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Summary for February 16, 2009 - February 20, 2009:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bristol Bay processors say they can handle 2009 catch

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has just released its Bristol Bay sockeye processor capacity survey for the upcoming season.

As usual, the packers are telling the state they can handle the full forecasted commercial catch of 24 million fish. And then some. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Judd Gregg says no to nomination, enviros pleased

“Food & Water Watch and the Institute for Fisheries Resources are pleased by Senator Judd Gregg’s withdrawal as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce nominee. Our organizations, along with recreational and commercial fishermen, conservation groups and many others, were concerned about Senator Gregg’s strong support of ocean fish farming.” – Press release

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Letter: Happy that cops busted gillnetters

Kudos to the Oregon State Police wildlife officers for their investigation of commercial gill-net violations on the Columbia River that lead to the Feb. 5 report, "Gill-netting brothers pay $150,000 in fines." These types of violations happen on the Columbia by unscrupulous gill netters during the spring Chinook gillnet fishery. – Tom Effinger of Ridgefield, writing to the editor of The Vancouver Columbian

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California thirst killing killer whales?

California's thirst is helping drive an endangered population of West Coast killer whales toward extinction, federal biologists have concluded. – San Jose Mercury News

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More Exxon Valdez money released

Federal Judge H. Russel Holland has ordered more payments to commercial fishermen and other claimants in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case.

This will be the second payout of punitive damages from the case. Lawyers overseeing the money asked for the distribution last month.

-- Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Putin seeks ban on drift gillnets

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proposed outlawing fishing with drift nets, otherwise known as “walls of death,” following a lengthy campaign by fishermen and politicians in Kamchatka as well as local organizations including WWF-Russia. – World Wildlife Fund

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Officials hunt for sea lion shooters

Marine animal rescue workers asked for help to track down those responsible for a spate of sea lion shootings along the Los Angeles County coastline.

At least five sea lions have been found with bullet wounds at area beaches since December
Los Angeles Times

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Fishermen object to Oregon gov’s decision

Gov. Ted Kulongoski's decision to remove member of the Pacific Fishery Management Council member has drawn criticism from some commercial fishermen, who worry a replacement will be someone who supports anti-fishing policies.

Retired charter fisherman Frank Warrens' second consecutive term on the council ends this year. He wrote to the governor in December asking to be nominated to serve a third term, the maximum consecutive number any one can sit on the council.

Kulongoski, however, notified Warrens last month that he was ready for change. The governor will nominate three people for the spot, and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce will choose among them.
The Oregonian

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Columbia mainstem fishing ban before Legislature

Officials with a coalition of fishing groups — with the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association at the top — announced that two bills have been introduced to get commercial Chinook salmon gillnetters off the Columbia River. – Salem Statesman Journal

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Opinion: Fishing important to all

Some environmental problems are abstract, affecting places far away and species rarely seen. Others are as close as our supper plates. … The crash of salmon in California affects us all. ...

These are not just trophy and sport fish. They form the backbone of California ecosystems, tribal cultures, local economies, a commercial fishing industry and a once-plentiful, wonderful food. – State Senator Patricia Wiggins (D - Santa Rosa) chairwoman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries & Aquaculture, writing in the Eureka Times-Standard

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bad news for 2009 Sacramento Chinook

The smallest number of Pacific Ocean salmon ever recorded swam back to the Sacramento River via San Francisco Bay last fall, the latest evidence of the decline of the storied fish along the West Coast, officials said Wednesday.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, a federal body that regulates commercial and sport fishing, estimated that only 66,286 adult salmon returned to the Sacramento River to spawn. Six years ago, the peak return was 13 times higher.

In 2007, only 87,881 of the fish returned to spawn in the river, falling far short of the agency's goal of 122,000 to 180,000 fish.

The latest count comes as officials consider imposing fishing restrictions off California's coast again this summer. – San Francisco Chronicle

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Alaska Legislature update

We’re a third of the way through this year’s 90-day Alaska legislative session, and lawmakers are nibbling on a few fish-related items. – Pacific Fishing columnist, writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Editorial: Columbia sport fishing plan promising

The long dispute between gill-netters and sport fishermen over Columbia River salmon and steelhead has led to nothing but bitterness and ever more pressure on threatened fish.

The issue of how to divide the catch on the Columbia has even paralyzed fishing regulations on the river by pitting the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission against its counterpart in Washington.

Now sport fishermen have offered a promising proposal: Confine gillnetting to bays and side channels, and use hatchery fish to seed those areas. – The Oregonian

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Canadian sport fishermen worry over halibut cut

UCLUELET — Recreational fishermen on the West Coast are concerned about the impact management plans will have on the halibut fishery this year.

Recently, the Pacific Halibut Commission announced the halibut allocation for 2009. Commercial fishermen received 6,711,640 pounds, or 88 per cent, and recreational fishermen received 981,360 pounds, or 12 per cent. – Westcoaster, Tofino, B.C.

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Navy extends comment period again

The U.S. Navy is extending the public comment period for plans to double its training area offshore of Oregon, Washington and California.

The deadline for comments on the Northwest Training Range Complex Environmental Impact Statement / Overseas Environmental Impact Statement now is March 11. – Coos Bay World

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Here’s what you may be missing

In our March issue of Pacific Fishing magazine: West Coast Dungeness update, recession may drive up vessel insurance rates, the best icemaker for Bristol Bay, an in-depth examination of new halibut catch limits, gloom for West Coast trollers, herring prolific in San Francisco Bay, warning over seal decline in the Pribilofs, price of cod, smoking ban in Dutch, marine reserves in Oregon, B.C. and U.S. albacore working for MSC certification, ice hampers Bering Sea fleet, Prince William Sound herring hatchery, and more on geoduck farms.

There’s more.

Click here to subscribe to the best fishing publication in the North Pacific


Should Washington have a Fish and Wildlife Commission?

The Washington state Fish and Wildlife Commission is meeting with Gov. Chris Gregoire in late February or early March with a wide array of topics up for discussion — including the continued existence of the commission itself. – Vancouver Columbian

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Villages seek disaster help after poor fishing

Leaders from two lower Yukon River villages that asked the governor to declare an economic disaster after getting walloped by poor commercial fishing and $8-gallon fuel said the state has provided some help, but not enough.

State officials continue to say that such a declaration isn’t off the table. – Seward Phoenix Log

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Former Astoria port director pleads guilty

The former director of the Port of Astoria pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to allowing potentially contaminated dredging material to spill into the Columbia River, a violation of the port's permit.

The conviction in U.S. District Court in Portland, stemming from a 2005 violation, is a rare example of a public official being charged with an environmental crime. – The Oregonian

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Retired Oregon fish cops have say

One of the nice things about retirement is the freedom to speak your mind perhaps a little more often than you otherwise might.

Here is an open letter to fish and wildlife commissions in Oregon and Washington, drafted by three retired and well-respected fish and wildlife officers who have watched the Columbia River's sport and commercial fishers most of their careers and know the ins and outs of what happens on the river. – Bill Monroe, writing in The Oregonian

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