Article Category: Features

COVID-19 Created Huge Challenges, Losses for Alaska, West Coast Fisheries

COVID-19 Created Huge Challenges, Losses for Alaska, West Coast Fisheries

A global pandemic raising havoc in health care and the nation’s economy, prompting cost-of-living increases and supply-chain disruptions, has cost the seafood industry in Alaska and Western states millions of dollars since the spring of 2020. If there’s a silver lining in those challenges, along with climate-change issues facing fisheries, it is that consumer demand for seafood is up, and so is the market price. When the novel coronavirus, aka COVID-19, began spreading rapidly two years ago, thousands of restaurants shut down, and customers of the food-service industry, ranging from universities to the tourism industry, also substantially decreased or halted their orders. With millions of people sick and many dying of COVID-19, seafood processors operating in Alaska and the U.S. West...
Vessel Profile: F/V Kiska Sea

Vessel Profile: F/V Kiska Sea

The 125-foot crab vessel F/V Kiska Sea has returned to the snow crab grounds along the Russian border after a successful haul out at the Port of Toledo, Oregon. The haul out was the first of its kind for the Kiska Sea at the location. “The Port of Toledo was very accommodating,” vessel Capt. Mike Wilson from the helm via satellite phone. “They were good people.” Wilson has skippered the Kiska Sea since it launched in 1990 and was involved with design of the vessel when it was built, namely the functional elements of the deck layout. He began his fishing career when he was 17 in a Kodiak cannery. “Then I got a deck job and slowly worked my way to the wheelhouse,” he told Fishermen’s News. I’ve been skippering for close to 40 years now.” Owned by Seattle-based Aleutian Spray Fisheries,...
BC Takes Drastic Steps to Rebuild Pacific Salmon Stocks

BC Takes Drastic Steps to Rebuild Pacific Salmon Stocks

With Pacific salmon stocks in long-term decline and many of those runs on the verge of collapse, the Canadian government is taking drastic steps in a multi-year program to reduce pressure on exiting stocks and to stabilize and rebuild abundance. “What cannot be debated is that most wild Pacific salmon stocks continue to decline at unprecedented rates—we are pulling the emergency brake to give these salmon populations the best chance at survival,” Bernadette Jordan, the then-Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said before leaving office. She announced in mid-2021 long term closures of specific commercial fisheries and the launch of the Pacific Salmon Commercial Transition Program, which provides harvesters with the option to retire their licenses for fair-market v...
Boat Prep: Getting Your Vessel Ready for the Upcoming Season

Boat Prep: Getting Your Vessel Ready for the Upcoming Season

For every profession there are tools of the trade—equipment that’s vital to success. Chefs have their knives; hairstylists have their scissors. For commercial fishermen, it’s what’s beneath their feet – their boat. It’s the one entity that separates them and their crew from the ocean’s murky depths. And before they head out to sea for weeks or months, their vessel needs to be prepared. “Their boat is their life,” explained Blaise Holly, lead shipwright at Haven Boatworks in Port Townsend, Wash. “All the conditions have to exist to ensure that boat brings you back and all the supply systems (are ready) for your fishing operation. When you’re heading out you want to do everything in your power to make sure your boat’s going to float, it’s not going to burst into flames , and it’s going to...
Aquaculture – Possible Big Moves in 2022

Aquaculture – Possible Big Moves in 2022

Over the last four decades in the U.S., interest in farmed seafood, aka aquaculture—at least at the federal level —has rolled in and out like the tide. However, interest alone has yet to result in the kind of projects that deliver large scale, national impacts. In the last two years alone, numerous aquaculture initiatives had high-level federal attention, including: October 2020, in response to a Presidential Executive Order, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a request for information on the development of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOAs), with an initial focus on sites in the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. In August 2021, NOAA and the Department of Agriculture moved to update the National Aquaculture Development Plan. There should be more to co...
Looking Ahead  at 2022:  COVID-19 Plods On

Looking Ahead at 2022: COVID-19 Plods On

While the ripple effects of the coronavirus continued to be felt throughout 2021, officials have told Fishermen’s News that the direct impact on the fishing industry in the year to come will be difficult to ascertain. Numerous offices were closed in 2021 and personnel continued to work out of their homes, as many West Coast fishermen continued to ply their trade in order to feed their region’s burgeoning human population. “Fishermen are hardy people,” said Michael Milstein, spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Portland. “They kept fishing.” Nonetheless, the pandemic’s reach was felt in the industry, slowing operations on various levels. “Tracking down exact reasons becomes a bit difficult,” said NOAA Affiliate, Jim Seger. “For the commercial fi...
New West Coast Fishing Regulations for 2022

New West Coast Fishing Regulations for 2022

With the new year comes a new book of fishing regulations. Actually, many new books – plural – of fishing regulations, since regulations are set by each individual state. These regulations can have a significant impact on anglers, governing everything from catch limits, zoning and licensing requirements. For 2022, fishing regulations have been altered mainly to either assist conservation efforts or to clarify language. Here are some of the most significant changes affecting fishermen along the West Coast. Alaska Alaska, which includes four times more coastline than any other state, faces a larger regulatory task than most of the continental United States. Alaskan fisheries are regulated by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, which meets every three years to determine regulatory changes. D...
Orange County Fishermen and Women Brace for Long Oil Spill Recovery

Orange County Fishermen and Women Brace for Long Oil Spill Recovery

Shortly after an estimated 25,000 gallons of oil poured into the Pacific Ocean off Orange County’s coast last October, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife instituted a temporary fishing ban along 20 miles of coastline. No fishing was allowed from Huntington Beach to San Clemente, extending six miles out to sea. The unexpected closure sent fishers scrambling to mitigate losses and get traps of harm’s way. Then the hard part began. Until the fisheries were reopened in late November, many businesses were scraping by and in limbo, unable to move forward until they knew what’s lost and afraid that consumers will avoid their catch for years to come. Lobsters Get a Lashing The closures came at the worst possible time for the region’s lobster anglers, who had everything primed for...
Polar Star Marks Its 25th Operation Deep Freeze Deployment

Polar Star Marks Its 25th Operation Deep Freeze Deployment

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, the nation’s only heavy icebreaker, is now engaged in its 25th journey to Antarctica, in support of Operation Deep Freeze, an annual joint military mission to re-supply the U.S. Antarctic stations in support of the National Science Foundation for the nation’s Antarctic Program. Polar Star left its homeport in Seattle on Nov. 13 with a crew of 159 men and women, heading south on its annual trek to Antarctica. Capt. William Woityra, commanding officer of the Polar Star, said that maintaining and operating the 45-year-old ship in the harshest environment on the planet makes for arduous duty, but that the crew are committed to this important mission and “excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a part of the world that most will never get...
Feds, States Pouring Millions of Dollars into Boosting Declining Pacific Salmon, Steelhead Runs

Feds, States Pouring Millions of Dollars into Boosting Declining Pacific Salmon, Steelhead Runs

For Alaska’s Bristol Bay salmon commercial fishery, 2021 was another robust season, with deliveries of an estimated 40.5 million of the Bay’s famed wild sockeyes. Statewide through late September, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary harvest data showed 226.3 million salmon delivered to processors, including 156.5 million pinks, nearly 55 million sockeyes, 12 million chums, 2.4 million cohos and 247,000 Chinooks. Still, there were signs of concern even in Bristol Bay which, with its nine major river systems, comprises the largest commercial sockeye salmon-producing region in the world. “In Bristol Bay, average size is at 4.5 pounds per sockeye this year, down from 5.1 pounds in 2020,” fisheries consultant Dan Lesh noted in a late July report for McKinley Research Gr...