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Summary for January 5, 2009 - January 9, 2009:

Monday, January 5, 2009

That’s how the Yup'iks say Happy New Year on the Kuskokwim River.
Now, back to work:

Opinion: Northwest salmon over-harvested

I am compelled to heighten awareness of the recent decision by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and needed reforms to the fisheries-management system, which currently places exploitation over conservation.

Despite investing approximately $1 billion annually in salmon-recovery efforts to restore habitat, improve hatcheries and make hydroelectric operations more fish-friendly, many wild and endangered populations in our region remain on the brink of extinction. I am deeply concerned about our commissioner's unwillingness to embrace science-based reforms to end the nonselective overharvest of our salmon and steelhead, which has been a significant contributor to this crisis. – Dale Ballard of Molalla, a member of the Coastal Conservation Association and the president of the Capitol Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association, writing in the Salem Statesman-Jounal

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Coho reintroduced in California stream

The nets that volunteers held in a remote river valley near Bodega Bay were full of the squiggling bluish fish that biologists hope will be the seed population of a new race of coho salmon.

The scaly, flapping critters were carried in nets from a truck 25 yards to the banks of Salmon Creek, a western Sonoma County tributary that winds through a stunning rural valley.

The 305 hatchery-raised coho were the first of their kind seen in any significant numbers in the degraded watershed since the mid-1970s, but their release last month was more than just a reintroduction. – San Francisco Chronicle
E-mail Peter Fimrite at

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Bush administration ready to open coast for drilling

The federal government is taking steps that may open California's fabled coast to oil drilling in as few as three years, an action that could place dozens of platforms off the Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt coasts, and raises the specter of spills, air pollution and increased ship traffic into San Francisco Bay. – San Francisco Chronicle

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Wind farmers not giving up

Despite a deepening recession that's creating more gloom than the winter weather, some local folks see light on the horizon -- light generated by ocean motion. Properly harnessed, ocean waves could become what George Boehlert, director of Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center, calls a “potentially significant source of clean energy.”

Boehlert joined 23 others from across the nation in signing a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, urging him to consider the development of ocean renewable energy -- energy generated by waves, tides, and currents -- and ocean power technologies as “a potentially valuable addition to the nation's clean energy portfolio.” – Newport News-Times

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Crystal Ball Dept.: Predictions for 2009

Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writes about commercial fishing in the Anchorage Daily News. He also fancies himself as somewhat of a clairvoyant. In his Highliner blog, Wesley has predicted the top 10 stories for 2009.

Here’s but one: Gov. Sarah Palin will announce foreign processing ships are welcome to sail into Bristol Bay this summer to buy excess salmon the established processors can’t handle. The only question is, will any foreign packers show up?

And how well did Wesley do in predicting the top issues for 2008? Pretty good, with the exception of this:

“Bob Thorstenson Jr., who occasionally swears off The Highliner, will break down and keep posting. And his blogger buddies will gladly take the bait.”

As far as we can tell, Bobby T. honored his self-imposed vow of silence.

You can see Wesley’s predictions for 2008 and 2009 at:


Chignik fishermen found safe

Two men from Chignik are safe after abandoning their fishing boat and being rescued by the Coast Guard from a remote Alaska island in the North Pacific Ocean Sunday.

Rescued were vessel master Jim Brewer, and crewman Jay Kingsley, who both abandoned the 42-foot fishing vessel American Way after losing engine power – Kodiak Daily Mirror

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Race for Dungeness crab begins early in morning

The moon hangs over the harbor at 4 a.m. in Crescent City, Calif., and a soft foghorn sounds in the distance as boats head out to sea to catch delectable Dungeness crabs.

This isn't just a quaint early-morning tradition. It's a race to catch all the crabs before other crabbers get to them first.

Dungeness crabs are not only a winter treat; they are also the most valuable catch on the West Coast. More than 400 boats ply the waves in the early winter and lay their crab pots off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. – NPR, Morning Edition

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Bush to declare vast Pacific area as marine monument

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush was expected to create three new marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean to protect the deepest place on Earth, some of the last pristine corals and sanctuaries for vanishing marine species.

The three monuments -- in the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific, the Rose Atoll off American Samoa and remote islands in the central Pacific -- cover 195,280 square miles, the largest protected area of ocean. – Miami Herald

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Tuna brings $370 a pound in Tokyo

TOKYO -- Two sushi bar owners paid more than $100,000 for a Japanese bluefin tuna at a Tokyo fish auction on Monday, several times the average price and the highest in years.
The 282-pound premium tuna caught off the northern coast of Oma fetched 9.63 million yen ($104,400), the highest since 2001, when a Japanese bluefin tuna brought in 20 million yen, market official Takashi Yoshida said.

Mr. Yoshida said the purchase -- about $370 a pound -- went to a Hong Kong sushi bar owner and his Japanese competitor.– Wall Street Journal


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bad weather, lower prices bedevil Kodiak fleet

There may be fewer fish in the sea, but the challenges Kodiak fishermen face are only increasing.
Not only has the total allowable catch decreased for at least three fisheries – cod, Tanner crab and snow crab – but those fishing face weather conditions as unstable as the economy.  – Kodiak Daily Mirror

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Letter to the editor: Support California fishermen

I just came across the Dec. 29 article about threats to Pacific fishermen.

I trawl out of Monterey and I can confirm that very serious times are coming to all fishing industries in our country.  
Over-regulated at all levels, separated in each limited-entry fishery, our fishermen have been stripped of every protection and flexibility to survive at times when harvest levels drop. – Jiri Nozicka, Monterey, writing to the Monterey Herald

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Crewman pulled overboard by crab line

The Coast Guard responded to a report of a 40-year-old male who tangled his feet in a crab pot line and fell from the 90-foot fishing vessel Seabrooke approximately 22 miles northwest of Cold Bay, Alaska, at 9:50 a.m. Tuesday.

The search was suspended Tuesday night. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writing for the Anchorage Daily News

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Report: U.S. fishing a $185 billion industry

U.S. commercial and recreational fishing generated more than $185 billion in sales and supported more than two million jobs in 2006, according to a new economic report released by NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

The commercial fishing industry—harvesters, seafood processors and dealers, seafood wholesalers and seafood retailers—generated $103 billion in sales, $44 billion in income and supported 1.5 million jobs in 2006, the most recent year included in the report, Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2006,  which covers 1997 to 2006.

Recreational fishing generated $82 billion in sales, $24 billion in income, and supported 534,000 jobs in 2006. – NOAA press release

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Infection hits Scotland salmon farm site

Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) was discovered at one salmon farm site, which has been empty of fish since 21 December, in the Burra area.

The disease is also suspected at a further two sites in Burra, one of which was emptied six weeks ago. ISA does not affect humans, but can seriously damage farmed salmon stocks.

The Scottish government said it had immediately set up a National Disease Control Centre and was taking action to control the spread of the disease. – BBC

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Alaska crabber declared dead

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday for a crab fisherman who fell overboard from his vessel Tuesday about 22 miles northwest of Cold Bay, Alaska.

Keith Criner, 43, of Stockton, Calif., was ruled lost at sea after a day-long search that covered 132 square miles, the Coast Guard said. Criner got tangled in a crab pot line and was pulled off the 98-foot fishing vessel Seabrooke at about 9:50 a.m. Tuesday. – Anchorage Daily News

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Alaska fuel site bomb threat ‘non-credible”

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have determined Wednesday’s threat against the Petro Marine fuel facility in Ketchikan, Alaska, to be non-credible.

The captain of the Port Southeast Alaska returned the Maritime Security (MARSEC) Level in the Port of Ketchikan to Level 1. The MARSEC Level was raised to Level 2 in response to the threat.

The elevation in the MARSEC Level required the Coast Guard, other law enforcement agencies and the marine industry to assume a heightened security posture. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Arctic weather imperils boats in Alaskan harbor

 Cold winter conditions leave moored boats in Kodiak’s harbors in dangerous conditions to sink even when they’re not out at sea, Harbormaster Marty Owen said.
The leaky culprit? Frozen pipes and through-hull fittings can leak or potentially burst – a danger that can happen to any size vessel. – Kodiak Daily Mirror

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Small California Dungeness catch hurting fishermen

An unusually weak Dungeness crab harvest is compounding the financial woes of West Coast fishermen who already were struggling with depressed consumer demand and the unprecedented collapse of the Pacific Chinook salmon fishery.
Commercial fishermen in California, Oregon and Washington are struggling to stay afloat financially. They say the downturn could force fishermen who depend heavily on crab and salmon to leave the shrinking ranks of the region's fishing fleet. – Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch

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Alaska model praised as state celebrates 50th

Over the weekend, Alaska celebrated its 50th anniversary of statehood and sustainable fisheries management. Before statehood in 1959, Alaska's fishing industry was the territory's first major industry.

Half a century later, Alaska's seafood industry is still a vital economic engine for state and regional economies.

Alaska fisheries haven't always been considered a model for the world. – Wisconsin Ag Connection

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Alaska not the top fishing state

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released new data on job creation and sales generation by the commercial and recreational fishing industries.
Alaska does not rank number 1. Of the $103 billion dollars in commercial fishery sales for 2006, the year from which data was compiled, only $3 billion came from Alaska. Alaska ranked number 9 for overall job creation with 40,000 jobs. California ranked number one with $9.8 billion dollars in sales and 179,000 jobs.

NOAA economist Rita Curtis explained that the data was produced by a computer model. The model takes into account landing data and harvesting and processing jobs, and adds retail sector jobs such as in seafood restaurants and grocery stores. It then accounts for a "ripple effect." – KUCB, Unlalaska

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California marine protected area plan moves ahead

The process to create a new and improved network of Marine Protected Areas along California's south coast is going to speed up in 2009, and it starts next week.

A master plan for a comprehensive system of marine parks, reserves and conservation areas to protect marine life from overfishing will be developed this year by a 30-member stakeholder group representing conservationists, commercial fishing, recreational angling and diving, ports, harbors, the government and various business entities.
Del Mar (California) Times

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Enviros praise Bush’s ocean sanctuary decree

Environmentalists praised the announcement by the White House protecting remote island ecosystems in areas from the Northern Marianas to American Samoa.

But a group charged with managing Pacific fisheries warned that closing more than 195,000 square miles of ocean to commercial fishing could have unintended consequences.

"The significant loss of fishing areas available to commercial fishermen in Hawaii and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands can be counterproductive to sustainable fishery goals," said Kitty Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.

"Reduction of available fishing areas often leads to increased fishing pressure in other areas." -- Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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Charleston Marina gets new floats

The Charleston Marina is all about water, so it probably wasn’t surprising to maintenance crews replacing part of F Dock that they worked in the rain this week.

Aaron Simons, the Charleston Harbormaster for the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay said the crews are replacing 147 feet of dock and fingers on the far section. This is where large fishing vessels dock when in port.  – Coos Bay World

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