including a record 74 million sockeye.

Friday, April 15, 2022

A change at CFEC

The governor has appointed Glenn Haight to the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

Haight currently is executive director of the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

If confirmed by the Legislature, he would replace Dale Kelley as a CFEC commissioner.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Go to Channel 16!

This just in from the U.S. Coast Guard:

Due to unforeseen phone outages in the District 17 command center, mariners are encouraged to contact the Coast Guard via Channel 16 or by calling the sector command centers for assistance.

For assistance in the Gulf of Alaska and Western Alaska, contact the Sector Anchorage Command Center at (907) 428-4100.

For assistance in Southeast Alaska, contact the Sector Juneau Command Center at (907) 463-2980.

Monday, April 11, 2022

All done at Sitka

The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery has closed for the season with a strong harvest exceeding 25,000 tons.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Why did Trident's Aleutian Falcon burn?

The National Transportation Safety Board today released a marine investigation report on the fire last year aboard the Trident Seafoods processing vessel Aleutian Falcon.

"Inadequate planning for hot work" led to the fire, the NTSB says.

BBRSDA election results

Doug Morgan, Erick Sabo and Franz Schonberg have won seats on the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board.

Sitka herring update

As predicted, lots of herring showed up at Sitka Sound this season, and the seine fleet has worked methodically through several openings since March 26.

According to the latest update from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the harvest now exceeds 20,000 tons of herring.

That's a lot, though still well short of the preseason quota of 45,164 tons.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

IFQ transfer denial

The National Marine Fisheries Service is denying a COVID-related request for another season of halibut and sablefish IFQ transfer relief.

Here's the letter.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Sizeable CDQ financing

The federal government is making $197 million in loans available to Alaska's six community development quota companies.

Icing, injuries, sinkings

For the upcoming North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, the U.S. Coast Guard submitted this interesting, and mostly unfortunate, list of recent search and rescue cases.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

And they're off!

The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery got underway yesterday with an opener lasting an hour and 15 minutes.

No word yet on harvest volume.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

‘Deadliest Catch,’ season 18

"Deadliest Catch" will get going again April 19 with a two-hour premiere.

"For the first time in 25 years, the tenacious 'Deadliest Catch' captains must search the seas for a new way to earn a living when red king crab fishing is shut down for the season," says this news release from Discovery.

New boss for NMFS

Agency veteran Jon Kurland has been named the new Alaska regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Sitka herring fishery to go on two-hour notice

More details in this advisory announcement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Alaska newsman Jay Barrett crosses the bar

Here's the story. Respect for you, Jay.

And the winners are...

Here are your Southeast Alaska sablefish tag recovery drawing winners.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Congressman Don Young has died

Young's office just released this statement:

It's with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce Congressman Don Young (R-AK), the Dean of the House and revered champion for Alaska, passed away today while traveling home to Alaska to be with the state and people that he loved. His beloved wife Anne was by his side.

A fierce defender of Alaska since elected to Congress in 1973, nearly everything that has advanced for Alaska is a result of Don Young's tenacious work. From the Trans-Alaska pipeline, to the Ketchikan Shipyard, to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which transformed the American fishing industry, to the numerous land exchanges he fought for, Don Young's legacy cannot be overstated.

"Every day, I try to do something for somebody and some group," Congressman Young once said. "And every day I try to learn something new. We all go into the ground the same way. The only thing we leave behind are our accomplishments."

Don Young's legacy as a fighter for the state will live on, as will his fundamental goodness and his honor. We will miss him dearly. His family, his staff, and his many friends ask Alaskans for their prayers during this difficult time.

In the coming days, we will be sharing more details about plans for a celebration of his life and his legacy.

Injured man hoisted off Bering Sea factory trawler

Here's a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Creating 'sanctuaries'

Here's an important story about how the Alaska Board of Fisheries is closing areas to commercial and sport fishing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

No fishery for little sharks

The Board of Fisheries has voted 6-0 against a proposal to create a new spiny dogfish pot fishery in Southeast Alaska.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

The end of an era?

The Alaska Board of Fisheries is now conducting its Southeast meeting, and Deckboss is particularly interested in a pair of proposals that would revolutionize the Sitka Sound commercial sac roe herring fishery.

The proposals seek to tame the notoriously combative seine fishery by establishing equal share quotas for each of the 47 permit holders. Under this arrangement, Sitka no longer would run as a competitive fishery.

The fishermen sponsors of one of the proposals argue it's high time the fishery switched to a "safe and orderly system." They describe the mayhem sometimes seen at Sitka:

The Sitka Sound commercial sac roe fishery is one of the most hazardous fisheries in the state. Fishermen are put into small areas for even smaller amounts of time to fight over the resource. Vessels are routinely in collisions, vessels have rolled over, gear is frequently destroyed and injuries are not uncommon. Fishermen and insurance companies have frequent claims, and the state of Alaska, U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement are forced to spend limited and valuable resources to patrol the derby fishery.

Supporters of equal shares say most of the fishery's permit holders support the change.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is neutral on the proposals, but offers excellent comments on the key considerations.

What will the board do? Can't wait to see.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Council picks

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has nominated two people for seats on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Nicole Kimball was named for a second three-year term on the council. She's a fisheries/policy analyst for the Pacific Seafood Processors Association.

Angela "Angel" Drobnica was named as a new member to the council. Drobnica is director of fisheries and government affairs for the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association.

If confirmed by the U.S. commerce secretary, Drobnica will replace one-term council member Cora Campbell, the Silver Bay Seafoods CEO and former Alaska fish and game commissioner.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Alaska's very own submarine?

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is urging the Navy to select an Alaska homeport for a submarine, and also reopen the Adak naval base.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Taking aim at 'lavish lifestyles'

Congressman Don Young has another idea to get at the Russians: Seize their superyachts.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Firing back at Russia

Amid all the trouble over Ukraine, Alaska members of Congress have introduced bills to ban Russian seafood imports.

Here's a press release from Rep. Don Young, and another from Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Bristol Bay needs help!

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which represents the commercial driftnet fleet, is sounding multiple alarms.

First, it says processors are in dire need of workers or the upcoming salmon season.

Second, the association is urging all "domestic" processing companies to send whatever floating processing capacity they might have to help handle the epic sockeye run expected this summer in Bristol Bay.

Halibut bust

The U.S. Coast Guard says it boarded a fishing vessel near Kodiak and seized 18 halibut retained out of season.

More details in this news release issued today.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Are processors ready for Bristol Bay's biggest year?

The state is forecasting a potential harvest of nearly 60 million sockeye salmon this summer at Bristol Bay.

But processors intend to purchase only 52 million fish, according to a state survey of companies intending to buy sockeye this year.

If that sounds disappointing, consider that Bristol Bay's best harvest ever was 44.3 million sockeye in 1995.

Friday, February 18, 2022

New skipper for American Seafoods

Bering Sea factory trawl operator American Seafoods has named a new chief executive officer to succeed Mikel Durham, who has "decided to step down."

Millions for processors

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced $50 million in COVID-related grants to seafood processors.

Of this sum, nearly $30.7 million has been allocated to Alaska. Here's the rundown by state.

The Alaska congressional delegation is really happy about the funding.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Continuing COVID relief

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has passed a motion requesting emergency regulations to "allow the temporary transfer of catcher vessel halibut and sablefish IFQ for all individual quota share holders for the 2022 fishing season."

Friday, February 4, 2022

Copper River outlook

The Copper River salmon forecast is out, and it predicts a commercial harvest of 716,000 sockeye. Not great.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Icicle sell-off

Today brings word of a big and complex business deal.

As best we can tell, Icicle Seafoods is selling the Dutch Harbor processing ship Northern Victor, nine fishing vessels, and associated Bering Sea pollock quota.

The buyers include Japanese seafood giant Maruha Nichiro and two Alaska community development quota companies — Coastal Villages Region Fund and Norton Sound Economic Development Corp.

More details in this press release.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Halibut ticks up

The International Pacific Halibut Commission has set a coastwide catch limit of 41.2 million pounds, a 5.7 percent increase from last year.

The season will run from March 6 to Dec. 7.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Bycatch in the spotlight

Gov. Mike Dunleavy's newly appointed Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force is set to hold its first meeting at 9 a.m. Friday.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday, January 14, 2022

'The largest ever'

The guideline harvest level for this year's Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is 45,164 tons.

"The GHL is the largest ever set for Sitka Sound," says the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

More details in this announcement.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Personnel file

The governor's office has appointed Duncan Fields, of Kodiak, to the board of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

The governor also has announced two recommendations for the International Pacific Halibut Commission:

• Andrew Mezirow, of Seward
• Rachel Baker, of Juneau

In other news, Indy Walton, of Soldotna, recently resigned from the Alaska Board of Fisheries for health reasons.

Also, Cordova District Fishermen United is looking for an executive director.

And American Seafoods, the big Bering Sea factory trawl operator, has hired its first chief sustainability officer.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Is a pollock processor changing hands?

city of Unalaska memo includes this intriguing line: "Icicle is transferring ownership of its operation at the Northern Victor to Westward."

The Northern Victor, operated by Icicle Seafoods, is a 380-foot processing ship permanently moored at Unalaska. A fleet cooperative supplies the ship with Bering Sea pollock.

Westward Seafoods, a unit of Japanese giant Maruha Nichiro, operates a large processing plant at Dutch Harbor.

Icicle's parent is Canadian seafood company Cooke.

To our knowledge, no company has formally announced a deal involving the Northern Victor. But it sure sounds like something is brewing.

'Transformed valuable frozen fish into garbage'

Icicle Seafoods Inc. is suing a railroad company over a transcontinental shipment of frozen pollock that went bad due to lack of proper refrigeration.

Icicle wants damages of $247,335.65.

Here's the three-page lawsuit.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Alaska's bycatch review

Gov. Mike Dunleavy today named members of his Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force.

Sunday, January 2, 2022