Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Alaska Asks USDA to Buy Surplus Humpies
to Slow Price Decline

This story has been edited to correct an error in a previous version.

As Alaska’s commercial harvest of humpies surged in late July, the governor’s office asked the federal government to purchase excess inventories of canned pink salmon to help stem a drop in prices already hovering around 28 cents a pound.

Gov. Sean Parnell specifically asked that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack make a $37 million US Department of Agriculture purchase of about one million cases of the one pound talls, those 15.75 ounce cans of salmon.

The current price to fishermen compares with 40 cents a pound in 2013, when the statewide harvest of humpies was a record 219 million fish, and 48 cents a pound in 2012, when the overall pink harvest reached 127.5 million fish.

Such a purchase, Parnell told Vilsack, would not only correct the inventory surplus, but also provide a shelf-stable, high-quality protein for domestic food and nutrition assistance programs.

There was no immediate response from USDA, but it’s a really long process, said Bruce Schactler, food aid program and development director at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, a partnership of fishermen, processors and the state government that promotes Alaska seafood as a whole, not by individual brands. “It takes a while,” Schactler said. “The Agriculture Marketing Service in the department has to take a close look at detailed analysis of the market.

“This is all about trying to stabilize prices to the fisherman, and by taking surplus product off the market, that should stabilize wholesale prices paid to fishermen,” he said.

Back in March, USDA spent $20 million to purchase half a million cases of canned pink salmon, a purchase that Parnell said was an important first step in reducing inventories to help slow the price decline. Alaska’s record breaking 2013 salmon season resulted in an unprecedented high volume of unsold canned and frozen pink salmon products. The 2013 season exceeded the Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates by over 100 million fish, resulting in the harvest of 219 million pinks. The previous record high pink harvest was 161 million humpies in 2005.

Parnell noted that fish processors and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute were already working on marketing the surplus. In 2013, the industry committed over $1.5 million in additional emergency funds, specifically targeted to marketing pink salmon in commercial markets. Still that record harvest has created an inventory oversupply greater than was experienced by the salmon industry in Alaska between 1999 and 2004.

During that period, over 2,000 Alaskan fishermen, many small or minority owned businesses, went out of business and 50 percent of the processors sold or closed their facilities, Parnell said.

Court Approves Proposed Set Net Ballot Initiative

An Alaska Superior Court judge has cleared the way for a proposed ballot initiative designed to ban commercial set net harvests in urban areas of Alaska.

The decision handed down in late July in Anchorage by Superior Court Judge Catherine Easter came in a case brought by a group of sport anglers organized as The Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance, against Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who earlier rejected the proposed initiative.

Easter found that the proposed ballot initiative did not appropriate a public asset, did not result in a give-away program or usurp legislative control over the salmon allocation process. She ordered that the proposed initiative be certified.

The ruling allows the Alaska Division of Elections to prepare signature packets, so that supporters of the measure can begin gathering enough signatures to put the measure on the Alaska primary election ballot in August 2016.

The alliance says its goal is to protect fish in non-subsistence areas that are threatened by overfishing or incidental harvest.

Bob Penney, a director of the Alliance, and board member of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, called the set net ban initiative “a conservation-based approach that is limited to one style of fishing – set nets. They are a wasteful means of fishing that kill or maim everything in their path,” he said.

The Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association, which represents commercial set net fishermen, said its members were “saddened by the Alaska Superior Court’s decision to allow the dishonest and un-Alaskan initiative effort to ban set nets in urban areas of Alaska to move forward.”

The initiative, said KPFA, “has nothing to do with conservation. It has everything to do with greed and a sense of entitlement by a small group of people. If Alaska allows management of its resources at the ballot box, our entire resource-based economy is at risk.”

The set net fishery on the Kenai Peninsula supports more than 700 family owned small businesses and thousands of related processing jobs, KPFA said.

Jim Butler, president of Resources for All Alaskans, a statewide coalition of concerned citizens and organizations from fishing communities, said the set netter ban “would destroy jobs and have a massive, negative impact on the businesses, industries, and communities that they support throughout Southcentral Alaska.

“The precedent set by this initiative alone will have permanent negative effects on Alaska industry and development,” Butler said. “If we allow groups to allocate specific resources by initiative, who will be next? Mining? Oil and Gas? It’s wrong and fundamentally un-Alaskan.”

His organization is reviewing the Superior Court opinion and is strongly encouraging the office of Alaska’s Attorney General to appeal “because we think it is wrong on the law,” Butler said. “We think the initiative is an inappropriate allocation of state assets.”

Industry Again Asked to Reduce BSAI Halibut Mortalities

Federal fisheries managers are asking all industry sectors to voluntarily undertake efforts to reduce halibut mortalities in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, by 10 percent from the current five-year average levels, through the 2014-15 fisheries.

To evaluate progress in these efforts, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council also requested in a motion passed June 8 during its summer meeting in Nome, that industry report back to the council on measures being implemented and developed, and, to the extent possible, the effectiveness of those measures in terms of absolute reductions in halibut mortality.

During its summer meeting, the NPFMC also approved motions initiating an analysis of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch measures in the Bering Sea pollock fishery with five alternatives, and an observer program motion to develop a draft 2015 annual deployment plan for council review with several considerations.

Halibut Bycatch
The halibut bycatch motion encouraged the National Marine Fisheries Service to continue working closely with the Amendment 80 sector to develop deck sorting procedures and technologies that could reduce halibut mortalities, in order to initiate regulatory changes for a full-scale program.

The council also asked NMFS to work with the International Pacific Halibut Commission to provide halibut bycatch and discard size data from the observer program in a form that can be better incorporated into IPHC stock assessments.

And the council asked NMFS to evaluate the potential for the Amendment 80 flatfish flexibility program, a change to the Amendment 80 trawl season opening date from Jan. 20 to Jan. 1, and changes to the current Amendment 80 area closures, to reduce halibut prohibited species catch use.

Council member Duncan Fields, of Kodiak, said he was supporting the action with reluctance, saying the motion did not go far enough fast enough.

“I wish there were more tools at our disposal to address the halibut PSC concerns,” Fields said, in comments addressed to the council through Chairman Eric Olson.

“The bottom line is, mister chairman, the industry, which is a wonderfully, hard working, productive, innovative industry, is still taking five to six million pounds of halibut out of the Bering Sea on an annual basis, and I appreciate all the reasons that halibut is needed but I also appreciate the need for conservation, the need to recognize the impact of PSC both in the Bering Sea as well as in the Gulf of Alaska.

I think we are taking a tepid step in the right direction,” he said. “I will support the motion, but I personally don’t believe we are going far enough fast enough, given all we know about the halibut resource, and what I suspect we will learn about that resource in the next couple of years.”

In testimony prior to passage of the motion, the Alaska Concerned Halibut Users asked the council to take several immediate steps, including initiating a fast-tracked process to allow changes in deck sorting procedures on vessels in some groundfish fisheries to reduce halibut mortality, as has been suggested by the Amendment 80 fleet. The coalition also urged a voluntary groundfish industry sector reduction in halibut bycatch by 300 metric tons in the near term, and for periodic reports on industry progress.

They also asked that subsequent analysis should consider the accuracy of existing observer protocols relative to estimating halibut bycatch mortality.

The coalition was organized in response to the declining status of halibut in the Bering Sea, as well as the need to reduce bycatch in groundfish fisheries.

Signers of that testimony included Ernie Weiss, Aleutians East Borough; Linda Behnken, executive director, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association; Ken Weaver, city manager of St. Paul; Buck Laukitis, North Pacific Fisheries Association; Ragnar Alstrom, executive director, Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association; Larry Cotter, chief executive officer, Aleutian Pribilof Island Development Corp .; Phillip Lestenkof, president, Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association; Per Odegaard, president, Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association; and Jeff Stephan, manager, United Fishermen’s Marketing Association.

“While halibut populations and directed fisheries have declined dramatically, the halibut PSC limits in the BSAI have remained relatively unchanged, and PSC numbers have declined at a much lower rate than the directed fisheries,” said Kelly Harrell, executive director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, in her written testimony. “In 2013, the Bering Sea bycatch was 5.2 million pounds – significantly greater than the directed harvest in the same area. By regulatory area the comparisons are even more stark: in area 4A bycatch represented 89 percent of the directed fishery landings and 205 percent in area 4CDE.

“In this context of a declining resource and declining catch limits, it is imperative that bycatch limits are also reduced.”

Cuts in catch limits “have and will continue to have dramatic effects on our fisheries, businesses, economies and communities that depend on the halibut resource. Each halibut caught as bycatch has a direct effect on the spawning biomass and yield available to other sectors now and in the future,” she said.

Harrell also urged an immediate reduction in halibut PSC limits in the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. “To serve conservation needs, we need the halibut currently wasted as bycatch to have an opportunity to mature and contribute to the spawning biomass,” she said.

IPHC Commissioners Robert Alverson and Donald Lane, both representing the United States on that international council, suggested in their testimony that the council ask for all industry gear sectors to set a short-term goal of 18 months to reduce the bycatch of halibut by 300 metric tons and a long term goal of a 20 percent reduction.

“If there is a lack of effort from industry to participate in these goals, the council should take regulatory actions to require the industry to meet reduction goals,” Alverson and Lane said. “If there was an industry effort to reduce bycatch by 300 metric tons in the next 18 months, this would go a long way in helping the commissioners not take the additional 33 percent reduction in Areas 4 CDE for 2015. This reduction by the IPHC would likely have the effect of closing the Bering Sea to directed halibut fishing and leaving the bycatch fisheries.”

Also among letters of written testimony was one from Jan Standaert, president of the Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union in Seattle.

“Asking for a 300 metric ton reduction in the halibut bycatch, with a long term goal of 20 percent of the PSC, is a very reasonable and a comforting action for the many fishermen who are looking toward the future,” Standaert said.

Salmon Bycatch
The council said the current chum salmon bycatch reduction program does not meet the council’s objectives to prioritize Chinook salmon bycatch avoidance, while preventing high chum salmon bycatch and focusing on avoidance of Alaska chum salmon stocks, allowing flexibility to harvest pollock in times and places that best support those goals. Incorporating chum salmon avoidance through the incentive plan agreements should more effectively meet those objectives by allowing for establishment of chum measures through a program that is sufficiently flexible to adapt to changing conditions quickly, the council said.

The alternatives include one to revise federal regulations to lower the performance standard in years of low Chinook salmon abundance, with low abundance defined as fewer than 500,000 king salmon. Sectors that exceed the applicable performance standard in three out of seven years would be held to their proportion of the hard cap of 47,591 in perpetuity, with options of a 25 percent reduction (36,693) or 60 percent reduction (19,036).

In testimony prior to passage of the salmon bycatch motion, the council also heard lengthy testimony, including a request to initiate emergency regulations and ensure that appropriate bycatch limits are in place.

Five entities, including the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association, and three Alaska Native organizations, urged the council to develop a problem statement and move forward with an analysis for Chinook salmon bycatch that includes reducing the overall hard cap and performance standards under the current Amendment 91 structure from 60,000 to 20,000, and a performance standard/cap without incentive programs from 47,591 to 14,500.

The group also asked for consideration of regulatory provisions to shorten the pollock season end dates when Chinook salmon rates increase while pollock catch rates decline in late September/October, and for additional changes to the incentive plan agreements to further reduce bycatch to be adopted by industry, but not as an alternative to regulatory mechanisms.

Observer Program
The council motion on the observer program asks the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center to develop the draft 2015 annual deployment plan for council review with several considerations.

The motion notes the council’s support of NMFS recommendations to move participants in the vessel selection pool into the trip selection pool. The council also requested that NMFS maintain a higher observer coverage rate for all trawl vessels and fixed gear vessels over 57.5 feet in the revised trip selection pool, in order to expand coverage on PSC limited fisheries, consistent with past council recommendations.

Copies of all advisory panel and scientific and statistical committee reports, as well as issues and reports heard at the council meeting are online at

The council’s June newsletter summarizing events during the Nome meeting will be online later in the month at .

NOAA: Ocean Acidification Will Hurt Alaska Economy

A new federal study says communities dotting coastal regions of Southeast and Southwest Alaska will face the highest risk from ocean acidification, because they rely on fisheries expected to be most affected by such chemical changes in the ocean.

The study, “Ocean Acidification Risk Assessment for Alaska’s Fishery Sector, published July 29 in the periodical Progress in Oceanography, says these coastal communities are especially vulnerable because they rely on fishery harvests for nutrition and income, and, among other factors, they lack alternative employment.

The term “ocean acidification” refers to the process of ocean water becoming more acidic as a result of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Such changes are affecting marine life, particularly the ability of shellfish, corals and small marine critters in the early stages of the food chain to build skeletons or shells.

Studies show that red king crab and tanner crab grow more slowly and don’t survive as well in more acidic waters, and Alaska’s coastal waters are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification because of cold water, which can absorb more carbon dioxide, and unique ocean circulation patters, which bring naturally acidic deep ocean waters to the surface.

“Prior studies of the potential impacts of ocean acidification have focused only on direct economic losses from commercial harvests,” said Sarah Cooley, co-lead of the study and science outreach manager at Ocean Conservancy. “Our research shows much greater threats to rural communities in Alaska related to their food security, but there are solutions that the state can implement today to help the boroughs weather the changes.”

The study was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, the state of Alaska, and The Energy Foundation.

“The people of coastal Alaska, who have always looked to the sea for sustenance and prosperity, will be most affected,” said Steve Colt, a co-author of the study and economist at the University of Alaska Anchorage. “But all Alaskans need to understand how and where ocean acidification threatens our marine resources so that we can work together to address the challenges and maintain healthy and productive coastal communities.”

The study recommends that residents and stakeholders in vulnerable regions prepare for these environmental challengers and develop response strategies that incorporate community values and needs. “This research allows planners to think creatively about ways to help coastal communities withstand environmental change,” Cooley said.

Colt said he hopes teams of scientists, like those who collaborated on this study, will continue to form up to combine their data. “I would hope that NOAA would take it upon itself to be a leader in forming these kinds of teams and that the university would step up to the plate as well.

Wild Salmon Harvest for Alaska Tops 82 Million Fish

Our Wednesday, July 23 Fishermen's News Online contained errors in data that have since been corrected on the website. The numbers to follow are accurate as of today.

Commercial harvests of Alaska salmon in the 2014 fishery grew to over 82 million fish by July 29, including a preliminary total of nearly 40 million sockeyes, 34 million humpies, 6.7 million chum, more than a million silver and 392,000 Chinooks.

The bulk of the harvest has been in Bristol Bay, and Prince William Sound, with harvests approaching 30 million salmon in each area.

Bristol Bay harvesters alone have delivered to processors a total of 28,702,000 red, 456,000 pink, 434,000 chum, 31,000 coho and 13,000 kings.

In Prince William Sound, fish deliveries to processors reached a total of 25,173,000 pink, 3,258,000 sockeye, 1,116,000 chum, 10,000 king and 9,000 silver salmon.

For the westward region, including the Alaska Peninsula, and Kodiak, the harvest had reached nearly 9 million fish.

Processors for the Alaska Peninsula have received 4.2 million salmon, including 2.9 million red, 534,000 chum, 487,000 pink, 261,000 coho and 8,000 kings.

At Kodiak harvesters have brought in 4.7 million fish. That preliminary total includes 2,336,000 pink, 2,088,000 sockeyes, 242,000 chum, 59,000 silvers and 5,000 king salmon.

For all areas of Southeast Alaska, the total preliminary catch estimate was 8.5 million fish, including 3.7 million pink, 3.4 million chum, 618,000 silver, 430,000 sockeye and 350,000 king salmon.

For the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region of western Alaska, the harvest to date is 1.1 million fish, including 805,000 chum, 230,000 pink, 76,000 red, 10,000 silver and some 3,000 king salmon. The bulk of the A-Y-K harvest came from the lower Yukon River, where small boat fishermen have brought in 461,000 chum and 55,000 pink salmon.

Data compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game shows that for the entire 2013 season, fish harvesters delivered a total of 272,630,000 salmon, including a record 219,160,000 pink, 29,257,000 red, 18,578,000 chum, 5,353,000 coho and 281,000 king salmon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Draft Revision of Magnuson-Steven Act Reauthorization Legislation Now Online

A revised draft of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary federal law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. waters, is now online for public review and comment.

This shorter, revised draft incorporates many comments from Alaskans and others around the nation who responded to the initial discussion draft in April, according to Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Public comment is encouraged on the document, which is online at Comments may be submitted to

Pew Charitable Trusts, in a statement released earlier this summer, credited MSA with a role in rebuilding a number of depleted fish populations. The House Committee on Natural Resources’ bill to reauthorize and amend MSA includes provisions that would undermine key reforms that have proved instrumental in rebuilding depleted U.S. ocean fish populations, according to Lee Crockett, writing for the Pew Charitable Trusts in Ocean Views.

Instead of weakening the MSA and putting progress at risk, Congress should require a transition to ecosystem-based fishery management, Crockett said. This, said Crockett, means protecting important habitats, avoiding non-target catch, ensuring that enough forage fish remain in the water to feed larger animals and putting ecosystem planning on the agenda for fisheries managers.

Commercial fisheries is Alaska’s largest private-sector industry, creating some 70,000 jobs annually and driving local economies from the panhandle of Southeast Alaska to the Bering Sea.

Propulsion Choices for Lower Emissions

By Kathy A. Smith

EPA emissions regulations are keeping a lot of engine manufacturers busy as they enhance various existing product lines for fishing applications, while also developing new technologies for after treatment options, in advance of the looming Tier 4 requirements. Meanwhile power generation companies are also working hard to keep pace with today's commercial fishing customer needs.

"Tier 4 is a phased-in emissions regulation and it depends on the engine horsepower," says Geoff Conrad, Director, Marine Business, Cummins Northwest. "The EPA is trying to "emissionize" the bigger engines first because they are the biggest contributors to the emissions issues. It starts with what they call the EPA Tier 4 in 2016, with the balance of engines being done in 2017. This is only for engines above 805 HP or 600 kW."

Engines below that are required to be Tier 3. "When you get into larger medium speed engines, then there is a split on technologies to achieve emissions reductions," Conrad says. "The EPA does not dictate the technology used to achieve this. All they care about is overall emissions reduction, and this is up to the manufacturer."

Cummins has a full line of marine certified Tier 3 products but because of the changes coming down through the various Tiers, conversations with customers are changing. "Most of our conversations with a customer today center around what emissions level are you designing for or needing in your area where you're going to operate. That dictates what options we may have for that customer."

Moving from Tier 3 to Tier 4 is going to be a significant event in Conrad's estimation. All industrial and trucking markets have also had to come to terms with similar changes. "It's almost like you need to be a specialist in chemistry and legal matters," he says. "With Cummins Northwest, we have specialists in our employ whose sole job is to guide customers and our organization on what's allowable under the rules."

In Tier 1, there was a fairly significant reduction of NOx. Conrad says It was achieved by changing the timing of engine, which had minimal impact on the customer back in 2000. In 2007, Tier 2 helped further reduce NOx, with introducing the treatment of particulate matter. During this phase, engines were also beginning to optimize the fuel system and combustion process, which again, was manageable for the end user. "Now you get into Tier 3 and we're now further reducing particulate matter and have almost cut it in half," says Conrad. "That's where we are today."

Cummins places a lot of emphasis on being the emissions leader. "A lot of governments, industry organizations and environmental groups rely on us to give them good and sound technical advice," adds Conrad. "In many cases, we help shape the rules in different regions of the world who are coming to terms with emissions issues. No matter what Tier you're working with, ownership of compliance on an engine is a shared responsibility between the engine manufacturer and the owner/operator of that engine. These EPA emissions levels are the most stringent in the world. But there is a consequence for it. The technology incorporated into the engines, e.g. Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), all require high cost and a high level of technical design. You just can't take an older engine and put this on it and expect it to work."

For Tier 3, which for Scania, began in January of this year, the company offers an inline 6, 13-liter engine that starts at 250 HP and goes up to 675 HP as well as a V-8, 16-liter engine that starts at 550 HP for Tier 3 and goes up to 900 HP for different commercial fishing applications.

"It wasn't much of a challenge to meet Tier 3," says Sheldon Murdock, Sales Manager, Marine Department, Scania USA Inc. "Everything we did was based on existing in-cylinder technology. We just increased the efficiency of the engines, which is part of our normal process. We did drop in power to meet Tier 3 on the higher end in that we had a 1000-HP engine in Tier 2, which went to 900 HP for Tier 3."

Scania AB, the parent company, manufactures on-road Class 8 trucks and buses for various segments and the European emission standards are pretty stringent. So the technology Scania uses for on-highway products usually ends up translating down to their industrial and marine products.

For Tier 4, Scania sees that new standards will mean a SCR after-treatment. They are already developing a new engine product to meet that emission standard which they expect will be available for the US market close to a year before it's necessary in the US.

"It definitely costs our company a lot of money to develop the technology for this," explains Murdock. "I wouldn't say that it has affected our price to the customer drastically. The SCR step definitely will add some extra costs and some extra components to the system, which in the fishing industry becomes a challenge because you have space constraints, depending on the type of boat you're operating. I think the major challenge for Tier 4 is going to be how we incorporate the SCR system into the different fishing vessels. It will be on a case-by-case basis and I think a lot more application engineering will be necessary for some of these vessels."

Since Scania already provides engines for the on-highway truck business in the neighborhood of 70,000 trucks per year, the volume of that business is already paying for the majority of engine after treatment development costs.

Fred Lachlan, Marine Sales Manager, Volvo Penta, Region Americas based in Vancouver, BC, says in Canada with regards to marine engine emissions, the country is following old IMO legislation from about 15 years ago but they're likely follow in the footsteps of the EPA. When this will happen remains to be seen.

Like Scania, Volvo also makes diesel engines for truck, industrial and construction equipment, so in theory they could move ahead to Tier 4. However, as Lachlan points out, "Not only is it going to be an installation problem because you won't be able to fit the whole SCR package in there but the cost will go up at least 20 to 40 percent."

The current big seller for Volvo Penta are engines in the 200-600 HP, 3 to 13 liter range but they don't have an engine today that's complaint. "We do have a new 8L engine coming out down the road but it won't be out until 2016, so we've lost some market share because of that, but our top key focus is to go back and grow our commercial business throughout the US in the fishing market. Today what we have to sell in the US in the commercial business is a D4 and D6 (fully electronic diesel engines). For larger fishing boats, we have a D11, D13 and D16 liter." To that end, Volvo Penta has a contract with a West Coast Builder for some Alaskan boats with a number of 11 liter engines.

In Canada, for marine engine certification all that's needed is a stamp of approval from Transport Canada. In the US you have to have the Tier 3 label affixed. "Yet people are selling non-compliant engines into the market and that hurts us. If the Canadian dollar was weaker to US, there would be more people coming up to buy boats and they'd have to buy a compliant engine. Some owner/operators want a Tier 3 engine regardless, whether they're in Canada or not. It all comes down to the cost."

"Clearly the impacts of emissions regulations, the more advanced technologies being employed and the research and development costs are driving up the cost of everyone's product," says Bill Mossey, Vice President of Pacific Marine Power, a division of Pacific Power Group. "The rate of change of the emissions standards as we migrate through Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 has caused almost all manufacturers to invest large amounts into emissions development and compliance."

The changes to the engines are significant enough, e.g. for Tier 2 to Tier 3, that in some cases manufacturers are employing technologies that allow fuel efficiency improvement while in others a deterioration of fuel consumption rates occur.

"For Tier 4, with engines that use on-engine solutions, which is normally cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), the engine can't be as fully optimized for fuel consumption as with SCR after treatment-based solutions," explains Mossey. "In addition, cooled EGR requires low sulfur fuels, while SCR has a greater tolerance in the fuel sulfur content. Both technologies, cooled EGR and SCR, add devices and complexity over Tier 3 for maintenance, repair and capital cost."

The compromise with SCR after treatment is having to carry another fluid on the vessel as part of that system. There is an off-engine component, which is the exhaust after treatment device, which is fairly large, takes up space and has to be installed and have certain levels of maintenance. The benefit of SCR exhaust after treatment is that it allows for further optimization of the engine for fuel consumption, normally more than offsetting the costs of the reactant fluid, urea. Depending on the load factor, according to the Mossey, urea consumption will be around three to five percent of fuel consumption.

In the Tier 3 realm, Pacific Power offers MTU engines from 750 to 2,680 HP as well as Tier 3 generator sets from 65 kW to 1,800 kW. Looking ahead to Tier 4, Mossey advises commercial fishing vessel owners to build now to save money and complexity.

"It's a pretty simple story for us right now as far as propulsion goes in the US EPA T3," says Colin Puckett, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Northern Lights, Inc. "We are no longer dedicating product development resources to new models. As a boutique propulsion engine manufacturer with highly specialized applications and fairly low volumes, it doesn't make fiscal sense for us to produce certified EPA engines for the propulsion business. That's why we're focusing on our core markets of power generation and marine climate control."

Northern Lights have been expanding their power generation range and have marine packages from 20 kW up to 500 kW. They're also working on developing a series of auxiliary engines for commercial markets for deck-mounted machinery, pump drives and barge units.

The company still offers their popular Lugger engines for non-EPA projects and they are committed to continue supporting existing customers with parts and service. This summer, they'll be commissioning a newly-built hybrid system in a catamaran application that could prove a good alternative for commercial fishing down the line.

"We understand the hesitancy in the industry about this new technology," says Puckett. "The equipment and installation are neither traditional nor inexpensive. You can't get a hybrid system for the same price as diesel; in many cases, it can be twice the price. You have to have a good reason, plan and understanding of your return on investment profile before you make the leap."

For example, Puckett says for some fishing applications that spend a lot of time loitering and not under power with their main engines, hybrid can make a lot of sense because operating large diesel engines at idle speed for long periods of time is a very inefficient use of the engines. "If you can run that time with a more efficient system or even with battery power to run deck and hydraulic equipment, you can see a real quantifiable return on investment in a reasonably short amount of time."

Although hybrid is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it is something to consider. "We want to stay ahead of the curve on this because our customers are asking for it," adds Puckett. "As EPA gets tougher, everyone has to comply. Nobody wants to be the guy with black smoke coming out of his stack. We want to help be a part of cleaner technology in the eyes of our customers through a strict compliance program and our contribution to the embodiment of what a clean, modern vessel should look like when they fire up their engines."

Carl Micu, Manager, Engines and Drivetrain Sales, North and South America for John Deere says, "We are not doing anything with after treatment in the marine world as of today because of our power category. Everything we do is below 805 HP."

John Deere offers a wide range of Tier 3-compliant engines, from 4.5 liters to 13.5 liters. The 4.5- , 6.8- and 9-liter engines use high-pressure common rail fuel systems while the 13.5-liter engine uses an electronic unit injection system. All have four valve heads to help with emissions.

The company's 4.5 liter is very popular for the 99-kW power node. "The sales are very strong with this engine today," says Micu. "With Tier 3, we were able to develop the 4.5 liter to produce enough power to meet the emissions requirements, but we've made that package more compact for customers while still offering the same type of performance. We have some engines in Alaska powering various types of vessels for the fishing market. And we also offer auxiliary on-deck engines for winches that are radiator-cooled applications that meet Tier 3 marine requirements. The other benefit is all of our engines are capable of being keel cooled, and that's important in the Northwest for commercial fishermen as they don't want to sea cool anything."

John Deere has taken a building-block approach to engine development and try to keep installation requirements as common as possible for the customer throughout the Tier changes.

"We love the fishing market," adds Micu. "They're good to us and we hope we're good to them. We know some of the seasons are really short, and we understand the importance of ensuring fishing vessels are up and running when they need to be."

John Deere has been providing EPA-compliant engines for commercial boats since 2004 when the EPA regulations began. And as Greg Light, VP Sales and Marketing for Cascade Engine Center, a Seattle based marine and industrial engine distributor says, this is the 10-year anniversary of those EPA regulations.

John Deere has been a great repower product for commercial fishing vessels, providing fishermen a great option that have kept their engines running from the 70s and 80s. One advantage that has given Deere an edge in this market is their single circuit keel cooled engine design. An additional keel cooler can cost up to $8,000 according to Light.

"If you can stay with the single circuit system and maintain the same kind of performance and horsepower, it only makes sense to stay with that single circuit," he says. Dual circuits are generally appropriate for higher horsepower applications, something toward which Deere is moving for future models. Deere also provides auxiliary drives and PTO options. Crankshaft PTO power ratings have recently been increased on many models. Marine engines are available in both 12- and 24-volt models as well as heat exchanged versions.

John Deere engines have repowered crabbers, seiners, gillnetters and trollers that fish throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Currently, Little Hoquiam Boatworks is building several fish boats that are John Deere-powered.

Additionally, Light reports that there have been a significant number of Bristol Bay boats built with Scania power in recent years because of its power-to-weight ratio. Two new seiners have been built at La Conner Maritime Fabrication in La Conner, Washington. "One has just been launched," he says. "They're built to the new Coast Guard guidelines so they are just under 50 feet long and do not have to be classed. Each of them has 16-liter, 900-HP dual circuit Scania engines." Seven vessels were repowered in British Columbia this last year ranging from heavy displacement commercial fishing vessels to high-speed surface drive applications.

According to Light, Yanmar Tier 3 engines have been very popular in the Cordova/Copper River Fishery due to their light weight and high speed which lend themselves well to jet application, both in single and twin. And Cascade has recently added the FPT marine engine line, which adds to their high-performance commercial engine line up.

Regarding future Tier 4 applications in 2017, Light says it's unclear where some manufacturers are headed but there are industry discussions on possible workarounds to meet emissions regulations. "What we're hearing is, for example, if a boat was going to be designed and it needed 2,000 HP, instead of two 1,000 HP engines installed, you might put in three 700-HP engines to stay under the Tier 4 600kW/804hp threshold."

Wild Salmon Harvests in Alaska Top 71 Million Fish

Our Wednesday, July 23 Fishermen's News Online contained errors in data that have since been corrected, below.

Commercial seafood harvesters in Alaska delivered some 71,053,000 salmon to processors through July 21, and the catch keeps growing.

Preliminary harvest figures from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put the catch at 38,485,000 sockeye, 26,011,000 humpies, 5,775,000 chum, 624,000 coho and 384,000 Chinook salmon.

Last season’s harvest, powered by a record pink salmon harvest, brought in nearly 80 million salmon worth in excess of $691.1 million, a total only exceeded by the 1988 harvest value of $724 million, according to ADF&G calculations.

In Southeast Alaska, the first Chinook salmon retention period has ended, and most trollers were turning their attention to silver salmon, where average prices were $1.30 a pound, and the cumulative catch since July 1 was just over 122,000 fish.

Bristol Bay is winding down, with harvesters having delivered some 29,035,000 fish, including 28,551,000 sockeyes, 416,000 chum, 46,000 humpies, 13,000 Chinook and 10,000 silver salmon.

The going home price in the Bay averaged $1.20 a pound, compared with $1.50 a pound last year, prompting complaints from some harvesters. The last time the base price was $1.20 was 1998. Others noted that the harvest came in way over the forecast and pointed to forecasts of potential huge runs of sockeyes from Canada’s Fraser River and also from Russia.

The fishermen realize, said harvester Bill Gardner, who owns a boat repair business in Ballard, Washington, “that the guys who process the fish have to go out in the market and sell it.” “It’s a funny business to be in, but we are happy to do it, and we take what we get,” he said.

In Prince William Sound, the Copper River yielded a harvest of 1,998,000 sockeyes, 42,000 chum and 10,000 kings. The overall Prince William Sound harvest as of this week stood at 26.6 million salmon, including 22,327,000 pinks, 3,197,000 sockeyes, 1,104,000 chum, 10,000 kings and 8,000 silver salmon. The pink harvest was well above the average for this week and slightly less than a record cumulative pink salmon harvest of 21 million harvested by this week in 2013.

In Cook Inlet, the processors have received 2.3 million fish, of which nearly 2 million were sockeyes. The catch also included 229,000 humpies, 90,000 chum, 31,000 silver and 4,000 king salmon.

Fisheries in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, from Kotzebue to the Kuskokwim to Norton Sound have delivered over one million salmon, the bulk of them chum.

On the Alaska Peninsula, harvesters have delivered 3.7 million salmon, including 1,592,000 from the North Peninsula and 2,105,000 from the South Peninsula.

Kodiak’s harvest has reached over 2.5 million salmon, including 1.7 million reds, 587,000 pink, 195,000 chum, 38,000 coho and 4,000 Chinooks.

BC Mine Project Raises Concerns Over Salmon Habitat

A Canadian government environmental report on a proposed open pit mine northwest of Stewart, British Columbia, is raising concerns from Southeast Alaska fishing interests, who say the project could cause significant harm to salmon habitat.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s comprehensive study report on the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell project, released on July 21, says the agency is satisfied that identified mitigation measures for the project would address potential environmental impacts.

These impacts include, according to the report, potential impacts in Alaska on fish, recreational and commercial fisheries and human health from changes to water quality and quantity in the Unuk River.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, on July 21 opened its fourth and final public comment period on the environmental assessment, which will run through Aug. 20.

The lengthy assessment centers on a proposal from the junior mining company Seabridge Gold Inc., to develop a gold, copper, silver and molybdenum mine, planning the Unuk and Bell-Irving watersheds some 65 kilometers northwest of Stewart, British Columbia. Seabridge Gold, with offices in Toronto, and Smithers, British Columbia, has identified the KSM project as one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world, with proven and probable reserves of 38.2 million ounces of gold and 9.9 billion pounds of copper.

The headwaters of the Unuk and Mass rivers lies just 19 miles from the Alaska border. The Unuk, which begins in Canada and flows into Alaska’s Misty Fjords National Monument, is a key Southeast Alaska king salmon and eulachon river. The Nass is British Columbia’s third largest salmon river, producing fish harvested by both Canadians and Alaskans.

A copy of the Canadian government’s assessment is online at

Public comment on the project may be submitted by Aug. 20 to KSM Project, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, 410-701 Georgia Street West, Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1C6 More information is at, and

EPA Proposal Would Protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine Impact

A proposal issued by the Environmental Protection Agency this past week would protect the world-renowned Bristol Bay salmon fishery from adverse effects from risks posed by a proposed large scale Canadian mine.

The EPA has concluded that development of the Pebble prospect would threaten one of the most productive salmon fisheries in the world. “Bristol Bay is an extraordinary eco-system that supports an ancient fishing culture and economic powerhouse,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran.

“The science is clear that mining the Pebble deposit would cause irreversible damage to one of the world’s last intact salmon ecosystems. Bristol Bay’s exceptional fisheries deserve exceptional protection,” McLerran said. “We are doing this now because we’ve heard from concerned tribes, the fishing industry, Alaskans and many others who have lived and worked for more than a decade under the uncertainty posed by this potentially destructive mine.”

The EPA proposes to restrict all discharges of dredged or fill material related to mining the Pebble deposit that would result in loss of streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds, and streamflow alterations.

The complete EPA proposal is online at

The Pebble Partnership, the principal asset of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., of Vancouver, British Columbia, will continue to pursue litigation against EPA for “pre-emptive and unprecedented regulatory process under Section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act,” said Tom Collier, chief executive officer of the Pebble Partnership.

Northern Dynasty, a subsidiary of the diversified global mining group Hunter Dickinson Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, also issued a statement, online at . Tribal groups in the Bristol Bay watershed applauded the EPA’s proposal.

“The future of our people, and 14,000 jobs are at risk,” said Kim Williams, executive director of Nunamta Alukestai, an association of ten Bristol Bay Native Tribes and Native village corporations. “We ‘re glad the EPA is doing its job.”

What the EPA has proposed “appears to be common sense, baseline standards for the Pebble project,” said Katherine Carscallen, sustainability director for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

Public hearings on the proposal are to be held Aug. 12 in Anchorage, on Aug 13 at New Stuyahok and Nondalton, on Aug. 14 at Kokhanok and Dillingham, and on Aug. 15 at Iliamna and Igiugig.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

MSC Certifies 13 West Coast Groundfish Trawl Fisheries

Thirteen groundfish trawl fisheries in waters of the exclusive economic zone off of the US West Coast have been certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, an independent non-profit organization based in London.

MSC made the announcement in its international newsletter on July 11, saying these fisheries were certified in early June.

The fisheries include arrowtooth flounder, chilipepper rockfish, Dover sole, English sole, ling cod, longnose skates, longspine thornyheads, petrale sole, sablefish, shortspine thornyheads, splitnose rockfish, widow rockfish and yellowtail rockfish.

Harvesters in these limited entry commercial fisheries work in the Pacific exclusive economic zones off of Washington, Oregon and California between the southern Canadian exclusive economic zone border and the northern Mexican exclusive economic zone border.

Limited entry fisheries limit the number of vessels allowed to participate in the fishery, and these fisheries are divided into limited entry bottom and pelagic trawl and limited entry longline, traps and pots.

The harvest competes in both the fresh and frozen product markets, on a global scale with similar species from other regions of the world, and with other fish species, such as salmon and tuna.

MSC also announced that it is in the final stage of a two-year review of its fisheries standard, a process that the organization said has included fisheries managers, marine biologists, environmental organizations, governments and commercial partners.

Results of the review will help shape the new MSC fisheries standard and certification requirements, which are to be launched in October, MSC officials said.

The process has helped MSC ensure that its fisheries standard reflects the latest fishery science and management, and that it draws from the expert knowledge of the MSC’s diverse range of global stakeholders, organization officials said.

Congress Considers Limits on EPA Regarding Clean Water Act

A congressional subcommittee has begun hearings on legislation that could limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to deny or restrict use of a defined area for specific purposes, including mining.

HR 4854, the Regulatory Certainty Act, had its first hearing on July 15 before the House Subcommittee on Water, Resources and the Environment. The session was chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, the bill’s sponsor.

Gibbs’ bill would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify when the EPA has the authority to use section 404 of the Clean Water Act to deny or restrict use of defined areas for specific purposes.

In his opening remarks, Gibbs criticized the EPA for “setting itself up as the ultimate manager of land use and economic development in the nation.

“This is an example of government that thinks it has no limitations on its power,” Gibbs said. The legislation, which would have to make its way through the full House and then the Senate, is already drawing criticism from Trout Unlimited and United Tribes of Bristol Bay, the tribal body that asked the EPA several years ago to protect the Bristol Bay watershed from adverse affects of mining.

Tim Bristol, director of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program, noted that no Alaskan witnesses were called to testify, Instead the subcommittee called to testify representatives of the National Mining Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, Associated General Contractors of America and two law professors from colleges in Virginia and Vermont.

HR 4854, said Bristol, “would prevent the EPA from carrying out its ability granted by the Clean Water Act to protect the world class fisheries of Bristol Bay.”

Robert Heyano, a veteran commercial fisherman from Dillingham who is president of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, said his organization was “frustrated and disappointed that no Bristol Bay residents were invited to testify at the committee meeting as they discuss upsetting the effort we requested to help protect our salmon and livelihood when the state of Alaska turned its back on us.

“The state elected to pursue short-term industry profit over the desires of thousands of Alaska Natives who depend on healthy Bristol Bay fisheries for subsistence and livelihood. Now members of Congress are attempting to follow suit and remove our last hope of saving our salmon from short-sighted mining in our home waters,” Heyano said.

Opinion: From the Fleet – Plan Addresses Workforce Needs of Alaska's Maritime Industry

By Kris Norosz, Julie Decker and Doug Ward

With our massive land endowment and bragging rights as the largest state in the nation, it’s easy to lose sight of an important fact – Alaska is a maritime state.

We have more miles of coastline than all other US coastal states combined. Alaska’s Arctic coast makes the US an Arctic nation. We share international maritime borders with Russia and Canada. Our location in the North Pacific makes Alaska the strategic lynchpin for logistical, security and economic activity between North America, Europe and Asia. And our only designated National Highway System connector is the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The sectors that drive our economy are dependent on direct maritime activity and support.

The waters off Alaska’s shores produce more than 60 percent of the nation’s seafood harvest. Significant amounts of oil and gas are produced offshore. Communities and consumers depend upon marine lines for fuel, durable goods and consumer products. In fact, more than 90 percent of all goods arrive on a ship. Ferries, cruise ships and personal watercraft ply our waters filled with commuters, fishers, and sightseers, generating hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Alaska’s economy.

Alaska depends on maritime infrastructure to facilitate all of this economic activity. There are 95 ports and harbors in 60 different locations with more than 10,700 mooring slips in our state.

Keeping the fleet shipshape creates opportunities to provide shore-side support in the form of marine electronics, boatlifts, supplies and gear. Also, let’s not forget the building and repairing of ships and boats suitable for our waters in Alaska’s shipyards and drydocks.

Are you beginning to see the picture?

Seafood harvesters, seafood processors, marine occupations, support industry jobs, and research, enhancement and management – all recognize the need to address our critical and growing workforce shortages together. Which is why these groups, joined by five state agencies – Labor and Workforce Development, Fish and Game, Transportation and Public Facilities, Education and Early Development, and Commerce, Community and Economic Development – and the University of Alaska, worked hand-in-hand to develop a strategic plan to work together and support this important workforce.

While you won’t see “maritime industry” in any economics report, these sectors all work on or near the water. The workforce for these sectors must possess common skillsets and competencies.

A recent study found Alaska ranks third in the nation in per capita maritime jobs. Our state relies heavily on this workforce, estimated at nearly 70,000 jobs, to keep our economy sailing smoothly.

That’s why this group of industry, education and government representatives are working together to resolve shared challenges – an aging workforce, misperceptions about maritime career opportunities and difficulties in filling well-paying jobs – through the creation of a maritime workforce development plan.

The University of Alaska provided resources to guide the planning effort, hold stakeholder meetings and support development of the plan.

With its long commitment to Alaska and particularly the fishing industry, the Rasmuson Foundation leant support and vision to the process. The foundation was instrumental in convening industry, university and state leadership to support the planning process, and to adopt an expansive vision of maritime workforce development. This vision spans frontline occupational preparation to more advanced technical and middle skill careers, as well as professional and managerial opportunities.

Senator Lyman Hoffman and Representative Bryce Edgmon also provided leadership, support, and advice as the plan developed. We are grateful for their contributions.

After two years of research, assessment and analysis, the Alaska Maritime Workforce Development Plan is now available. Go to http://www.Labor.Alaska.Gov/MaritimePlan to download or read online.

The plan identifies 23 priority occupations across the four maritime sub-sectors. It also includes strategies to create a seamless workforce development system that will prepare Alaskans for these opportunities.

In reality, our work has just begun. Now we must work together to implement the plan, inform Alaskans about maritime job opportunities, align educational and training resources, and create new pathways of opportunity for maritime employers and workers.

Over the next few months salmon fisheries will be in full gear, visitors will flock to our shores, and Alaskans will take to the water for commerce, recreation and subsistence. As we enjoy the opportunities our maritime state provides, let’s also make a commitment to work together to build the strong, skilled maritime workforce that makes these opportunities possible.

Read the plan. Tell others, such as local educators and maritime business owners. Provide your thoughts and ideas to help us implement the plan. Alaska’s maritime legacy is vast and inspiring. Its future will be equally challenging and rewarding. It begins with educated, trained and experienced Alaskans engaged in marine transportation, maritime support services, marine resource and ecosystem management, and seafood harvesting and processing. Let’s get underway.

Kris Norosz is government affairs director for Icicle Seafoods and co-chair of the Fisheries Seafood Maritime Initiative. Julie Decker is a commercial fisherman and executive director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation. Doug Ward is shipyard development director for Vigor Alaska and chair of the Alaska Workforce Investment Board.

Bristol Bay Harvesters Say Majors Offering $1.20 a Pound for Sockeyes

Commercial harvesters delivering to Bristol Bay processors have brought in more than 28 million salmon through July 15, and the going home price appears to be about $1.20 a pound, the same price paid by processors in 1998. That’s 30 cents less than the $1.50 base price announced for the same week a year ago.

While processors were unavailable to confirm those prices, the Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association, and several individual fishermen, said they had learned that the major processors were paying $1.20 a pound, plus 15 cents for chilled fish.

AIFMA had no immediate comment on the price, but reactions elsewhere ranged from acceptance to disappointment.

“Everyone was thinking the price would go up a little bit,” said Bill Gardner, who delivers his fish to North Pacific Seafoods. “A lot of guys are still out fishing, but the season is winding down. We are happy with what we caught. We’ll do it again, I’m sure, but it’s always kind of a punch in the gut to get a big reduction in price.”

Gardner, who owns a boat repair business in the Seattle area, said he realized the processors have a lot to consider, and “the market place is the market place.

“If the Fraser River doesn’t come in, maybe we’ll get some price adjustments,” he said. Processors have a tough job going out on the market to sell the fish, he said.

Canadian fisheries officials have predicted that the Fraser River salmon run may be shaping up to be the biggest there in 100 years. Meanwhile, Russian fishery science officials were also forecasting a large run of red salmon.

Canadian and Russia forecasts notwithstanding, some fishermen said they were plainly disgusted.

Casey Dochtermann, fishing with his brother Shawn Dochtermann in Egegik, described the $1.20 a pound going home price as “a sucker punch to the gut.”

In what other industry do you see the price going down on product being delivered while the price of everything else is going up, asked Casey Dohtermann.

No matter what the fishermen are paid, sockeye salmon fillets sell all year long for $9.99 to $12.99 a pound, he said. Widespread rumors this past spring were that Silver Bay Seafoods, a relative newcomer to Bristol Bay, was writing contracts for $2 a pound, so many fishermen anticipated that they would make more than last year.

Statewide, fish harvesters in Alaska through July 15 had delivered to processors more than 61 million salmon, including 35.8 million sockeye, 20.5 million humpies, 4.6 million chum, 300,000 Chinook and 269,000 silvers.

For Prince William Sound, the preliminary catch to date is estimated at over 23 million salmon, including 19.3 million pink, more than 3 million red, 1 million chum, 10,000 king and 3,000 coho salmon.

Quotas Stable for Aleutian Islands Golden King Crab

When the Aleutian Islands golden king crab season opens on Aug. 15, the quota will remain at 6.29 million pounds, crab managers for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said July 15. The fishery will close on May 15, 2015.

The same quota was applied for the 2013-2014, and 2012-2013 seasons.

For waters east of 174 degrees west longitude, the individual fishing quota was set at 2,979,000 pounds, with the community development quota at 331,000 pounds, for a total of 3,310,000 pounds.

West of 174 degrees west longitude, the IFQ was set at 2,682,000 pounds, with an Adak community allocation of 298,000 pounds, for a total of 2,980,000 pounds.

Vessel registration was scheduled to begin on Aug. 12 at Dutch Harbor.

Fishermen were reminded to have a valid US Coast Guard commercial fisheries vessel safety decal, and an individual holding a 2014 Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission Aleutian Islands king carb interim use permit card must be on board at the time of registration.

Also at the time of vessel registration, all pots on board or in wet storage must be in compliance with current Aleutian Islands commercial golden king crab fishing regulations.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking volunteers interested in testing electronic logbooks and willing to provide feedback for program improvements. Participants would not need to complete a paper daily fishing log. Minimum requirements on the vessel include a computer/laptop with Windows 7, a printer, and a USB drive. Internet access while at sea is not needed, as data is transmitted at the conclusion of each trip.

Those interested were asked to contact Suja Hall of NMFS at 1-907-586-7462, or via email at

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nichols Bros. Celebrates 50 Years

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor

The first boat produced by the Nichols family was a tugboat. George "Mark" Nichols was an orchardist in Yakima, Washington in the 1930s. His 10-acre apple farm failed during the great depression, and in 1939 he moved his family South to the city of Hood River, Oregon, on the Columbia River, to build a tugboat with his brother, Luke.

Welding was one of many skills one acquired as a farmer, and Mark put that talent to good use, as he and his son Frank built the first Nichols Boatworks tugboat, the M/V Whale. That first boat established the commercial viability of a boatbuilding venture, and the brothers opened their Nichols Boat Works for business. There isn't much information on the Whale, but it was steel.

"Only steel," Current Nichols Bros. president Matt Nichols says. "Steel and later aluminum, of course. We never built fiberglass or wood boats."

From 1939 to 1964, The Nichols Boat Works built a series of steel tugs and fishing boats for the busy Columbia River. The brothers built tugboats for companies such as Shaver Transportation, Joe Bernert Towing Co., Brix Maritime, Brusco Tug and Barge, Smith Towing and Hendren Towboat Co.

The yard also produced steel fishing boats, a couple of pleasure craft and some passenger vessels, as well as several ferries including the ferry Wahkiakum, for Wahkiakum County, which runs between Cathlamet, Washington and Westport, Oregon.

In 1962, Mark's son, Frank Wilson Nichols, who had grown up building boats with his father and uncle, brought his wife and eleven children to Seattle to start his own business. He built his first boat, a steel fishing boat named Jenel, in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. The 42-foot by 16.5-foot F/V Jenel, built for fisherman Jack Downing, was powered by a GM 6-71 diesel. Frank's son, Matt, was hired as a deckhand on the new boat, and fished in Alaska for four summers while he was in high school. On delivery of the Jenel in 1964, Frank Nichols bought a machine shop on a piece of land on Holmes Harbor, in Freeland, Washington on Whidbey Island.

"We all lived in that little shack for a while," Matt says. The company has always placed a value on its history and modest beginnings. For years, even after the yard had established itself as one of the top shipyards in the country, the old machine shop was a part of the operation. When the building was finally demolished in 1992 to make way for expansion of the yard, the front wall was kept and incorporated into the fence that surrounds the 14-acre facility.

The yard is actually separated from the water by a two-lane country road, Shoreview drive, which the yard's boats have to cross to reach the gently sloping launch site on the other side. After ten years of launching boats by rolling them down the gently sloping beach on specially-built cradles, Frank developed a hydraulically driven heavy mover, with crawler tracks, allowing the vessels to be driven into the bay, where they would float out of the cradles as the tide came in. The system allowed for the construction and launch of larger vessels, and worked so well that in 1991 it was updated to carry 2,500 tons.

In 1972, Frank's sons, Matt and his brother, Archie, took over the family business, along with brothers Mike, Nate, Luke, and Willie, with all the brothers working in the yard. Matt and Archie ran the business together until 1996, when Archie left to pursue other interests, and Matt bought out Archie's share in the company. One of their brothers, Luke, still runs the yard's machine shop, and Archie still consults on the occasional project.

"People are very important at Nichols," Matt Nichols says. "Our reputation doesn't come just from the quality of the vessels we build, but the people who build them." Nichols currently employs 252 shipyard craftsmen, which is considered full employment for the yard, although Matt Nichols notes that some projects have required hiring extra workers. "We were at about 375 crew at one point when we were building the Empress of the North and the X-Craft," he says, noting that the crew is trained in the trades with private classroom instruction every Tuesday and Thursday night. The company pays all the training costs, and is so successful that many other companies try to hire the highly trained Nichols employees away.

The training is certified by the State of Washington to rigorous standards, and the skilled aluminum craftsmen participate in continuing education classes to perfect their trades. Long-time Nichols craftsmen earn overtime to train the new employees. Currently, all of his employees live on Whidbey Island.

Matt Nichols' sons make up the latest generation of Nichols boatbuilders. Bryan Nichols, who managed sales for Nichols Bros for many years, now serves as Director of Sales at Vigor Fab. Justin Nichols, who earned a degree in industrial engineering, built boats on his own before hiring on at Nichols Bros. as production manager. Younger brother, George Nichols, works at the yard as a draftsman with 10 years of experience.

"It was awesome growing up with the yard," Bryan Nichols says. "As kids we spent a lot of time painting cranes, sweeping the yard – we had a lot of work." He says along the way they learned a lot about boats. "You end up learning so much about equipment, about machinery, and you don't even realize what you're learning at the time."

Bryan enjoyed meeting the customers and watching his father, Matt, sell boatbuilding and repair projects. "I learned negotiation and sales tactics from the master," he jokes.

He and his older brother, Justin, worked under multiple people at the yard each summer. "In the winter I would work a few hours after school, cleaning up the machine shop or something, and in the summer I was always working in the yard as an apprentice to someone," he says.

"In college I started working nights with my dad helping with estimates and proposals, and I would go to school during the day. Pretty soon it developed that I was working for him during the day and going to school at night."

Bryan says he's fortunate to love what he does. "Being able to stay in the industry has been a real treat," he says. "People get into this industry accidentally and kind of fall in love with it."

The fishing boats built by Nichols Bros. have included gillnetters, seiners, trawlers and crabbers, while the tugboats produced by the yard have run from standard line-haul boats to shallow-draft vessels for service in shallow Alaskan rivers, articulated tug and barge units, and modern tractor tugs for ship assist and escort work.

"Nichols is a great bunch of guys that work hard," says Gunnar Ildhuso, Jr., President of Ildhuso Fisheries and owner of the combination crab, pollock and whiting boat F/V Gun-Mar. "It seems like everybody on the Island works for them."

Ildhuso had the Gun-Mar built at Nichols Bros. in 1981. The 137-foot boat had 3,400 square feet of deck space and a hold capacity of 11,500 cubic feet. The 1,700-HP boat was capable of 12 knots, fully loaded.

In 1993, Ildhuso brought the boat back to Nichols for a two six-foot sponsons and a 40-foot mid-body extension. "Nichols had the mid-body built and ready for us when we finished the season," Ildhuso says. The modifications increased the deck size to 6,000 square feet and the hold capacity to 23,200 cubic feet, while maintaining a fully laden speed of 12 knots from the same 1,700 HP.

"We got the boat into the yard, and they did the work and it was ready in time for the next season," Ildhuso says. "I think it's a real well-run yard."

Matt Nichols says the yard performs quite a bit of maintenance and modification work. "A lot of our customers come back to the yard where the boat was built. We'd actually like to do more repair," he says. "With our yard at Freeland and our dock at Langley, we can do topside repairs and dockside work as well as haul-out projects."

One of the hallmarks of the company is diversity. Along with fishing boats and tugboats, Nichols Bros. has built a series of high-speed aluminum passenger vessels.

"We're operating three Nichols boats," says Greg Bombard, President of Long beach, California-based Catalina Express.

"We've got one newbuild – a great boat, the Jet Cat Express, and we've bought two other vessels through them," he says. "One that they had out on charter, and another one that came in as a trade-in."

Bombard worked closely with Nichols to develop vessels that would transport passengers in comfort across the channel to Catalina Island. The Nichols-built boats feature amenities like full ride control systems for stability, modern navigational systems, airline-style cabin seating, panoramic viewing windows, and on-deck seating.

"We've always worked well with Nichols Bros." Bombard says, "and those vessels have been great additions to our fleet."

Nichols Bros. has built paddlewheel riverboats, some military craft, a fireboat, research vessels, a pilot boat and patrol craft.

Nichols also builds great tour boats, according to Don Wicklund, the Port Captain for Seattle's Argosy Cruises. Argosy operates a fleet of nine tour boats around Seattle and Puget Sound, including several Nichols Bros.-built boats.

"We love Nichols," he says. Wicklund was a captain for Argosy in 1976 when the company was approached by Archie and Matt Nichols. "Nichols Bros. had an opening, and they wanted to keep the crew working," Wicklund says. "They offered us a great price, so we asked them to build us a boat like the Goodtime," he says. "They built the Goodtime II in two and a half months." The 250-passenger vessel has since seen continuous service along the Seattle waterfront. It was followed by several other Nichols boats, including the Goodtime III and Spirit of Alderbrook, and most recently the Royal Argosy, built in 1999 as a luxury dinner cruise boat. The 180-foot Royal Argosy was designed to evoke the era of the Seattle "mosquito fleet" of steamships that dotted Puget Sound at the end of the 19th century. The dinner cruise boat can accommodate up to 800 passengers, or seat 336 for a unique dining experience provided by professional chefs working in three full-service galley/kitchens.

"They're a great boatbuilder," Wicklund says, noting that the yard's attention to detail reduces maintenance costs and makes for a well-built boat.

"One of the things they do has to do with the skip welds," he says. A skip weld is an intermittent weld, used to reduce distortion in welded plate. "Where they skipped the weld, they caulk all the seams," he says. "That keeps water out and reduces or eliminates rusting in those seams."

Wicklund appreciates that the yard is close to Seattle, and the crew is easy to work with, but mostly, he says, "They take it to the next step- they do that 'one more thing' to make a boat that lasts many more years."

A recently completed Nichols boat is the 100-foot ship-assist tug M/V Delta Audrey, currently undergoing sea trials at the company's Langley facility before being delivered to San Francisco's Bay Delta Navigation. The boat is actually the sixth such vessel the company has had built by Nichols Bros., and Bay Delta's Operations Manager Peter Zwart, who has overseen construction of the whole series, is very happy with this latest boat.

"The boat looks great," he says. "I must say, this might be the best boat of the six."

Zwart says he's very happy to work with Nichols Bros. "This island has a bunch of excellent crafts people," he says. "For example, the welding is excellent- they do a really nice job, and they take pride in their work."

Zwart says he has built relationships and friendships with the crew at the yard, and that much of the quality comes from the management. "The price is fair- you get what you pay for. Matt Nichols is very approachable and easy to deal with," he says.

In 2007, Nichols Bros. was acquired by an investment firm and re-incorporated as Ice Floe, LLC. dba Nichols Bros. Boatbuilders. Matt Nichols remains the company's CEO, and in 2011 Gavin Higgins was appointed COO of Nichols Brothers, tasked with the oversight of the engineering, production, project management, purchasing and facilities departments.

Over the course of the yard's history, Nichols Bros. has reached many significant milestones. The construction of a high-speed aluminum catamaran for the US Navy's Office of Naval Research demonstrated the yard's technical expertise. Known as the X-Craft (Littoral Surface Craft-Experimental), the 262-foot by 72-foot Sea Fighter (FSF 1) is powered by a combined diesel or gas turbine (CODOG) engine configuration consisting of two MTU 595 diesel engines and two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines. The diesels can power the ship for long-range cruising, while the gas turbines allow the X-Craft to reach 55 knots in calm seas and more than 40 knots in sea state four. Ramps allow for roll-on/roll-off loading of equipment, and the flight deck can accommodate two helicopters. 

Another unique vessel shows the other side of Nichols Bros. The 360-foot paddlewheel cruise boat Empress of the North showcases the high level of finish the yard puts into its vessels. The 235-passenger Empress was built in 2003, and is currently taking passengers on 3- to 7-day trips on the Columbia River. CEO Matt Nichols recently returned from a cruise on the elegant vessel.

"I'd forgotten what a nice boat she is," he says. "I was invited to speak about her at the beginning of the trip, and for the rest of the cruise people were complimenting me on the boat.

That sentiment is echoed by commercial customer Peter Zwart, of Bay Delta Navigation, who says he really likes the way the yard builds his boats. "We'll go with Nichols on the next boat, too," he says. That's a nice recommendation to kick off the next 50 years.

Harvest of Alaska Sockeyes and Humpies Exceeding Forecasts

A bountiful harvest of sockeye and pink salmon far exceeding forecasts is being delivered by commercial fishermen to processors in Bristol Bay and Prince William Sound, and the fish just keep on coming.

Statewide, the preliminary harvest total on July 9 stood at 47,666,000 salmon, including nearly 28 million sockeyes, 16 million humpies, 3.7 million chum, 227,000 chinook and 196,000 coho.

In the famed Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery, which had a preseason harvest forecast of 16.86 million fish, harvesters had delivered in excess of 21 million fish.

 “It’s early enough in the season so that we could see another good push of fish,” said Travis Elison, at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s office in King Salmon.

Through July 9, harvesters for the Naknek-Kvichak had delivered 10.3 million sockeyes to processors, including 1.1 million fish on July 3 and 1.2 million fish on July 4. Since July 4, daily harvests had dropped to under one million fish, and the catch could come back up or continue to decrease, Elison said.

Other Bristol Bay preliminary harvest totals through July 9 included 5 million reds for Egegik District, 5.2 million reds for the Nushagak, 89,000 for Togiak and 497,000 for Ugashik.

Some permit holders who had started in the Egegik district had moved on to the Naknek-Kvichak’s more abundant runs, so that the spread of permits being fished included 629 permits for the Naknek-Kvichak, 334 permits in the Nushagak, 309 permits for Egegik, 85 permits in the Ughsik and 61 permits for Togiak.

The seine fleet in Prince William Sound was hauling in so many humpies that Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists were having a hard time keeping the harvest numbers updated, said Tommy Sheridan, the state’s area seine manager.

The pink salmon season catch through July 9 was nearing 14 million fish, compared with the preseason forecast of just under 13 million fish, and Sheridan said that including common property and hatchery cost recovery fish, biologists now expected the overall harvest to exceed 20 million humpies.

While the peak has passed for the Copper River district, drift fleet harvests had slowed but kept on coming, with 1.85 million sockeye, 42,000 chum, 10,000 kings and fewer than 1,000 pink and silver salmon delivered.

Cook Inlet’s harvest reached 639,000 salmon, up from 244,000 fish just a week earlier, mostly sockeyes harvested in the central district of Upper Cook Inlet.

The harvest for the Southeast region stood at 2.3 million salmon. On the Alaska Peninsula, the catch exceeded 2.5 million salmon, including 1.8 million reds, and at Kodiak, 1.4 million salmon, including 1.2 million reds, had been delivered to processors.

Yukon Summer Keta Salmon Featured in Pacific Northwest Supermarket Chain

Summer run Yukon River keta salmon processed by Kwik’Pak Fisheries in the Lower Yukon River town of Emmonak has found its way to seafood shoppers in Safeway stores in the Pacific Northwest.

In seafood display cases in the Seattle area this past week, fresh keta salmon fillets from that Lower Yukon processor, priced at $6.99 a pound, shared space with Copper River sockeye fillets at $9.99 a pound.

“They are big fish this year, bigger than the average summer chum,” said Jack Schultheis, sales manager for Kwik’Pak.

The summer keta salmon were weighing in at an average of 6.5 pounds, compared with the usual 5.9 to 6 pounds, “and they are really nice looking fish,” he said. 

The overall harvest for Kwik’Pak, some 1.8 million pounds of keta salmon in all, is ahead of the harvest for the same time a year ago, Schultheis said.  Kwik’Pak has also processed some 20,000 pink salmon.

The community based business, formed by six local villages, provides employment, training and educational opportunities to area residents, for whom the commercial fisheries are the core of their economy.  Kwik’Pak, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, has developed both domestic and overseas markets for its headed and gutted and fillets of salmon.

And Schultheis had more good news about the Chinook salmon run, which is closed to fishing on the Yukon in Alaska, to meet international treaty escapement goals into Canada.  They’ve counted 131,000 kings through the sonar, compared to an average of 127,000 kings, and some 5,400 kings have already passed through Eagle on the Upper Yukon, heading for the Canadian border, he said.

Scientists Study Effects of Melting Glaciers in Prince William Sound

Federal and university scientists engaged in an ocean acidification study hope to learn by autumn how much impact glacial melt water is having on the saturation state of carbonate minerals in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

“If the saturation state becomes too low, the waters can become corrosive to shell building organisms,” said Jeremy Mathis, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. 

Mathis, who is also an affiliate professor at the Institute of Marine Science, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said greater efforts are needed to slow the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The glacier melt itself has some unique chemistry that exacerbates ocean acidification, he said.

 “We need to understand how the water chemistry is changing in the sound,” Mathis said in an interview on July 8. “That will provide a foundation for understanding the impact of ocean acidification on the fisheries in Prince William Sound.”

Meanwhile scientists are thinking about what can be done in the way of mitigation efforts and strategies, so if they see a decline in fisheries they can respond, and have some adaptive capabilities in these fisheries resources.

 “The glacial melt water entering the sound has low concentrations of carbonate ion, which marine organisms need to build shells and skeletons,” Mathis said.  “When increasing amounts of this freshwater enter the sound, it makes surface water less hospitable for animals that build shells.”

To learn more, scientists from the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the University of Alaska and the Alaska Ocean Observing System earlier this spring launched two Carbon Wave Gliders and a Slocum underwater glider into the Gulf of Alaska to collect data for five months.

The Carbon Wave Gliders, which look and act like remotely-controlled surfboards, ride at the surface of the ocean, collecting data on water temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide in water and air.

The Slocum glider, which resembles a torpedo, and was conceived by Douglas C. Webb, tracks ocean data down to 200 meters.  It travels from a near shore ocean acidification buoy across the continental shelf and back. Scientists pilot the Slocum from the federal lab as well.  It provides data showing the downstream effects of melting glaciers and how freshwater changes the chemistry of the water column.  

This is the first time that these types of glides have been used in the cold waters of Alaska, NOAA officials said.

“Understanding these unique processes will help us determine which species are at risk, not just in Prince William Sound, but up and down the coast of the Gulf of Alaska,” Mathis said. “This information can help Alaskan communities better prepare for and adapt to ecosystem changes that may affect important fisheries.”

Tribal Groups Support EPA Authority in Lawsuit Over Pebble Mine

A tribal consortium from Alaska’s Bristol Bay region says it plans to intervene in the Pebble Limited Partnership’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency challenging EPA’s authority to potentially stop development of the Pebble mine.

United Tribes of Bristol Bay made the announcement from Dillingham, in Southwest Alaska, this past week.

United Tribes had asked the EPA to use its authority under section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act to blocks permits for the proposed massive copper, gold and molybdenum mine.  Meanwhile, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell recently announced a decision to join the lawsuit in support of the Pebble Partnership’s stand.

“The 404 (c) process over which the Pebble Partnership and the Parnell Administration is suing is the very course that the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, along with thousands of Alaskans, requested the EPA take in efforts to protect our people and region from the harmful effects of large-scale mining,” said Robert Heyano, a veteran commercial fisherman and president of United Tribes. 

“By initiating a lawsuit, the Partnership shows continued disregard for the scientific facts that prove this type of mining in Bristol Bay will be devastating to our region, a continued disinterest in the open and transparent public process we requested, and dismissal of the overwhelming desire of the Bristol Bay communities.”

Thousands of commercial fish harvesters, sport anglers and subsistence fishermen, and entities representing them have voiced concern that development of the mine near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed could result in devastatingly adverse impacts to the fishery, upon which fish harvesters and regional wildlife are dependent.  Mine advocates maintain that the mine can be constructed and operate in harmony with the fishery.

The EPA earlier this year initiated efforts under the Clean Water Act to identify what it called appropriate options to protect the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery. The Pebble mine, said the EPA, has the potential to be one of the largest open pit copper mines ever developed and could threaten a salmon resource rare in its quality and productivity.

FN Online Advertising