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Summary for September 21 - September 25, 2009:

Monday, September 21, 2009

NOAA says pollock population remains low

NOAA fisheries researchers have released scientific data from their 2009 bottom trawl and mid-water acoustic surveys of pollock in the Bering Sea. One survey index is lower than expected based on the 2008 population analysis while the other is higher.  The 2009 surveys confirm that the population is low and indicate that the number of incoming young fish may be down also.


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Greenpeace lashes out at pollock managers

Responding to an announcement from the National Marine Fisheries Service reporting the results of this year’s pollock stock survey, John Hocevar, Greenpeace oceans campaigner director in the U.S., offered the following statement:

"Contrary to projections, pollock stocks have not recovered, remaining at near record low levels. While the fishing industry and others continue to cite the pollock fishery as a model of fisheries management, the pollock population has declined sharply in recent years. In spite of concerns raised by Greenpeace and many scientists, unsustainable fishing rates have been allowed to continue, as has heavy trawling on spawning aggregations.”

– Greenpeace

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You’re a Communist

Neo-conservative talk show host Sean Hannity reported live from the San Joaquin Valley last week in full-throated support of corporate farmers in their campaign to remove more Sacramento River water from fish habitat.

At the same event, one of Hannity’s pals – California Congressman Devin Nunes – said if you disagree with Hannity, you’re “tied closely to the Communist Party.”

Take a look at a video news report, comrade:

Taking tissue samples could increase local salmon catches

Hoping to preserve future fishing harvests, commercial fisherman Doug Fricke did something different while trolling for Chinook salmon this year. Each time he reeled in a salmon off Washington's coast, he clipped a piece of fin, attached a barcode to the fish jaw, took a scale sample and recorded the GPS location.

Huge squid now beaching themselves

The giant Humboldt squid that invaded North Olympic Peninsula waters earlier this month apparently have taken to beaching themselves.

Observers in Clallam Bay and Sekiu say that hundreds of the large squid — which can grow to six-feet-long and weigh up to 70 pounds — have littered the beaches each morning since Wednesday.

– Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles

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Stupid people doing stupid things

Sometimes you have to wonder about the sanity of people who do very stupid things near the ocean.

And you then have to wonder about the sanity of the Coast Guard rescue swimmers who voluntarily face great peril to save the aforementioned people.

Here’s the latest story:

A guy was hang-gliding off Oregon’s Cape Lookout over the weekend. He screws up, crashes in the Pacific, and finds “shelter” in a cave lashed by breakers.

No one could get to the guy other than a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, who swam through the waves bouncing off rock to reach the hang-glider jockey.

Here’s the official account: “Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, Ore., launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, which located the person near the hang glider wreckage in a cave. The Jayhawk crew deployed a rescue swimmer and hoisted the person in distress before transporting him to local emergency response personnel waiting nearby.”

See some dramatic video of the rescue at:

Morro Bay fisherman and leader dies

The acknowledged godfather of the Morro Bay fishing fleet, former city councilman, mayor and businessman Joseph C. “Joe” Giannini died Sept. 14 from complications due to a fall he took in August. He was 94.

Born in Portland, Ore., July 28, 1915, Giannini was the son of Sicilian immigrants Giuseppe and Caterine Giannini, who moved to the U.S. in 1905.

His introduction to Morro Bay was pure accident. While fishing for soupfin shark about 100 miles off the coast in late summer 1946, he came upon a boat in distress and towed the vessel into the nearest port — Morro Bay, a harbor he’d never heard of.

Over the next 50-plus years the taut, deeply tanned fisherman with a shock of white hair and voice that could boom one moment and gear down to sotto voce the next, couldn’t have been a more dynamic fixture in the community if he’d been a native son.

– San Luis Obispo Tribune

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Petitions oppose offshore Alaska drilling

Opponents of offshore drilling – including some dressed as salmon and polar bears – delivered more than 250,000 postcards and letters to the Interior Department Monday on a proposal to open vast waters off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts to oil and gas drilling.  

– Juneau Empire

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Is Trident interested in Adak plant?

Deckboss probed a little deeper today into documents filed thus far in the Adak Fisheries bankruptcy case and came across an interesting e-mail from company lawyer Cabot Christianson.

The Sept. 12 message to lawyers for creditor Independence Bank says in part that Adak Fisheries "does not intend to operate the processing plant at Adak; instead, Debtor intends to negotiate a sale of the equipment at Adak to Trident Seafoods, or some other bidder, and then either convert to a Chapter 7 or file a liquidating plan of reorganization."

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

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Opinion: Latest Columbia plan is promising

We're seeing encouraging signs for Northwest salmon this year. More than 700 Snake River sockeye have returned to Idaho – the most since we began counting in the 1950s and up from just one in 1992. Snake River fall chinook are expected back in numbers not seen for decades.

This is a more promising picture of federally protected salmon in the Northwest's Columbia and Snake rivers than Chronicle readers got in an Aug. 16 editorial calling for breaching hydroelectric dams to save these salmon.

– Steve Wright, administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, writing
in The San Francisco Chronicle

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Another attack on gillnets

It is ironic that Oregon strives to be a leader in sustainability, yet we continue to subject our wild salmon runs to unsustainable harvest practices that are pushing the fish toward extinction.

Bryan Irwin, executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association in the Pacific Northwest, writing in The Oregonian

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Sones reappointed to Pacific council

The U.S. Commerce Department has announced the reappointment of David B. Sones to the Pacific Fishery Management Council. Sones is a member of the Makah Indian Tribe, and will serve his second term as the tribal designee for the Northwest, Columbia River and Klamath River Tribal Nations.

– The Daily Astorian

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Global aquaculture grows ever stronger

By the end of this year, the world is projected to reach an unheralded but historic milestone: Half of the fish and shellfish we consume will be raised by humans, rather than caught in the wild.

– Juneau Empire

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Tale of suddenly sinking in the Pacific

Jay Dodge keeps things in perspective as he recounts a harrowing experience he had at sea just 48 hours earlier.

Dodge and his friend, Scott Havel, were nearly 20 miles off Cape Alava navigating 12-foot swells when they noticed that Dodge's 34-foot wooden fishing boat, the Moonbeam, was taking on water from its stern -- and fast.

– Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Unalaska likes offshore drilling

The Unalaska City Council passed a resolution supporting proposed federal offshore oil and gas leasing in the North Aleutian Basin.

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

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Fuel barge finally floated near Bethel

The Coast Guard, Crowley, and Alaska Department of Conservation have successfully coordinated the removal of Crowley barge 160-1 grounded on a sand bar in the Kanektok River near the Quinhagak Village south of Bethel on the eastern shore of the Bering Sea.

The barge grounded on a sand bar in the Kanektok River while navigating shallow water enroute to making a fuel delivery to the Quinhagak Village on Sept. 14. At the time of the grounding the barge had a cargo of 71,000 gallons of gasoline and 71,000 of jet fuel on board.

– Coast Guard

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Editorial: Red flag at Red Dog; is Alaska ready for Pebble?

The recent settlement by Teck Alaska over wastewater discharge violations at its Red Dog Mine and port near Kotzebue testifies to both the value of the Clean Water Act and the risk inherent in world-class mining operations.

– Anchorage Daily News

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Poll: Bristol Bay residents oppose Pebble mine

A new poll released finds an overwhelming majority of Bristol Bay residents strongly prefer their subsistence lifestyle to the promise of jobs at the proposed Pebble Mine.

– Nunamta Aulukestai, a coalition of eight village corporations, press release

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New whale rules could hurt commercial fishermen

Commercial fishermen fear that proposed federal rules to protect endangered Puget Sound orca whales could harm their livelihood because it would restrict their access to waters on the west side of San Juan Island during the commercial season for sockeye and pink salmon.

– Bellingham Herald

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PETA promises topless ‘mermaids’ at protest

Wearing little more than fish tails and shimmery body paint, topless PETA members will lie "dead" on the ground in the heart of Naples' (Florida) shopping and dining district to protest the cruelty of killing fish for food or sport.


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Gov. Parnell nominates for fishery council

Governor Sean Parnell today nominated Alaskans for service on the Pacific Salmon Commission and its panels relating to management of salmon fisheries in Southeast Alaska and Canadian waters.

– Press release

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Stimulus money to help Eureka port

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has announced that the city will receive $2.4 million in stimulus funds through a Economic Development Administration grant to help with the completion of the city's long-planned Fisherman's Terminal Building, the last of 11 city-approved projects aimed at turning a dilapidated waterfront into a thriving fishing port.

– Eureka Times-Standard

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pebble Mine budget increases by $10 million

The budget for developing a large mine near some of the world's most productive wild salmon streams has been increased by $10 million to prepare the Pebble Mine for the government permit process, the mining company behind the proposed project said Wednesday.

– Anchorage Daily News

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Sarah’s still pitching fish

“And either as whole salmon or caviar, commercial fishing is really tough business. And in tough conditions, we even used to laugh about this, thinking that we’re putting together such delicacies for the other side of the world, is how we referred to it.

“Over 70% of our exports came from wild organic fresh Alaska seafood, and our potential for more is massive because Alaska has the world’s richest seafood industry. We have the world’s most abundant salmon spawning grounds right there in Bristol Bay.”

– Sarah Palin speaking to businessmen in Hong Kong, as noted in

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B.C. government call for Fraser sockeye review

The disastrous 2009 Fraser sockeye season has prompted B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner to ask the federal fisheries minister to call for a public review.

– Hope (B.C.) Standard

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Alaskans to receive $1,305 each

Gov. Sean Parnell's announcement that eligible Alaskans will get a $1,305 dividend this year from the Alaska Permanent Fund prompted smiles and applause from a small group that gathered on a bracing autumn afternoon at Town Square in downtown Anchorage to witness what has become an annual ritual.

– Anchorage Daily News

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Murkowski pushes drilling in Beaufort, Chukchi seas

Alaska’s offshore oil and natural gas resources are vital to the nation’s strategic, economic and energy security. That’s why I strongly support responsible exploration and production in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

– Sen. Lisa Murkowski, writing in the Homer Tribune

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Sacramento fish protection screens put off

A plan to place two removable gates in California's freshwater estuary to keep threatened fish from getting killed by water pumps has been put off for this year.

San Joaquin Valley farmers favored the "Two Gates" proposal as a temporary solution to the water crisis hitting the state and slowing deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

– San Jose Mercury News

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New Cal logging rules to help salmon

State forestry officials last week effectively passed a package of logging rules meant to improve conditions in streams for salmon and steelhead -- regulations that have been received coolly by timber interests and environmental groups alike.

The rules passed the California Board of Forestry on a 9-0 vote, and will be formally adopted on Oct. 7. Two more rule packages concerning logging roads and cumulative effects are beginning to be drawn up by the board.

– Eureka Times-Standard

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Furuno executive passes away

Industry veteran and long time Furuno executive Roy Thompson, 68, has passed away after a two and a half year battle with lung cancer.

A native of Brooklyn, Thompson went to electronics school in the Navy and later worked for Raytheon Marine Company, ITT Decca, Dolphin Electronics, and was appointed regional sales manager for Furuno in 1984.

In 1989, Thompson was promoted to marketing manager of Furuno. In 2000, he took on management of Furuno USA’s Special Products and Fisheries Department.

Roy is survived by his wife of 35 years Mabel, daughters Linda, Eileen, and Audrey, son Christian, and one granddaughter, Katherine.

– Furuno