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Summary for February 9, 2009 - February 13, 2009:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bering Sea pollock and cod hitting high bycatch

The pollock and cod seasons are both starting out with unusually high levels of bycatch, which could cause problems for the fleet further on in the season.
Pacific Fishing Columnist Anne Hillman, reporting for KUCB in Unalaska

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Agreement closer for early Columbia openings

OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission agreed Saturday on a new approach in its two-month standoff with Oregon over the sport-commercial allocation of Columbia River spring Chinook salmon.

Commission members voted 6-0 to allow the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to negotiate with Oregon and adopt the March and April portions of the sport and commercial fisheries.

But, the May portion of the seasons will be held in abeyance until the showdown is resolved, the Washington commission decided. – Vancouver Columbian

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California state senator says state failed salmon populations

The North Coast's state senator has accused a state agency of failing to take action to help struggling salmon populations.

State Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) sharply criticized the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) for failing to take emergency steps to prevent salmon fisheries from collapsing. Her critique was issued after the DFG failed to place new restrictions on a gold mining practice that threatens the state's imperiled salmon populations.
– Lake County, Calif., News

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Unisea pollock fleet on strike    

The Unisea pollock fleet is on strike. The strike began over two weeks ago when the season opened on January 20. Captains from multiple boats, who prefer not to be named, say they began the strike because they are holding out for higher pay. Boats from other plants have started fishing again.
Pacific Fishing Columnist Anne Hillman, reporting for KUCB in Unalaska

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Toledo port resurrects Wahl shipyard purchase

When Fred Wahl Marine Construction began to shut down in December 2008 after nearly a decade on a sliver of land at Sturgeon Bend near Toledo, one employee called it the “death of a shipyard.”
When voters nixed a $3 million general obligation bond a month earlier to allow the Port of Toledo to purchase the facility, they seemingly dug the grave to bury the corpse.

Nominal activity continues at the once-bustling shipyard, but it's nothing compared to the thrum of boat maintenance and related work when crews were busy hauling out and repairing commercial vessels. Those sounds could return if Port of Toledo officials put the finishing touches on a recently negotiated purchase agreement with Wahl. – Newport News-Times

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bitterness remains long after Exxon Valdez spill

If you want to get a good laugh, ask a Kodiak fisherman how the EVOS settlement has affected his/her life.  

“The overall process has undermined peoples’ confidence in the legal system,” said Toby Sullivan, a Kodiak setnetter. – Kodiak Daily Mirror

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Reactions mixed to latest B.C. farmed salmon report

Defenders of wild salmon have mixed reactions to the latest report on West Coast salmon that was delivered by a provincial think-tank, the Pacific Salmon Forum, most notably, they have been reacting to the proposed reforms to aquaculture management practices contained in the report.  

The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform commended the PSF for the long-awaited report, saying it was pleased to see that the think tank acknowledges the problems created by open net-cage salmon farms and calls for better environmental protection on behalf of the provincial government. – Prince Rupert Daily News

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Good crop of Klamath River salmon expected

Despite a bumper crop of Klamath River salmon feeding at sea, federal fisheries managers may be faced with the same weak Central Valley stocks that slammed the door shut on ocean fishing last year.

The outlook is not stopping ocean fishermen from fighting for a season -- at least in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. – Eureka Times-Standard

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Some Coast Guard helicopters to be armed 

North Coast residents may soon see armed U.S. Coast Guard helicopters along the beaches.

To increase the Coast Guard’s firepower for combating terrorist attacks on ships, bridges and other potential targets in Northern California, helicopters with gun mounts have been added to the Coast Guard’s fleet. – Crescent City Triplicate

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Refrigeration workshops set

Integrated Marine Systems has announced three, one-day marine refrigeration workshops in Alaska and two one-day workshops in Port Townsend, Wash.

The Alaska workshops are organized and co-sponsored by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program.

The 2008 workshops in Washington and Alaska were well-attended – early pre-registration is suggested for these 2009 workshops.

The one-day workshops will how to perform basic maintenance, troubleshooting and making repairs on onboard refrigeration equipment.

This type of training empowers vessel operators with the knowledge needed for emergency repair situations at sea and how to reduce the loss of valuable fishing time sitting at the dock waiting for onshore repair help to arrive.

Topics include: general maintenance, controller programming, charging with Freon and thermal expansion valve adjustment, with time allowed addressing specific questions from the participants. Attendees can apply for certification on the use of Freon.

An RSW system will be used as a training aid during class and an informative handbook is provided to each participant.

The first Port Townsend workshop will be Saturday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the IMS manufacturing facility at Port Townsend’s Boat Haven. A second workshop will be held at IMS on Saturday, April 18.

Space is limited and pre-registration is advised. To register or for more information, please contact Sarah Fisken, of the Washington Sea Grant Program, at 206-543-1225 or email

The first Alaska workshop will be held Thursday, April 23, in Kodiak There will be a workshop in Homer on Thursday, May 7, and in Anchorage on Saturday, May 9.

Space is limited and pre-registration is advised. To register or for more information, please contact Torie Baker, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program in Cordova at 907-424-7542 or email


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

B.C. court rules against salmon farms

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has ruled that the federal government -- not the provinces -- should regulate fish farms because it has constitutional powers over the ocean. 

Justice Christopher Hinkson's ruling on Monday gives Ottawa 12 months to bring in new legislation so fish farms can be licensed by the federal Fisheries Department.

In B.C., fish farms are currently licensed by the provincial Agriculture Ministry. In New Brunswick, which also has a large fish-farming industry, they're regulated by the department of Agriculture and Aquaculture.

Biologist Alexandra Morton, one of the petitioners involved in the case, said the decision means wild salmon now have a chance to thrive instead of facing extinction. – Canadian Press

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B.C. fish farmers say it’s business as usual

A B.C. Supreme Court decision which puts responsibility of fish farms back into the hands of the federal government is not expected to impact aquaculture operations in the Broughton Archipelago, according to Marine Harvest Canada.

“We are confident that we will continue to operate there,” said Clare Backman, director of environmental operations for the Norwegian company which has its B.C. office in Campbell River.
In Vancouver, long-time fish farm opponent Alexandra Morton and her supporters were successful in their main challenge to determine which level of government is responsible for salmon farms. – Campbell River News

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More time to comment on Navy range plans off Oregon

The U.S. Navy, pressured by coastal residents has extended a comment period on its plans to double its area for training off the coasts of Northern California, Oregon and Washington.

The Navy is getting ready to finish its proposal for a Northwest Training Range Complex, covering a 126,000-square-mile expanse of ocean with a 34,000-square-mile airspace.

News of the Navy’s plans spread through e-mails and on blogs on the Internet two weeks ago as notices about public meetings were sent out. But many folks were outraged, contending there was insufficient public notice and too few public meetings. The deadline has been extended to Wednesday, Feb. 18. – Coos Bay World

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Alaska fishing industry helps poor villages

The Alaska Fishing Industry Relief Mission (AFIRM) has coordinated over $1,800 in cash donations to Food Bank of Alaska to support the airlift effort to provide donated food to Western Alaska villages. 

By coordinating donations from other fishermen’s organizations, including the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, Cordova District Fishermen United, and United Fishermen of Alaska, AFIRM was able to leverage its own donation of $500 to amass a total of more than $1,800 for the troubled villages.  – United Fishermen of Alaska


NOAA identifies flags of fishing pirates

NOAA has submitted the first ever report to Congress identifying nations – France, Italy, Libya, Panama, the People's Republic of China, and Tunisia – whose fishing vessels were engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2007 or 2008.

This opens the way for continued consultations between the U.S. government and officials of each of the six nations to encourage them to take corrective action to stop IUU fishing by their vessels.

Annual global economic losses due to IUU fishing are estimated to be about $9 billion, according to an international task force on IUU fishing. -- NOAA

Read the PDF of the report to Congress: www.nmfs.noaa.go


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Genetic modification near for farmed salmon

A P.E.I. aquaculture company is a step closer to getting its genetically modified salmon on the market.

Aqua Bounty Farms in Fortune, in eastern Prince Edward Island, has been waiting more than a decade for federal approval in the United States. If the company gets the nod from the Food and Drug Administration, its salmon will be the world's first on the market.  – CBC News

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Feds yank funding from Alaska marine scientist

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A well-respected University of Alaska marine scientist will have his federal funding cut after a top National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration official complained about his "advocacy" on behalf of marine conservation, according to documents released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

NOAA's pressure has led university officials to seek elimination of any further NOAA Sea Grant funding for Professor Rick Steiner's work. – Underwater Times

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Editorial: Navy’s comment extension not enough

The world is a tough neighborhood, and a nation’s survival requires a well-trained defense force. So coastal residents accept the idea that the U.S. Navy needs to train in the Pacific Ocean.

At the same time, the Navy musn’t ignore valid questions about its current proposal to expand offshore training. It must treat civilian concerns with respect and demonstrate that its proposal won’t cause undue damage. – Coos Bay World

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Oregon-Washington truce for Columbia salmon

Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington set spring Chinook salmon fishing seasons Wednesday for March and April in the Columbia and Willamette rivers but didn't decide the larger issue facing the states. …

The season-setting session Wednesday in Longview, Wash., is a temporary truce in the allocation squabble between the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissions. That issue must be settled, the Washington commission has said, before any further sport or commercial seasons can be decided for May and June. – The Oregonian

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CG rescues fisherman off San Pedro

A Coast Guard Search and Rescue helicopter hoisted a fisherman to safety after his fishing vessel ran aground near Santa Rosa Island.

The Coast Guard first received a report of the stranded mariner when he called into the Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach Command Center on his personal cell phone. At the time, his 37 foot commercial fishing vessel, Katie Rae, was aground in Becher's Bay at Santa Rosa Island, but it was not taking on water.

The fisherman sustained no injuries and was transferred to Oxnard Airport. The vessel is still aground at Becher's Bay and salvage efforts have been arranged to commence this morning. – Coast Guard

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Opinion: Time to work with conservationists

The Alaska fishing industry and the conservation community have aligned often on the same side of policy issues impacting our way of life and the resources on which we depend.

This happened during the fight banning high seas drift nets, which indiscriminately caught millions of Alaska salmon. The fight to prohibit fish farming in federal waters off the coast of Alaska and collaboration on the protection of water quality are other examples. 
Alan Parks, a commercial fishman in Alaska since 1975, writing to the Cordova Times

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Worry over Alaska herring

Kake elder Clarence Jackson says that when he was young, the seas near Sitka boiled with herring.

"The herring have disappeared in my lifetime," he told the House special committee on fisheries this week.

Jackson and others told the lawmakers they believe Southeast's Pacific herring stocks are in trouble from past overfishing and present predation. And they don't believe the state is doing enough to help them recover. – Juneau Empire

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Letter: Don’t cut charter halibut catch

What will it be?

Last year, tourism started to fall off in our fine village, mostly due to a shortfall of our American friends visiting us. A portion of this shortfall was made up by our new Texans, but the oil rich-Albertans may not be coming in droves again this summer as Canada now follows our friends into financial turmoil.

As you may know, a great deal of our tourists come here for the sport fishing. On any given day during the summer there are around 300 to 500 visitors just here for the sport fishing.
–  Paul Grimston, Castaway Charters, writing to the editor of Westerly News, Tofino

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Global warming pushing fish north

Global warming will push fish stocks more than 200 km (125 miles) toward the poles by mid-century in a dislocation of ocean life, a study of more than 1,000 marine species projected.

Tropical nations were likely to suffer most as commercial fish stocks swam north or south to escape warming waters, the report said. Alaska, Greenland and Nordic nations would be among those to benefit from more fish.-- Reuters

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See you on Tuesday

Fish Wrap will take off Monday because of the President’s Day holiday. We’ll be back on Monday, Feb. 16.

Meanwhile, we expect to receive heartfelt Valentine’s Day cards from each and every one of you.