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Summary for September 14 - September 18, 2009:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Scientists look for reasons behind herring decline

In an ominous environmental sign, California regulators this month closed all herring fishing in San Francisco Bay for the first time ever, shutting down the last commercial fishery in the Bay. Populations have been falling recently, and last year state scientists found herring numbers down 90 percent from historic levels. Why? For now, it’s a mystery.

– San Jose Mercury News

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Washington fishermen get shot at selling Humboldt squid

Researchers are attempting to learn why masses of subtropical Humboldt squid have moved north, where commercial fishermen in the Strait of Juan de Fuca say the voracious cephalopods are gobbling their catches. Meanwhile, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is allowing commercial fishermen to sell the large Humboldt squid that they accidentally catch as they troll for salmon.

– Peninsula Daily News

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Fishermen find Oregon coho scarce

While they some commercial salmon fishermen in the Charleston, Ore., area got a small coho season this month, they are calling it a flop due to minuscule numbers coming in. Commercial coho season opened on Sept. 1, but when KCBY paid a visit to Charleston on Sept. 10 there wasn’t a salmon to be seen. That has been the norm, according to fishermen Jeff Reaves.


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Valdez processor scores a court victory

The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday revived a million-dollar claim Valdez fish processor Sea Hawk Seafoods Inc. has against the state.

– Wesley Loy writing on his Alaska commercial fishing blog Deckboss

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Divers pulling lost gear from Puget Sound

An operation to clear Puget Sound and the North Olympic Peninsula's waters of derelict commercial fish nets has cleared more than 10,000 pounds of nets that trapped and killed thousands of salmon, bottom fish, crab, sea mammals and diving birds.

– Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles

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Arctic walrus near endangered listing

A second Arctic marine mammal moved closer to an Endangered Species listing due to global warming Tuesday as a petition to grant the Pacific walrus protection passed its first review.

– Associated Press

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Bristol Bay has new Sea Grant agent

Bristol Bay, home to Alaska’s largest wild commercial salmon fishery, once again has an Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program (MAP) agent to help fishermen, seafood processors and marketers, and other marine resource users. Bay resident Izetta Chambers was hired by MAP to fill the vacant agent position in Bristol Bay. Chambers will be based in Dillingham at the UAF Bristol Bay campus, and serve the Bristol Bay, Eastern Aleutians, and Alaska Peninsula region. A longtime resident of the community of Naknek, Chambers recently returned with a law degree from the University of Arizona.

She can be reached at 907-842-8323 or


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Opinion: Pew foundation in ‘control’
of ocean agenda

Well endowed and powerful environmental philanthropies — notably the Pew Charitable Trusts — have wrested control over the agenda for ocean policies from traditional, broad-based political forces, according to lawyers writing in an American Bar Association newsletter. – Gloucester (Mass.) Times

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Coast Guard responds to burning boat, boat aground

The Coast Guard says two crewmen were rescued from a burning fishing boat about 40 miles off Willapa Bay on the Washington coast, and a second boat in trouble was given aid at Grays Harbor.

The crew of the 39-foot Titan out of Westport reported the engine room fire at 6:38 a.m. Monday and called for help.

Less than four hours later, at 10:18 a.m., Coast Guard crews responded to a call from the 56-foot
fishing boat Macard, which ran aground and was taking on water near the east end of the north jetty
at Grays Harbor.


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No hope for Prince William Sound pink fishery

As time ticked away for the Prince William Sound fishery, some diehards – or eternal optimists – kept hoping that pinks would make a late appearance in record breaking numbers.

            No chance. This graph says it all:    

Opinion: Unity can fight Cal marine protected area campaign

Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro said Monday that the North Coast's best strategy to handle the
oncoming Marine Life Protection Act Initiative is to stay united in the face of an administration
bent on pressing forward.

– Eureka Times-Standard

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The Klamath: Will knocking down dams be enough?

In a few short weeks, Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River in southern Oregon will be no more. The demolition of this concrete barrier, long recognized as the biggest fish killer on the Rogue, will have immediate and powerful results for salmon.

Just a few miles south, negotiations drag on in the hopes of removing four dams on another Oregon river — the Klamath. … However, when and if the dams do come down, Klamath salmon may still be out of luck.

— Ani Kame'enui and Bob Hunter, writing in The Oregonian

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Obama administration describes stance on Columbia salmon

Salmon advocates had expected a move toward study of breaching dams as a remedy for declining runs on the Snake and Columbia. Instead, they got a "split-the-baby" decision that may please neither side of this hot political issue. – Crosscut, Seattle

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ADF&G wants snow crab rules changed

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game wants to get rid of a regulation that could shut down the upcoming Bering Sea snow crab fishery.

The underlying problem is that the catch limit could be drastically lower this season because the depressed snow crab stock hasn't made enough progress under a 10-year rebuilding plan.

– Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing in Deckboss

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Where are all those pinks coming from?

Pink salmon are returning in near record numbers on the B.C. coast but no one is really sure why.

Estimates by fishery officers monitoring rivers in the Broughton Archipelago show returns of pink salmon this year already significantly higher than the brood year in 2007.

– North Island Gazette, Port Hardy

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Scientists look for reasons behind SF herring decline

In an ominous environmental sign, California regulators this month closed all herring fishing in San Francisco Bay for the first time ever, shutting down the last commercial fishery in the Bay.


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Beware of ‘transgenic’ farmed fish

How can we curb overexploitation of fish stocks and give commercial fish farming a boost? Some experts say transgenic fish, whose genetic material has been altered to boost growth rates, for instance, is just the ticket. But Swedish researchers have sounded a warning bell: the escape of transgenic fish into the natural environment could trigger many problems and affect the well-being of people.


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Chilean farmed salmon inoculated

Fisheries in Chile on Tuesday began inoculating farm-raised salmon against infectious salmon anemia (ISA), a virus that has killed millions of fish and threatens the viability of a once-flourishing industry.

– APF      


Anti-farm leader lays charges against Marine Harvest

Biologist Alexandra Morton laid charges under the federal Fisheries Act against fish farm giant Marine Harvest Canada Inc. for illegal possession of wild juvenile salmon from an endangered stock.

On June 16, 2009, hundreds of small salmon were seen spilling onto a dock in Port McNeill during a transfer of live Atlantic salmon brood stock from the fish farm vessel M/V Orca Warrior into tanks on a truck. The vessel’s registered owner is Marine Harvest.

“When I received photos of the incident minutes later,” says Morton, “I was really surprised the fish lying on the road were young pink salmon, I could not understand what were they doing in Marine Harvest’s boat.” – Press release

See more: You can see a photo of some of the wild salmon spilled and killed by Marine Harvest on Page 22 of Pacific Fishing’s August issue.

Pelican Seafoods plant’s future still uncertain

Kake Tribal Corp. canceled its Pelican Seafoods plant foreclosure auction Tuesday, fearing risk from a release of the plant's ammonia coolant, and possible liability.

– Juneau Empire

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Adak Fisheries files for bankruptcy

The end could be near for Adak Fisheries LLC, a little seafood processor with a hugely tumultuous history.

– Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy, writing in his blog: Deckboss

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Seining on the Columbia River?

Marty Kuller pushed the throttle ahead slightly on his boat and 720 feet of purse seine net slowly peeled off the stern and into the lower Columbia River. The net floated in a horseshoe, the other end attached to a skiff.

Kuller’s test fishing is part of 11 days of research by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
— a pilot effort eventually expected to bring live-capture commercial fishing to the Columbia River.

– The (Vancouver) Columbian

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Queen Charlotte Island hatchery de-funded

The future of Pallant Creek fish hatchery hangs in tatters after federal funds were filleted.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada cut operational funds for the coho and chum salmon hatchery on Moresby Island. The chop means that hatchery staff will not be able to collect many eggs this year, which means very few fry or smolts will be raised and then even fewer salmon will return to Pallant Creek.

– qcireporter, Queen Charlotte Islands

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Anti-farm crusader takes Marine Harvest to court

A prominent B.C. environmentalist has started a private prosecution against the province's largest aquaculture company, alleging that migrating salmon fry were ending up in fish farms along the West Coast.

– Globe and Mail, Canada

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Coast Guard fetches sick man in Akutan

A Kodiak-based Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew deployed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Munro medevaced a 61-year-old male who was reportedly suffering from respiratory problems at Akutan Medical Clinic 25 miles east of Dutch Harbor at 10:27 p.m. Monday.

Terry Cook was reported to be swelling in the mouth and throat and when his his condition started to degrade the local clinic requested a non-maritime medevac from the Coast Guard to get Cook to advanced medical care by transporting him to Cold Bay and further medevacing him to Anchorage aboard an awaiting commercial medical flight service.

– Coast Guard press release

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Obama administration lays foundation for fish management

With demands on US ocean resources control growing quickly, the Obama administration Thursday outlined a new comprehensive ocean management plan to guide federal agencies in restoring and protecting a badly stressed US coastal and ocean environment.

The policy shift proposed by the president’s Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force holds enormous potential for sweeping changes in how the nation’s oceans are managed, including energy development, experts say.

– Christian Science Monitor

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Read the report:   

Delta smelt more important than
S. Californians?

This is the curious story of the Delta Smelt, a tiny, slender fish that resides exclusively in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a fertile area that serves as a transition for water originating in northern California, and ends in water delivery west of the Delta for agriculture and south of the Delta for citizens of southern California.


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Loaded fuel barge aground near Bethel

The Coast Guard and Crowley are responding to the grounding of the 160-foot Crowley barge 160-1 in the Kanektok River near the Quinhagak Village south of Bethel on the eastern shore of the Bering Sea.

According to Crowley representatives the barge is carrying approximately 57,000 gallons of jet fuel and approximately 57,000 gallons of gasoline. There have been no reports of damage to the barge or pollution in the vicinity of the grounding.

– Coast Guard

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State working on Aleutian oil spill plan

Two global risk-management companies will develop options for reducing the possibility of an oil spill in the Aleutian Islands.

Environmental Resources Management, founded in the United Kingdom, and Det Norske Veritas, based in Oslo, Norway, will team up and report late next year on such information as oil-spill likelihood and traffic levels, said Gary Folley, the state’s oil spill response manager for the Aleutians.

– Cordova Times

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Hundreds of walruses found dead

Up to 200 dead walruses have been spotted on the shore of Chukchi Sea on Alaska's northwest coast.

Federal wildlife researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey on their way to a walrus tagging project spotted 100 to 200 carcasses near Icy Cape about 140 miles southwest of Barrow.

– Anchorage Daily News

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Ailing man lifted from catcher-processor

A Sitka-based Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and crew medevaced a 46-year-old male who was reportedly suffering from severe abdominal pain aboard the 254-foot Seattle-based catcher processor Arctic Fjord 135 miles southwest of Sitka at 6:18 a.m. Thursday.

Martin Reyes, a U.S. citizen, was reported to be suffering from possible appendicitis when Health Force Partners requested a medevac on his behalf from the Coast Guard Wednesday afternoon. – Coast Guard    

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Kulture Korner

As part of our unceasing campaign to improve the literary standards of Fish Wrap, we bring you some salty verse, as found in the Crescent City Triplicate.

Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week.
But I'm darned if I know how the helican.

Dixon Lanier Merritt