Today’s Catch – Nice Work if You Can Get It

Sunday, May 1, marked the beginning of the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, offering cash to anglers who catch the predatory fish.

Northern pikeminnow are voracious eaters, consuming millions of young salmon and steelhead each year. Research shows reducing pikeminnow numbers helps protect salmon and steelhead populations. In a counterintuitive move, Oregon State fish and wildlife workers have specially tagged and released about 1,000 of the nasty predators into the rivers.

The northern pikeminnow with the special tag are worth $500 each, and the program also pays registered anglers $4 to $8 per fish nine inches or longer.

The more fish an angler catches, the more each pikeminnow is worth. Last year the top fisherman in the program earned more than $80,000 in just five-months of fishing.

At press time, more than 2,800 of the nasty predators had been caught – 10 of those were tagged fish worth $500 each.

The program is administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.

Catch and Release
A less lucrative way to get paid for fishing is to be reimbursed by US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, who last month apologized to New England fishermen who were wronged by inappropriate and excessive enforcement actions enacted by NOAA enforcement staff for more than a decade.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that $649,527 in fisheries enforcement penalties would be returned to 11 individuals or businesses after an independent review of their cases concluded the NOAA enforcement program had in some instances “overstepped the bounds of propriety and fairness.”

Secretary Locke acted on 30 cases reviewed by the Special Master, Judge Charles Swartwood III, accepting all of his recommendations that the law allows and taking additional actions in several cases.

Among the businesses and fishermen who will receive returned penalties are the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction ($16,515) and former New Bedford sea scallop fisherman Lawrence Yacubian ($400,000), whose cases date back to the early 2000s.

NOAA will not be paying interest on the ill-gotten penalties, but will be requiring all enforcement personnel and enforcement attorneys to attend annual professional and ethics training to ensure they follow fair, effective and professional procedures.

My Other Boat is a Volvo
Fishermen’s News Advertising Sales Manager Bill Forslund made a second attempt at the trophy for the fastest boat in the 10th annual Pacific Maritime Magazine Quick and Dirty Boatbuilding competition at the Seattle Maritime Festival on May 14th.

Bill’s PVC kayak, designed by Walt Forslund and constructed with ¾-inch PVC pipe and a 20-foot tarp, was sleeker and faster than last year’s entry, and Bill handily won his preliminary heat before succumbing to a rogue wave and capsizing halfway through the final heat. While bobbing in the water after his capsize, Forslund was visibly conflicted – torn between sabotaging the other racers or swimming to a beer proffered by well-wishers on the dock. True to form, Forslund swam to the dock.

The winner of the race was Courtney Bradbury, of naval architecture firm Guido Perla & Associates. Mr. Bradbury had been browbeaten into entering the race by Mr. Forslund during the Bering Sea Fisheries Conference. We suspect Mr. Forslund regrets that decision, but we congratulate him on a race well run.

Chris Philips