This year, the trip north was smooth and calm. Even the open crossings at Dixon Entrance were mellow. It took four days to bring the boat north this summer. We arrived just in enough time to head to Kendrick Bay for our first four day opener in southeast Alaska. The weather turned for the worst as soon as we arrived in Alaska. So, the last four days were spent rolling and bucking around in sloppy seas.
Pacific salmon play a vital part of our worlds ecology. Over 22 different species feed off the bounty of the salmon‘s epic yearly migration. For millions of years, the salmon ruled the pacific ocean and populations flourished thought out the Pacific Rim. Native cultures revered these massive returns as gifts and celebrated each season’s salmon return with art and ceremony. In 1779, Captain James Cook discovered the Columbia River and its salmon bounty while searching for the inside passage. Once the Europeans hit the west coast, large-scale salmon exporting by the Hudson Bay Fishery ramped up. In 1876, the first salmon cannery opened in Astoria and there were 70 more along the coast by the turn of the century.
Salmon production vigorously continued along the coast well in the next century. By the mid 1900’s, it was obvious that the salmon stocks were in serious decline. Mismanagement by the federal government was blamed for most of the problems, then in 1959 Alaska became a state and took control of the fisheries. New management techniques included escapement, which ensured that sufficient numbers of salmon escape capture to ensure the health of future spawning generations. Even with new measures in effect, salmon stocks declined to record lows in 1972. The Limited Entry Act passed in 1973 to regulate the overall number of permits. This system has proved successful in rebuilding the salmon runs to today’s epic standards.
The history of salmon is full of flaws and mistakes, yet the saga of salmon defines the west coast. This majestic fish still dominates Pacific waters and provides the world with one of nature’s greatest proteins. Salmon have survived through all the hardships man has delivered over the years and remains one of natures greatest events. Next time salmon is on your dinner plate, think of the history of a truly amazing fish.
Every year in May, the little fishing village of Petersburg, Alaska celebrates the local Norwegian heritage. The town is transformed for a four day festival that embraces the inner viking in all of us. Check out the local webcam and you might see a few vikings roaming the streets. Click thru on the KFSK link to hear local audio. Enjoy the youtube pick from last season’s festival. Ha en fin søttende mai!
Main Street will be lined with concessions and food booths. Vikings and Valkyries will parade through the streets with their ship, the Valhalla and their Viking mobile. Other residents will show off their traditional Norwegian costumes called Bunader. All this and more is coming up as the 54th annual Little Norway Festival goes into high gear on its second day – Friday, the 18th. Matt Lichtenstein asked Festival committee co-chairs Holli Flint and Katie Eddy for a preview of Friday’s schedule.
The recent Supermoon has kicked up the tides in one of the dangerous harbors in southeast Alaska. The Petersburg harbor is well protected from intense sweep, but it is one of the rare areas where the tide can rip at 4 knots through the harbor. The Ferry dock is fairly far away from the Ocean Beauty Dock, so the tide must have been insane. It appears that the ferry was undamaged, but the docks at Ocean Beauty will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. Thanks to @sperry06 for the timely photos. Check out the vid for a great story about the Wrangell Narrows.
The Petersburg Pilot reports the ferry struck the dock while performing a 360-degree maneuver, required in order for it to dock in Petersburg. The face of the Ocean Beauty cement dock was heavily damaged, dock pilings were broken and a crane was damaged.
Even the second floor of the idled processing plant was damaged, with walls and outer walkways partially demolished. The Matanuska shows possible dents and scrapes to the bow of the ship.
Petersburg Harbormaster Glorianne Wollen told the Pilot: “It wasn’t a glancing blow. It pretty much was a head-on hit.”
The 2012 salmon season is here! Many people consider “Copper River Reds” the first salmon the season, but southeast fishermen get a chance to start today.! The Taku and the Stikine are open for a one day King salmon gilnett fishery. Southeast trollers also get a chance at the early kings this year too. Good luck to all! Let’s hope the season starts with a bang! Enjoy the youtube pick of last year’s gilnett season in southeast. I kinda like the disco beats in the video, too!
Commercial Gillnetters and trollers in the Petersburg and Wrangell area will be targeting king salmon in the marine waters near the Stikine River starting early next week. The District 8 king season was closed for the previous three years because the Stikine runs were not big enough. This year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is projecting nearly 41 thousand large kings will return, which is enough for a commercial harvest.
Area management biologist Troy Thynes says, ” “Now in terms of this forecast, it’s probably, over the long term, about an average size king salmon run for the Stikine River. In short term, its actually under average because we’ve had some very large returns in the early 2000’s……What we’ve seen here is this forecast, compared to past years, is is above the last three years pre-season forecast and pretty similar to the 2007 and 2008 forecast.”
The Stikine River king salmon run is shared between Alaska and Canada under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Based on the pre-season forecast, Alaska is allowed a total catch of just under 59 hundred kings including commercial and sport landings. Canada’s share is about 68 hundred fish.
Alaska’s target could change later this month when the state comes up with an in-season forecast based on actual returns to the river
Update May 1st 2012: The vote passed with a tally of 215 pro votes. Although the bill was controversial, many fishermen are satisfied with the outcome. The measure has some young fishermen scrambling for permits, which are speculated to reach as high as 200,000 dollars after the program. Now that 150 permits are out of the mix, many fishermen speculate on the consequences of fishing violations, which could result in the loss of even more permits. All the details will be fleshed out in the coming months. Southeast Alaska Seining will never be the same. It will be interesting to see how this fleet consolidation affects the fleet in the coming years.
The Southeast Alaska Buyback program is in full swing. In fact, the final vote is due on April 30th. Unfortunately, because of the constraints of certified mail, some permit owners haven’t had the chance to vote. SEAS is currently in the process of contacting all the permit holders and looking for viable solutions to the voting process. Anyone looking to get their hands on a ballot need to react quickly. Here is the number for SEAS, 9077238267. Please direct all questions to this number. For more details on the Buyback, please check out www.seiners.net. This will forever change the landscape of seining in Southeast Alaska, please be informed when casting your vote.
The battle to harvest the massive quota before everything spawns out continues in Sitka. So far, about 11,000 tons have been harvest in just two openers. Processors are super plugged today, but chances of a fishery today are possible, because of the rate of spawn around the islands. There will be announcement today at 11:00 AM. I’ve been recording these and posting them on soundcloud, if you are interested in hearing them. You can find the link in the sidebar. As always follow me on twitter for micro updates and make sure to like the facebook page. All of this info is in the sidebar.
Its about that time again. Whales are starting to gather in southeast alaska, and that means one thing. Its herring time! The winters can be a bit long in Alaska. When the herring arrive, you know it spring again. I’m heading down to Seattle this weekend to bring the F/V Quandary north for the fishing season. Let’s hope that Sitka is a bit more lucrative that last year. Click thru to hear the audio from KRBD.
Alaska’s Board of Fisheries on Tuesday voted to close part of Sitka Sound to commercial herring harvests. But it wasn’t as much as some wanted.
The board faced a number of proposals to lower catch levels, limit commercial fishing areas, or both. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska and some others wanted further protections for subsistence harvests of herring and their roe.
The board voted down eight of the nine plans before it on Tuesday. The one that passed created subsistence-only zones by closing lucrative commercial harvest areas.