commercial fishing

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   As winter releases its icy grip on coastal Alaska, the natural inclination of many is to get ready for fishing season. This year, with travel restrictions in place and social distancing all the rage, the season for both fishermen and processors looks precarious from the perspective of District P Senator Gary Stevens. His district includes the ports of Kodiak, Cordova and Homer. He spoke with KBBI’s Jay Barrett.

This Week in Bycatch - November 6

Nov 6, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

As the 2019 fishing seasons throughout Alaska begin to wind down, halibut bycatch mortality for the year to date is already higher than all of 2018 and 2017.  Onboard observers have recorded seven million, four hundred forty thousand pounds of halibut mortality across all fisheries for 2019 until the week ending October 26.  The total recorded mortality for all of 2018 was seven million two hundred sixty thousand pounds, and 2017 ended with seven million four hundred seventeen thousand pounds.  Since the National Marine Fisheries Service began reporting data in their current format in 201

This Week in Bycatch - October 29

Oct 30, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Incidental catch of halibut, salmon, and crab was down across all fisheries and almost all gear types during the week ending October 19.  Halibut mortality rose slightly in the pot fishery targeting sablefish, from nine hundred and four pounds the previous week to two thousand two hundred twenty seven pounds.  In all other fisheries, it dropped, adding up to one hundred fifty one thousand pounds.  Just under one hundred forty seven thousand pounds of that came from the non-pelagic,

This Week in Bycatch - October 22

Oct 23, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Bycatch of king salmon remained above average for the week ending October 12.  Onboard observers recorded four thousand six hundred seventy-seven kings, over half of which were caught by pelagic trawlers targeting pollock in Area 610, covering the southern side of the Eastern Aleutians.  Bycatch of the other four species of salmon is typically much higher than chinook.  However, during this week, observers recorded only one thousand six hundred and ninety three non-chinook salmon.

This Week in Bycatch - October 2

Oct 3, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Incidental catch of king, opilio, and tanner crab by vessels targeting groundfish more than doubled for the third week in a row, according to data from onboard observers compiled by the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS.  Crab bycatch totaled just under two hundred and fifty thousand animals for the week ending September 21.

This Week in Bycatch - September 17

Sep 19, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Halibut bycatch mortality in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Island groundfish fisheries dipped slightly for the week ending September 7 by around twenty thousand pounds.  In all, about one hundred forty eight thousand pounds of halibut were killed as incidental catch across all fisheries, according to onboard observers reporting to the National Marine Fisheries Service.  Vessels fishing with pot gear accounted for the smallest share, six hundred sixty one pounds, while non-pelagic, or bottom trawlers were responsible for just over one hundred thirty seven thousand pounds.  The

This Week in Bycatch - September 10

Sep 11, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Pacific halibut bycatch mortality rose for the third straight week in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries.  Onboard observers reported just over one hundred seventy thousand pounds to the National Marine Fisheries Service for the week ending August 31.  The largest share, about one hundred sixty three thousand pounds, was caught with non-pelagic or bottom trawl gear.  Just under sixty four thousand pounds came from Area 630, a large chunk of the central Gulf of Alaska between the east side of Kodiak and the entrance to Prince William Sound, all from vess

This Week in Bycatch - September 3

Sep 4, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Halibut bycatch mortality in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands regulatory areas for the week ending August 24th was highest in Area 620, which stretches from the southern end of Kodiak Island west to the Shumagin Islands.  The National Marine Fisheries Service recorded just under forty thousand pounds of mortality there, all from non-pelagic, or bottom trawlers , out of a weekly total in all Alaskan waters of one hundred thirty seven thousand pounds.  This was the highest weekly total since the week ending June 8, which recorded two hundred thirty three thousand pounds.

This Week in Bycatch - August 27

Aug 27, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Halibut bycatch mortality rose in the week ending August 17 to 134,000 pounds from a little under 75,000 pounds the previous week.  Bycatch mortality in both the Pacific cod longline fishery and the pollock pelagic trawl fishery was lower than the prior week, while the share of the non-pelagic, or bottom, trawl fishery more than doubled to 125,000 pounds. The largest increases were in Area 630, covering the Central Gulf of Alaska between the east side of Kodiak and Prince William Sound, and its western neighbor Area 620.

This Week in Bycatch - August 20

Aug 21, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

***CORRECTION:  A previous version of this piece overstated the amount of king salmon caught as bycatch to date in 2019.  The correct number is twenty-nine thousand five hundred thirty two.  KBBI regrets the error***

This Week in Bycatch - August 6

Aug 7, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Incidental catch of bairdi, opilio, and king crab remained low across the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands regulatory areas for the week ending July 27.  Less than three thousand crab were caught across all gear types.  King salmon bycatch stood at 62 fish for the week, while all other salmon species accounted for 18,971 fish.  About half of the non-chinook were caught in statistical area 517 north of False Pass just west of the entranc

This Week in Landings - 08/02

Aug 2, 2019
Salmon
University of Washington

Sockeye salmon continued pouring into Upper Cook Inlet.  Six hundred forty thousand found their way into the nets of the commercial gillnet fleet, up from three hundred ninety thousand the week before.  The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that the Kenai and Kasilof rivers have exceeded escapement goals, and they have extended fishing periods for set gillnetters and opened expanded areas in the Kasilof, Kenai, and Anchor Point subdistricts  to drifters.

This Week in Bycatch - July 30

Jul 31, 2019
Halibut
Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

July continued to report the lowest catches of prohibited species in 2019 throughout groundfish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands regulatory areas, according to reports from onboard observers compiled by the National Marine Fisheries Service.  In the week ending July 20, total halibut bycatch in non-IFQ groundfish sectors was reported at 85,855 pounds.

Salmon
University of Washington

Halibut landings across the state have slowed down as boats turn their attention to salmon.  Homer landed 109,763 pounds of halibut on fifteen deliveries in the last week, over twice as much as Kodiak.  Seward recorded 37,573 pounds. Almost eight and a half million pounds have been caught so far around the state in the IFQ longline fishery.  

Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

Four fishermen from Homer and Anchor Point were found guilty of herding thousands of salmon out of closed waters and illegally harvesting them in 2018. A Homer District Court Judge placed all of the men on probation and fined them thousands of dollars, but ultimately reduced most of those fines.

Last July, an Alaska State Wildlife Trooper observed the operators of the commercial seine vessels Little Star, Relentless, Northstar and Windstar making a “dedicated effort” in Dog Fish Bay south of Homer to drive salmon out of waters closed to commercial seining.

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