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Summary for September 28 - October 2, 2009:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lack of salmon killing whales

Killer whales attack prey as large as gray whales and as small as herring. But the killer whales of the San Juan Islands prefer to eat Chinook salmon -- and that could be their ruin.

The Oregonian

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B.C. halibut near MSC certification

B.C.'s lucrative Pacific halibut fishery is close to being certified as sustainable by the London-based Marine Stewardship Council -- a first for a commercial fishery in the province.

– Vancouver Sun

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Huge squid raise questions in north coast

Why the squid arrived here and how long it will stay are just two of the questions researchers would like to answer. Since the squid eat just about anything — including young salmon — fisheries managers are looking for answers that can help them protect vulnerable species.

– Kitsap Sun, Washington state

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Watch for a big Chinook die off in Shasta River

High numbers of fall Chinook salmon returning to the Shasta River are coming home to record low flows and extremely hot weather, creating ideal conditions for a large-scale fish kill in the Shasta River. Biologists and water managers with state and federal agencies are monitoring the situation closely as irrigators continue to maximize water withdrawals through the late September heat wave.

– Dan Bacher

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No SE Alaska red crab fishery this winter

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today we won't be having a Southeast Alaska red king crab fishery in 2009-10.

This will be the fourth consecutive season closure due to weak crab stocks.

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

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Protected area process continues in N. Cal

Over the next year, the north coast community is invited to participate in redesigning California's marine protected areas (MPAs) in coastal waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena. The 1999 state law known as the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) requires this effort to take place.

– Eureka Times Standard


ADF&G says Bristol Bay season was good

The Department of Fish and Game has released a six-page summary of this year’s Bristol Bay salmon fishery, and the numbers look pretty impressive.

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

To read more Deckboss:

To read the ADF&G summary:      

As logging ends, Tongass being healed for fish

Loggers who for decades clear-cut large swaths of old trees from the nation's largest national forest left behind a legacy of destruction. Now, with the logging industry fading in southeast Alaska, most of those outfits are out of business. But a budding, new industry is returning the noise of chainsaws, backhoes and excavators to the Tongass National Forest.

– Juneau Empire



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CG monitors fishing boat aground near Chignik

The Coast Guard is monitoring the response to the grounding of the 83-foot wooden hulled fishing vessel Unimak that grounded near Chignik more than 140 miles southwest of Kodiak Island Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009. The three-man crew abandoned ship into a liferaft and were rescued shortly after by good Samaritans aboard the fishing vessel Sylvia Star.

– Coast Guard

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More on Adak Fisheries mystery

I've been able to peel away a bit of the mystery surrounding a potential buyer of the assets of Adak Fisheries, which has filed for bankruptcy.

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

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Computer chip maker gives $1 million to B.C. fish management

The inventor of the Intel computer chip has invested almost a million dollars in a new west coast Vancouver Island fisheries management organization.

The U.S.-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation chose to invest with the new West Coast Aquatic (WCA) organization, referring to is as a global model for improving the health of local communities and ocean ecosystems.



Humpback whale soon may be off endangered list

New data shows that humpback whale populations have been growing steadily over recent decades, and as a result, the U.S. government may take the humpback whale off the endangered species list.

-- GreenPacks


S. Cal marine protected areas could double

Space set aside for protecting sea life on the Southern California coast would more than double under a trio of proposals for marine sanctuaries released to the public.

– San Diego Union-Tribune

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Booming aquaculture under scrutiny

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.

– Boston Globe

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Japanese not at fault in deadly Alaska Ranger sinking

In an ongoing meeting of the National TransportationSafety Board this morning into
the 2007 sinking of F/V Alaska Ranger, NTSB
staff members are testifying that they found no credible information indicating illegal interference by the Japanese.

The vessel sank early on Easter morning.
Five men died.

Several crewmembers testified to a Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation that they witnessed moments of intense disagreement between the officers on Fishing Company of Alaska ships and Japanese fish masters.

However, this morning, the NTSB’s representative on the Coast Guard panel told the safety board that he could not find any record that Fishing Company of Alaska had fired or disciplined its officers for not following orders from fish masters placed on their vessels by a Japanese company.

He also downplayed sworn testimony from crewmembers describing disagreements between an
Alaska Ranger skipper and his fish master. The crewmembers mostly worked in the vessel’s factory
and would have had little opportunity to see the captain and fish master working together in the wheelhouse, he said.

Observers have speculated that ice operations in a vessel not strengthened for it might have critically damaged the vessel, leading up to the catastrophic failure that sunk the vessel.

Looking back: Cannery wars in Ketchikan

In the spring of 1900, Ketchikan was rife with rumors of war, a salmon war.
Washington-based Fidalgo Island Packing was building a cannery near Inman Hill, just south of Ketchikan Creek and the owners of the Alaska Packers Association Cannery near Loring, 20 miles to the north, were furious.

– SitNews, Ketchikan

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Trying new techniques on the Columbia River

Larry Holland and two helpers dug their feet into the sand and pulled with all their might on a fishing seine net that looped into the Columbia River.

Then Holland, a commercial fishermen who lives in Cathlamet, hopped on an ATV for some extra pulling power to haul the seine towards shore. After about 15 minutes of effort, Holland, his crew and Department of Fish and Wildlife employees counted the catch of exactly one coho.

– The (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian

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‘Beast’found in Homer crab pot

From ship-encircling serpents of Norse mythology to the multi-armed beast of a more modern Jules Verne tale, sea monster accounts are found in virtually all cultures that have contact with the sea. Homer is no exception, as a recent account across Kachemak Bay proves.

– Fairbanks News-Miner

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Might fishing nets be culprit in murrelet’s disappearance?

No one knows why the Kittlitz’s murrelet seabird is disappearing from coastal Alaska, but after two summers of research on southwest Kodiak Island, biologist James Lawonn has some of the most informed guesses.

– Kodiak Daily Mirror



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feds say lost rudder, open watertight doors killed Alaska Ranger

National Transportation Safety investigators believe the Alaska Ranger sank because it dropped one of its two rudders, which essentially opened a hole, 9 inches in diameter, to the sea, according to NTSB staff investigators.
The agency’s board accepted the investigative report during a meeting on Wednesday.

Water spouted into the vessel. But the stream should have been isolated in the far aft of the vessel, stopped by watertight doors and sealed bulkheads. If it had been, the ship wouldn’t have sunk.

But the doors had been left open. Investigators believe that holes in bulkheads for refrigeration conduit hadn’t been sealed properly.

Water flooded into the engine room. Crewmen sent back to report on damage had an opportunity to shut watertight doors. It would have stopped the flood. But water had already reached a major switchbox. It was popping and hissing.

The crewmen didn’t approach the doors. They were afraid of electrocution.

When the switchbox fused, the Ranger’s control pitch propeller system shifted to a position to drag the ship aft. Engines continued to run. The vessel charged backward, creating even more water pressure through the rudder shaft, filling the ship even faster.

When the Ranger charged aft, floating life rafts were pulled away from the vessel, forcing many crew members to swim.

– Pacific Fishing

To read the NTSB findings and recommendations click here.

Klamath dam agreement: Will it help fish?

In a development that could herald the largest dam removal in modern history, 29 parties signed a draft agreement to destroy four dams on the Klamath River to restore salmon and steelhead runs that have been partially blocked for the better part of the past century on the California-Oregon border.
 – New York Times                                              

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Puget Sound Dungeness season opens

Commercial crab season opens today (Oct. 1). The crab pots have been arriving at the harbor, fish plant crab buyers have been stacking up totes and arranging for delivery of crab to their markets, crab bait is arriving to be placed into the bait jars inside the crab pots, this is now the busiest time of the year for Blaine fishers.
 – The Northern Light, Blaine, Wash.

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Bering/Bristol crab allotments down

The state Department of Fish and Game announced total allowable catch limits for this winter's Bering Sea crab fisheries.
Here's a breakdown for the two main fisheries:
Bristol Bay red king crab: 16 million pounds, down 21.6 percent from last season.
Bering Sea snow crab: 48 million pounds, down 18.1 percent from last season.

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

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Video: Coast Guard plucks crewman from submarine

The Coast Guard medically evacuated a crewmember from a U.S. Navy submarine off the coast of Washington state Tuesday.The Navy contacted the Coast Guard at 5:50 p.m. to request assistance in transferring a crewmember to a hospital from a submarine.Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, Ore., launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to assist.
The rescue helicopter arrived on scene at 7:12 p.m. and hoisted the crewmember by basket from the sail of the submarine.

The crewmember was transferred to Oregon.

To see the video:

Video: Coast Guard lifts man from Alaska fishing vessel

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and crew medevaced a 32-year-old man from the 165-foot Seattle based fishing vessel Bountiful with reported symptoms of pneumonia to the St. Paul clinic, Monday.
The Bountiful was approximately 150 miles northwest of St. Paul. An HC-130 Hercules aircraft and crew was diverted to relay communications with the helicopter. The man was delivered safely to St. Paul where he was later transported to Anchorage via life flight medical services. Video by Air Station Kodiak, U.S. Coast Guard.

To see the video:

Pebble Mine election may result in penalties

Both sides in last year's ballot box ruckus over mining -- the most expensive election battle waged in Alaska history -- may have to pay state regulators major penalties for campaign law violations in the battle over Pebble Mine.                                                       

 – Anchorage Daily News

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More jewelers say they’ll shun Pebble gold

As commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay, Alaska, celebrate a record-breaking season, a wave of new jewelry retailers representing nearly $1 billion in sales pledged support for permanently protecting Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed from large-scale metal mining, including the controversial proposed Pebble Mine.
– Press release in

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Yakutat worries over a huge gold claim

An out-of-state investment company is causing controversy in Yakutat after it staked hundreds of mining claims on sacred Native sites and around river systems that have driven the community's economy for generations.
 – Juneau Empire                                                                     

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