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Summary for August 18 - August 22, 2008:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Southeast purse seiners fishing now

After a fairly successful openings last week, seiners have their nets in the water now for an opening, tentatively scheduled to end on Tuesday.

The first 39-hour opening of the season occurred on Aug. 10 and 11. Major portions of District 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 13 were open, while limited openings occurred in Districts 5, 6, 9 and 12. The vast majority of the 194 seiners fishing during the opening were targeting wild pink salmon.

Pink salmon harvests during the opening totaled 2.2 million fish, almost as much as had been caught previously during July and early August. The total Southeast pink harvest last year was 44.8 million fish.

Pink salmon harvest rates were 13,000/boat in District 1, 10,000/boat in District 2, 12,000/boat in District 3, 15,000/boat in District 4, 17,000/boat in District 6, 13,000/boat in District 7 and 7,000/boat in District 13. Peak effort included 39 boats in District 1 and 34 boats in District 2.

Harvest numbers from the second 39-hour opening last week – which began on Thursday – are not yet publicly available.

Poor weather has hampered surveys in recent days however it appears that catches are remaining strong. – ADF&G

Columbia bridge idea draws criticism from NMFS

PORTLAND — Federal authorities are concerned about the environmental impacts that a new Interstate 5 bridge between Vancouver and Portland might have on endangered salmon.

More study is needed about the impacts of nearby development, bridge construction and stormwater runoff, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The agency’s concern — which echo those raised by local environmental groups — add another layer to the already-complicated Columbia River Crossing project. The $4.2 billion proposal would replace the six-lane Interstate 5 Bridge with a new 12-lane bridge, light rail extension to Vancouver and improvements to six highway interchanges.

Carley Francis, a spokeswoman for the CRC project, told The Oregonian that bridge planners are aware of the fisheries service’s concerns and will address them.

The fisheries service’s comments affirm criticism by local environmental groups and growth watchdogs that the bridge project could result in more farmland being converted into subdivisions.

Such development creates areas where rain will bring pollution into streams.
The fisheries service says initial environmental plans didn’t properly analyze the effects of development outside of urban growth boundaries.

Bridge planners assumed local governments would prevent stormwater runoff from affecting salmon, but NMFS  is skeptical. And they say more documentation is needed about how the project will avoid or mitigate pollution in creeks where salmon are found.– The Columbian

Southeast troll kings, coho looking up

The second Chinook salmon opening of the summer season began Saturday, following a five-day troll closure. Trollers will target about 28,000 Chinook salmon. Once the Chinook salmon fishery closes, trollers must offload their Chinook salmon before they resume fishing for other species.

Regional coho salmon catch rates averaged 64 coho/boat/day last week, which is lower than the previous week and slightly below the 20-year average.

Current catch rates are above average and are increasing in the Northern Inside and Southern Outside areas. Catch rates in other parts of the region are similar to long-term averages, with the exception of the Northern Outside, which continues to be below average.

The cumulative coho salmon harvest is approximately 654,400 fish. The average price is currently $1.99 and average weight is 7 pounds. A total of 883 permits have participated in the summer troll fishery so far this season.

Last year, the fleet harvested about 2 million coho. – ADF&G

Wild Atlantic salmon returning to eastern rivers

FREDERICTON — After years of decline, it looks like wild Atlantic salmon are making a comeback in the rivers of eastern North America.

While scientists are tempering their enthusiasm until a clear trend is established, there's no question this is a record summer for young salmon called grilse returning to home rivers after one year at sea.

"People are talking about runs they haven't seen for a decade or more," said Gerald Chaput, a biologist with the federal Fisheries Department.

On the storied salmon rivers of New Brunswick, heavy rains and high waters are providing perfect conditions for salmon.

"People are seeing fish, and they're catching fish," said Mark Hambrook, president of the salmon association on New Brunswick's Miramichi River, which produces more than 20 percent of North America's Atlantic salmon.

"What we're seeing this year is an increase in marine survival. We don't know why. There's a whole new international research program gearing up to try and find answers about what's happening to the fish in the ocean. But whatever has changed, the grilse are back this year, the numbers of salmon are consistent with other years and what we should see is a big increase in large salmon next year."

Roughly 70 monitoring sites across the region have reported some of the best returns in years, although the improved numbers apply only to grilse, not to adult salmon. – The Kelowna (B.C.) Daily Courier

Wind power could hurt fishing industry

Even as Congress is embroiled in a sharp debate over whether to allow increased offshore oil and gas drilling, others are seriously working to develop a green source of energy along the outer continental shelf.

The winds blowing 15 miles or even farther off the U.S. coast potentially could produce 900,000 megawatts of electricity, or roughly the same amount as the nation’s existing coal, nuclear and gas-fired plants; dams; co-generation; terrestrial windmills; and solar projects combined, according to Department of Energy estimates.

The offshore winds along the Northwest coast are among the best in the United States, according to the Department of Energy, which ranks the region’s average ocean breezes as 5 or 6 on a 7-point scale.

The idea is not without a downside. Though the wind farms could be located outside shipping channels, they could interfere with such migrating species as gray whales or seabirds, and with fishing and crabbing.

One large offshore wind farm is already planned in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands. It could produce about 700 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 210,000 homes. – The News Tribune

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Several theories address sizes of sockeye salmon runs

In a year full of negative surprises, Columbia Basin sockeye salmon exceeded expectations by long shot. The number of sockeye salmon that migrated over Bonneville Dam this summer was the highest in more than 50 years.

Although the Columbia River Basin produced more than 1 million sockeye salmon at the turn of the 19th century, they have been on life support for the past 20 years. On average, only two naturally-produced fish per year have returned to the upper Snake River.

Large swings in run size are a characteristic of sockeye salmon populations. In Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the Fraser River in Canada, runs are typically larger in even-numbered years vs. odd years. This pattern results in an "on" and "off" cycle that tends to persist because most sockeye return as 4-year-olds.

Other theories for the boom and bust nature of sockeye populations relate to harvest and to nutrient flow from decomposing carcasses. It's difficult to apply these theories to the Columbia Basin because recent runs have been so small.

Proponents of hatchery production and spill practices at Columbia River dams continue to toot horns over this year's success with sockeye salmon. However, given generally low returns for other salmon species, reasons for the sudden increase appear to be up for grabs. – Tri-City Herald

Copper River sockeye continue to disappoint

The Copper River harvest estimate from the last commercial period that began last week was 171 sockeye, 6 Chinook and 2,382 coho salmon. The anticipated harvest for this opening was 2,790 sockeye and 5 Chinook salmon based on the preseason total commercial harvest forecast of 742,166 sockeye and 46,915 Chinook salmon.

The cumulative commercial harvest as of Aug. 13 for all 20 periods fished this season is 311,777 sockeye, 11,262 Chinook and 3,711 coho salmon. The anticipated cumulative harvest for this date based on the preseason forecast is 695,263 sockeye and 46,907 Chinook salmon.

The 10 year average cumulative harvest for Aug. 13 is 1,338,266 sockeye and 43,053 Chinook salmon. Since 1969 there have been three seasons (1978, 1979, and 1980) where cumulative sockeye salmon commercial harvests have been lower and one other season (1980) where cumulative Chinook salmon commercial harvests have been lower.

Currently there are an estimated 40+ drift gillnet permit holders participating in PWS fisheries and 5-20 participating in the Copper River fishery. There are no processing capacity problems to report at this point. – ADF&G

America Seafoods expands Alaska fleet

America Seafoods Group announced that it has acquired the factory trawler Highland Light and the fishing vessel Tracy Anne from subsidiaries of Yardarm Knot, Inc. following the receipt of applicable government approvals. The purchase price was not disclosed.

With the acquisition, American Seafoods further expands its Alaskan catcher-processor fleet. The fleet is used primarily to harvest whitefish in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea and off the Pacific coasts of Washington and Oregon. American Seafoods also harvests cod aboard three catcher-longline vessels

The acquisition marks another major step in the increasing ownership by Alaskans in the Bering Sea commercial fisheries. Two Alaskan community development groups, Coastal Villages Region Fund and Central Bering Sea Fishermen's Association, both of which supply fisheries quota to the company, combined own approximately 50 percent of the company. Coastal Villages represents 20 western Alaska villages and around 9,000 residents along the coast of the Bering Sea from Scammon Bay to Platinum, while CBSFA represents the 500 residents of the community of St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands.— Fox Business News

Pink returns disappointing in Southeast Alaska

With a total catch of around 5 million fish so far, pink salmon returns remain poor in much of Southeast Alaska. The Commercial Pink Salmon Fishery typically peaks around this time. About 200 seine boats have been fishing and catches have improved, but many areas are closed to let more pinks escape up stream. Area management biologist William Bergman believes the total seine harvest will end up pretty short of pre-season expectations. – Alaska Public Radio Network

First Canadian fishery earns sustainable certification

The East Coast Canadian northern prawn trawl fishery has now been certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. It is the first Canadian fishery to earn MSC certification, and the northern prawn will be the first Canadian wild-caught seafood eligible to bear the blue MSC eco-label.

With an annual catch of more than 177.7 million pounds, the Canadian northern prawn trawl fishery is now the largest MSC-certified coldwater shrimp fishery in the world. The primary market for this fishery is the United Kingdom, with other major markets including continental Europe and the United States.

The East Coast Canadian fishery targets small, pink shrimp similar to the Oregon pink shrimp, which also are certified by MCA. -- CNW Group

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

End fishing off SE Alaska herring

A recent study on Southeast Alaska halibut has concluded that today's fish weigh 50% less than the same age class halibut weighed in 1988. A check of records indicates that the average size and abundance of Chinook are getting steadily smaller as well. The same holds true for silver salmon in most areas in the last two years. All three of these species rely on herring as a key component in the food web as prey.

Coastal communities throughout Southeast Alaska with local and traditional knowledge of herring claim that historic stock levels have significantly declined due to factors that include over-harvesting, predation, and climate changes.

Perhaps the factor presently having the greatest impact in this area may be attributed to predation. It appears that protected marine mammals are increasingly having a much larger impact on herring stocks than anyone could envision. Although a sea lion can eat 80 pounds daily, according to data from, an adult humpback whale consumes between 2 and 2 1/2 tons of herring, needle fish, krill, and plankton each day.

The population of humpbacks has increased dramatically since the implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972. Using calculations based on National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) data, it is plausible that there were fewer than 100 Humpbacks in Southeast Alaska when the act became law. By 1995 the population of Southeast Alaska humpbacks from Fredrick Sound north was 404. Within five years, in 2000 it had jumped to 961 in that area.

Today there are calculated to be at least 1,650 of these whales eating roughly 8,250,000 pounds of feed per day. This does not include the significant number of whales observed in the 180 miles from Fredrick Sound south to the Canadian border which have never been surveyed. It is important to realize that Humpbacks not only eat herring, they consume the plankton and krill that herring also rely on to survive.

Out of seven major herring spawning areas in Southeast, there are only two left. One is the Craig pound fishery. The largest is in Sitka Sound. Without regard for these serious issues, this spring, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game conducted an all time record high herring sac roe harvest of over 28,460,000 pounds of this critical species from Sitka Sound. With possible disaster looming over some of Alaska's most important fisheries, is this conservative management? In the opinion of most locals, it is better to leave what remains of Southeast Alaska's herring in the water, put an end to the killing of herring for their eggs, and begin researching ways to restore the once-great masses of herring taken from the waters of Southeast Alaska.

At present, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the Board of Fish that governs it are putting at risk many critical components of Southeast Alaska's economy, including commercial fishing, sport and guided sport fishing, and a large portion of the tourism industry, not to mention the reputation of the State of Alaska. -- Andy Rauwolf, Ketchikan Herring Action Group, writing in SitNews, Ketchikan

Greenpeace Opinion: Time to end pollock bycatch

(Check out the next issue of Pacific Fishing magazine for 2008 bycatch numbers, which offer a different view than the one held by Greenpeace.)
The problems we face today in our commercial fishery practices are not new. More than 30 years ago, when foreign fishing companies were allowed to fish in our waters of the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, the problem of bycatch was a major concern.

Bycatch is a term used to describe the problem of catching fish that are not being targeted.

For example, in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, Pacific cod is being fished.
That’s a targeted fishery. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) set a catch limit of Pacific cod in both areas of 222,900 metric tons. That is 1,984,140 pounds of cod every year.

That same council has awarded the same Seattle-based fishing companies 1,480,000 metric tons of pollock to be fished from these same waters. That amounts to 3,292,808,000 pounds of fish.

That’s right: more than 3 billion pounds of pollock taken out of the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea every year.

And we worry about our halibut and salmon populations. Now let’s take a look at the “allowable bycatch” numbers.

In both the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, the International Pacific Halibut Commission has determined that the total amount of halibut that can be caught by both commercial and recreational fishers is 27,396.98 metric tons, or 60,400,000 pounds. The bycatch numbers are also scary. In 2001, the “allowable and legally sanctioned” bycatch for halibut by the large factory commercial fishing companies was 9,545.44 metric tons, or 21,000,000 pounds.

Yes, that’s correct: 21 million pounds of halibut that is sanctioned by United States Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez to be caught and destroyed.

Oh, they say they let them go and put them back into the water. I contend that most of these freed fish are dead, or soon will be.

I question where the government scientists come up with the numbers to determine the biomass of the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, to allow them to sanction 3 billion pounds of pollock could be taken in our waters. We only manage a portion of the Bering Sea – how can we know what the biomass is in the portion managed by Russia? How did the wise and intelligent members of the NPFMC decide that, yes, I vote for 3 billion pounds of pollock, a very important fish for many of the foods we depend upon for our survival, to be taken each year?

The problems, which led me to look at the above, are more staggering for the Western Alaska salmon populations. This is a real serious issue, and the numbers of fish to be caught, and fish to be discarded, are not much different.

But even if the problems are rampant, there are solutions. We must demand from Gutierrez and the esteemed NPFMC a different approach to fishery management in Alaska.

We need to approach the management from an ecosystem approach, that every plant and animal, fish and mammal are connected. If we continue with the same old management practices, you will see that your way of life and making a living will be sacrificed to support Seattle. – George Pletnikoff is Unangan from the Pribilof Islands, and an Alaska Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace.

Turtle poacher gets prison

WASHINGTON – Jorge Caraveo, of El Paso, Texas, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Denver to serve 18 months in prison for his participation in the sale and smuggling of sea turtle and other exotic skins and skin products into the United States from Mexico, the Justice Department announced.

Along with the prison term, Caraveo was sentenced to three years supervised release and a $300 special assessment.

Caraveo and ten others were indicted in Denver in August 2007 following a multi-year undercover investigation named Operation Central, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Branch of Special Operations.

Caraveo and six other defendants were arrested in Texas and Colorado on Sept. 6, 2007. All seven of those individuals have pleaded guilty.

Caraveo operated a business in El Paso, Texas named the Juarez Boot Company, through which he bought and sold exotic leathers, including sea turtle, caiman, ostrich and lizard skins; manufactured boots and belts from the skins; and sold the skins, boots and belts to customers in the United States. – Press release

Researcher: Fraser water getting too warm
Last summer, University of British Columbia  fish researcher Erika Eliason put some sockeye salmon through some pretty elaborate stress tests. At the research lab in Cultus Lake, she set up a treadmill in which the fish had to swim through a white tunnel 4.6 metres long, 2.5 metres high, and 0.25 metres wide. Then she set up variables including water speed and temperatures ranging from 15C to 22C.

The goal was to find their tolerance level for water temperature and their physiological responses to water flows. These days, Pacific salmon are being exposed to some enormous environmental challenges such as shallow streams and high water temperatures and given all the variables of a changing climate on top of predation and disease their life cycle isn’t getting any easier.

“This was the first study of its kind to look at the optimum temperatures for the swimming and cardiovascular performance of Pacific sockeye salmon,” said Eliason, a PhD candidate in the Department of Zoology.

Eliason monitored how hard fish hearts had to work using a flow cuff around the heart. She tested the oxygen levels in the blood using catheters and recorded oxygen levels in the water to measure metabolism. Her data showed that swimming and cardiovascular performance was hindered above 18 C and at 20C to 22C fish were clearly flagging.

“We think that the fish’s heart is no longer able to cope with the high temperature and oxygen becomes limited. The high temperature makes it harder for the heart to get oxygen to the muscles.”

The complex link between aquatic environmental conditions and a changing climate have seen alarming losses in salmon stocks, as much as 70-80 per cent for some stocks in the Fraser River. This year’s returns are expected to be so poor that commercial and recreational fishing may be shut down. – Chilliwack (B.C.) Progress

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Letters: More about herring sac roe fishery

An opinion piece by Andy Rauwolf of the Ketchikan Herring Action Committee in Wednesday’s Fish Wrap inspired two letters.

To the editor: Herring fishery dumb

It really makes a lot of sense to kill fish when they are spawning. DUUUH! Take a look what they have done to our herring on the East Coast and the trickledown effect on their prey species, tuna, cod, bass etc. Now the idiots across the pond want to wipe out all the krill! If it wasn't for Japan and its "YEN" for roe, there would be a lot of fish for everyone! – Jim Leboeuf, Northern Ocean Marine Inc., Gloucester, Mass.

To the editor: More herring than we thought

Please don't let our Pacific Fishing magazine become a mouthpiece for Andy Rauwolf and the Ketchikan Herring Action Group.  As stated in Andy's article, there are only two out of seven major herring spawning area left in Southeast Alaska? What about Hoonah Sound, Tennakkee Inlet, Seymour Canal, just to mention a few more major spawning areas? I won't waste your time with all the other smaller stocks of herring spawning all over Southeast Alaska. If Andy is so concerned, maybe he should spearhead the taking of humpback whales; this folks should be our major concern. – R.I. Eliason Jr., third-generation fishermen, Sitka, Alaska

Off-shore wind farms good for fishing?

If you build it, they will come. So say fish experts about artificial reef structure – which is what Bluewater Wind will create when it installs turbines offshore to produce wind power.

Bluewater Wind’s planned 150 wind-catching turbines will generate power for tens of thousands of Delaware homes, but state fisheries head Roy Miller is thinking about what’s below the waves.

“From a fisheries perspective, there is the potential for 150 artificial reefs out there,” Miller said. Rock around the base of the turbine poles, called monopiles, will attract sport and commercial fish to the wind farm area, he said. – Cape Gazette, Delaware.

Oregon groundfish open access topic of meetings

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold three public meetings on the South Coast this month to talk about possible changes to the West Coast groundfish open-access fisheries rules.

Those changes could cut the number of commercial fishing boats.

The meetings will gather comments and answer questions on a proposed change to convert current open-access commercial groundfish fishery to a federal limited-entry permitted fishery. This fishery lands primarily sablefish (blackcod), along with rockfish and lingcod. ODFW staff members will gather people’s comments so they can better represent Oregon during the September meeting of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council in Boise.

The federal council’s goal is to transition the open-access fishery into one with limited permits for those who are most dependent on and committed to the fishery. The PFMC already has set a control date of Sept. 13, 2006, which would be used to decide eligibility requirements for the program.

Meetings are scheduled in the following places.

-- Brookings: 7 to 9 p.m., Monday, Aug. 25, Best Western – Beachfront Inn, 16008 Boat Basin Road.
-- Port Orford: 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 26, Port Orford City Library, 15th Street and Highway 101.
-- North Bend: 7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 26, North Bend Library, 1800 Sherman Ave.

For more information, call Gway Kirchner or Carla Sowell at (541) 867-4741 or go to the web site at

Nine-foot tapeworm to have day in court

Anthony Franz had started to eat healthy, but the salmon salad he ordered for lunch from Shaw's Crab House in August 2006 wasn't the best choice, according to a lawsuit filed.

Franz says he became violently ill for several days after eating that salad and later "passed a 9-foot tapeworm."

A pathologist determined the giant tapeworm only has one source -- "undercooked fish, such as salmon," according to court papers.

Franz, who was not available for comment, wants more than a refund. He's seeking $100,000 for his pain, suffering, lost time from work and "lost enjoyment of life."

Carrol Symank, vice president of food safety for the company that owns the restaurant, said he is confident the tapeworm did not come from the restaurant. – Chicago Sun-Times

The 100-mile decision

Some “ethical eaters” have recently started seeking food grown within 100 miles of their home. At first, it seems wise to support local producers and to reduce transportation costs. But, as we’ve discussed in Pacific Fishing magazine over the past few months, eating local may not be all that good for the environment and for fishermen. The 100-mile prohibition also creates ethical puzzles, such as this mentioned in a blog out of B.C.:

“The other day I took an important phone call at 8 a.m. It was Steve, the Organic Ocean fisherman from whom we buy most of our seafood, calling to say there had been a very short commercial fishery for sockeye salmon heading up the Fraser River. Would Alisa and I want a fish or two? I raced off to the docks and picked up the best sockeye I’ve ever tasted.

“I ate the first round raw as 100-mile sushi for lunch, then baked up dinner with no salt, no sauce, no nothing. Just the flavour of the salmon and that was more than enough.

But fish are complicated. The sockeye was caught off Pender Island, comfortably within our 100-mile circle, but they were heading home to spawn in the Chilko River, well outside our “local” area in a landscape a world apart. How do we define “local” seafood?” – James MacKinnon, writing in The Daily Green

Friday, August 22, 2008

You have the deadliest job

Fishing, flying and logging were the three most dangerous jobs in America in 2007. These occupations reported higher death rates than any others, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Total workplace fatalities dropped in the United States during 2007. More troubling is the fact that the number of murders in the workplace jumped substantially.

Some 5,488 people died from injuries on the job last year, or 3.7 out of every 100,000 workers, according to the report. That's the fewest job fatalities recorded since the Bureau began collecting these statistics in 1992, and a 6 percent drop from the 5,840 in 2006.

But there were 13 percent more workplace homicides last year than in 2006, according to the BLS's latest Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The increase brought the number to 610 from 540 in 2006. Still, that's a big improvement over the 1,080 murders recorded in 1994, the peak year on record for workplace homicides.

Fishing was the most dangerous occupation for the third year in a row. There were 111.8 fatalities for every 100,000 fishermen during the year. Fishermen labor in all sorts of weather, often in small boats on the open water where they can be swept overboard and drown. And they also handle heavy power equipment, such as winches and hoists, that can inflict terrible injuries.

The second most dangerous occupation is logging, where 86.4 workers per 100,000 died. That was an increase from 2006 when there were 82.3 fatal logging injuries for every 100,000 workers, but down from four years ago when, with more than 92 deaths per 100,000, logging led the nation in deaths on the job.

Commercial pilots also had a bad year, with 66.7 workers out of every 100,000. Still, that was an improvement from 2006, when commercial pilot was the second most dangerous job in America.

Small scale operations, such as bush pilots in Alaska ferrying fishermen and hunters into wilderness areas, account for many pilot fatalities.  CNN

Direct marketing: Sell shares of your catch

Commercial fishermen around the country plan to ride into the future on the wave of consumer support for local, sustainable food sources.

The unwieldy global food supply chain that has all but erased seasonal and regional variations on the American dinner table has also heightened national anxiety over food safety and over environmental responsibility in food production.

In Maine, community-supported fisheries, based on a system used in small-scale farming where consumers buy shares in a farm in exchange for fruits and vegetables, have taken hold.

Consumers can buy 12 weeks of fresh fish caught by members of the Mid Coast Fishermen's Cooperative in Port Clyde, Maine. A full share costs $360 and yields 3 to 4 pounds of filleted fish, like haddock, cod, and flounder, each week. Half-shares cost $180 and yield about 1.5 to 2 pounds of fillets each week. – Outer Banks Sentinel, N.C.

Bad economic times? Not for shipyards

The popular Blue Moose Café, nestled in a blue tin building between Townsend Bay Marine and Haven Boatworks, seems one of the few places left in Port Townsend where shoptalk doesn't include worrying about the economy.

A mélange of marine tradespeople, including business owners and shipyard workers, say they aren't feeling the strains of a softening economy reported by other Jefferson County businesses. A strong fishing season and popularization of wooden boats in Europe have contributed to good times for companies operating out of the yard.

"In my world, there is no recession," said Chris Chase, a member of Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op. "I tell that to my friends in the community, and they're just shocked."

While haul-out numbers haven't reached the levels they were during 2006, a record-breaking year for the port, they aren't bad either, said Doug Lockhart, Port of Port Townsend yard supervisor.

"I haven't seen anyone hurting," Lockhart said. "They're all definitely busy."

Bob Muret, general manager of Gold Star Marine, says the company's 18 employees have worked on more than 100 boats during the past year.

"We are very, very busy," Muret said. "It looks like we're going for a record year this year."

At $72.50 per hour, Gold Star is one of the most expensive shops in the yard -- but also one of the busiest.

"The service to those (commercial) boats can't be overlooked or you won't be fishing anymore," said Terry Nowell, an employee at Steelhead Marine. "It really behooves the port to remain attractive to commercial vessels and pleasure boats."

Still, could a boating recession be on the horizon?

"There's no guarantees; everybody knows that," Muret said. "This is such a fickle industry that you're full one month, and the next there's nobody."

Port of Port Townsend Executive Director Larry Crockett, who researched boat sales for the first two quarters of 2008, said the market was not looking very strong.

He doesn't worry about business from commercial fishermen. But if there's going to be a downturn, its effects would most likely begin to be felt in 2009, he said.

"[Recreational boaters are] the ones I can see sitting in their living rooms saying: 'Oh, geez, that's going to cost me $1,500. I think I'll wait a year,'" Crockett said. If recreational boaters begin delaying projects, fewer people will be hauling vessels out, cutting into the port's revenue. It could cause a ripple effect to businesses that supply paint, hardware and tools for those projects, Crockett said. – Port Townsend Leader

Maine lobster up for MSC certification

ELLSWORTH — A plan to have the Maine lobster industry certified as a sustainable fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) took a step forward earlier this month when a working group on Maine lobster sustainability established by Gov. John Baldacci’s accepted a “pre-assessment report” concluding that the industry could probably meet MSC certification standards.
MSC certification has become an important marketing tool for “green” retailers such as Whole Foods and many segments of the fishing industry. Currently, MSC has certified some 30 fisheries worldwide as meeting its sustainability standards and more than 600 companies are certified by MSC as meeting its standards of seafood traceability. On its web site, the organization claims that the value of seafood products carrying the MSC sustainability seal is nearly $1 billion.

North America has only a handful of MSC-certified fisheries. The Canadian northern prawn (shrimp) trawl net fishery recently earned certification, and the Oregon pink shrimp fishery was certified last October. Several Alaskan fisheries, including salmon, cod and halibut, have earned certification since 2000. – Ellsworth American, Maine

Fairbanks smoker recalling salmon

FAIRBANKS -- A Fairbanks processor is recalling about 150 pounds of salmon because of potential contamination. Interior Alaska Fish Processors said subject to the recall is its Santa's Smokehouse smoked keta salmon.

An Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation test detected Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious infections in young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. The company said there have been no reports of illness.

The recalled product was sold in random weight portions and packaged in clear plastic vacuum-sealed bags with the Santa's Smokehouse "teriyaki-style smoked keta salmon" on it. Only batch No. 637 is subject to the recall. – Juneau Empire