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Summary for November 24 - November 28, 2008:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Your lawyers in Exxon case seek more money from you

As I understand it, the lawyers representing thousands of commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs will take a 22 percent cut of whatever punitive damages ultimately are collected from Exxon Mobil Corp. for the 1989 oil spill.

But these legal fees aren’t the only deduction to be taken from the $383 million Exxon has paid so far.

The lawyers have filed this motion to also deduct $26.5 million in expenses rung up over the course of the nearly 20-year battle with Exxon. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writing for the Anchorage Daily News

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Bristol Bay reds heading to Wal-Mart

JUNEAU -- Some of Alaska's finest sockeye salmon is hitting Wal-Mart's frozen food sections.  Wal-Mart says it is stocking Bristol Bay wild salmon in 233 of its stores throughout the western United States. – Anchorage Daily News

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Commercials, sport fishermen unhappy over Columbia split

ASTORIA, Ore. -- Commercial and sport fishermen are unhappy about a proposal to split the lower Columbia River chinook harvest between them as the plan heads to Oregon and Washington regulators next month.

The Columbia River Fish Working Group, which includes three fish and wildlife commissioners each from Oregon and Washington, has agreed on a recommendation for balancing the sport and commercial salmon fisheries.

The plan, which could last up to five years, would edge commercial gillnetters out of any hope of a 50-50 catch share with sport fishermen while introducing the possibility of a severe reduction to a 15-85 percent split when salmon are scarce. – Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Seattle area company charged with fish fraud

A Bellevue-based fish vendor accused of mislabeling thousands of pounds of fish as halibut caught in the United States and Russia, and then selling the fish for profit to consumers, was charged with two felony counts in documents filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle Monday. – Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Opinion:  ‘Organic’ decision good for fish farms

You're going to hear, if you have not already, that the feds are preparing to allow farmed salmon and other fish to be labeled "organic," as if there is something wholesome and natural about raising millions of fish in polluting net pens, and sweeping the seas of menhaden, mackerel and other small fish to feed them.

No one ought to be under any illusions about most of the world's fish farms, especially those that grow carnivorous species such as salmon. These farms are terrible polluters, "floating pig farms," in the words of Daniel Pauly, professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. – Rick Attig, writing in The Oregonian

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some Exxon Valdez money being distributed – finally!

Thousands of Alaska fishermen and other plaintiffs should receive their portion of punitive damages in the Exxon Valdez oil spill lawsuit before the end of November, a federal judge said Monday.

Judge H. Russel Holland ordered the release of $151 million of the negotiated $383 million settlement stemming from a lawsuit filed in the nation's worst oil spill nearly two decades ago.

Plaintiffs attorney Andrew Ott expects that money to be distributed by some time next week. – Houston Chronicle

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Oregon Dungeness fishermen, processors agree on price

Dungeness crabbers and processors agreed Monday to a price — $1.60 a pound, locked in for seven days. The agreement lets the commercial crab season start on Dec. 1.

The state-sponsored price negotiations between five processors and five port marketing associations took more than two days and several conference calls to complete. Katy Coba, the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, must now ratify the agreement. Fishermen and processors expect that to happen Tuesday. – Coos Bay World


B.C. fish farmers look to huge production increase

The recent revelation that fish farm companies in British Columbia are seeking to increase production levels by as much as 600 percent has critics furious.

Last week, the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform discovered Ministry of Agriculture and Lands documents that show Mainstream and Marine Harvest Canada, the two leading salmon farm companies in Canada, are both seeking to triple their current licensed production on farms in the Broughton Archipelago and Discovery Islands.

CAAR also learned that the province has already approved amendments to two of Marine Harvest's five applications, without public notice or consultation. – Prince Rupert Daily News

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Editorial: Oregon marine reserve plan not big enough

There was something sadly appropriate about the venue for last week's big public airing of Gov. Ted Kulongoski's vision for fishing-free marine reserves off the Oregon coast.

The meetings were at Lincoln City's Chinook Winds Casino. And that was a fitting place because the odds of Kulongoski's plan going anywhere were about as lousy as the craps tables. – The Oregonian

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Thais to cut surimi production

Thai surimi producers have agreed to reduce production of minced fish or surimi until year-end or even the first quarter of next year after Japan signaled it would cut imports significantly.

Japan, the biggest importer by far with 70 of Thailand's output, has reduced orders from Thailand since August, leaving a large stockpile of surimi. The industry estimated that there are about 30,000 tonnes of stock, whereas normal stocks do not exceed 10,000 tonnes.  – Bangkok Post

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dungeness price down from last year

NEWPORT – The commercial Dungeness crab season is a go. Crabbers and processors struck a price Monday of $1.60 a pound, clearing the way for the harvest to begin at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Dec. 1.

The price is down 40 cents from last year's record $2 a pound price at the start of the season. – The Oregonian

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NOAA fines Fishing Company of Alaska

NOAA’s Office of the General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation has announced a settlement agreement with the Fishing Company of Alaska and the captains and the owner of the F/V Alaska Juris for fisheries violations occurring from 2002 through 2004.

The Fishing Company of Alaska, Leon J. Duvall, Christian Ralph Thome Jr., Brian Madruga, and Alaska Juris Inc. agreed to pay $449,700 to settle the charges against them. They admitted violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, including interfering with observer sampling, tampering with observer gear, failing to assist observers, mishandling prohibited species, fishing in a habitat conservation area, and fishing during a closed period.

(The FCA trawler Alaska Ranger sank last March, killing five men.) – NOAA


As expected, Alaska halibut catch limits reduced

The recommended halibut catch limits are out for next year, and many fishermen won’t be too happy.

The overall limit for all regulatory areas from the West Coast to the Bering Sea is 54 million pounds, down 10.6 percent from this year. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

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Ocean acidification coming on faster than thought

Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster than predicted, threatening heightened damage to coral reefs and shellfish, University of Chicago scientists said.

Researchers took more than 24,000 pH measurements over eight years and found the rate at which the ocean is becoming more acidic correlates with the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, or CO2, the university said in a statement. When CO2, which helps cause global warming, dissolves in water, it forms carbonic acid. – Bloomberg

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See you on Monday

Fish Wrap will be off for the Thanksgiving weekend. We’ll return on Monday.