Thursday, March 28, 2024

A few extra fish for Southeast Alaska trollers

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game today announced a preseason troll treaty harvest allocation for 2024 of 153,000 Chinook salmon, up 3,900 from last year.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Environmentalist in, trawler out

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has named Becca Robbins Gisclair, of the Ocean Conservancy, as his top choice for a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

If approved by the U.S. commerce secretary, Robbins Gisclair would take the place of Anne Vanderhoeven, who is government affairs director for trawl company Arctic Storm and who has served on the council for only one term.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Sitka herring season nears its start

The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fleet will go on two-hour notice beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in this announcement.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Another fishery headed for limited entry

Dozens of Alaska commercial fisheries are limited — that is, restricted to a maximum number of participants.

Now, another fishery is moving toward limited entry.

Regulations to limit the Prince William Sound shrimp pot fishery will be the subject of a Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission public hearing on March 26 in Anchorage.

More details are available here.

Friday, March 15, 2024

It's halibut time!

The commercial fishery for Pacific halibut opened at 6 a.m. today.

Good luck to the fleet and please be safe!

E.C. Phillips to acquire Trident's Petersburg plant

Here's the press release.

Dunleavy likes Moller, Ritchie for council seats

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named John Moller and Brian Ritchie as his top choices for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Can we revitalize our herring fisheries?

We're approaching new seasons for herring, a vast resource in Alaska with major concentrations at Sitka, Kodiak, Togiak, Goodnews Bay and Norton Sound.

For years, however, herring hasn't produced much of a payoff for Alaska's commercial fishing industry. The herring are valued mainly for their eggs, or roe, and demand for roe has been weak in the main Asian market.

A stupendous volume of herring will be up for grabs this year at Sitka Sound, but only a portion of the 81,246-ton quota is expected to be harvested, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says.

A huge volume of herring also will be available at Togiak, historically the scene of Alaska's largest herring fishery. But for a second consecutive year, no commercial fishery is expected due to lack of industry interest.

Some industry players have long lamented Alaska's underutilized herring resource. They wonder, could the fish be used to feed hungry people around the world? Could herring roe markets be revived or expanded? Could more Alaska herring be taken for use as bait?

These and other questions could receive an airing soon with the formation of a "herring revitalization committee."

It's a joint effort of the state Board of Fisheries and the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

The committee would work to "better understand current and potential markets, and review potential regulatory change to facilitate those markets," according to this charge statement the Board of Fisheries recently approved.

Expect to hear more about this committee soon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Silver Bay to acquire Trident's Ketchikan plant

Here's the press release.

National Fisherman to go online only

National Fisherman magazine is halting its print edition.

"After 78 years of delivering the latest in commercial fishing through our printed pages, National Fisherman is taking a leap into the future by transitioning to an exclusively online platform," the magazine announced on its website Tuesday.

National Fisherman covers the commercial fishing industry from New England to Alaska. The magazine used to publish monthly, but more recently had come out only quarterly.

The publisher, Diversified Communications, of Portland, Maine, also produces trade shows including Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

OBI's pullback — and its big score

OBI Seafoods is making news on multiple fronts.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror is reporting OBI has notified setnetters at Alitak, on the south end of Kodiak Island, it won't be buying salmon there this season.

Deckboss has asked the company for more details on this.

In other news, OBI was a big winner in a recent round of government fish procurement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on March 6 announced it purchased $54 million in canned pink salmon and $14.4 million in canned red salmon from OBI.

OBI was created in 2020 through a merger of Ocean Beauty and Icicle.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Pacific Fishing magazine suspends publication

Pacific Fishing, a Seattle-based trade journal serving the North Pacific commercial fishing industry, has suspended publication.

"The owner and publisher of Pacific Fishing magazine is retiring," the company announced today. "We are actively pursuing a new owner to carry on the publication."

The monthly magazine's December 2023 issue was its last.

The daily Fish Wrap news service also will be suspended, the announcement said.

Pacific Fishing magazine published for 44 years, offering news and features for predominantly commercial fishermen readers engaged in a dangerous and often economically tumultuous industry.

The magazine's owner and publisher is Mike Daigle, of Seattle. The editor is Wesley Loy, who also produces the Deckboss blog.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Embattled trawl industry amps up public relations

Under the gun for its salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea, the trawl industry has formed the Alaska Pollock Fishery Alliance to "promote responsible fishery management."

Friday, March 8, 2024

Trident update

Trident Seafoods says it's close to finalizing sales of its Petersburg, Ketchikan and False Pass plants.

The company also is "speaking with multiple interested buyers" for its Kodiak plant.

"Even if we don’t close a deal by this summer, Trident will still provide a market for salmon season in Kodiak," a company executive says.

More details here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Togiak herring to stay dormant

The Togiak herring stock remains robust, but the industry again is showing no interest.

"Processors have indicated that they do not intend to harvest herring in Togiak in 2024 and it is unlikely that a commercial fishery will occur," the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today.

Another Peter Pan fire

A reader advised Deckboss of a fire at Peter Pan Seafood's King Cove plant.

"No flame could be seen from afar but lots of smoke," he said.

We checked with Peter Pan, which provided this response:

"You heard correctly, there was a minor fire early this morning in the crab plant at King Cove. No injuries. Fire is out. Minimal damage. No reported cause as of yet."

This is the second fire for Peter Pan this year. On Feb. 7, company buildings at Sand Point burned.

Monday, March 4, 2024

The seafood industry fishes for help

Efforts in Juneau to create a Joint Legislative Seafood Industry Task Force suggest serious difficulty in the fishing business as the new salmon season approaches.

The Senate resolution establishing the task force says "considerable changes in the global salmon market in recent years have placed the state's seafood industry in economic peril."

In recent months, we've received numerous signals of industry distress not only on the salmon side but in other fisheries as well. And we've seen extraordinary actions such as companies publicly putting assets up for sale.

All these signs portend a potential price crash for commercial fishermen this year.

The task force resolution is set for a hearing at 9 a.m. Thursday in the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

Deckboss understands the task force idea has the backing of the state's two flagship industry organizations — United Fishermen of Alaska and the Pacific Seafood Processors Association.

Such a task force is reminiscent of the Joint Legislative Salmon Industry Task Force that operated from 2002 to 2004.

What is the industry looking to get out of this latest task force?

A PSPA position paper currently making the rounds suggests a number of state actions including low-interest loans and loan guarantees for seafood processors via the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. It also suggests loan concessions for fishermen and hatcheries.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Suspicious catch?

"Commercial fishermen off the coast of Alaska have found what officials are concerned could be another spy balloon and are bringing it to shore with them," CNN reports.

Read the full story here.

Juneau watch

A Senate resolution was introduced today establishing a Joint Legislative Seafood Industry Task Force.