Article Category: Columns

Scheduling Snafus

By the time you read this, Pacific Marine Expo, one of the biggest trade shows of the year for the commercial fishing industry, will have already taken place Nov. 8-10 in Seattle.  But as I write these words, the first event is still a few days away. So, with that being the case, this column comes at an unusual point in time where I’m able to say that I look forward to seeing you at PME … and also that it was great seeing you this year at PME.  The Maritime Publishing staff, including myself, worked booth 220 at this year’s event; if you attended the expo, hopefully you got a chance to visit and say hello while you were there.  And although from my current perspective the event hasn’t happened yet, I’m sure it will be an engaging, informative gathering, as some of the items on the educa...
Watertight Door Maintenance

Watertight Door Maintenance

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, flooding and resultant capsizings are responsible for about 50% of fishing vessel casualties. Maintaining a watertight envelope, including watertight doors, is key to keeping the ocean out of your vessel. But what is a watertight door? A watertight door, according to the Coast Guard, is “a space constructed to withstand a static head of water without any leakage.” Whereas a weather-tight door is “a door that water will not penetrate into the unit in any sea condition.” In other words, a watertight door should not leak even when there is a head of water on the opposite side of the door, as opposed to a weather-tight door that is just designed to keep the weather and normal seas from leaking through the door. To give an idea of the water pressure a wa...
From the Editor: PME ‘23

From the Editor: PME ‘23

Once again, the time is almost upon us for one of the largest and longest running annual marine trade shows on the West Coast, the Pacific Marine Expo. This year’s event takes place Nov. 8-10 at the Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle. And this year, as usual, the company behind Fishermen’s News Magazine, Maritime Publishing, will be in attendance all three days. Also on hand will be representatives from Maritime Institute, the San Diego-based business that Maritime Publishing is under the umbrella of. Maritime Publishing and Maritime Institute personnel will staff booth 220 during this year’s expo, and a handful of representatives from each company are scheduled to be there, including CEO-Publisher Dave Abrams, Advertising Sales Manager Katie Higgins, Senior Designer Kathy Samuelson ...
Ammonia Risks in Fish Processing

Ammonia Risks in Fish Processing

Ammonia is a popular, cost-effective refrigerant in many fish processing plants, both afloat and onshore. Anhydrous (without water) ammonia (NH3) is a colorless, heavier-than-air gas at normal air pressure and temperature, but at pressure it turns into a liquid. It is stored in pressurized containers. Once released from pressure it turns into an icy vapor that can freeze skin within seconds. When it combines with water it forms ammonium hydroxide, which is a component of lye and thus is also very caustic to skin. It is potentially a flammable gas if heated above 1,560 degrees Fahrenheit and an ammonia/air mix of 16%-25%. This material is very toxic to aquatic life. Water contaminated with this material must be contained and prevented from being discharged to waterways, sewers or drains. ...
Paying for Offshore Wind Fishery Impacts

Paying for Offshore Wind Fishery Impacts

With the onrush of new offshore wind (OSW) projects planned all over the U.S. West Coast (most recently with new designated areas offshore in Oregon), and both state and national policies pushing these projects hard, the real fear in the commercial fishing industry is that the protection needs of many valuable ocean fisheries will simply be ignored. OSW projects are, unfortunately, going to be sited where the ocean winds are strongest and most reliable. These are often the areas of greatest fish abundance, because they are the areas with strongest cold-water upwellings. Strong ocean winds create and power these same upwellings, which provide vital nutrients to support multiple fish species in those key fisheries areas. Threats to Fisheries We have written before about the potential har...
Toxic Tires: Getting 6PPD Out

Toxic Tires: Getting 6PPD Out

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the fishing folks we represent have never been timid about taking on hard tasks, especially when it comes to protecting our fisheries. PCFFA was formed in 1976 for the specific purpose of protecting—and where necessary, restoring—sustainable commercial fishing as a way of life, including using the combined strength of the many local fishermen’s organizations that make up the PCFFA to take on all the hard tasks involved. Since salmon has long been a major West Coast ocean fishery (in spite of recent collapses) our mission also means working hard to protect and restore damaged salmon habitat wherever salmon occur, all the way up to the tops of coastal watersheds. PCFFA’s sister organization, the Institute for Fisheries Resources...
Onboard De-Escalation

Onboard De-Escalation

Fishermen work in a stress-rich environment. There’s trip planning and preparation, forecasting weather and sea conditions and risk of mechanical failure. There’s business issues too—fish prices, inflation, making delivery schedules, managing crew, debt and regulatory agencies, fish management schemes and fish stock conditions. There are plenty of triggers to cause agitation on a vessel. Agitation is actually an acute behavioral emergency that requires immediate intervention. Stress can lead to an explosion of verbal, mental or physical abuse that can take the form of bullying, aggression or hostility. In the physical and mentally demanding environment of fishing, getting along on the vessel is a highly valued skill. There isn’t an option to just walk out the door and go home while at se...
Managing Offshore Wind Threats  to West Coast Fisheries

Managing Offshore Wind Threats to West Coast Fisheries

Note: The suddenly looming threat of massive, industrial-scale offshore wind farm development in the midst of the West Coast’s most productive fisheries is alarming. Identifying, avoiding and mitigating impacts on our fisheries is now a high industry priority. This special guest column by former PCFFA/IFR Executive Director Mike Conroy, now with the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), will help bring West Coast fishing industry leaders up to speed on these issues as well as highlighting opportunities for making our fishing industry’s voice better heard. Endnote source references are indicated in the text by numbers in parenthesis.  – Glen Spain, Executive Director, PCFFA and IFR. As many harvesters headed out during a busy time of year, this summer the Bureau of Ocean Energy...
Dental Emergencies at Sea

Dental Emergencies at Sea

Although we usually think of emergencies at sea in terms of fire, capsizing, flooding or personal injury, a dental problem can also cut short a fishing opening or even require an emergency medivac. Let’s take a look at some common dental problems and how to deal with them onboard. Infections Infections involve either the pulp tissue inside the tooth or the gum tissue around the tooth. Signs and symptoms can include loose teeth or sensitivity to hot, cold or biting. Redness or swelling in the gum tissue or on the face occur in the later stages and should be treated promptly by a dentist. Treatment at sea could include oral antibiotics; have an in-date supply onboard before problems arise. They may be successful in somewhat suppressing the infection, but won’t cure the problem. A gum s...
How West Coast Fisheries Can Prepare for Challenges of Climate Change

How West Coast Fisheries Can Prepare for Challenges of Climate Change

The bad news about climate change is that nearly everything in our fragile ocean environment is about to shift, and indeed is already changing, in ways likely to be detrimental to our existing fisheries. The good news, however, is that there are a number of things our fisheries managers—and our industry—can still do to prepare and be ready for those challenges. In case you missed them, two thorough California Current climate change Vulnerability Assessments (VAs) have been released for Pacific Salmon & Steelhead (VA 2019) and Other Managed Species (VA 2023). The latter also includes salmonids. Data and assessments from these documents, produced by National Marine Fisheries Services Science Center staff and other partners, are also being made available in other formats (e.g., the Pac...