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Summary for July 21 - July 25, 2008:
Monday, July 21, 2008

Upper Cook Inlet getting fish

The upper inlet is seeing healthy returns of fish, with some limits placed on stocks headed for the Susitna and Kenai.

Fishermen in the Northern District of the upper inlet were reduced to one net per permit. The reduction is called for in the management plan because the Board of Fisheries has determined the Susitna reds to be a stock of “yield concerns.”

Fishing on Kenai-bound stocks was restricted to areas 1 and 2 as part of a predetermined plan to ensure sufficient return to the river. In one day alone (last Wednesday) biologists counted 68,000 reds moving up the Kenai.

North B.C. crab season open

PRINCE RUPERT-- Despite great uncertainty about the future of the Area "A" Crab fishery, the fleet began setting their gear last week.

All 53 licenced vessels were hoping to fill their holds with sweet Dungeness crab from Hecate Strait, before returning to Prince Rupert and Massett.

The North Coast commercial fishery provides significant economic stimulus to both Prince Rupert, the Queen Charlotte Islands and surrounding region, contributing approximately $25 million annually to the local economy before any spin-offs are taken into account.

However, the gross revenue of individual vessels is, for the most part a closely guarded secret.
And since there is no way to accurately predict Dungeness crab biomass in the area, crews start each year with their fingers crossed in the hope of having their best season yet.

Many people are familiar with the Discovery Channel program Deadliest Catch, which profiles five Alaskan king crab vessels fishing the deadly Bering Sea. While the show documents the dangers those crabbers face, it also highlights the relatively large amounts of money crew members walk away with after several weeks work.

But, Area "A" Crab Association Executive Director Geoff Gould is quick to point out the difference between local crabbers in Hecate Strait and the crew of vessels like Time Bandit in the Bering Sea.

"It is a grind and it's hard work. We've certainly had one year in the last 10 that was a total bunker year where everybody does make a lot of money, deckhands make $50,000 and everybody is really excited," said Crab Association Executive Director Geoff Gould.

"But then you get the average years where it's a real grind a lot of hard work. And then you've got the gear, which is about $250 for a crab line and buoy. They're working at least 500 or 600 of those, and each boat has invested about $200,000 in gear. So it's not just a 'Go out there and rake in the money' kind of show. It's a big investment, there's a lot of gear losses and big expenses to it."

Combined with the uncertainty of crab numbers each season is the fact that under the current provincial management plan, every three years crab license holders have the option of re-selecting their licenses to any one of British Columbia's seven crab management areas.

The last re-selection year in 2006 saw the addition of 15 licences to Area "A," which meant a 15 per cent reduction in gear allowance for each vessel in the North Coast fleet in order to make room for the new vessels. With the 2009 season being another re-selection year, the Area "A" Crab Association is concerned that even more vessels will choose Area "A," as the southern areas become depleted, causing a further reduction in vessel production of current licence holders in the area. – Prince Rupert Daily News

Bella Coola River Chinook return OK

While the number of Chinook or spring salmon returning to the Bella Coola River system this year is much less than some of the big runs in recent years, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the escapement of Chinooks should be enough to provide sufficient brood stock for Snootli Hatchery and the Atnarko River.

“The returns this year should meet the lower end of our required escapement,” says salmon resource manager for the Central Coast, Dan Wagner.

He describes this year’s return of Chinook salmon to the Bella Coola system as modest, but he says early returns to rivers of the South Coast are significantly less.

“Coast-wide it is a slow year for Chinooks. There was a coast-wide phenomena that affected salmon that went to sea in 2005.”

He says some Chinook runs are showing the effects of ocean conditions that year. “Particularly the more southerly, early fish.”

He says the Bella Coola River system also suffered floods in 2005 that impacted the survival of salmon fry that year. – Williams Lake Tribune

Feed costs driving fish farmers out of business

LELAND, Miss. — Catfish farmers across the South, unable to cope with the soaring cost of corn and soybean feed, are draining their ponds.

“It’s a dead business,” said John Dillard, who pioneered the commercial farming of catfish in the late 1960s. Last year Dillard & Company raised 11 million fish. Next year it will raise none. People can eat imported fish, Mr. Dillard said, just as they use imported oil.

As for his 55 employees? “Those jobs are gone.”

Corn and soybeans have nearly tripled in price in the last two years, for many reasons: harvest shortfalls, increasing demand by the Asian middle class, government mandates for corn to produce ethanol and, most recently, the flooding in the Midwest. – New York Times

Fish consumption down slightly

Americans are eating slightly less seafood, despite continuing reports of its health benefits.

Seafood consumption totaled 4.908 billion pounds in 2007, down from 4.944 billion a year earlier, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.

That translates to 16.3 pounds of fish and shellfish per person, down from 16.5 pounds, the agency said.

Americans' favorite seafood remains shrimp at 4.1 pounds per person, down 0.3 pounds from 2006. Canned seafood, mainly tuna, held steady at 3.9 pounds per person.

Overall the United States imports about 84 percent of its seafood, a steadily increasing proportion. Imports accounted for only 63 percent of U.S. seafood just a decade ago. – NOAA

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ruling could help Sacramento fish

A federal judge has concluded that California's water operations are driving some salmon runs toward extinction — but he declined to intervene.

The order by U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger in Fresno contained both good news and bad news for environmentalists and commercial salmon fishing advocates, representatives of those groups said.

Although they did not win immediate measures to protect the fish, the judge's conclusions mean regulators will be forced to impose more protective conditions when they issue a new permit in March, lawyers said.

At issue is how water is stored in Northern California and delivered through the Delta to parts of the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Those operations have taken a severe toll on several fish populations.
Environmentalists and fishers sought more cold water for Sacramento River salmon, minimum flows on Clear Creek and opening a diversion dam at Red Bluff.

The judge denied those requests but scheduled a hearing to chart a course for other requests, if environmentalists decide to pursue them. – San Jose Mercury News


Lower B.C. crabbers look south

The 2008 commercial crabbing season opened with nary a hitch last week.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Barry Zunti said it was a smooth launch of Crescent Beach’s 22-boat fleet, as operators set out to place a combined 33,806 traps in Boundary Bay – 173 per boat.
In recent years, the biggest issue with the commercial fishery has been cross-border fishing, particularly as the season progresses. The activity promises significant economic benefit, as the crabs migrate from the south. Those setting traps closest to the international boundary – or sneaking even a few feet across it – stand to score the greatest bounty.

And while those caught will face hefty penalties, Zunti said for some, it’s simply a cost of doing business.

“They have an economic benefit over our legitimate fishermen,” Zunti said. “They will catch, sometimes, twice as many crabs.” – Peace Arch News


Fuel blues? Hoist a sail

Commercial fishermen are reverting to wind power in response to soaring fuel prices, as skippers rig their boats with auxiliary sails to cut the amount of diesel they use.

The move comes as a new generation of vessels is being developed that will rely almost exclusively on sails.

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said a number of skippers were now using sail power to help them travel the long distances between port and their fishing grounds.

"Skippers are putting on foresails while steaming to fishing grounds offshore," he said.

Auxiliary sails were once commonly used by fishermen to pick up extra speed, but they died out in the 1980s as engines became more powerful.

At the wheel of his boat, the 36-foot Sardia Louise, Roly Kirby, a fisherman from Helford River, Cornwall, said he had saved up to a fifth of his weekly fuel bill since fitting a sail to the 20-foot mast. He uses the sail while steaming to and from fishing grounds up to 20 miles from his home port, where he fishes for monkfish.

"We are steaming for about three hours out and three hours back every day, but with the sail, we can cut the revolutions back on the engine from about 1,300 to 900 and still make the same speed," he said.

Mr Kirby, 33, steamed along the sheltered Helford River while crewmate Perry Roger, 28, tied a spinnaker sail to a mast at the bow. Once out into Falmouth Bay, the potent northwesterly filled the sail and the throttle was eased back to save on fuel as the Sardia Louise stormed towards the Lizard.

Although the use of sail is currently limited to small and medium-sized boats, there are plans to harness the power of the wind for Britain's biggest and most powerful fishing boats, such as beam trawlers, which use up to £12,000-worth of fuel a week.

A German company is developing a system that would allow larger trawlers to be powered by a computer-controlled kite flying off their bows. The technology is already used on two cargo ships and can provide up to 35 per cent of their power.

In a separate development, an Essex boatyard is developing a new generation of sailing vessels for fishermen. Gemini Workboats in Colchester has designed a 30-foot catamaran which uses its small, 14-horsepower engine only to enter and leave harbour and in emergencies. Boats of a similar size would normally require an engine of about 200 horsepower and would use around £600 of fuel during a week's fishing.– The Telegraph, UK


Canadian trollers feel betrayed

UCLUELET, B.C. - To Doug Kimoto, there's a hint of deja vu about the way trollers are being shoved out of business.

His was among the Japanese-Canadian fishing families sent packing during the Second World War. And now Ottawa, with its broken promises, red tape, never-ending fishery closures and a U.S.-Canada salmon deal that feels like a stab in the back, is doing it all over again, he says.

"To me it's nothing to do with conservation; it's expropriation," says Kimoto, standing at the wheel of the boat that his father bought new 58 years ago. "The troll fleet is basically getting sold out, eh?"

On the west coast of Vancouver Island, just 160 trollers remain tied up in places like Ucluelet and Bamfield and Zeballos. The fleet is less than a tenth the size it was 20 years ago.

Fishermen say the rest will disappear, too, if Canada and the U.S. ratify a salmon agreement that would cut the commercial Chinook catch off the Island's outer coast by close to half. Trollers would take the entire hit; the recreational fishery would be unaffected.

Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a different take. American negotiators on the Pacific Salmon Commission, driven by endangered-species legislation that requires them to take action, were adamant that Canada reduce that particular Chinook catch, three-quarters of which comes from beleaguered U.S. rivers. So Canadian negotiators got the Alaskans to forgo a similar number of Chinook that spawn in rivers like the Cowichan and Fraser. – Times-Colonist, Victoria


Exxon lawsuit ruling topic of Senate hearing

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has set a committee hearing for Wednesday to look at how recent decisions by the Supreme Court have shielded corporations engaged in misconduct.

The hearing follows an examination by the Senate panel last month of how the Supreme Court’s recently concluded term favored big business over protecting the rights of individuals relating to health care, retirement, financial services, and employment issues.

Recent Supreme Court decisions, including the decision in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, have highlighted a shift on the court shielding corporations from accountability for their actions.

Such decisions have hindered the rights of Americans to receive damages for harm done at the hands of large corporations. The decisions have not only allowed some corporations to evade justice but have provided pro-business shields to some of the nation’s largest corporations, thereby stripping meaningful incentives for good business practices in all corporations.

The July 23 hearing is expected to feature a witness who will testify about the lasting effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska on the livelihoods of hundreds of fishermen and sailors, as well as witnesses who will testify about how the January Supreme Court ruling in Stoneridge Investment Partners, LLC v. Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. impacts senior citizens, and the widespread effects of Supreme Court rulings in the area of binding mandatory arbitration. – Press release


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

After fire, Chignik picks up pieces of salmon season

The destruction of Chignik Bay's lone fish processing plant, which went up in flames Monday, threatened to paralyze what is already a dismal salmon season.

But even before the ashes from the massive fire that tore through the Trident Seafoods Corp. plant in Chignik Bay had finished smoldering Tuesday, operations to keep the community's salmon fishery alive were in full swing.

Tender vessels were beginning to haul local catches more than 100 miles to another plant in Sand Point, and a floating processing vessel, the Aleutian Falcon, was on its way to help with the load.

"It's not going to cripple the fishery," Axel Kopun, president of the Chignik Seafood Producers Alliance, said of the fire that burned the plant in the Alaska Peninsula community that employed hundreds.

But the loss will present some challenges to the fishery and town, he said.

The fire broke out Monday afternoon in a power house, then swelled to envelop the attached cannery. Plant workers and locals fought the flames and smoke for about two hours before pulling back and evacuating a half-mile area because of safety concerns. The fire, burning unchecked, destroyed the cannery but spared surrounding structures, tribal administrator Debbie Carlson said. – Anchorage Daily News

Editorial: Bush harms fish management success

Just when there are some bright spots in U.S. fisheries policies, the Bush administration has decided to propose a drastic overhaul of environmental procedures. It's an astonishingly wide change, recklessly endangering the considerable progress made in many ways under President Bush.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed a new environmental review process for fish management decisions. In the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Congress directed the service to update its procedures for complying with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The public can comment on the proposal at a meeting here at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center.

Conservation, fishing and environmental groups fear the update is dangerous. Little wonder. Regional fisheries management councils would assume new environmental authority, even though the councils continue to have members with commercial fishing interests. The public comment period for many decisions would be cut from 45 days to 14 days, something the Marine Fish Conservation Network says could be a particular problem for public input. . Some decisions would face little review.

In the West, particularly off Alaska, stricter adherence to science has helped fish stocks recover. In the new law worked out with Congress, fisheries councils received stronger direction on using science. NMFS recently issued a rule on overfishing that received praise from environmental groups. Bush has personally addressed some ocean issues, including in the Pacific. Such progress in the face of many fisheries crises worldwide are all reasons to keep a steady course and have NMFS start over on a more modest update. – Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Solution to ocean acidification: Lime?

Scientists say they have found a workable way of reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere by adding lime to seawater. And they think it has the potential to dramatically reverse CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere, reports Cath O'Driscoll in Chemistry & Industry magazine.

Shell is so impressed with the new approach that it is funding an investigation into its economic feasibility. “We think it's a promising idea,” says Shell's Gilles Bertherin, a coordinator on the project. 'There are potentially huge environmental benefits from addressing climate change -- and adding calcium hydroxide to seawater will also mitigate the effects of ocean acidification, so it should have a positive impact on the marine environment.”

Adding lime to seawater increases alkalinity, boosting seawater's ability to absorb CO2 from air and reducing the tendency to release it back again.

However, the idea, which has been bandied about for years, was thought unworkable because of the expense of obtaining lime from limestone and the amount of CO2 released in the process.

Tim Kruger, a management consultant at London firm Corven is the brains behind the plan to resurrect the lime process. He argues that it could be made workable by locating it in regions that have a combination of low-cost “stranded” energy considered too remote to be economically viable to exploit -- like flared natural gas or solar energy in deserts -- and that are rich in limestone, making it feasible for calcination to take place on site. – Science Daily

State fish bureaucrat moves to Pebble Mine campaign

ANCHORAGE -- A partnership pushing development of a huge copper and gold mine near some of the world's best wild salmon and trout streams has hired away a top state official.

The Pebble Partnership announced that Ken Taylor, a deputy commissioner at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is going to work for them. Taylor will be the partnership's vice president for the environment. He begins his new job Aug. 1.

The Pebble Mine is a world-class copper and gold deposit located near the headwaters of Bristol Bay about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. It is situated near the most productive wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world. The area also is known for its superb trout fishing and high-end fishing lodges. – Juneau Empire

Vice President Sarah Palin?

She eats moose burgers and rides snowmobiles, and she’s even admitted to smoking pot when it was legal in Alaska, but says that she did not like it.  She plays the flute.  She’s conservative.  She’s pro-life, a lifetime member of the NRA, and she’s cut spending while in office, standing up to some pretty significant opposition.

We’re talking about Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the first woman and the youngest person to ever hold the office.

If McCain wants to make a bold choice and pick someone who will make a difference on election day he should consider Alaska’s governor Palin. -- Conservative Pulse, Florida


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Pebble Battle: Advertising

Alaskans are being deluged with TV, print and radio ads asking them to vote for or against Ballot Measure 4, which seeks voter approval for more water quality regulations for large mines – a huge hurdle for the people behind the Pebble Mine.

The two factions in the ad war -- the state's mining industry and foes of the controversial Pebble copper and gold project in Southwest Alaska -- are also reaching out to Alaska voters by snail mail. In recent weeks, the groups have mailed large brochures asking voters to fill out surveys on mining, and absentee ballot applications so they can vote early.

There's even a pro-mining movie playing on local cable stations and the Internet.

The huge amount of advertising on the proposed law, set for statewide vote on Aug. 26, is creating one of the state's costliest political battles in years.

Preliminary disclosures to the Alaska Public Offices Commission show that supporters and foes of Measure 4 have raised at least $3.6 million so far for their ad campaigns.
That's more than groups raised for all four of the statewide ballot measures in 2006, which included two multimillion-dollar fights over natural gas and cruise ship taxation.
It's also significantly more than the amount all candidates spent in the state's 2006 gubernatorial campaigns -- including the contentious Palin-Binkley-Murkowski Republican primary.

So far, the mining industry is outspending the anti-Pebble forces, state records show. The ballot measure's foes have raised nearly $2.7 million to try convincing voters to reject it, according to disclosures to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The sponsors of Measure 4 say they are only trying to block future mines that have the potential to hurt salmon or drinking water supplies. They say their proposed law doesn't target the industry at large -- only the massive Pebble project located in the headwaters of two rivers that feed Bristol Bay's world-class salmon fisheries.

The supporters of the initiative have raised just less than $1 million so far.  – Anchorage Daily News


B.C. to help support MSC certification

At about the same time the B.C. government announced its grant, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game decided to cease its cooperation. More about that tomorrow.

VICTORIA, B.C – A $100,000 commitment from the provincial government will help B.C.’s commercial fisheries to obtain eco-certification from the London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Environment Minister Barry Penner announced.
The MSC certification process assesses the sustainability of commercial fisheries against an internationally recognized standard. B.C. seafood is exported to over 80 countries worldwide, and major retailers and seafood processors in the U.S., E.U., and Japan are increasingly demanding MSC certification.
MSC certification is a high priority for the industry and the B.C. government. It is hoped that, within the next two or three years, all of B.C.’s major commercial fisheries will either be certified as sustainable or in the full assessment phase of the certification process. – Press release


Salmon ‘safe’ on streets of Portland

It's a scary summer for salmon off the Oregon coast, part of a long decline for the region's favorite fish.

But in the city, salmon get safer every day.

They're safe at college (Portland State University), safe at a trade show (at the Oregon Convention Center) and safe in the nation's first salmon-safe neighborhood (to be revealed later this summer).

The threatened fish are even safe at Nike headquarters, at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and at the Kettle Foods factory in Salem.

So many urban institutions in Oregon and Washington are lining up for Salmon-Safe certification from the nonprofit that bestows it, we might forget the fish are thinning out.
Which would miss the point.

About 65,000 acres on the West Coast, mostly farmland that includes 144 vineyards in Oregon, have been deemed Salmon-Safe, the result of a small nonprofit's work to link the fish's survival to the way humans use water and land.

More recently, Salmon-Safe has pushed into the city, drawing connections -- fish and college? fish and athletic shoes? -- that appear to defy common sense.

The catchy ads that tout each newly Salmon-Safe entity are created and donated by Livengood/Nowack, a Portland advertising agency. The ads are hard to miss, popping up every few months on billboards and the sides of buses. They can confound those among us, especially newcomers to Oregon, still trying to figure out the Northwest fixation on salmon. – Shelby Wood writing in The Oregonian


Off California, good news for salmon

In the best news for salmon in years, they finally have plenty to eat in the ocean.

Krill, the small shrimp-like crustacean and a primary link in the marine food chain, have returned in huge numbers to the Bay Area coast and Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. This is also great news for marine birds, such as murres, and other fish that need krill to survive in large numbers.

Three years ago, scientists identified a change in wind patterns across the ocean and predicted that a lack of krill would cause severe declines of salmon, along with other fish and marine birds that depend on krill for food in spring and early summer. That is exactly what transpired in the past two years and led to this year's complete shutdown of ocean salmon fishing.

But in the past three months, howling winds out of the northwest returned to the central and northern California coasts, occasionally hitting 30 mph, as last week. It's kept a lot of boats off the water, but it's just what the ocean needs.

The reason is, winds out of the northwest divert surface ocean currents by 90 degrees. In turn, deep, cold water rich in nutrients then rises to the surface to replace the surface water. This is called upwelling. When sunlight then penetrates the nutrient-rich water, it sets off plankton and krill, the foundation of the coast's marine food chain, and marine life can flourish. – San Francisco Chronicle


Gravel miners want to dredge the Fraser

VANCOUVER -- Some people look at the Fraser and see the most productive salmon river in the world, a remarkably beautiful and rich watershed that provides perfect habitat for everything from giant spawning Chinook to tiny pink fry.

Others see a gravel mine. They look at those glistening expanses of aggregate, exposed during low water, and see a natural conveyor belt delivering broken rock to a city that's pouring concrete like water during a construction boom.

Unfortunately for the salmon, British Columbia politicians have embraced the vision of the miners, approving the removal of 500,000 cubic metres of aggregate a year from the riverbed.

Studies led by Dr. Michael Church, a professor emeritus in the University of B.C.'s geography department, have shown that only 200,000 to 300,000 cubic metres of new gravel comes down the river each year. That means the lower Fraser River's bed is slowly being eaten up by Vancouver's construction industry which, among other things, is building venues for the 2010 Olympics, the so-called green Games.

People who know and care about fish in the Fraser -- with the remarkable exception of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans -- are alarmed, fearing gravel mining will seriously degrade salmon habitat. – Mark Hume writing in the Globe and Mail, Toronto


Friday, July 25, 2008

No word yet on Chignik plant replacement

The fire that destroyed a Trident Seafoods processing plant in Chignik Bay Monday has left the company hustling to assess the extent of the damage.

That damage, at least in monetary terms, is as yet unknown, Trident’s chief legal officer Joe Plesha said. Trident’s insurance investigators plan to visit Chignik to make an initial assessment.
“The fire marshals wouldn’t even let us near the facility until today,” Plesha said.

The 50,000 square-foot main processing building was completely destroyed in the fire, he said, leaving other buildings in the complex undamaged.

“My understanding is that (the main building) is a total loss,” Plesha said.

The fire left some 250 people out of work, but the Seattle-based company is attempting to help them.

“All of the people who worked there were offered employment at our other facilities, and many of them accepted that option,” Plesha said, estimating that about 100 people “just chose to go home.”

As for plans to rebuild the facility, Plesha said, “We haven’t even started to discuss that yet.” – Kodiak Daily Mirror


Salmon troller disaster fund plan shocks fishermen

CHARLESTON — The fishing vessel Kristy Ann's fish holds are full of ice and ready to fish for halibut today. The Kara J is having concrete work done on its holds before going tuna fishing.

But for commercial fisherman Steve Wilson, who owns both vessels, the only thing on his mind is salmon.

There is no season this year. Now, Wilson said, hopes of an equitable disaster funding distribution are fading as well.

“It’s a slap in the face,” Wilson said.

Congress provided $170 million in disaster money for commercial and charter boat fishermen, industry suppliers and related businesses in the recently passed Farm Bill. All three West Coast states qualified due to low returns of salmon, primarily Chinook in California and Oregon and some coho runs in Washington.

It’s a situation similar to 2006, when much of the commercial season was closed and fishermen were granted $60 million in disaster relief funds. The money wasn’t given out until 2007.

The difference this year? Fishermen say they were left out of the process and don’t like the results.

“It’s a shocker to everybody,” Oregon Salmon Commission Chairman Darus Peake said Tuesday.

 The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the agency responsible for distributing the funds last year and this year, sent a letter to the Salmon Commission. The packet contained the criteria, eligibility requirements and payment procedures for the disaster program.

Pacific States Executive Director Randy Fisher said last week that each state was coming up with criteria that would then be forwarded to the commission. Once the commission reviewed the states’ plans, the package would be sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service for legal review.

Fishermen, through the Oregon Salmon Commission, presented Pacific States with a proposed plan in June. It called for a baseline amount of $8,000 for every fisherman who qualified, plus lost personal income based on the value of the fish, up to a cap of $75,000. The criteria for qualification said that a fisherman must have a 2008 troll permit and have at least one landing in 2005, 2006, 2007 or 2008.

Fishermen were shocked Monday when they found out that fishermen who didn’t make even one single landing in 2005, 2006 or 2007 would get $2,000 each under the Pacific States criteria. Furthermore, if a salmon troller made one delivery of Chinook during those years, for example, that fishermen would get a minimum of $5,000 — even if he was paid much less for that single delivery. Trollers who made steady deliveries would be paid 100 percent of their income from their best year, up to a $75,000 cap.

Wilson couldn’t hide his disbelief.

“Permit owners get $2,000? Even if they didn’t fish? That’s not a good thing,” he said. “That’s promoting speculation.”

Some fishermen will buy permits as backups in case another fishery becomes too over-regulated or the fishery is closed for some reason. Others will buy permits fully intending to use them.

Wilson bought his salmon permits during the disaster years, when fishing was bad or the season was closed — 2005 to 2007. But he had fished salmon back when Chinooks filled the rivers and fish holds of boats from California to Washington, in the mid-1980s. He banked on better seasons in the future to keep both his boats running and keep his crew working full-time.

Fisher, with Pacific States, said last week he was still waiting on the states for guidance and would not compare this year’s disaster distribution to last year’s, beyond making the money easier to distribute.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” he said, “make it one-size-fits-all,” Fisher said. “We’re trying to get the states as close as we can — for fairness. That’s what’s being worked on right now.”

Oregon Salmon Commission Administrator Nancy Fitzpatrick said today she understands the fleet’s frustration.

The commission and the fleet were at the table for the 2007 discussion, she said, but not this one. The guys scrambling to find another fishery or to make ends meet are anxious.

“There are some concerns, but at the same time, there is federal money coming down,” she said.

Fisher said that if all goes well, checks could arrive in mailboxes at the end of August or beginning of September. – Coos Bay World


Judge orders pumping changes on Sacramento Delta

FRESNO – A federal judge ordered California water managers to rethink their plans to make sure pumping systems don't push native, wild salmon closer to extinction over the next eight months.

The order could force regulators to make temporary changes to the way they move water so endangered winter-run Chinook salmon can spawn safely in the state's rivers and streams, said attorneys for environmental and fishermen's groups.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the state Department of Water Resources also will have to take a second look at how they operate water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to avoid causing short-term harm to a second salmon species and the threatened Central Valley steelhead.

On Sept. 4, attorneys for federal and state regulators, farmers, environmentalists and commercial fishermen will meet at a hearing to determine what protections may be needed for the fish until early March. – San Diego Union Tribune


NW salmon tag found in New Zealand

A small electronic tag that was implanted in a Steelhead Salmon Oncorhynchus mykiss at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Columbia River Hatchery has been discovered in New Zealand. Because

Steelhead Salmon do not migrate across the equator, the best theories about the tag’s travels involves Sooty Shearwaters Pufinus griseus.

The tiny device was noticed by Maori hunter Dale Whaitiri on Mokonui Island, one of the Titi Islands (New Zealand). Shearwaters nest in burrows among tree roots on the island, and are known locally as Titi or Muttonbirds. The tag was recorded two years earlier as young steelhead smolts were passing the Bonneville Dam, on the Columbia River – 6,213 miles from Mokonui!

Scientists think that the fish may have been eaten by a shearwater that was scavenging fishery wastes behind a processing vessel in the North Pacific.

Alternatively, the fish may have been predated as it passed below one of the large shearwater flocks that frequent the mouth of the Columbia River. – Stuff.Com, New Zealand


Fishermen try boutique farming model

PORT CLYDE, Maine — Using community-supported agriculture as a model, fishermen are selling shares of their catches to restaurants and the public in what is being called the state's first community-supported fisheries venture.

In agriculture, shareholders pay an upfront amount to farmers in return for a portion of the harvest. In the commercial fishing model, shareholders pay a set amount in return for a share of fresh catches of haddock, cod, flounder, shrimp and other seafood caught by four boats that fish out of Port Clyde, Maine.

The plan is to eventually expand the program outside of Maine, said Laura Kramar, Port Clyde Marketing Cooperative coordinator for the Rockland-based Island Institute, which is collaborating on the initiative with the Midcoast Fishermen's Cooperative. Besides giving fishermen upfront financial support, the initiative allows consumers to get high-quality seafood and participate directly in food production.

So far, dozens of consumers and six restaurants have signed up. – Bangor Daily News