Category Archives: purse seining

2012 West Coast Commercial Fishing Year In Review Part 1


Salmon

In May, Copper River Reds started the salmon season off with a bang. A huge unexpected run pounded the Copper River flats as the season began with triple the amount of forecasted reds.  In 2012, 374,000 sockeyes were harvested in just the first two openers. Sadly, the price plummeted to as low as 1.25 a pound in the first few weeks of the record run. The rest of the salmon season of 2012 was fairly lackluster. Bristol Bay had a mediocre run of 20 million fish, which is down from the average of 25 million fish. Prince William Sound was expected to have a huge run and even convinced some southeast salmon seiners to abandon their disappointing southeast pink forecast in hopes of hitting it big up north. This clustering of boats sparked rumors of 90 boat lineups at some of the most famous hook offs in PWS. Southeast fishermen managed to find salvation in hatchery fish, primarily chum salmon, which provided great value to a fishery devoid of their traditional pink salmon. Check here for Laine Welch’s salmon summation for all the stats and facts of salmon in the various districts. Read on for a few more highlights in salmon news from 2012.

Early in the year it was evident that King Salmon runs were in big trouble. Southeast trollers suffered a dismal spring run, and northern regions, such as the Yukon and the Kuskokwim were declared a disaster by fisheries managers. By the year’s end, King salmon was a major disapointment for most of Alaska‘s different fishing regions. The king salmon run on the Kenai was the lowest on record, which goes back to the 1980s.

In October, the Alaska Chinook Salmon Symposium was held to Anchorage to deal with the dramatic declines in Alaska’s most precious species. King salmon declines for commercial fishermen were nearly 40% in recent years. The symposium graced participants with scientific data related to decreased runs throughout Alaska. Fisheries biologist used the term, “Black Swan,” to describe the event, which highlighted the lack of knowledge on the health of chinook run. Basically, there is no hard facts to explain the severe decreases in King salmon. This issue could seriously affect the future of salmon harvests in Alaska, as protection measures for chinook could limit salmon harvests in other species.

Perhaps, the biggest story in 2012 revolves around the concept of GMOs. Genectically Modified Organisms dominate our grocery stores and there is no clear way to differentiate between which foods that contain them and which do not. Many other countries have measures in place to make sure the proper labeling of these genetically altered ingredients. California fought the hardest with the “Right To Know” initiative, which would have distinguished all GMOs from natural products. Sadly, all legislation regarding labeling GMOs was shot down. Then, we have “Frankenfish.”  AquaBounty wants to be the first of its kind to create a genetically modified salmon that can grow twice as fast is it farmed counterpart. While the genectically altered salmon concept met strong opposition in the beginning of the year, it was a great surprise when the FDA announced their endorsement of “FrankenFish” over the holiday season. The nation struggled with various GMO legislative efforts throughout the year, but all were ultimately defeated by corporate juggernauts with huge financial lobbying pressures. Sadly, it’s likely that we will see Aquabounty’s salmon in stores by the end of 2013.

Halibut

The battle between sport and commercial fishermen reached a fever pitch in 2012, as the IPHC released their catch limits at the beginning of the year. Overall, the commercial fishing cuts totaled a 20% decrease, or 7 million pounds less than the previous year. Sport fishermen in B.C. suffered the earliest closure of recreational fishing in history, spawning numerous debates about allocation of halibut rights between sport and commercial fishermen. Halibut continues to be a harsh subject for all fishermen and more cuts are likely in 2013. Scientists now realize that the stocks were being over estimated and the true estimate of the stocks are in a flat phase. Hopefully, with proper management, we will see an upturn in the projected biomass in the near future. Check out more facts here.

Herring

The Sitka Sac Roe Harvest prediction was cut short early this spring due to an early spawn and lack of the predicted biomass of 28,829 tons. In just three openers, fishermen harvested 13,534 tons, which is more of an average harvest for the fishery. Recent price fluctuations and the lack of Japanese demand in the wake of the 2011 Tsunami, has created a delicate market. Togiak also had an early spawn event in 2012, leading many to wonder about the predictive models used in the fisheries harvest forecast. On a lighter note, San Francisco herring harvests seem to have a glimmer of hope after years of disappointment. All eyes will be on the Sitka harvest this spring, which has a forecast of 11,055 tons. Togiak will come next will a large predicted forecast of 30,056 tons.

Crab

Dungeness Crab

California’s dungeness harvest for the 2011/2012 season was 31,680,250 lbs., with an average price of 2.99 per lb. Oregon crab fishermen harvested 14.2 million pounds at an average price of 2.95 per lb. in the 2011-2012 season. Washington’s Non-Treat Coastal Commercial Landings totaled 8,617,136 lbs. for the 20011/2012 season. This year, both northern fisheries were delayed into the new year due to a “meat fill” issue. Typically, the season begins on Dec. 1. In recent years, the dungeness price has reached record highs and demand remains strong for these west coast delicacies.

Part II will include Bering Sea Crab Landings, Shrimp, Squid, Groundfish, and Dive Fisheries

 

Advertisements

Puget Sound Chum Salmon Update | Strong Run, Weak Price


Chum salmon have played a huge part in this season’s west coast salmon tally.  Commercial Purse seining and gill netting for salmon continues into the end of November in Puget Sound.  The price is less than expected at around 80 cents.  Typically the late season Puget Sound chum fetch a higher price than the Alaskan varieties. However, this season’s Puget Sound chum salmon is nearly 40 cents less than last season’s average price.  Luckily, the run was upgraded this season to 550,000 fish.  All in all, it should make for a good pay-day.  The average crew share should be about 6000 dollars for about 8 actual days of fishing.  Good luck to all the captains and crews in this year’s fishery!  Here’s a few pics from my one day season last year in the sound on the F/V Quandary.

————————————————————————————————————

\

——————————————————————————————————-

It looks like the South Sound chum salmon return is much bigger than forecasted.

A story by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission reports that a tribal test fishery conducted near Kingston in October and November revealed the run is stronger, which is good news for all fishermen who pursue these late arriving fish.

The preseason forecast in southern Puget Sound was about 200,000 chum, but fisheries managers have updated the run size estimate to 550,000.

To view the story on the South Sound tribal chum salmon test fishery go to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisssion website

via South Puget Sound chum salmon return is much larger than anticipated | Reel Time Fishing Northwest | The Seattle Times.

North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Meetings 2012


This years meeting will cover a number of issues, including stellar sea lion protection, catch share issues, and crab allocations. The real heat of the meeting will focus on halibut and the battle between the charter and commercial fishermen. Halibut continues to be a tense issue because the quota has been decreased substantially over the past few years. Check below for links to LIVE audio of the meetings.  (here)  Read below for more info from Bristol Bay Times.  AbundentOceans has some great YouTube content from past meetings.  I expect that it will be updated soon.

————————————————————————————————————————–
——————————————————————————————————————————-

A long list of crabbing issues, decisions on halibut catch sharing, and groundfish regulations look to dominate a fall meeting of Pacific fisheries overseers.

The 15 members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will gather next week, beginning on Wednesday, to discuss fish issues for the Pacific Northwest.

The council is made up of 11 voting and four non-voting members. Seven of the voting members are from the state of Alaska, while others hail from Washington and Oregon.

The meeting is being held at the Anchorage Hilton from Oct. 3-9. For those unable to attend the public meeting, online participation is welcomed via http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/.

After hearing initial reports from state and federal agencies, the council will move on to big-ticket items such as halibut, groundfish, stellar sea lions, vessel replacement issues and crab management.

In the halibut world, the council will make a final decision on the halibut catch sharing plan. If approved, the plan may move five percent of the yearly halibut allocation from commercial fishermen to charter and sport operations. There are a total of five options for Pacific halibut allocation on the table. That decision will be the first of the major issues addressed following reports.

via Halibut, crab, groundfish top council agenda – The Bristol Bay Times.

Salmon Summery 2012


This summer has been a mixed bag of salmon highs and lows. Copper River started the salmon season with a huge record breaking run of sockeye. Bristol Bay has met many expectations, but the lack of a price jump puts a damper on a successful season. However, King salmon returns are poor. In Kenai, the failiure of the natural king run was considered a disaster. Southeast Alaskan trollers have suffered from the lack of kings, as well. Prince William Sound is the next big show. A huge run of pink salmon is predicted for this year and many boats are still waiting. In southeast Alaska, harvests are expected to be low, but the value and abundance of chum salmon has added some real economic diversity to fishermen. The summer is salmon is almost over, but the real story will still unfold. Will the pinks show up? Read on for more details of the state of salmon this summer.

———————————————————————-
————————————————————
——————————————————————-

Alaska Summer Salmon | First Opener In Kendrick Bay


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.

Fishtory | The Saga Of Alaskan Salmon


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.

————————————————————————————-

Togiak Herring 2012 | Could Early Spawn Equal A Roepocalypse?


The recent Sitka herring sac roe fishery ended early because the herring spawned out before the massive quota was caught. Now, Alaska‘s largest herring fishery in Togiak is showing signs of early spawn. After an aerial survey on Monday, many signs af herring are obvious in the region. The most surprising factor was the noticeable spawn and the congregation of the fish against the shore. The level of surprise is obvious in the audio from KDLG. The fishery opened at 6:00 PM on Monday. Stay tuned for more updates…

————————————————————————————————————————–
————————————————————————————————————————-

California Salmon | The Return Of The King


The news surrounding California’s salmon run has been dismal in recent history. However, this season is looking up. The price of salmon is at its highest in years and the California fleet is expecting a huge run this summer. This is a real triumph story for the fishermen of California, who have weathered a rough couple of years. Good luck to all the captains and crews, enjoy your season of June Hogs!

——————————————————————————————-

The 2012 California salmon season opened last weekend, and the initial reports are good and could be getting even better. That’s great news for lovers of local salmon, who have pretty much had to do without commercially caught fish since 2008. There was a limited catch last year, but this year the catch looks to be big enough that there shouldn’t be any trouble finding fish.

This season’s catch should total almost 3 million pounds, according to the California Salmon Council, an industry group. Last year, the haul was less than 1 million pounds. That seemed like a lot then, but only because the fishery had been completely closed in 2008 and 2009, and the 2010 catch was only about 250,000 pounds. For reference, the high-water mark for California salmon since 2000 was in 2004, when more than 7 million pounds were caught.

Those bad years had been the result of several factors, including water diversions from the rivers that produce the salmon, and ocean conditions that reduced the amount of krill — similar to baby shrimp — the salmon feed on.

via California salmon start their comeback – latimes.com.