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Summary for February 11 - February 15, 2008:

Monday, February 11, 2008 

Chainsaw used to free capsized fisherman

Rescuers used a chain saw to cut a hole in a capsized fishing boat in Kodiak on Saturday afternoon, rescuing a man who had been on his way to Afognak Island in stormy weather, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

 Another man in the boat, George Reutov, died in the accident, said Doug Pedersen, a retired Kodiak fisherman who climbed on board the overturned 38-foot fishing vessel to try to pull the men to safety.

 Kodiak harbormaster Marty Owen said he saw the boat leaving Kodiakabout 10 a.m.

"I was concerned because the Tustumena, the ferry boat, the 300-foot ferry boat, (was) sitting at the dock because it was too rough to go, and there goes this little Russian boat, the Velocity," he said.

 Reutov owned the boat, according to public records. Pedersen and Owen said they believe the man who was rescued was Reutov's relative.

 Acquaintances said the men are Russian Old Believers. The accident comes five weeks after Old Believer fishing communities were stunned by a plane crash near Kodiak that killed five fishermen and a pilot.

 It was unclear Saturday if Reutov is related to any victims of the plane crash. When a reporter called his listed phone number, a woman answered, crying. She said she was his wife and referred questions to a family member.

 The boat capsized about 200 yards offshore, in the Mill Bay area, said Coast Guard public affairs specialist Richard Brahm.

 The Coast Guard received an emergency signal from the boat about 11:35 a.m. Saturday, Brahm said.

 Pedersen lives nearby, and saw what looked like a house-shaped object bobbing near the reef. It was the stern end of a boat floating upside down.

 He recognized the color. It belonged to a friend -- George Reutov.

 Pedersen said that he's been to Reutov's home on Afognak Island, and that Reutov and his wife came to see Pedersen's garden in Kodiak.

 "The Russians are kind of known for their fearlessness, you know. They fish in weather other -- us guys, don't," Pedersen said.

 He said that as far as he knows, the Velocity wasn't on a fishing trip Saturday, but headed to Afognak Island.

 Kodiak fisherman Lance Parker saw the rescue, which he said included friends or family members of the boaters, a Coast Guard helicopter, firefighters and others.

 "The vessel was adrift in the bay for about an hour before it went aground at the head of the bay, up against a rocky bluff," he said.

 Pedersen said rescuers had to wait until the tide would go out to run out to the boat, jump up and shimmy on top. The surf pummeled and jarred the hard-to-reach boat.

 A knock or banging could be heard inside the boat, according to the Coast Guard.

Someone was alive.

 Rescuers used a heavy-duty chain saw to slice through the fiberglass.

 "One of the smaller fellas that was there, he was a Russian, a relative, and he crawled down in there and brought the occupants over close, where I could reach down and grab and haul them out of there," Pedersen said.

 There was diesel fuel on the surface of the water inside the boat, he said.

 The two men trapped in the hull wore survival suits, but Reutov had died. The other man appeared hypothermic, and vomited what smelled like diesel fuel, Pedersen said. An ambulance took the man to the local hospital.

 Parker called what he saw a survival story.

 "It's likely that this person survived in an overturned fishing vessel in 20-foot seas for two hours before getting rescued," he said. – Anchorage Daily News

Where Bering Chinook bycatch comes from

An interesting note emerging from last week’s North Pacific Fishing Management Council meeting:

 The studies indicate about 40 percent of the fish caught in a prime summer harvest zone of the Bering Sea would have returned to British Columbia or the Pacific Northwest, according to Jim Seeb, a University of Washington fishery professor who helped conduct the genetic testing. – Seattle Times

Columbia Chinook hearing tense, but polite

SALEM -- The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission wants to ban sport and commercial fishing for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River this year to protect a minuscule projected Willamette River run.

 But the commission would compensate with seven-day fishing on the Willamette River and Multnomah Channel all spring and six-day fishing on the Columbia River east of Interstate 5 through the end of April.

 One of the commission's longest single-subject meetings began with Oregon State Police on the roof of its Salem headquarters building and more than 300 people spilling into the lobby and an extra meeting room.

 Uniformed troopers also permeated the large crowd of sport and commercial fishers. The groups are often volatile and at odds with each other. In a recent similar meeting in Vancouver, shouting and shoving occurred. Friday's crowd in Salem, however, was calm and well-behaved.

 Sport anglers outnumbered gill-netters by about 4-1 among 118 who testified, but commissioners told the audience they are depending on all fishers to get together to try to sort out their differences. – The Oregonian

Sen. Stevens' deal with SeaLife Center questioned

SEWARD – New documents have emerged in Seward showing that a $1.6 million earmark in 2005 by Sen. Ted Stevens was engineered so it would lead to the purchase of property owned by his former aide, Trevor McCabe, an Anchorage fisheries lobbyist.

 The public records show that another Washington lobbyist who once worked for Stevens, Brad Gilman, acted as the go-between in the deal, connecting an unnamed "Senate aide" with Gilman's two clients in Seward: the city and the Alaska SeaLife Center, a federally supported marine research center and tourist attraction.

 Gilman reported that the Senate aide was shopping for an entity that would guarantee the purchase of McCabe's property if it got the earmark, the documents said. Federal agencies had rejected previous attempts by McCabe and two partners to develop or sell the property, site of a derelict building, for a government visitor center and office complex.

 The result was the sudden shift of the earmark by Stevens' office from the City of Seward, which wouldn't promise to buy the property, to the Alaska SeaLife Center, which had more discretion, according to a phone log written by a Seward official and minutes of the SeaLife Center board.

 The backdoor arrangement described in the documents appeared to assure that a money-losing real estate venture by the partners would be bailed out by U.S. taxpayers without any need for the earmark itself to be explicit about its intent. As passed into law, the public language of the legislation only spoke vaguely about "various acquisitions."

 The Seward land sale is under investigation by the FBI and inspectors general from two federal departments, Interior and Commerce.

 Roy Keim, a spokesman for the Interior Department inspector general, said in a telephone interview from Washington last week that there was no sign the investigation would wrap up soon.

 "These things take a long time," he said.

 Flush with the unexpected grant, the SeaLife Center bought the property for $558,000 in 2006. The only partner to agree to an interview, Seward businessman Dale Lindsey, said before his death from cancer in November that it was no windfall. He lost about $23,000 and lots of sleep on the venture, he said.

 "It was probably the worst real estate deal I ever got myself involved in, when I stop and reflect back on it, even absent all the publicity," said Lindsey, concerned about how people would remember him in the town he played a strong role in building. "It just was a bum deal from the start."

 Gilman didn't return numerous calls placed to his office in Alexandria, Va., where he works for Robertson, Monagle and Eastaugh, the Juneau-based law and lobbying firm. McCabe's attorney, Michael White of Seattle, said, "Trevor has been instructed by his lawyer to continue to cooperate with investigators and make no public comments." The third partner, Anchorage office building owner Steve Zelener, didn't return several calls seeking comment.

 A spokesman for Stevens said the senator wouldn't comment, following an office policy in effect since Stevens came under scrutiny in the corruption investigation in Alaska. In a Daily News interview on the Seward land deal in early 2006, before the Gilman conversation was known outside of a few city officials, a Stevens spokeswoman said the earmark "was not at Trevor McCabe's request or on behalf of Trevor McCabe." The grant came with no strings attached, the spokeswoman said.

 SeaLife Center executive director Tylan Schrock, who announced two weeks ago he would leave his post later this year, said in interviews earlier this year and last year that the SeaLife Center had no obligation to buy McCabe's property with the grant, and asserted that the decision to buy it was the center's alone. He has not returned calls since the City of Seward released the records of its calls with Gilman.

 The Alaska SeaLife Center has long been a favorite of Stevens, who has steered more than $50 million in federal funds to the nonprofit facility since it opened in 1998, including more than $3.5 million in the most recent appropriations bills. Schrock has been executive director for more than seven of those years. – Anchorage Daily News

Emergency refrigeration repair classes offered

Integrated Marine Systems, a recognized leader in the manufacture of innovative refrigeration products for the fishing and seafood processing industry, will hold two marine refrigeration workshops for 2008.

 IMS has been offering these types of workshops since 2003 and is presenting the workshops in conjunction with the Jefferson Educational Center, WSU Jefferson County Extension and Washington Sea Grant. These workshops have been well-attended in past years.

 The workshops teach commercial fishing vessel owners how to perform basic maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs on their onboard refrigeration equipment. This type of training readies vessel owners to perform emergency repair situations at sea and prevents the loss of valuable fishing time sitting at the dock waiting for onshore repair help to arrive.

 The first workshop will be held March 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the IMS manufacturing facility at Port Townsend’s Boat Haven. A second workshop is scheduled to be held at IMS on Saturday April 12.

 The workshop fee is $25 with no extra charge for the class materials provided. Pre-registration is advised. To register or for more information, please contact Sarah Fisken, Continuing Education coordinator for the Washington Sea Grant Program, at 206.543.1225 or e-mail – Press release


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On the record: Tribe wants Klamath dams down

As chairman of the Hoopa Valley Reservation, which has the Klamath and Trinity rivers running through it, I want to clarify my tribe's position regarding the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

 The Sacramento Bee's editorial noted disparate parties have finally agreed to "quell decades of bitter dispute" about the removal of four aging hydropower dams blocking 350 miles of Klamath River fish habitat. The editorial criticized the Hoopa tribe for not endorsing the agreement because we want "guaranteed flows in the Klamath."

 After more than two years of negotiating with other tribes, farmers, government agencies, fishermen and environmentalists, the Hoopa Valley Tribe cannot accept the draft agreement because it does nothing to remove dams from the Klamath River. And it uses the dam-removal dialogue and politicized science to support more water for Oregon irrigators at the expense of the fish.

 PacifiCorp, the ownerof the dams, left the negotiating table two years ago. The agreement discusses no money for dam removal and has no commitments from PacifiCorp.

 The editorial mentions spending almost $1 billion to "retire water rights, restore wetlands and improve habitat for salmon." These are good things, but the agreement ignores the fundamental fact that fish need water.

 Without water guarantees, the agreement will set the stage for another 68,000-fish kill like the Klamath disaster in 2002, after the Bush administration used politicized science to bend environmental policy.

 Water rights are upside down in the agreement. The agreement guarantees water for Bureau of Reclamation project irrigators and refuge users, while Hoopa and Yurok senior fishing rights, dating back to 1855 and 1864, are not guaranteed.

 The agreement puts all the drought-year risks on the fish.

 Tribal treaty rights are the thin ramparts protecting the fish from extinction. Federal agencies and irrigators have opposed setting assured minimum water flows for fish and instead offered only a long-range formula that amounts to "trust me."

 Our tribe trusted the Bureau of Reclamation a half-century ago when it began taking up to 90 percent of the Trinity River's water for irrigators and hydropower in the Central Valley. Since then, no other nonfederal entity has spent more time and money restoring the water and fish habitat of the Klamath and Trinity rivers than our tribe.

 Get PacifiCorp to remove the dams and leave enough water for the fish. Then the agreement will work. – Clifford Lyle Marshall writing to the Sacramento Bee


Copper River dipnetters had good year

FAIRBANKS -- Dipnetters at Chitina scooped more salmon out of the Copper River last summer than they have since 2001.

 Though the numbers are still preliminary, the state Department of Fish and Game says last year's total reported harvest for personal-use dipnetters at Chitina was 131,823 salmon, 96 percent of which were reds.

 It was the highest personal-use catch at Chitina in the past six years and the fifth-highest on record since 1984. Dipnetters averaged 16 fish per permit, the second-highest average catch recorded in the last 24 years.

 The high harvest corresponded with a big Copper River red salmon run. Last year's Copper River sockeye run totaled an estimated 2.9 million fish, the second-largest on record.

 Commercial fishermen caught almost 1.9 million fish, the third-highest commercial catch ever for the Copper River.

 "It was a pretty good year," confirmed area management biologist Mark Somerville at the Department of Fish and Game in Glennallen. – Anchorage Daily News

 Leatherbacks make epic swim across the Pacific

With flippers three yards long, the leatherback turtle is no slouch when it comes to swimming the world's oceans.

 But just how far the endangered species can go in search of food or safe breeding grounds was something of a mystery -- until now.

 A satellite-tracking study of a female leatherback has found that she covered at least 13,000 miles on a epic return trip across the Pacific. This is the longest ocean migration ever recorded by any animal, scientists say.

 They tagged the turtle after she laid her eggs at a beach in Papua, Indonesia. Her movements were monitored for almost two years in which time she crossed the Pacific to Oregon on the northwest coast of the U.S.

 The tag's power supply ran out while she was making her way back across the Pacific in 2005.

 Her progress was tracked by researchers at the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service in California. They said such journeys put leatherbacks at great danger from commercial fishing nets.

 Numbers have also been hit by pollution and by choking on plastic sacks and other waste that covers swathes of the Pacific.

 Scott Benson, who took part in the study, estimates that there are fewer than 5,000 adult females in the Pacific region. Males are difficult to count because they rarely come ashore.

 Dr Benson called for global action to protect the leatherbacks, adding: 'It's an animal that doesn't recognise international boundaries. – Daily Mail, UK


More notice of Chinook bycatch in the Bering Sea

SEATTLE -- The Bering Sea trawl fleets last year set a new and unwelcome catch record: Their vessels accidentally snared more than 120,000 Chinook, or king, salmon as they dropped their nets in pursuit of pollock in North America's biggest seafood harvest.

 The Chinook are the largest of Pacific salmon, a prized catch in coastal and river harvests in Alaska, Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

 Last year's big accidental haul by the pollock fleet has prompted Alaska Native groups, the Canadian government and conservationists to push for new restrictions on Bering Sea trawl operations.

 "It's unbelievable that there is not a cap on the amount of salmon the pollock fleets can kill," said Jon Warrenchuk, a marine scientist with Oceana, a fisheries conservation group. "It's time for action."

 The pollock harvest rules are shaped by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a group of state, federal and industry officials. They are considering several options to reduce the king salmon catch, including placing a limit on the chinook harvest that -- if reached -- would terminate the annual Bering Sea pollock harvest.

 It's a high-stakes decision. The pollock harvest yields more than $1 billion worth of fish processed into fillets and other seafood products, and it is a mainstay for Seattle-based trawlers in the Bering Sea.

 Seattle trawl operators are hoping they can fend off a cap in favor of other options such as temporary closures of salmon hot spots in the Bering Sea or avoiding fishing in October, when salmon catch rates increase.

 "We feel we can achieve the same objectives without that high cost of potentially shutting down the harvest," said Brent Paine, executive director of United Catcher Boats, which represent some trawlers.

 "But the pressure is on. This is a really emotional issue."

 Chinook form a small fraction of the fish that wind up in the trawl nets, and to discourage fisherman from targeting them, their sale is banned. Some are given to food banks. In recent years, the size of this accidental catch has risen, with last year's record chinook catch more than double the 10-year average.

 Scientists are unsure why the trawl fleet is catching more Chinook, which are born in freshwater then undertake a lengthy migration to feed in the Bering Sea.

 Since 2005, researchers have conducted genetic testing of about 1,600 of the trawl-caught chinook to find out where they were from.

 Initial results indicate that a sizable percentage would have returned to western Alaska, where the chinook are important fish for Alaska Natives. – Seattle Times


Editorial: Feds flip-flopping on gas terminal

Gullibility is becoming a requirement for American citizenship. For instance, how else could we swallow the notion that the politicians who have created a record federal debt are conservative?

Closer to home, we are supposed to believe the National Marine Fisheries Service can -- with a straight face -- reverse its position on the proposed liquefied natural gas terminal at Bradwood. In a Dec. 7 letter, the regional NMFS office had raised several concerns about Bradwood Landing's permit application to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Cassandra Profita reported last week that the regional administrator for NMFS has sent the Army Corps of Engineers a follow-up letter to "clarify" the December comments.

One long sentence from Robert Lohn's letter is worth quoting, because it typifies the bureaucratic use of language that is essential to hiding what's really going on. Here it is:

 "Our recommendation that the permit pending before you be denied was a procedural step and should not, in any way, be understood as a final determination by this agency regarding the possible effects of the project or what our view might be after additional, updated information is added to the application." [Translation: That silly person who wrote the Dec. 7 letter didn't really mean it. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain who's having his arm twisted by some Texans.]

The autocrats who ran the Soviet Union couldn't improve on Mr. Lohn's prevarication.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Congressman David Wu should read Lohn's letter for a full understanding of why sitting on the fence isn't good enough in this LNG discussion. Acting neutral only enables the kind of Texas politics that aims to change the culture of the lower Columbia River for the benefit of some rich guys who will then flip the project for an enormous profit. – The Daily Astorian


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Top-dog jeweler opposes Pebble Mine

Environmentalists want you to buy organic roses, and human rights groups tout conflict-free diamonds.

Now, just in time for Valentine's Day, jewelry retailers are stepping up a campaign that aims to discourage the mining and sale of "dirty gold."

A group of prominent jewelers including Tiffany & Co., Helzberg Diamonds and Fortunoff announced that it opposes the massive gold and copper Pebble Mine planned for Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed, site of the world's largest sockeye salmon run.

The jewelers' “Bristol Bay Protection Pledge" marks a new front in the “No Dirty Gold” initiative waged by environmental and human rights groups against destructive mining practices.

It is the first time that retailers, which have hitherto limited themselves to supporting general rules for mining, have joined in a campaign to halt a specific mine.

An estimated 80% of the gold used in the U.S. is for jewelry. And gold mines -- typically huge open pit operations where tiny veins of metal are ground from millions of tons of rock -- produce an average of 76 tons of waste per ounce of gold.

The resulting air and water pollution have made metals mining the leading contributor of toxic emissions in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There are places where mining does not represent the best use of resources," Michael Kowalski, Tiffany's chairman and chief executive, said in an e-mail. "In Bristol Bay, we support . . . the salmon fishery as the best bet for sustainable, long-term benefit. For Tiffany & Co., and we believe for many of our fellow retail jewelers, this means we will look to other places to source gold."

Sean McGee, a spokesman for the Pebble Mine, said the jewelers had not contacted the mine's developers, a partnership of Vancouver, Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. and London-based Anglo American.

"There is a lot of common ground between the Dirty Gold camp and the approach we are taking," he said. "We support high environmental standards for mining. If the fisheries can't be protected, we won't advance the project."

The campaign to clean up gold mines echoes the opposition to so-called blood diamonds, sold to finance conflicts in developing nations.

In the last few years, jewelers, working with nonprofit groups and the mining industry, set up a system to ensure diamonds as "conflict-free." Now the "ethical jewelry" movement is preparing to expand with a certification program for gold and silver.

"It's what's happening in the marketplace," said Stephen D'Esposito, president of Earthworks, a Washington-based advocacy group for mining reform. "Jewelers are highly sensitive to consumer concerns about the impact of the products they buy. It is a trend you see with food, coffee, wood, even sneakers." – Los Angeles Times

California court says suit over farmed fish OK

SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court gave a green light Monday for consumers to sue grocery store chains to enforce a state law requiring labeling of dyes added to farm-raised salmon.

The high court said unanimously that a federal food labeling law doesn't preclude California citizens from using state consumer laws to enforce an identical state labeling law.

The court issued its ruling in San Francisco in a case consolidating lawsuits filed by individual consumers in Los Angeles, Alameda and Monterey counties.

Justice Carlos Moreno wrote, "Congress appears to have made a conscious choice not to preclude such actions."

The lawsuits say that two petrochemical-based dyes, astaxanthin and canthaxanthin, are added to farm-raised salmon to make it appear the same pink color as wild salmon. Without the dyes, the farm-raised salmon would be grayish in color, the lawsuits say.

The suits are seeking to require grocery chains including Albertson's Inc., Safeway Inc., Kroger Co., Trader Joe's Co. and Whole Foods Market Inc. to label the farm-raised salmon as containing dyes.

Kevin Golden, a lawyer with the Center for Food Safety in San Francisco, said, "The decision means citizens have a right to know what's in their food and sends a strong message that California citizens can enforce state food safety laws as a matter of state law."

The food safety group filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting plaintiffs in the case.

Craig Spiegel, a lawyer for the consumer plaintiffs, said his clients don't want to ingest the chemical dyes and said, "People have the right to determine whether to put artificial dyes in their bodies."

Rex Heinke, a lawyer for the grocery chains, said they are considering a further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as well as further proceedings on unresolved issues in a state appeals court in Los Angeles.

Heinke said, "We're disappointed with the decision and we believe it is wrong.”

Both the federal law, entitled the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and the California law, known as the Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law, require labeling of artificial dyes used in food.

Spiegel said his clients sought to enforce the state law for farm-raised salmon because they were not aware of any federal government efforts to enforce the U.S. law.

The high court overturned rulings in which a Los Angeles Superior Court trial judge and the state Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said the lawsuits were pre-empted by the federal law.

Moreno wrote that the federal labeling measure explicitly allows states to pass identical state laws. He said there is no indication in the U.S. law that Congress "intended to limit the scope of remedies states might choose to provide for violations of those laws."

Another friend-of-the-court brief supporting the consumer plaintiffs was filed by the Los Angeles city attorney and the district attorneys of 12 counties, including Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties. ." – CBS Broadcasting

New disease found in farmed salmon

While studying towards his doctorate of philosophy, Norwegian Anders Jørgensen discovered a previously undescribed species of parasite that infects farmed fish and produces serious disease.

 Single-celled parasites of the genus Spironucleus are known to produce serious illness in farmed and aquarium fish. In farmed salmon, these parasites create foul-smelling, puss-filled abscesses in muscles and internal organs. After the first outbreaks of this disease were described in farmed salmon in the late 1980s, it was assumed that the cause was Spironucleus barkhanus, which is a fairly common parasite in the intestine of wild grayling and Arctic char.

 In these fish species, however, the parasite is benign. For his doctorate, Jørgensen completed genetic studies showing that the disease-causing parasite in farmed salmon is genetically quite different from the species one finds in wild salmonids, although they appear to be identical, even under high magnification in an electron microscope. Based on this observation, the parasite that causes disease in farmed salmon has now been described as a new species – Spironucleus salmonicida.. – Science Daily, adapted from materials provided by Norwegian School of Veterinary Science.

Study shows global salmon farming hurts wild fish

HALIFAX -- Salmon farming operations have reduced wild salmon populations by up to 70 per cent in several areas around the world and are threatening the future of the endangered stocks, according a new scientific study.

 The research by two Canadian marine biologists showed dramatic declines in the abundance of wild salmon populations whose migration takes them past salmon farms in Canada, Ireland and Scotland.

 "Our estimates are that they reduced the survival of wild populations by more than half," Jennifer Ford, lead author of the study published Monday in the Public Library of Science journal, said in Halifax.

 "Less than half of the juvenile salmon from those populations that would have survived to come back and reproduce actually come back because they're killed by some mechanism that has to do with salmon farming."

 The authors, including the late Halifax biologist Ransom Myers, claim the study is the first of its kind to take an international view of stock sizes in countries that have significant salmon aquaculture industries.

 Ford said wild salmon populations in Atlantic Canada have been hit the hardest, with rivers in New Brunswick and Newfoundland that have stocks that swim past farms dropping steeply over the years. The scientists compared the survival of wild salmon that travel near farms to those that don't, finding that upward of 50 per cent of the salmonid that do pass by farms don't survive.

 "There's really strong evidence that this can have impacts on wild salmon and in particular in places like Atlantic Canada, where Atlantic salmon populations are doing so badly," Ford said. "It's worrying."

 The paper didn't look to the causes of the declines, which have been discussed in a series of studies over the last decade that have linked disease, interbreeding of escaped salmon and lice from farmed fish with reductions.

 An article last December asserted that Canadian fish farming is destroying wild salmon stocks and could completely wipe them out within four years in one area of British Columbia. The study published in the journal Science contends that aquaculture damages wild populations by infecting juveniles with fatal parasites.

 Trevor Swerdfager, director general of aquaculture management for the federal Fisheries Department, said he will take a close look at the new research. But he added he has so far not seen any proof that salmon farms harm wild populations.

 "We look at the impact of salmon farming on wild salmon -- if there is one -- and we just haven't seen those sort of impacts," he said from Ottawa.

 He said stock declines, particularly in the Bay of Fundy, are still a bit of a mystery, but there are other pressures at play that could be linked to the reductions.

 Ecosystem changes, fishing and other stresses linked to climate change are likely having an effect on the health of the wild populations.

 "Atlantic salmon populations are not what they were historically, but can you tie that to the absence or presence of salmon farms? I don't think so," he said, adding that researchers looking at that stock have never linked the decline to farms.

 The latest research by Ford, which covered a period from 2003 to 2006, also looked at a large region off British Columbia, which has a substantial salmon aquaculture industry.

Ford said only pink salmon that passed by salmon farms in that region showed sharp declines.

 Ford said some salmon populations in the Bay of Fundy are endangered, while one has become extinct. She and Myers, who died last year after the research was complete, found that the return of juvenile salmon to the bay to spawn are less than 10 fish a year, whereas there were hundreds of them in the 1980s. – Canadian Press

Rough Kodiak seas take fisherman

George Reutov knew the seas around Kodiak were rough the morning he took his final journey in his fiberglass fishing boat. Relatives had talked him out of making the trip to his home on Afognak Island the night before, urging him to wait at least until daylight.

Saturday dawned, Reutov left, and disaster quickly followed.

 A giant wave capsized the boat near Buoy 4, a well-known navigational marker visible from parts of Kodiak. For the next two hours, the 38-foot boat floated upside down not far from shore as rescuers tried to reach Reutov and his deckhand, Ifrem Berestov.

 Berestov, 23, survived. Reutov, 41, didn't. He leaves a wife and eight children who range in age from 1 to 17.

 "One big wave. This is what one wave can do," Greg Reutov, the dead man's brother, said Sunday from Afognak Island.

 Berestov, who was freed when rescuers cut a hole in the bottom of the boat with a chain saw, told Alaska State Troopers the boat rolled onto its port side when the wave hit, according to a trooper report.

 Berestov and Reutov, related by marriage, had spent the week commercial fishing for gray cod along with other members of the family. When the weekend came, Reutov was eager to return to his family on Afognak Island.

 "We were all in harbor for the weekend," Greg Reutov said. "The water was pretty rough, but he was saying it wasn't like nothing he hadn't been through.

 "He was gonna take off the night earlier and we kinda talked him out of it, so he would go in the morning, in the daylight at least, and that's when he took off.

 "The weather wasn't better, but they were predicting (the seas) would go down at the time."

 Alexander Reutov, George's nephew, watched Saturday's rescue from the shore. He was there when Berestov was dragged out of the boat.

 "He was puking blood," he said. "He jumps up and says, 'Where am I? Am I still on the boat?' "

 Witnesses reported smelling fuel. Greg Reutov -- who also watched part of the rescue -- thinks it was diesel fuel or Freon that killed his brother. He doesn't think he drowned.

 "What probably happened, there was a lot of fuel and diesel, and he swallowed some, maybe some Freon," he said. "It looks like (the boat) hit a rock, pipes broke, and there was Freon. It's dangerous stuff."

 Authorities hadn't released a cause of death as of Sunday evening. Berestov, the father of two children, couldn't be reached for comment. Troopers said he was at the Kodiak Island Medical Center, but Greg Reutov said he was taken to an Anchorage hospital and was sedated most of Sunday.

 "We are hoping he will recover," he said.

 George Reutov was a Russian Old Believer, a religious group that came to Alaska from Oregon in the 1960s and settled around Homer. He spent his whole life as a fisherman, Greg Reutov said.

 About 20 or 25 years ago, a group of Old Believers moved from the Kenai Peninsula to Afognak Island, according to Bob Moore, who spent 23 years as a teacher and principal at the school in Nikolaevsk, where many students are from Old Believer families.

 Those who moved to Afognak Island did so for economic reasons, Moore said.

 "In the early '70s they started getting into fishing," Moore said, "but they hadn't gotten into Kodiak. So they moved in and expanded their fishing."

 Moore said neither of the men aboard the capsized boat lived on the Kenai Peninsula, but Reutov's death will make an impact there anyway, he said.

 "They've probably had 100 phone calls today in Afognak from Old Believers from here, from Willow, from Delta Junction," he said. "It's a close community."

 And it's a community often in mourning -- five weeks ago, on the eve of Russian Orthodox Christmas, five Old Believer fishermen were killed in a plane crash in Kodiak.

The Old Believers are known in fishing circles for their fearlessness. A number of them have died in Alaska's waters over the years.

 "They do take risks," Moore said. "They have an incredible faith. Death, to them, is not the way it is in my culture. It's almost a part of living. The attitude is, hey -- you live and you work, and then you die and you go to a better place." – Anchorage Daily News


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Editorial: No lower Columbia fishery is unfair

There's a very real possibility that there will be little or no spring Chinook fishing here, depending on the outcome of Friday's meeting to reconcile conflicting decisions by the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissions. This is bad news on a historic scale.

This effort to protect a pathetically depleted Willamette River spring Chinook run closely resembles the scramble to safeguard Sacramento River this year and the emergency closure of fishing on much of the coast to protect Klamath River salmon a few years ago. Strict limits on catching endangered Snake River fish have impacted fall salmon seasons here for years.

In other ways, however, this looming disaster is something new. For one thing, the predicted Chinook run on the Willamette is among the lowest on record, while the Columbia Chinook run is the third largest since 1977. This means that Oregon's decision could result in a huge lost fishing opportunity on the lower river.

For another, this is occurring within a context of both state commissions shifting to a Chinook allocation that more strongly favors sportsmen at the expense of commercial fishermen and consumers who rely upon them for prized spring salmon. Though the Willamette run may deserve additional protection, it is difficult not to sympathize with the views of those who see this as part of an effort to drive a nail in the coffin of lower Columbia gillnetters.

Though only relatively few spring Chinook are netted, they represent an important part of the economic mix for gillnetters and for the businesses that supply fishermen and their families. The fact that there may be no sport season here either will be additionally damaging to our economy. Charter operations will take a big hit.

Salmon runs fail to thrive for many reasons, but in the case of Willamette runs it is natural to figure that urbanization plays a leading role. This makes it doubly unfair to preserve upriver sport fishing, catering to city dwellers, at the expense of fishermen here at the river's mouth. – The Daily Astorian

Columnist gives sport fishing guy a pulpit

Although I was welcomed to the parking lot by a light-pole sticker that read, "Democrats are in fact Communists," no one at the Expo Center on Sunday was debating the politics of Barack Obama v. John McCain.

 Neither was there much argument over the most popular swimsuit models at the Reel Fish Calendar booth, "Women in Waders" vs. "Women in Chaps." Melinda Hoeye sold 600 of the former, at $12 each. "This is a sportsmen's show," she reminded me, "not a biker rally."

And at the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen's Show, all the usual obsessions faded before the passionate preoccupation with fish. Salmon harvests. Steelhead runs. Spring Chinook allocations. And the state's self-defeating fish policies.

 "I'm a Christian, right-wing conservative," said Dean Finnerty, one of 12 licensed guides on the North Umpqua, "but when it comes to fish and conservation issues, I'm very much on the left. We do a horrible job in this state managing our natural resources." To his way of thinking, Oregon Fish and Wildlife "cares nothing about protecting native stocks of steelhead; they care only about the money generated from the sale of licenses."

 Like most of the catch-and-release enthusiasts at the show -- a cast of thousands -- Finnerty believes the politics are skewed toward the commercial gillnetters. So does E.G. Eilertson, who lamented the gaming commission's quest for "equity" in allocating the spring chinook.

 "There's just a little inequity," he notes, "in the equipment they use." Not to mention the lobbyists the gillnetters employ. The inequity has inspired a Pacific Northwest chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, a national organization that aggressively promotes sport fishing and marine conservation.

 When the subject is the CCA and overharvesting of the area's greatest natural resource, all roads lead to Gary Loomis, who started crafting custom rods when he got out of the Navy in 1964. When prostate cancer caught up to him in 1995, Loomis sold his business, determined "to give back to the resource" in the 18 months he was told he had left.

Thirteen years later, Loomis is still on the warpath about the commercial slaughter of salmon.

 "You have 287 extinct salmon and steelhead runs in the Pacific Northwest, and another 130 on the endangered species list," Loomis said, "and we're still overharvesting.

 "Our federal tax dollars have paid these people to harvest our resource to the point of extinction. And when it gets to the point where they can't make a living, our federal government has paid to subsidize them for not fishing a resource they just wiped out. I think it's insane."

 Loomis started Fish First in 1995 to restore the run on a Lewis River tributary. For every salmon that reached that creek in 1992, 506 returned to spawn 10 years later . . . an abundance that only served to attract the gillnetters and turn that tributary back toward ruin.

 "We're not after commercial fishermen; selective harvest is what we're after," Loomis said. The law isn't much help, he argues, because it was written by the commercial fishermen and processors to ensure they got this national treasure -- the 2007 salmon harvest in Alaska was worth $374 million -- for free.

 "Sports fishermen? We don't have a clue," Loomis said. "We can't agree on barbed hooks or not barbed, bait or no bait, native fish v. wild. We couldn't win a cakewalk at a grade-school competition."

 But they could sure pack the Expo Center. The future of fish in the Northwest may depend on their ability to fill the place with more than wishful thinking. – Steve Duin, writing for The Oregonian

Editorial: Time to yank salmon farms?

In a development that promises to further rattle the credibility of provincial aquaculture policy, a new study by scientists at Nova Scotia's Dalhousie University reports that fish farms are directly associated with plummeting populations of wild salmon and trout.

 On average, the paper says, survival and abundance of wild salmon and trout crashed by 50 per cent or more in areas where fish farms were established.

 "Many of the salmon populations we investigated are at dramatically reduced abundance, and reducing threats to them is necessary for their survival. Reducing impacts of salmon farming on wild salmon should be a high priority," the paper says, otherwise survival rates will fall even further as aquaculture increases.

 Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell, whose government lifted a moratorium on fish farm expansion and has since overseen rapid growth in the industry, recently said B.C. salmon farmers do a good job in protecting the environment and controlling parasites that prey on immature wild salmon.

 The paper, A Global Assessment of Salmon Aquaculture Impacts on Wild Salmonids, written by Jennifer Ford and Ransom Myers, was published today by the Public Library of Science Biology, an international peer-reviewed journal.

 The scientists compared the marine survival of wild salmon and trout populations in areas with fish farms with similar populations in adjacent areas without farms. Conditions in Scotland, Ireland, Atlantic Canada and the B.C. coast were examined and compared to determine correlations between wild salmon survival rates and the growth of salmon farming.

 In B.C., coho, pink and chum stocks were studied in Johnstone Strait where fish farms are concentrated in narrow inlets and passages, then compared with control populations on the undeveloped central coast.

 "We show a reduction in survival or abundance of Atlantic salmon; sea trout; and pink, chum and coho salmon in association with increased production of farmed salmon. In many cases, these reductions in survival or abundance are greater than 50 per cent," the authors conclude.

 Along with Martin Krkosek, a University of Alberta scientist, and Alexandra Morton, a biologist from Simoom Sound, Ford and Myers wrote an earlier paper that predicted the extinction of wild salmon runs in B.C.'s Broughton Archipelago in four years if steps were not rapidly taken to control sea lice infestations. Advocates for B.C.'s aquaculture industry have long argued that farming salmon protects wild stocks by reducing commercial fishing pressure, and that sea lice associated with net pen aquaculture are not detrimental to migrating salmon smolts.

 The new paper seems certain to trigger a new storm of controversy. It comes just as the salmon forum -- established by Premier Gordon Campbell to oversee research to determine whether fish farms are a threat to wild salmon and steelhead stocks -- releases an interim report that claims: "In the context of the 2007 interim research results it does not appear that the natural stocks of pink salmon in the Broughton would be subjected to mass extinctions within four generations as predicted by the recent study by Martin Krkosek."

 Furthermore, a paper soon to be published in Reviews in Fisheries Science by Kenneth Brooks, a scientist who does research for aquaculture clients, challenges Krkosek's methodology and conclusions.

 However, a communique released last week by John Fraser, the former speaker of the House of Commons who chairs the salmon forum, appears to suggest that the paper by Krkosek and Morton has scientific merit.

 It said that in a recent meeting to discuss their paper: "There was general acknowledgement that . . . sea lice infestations between 2001 and 2005 likely contributed to depressed productivity of pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago. There was general agreement that the paper's predictions regarding extinction are dependent on future management regimes."

 Now, there's an opening for the provincial government. If closed containment isn't yet an economically viable option for fish farms, allowing them to put wild salmon stocks worth more than a billion dollars a year at risk isn't viable, either.

 Perhaps prudent "future management" might consider either fallowing all farms on migration routes while immature wild fish are present, or relocating farms away from sensitive estuaries and migration routes. – Vancouver Sun

Cook Inlet sockeye topic of hot meeting

Proposal 83, which would extend the commercial season for sockeye off the Kenai Peninsula, remained the hot issue at Sunday's meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries in Anchorage.

 Board members passed the proposal by a 5-1 vote with one board member, Larry Edfelt, excused due to illness.

 The goal of proposal 83 is to address the surplus of sockeye salmon seen in recent years by extending the commercial season from Aug. 10 to Aug. 15. Runs are expected to be one or two days late, but in 2006, the sockeye run was nine days late.

 "It is a pattern that's developed," said board member Mel Morris. "We're getting later runs and a big percentage of the fish are coming through late."

 Drift netters currently have four periods during that week to fish for pink salmon, a fish with less economic value than other salmon types, in a designated area of the Central District. The proposal replaced these four periods with two periods of fishing throughout the entire district in 2008 and one period in 2009 and 2010.

 "My overarching concern is trying to get the over escapements down and this would give the (Department of Fish and Game) a couple more tools ... to try to keep the over escapement in check," said board member John Jensen.

 Sport fishers tend to disagree with the board ruling, believing that the additional days that commercial fishers are allowed to spend in the entire inlet will effect coho salmon populations in the northern district, which includes the Susitna River, as well on the west side of the central district, which includes the Kasilof and Kenai rivers.

 The west side has a major economic draw due to sport fishermen who fly to that side of the inlet to catch coho salmon in those streams.

 "We should be very careful about what we do to impact the coho populations," said Howard Delo, the only board member to vote 'no' on the proposal.

 In addition to 83, the board passed eight proposals on Sunday, including:

* Proposal 98, restricts drift gillnet use in the Cook Inlet's upper subdistrict;

* Proposal 102, allowing the use of single-strand gillnet gear in place of multi-strand gear;

* Proposal 107, allowing up to 200 fathoms of drift gillnet gear and allowing joint ventures;

* Proposal 331, closing Alexander Creek to king salmon fishing;

* Proposal 348, extending the waters open to king fishing near Eklutna Tailrace with some substitute language;

* Proposal 350, establishing a spawning closure and decreasing the bag limit for burbot in Big Lake from five to two per day;

* Proposal 354, allowing up to five lines when ice fishing for northern pike in Northern Cook Inlet; and

* Proposal 358, opening a personal use salmon fishery in the Beluga area.

The board is expected to complete decisions on proposals dealing with Kenai and Kasilof salmon sport fisheries as well as those that concern Northern District salmon management plans. – Kenai Peninsula Clarion

Alaska governor talked about as VP candidate

Because he is not the first choice of the conservative base, and enthusiasm for his candidacy is, to say the least, weak, presumptive GOP nominee John McCain should use the occasion of choosing his running mate to show us he cares.

 Instead of the verbal bouquets he’s begun tossing, the ideal Valentine should be something more solid — like picking a real conservative to round out his ticket. In the interests of balance, his running mate should not only be a staunch conservative: he or she should be younger; be more ideas-driven; boast an executive record; and — ideally — have the capacity to carry a major swing state or region. This year, race and gender could also be factors to consider.

I asked readers to suggest “a rising star who is likely to be a good vote-getter, a solid conservative, and also good at the policy areas (at least a few of the central ones, like the economy) where McCain is weak.”

 I also urged that “it has to be a governor with some talent, charisma, and regional respect.” On second thought, it doesn’t have to be a governor — though they do get extra points.

 Among the names floated was that of the governor of Alaska:

 Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, who came to office in the wake of Alaska’s GOP financial-corruption issues, is certainly an intriguing option, and a potential GOP star. While Corner readers perceive her as a dark horse, she got as many votes as Mark Sanford, nevertheless. The “youthful, attractive, conservative, smart, and tough” 44-year-old is thought capable of “neutralizing Hillary.” In office, she has been a strong budget-cutter, and, like Sanford, is described as an economic libertarian. She is a member of “Feminists for Life,” and opposes gay marriage — but has been sensitive on other gay issues, including partner benefits. Palin’s husband is a commercial fisherman, they have four children, the eldest of whom recently joined the army. In addition, she was a former Miss Alaska. — Lisa Schiffren is a writer living in New York, writing in National Review Online


Friday, February 15, 2008

Bill in Congress would create health insurance for fishermen

Massachusetts congressmen have introduced a bill that would offer affordable health care coverage to the nation's commercial fishermen and their families.

 The bill, known as the Commercial Fishing Industry Health Care Coverage Act of 2008, is modeled on the success of the Fishing Partnership Health Plan, a Massachusetts program that provides low-cost coverage to more than 2,000 fishermen and family members who previously were uninsured or chronically underinsured.

 If approved, the bill would authorize $50 million over five years in planning, implementation and continuation grants to start similar programs in coastal states that have commercial fishing industries.

 The Massachusetts plan would qualify to receive up to $3 million annually in continuation grants if poor economic conditions or depleted fish stocks threaten to end the program.

 "The funding would allow fishermen from around the country to do what we did here in Massachusetts in the 1990s," said J.J. Bartlett, president of the Fishing Partnership Health Plan.

 The plan, which was launched on Dec. 1, 1997, is the first in the nation to group fishing families together, Mr. Bartlett said. By forming a larger risk pool, the plan is able to offer a market-competitive rate that is partly subsidized by state and federal grants, he said.

 Individuals who make 50 percent or more of their income from the Massachusetts fishing industry are eligible to apply.

 In the 10 years the program has been in place, the rate of uninsured fishermen in Massachusetts has dropped from 43 percent to 13 percent.

 Fishing families are three to four times as likely to be uninsured as the average U.S. citizen, Mr. Bartlett said. Health coverage is inaccessible to many fishing families due to declining income, the high-risk nature of the job and the small-business environment.

 Massachusetts Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, and Reps. Barney Frank, John Tierney and William Delahunt introduced the bipartisan legislation Wednesday.

 The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., Rep. Don Young, R-Ark, Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, and Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md.

 In a statement, Sen. Kennedy called the Fishing Partnership Plan a "proven success in covering the state's fishermen. ... This bill will enable fishermen in other states to get good coverage as well."

 "Fishing is one of the most dangerous and hazardous occupations in the country," Rep. Delahunt said in a statement.

 "It is important that the federal government help provide affordable health care coverage for all our fishermen. I am proud to support this legislation, which will not only help sustain health care access for our fishermen but weather these very difficult economic times for the industry."

 A proposed health care program for fishermen failed to make it into the final version of the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act passed by Congress in late 2006.

 "When that didn't happen, this health care proposal became one of the key unfinished items on the fishing agenda," Rep. Frank said in a statement. "I appreciate the key role that Sen. Kennedy has taken on this bill, and I look forward to working with him and the other supporters of the bill from both parties in pushing for its passage." -- The Standard Times, New Bedford, Mass.

Alaska Fish Board: Small changes to help fleet

ANCHORAGE – The state Board of Fisheries has loosened several restrictions on Cook Inlet's commercial fishermen, saying biologists need more flexibility in managing the region's salmon runs.

 The fish board ended a 12-day meeting in Anchorage Tuesday, making small changes viewed favorably by commercial netters. These included addition of some late-season fishing time and a slight de-emphasis of the non-fishing "windows" set to bring salmon into rivers.

 Sport fishing advocates objected to the changes, saying they'd hoped to see the board move the other direction, reducing commercial nets further to allow the passage of more salmon -- especially silvers bound for Mat-Su streams in the region's northern district.

 "They've liberalized commercial fishing quite a bit in these meetings, and they haven't done anything to address the northern district problem," said Pat Donelson, a sport fishing guide from Wasilla.

 But board chairman Mel Morris said the panel was merely trying to restore some management flexibility removed during the past decade, as the pendulum swung toward sport fishing in the perennial fight over allocation. Recent management of big runs into the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers was hampered because biologists couldn't respond quickly, he said.

 Morris said it was "almost unconscionable" when rigid rules in 2006 kept nets out of the water as 1.5 million red salmon from a 2.5-million run poured up the Kenai River. The result denied permit-holders half a million fish and overloaded the river system with juvenile fry, possibly hurting future runs, he said.

 "Their hands were tied," Morris said. "They couldn't do anything before the fish were up."

 The fish board meets every third year on Cook Inlet issues, and the meetings are always controversial, as a long-established commercial fishery clashes with growing numbers of sport anglers, guides, and personal-use dipnetters. State fishery managers focus their attention on the big Kenai and Kasilof River sockeye runs, while trying to minimize the commercial catch of kings and silvers.

 The board addressed some Mat-Su concerns this week by declaring the red run into the Yentna and Susitna Rivers a "stock of yield concern." Run strength into the river has often failed to reach minimum targets, though biologists said this week that in-river sonar counters have underestimated the red runs.

 The Mat-Su Borough, the city of Wasilla and the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce all passed resolutions recently calling for the Yentna reds to be declared a stock of concern.

 The board's new declaration of concern includes an "action plan" calling for more research on the runs. But Donelson, the Wasilla guide, dismissed the board's effort as an "inaction plan" because it did not call for substantive new restrictions on fishing to protect the runs. In fact, the plan would allow northern district setnetters more opportunity to fish, with shortened nets. Those setnetters have had little if any fishing time in recent years because of worries about weak runs.

 Sportfishermen want the state's research to focus on genetic sampling of salmon as they enter the inlet, on the theory that commercial nets can be moved out of the way if northern district salmon are detected.

 The board also extended the drift boat fishery in upper Cook Inlet, giving fishermen the chance to fish one or two periods between Aug. 11 and 15. Historical catch totals suggest the extra harvest will mostly be Kenai reds in years when the run shows up late, state biologists said.

 Sportfishermen disagreed, predicting the later fishing will intercept thousands of silver salmon headed north. But state biologists said any silvers caught in that fishery will be headed to Turnagain Arm, the Kenai River and western Cook Inlet -- not the Mat-Su.

 The board also clarified its position on mandatory non-fishing windows, which were imposed in the past decade to ensure that pulses of salmon enter rivers for weekend angling and dipnetting.

 The windows remain part of the management plan, but the board said its top priority is meeting in-river spawning goals. Fishery managers were told they can ignore the windows when huge runs would exceed spawning goals.

 Ricky Gease, executive director of the Kenai River Sport fishing Association, said the policy calls for skipping windows as a dire last resort. He said his group will trust commercial fish biologists not to abuse it.

 "The board is asking us to trust, and in three years we'll come back and verify if the intent was met," Gease said.

 The board's latest changes mostly move the fishery a little way back to what it once was, said Roland Maw, executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association.

"The plans needed some flexibility put in them," he said. "It's a good start." – Anchorage Daily News

Fishing fleet to attract tourists

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Port of New Bedford Director Kristin Decas unveiled plans Wednesday to reconnect residents and tourists with the city's working waterfront by improving access, going after new economic opportunities and offering new attractions, such as a weekend public fish market on a pier.

 Ms. Decas acknowledged there are hurdles to overcome before all the plans come to fruition, and she said everything must be done in the context of maintaining a "working waterfront" that is a commercial fishing port. But within those parameters, she said New Bedford Harbor has the potential to be a major regional draw for residents and visitors similar to the high visibility harbors in Seattle and Baltimore.

 Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce at the Country Club of New Bedford in Dartmouth, Ms. Decas said she and others in Mayor Scott W. Lang's administration are focused on new ways to tap the harbor and waterfront's potential.

 Some things under consideration, she said, include bringing in more coastal freighters, increasing ferry service, adding to recreational boating facilities and making the harbor a recreation and tourism destination.

 "You want people to take pride in a working waterfront, not be segregated from it," Ms. Decas said in an interview after her presentation.

 The harbor already is a major economic force on the SouthCoast, according to Ms. Decas.

 It provides employment to 2,700 people, handles 60 million tons of fish a year, receives freight from inside and outside the United States, serves more than two-dozen cruise ships a year, has eight marinas serving recreational boaters and serves as a base for ferry service used by more than 100,000 passengers a year.

 Ms. Decas said there are multiple studies under way to understand how to best utilize the harbor. She stressed the first priority is to maintain New Bedford's standing as the number one port in the United States based on the dollar value of fish catch landed. The value last year exceeded $280 million. -- The Standard Times, New Bedford, Mass.

One plan to fertilize the ocean shot down

Planktos, the California company trying to turn a profit by fertilizing the ocean with iron dust, pulled the plug on planned field tests on Wednesday, citing a lack of funds. At the company’s Web site,, a simple notice blamed the shutdown on a “highly effective disinformation campaign waged by anti-offset crusaders.”

 The business plan had been to sell “carbon offset” credits earned by triggering blooms of phytoplankton that, in theory, would absorb a predictable amount of the climate-warming gas carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and then sink to the seabed. The credits would be sold to companies or individuals trying to compensate for unavoidable emissions of carbon dioxide (from driving, flying, and the like).

 Plankton blooms happen naturally when dust containing iron settles on ocean waters where a lack of iron otherwise prevents plankton from thriving. Huge blooms have resulted after dust from the Sahara Desert blows over the Atlantic, for example.

 But efforts to replicate the process artificially have met with strong opposition from environmental groups. These include Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which for years has confronted, and sometimes rammed, whaling and fishing vessels. Sea Shepherd had threatened to block a fertilization effort by Planktos last summer near the Galapagos Islands, forcing it to change plans.

 A number of marine and climate scientists have also opposed commercial fertilization efforts, for various reasons. In a “joint policy statement” published in the journal Science last month, a group of researchers from around the world said trade in carbon credits earned this way was premature “unless research provides the scientific foundation to evaluate risks and benefits.”

 Company officials have said that was precisely the purpose of this latest cruise of their vessel, the Weatherbird II, which has been stuck in port on the Portuguese island of Madeira after months of revised plans and failed efforts to attract more investors. Financial troubles had been mounting for months.

 On Wednesday, the company said it had called back the vessel and its crew. – New York Times

Alaska governor talked about as VP candidate

Fort Bragg fishermen form committee about wave energy
A broad array of commercial and recreational fishing associations in Noyo Harbor announced that it would be joining with major stakeholders to monitor and comment on wave energy proceedings off the Mendocino coast. The ad hoc committee, known as Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics, or the "FISH Committee," has filed a motion to intervene with Pacific Gas & Electric's pilot project application for a 40 megawatt wave energy facility located in a 68 square mile area directly in front of Noyo Harbor on the Mendocino Coast.

The FISH Committee, a coalition of various organizations who have a major stake in marine resources off the Mendocino coast, has decided to join for the express purpose of gaining the position of a major stakeholder with the permitting and licensing process conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The FISH committee will represent the fishing industry as relates to any research, siting of equipment, testing, or energy production, off the Mendocino Coast.

On the same day they filed a Motion to Intervene in PG&E's proposed wave energy project off Fort Bragg, fishing representatives testified at a meeting of the Fort Bragg city council about their intention to work with city staff and Mendocino County, as well as PG&E and other companies who have applied for projects on the north coast. By intervening in PG&E's application, the FISH Committee established its status as a stakeholder group and improved its legal standing in the wave energy process.

The committee is composed of representatives of the Salmon Trollers Marketing Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, North Coast Fishing Association, California Sea Urchin Harvesters Commission, Caito's Fisheries, nutritional kelp harvesters, Sonoma County Abalone Network and the Fishermen’s Marketing Association. Additional organizations and fishing-related businesses may be invited to join in this oversight committee at a later time. – Jim Martin, Fish Committee acting coordinator– (707) 357-3422 or John Innes – (707) 937-1333