Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alaska Crab Research Nets Donation From Major California Seafood Retailer

The largest seafood retailer in the U.S. Southwest has set its sights on Alaska king crab.

Santa Monica Seafood, a family-owned seafood company based in Santa Monica, California, made a donation to Alaska Sea Grant for its research program aimed at rebuilding Alaska’s collapsed red and blue king crab stocks.

“Santa Monica Seafood has been working hard to become a leader in responsible seafood sourcing,“ said Logan Kock, vice president for responsible sourcing at Santa Monica Seafood. “Part of this effort involves participating in fishery management dialogue and partnerships that drive change and improvement in how seafood resources are managed, improved and used. The work being done by Alaska Sea Grant to rebuild Alaska’s king crab is a perfect fit for us.”

David Christie, director of Alaska Sea Grant, welcomed the donation.

“This unsolicited donation affirms the value of the scientific research we and our partners are conducting to learn how to raise large numbers of wild king crab in a hatchery setting,” said Christie. “We are creating the technical expertise and scientific knowledge needed to understand how to rebuild king crab in areas where their populations have plummeted.”

At the request of Santa Monica Seafood, the amount of the donation is not being disclosed.

Christie said the money will be used to support research being done by the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology Program (AKCRRAB), a partnership between Alaska Sea Grant, regional fishermen's groups, coastal communities, NOAA Fisheries, the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery and Chugach Regional Resources Commission, and the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

AKCRRAB formed in 2005 to develop the scientific research and methods needed to determine whether hatcheries can play a role in rebuilding collapsed red king crab stocks in places like Kodiak Island, where there has not been a red king crab commercial fishery in nearly three decades. The group also is conducting similar research with blue king crab in the hopes of one day helping those depleted stocks recover in the Pribilof Islands region of the Bering Sea.

Drawing on lessons learned each year, AKCRRAB scientists at the Alutiiq Pride Hatchery in Seward, Alaska, have steadily applied what they’ve learned about water temperature, flow rate, and artificial habitat—all designed to improve larval survival and hatchery productivity. They also experimented with food, what kind, how much, and when to feed the growing crab.

The adjustments paid off this year with faster growth and improved survival of the larval red king crab. This year, 2.7 million red king crab successfully hatched from some 18 female red king crab.
Scientists in Seward, as well as Juneau, Kodiak, and Newport, Oregon, are using the juvenile crab produced at the hatchery in experiments designed to better understand how to raise crab in a hatchery and to further understand how such hatchery-born crabs might fare in the wild. Genetic studies to differentiate between hatchery-born crab and wild crab also are under way.

Understanding the details of hatching and raising king crab in a hatchery is considered by commercial fishermen and researchers as a key step toward providing state fishery managers with the information they need to decide whether hatchery enhancement can help rebuild depleted king crab stocks.
Santa Monica Seafood’s Logan Kock said he sees his company’s involvement with Alaska crab research as a long-term investment in the state’s resources.

“This year, we are contributing to national and international efforts in fishery management, education, gear improvement, stock enhancement, and improving our sourcing of seafood,” Kock said. “We fully expect to consolidate as we go forward, driving more funds into fewer programs on a continuous basis. King crab will be one of them.”

Contact: Dr. David Christie,

NOAA’s Fisheries Service Announces $12.6 Million in Grants to States to Support Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery

NOAA’s Fisheries Service has announced $12.6 million in grants through the Protected Species Cooperative Conservation Grant Program to assist 19 states and territories with conservation projects designed to recover marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, coral and other species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
“This cooperative grant program is our primary mechanism for funding state and regionally led conservation and recovery actions for our listed species,” said Eric Schwaab, NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “The program is part of our long-standing commitment to support the conservation efforts of our partner state and territorial agencies, who work with us to restore species’ populations vital to our nation’s environment and heritage.”

Sixteen proposals were chosen from a pool of 35 applications, the highest number of applications received in a year since the Protected Species Cooperative Conservation Grant Program began in 2003. Authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, this competitive grant program supports management, research and outreach efforts designed to bring listed species to the point where ESA protections are no longer necessary.
The program also supports monitoring efforts for species proposed for listing, recently de-listed species and candidate species. As a result of a significant funding increase to the grant program in fiscal year 2010, the number of states and U.S. territories entering into cooperative agreements with NOAA’s Fisheries Service has almost doubled, making more state and regional conservation programs eligible to receive these grants.
The 16 proposals selected during the fiscal year 2010 grant cycle include:

• California Department of Fish and Game ($442,510): To develop and implement restoration tools (such as captive breeding and release) to recover the critically endangered white abalone.

• Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife ($1,019,486): To determine habitat requirements and migratory pathways to provide managers with essential information to recover Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon in Delaware, New Jersey and Connecticut.

• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ($384,997): To continue to improve management of the five species of listed sea turtles in Florida waters by monitoring distribution and habitat use, determining reproductive rates and behavior of loggerheads, and characterizing and assessing stranded sea turtles with vessel-strike injuries.

• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ($1,432,320): To monitor and map threatened acroporid corals in U.S. waters and enhance coral conservation programs with the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico offices.

• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ($779,985): To conduct research and develop outreach materials with Texas partners to assist in the recovery of smalltooth sawfish throughout Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

• Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources ($493,761): To reduce shoreline disturbances and nearshore fishery interactions (e.g., entanglement and hooking) and continue long-term management of Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles.

• Maine Department of Marine Resources ($315,330): To determine spatial distribution, key habitat, and movement patterns of shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon among Maine rivers and nearby states to inform management and recovery actions.

• Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries ($291,474): To determine the causes of, reduce and respond to leatherback sea turtle entanglement.

• Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks ($297,714): To identify feeding habitat for and movement of juvenile and sub-adult Gulf sturgeon in the state’s Pascagoula River estuary.

• New York Department of Environmental Conservation ($1,325,437): To collaborate with Maine, Connecticut and New Jersey partners in determining Atlantic sturgeon habitat use and movement throughout the Mid-Atlantic Bight and evaluating spatial strategies to minimize Atlantic sturgeon bycatch.

• South Carolina Department of Natural Resources ($1,800,800): To determine shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon movements and habitat use with North Carolina partners to inform regional conservation efforts.

• South Carolina Department of Natural Resources ($1,273,203): To monitor and conserve the northern recovery unit of loggerhead sea turtles with North Carolina and Georgia partners.

• Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries ($1,425,959): To enhance conservation and management of sea turtles in Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s Ocean waters through collection of a comprehensive set of data on the life history, health and abundance of resident sea turtle species.

• Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ($576,668): To collaborate with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in tracking coast-wide status and trends of green sturgeon and managing human caused impacts to the species.

• Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ($232,190): Working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to gather important population, abundance and habitat use data on humpback, fin, blue, sperm and Southern Resident killer whales to inform recovery efforts.

• Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ($561,579): Working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to monitor eulachon smelt abundance and distribution and evaluate fishing techniques to reduce smelt bycatch.

Applications for the 2011 grant cycle are currently being accepted and are due by Oct. 4, 2010. Interested states and territories need to have an ESA Section 6 cooperative agreement with NOAA Fisheries by Nov. 18, 2010 to be eligible to apply. For more information about Protected Species Cooperative Conservation Grants, the review and selection process, and past awards, visit:

Alaska Sea Grant Receives Grants for Shellfish Farming, Invasive Species and Marine Mammal Research

Three federal and state grants totaling over $1 million will be used by Alaska Sea Grant to establish a statewide network of citizen scientists to track the spread of marine invasive species; conduct an instruction and training program aimed at jump-starting the shellfish farming industry; and launch an effort to collect better information about marine mammals that strand on the state’s coast.

Ray RaLonde, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program (MAP) aquaculture specialist, received a two-year, $284,000 grant from the National Sea Grant Program and Alaska Sea Grant to reinvigorate the state’s sluggish shellfish farming industry. In 2010, some 67 shellfish farms held licenses to operate, primarily in Kachemak Bay, Prince William Sound, and Southeast Alaska. However, of these, only 25 farms regularly supply shellfish to the seafood market. Moreover, the farms produce only about 10 percent of their capacity. Total shellfish production has been level for the past five years, averaging about $500,000 total sales each year.

“Shellfish farming has great business potential for coastal Alaskans, and this grant will allow us to work with communities and individuals to open new areas to shellfish farming,” said RaLonde.

RaLonde, together with colleagues Quentin Fong, MAP marketing specialist; Gary Freitag, Ketchikan MAP agent; Glenn Haight, MAP business specialist; and Deborah Mercy, MAP instructional media specialist, will develop and conduct a shellfish farming instructional program that includes helping the Alaskan Shellfish Growers Association develop a best practices manual and assisting interested communities in developing aquaculture plans. One of the goals of the community planning effort is to identify four new aquaculture zones that could potentially accommodate 20 farm sites. The grant also includes education and training of high school students and new farmers, economics research, business support and technology transfer for existing farmers, and infrastructure assessment for communities interested in aquaculture, RaLonde said.

Gary Freitag, the Alaska Sea Grant MAP agent based in Ketchikan, received a two-year, $599,975 grant from the National Sea Grant Program, Alaska Sea Grant, the Aquatic BioInvasion and Policy Institute, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. The grant will be used to train local citizen scientists in 30 coastal communities who will serve as the backbone to a new statewide marine invasive species monitoring and detection program. The citizen scientists will conduct field-based observations, using standardized and established protocols, to search for invasive marine species.

“Some non-native, or non-indigenous, marine species already have been identified in Alaska waters, and most scientists believe that as the state’s coastal waters get warmer, more non-native species likely will make their way north,” said Freitag. “Alaska needs a way to monitor, detect, and report the spread of marine invasive species, so good decisions can be made about how to deal with them.”

Across the country, non-native invasive species have caused significant destruction to coastal and freshwater ecosystems. In all, more than 500 invasive species have been found in such places as San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, and the Great Lakes.

Already, two species of non-native tunicates—the violet tunicate Botrylloides violaceus and the golden star tunicate Botryllus schlosseri—have been found in waters near Ketchikan. The tunicates pose a threat to local marine organisms and to shellfish farms, as they tend to smother marine life, choking off oxygen and the flow of nutrients.

Kate Wynne, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program marine mammal specialist based in Kodiak, received a two-year, $137,000 grant from the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources and Alaska Sea Grant. Wynne will use the grant to train and equip MAP agents to respond to marine mammal strandings and to collect data and tissue samples over the next two years.

“With Marine Advisory Program agents and specialists based in eight key regions across the state, it’s important that MAP personnel have the training to respond to marine mammal strandings and to collect critical biological data for scientists,” said Wynne. “This grant allows MAP to establish a programmatic relationship with the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network.”

Contact: Dr. David Christie,

Buying Iron?

By David Rowland

Buying an engine or generator set used to involve a visit to a local engine dealer. The dealer would assist in selecting an engine or genset appropriate for the application. A model would be selected, a price negotiated, and a sale was made. The internet has somewhat changed the marketplace.

Propulsion engine selection for a fishing vessel can be a complex process. There are sometimes dozens of factors involved to get the job done right. Powering up a new hull is usually easier. The boatbuilder will have recommendations for horsepower, type of cooling, transmission ratios, shaft size, and propeller size based on the designer’s calculations. The engine bed can be set up for the selected engine as the boat is being built.

A repower project can be much more complex in nature. Generally, older engines are less efficient than the newer engines, particularly the new electronic engines. Considerations for selecting an engine might be the size of the proposed engine compared to the old engine, to minimize adjustments to the engine bed, exhaust system, shaft coupling, and controls.

Reducing power might be an option. I know of a Bristol Bay gillnet boat that was purchased by a fisherman in S.E. Alaska. His fishery was much more relaxed than the often-aggressive ways of the Bristol Bay fisheries. The run to his fishing grounds was also short, so high horsepower and speed were not needed. The fisherman replaced his old 425 HP fuel guzzling hot rod engine with a more sedate and economical 175 HP engine, saving a tremendous amount of fuel with little difference in travel times.

A new engine might require relocation of the exhaust piping, and possibly resizing the piping. It is important to check with the engine seller for piping requirements to avoid damaging an engine by restricting exhaust flow. I’ve often heard complaints about relocating and resizing exhaust systems. Either make the adjustments, or overhaul the old engine.

Most engine manufacturers have drawings available showing the dimensions of their engines. It’s not a bad idea to secure a copy when considering a new engine. A newer engine might, for instance, have a deeper oil pan than the engine being replaced. Or, the pan’s oil sump might be located differently from the old engine. In smaller vessels, this can be a major issue if the engine can’t be mounted properly on the engine bed and be lined up with the propeller shaft. Sometimes selection of the marine transmission can help mitigate these difficulties, as some gearboxes have less or greater offsets of the output flange that connects to the propeller shaft. Length and width of the engine are also major considerations.

If planning to use a marine transmission from a previous engine, great care must be taken to assure the gear will fit the flywheel housing of the new engine. If there is a difference in engine horsepower output, compared to the old engine, it would be wise to check with the marine transmission distributor, or engine seller, to verify the old gearbox will work with the new engine. If the gearbox can be used, it would be a good idea to install a new coupling on the transmission. Many times, over the past thirty years, I’ve seen old couplings fail when installed on a new engine. Saving a few dollars on the repower can cost big dollars if a failure happens during an opening.

Cooling is another issue to be considered. Many of the newer engines, starting at about 300 HP, may require two cooling circuits – one for the engine block, and one for the aftercooler, if so equipped. Trying to cheat by plumbing the two circuits into one keel cooler can cause overheating problems. Check with the engine seller for manufacturer recommendations. If the engine is heat exchanger cooled, larger through-hull fittings may be required to provide adequate water flow for cooling.

Engine manufacturers are becoming fussier about warranties. Most require an inspection of the engine installation and a sea-trial to be performed to assure proper application. The newer electronic engines will likely require a trained technician equipped with electronic equipment to monitor engine performance. This can be an issue if the repower is done at a remote location. Cost of transportation, lodging and food for the technician should be considered when purchasing an engine. Most importantly, I’ve heard the statement made that if the warranty wasn’t registered when the engine was new, there is no warranty.

Selecting a generator set can have similar complications. On a boat, where space is usually at a premium, trying to tuck a new generator set into the space held by an older set can be a challenge. Again, exhaust piping can also be an issue. Re-routing an exhaust system is almost a given factor. It’s important there be no backpressure due to an undersized exhaust system.

Moving a generator set into an engine compartment can prove to be challenging. I’ve seen fishermen practically disassemble an engine – removing manifolds, alternator, oil pan, and sometimes even the flywheel housing in order to move the equipment through a small hatch. If removing parts is a necessity, make sure any gaskets needed for re-assembly are on hand to avoid unnecessary delays in completing the job and going fishing.

Logistics is another major consideration for budgeting an engine or generator set purchase. Many motor freight carriers are prepared to greatly reduce your bank balance if you don’t take care to check shipping costs prior to making a purchase.

Freight companies charge by weight, according to a tariff they have filed with the government. The classification of the freight determines the amount charged per hundredweight. The greater the value of the goods shipped will mean a higher freight rate. Freight companies generally give frequent shippers a discount based on the volume of goods shipped. The person sending a single shipment may get little or no discount from the carrier’s freight rate.

Recently, I received a shipment of engine parts from Chicago. The freight rate, before discount, was $330.81 per hundredweight. While I received a good discount, the one-time shipper might pay an exorbitant freight bill. Freight companies have also been known to change the classification of goods shipped to enable charging higher freight rates. On a recent shipment of a marine engine to Georgia, the carrier attempted to change the classification from class 85 – normal for diesel engines – to class 125. This change nearly tripled the transportation costs resulting in a successful fight to get it reduced.

If purchasing a new engine from a distant seller, ask the seller to get a written freight quote before purchasing to avoid surprises. If purchasing a used engine, or if the new engine seller doesn’t wish to handle freight arrangements, a freight broker can be contacted on the internet. Have the weight and dimensions handy, as that will determine the rate. Freight brokers can sometimes save as much as 50 percent over trucking company rates.

Remember, though, if purchasing an engine or generator set from a distant seller, service after the sale may be just as distant.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TODAY'S CATCH: Whose Bright Idea Was This?

Chris Philips

The Washington Post reported last month that the last US incandescent light bulb plant had closed its doors, ending the careers of the 200 remaining workers at a plant that could trace its origins to Thomas Edison’s work in the 1870s.

The simple light bulb is no longer welcome here.

In 2007, influenced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) among other groups, Congress passed an energy conservation measure that banned the incandescent bulb after 2014, in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). Unfortunately, the new CFLs being touted by the feds are difficult to assemble, and are only cost-effective if made in China, where labor is less expensive and environmental regulations are less restrictive. The writing is on the wall for conventional incandescent bulbs, which have worked so well for the last 140 years.

One of the downsides to CFL was noted in this paper in July 2009: the ballast in the bulbs can interfere with radio and navigation equipment. The FCC and the Coast Guard have warned that the new bulbs should not be installed near maritime safety communications equipment or other critical navigation or communication equipment operating between 0.45-30 MHz. This leads to the obvious question of what operators are supposed to use in their place.

Another, larger issue is the fact that CFLs contain mercury. While the manufacturers and anti-energy lobby want you to believe that the amount of mercury in a CFL is insignificant, the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks released a report in May of this year noting that one broken bulb will release one third of the mercury considered safe for lifetime human exposure. In the same report, the US EPA determined that exposure to the mercury in one bulb is more than 55 times what the agency considers safe human exposure over a 24-hour period.

In fact the US EPA has guidelines for cleaning up a broken CFL. One bulb, mind you. These steps include evacuating the room, scooping up the broken pieces with a stiff piece of cardboard and placing them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar). After cleaning the area with sticky tape, wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes, and place these in the jar as well. Do not use a vacuum or broom.

If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away.

Here is where fish come into the picture. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, and it’s especially dangerous for children and fetuses. Unfortunately, it is widely believed that most environmental exposure to mercury comes from eating fish.

As we noted in this space in February 2009, Hollywood is already citing mercury levels in fish as an excuse for bad behavior, and the media have picked up the supposed link and run with it. The US EPA currently advises American consumers to not eat more than 12 ounces of fish a week (only 6 ounces if your choice is albacore).

As more of these bulbs find their way to landfills (which is where the EPA recommends they go) and release their captured mercury, it’s safe to assume the levels of mercury in the world’s oceans will increase, no doubt leading the EPA to reduce the recommended amount of fish a US consumer should eat. As bad as compact fluorescents will be for the commercial fishing industry, the EPA shows all the signs of being even worse.

BP Well Declared Dead; Florida Keys Unaffected


An announcement Sunday that the blown-out Deepwater Horizon, BP/Transocean oil well in the northern Gulf of Mexico was declared officially dead is welcome news for Florida Keys' interests.

Following the April 20 explosion and subsequent spill 480 miles northwest of Key West, some experts expressed concerns that oil might become entrained in the Gulf Loop Current and migrate south to the Florida Keys. However, according to officials from the US Coast Guard and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, there has been no evidence of BP oil remnants affecting the region.

"Despite a heightened awareness and continued search efforts we found no direct (Deepwater Horizon oil) impacts in the Florida Keys," said Captain Pat DeQuattro, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West, who led the unified command response in the Keys.

A pressure test early Sunday morning confirmed that cement pumped into the bottom of the 18,000-foot-deep well is holding.

The "bottom kill" was the final step in a long process to permanently seal the well that gushed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico between April 20 and July 15, 2010. Oil flow stopped July 15 after a cap was installed on a failed blowout preventer.

"We can now state, definitively, the well poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico," said retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the federal government's point person for the disaster.

Grant to Recover Derelict Fishing Gear for Recycling


Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, New York and the Long Island port of Northport, New York are the second recipients of a grant award from the Fishing for Energy initiative, a program which has provided commercial fishermen a cost-free way to recycle old and unusable fishing gear at 18 ports along the East Coast. The funds received will be used to locate derelict lobster gear in the waters off Western Long Island Sound. Once found, commercial lobstermen will remove the gear and put it in a Fishing for Energy bin located at the Harbor.

Fishing for Energy is a partnership between Covanta Energy (Covanta), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. It was established in 2008 to reduce the financial burden imposed on commercial fishermen when disposing of old, derelict (gear that is lost in the marine environment), or unusable fishing gear and thereby reduce the amount of gear that ends up in U.S. coastal waters. The gear from this project will be collected at the port to be stripped of metals for recycling with the help of Schnitzer Steel and processed into clean, renewable energy at the Covanta Huntington Energy-from-Waste facility in East Northport, NY. The partnership recently expanded to include a grant program that directly supports derelict fishing gear removal efforts in addition to the dumpster bin placements for retired gear.

The partnership is awarding a grant of $52,785 to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Suffolk County, which will help facilitate the removal of derelict fishing gear from Western Long Island Sound area waters. The port will also be the third location in New York to join the ongoing Fishing for Energy program. In New York alone, over 31 tons of commercial fishing gear has been collected and properly disposed of through the program.

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation said, "Innovative partnerships like Fishing for Energy continue to find sensible solutions to marine conservation problems. This program began with great success in 2008 by providing commercial fishermen with a no-cost means to dispose of their old and derelict fishing gear. In 2010, the partnership expanded to include direct gear-removal efforts, further improving the marine environment that is so important to fishermen's livelihoods."

By investing in removal efforts, more lost gear can be taken out of the marine environment and put into the collection bins at the port. Abandoned or lost fishing equipment can threaten marine life in a number of ways; by damaging ecosystems as nets, pots, and heavy equipment settle upon the ocean floor or through 'ghost fishing,' wherein fishing gear continues to catch fish, even if abandoned or lost. Gear can also impact navigational safety, damage fishing equipment and boats that are in use, and have economic repercussions on fishing and shipping enterprises and coastal communities.

Mayor George Doll, of Northport, NY and a commercial fisherman, is very familiar with old and abandoned gear. "I've fished out of Northport for over 40 years and I have never, nor have any of the other fishermen, brought in old traps we've found and disposed of them. Old traps always stay in the water because of the amount of labor and cost required to dispose of them properly; and since we've switched from wood to vinyl coated wire gear, these traps last indefinitely in the sea. Because of the Fishing for Energy partnership's grant to Cornell and the efforts of local fishermen, we now have the incentive and opportunity to bring in a lot of this lost gear. It's a win-win situation," stated Doll.

Fishing for Energy thrives due to extensive cooperation between government, private, public and local organizations. The diversity and unparalleled expertise of the partners results in a unique, community-focused program that addresses a marine environmental issue, reduces costs for small commercial fishing businesses and recycles metal and recovers energy from the remaining material.

Since launching in 2008, Fishing for Energy has reeled in more than 410 tons of old fishing gear, a portion of which has been retrieved directly from the ocean by fishermen. In 2010, Fishing for Energy was awarded the prestigious Coastal America Partnership Award, which is presented to groups that restore and protect coastal ecosystems through collaborative action and partnership. The partnership recently expanded to include the grant program that directly supports efforts to remove derelict fishing gear from U.S. coastal waters and will continue to partner with new ports to promote retired or derelict fishing gear collection through community education and outreach. For more information on the partnership visit:

Red-Orange Material South of Half Moon Bay Determined to be Algae Bloom USCG News

A red-orange substance was reported in the water approximately 11 miles south of Half Moon Bay, California Friday afternoon and was determined to be an algal bloom by visual inspection.

The organic material was reported to be in long ribbon-like strings by an overflying pilot.

The Coast Guard Cutter Barracuda, an 87-foot patrol boat, arrived on scene and took samples of the organic material. A California Department of Fish and Game Marine Warden was on board the Barracuda when the samples were taken.

California Department of Fish and Game officials determined that the red-orange substance was the result of decaying organic matter from an algal bloom. This is a seasonal event that commonly occurs in fall. An upwelling of cool, nutrient-rich water creates ideal conditions for algal blooms. When followed by warm, calm waters, the algae breaks down into a red-orange substance, sometimes mistaken for non-organic substances such as dye markers or oil.

The samples will be taken to the University of California, Santa Cruz tomorrow to confirm it is a algal bloom and determine the specific type of algae.

To report all oil and chemical discharges into the water, contact the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. The National Response Center is national point of contact for all oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological discharges into the environment anywhere in the United States. You can also make reports on line at

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

US Seafood Consumption Declines Slightly in 2009

The average American ate 15.8 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2009, a slight decline from the 2008 consumption figure of 16.0 pounds, according to a NOAA Fisheries Service report out today.

The US continues as the third-ranked country for consuming fish and shellfish, behind China and Japan. In total, Americans consumed a total of 4.833 billion pounds of seafood in 2009, slightly less than the 4.858 billion pounds in 2008.

Shrimp remained the top seafood item of choice for the United States at 4.1 pounds per person, a level unchanged since 2007.

The average 15.8 pounds consumed per person in 2009 was composed of 11.8 pounds of fresh and frozen finfish and shellfish, 3.7 pounds of canned seafood, primarily canned tuna, and 0.3 pounds of cured seafood, such as smoked salmon and dried cod. The overall decline in average consumption per American was due to a decrease in canned seafood consumed.

“With one of the highest consumption rates in the world, the US has the ability to affect the world fish trade,” said Eric Schwaab, NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “NOAA supports rebuilding and sustaining wild fisheries populations and building a strong aquaculture program that can help the US fishing industry gain a larger share of the US market. Americans should know that buying American seafood supports our economy, as well as the high environmental and safety standards our fishermen meet.”

Most of the seafood consumed in the US was not caught in US waters. About 84 percent of the seafood consumed in the US is imported, a dramatic increase from the 66 percent just a decade ago.

Farmed seafood, or aquaculture, comprises almost half of the imported seafood. Aquaculture production outside the US has expanded dramatically in the last three decades and now supplies half of the world’s seafood demand, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

America’s aquaculture industry, though vibrant and diverse, currently meets less than ten percent of US demand for seafood. Most of the US aquaculture industry is catfish, with marine aquaculture products like oysters, clams, mussels and salmon supplying less than two percent of American seafood demand.

“This report demonstrates there is room for the US aquaculture industry to grow,” said Schwaab. “NOAA is working to develop a new national policy for sustainable marine aquaculture that will help us narrow the trade gap and strengthen the entire fishing industry in this country.”

NOAA’s Fisheries Service has been calculating the nation’s seafood consumption rates since 1910 to keep consumers and the industry informed about trends in seafood consumption and trade.

Ocean Companies Joins Forces with Washington CoastSavers

The Ocean Companies, including the four independent business units of Ocean Gold Seafoods, Ocean Protein, Ocean Cold and Ocean Express, recently joined forces with the Washington CoastSavers to explore ways to better support community understanding of our coastal resources and the impact of marine debris to our environment.

The seafood company first collaborated with the CoastSavers when they co-sponsored the July 10 beach cleanup with Twin Harbor State Parks. Since then, the two groups have met to discuss how their shared interest in coastal resource management, sustainable fishing and community education might be better served as a partnership.

“The fishing industry has a great deal of experience as stewards of the sea,” says Dennis Rydman, president of Ocean Gold Seafoods. “It is in our own best interest to ensure that we take care of the ocean today so that have a livelihood tomorrow. Partnering with a group like the Washington CoastSavers improves our ability to make a bigger impact on one of our core business focuses, Clean Oceans.”

The Washington CoastSavers program is organized by a broad spectrum of nonprofits, community groups, corporations, and public agencies working together as members of the Washington Clean Coast Alliance. The Washington Clean Coast Alliance is steered by an informal committee of representatives from the Clallam Bay-Sekiu Lions Club, Discover Your Northwest, Grass Roots Garbage Gang, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park, Surfrider Foundation, and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

“It is the diversity of our group that makes us strong,” explained David Lindau, Associate Director of CoastSavers. “We all share the common goal of clean oceans and the different perspectives, experiences and skills we each bring to the table allow us to approach that goal most effectively.”

“We see marine debris as an especially serious threat,” added Rydman. “It kills our coastal marine life and poses a deadly challenge to our very livelihood. By joining forces with the CoastSavers program, we hope to increase awareness of this threat and get more people actively involved not only in stewarding our coastal environment but in growing their understanding of the proactive role commercial fishing has already played in improving coastal resource management.”

In addition to the beach clean up collaborations, other programs are currently under development with both the organization and other partners within the CoastSaver network. The two groups aim to build a task force committed to growing community outreach and education opportunities in the near future.

Southeast Trollers Hooking Chums

By Bob Tkacz

A reasonably successful July Chinook troll fishery in Southeast Alaska was buoyed by a catch of more than 30,000 chum hooked in the Home Shore sector of Icy Strait, according to the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.

"I think catch rates were very good in some areas, especially this first few days, then the water deteriorated to the pint where it took a lot of people off the water," said Pattie Skannes, who took over as ADF&G Southeast region troll management biologist in the spring following the retirement of Brian Lynch. Grant Hagerman moves up to Skannes former post as assistant troll manager. Both will continue to work out of the department's Sitka office.

Through July 16 fish tickets accounted for a catch of 65,600 Chinook. Skannes had expected a take of as many as 76,000 so-called treaty salmon, but the total Southeast harvest was 74,498 by the end of July.

The counting year for the wild Chinook harvest, controlled by the US Canada Specific Salmon Treaty, began with an all-gear quota of 221,800 fish, including 40,966 for the sport fishery, 9.537 for pure seiners, 6,432 for drift gillnetters and 1,000 for setnetters. ADF&G set a guideline harvest quota of 45,000 kings for the winter fishery, but the catch fell slightly below the projection at 42,534 fish through the end of April.

Prices for the July opening held fairly steady at an average of $3.36 per pound at the start of the fishery, rising only to $3.38 by July 4. Size followed suit at an average of 14 pounds, according to ADF&G figures.

Skannes said the 40 boats that reported catching almost 32,000 chum during the July Chinook opening was partly expected but also a surprise.

"It's the first time in my memory that there has been a fleet of boats targeting chum," she said. Trollers have been talking about targeting chum bound for the Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC) Hatchery in Juneau and the expected low abundance of Chinook apparently gave them the chance.

"They have been talking about wanting to see if they could be successful ... When a few people found chum fishing was pretty good more people joined them," Skannes said. Boats reporting chum came from "all over," she added.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

California Waypoints - California GSI Survey 2010

By John Hurwitz

Finally, the California commercial salmon fisherman is being asked to help in assessing the condition of the different Chinook salmon stocks swimming off the California coast. It has been an interesting and exciting experience being able to fish for salmon again. There have been some great laughs (laughing at ourselves) as we set about sorting gear and once again staring up at the trolling poles, trying to remember which tagline goes through which insulator and so forth. It seems, for me at least, that I had forgotten everything I knew about salmon fishing. The season has been closed for two years, and the year prior to the closure, we couldn’t find enough salmon justify the effort.

The powers charged with making this all possible are David Goldenberg (Big Kahuna), president of the California Salmon Council and other lofty titles Sarah Bates (Small Kahuna), master and commander of all ports involved in the survey, and seven Mini Kahunas, one for each area involved in the study. Sarah is in charge of the entire California GSI fleet, and the Mini Kahunas, called port liaisons, coordinate each port’s fishing fleet and ensure that each fisherman is prepared and equipped to accomplish the GSI survey goals.

At the local level, the liaisons (my wife, Irene is the one for Half Moon Bay) are responsible to ensure that the boats are on schedule and effectively recording all their sampling information. To make this happen the Port Liaisons provide each boat with a sampling kit which the fishermen use to complete all the catch, sample, and release procedures while safeguarding salmon’s wellbeing in the process.

Another participant in the program here in Half Moon Bay is the Harbor district. The GSI survey team would like to thank the harbormaster Robert Johnson, dockmaster John Draper, and their staff for helping this scientific effort by providing a safe and convenient place for fishermen to pick up and turn in their kits 24/7. Their willingness to help has greatly facilitated the smooth operation of our scientific study. Besides this accommodation, Half Moon Bay harbor (the only port without USCG coverage) often renders emergency rescues and commercial boat assistance; it’s comforting to know that these guys are there for us at any hour any day.

The GSI project is the best science I’ve seen in my 35 years of salmon fishing. The kit given to the fisherman consists of a small package of sequentially numbered sample envelopes, a package of cut squares of wax paper and blotter paper. Also included are heavy-duty shears (for clipping a very small piece of fin), a hand held GPS unit that allows the fisherman to mark and enter the coordinates of where and when the fish was caught; extra batteries for the GPS; A rolled up cloth measuring tape with inches on one side and centimeters on the other side. Last and very important, they are supplied with a knotless landing net and a thick 2-foot by 3-foot foam rubber landing platform to lessen the stress on the hooked fish. All the GSI fishermen and their crew are then trained by the port liaison on how to use these tools.

My personal favorite tool in the kit is the measuring tape. It has inches and centimeters listed on opposite sides of the tape. If you catch a 27-inch salmon, you need only to turn the tape over to find the corresponding centimeters. When you go to your little sample envelope to write down the data for each fish, it asks for the size of the fish in millimeters. Perhaps I am the only fisherman ignorant enough not to know that you need only to add a 0 to the end of the centimeter number and you have millimeters. The same envelope I am referring to then asks a number of questions that were surely designed by a scientist. It asks, “How deep?” On the surface this seems simple enough: Let’s see, I’m at 47 fathoms, so I write in forty-seven fathoms. Not! The Mini Kahuna will jump on this like a coyote on a rabbit. Actually, they (the scientists) want to know how deep on the gear was the fish caught. Another one of my favorites asks, “Adipose fin”? Your choices are “Y/N, circle one.” Huh? The adipose fin is a tiny fin located on top of the salmon between the dorsal and the tail. If the fin is there, you circle N; if it’s missing, you circle Y. Does that sound easy to you? I’ll help you out. If the fish comes from a hatchery, the adipose fin will be clipped. This fish will have a small coded wire tag inserted indicating which hatchery, when released, etc. If you catch one of these fish you want to let Fish and Game know so that they can retrieve this information valuable in relation to where the fish was caught. The rest of the questions are more user friendly like, date, time of day, boat name. I have an easier time with these.

Now that you have an idea of what’s in the kit; here’s how it goes on my boat when we get a bite. “Look! We have a pumper on that bow line! Get the net… hurry!” one of us starts running the line. When you get to the leader with the fish, old habits kick in, “Bring that net over here, dang it, I can’t bring the fish over there!” “Easy, easy, not that way, back over here. That’s better, good, good, lower the net under the fish, there, we got him!”

Now the fun begins: We quickly collect the organic material from the fish. A few scales, and a very small piece of the left pectoral fin, check to see if the adipose fin is there or not. Measure the fish, toss him back over the side. Sounds easy right? Don’t forget you have a 10 to 30-pound angry, frightened Chinook salmon who is interested in only one thing. So he does his thing, we do ours, and fortunately it works out well and back he goes looking for another lure to attack. This circus can be made more interesting by catching a double or even three.

After this show on the deck, we put the fin clip in the blotter paper, fold it over and slip it into the envelope. The scales go onto the square of wax paper and are put in the envelope. It’s then brought to the wheelhouse and the data filled out, like “how long” in millimeters. Location? Oh dang, we forgot to hit the GPS when he came on board.

“No, I hit the mark on the GPS,” says my deckhand.

“Thank God one of us is still functioning! “How deep was he?” “Fourth stop down, 12 fathoms,” and so it goes.

We deliver these precious envelopes to our Mini Kahuna at days end and she collects them from all the fishermen, downloads the information into the computer, packages them, and ships them off to the millimeter guys at the lab. There, they can genetically decipher the fin and scales to see just what river, hatchery, or wherever this particular fish came from.

Needless to say this is extremely valuable information. It provides the decision makers real data to find out which stocks are viable and which are not. This is good science collected in collaboration with the commercial salmon fisherman on the front line. Not someone in an office guessing at these numbers and making season decisions. We, the fishermen, are providing the data and the scientists are determining the origins and patterns of our king salmon.

So from one very unscientific fisherman, I suggest what will be the best outcome. We’ve conducted this survey along the central and northern California coast since May. Very few salmon have been caught. When seven boats out of Half Moon Bay fish all day and consistently come up with 1-4 salmon for the whole fleet, I believe the handwriting is on the wall. Chinook, king, salmon fishing is not viable at this time, not sport, not commercial. These same scores are being caught in other GSI ports as well. To be fair, every now and then, boats in the more northern spots like Ft. Bragg, will have a day when some fish come through and bite. But not often, and not many. There are no king salmon out there to catch. Close the seasons while we still have a few fish left.

We have seen fish stocks rebound from multi-year season closures. Take Coho for example. We have not been able to fish for or retain Coho (Silvers) for many years. Okay, a sportsboat returned to Half Moon the other day and told the game warden at the launch ramp they had four limits of Kings. Four fishermen, eight fish. Yes, they did indeed have eight fish. Seven Cohos, and one very short Chinook. Chinook are generally near the bottom, so we fish deep with commercial gear, avoiding the Coho. Sport boats usually don’t have the gear to go deep, so they’re usually fishing right where the Coho travel, Coho country.

Give these Kings a fighting chance to rebound. Anyone who’s caught one knows it’s the right thing to do. So here’s the riddle, who amongst those four sport fishermen caught the biggest fine? The guys with the two illegal Coho apiece, or the guy holding the one short Chinook?

Secretary Locke Extends Disaster Declaration for California Salmon Fishermen

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has announced an extension of the disaster for California salmon fishermen due to the low numbers of spawning Chinook salmon returning to the Sacramento River and the subsequent reduction in commercial fishery revenues. Last week’s announcement continues the disaster declaration made in 2008 for the fishery.

“Low Chinook salmon returns to the Sacramento River predicted again this year are causing significant economic hardship to commercial fishermen and their families in California,” Locke said. “Many fishermen are finding it extremely difficult to make a living during the limited fishing season this year.”

Sacramento River fall-run Chinook are the backbone of commercial and recreational salmon fishing in California, and the return of adult fish every fall to spawn in the river system is essential for the population’s survival. This year, the fishing season for California Chinook salmon fishermen was again significantly restricted to allow for enough Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon to reach the spawning grounds. Commercial revenues this year are projected to be 81 percent lower than average revenues from 2003-2005, the period before the decline.

NOAA Fisheries released a report in March 2009 that found the main cause of the unprecedented decline of returning salmon was unfavorable conditions in the ocean that affected the size of the population. Contributing factors included degradation of river and estuary habitats and lower genetic diversity and resilience of hatchery-dependent fish populations.

Fishery managers estimate a healthy population size would require returns in the range of 122,000 to 180,000 spawning adults. As recently as 2002, the number of adult salmon returning to spawn reached 769,900, but returns in recent years have been dramatically lower. Last year, NOAA Fisheries forecasted 122,100 adult fish to return, however, only 39,500 fish actually returned. In 2010, management measures will allow only a limited commercial fishing season in order to attain returns of about 180,000 adult fish.

In June, Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Locke requesting a continuation of the declaration of a commercial fishery failure due to a fishery resource disaster. Under Section 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Commerce secretary can determine whether there is a commercial fishery failure if requested to do so by a governor, or at the secretary’s discretion.

Thank You, Governor Parnell

Commercial fishermen who participate in the groundfish fisheries in Alaska sent a release today thanking Alaska Governor Sean Parnell for taking a strong position on the Endangered Species Act in regard to Steller sea lions.

“The Pacific cod fisheries of the Aleutians should not be closed based on the fact that sea lion populations are increasing. This fishery is important for Alaska and we greatly appreciate that Governor Parnell has been so responsive in reviewing and opposing the federal government’s plan to close waters where the fisheries occur,” said Linda Kozak, a Kodiak based fisheries consultant.

Governor Parnell has petitioned the federal government to remove the eastern stock of Steller sea lions from the endangered species list as a result of a strong population growth. The eastern stock has surpassed the recovery objectives and needs to be de-listed.

The Steller sea lion population in the western area has increased in the last ten years and is trending toward recovery goals. Governor Parnell has submitted comments to National Marine Fisheries Service asking them not to put unnecessary fishery closures in place.

Rob Wurm, managing director of Alaskan Leader Fisheries stated, “Governor Parnell has been a strong advocate for the commercial fishing fleet and coastal communities. We can’t thank him enough for his leadership on this important issue and for challenging the federal government on their proposals to close fisheries needlessly.

Whole Foods sells a Truckload of Tuna

More than a ton of fresh, whole troll-caught albacore was sold between two Whole Foods Markets on the 12th and 13th of August. The tuna, supplied by Western Fishboat Owners Association (WFOA)-member Pacific Seafood, was sold as part of the 3rd Annual Albacore Truck Sale coordinated by Whole Foods Select Fish in the Northwest.

At Portland, Oregon’s Whole Foods Market Fremont, 1,000 lbs of whole tuna was sold in just 56 minutes and by noon, seafood was at 18.18% of store sales.

The event surpassed everyone's expectations. It was so huge says Regional Seafood Coordinator, Mark Curran "In all my years, I have never seen anything like this!"

In celebration of the local albacore season, Whole Foods Market brings fresh, line-caught, sustainably managed tuna to the West Coast. The natural and organic foods grocer partners with WFOA to promote Wild Pacific Albacore with cooking demonstrations, expert tips and free samples, and shoppers have the rare opportunity to buy a whole fish direct from the delivery trucks and watch it be filleted on site.

WFOA has worked with Whole Foods Select Fish for the past three seasons to increase supply, sales and awareness of Northwest troll-caught albacore. The truckload sales were part of a month-long promotion of albacore in Portland and Seattle-area locations. Other activities include sampling, price promotions and special in-store signage and marketing materials.

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