Friday, September 30, 2022

Russian fish pirate?

A U.S. Coast Guard enforcement report to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council includes this:

Following an increase of foreign fishing vessel activity in the vicinity of the U.S.-Russia Maritime Boundary Line earlier in May, the Russian F/V Ikhtiolog committed a total of nine incursions into the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone between May 31 and June 3. Based on the vessel's course, speed and duration inside the U.S. EEZ, it was assessed that this vessel was fishing in U.S. waters. As a result, the U.S. Coast Guard increased surface and air presence along the MBL to deter future incursions, including several C-130 flights and the Coast Guard cutter Bertholf patrolling the MBL and issuing the vessel warnings over VHF radio. The Russian Border Guard investigated our report and fined the owner of the vessel for failing to notify the Russian Federation of an MBL crossing. Since these incursions by F/V Ikhtiolog, the Coast Guard has not detected any other incursions along the U.S.-Russia MBL.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

IPHC update

Jon Kurland is the new U.S. government commissioner on the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Kurland heads the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska.

He fills the IPHC seat previously occupied by Glenn Merrill, who was a high-ranking official in the NMFS Alaska office before leaving for the private sector.

Public notice

Federal officials recently issued the following:

Public notice of fraudulent permit website

NOAA Fisheries is issuing a public notice because it has come to our attention that there is a fraudulent website claiming that it processes both state and federal fishing permits. The fraudulent website is commercialfishingpermits.us. Please do not use this website to apply for a state or federal fishing permit.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Chinese, Russian naval vessels in the Bering

Details in this news release from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Marine sanctuary opposition

The city of Unalaska will fight a proposed Pribilof marine sanctuary.

A city memo says "the city's federal lobbyists have been directed to begin work on a strategy for aiding the city and its trilateral partners to advocate against the marine sanctuary. As proposed, a 100-mile boundary would surround the Pribilof Islands (possibly more) and would negatively impact processing communities in Alaska."

Friday, September 23, 2022

Bristol Bay's super season

This season's commercial harvest of 60.1 million sockeye at Bristol Bay was the largest on record, 36 percent greater than the previous record of 44.3 million set in 1995, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports in this season summary.

The sockeye paid an average ex-vessel price of $1.15 per pound, for a preliminary total harvest value of $351.1 million.

The sockeye remained on the small side at an average weight of 5.1 pounds.

A bigger council?

Alaska's new congresswoman, Democrat Mary Peltola, is proposing an expansion of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The council currently has 11 voting members, including three from Washington state, one from Oregon, and the rest from Alaska.

Peltola this week offered an amendment calling for "adding two additional Alaska Native tribal seats" to the council.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Sounding the alarm

A proposed rewrite of the Magnuson-Stevens Act could unleash "chaos" in the U.S. fishing industry, including fishery shutdowns, rampant litigation, job losses, and higher consumer seafood prices, warns a national coalition of seafood interests.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Mary Peltola's fish man

Deckboss hears reliably that Tyson Fick will be fisheries aide to Alaska's newly installed U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola.

Fick is a familiar name in the fishing industry, having worked as communications director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and as executive director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.

In recent years, he's fished commercially.

He was a Peltola supporter on Facebook, posting on Sept. 1 after her election: "Mary is one of my absolute favorite people."

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Canada's salmon unrest

This parliamentary petition demands a renegotiation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty to address "interceptions" of Canadian salmon in Alaska fisheries.

BBRSDA's new board member

Peter Andrew has been appointed to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board of directors, filling an Alaska resident seat recently vacated by George Wilson.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

A change in Oregon's council seat

Steve Williams will now represent Oregon on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, replacing Steve Marx.

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.

Mary Peltola sworn in as Alaska's U.S. rep

Here's her congressional website.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Are you catching seabirds?

A recent press release from the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership says an independent audit identified "high potential bycatch risks" in fisheries supplying seafood to UK retailing giant Tesco.

Among the flagged fisheries:

Alaskan salmon set/drift gillnet fisheries pose a significant risk to seabirds.

"Tesco is ... working with suppliers who use gillnets to investigate their potential removal and where removal is currently unfeasible, introduce mitigation measures into those fisheries as soon as possible," the press release says.

This has Deckboss wondering: Does Alaska salmon gillnetting really have a seabird bycatch problem?

Friday, September 9, 2022

A blow to state fisheries management

A federal appeals court has ruled that Metlakatla tribal members may fish commercially in waters off their Southeast Alaska reservation — specifically, in districts 1 and 2 — and they don't need a state permit to do so.

This startling court opinion would seem to knock a serious hole in the state's fishery management authority, in particular the limited entry program.

A death in the Aleutians investigated

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: Aleutian Islands
Type: Deceased person
On 9/7/22 at approximately 1445 hours, Alaska State Troopers received a report of human remains and a survival raft found on a beach at the west end of one of the Aleutian Islands. Investigation is ongoing. The specific information on the island and location is being withheld pending investigation.

More personnel news

The Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission has brought aboard Alysha Guthrie as executive director.

Guthrie's prior work experience includes a hitch at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

A significant CDQ hire

Michael Link is the new president and CEO of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., one of Alaska's six community development quota companies.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

'Frustrated fishermen'

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in a Friday update on the salmon fisheries, reported this from the Taku-Snettisham area near Juneau:

The story we heard on the grounds was of periods of terrible weather hampering effort and large numbers of seals working the nets of frustrated fishermen.

Friday, September 2, 2022

The continuing crab crash

The situation with Alaska crab remains dismal, according to preliminary survey results the National Marine Fisheries Service posted today.

Male and female populations of Bristol Bay red king crab "remain low across all size classes," the agency says.

And survey estimates for mature male and female Bering Sea snow crab are even lower than in 2021.

The results suggest the red king crab fishery will remain closed this season, and the snow crab fishery, which opened with a small quota last season, might be shuttered as well.

The outlook isn't entirely bleak.

"The positive news is that we saw a significant increase in immature snow crab abundance, both males and females. Depending on how many of these young crabs actually survive to adulthood, this could be one bright spot for the fishing industry in a few years," said Mike Litzow, survey lead and director of the agency's Kodiak Laboratory.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Alaska's new congresswoman

Mary Peltola has won the special election to finish out the late Congressman Don Young's term.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Look out, Area M!

The nonprofit Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association posted the following on Facebook:

A meeting with Governor Dunleavy is scheduled for Monday, August 29, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. Leaders from the Bristol Bay, Kuskokwim, Yukon, and Norton Sound regions will be putting forth solutions to the intercept fishery in Area M. This is a closed meeting, but a report will be given during the In-Season teleconference on August 30, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. AKST and 2:00 p.m. PDTC. To listen to the teleconference you can dial in at 1-800-315-6338 pin: 98566#.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Salmon notes

The Alaska salmon season is entering the homestretch.

• The statewide commercial harvest has reached 150 million fish. This year's preseason forecast of 160.6 million appears within reach.

• The sockeye harvest stands at 74 million, right on forecast.

• The pink salmon harvest stands at 63.2 million, only 4 million shy of forecast.

• NOAA Fisheries has posted an interesting article, What's Behind Chinook and Chum Salmon Declines in Alaska?

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

More focus on bycatch

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is seeking nominations for a new Salmon Bycatch Committee.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

A BBRSDA vacancy

George Wilson is resigning from the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board of directors, the organization said today.

BBRSDA did not give a reason for Wilson's departure.

Wilson, of Naknek and the fishing vessel SassaLena, is board vice president, BBRSDA's website says.

"Per BBRSDA policies and procedures, it shall be up to the remaining board members to fill the seat for the duration of Mr. Wilson's term, which ends in 2024," BBRSDA said.

Association members are invited to apply for the seat by Sept. 1.

BBRSDA represents commercial driftnetters, who this year enjoyed a record sockeye harvest in Bristol Bay.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

New leadership for Board of Fisheries

Art Nelson is the new executive director of the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

He is highly familiar with the organization, having served as a board member and chair.

Nelson succeeds Glenn Haight, who earlier this year was confirmed to the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Troll fishery in jeopardy

This court order could have serious consequences for commercial fishing in Southeast Alaska, as the state Department of Fish and Game explains.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

A loss for Cook Inlet setnetters

A judge this week denied a bid to force the state to reopen the eastside Cook Inlet salmon setnet fishery.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Fishing vessel runs aground in Southeast Alaska

The U.S. Coast Guard says it rescued a man today after his 47-foot fishing vessel beached near Cape Fairweather, about 10 miles north of Lituya Bay. A helicopter landed near the F/V West Bank and collected the man, the Coast Guard said. The cause of the grounding was under investigation. USCG photo

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Big Trident decision coming

This memo prepared for Tuesday's Unalaska City Council meeting includes this note regarding Trident Seafoods:

We are told that a final decision on feasibility of building a new processing plant in Unalaska will be made by mid‐October.

Trident already has secured a site on Captains Bay.

If Trident does build a new plant at Unalaska, we wonder what would become of the company's huge Akutan plant 35 miles to the east?

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Cook Inlet setnetters sue

Sabine Poux, of Kenai radio station KDLL, has the story.

Also, here's a press release from the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Something special in Bristol Bay

Here's a message just out from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Fishermen and residents of Naknek should keep their eyes towards the water this evening for a chance to see the double-ender Bristol Bay sailboat, Libby 76, sail back into Bristol Bay and the Naknek River on the next high tide.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Fuel spill reported at Naknek

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

Friday, July 15, 2022

Man found dead aboard fishing vessel

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Location: False Pass
Type: Deceased person
On 7/13/22 at approximately 0900, Alaska State Troopers received a report of a deceased male on a fishing vessel. David Harris, 67, of Snohomish, Wash., was found deceased in his living quarters aboard the F/V Titan Explorer while at sea. The state medical examiner released the remains to the family. No foul play is suspected.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Blotter

Check out our sister blog The Brig for lots of enforcement news from Bristol Bay and elsewhere around Alaska.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

ADF&G says congrats on 'historic achievement'

Read it here.

Bristol Bay record!

The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon catch now stands at more than 46.5 million fish.

That smashes the previous record of 44.3 million sockeye harvested in 1995.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Salmon notes

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

• The statewide catch is 49 million fish, with sockeye accounting for most of the catch.

• Preseason predictions of a huge catch at Bristol Bay are proving accurate. Through Thursday, the tally stood at more than 35 million sockeye. That's an awesome haul, with lots of fishing still to come.

• The Copper River sockeye catch stands at 528,790 fish, against the preseason forecast of 716,000.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Boat sinks, three people saved in Southeast

The U.S. Coast Guard reports a commercial fishing vessel sank in Southeast Alaska.

The Coast Guard on Monday received a report over Channel 16 from the F/V Miss Amy stating the vessel was taking on water in the vicinity of Lisianski Strait and Porcupine Rock.

The Miss Amy was unable to keep up with the rate of flow and sank in approximately 150 feet of water 5 miles offshore, the Coast Guard said.

All three passengers aboard went into the water and were rescued by the merchant vessels Cirus and Lucky Strike, which responded to an urgent marine information broadcast.

"We're especially grateful to good Samaritan vessels Cirus and Lucky Strike," said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Matt Bitinas, watchstander at the Sector Juneau command center. "Their quick response saved three lives."

State records list the Miss Amy as a 37-foot troller.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Personnel file

The governor today announced the nomination of Rachel Baker, of Juneau, to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Baker is deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. She presumably would replace sportfishing lodge owner Richard Yamada on the IPHC.

The governor also announced the reappointment of Jack Schultheis to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors. Schultheis is general manager of Kwik'pak Fisheries.

Bristol Bay heats up

Bristol Bay fishermen already have taken more than 10 million sockeye, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports.

A gigantic catch is expected this season, based on the state's preseason forecast.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Council picks confirmed

The U.S. Department of Commerce today confirmed Gov. Mike Dunleavy's picks for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

106,900 treaty Chinook up for grabs July 1

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

Peter Pan again sets the pace

For the second consecutive season, a major Bristol Bay salmon processor is posting ex-vessel prices before the bulk of the harvest is in, not after.

Peter Pan Seafood, a few days ago, posted a base price of $1 per pound for sockeye. Today, we have word the company is sweetening its price to $1.15.

Here's a statement from Jon Hickman, vice president of operations:

The reason we make early starting price announcements is to intentionally put the fleet at ease with a starting point so that they know they will receive a fair price for the long hours and hard work they are about to endure participating in the world's largest sockeye fishery.

So once again, Peter Pan was the first out with a price in Bristol Bay for the 2022 season. After posting an initial starting price last week, we've already increased the starting price to $1.15 as a testimonial to our belief in a valued partnership with the Bristol Bay fishing fleet. We will continue to evaluate the fishery and the market with the hope that price can move up as this possible record Bristol Bay season progresses.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Cook Inlet reopening

In a huge ruling issued today, a judge has vacated Amendment 14, which closed the federal waters of Cook Inlet to commercial salmon fishing.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

A pink plague on the Emerald Isle?

Here's a very interesting article out of Ireland regarding the spread of Pacific pink salmon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Uncle Sam's salmon

The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchased $20.2 million in canned red salmon from packers Peter Pan and OBI.

Responding to the Western Alaska salmon crisis

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting in Sitka, passed this hard-hitting motion acknowledging the Western Alaska salmon crisis.

The motion "requests" the pollock industry do more to avoid chum bycatch, and calls for a discussion paper and a "working group."

Meantime, Gov. Mike Dunleavy says salmon donations will continue this year to the Yukon-Kuskokwim region.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Personnel file

Here are a few notes about people making moves recently.

• Mark Fina, a former North Pacific Fishery Management Council economist who later worked for trawl operator United States Seafoods, is the new executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

• Jerry McCune has retired as Cordova District Fishermen United board chairman, and Jess Rude has come aboard as executive director.

• Luke Peterson is now the Bristol Bay Fishermen's Association board president, taking over for longtime skipper David Harsila.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Some interesting observer observations

The North Pacific Observer Program 2021 Annual Report is loaded with details on fishery observer deployment rates, costs, and compliance.

It also includes the following paragraphs under the heading "Observer Safety and Professionalism." OLE refers to NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement.

In 2021, there were 14 individual observers who reported other observers for different forms of harassment. Many of these complaints occurred at shoreside processing facilities. Observer-on-observer harassment is a disturbing trend as it is important for observers to support one another and work together. This is a topic of discussion during observer training.

During the course of different investigations, OLE received several reports that observers were engaging in sexual relations with crewmembers. Observer providers are required to have a policy in place that addresses sexual relations with crew. Sexual relations with crew can be viewed as a conflict of interest and may negatively impact data collection. OLE did not receive any reports of observers coming back to the vessels intoxicated, which has been a complaint in previous years.

Freezer barge proposal to BBRSDA fizzles

Details in this update.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

State hammers Silver Bay Seafoods

Silver Bay Seafoods has been penalized $467,469 for water quality violations at Bristol Bay, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Trawl operator sued

A Tokyo insurer has filed a lawsuit against United States Seafoods, claiming the Seattle-based factory trawl operator shipped frozen fish to Japan that lacked "proper freshness."

Monday, June 6, 2022

A big week

This is a big week in Alaska fisheries.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Sitka. Janet Coit, head of the National Marine Fisheries Service, is expected to be there.

And the board of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is meeting tomorrow in Dillingham on a proposed $15 million processing venture (the Circle Seafoods freezer barge proposal).

Saturday, June 4, 2022

The revolving door, again

Glenn Merrill, a high-ranking official in the Alaska office of the National Marine Fisheries Service, has "separated from federal service" and "accepted a position in the private sector," this agency memo says.

Deckboss hears reliably that Merrill is going to work for Glacier Fish Co., a top trawl operator.

Merrill was assistant regional administrator in the Sustainable Fisheries Division.

His transition to the private sector means Merrill will vacate his seat as the U.S. government representative on the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

This certainly isn't the first time we've seen a regulator jump ship to join the ranks of the regulated. It happened last year.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Trident hit with disability claim

A Utah man is suing Trident Seafoods, saying he was wrongfully fired from his new job as chief engineer on the fishing vessel Dominator because of three missing fingers on his right hand.

We've asked Trident for comment on the federal lawsuit.

A Bristol Bay processing proposal

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has posted much more detail regarding the organization's possible plunge into the processing business.

"Circle Seafoods is proposing to partner with BBRSDA on a project that would entail the RSDA funding, financing and owning a $15M freezer barge and leasing that out to Circle under a long-term lease agreement," the association says.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

More from Juneau

Here are a few more actions from the recently concluded Alaska legislative session.

• Legislators confirmed the governor's appointment of Thomas Carpenter, Floyd "Mike" Heimbuch and David Weisz to the Board of Fisheries.

• Glenn Haight was confirmed to the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

• Legislators passed House Bill 41, which could enable a shellfish "enhancement" industry akin to the Alaska's system of salmon hatcheries. The bill awaits the governor's signature.

Copper River closure

After two lackluster fishing periods to begin the season, the Copper River salmon fishery is going on hiatus, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced.

Friday, May 20, 2022

A new processor in Bristol Bay?

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which represents driftnet fishermen, is thinking about jumping into the processing game.

That's the sound of it, at least, based on this teaser the organization posted today.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A tasty tax benefit for processors

The Alaska legislative session has concluded, and among the bills that passed is a measure to revive and expand a lucrative tax credit for seafood processors.

The state previously had a tax credit for investments in equipment used to produce value-added salmon and herring products, but that credit expired after 2020.

Senate Bill 33, which now awaits the governor's signature, would revive the tax credit and expand it to additional species including pollock, Pacific cod and sablefish.

A fiscal note estimated processors could benefit by up to $3.6 million annually.

The seafood industry broadly supported SB 33, which was sponsored by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak. Industry players said the legislation could spur innovation, increase the value and utilization of each fish, and support jobs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

BBRSDA election challenged

Bristol Bay fisherman Tim Cook is suing the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, arguing its recent board election was improper. He wants the court to order a new election.

Cook, an attorney, is representing himself in the case.

Here's the lawsuit.

Another slow start at the Copper River

Monday's 12-hour season opener in the Copper River District produced 12,800 sockeye salmon and 2,700 Chinook, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported.

"This compares to a projected harvest of 20,700 sockeye salmon for this period," the department said.

Driftnetters get another 12-hour crack at the fish beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday.

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