Corkline-News for Southeast Gillnetters, January 10, 2014

14 Jan

Please take a moment to thank these businesses  which have renewed their USAG Membership for 2013 or 2014 and encourage other support sector businesses to do the same

USAG Dues.

Haven’t paid your dues yet this year?  Drop a check for $300 in the mail today.  Year end notices were mailed around Thanksgiving.

Not a member yet?  Fill out and mail a membership form with your check for$300 to USAG, PO Box 20538, Juneau, AK 99802.   ADFG’s preliminary estimate is that the SE gillnet fleet grossed $29,555,255 in 2013—that means you have a valuable fishery to protect

Don’t forget, dues must be current to participate in the USAG fleet insurance program which has some major improvements this year including better rates and expanded coverage.

If you are not a member of our insurance program, contact John Long, Sea Mountain Insurance (425) 775-1410 XT 145 work and he will get you a quote.



Wear Your PFD All the Time, says NIOSH (1/3).  Of the 178 deaths from fishermen falling overboard between 2000-2012, only one was wearing a PFD according to CDC.

These “oilskins” with built-in floatation were well received by the gillnetters who tried them. They’re made by Norwegian-based Regatta. The US Coast Guard has not yet approved them, but encourages fishermen to wear them anyway and keep other approved devices on board.

Fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Last year the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked fishing as the second most dangerous profession, behind logging, based on the number of fatalities.

Between 2000 and 2012, there were 623 commercial fishing related deaths nationwide, according to a database run by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety. NIOSH has been studying the incidents that led to those deaths carefully, and believes hundreds of lives might be saved if more people would wear their PFD’s.  More/KDLG Audio

Links to NIOSH “PFDs That Work” for different gear groups:
, click here:
Gillnetters, click here:
Longliners, click here:
Crabbers, click here:
For a general overview, click here:

Trying Very Hard To Die: The Preventable Disease in Commercial Fishing (1/3).  Yesterday, the New York Times published an outstanding piece of journalism – A Speck in the Sea by Paul Tough. In it, Tough tells the story of John Aldridge, a Montauk lobsterman who fell overboard off Long Island this past summer. Aldridge spent 12 hours in the Atlantic using his boots for flotation until a Coast Guard helicopter spotted him and returned him, alive, to shore. Tough’s writing is outstanding, the story is incredible, and I think anyone who works offshore should read it. But what struck me most wasn’t Aldridge’s will to live or the harrowing details of his survival; it wasn’t the incredible search effort to find him, either. It was that Aldridge, like so many commercial fishermen before him, seemed to be trying very hard to die.

I’m beginning to think there is a disease that is caught early in a working fisherman’s life; it’s as if there is something in the scales of fish that wants to pay them back, something that gets under their skin.  Once in their blood it affects the brain and makes them more likely to die than any other group of professional mariners. It makes them believe that they are different; that fishing is more dangerous than every other job out there, and nothing can be done about it.  More

Don’t press your luck (1/7).  Everyone is familiar with Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will, and usually at the worst possible moment. I’ve been a believer in this theory for as long as I can remember, without ever really giving it much thought.

The eight years I spent in the Coast Guard picking up the pieces from assorted tragedies and misfortunes certainly fed this belief. And over 20 years as a merchant mariner never gave me any reason to doubt it, or so I thought. But lately I’ve had a complete change of heart. I’ve come to the conclusion that Murphy was wrong, at least in most cases. More

Safety Alert.  USCG – entanglement accidents (12/31).  The US Coast Guard issued a Safety Alert concerning potential entanglement accidents on vessels. Loose clothing, jewelry, personal gear, or long hair may become entangled in moving, rotating, and reciprocating machinery, so mariners should exercise precautions when working in the vicinity.  Courtesy Bryant’s Maritime Blog

Rescuers recommend prevention techniques (12/31).  The holiday festivities are almost over. Now it’s time to enjoy all that Christmas loot. In Sitka, some of the most prized Christmas toys aid in outdoor exploration. But with these toys, comes great responsibility. Search and Rescue captain Don Kluting and Air Station Sitka operations officer Pete Melnick had these words of warning for Sitkans eager to hit the trails.  More


USCG.  Commercial Fishing Vessels Carrying Passengers or Passengers for Hire Within the federal navigable Waters of Alaska (5/10/13)


Treadwell Rejects Gill Net Initiative (1/6).  Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell today rejected an initiative to prohibit shore gill nets and set nets in nonsubsistence areas of the state. Lt. Gov. Treadwell took action on the advice of the Department of Law, whose 12-page opinion called the proposed measure (13PCAF) a prohibited appropriation under Article XI, Section 7 of the Alaska Constitution.

The Department of Law’s conclusion was based primarily on the Alaska Supreme Court’s 1996 decision in Pullen v. Ulmer, a case holding that salmon are assets of the state which may not be appropriated by initiative and that the preferential treatment of certain fisheries may constitute a prohibited appropriation.

The Department of Law’s opinion letter also states, “Were this type of initiative permissible, voters could continue to reallocate stocks to any fishery simply by eliminating specific gear or particular means and methods of catching fish – for example, the next initiative might propose to eliminate purse seining, trawling, dipnetting, or catch-and-release sport fishing in particular areas to increase harvest opportunity for other types of users. This would ‘prevent … real regulation and careful administration’ of Alaska’s salmon stocks, contrary to the purpose of the prohibition on initiative by appropriation.”  More  Anchorage Daily News Story Alaska Journal of Commerce  Associated Press  KTUU News Video  KTVA News Video  KDLL Audio  AFCA (Penney) Press Release
NO DICE by Margie Bauman    KDLL- Treadwell Explains Initiative Decision

Final documents are available online:

Denial Letter:

Attorney General Opinion:

Elections Signature Verification:


HB77.  Letter to Governor Sparks Outrage in Mat-Su (1/7).  A controversial resources bill is generating debate among leaders in the Mat-Su Valley.  House Bill 77 is part of the state’s multi-year effort to streamline the State of Alaska’s permitting system.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, the legislation would prevent private entities from trying to hinder the use of state waters by a business, municipality or individual Alaskan.  It would also create bounds for individual permits where none existed.

The Mat-Su Borough’s Fish and Wildlife Commission wrote Governor Parnell December 16 expressing concern about the legislation.

“When we wrote our letter, we directed our comments almost exclusively to fishery issues,” said Acting Chairman Larry Engel.

Engel, and other opponents such as former Mat-Su Assemblyman Warren Keough, are worried HB77 would deprive salmon of enough water to survive and spawn.

Borough Mayor Larry Devilbiss wrote a letter supporting the legislation on December 23, drawing the ire of Keough at Tuesday night’s meeting.  More/KTUU Video

Compass: State permitting system no longer serves public interest (1/5).  The public interest is no longer being served by Alaska’s natural resources permitting system. When it comes to state resource development decisions, too little voice is given to Alaskans, project reviews are fragmented, local and tribal governments are sidelined, and too much power is concentrated in the executive branch, particularly the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Resource development projects often involve multiple activities, such as road and facility construction, water use and material extraction. Each activity requires permits from different divisions within each resource agency. Since permitters act on their permitting authority separately, project reviews are piecemeal, and only public comments related to each individual activity are considered. There is no opportunity to analyze a project as a whole. DNR coordinates large project reviews, such as large-scale mining, but this is done mostly as a service to applicants who pay for the privilege.  More

Ex-Alaska senator faces salmon overfishing charges (12/27).  The Alaska Court of Appeals on Friday reinstated charges against a former state senator and others for violating conditions of their subsistence fishing permits.

A wildlife officer in August 2009 cited then-lawmaker Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, and others for catching more sockeye salmon than allowed under a subsistence fishing permit.

The state Department of Fish and Game in 2001 conducted a survey of the sockeye salmon fishery in the Kanalku Lake area near Angoon. The assessment found the number of sockeye had fallen to dangerous levels that put the fishery at risk. The department met with Angoon residents and established voluntary catch limits.  More
Appellate Court Opinion (12/27)
Appeals court reinstates overfishing charges against former Alaska lawmaker (12/27)
KTOO.  Appeals court reinstates overfishing charges against Kookesh, two others (12/27)

Ode to a lost newsman (1/2).  This week (12-31-13) radio stations in Southeast Alaska say goodbye to a longtime friend and colleague, Matt Lichtenstein.

Lichtenstein is the most senior reporter in CoastAlaska, and our regional expert on fisheries. He’s been at KFSK in Petersburg for 18 years, but on Tuesday he hung up his microphone and tape recorder and picked up his Grundens to join the SE commercial fishing fleet full time as a power troller.  More/KCAW Audio Humor

UFA Released Updated “Community Fishing Fact Sheets” (12/16).  The United Fishermen of Alaska has updated their “Community Fishing Fact Sheets” to include data from 2012. The fact sheets cover specific areas that are generally either municipalities or census areas.  More/KDLG Audio


Short Taglines on Brailers in Bristol Bay May Negatively Impact Salmon Quality (1/8).  The Board of Directors for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association will meet Friday and Saturday in Seattle to consider several proposals submitted for possible funding this year. As KDLG’s Mike Mason reports, one of the proposals seeks to offer up a simple solution to a problem that might be impacting the quality of sockeye harvested in Bristol Bay.  KDLG Audio

Wal-Mart, state hash out sustainability of Alaska salmon (1/8).  Despite a months-long standoff between Alaska and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over questions about the sustainability of Alaska seafood, all sides were saying nice things Wednesday after two days of meetings in Juneau between a team of executives from the giant retailer and state officials.

“We want to make sure that any cloud that comes over Alaska and the sustainability of our fisheries, we want to address that immediately,” said Susan Bell, commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.

She said she was “very optimistic” that Wal-Mart would agree that Alaska’s seafood was sustainable and would continue to carry it.  More   KTUU (1/8)  Juneau Empire (1/9)  Senator Murkowski PR

State Goes On Charm Offensive Against Wal-Mart Over Salmon Dispute (1/9).  As executive director of DIPAC, Eric Prestegard is used to giving tours. Every year, tens of thousands of people visit the hatchery in Juneau to see how they raise salmon.

PRESTEGARD: This is the kind of thing you’re only going to see in Alaska. This is very unique to Alaska, what you’re seeing in here. These are incubators.

On Wednesday, his tour group is a little unusual. It’s made up of half a dozen Wal-Mart executives, fresh in from Arkansas to learn about Alaska seafood. Prestegard takes them to a dark room that looks like a server farm. Instead of computer equipment, the towers are full of tiny, young salmon with fresh water flowing through them.  More/APRN Audio

New Poll Finds Strong U.S. Consumer Support for Alaska Seafood, Disapproval for Marine Stewardship Council Policies (1/8).  A new nationwide poll of U.S. seafood consumers reveals resounding support for Alaska seafood as the gold-standard of healthy, sustainable seafood, with 66% rating its quality very high, and an overwhelming 97% viewing it as more sustainable or as-sustainable as other seafood. The poll was commissioned by Alaska Salmon Now, a grassroots collection of fishermen, consumers, and other representatives of the Alaska seafood industry that has advocated for Walmart to revise its misguided policy to only purchase seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a private European organization.  More

Time Magazine. Can Walmart (and Other Mega-Corporations) Do Good? (1/6).  Alaska state officials are hosting Walmart executives in the state capital this week in an effort to resolve a months-old dispute over Alaskan salmon fisheries’ sustainability credentials.

The seeds of the quarrel were planted in 2012 when several Alaskan fisheries decided to end their relationship with the Marine Stewardship Council–the preeminent global certifier of sustainable fishing–to seek out other means assuring customers of their sustainable practices. But last June, Walmart told Alaskan fisheries that it would not be buying salmon sourced from fisheries not certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Now Walmart is caught between two forces–Alaska fisheries and “buy American” enthusiasts who think the company’s first responsibility should be to American industry, and environmentalists who think Walmart should make as strong a commitment to environmentally sustainable industry possible.  More

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute Fishing Photo Contest (12/30).  Calling all Alaskan fishing families, fans and photographers! The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is again seeking your help to promote our seafood species around the world! ASMI is currently looking for your photographs showcasing the best of what Alaska has to offer: our people, our beautiful scenery, and our seafood!

This year, our Facebook fans will vote on a Fan Favorite Winner. They will vote on a selection of the submitted photos that will be posted to Facebook. Votes will be tallied by the number of “likes” on a photograph. To vote, visit and ‘like’ ASMI’s Facebook page at The Fan Favorite grand prize is a trip for two anywhere Alaska Airlines flies.

ASMI will award Grand Prizes, 1st Prize, and 2nd Prize in each of the following categories:  More

Wild ride for seafood ahead in 2014 (1/3).  With the expected growth of the US economy, and continued weakness in many other parts of the world, 2014 looks to be a rough year for seafood traders whose fortunes are tied to foreign currencies. For importers, a strong dollar is positive, and helps moderate prices. For exporters, the strong dollar weakens overseas sales by raising the relative cost of exports, and with more products sold at home, also moderates prices.

The overall trend is for a strengthening dollar. This means cheaper imports and a reduction in competitive price pressures felt by US importers. One of the major reasons for the 40 percent inflation in imported seafood prices since 2010 has beenthe weakness of the US dollar, which has made US buyers less competitive when bidding against buyers in other countries. This now seems to be reversing.  More

Seafood (Jan 2014 edition)
Top Story:   Seafood Against Other Protein
Seafood 101 Initiative Seeks to Hook Kids on Seafood

Seafood marketers counter salmon misinformation (1/6).  The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute says it’s taking steps to counter inflammatory stories on websites that claim Alaska-caught salmon is unsafe.

ASMI communications director Tyson Fick says the institute has seen a resurgence of unsubstantiated, scaremongering articles designed to generate advertising revenue by curious readers clicking on websites.

Fick tells the Kodiak Daily Mirror that the latest wave of misinformation claims Alaska fish has been contaminated by radiation from a Japanese nuclear power plant damaged in a 2011 earthquake.

Fick says ASMI previously have countered misinformation that Alaska salmon contained mercury or PCBs.

He says ASMI refers people to the Food and Drug Administration website. The FDA has found has no evidence of dangerous Fukushima radiation in the U.S. food supply.  Link

Science, Technology

Researchers Say Ocean Acidification Could Make Fish Anxious, Impact Fisheries (1/7).  Scientists have been saying for years that more carbon dioxide in the oceans is hurting sea life. But a new study says the impact goes beyond the physical. It says ocean acidification is changing behavior in fish.  More/KUCB Audio


Database connects misplaced money with rightful owners (1/2).  NOTE:  At least one SE gillnetter has a check from Trident on this list.  We all know the old adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s how Lisa White felt when a friend told her about, a website that claims to connect people with long-lost checks.

But, as White found, the site is legit — the Alaska Department of Revenue uses it to keep track of the approximately $83 million in unclaimed funds it holds on to, DOR special assistant Lacy Wilcox said. Alaska is one of 45 states that links its coffers of unclaimed checks to the site.

When White found out about, she did a search for her own name. No luck there, but a search for her father and brother yielded more than $5,000 in old checks waiting to be claimed. Her dad’s checks were from an 80-year-old insurance policy, but his birth state was still holding on to them, White said.  MoreNOTES:  Search by own name and boat name (in last name box); search by home state and state where processor HQ is located.


Jan 17.
  SSRAA Board meeting, KTN
Feb 10-14.  Pacific Salmon Commission, Vancouver BC
Mar 29. 
DIPAC Board Meeting, Juneau
Apr 4-5.  NSRAA, PSG
Apr 8.  Regional Planning Team (RPT), Juneau
Apr 10Proposals due for 2015 BOF SE Finfish

Feb 23-Mar 3.   BOF SE Finfish, Sitka