Ship's Blog - Fishermen's Finest

Alaska Seafood Co-op and Village Groups Support Deck Sorted Halibut Satellite Tag Study

SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton June 3, 2015

The Alaska Seafood Cooperative and representatives of Western Alaska villages and native fisheries have been cooperating since 2012 to find ways of prosecuting the yellowfin sole fishery in a way that minimized impacts on halibut.

Now the projects working group, called Chaninik Qaluyat Nunivak (CQN) has announced that funding has been awarded by the North Pacific Research Board for deploying satellite tags on halibut released through rapid deck sorting.

The CQN Working Group was established by voluntary agreement in late 2012 and is comprised of ten members total – five from the Alaska Seafood Cooperative (AKSC) and five representing the Bering Sea Elders Group (BSEG), the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), and villages in the area. 

The purpose of the Working Group is to provide the opportunity for a productive yellowfin sole fishery while minimizing the impact of that fishery on the way of the life of the people who use the region to maintain their economic, nutritional, and cultural wellbeing, and to work to reduce the impacts of the yellowfin sole fishery over time, as guided by research, traditional knowledge, and best available technology and fishing practices. 

In November 2014 the CQN Working Group discussed the importance of modifying fishing practices to reduce halibut mortality. The Seafood Co-operative had been working on a project to get halibut caught in trawl nets back into the water as quickly as possible by sorting them on deck. 

The CQN Working Group supported experimental deck sorting but wanted to gain a better understanding of how expedited release would improve survival. They directed Ms. Drobny, contract biologist to the Working Group, to develop a research project design. With funding now secured, the project plans to attach 120 satellite tags to halibut released during experimental deck sorting. 

These tags will monitor the halibuts’ movements, and thus survival, for 100 days after its release from the ship. This will provide a better understanding of the effect that being caught and released in the trawl fishery has on these halibut. Ms. Drobny will field test the tags on a local community vessel this year prior to deploying tags on AKSC vessels in 2016. 

The CQN Working Group met again earlier this month in Bethel, Alaska to continue to discuss ways to work together in support of their mission and plans to meet again in Fall 2015.

Read more on this issue:  C2 NPFMC Sitka June

Reallocating Alaskan halibut allocation could ruin Seattle's trawl fleet

A reallocation of this magnitude would have disastrous economic outcomes for trawl fishermen and maritime communities in Puget Sound and Alaska.

June 3, 2015 Seaport Steel Cutting Ceremony - AMERICA'S FINEST 

We are pleased to report that today we cut steel for the first nest of our America's Finest.  


Present for the ceremony from Fishermen's Finest: (Read more about America's Finest)

Ms. Park, CEO
Dennis Moran, President
Kristian Uri, General Manager
Dave Kettrick, Chief Engineer
Bob Hezel, Captain
Erin Moore, Captain

Dakota Creek Industries

Dick Nelson, CEO
Liz Stout, Project Manager
Joe Gilden
Justin Walker

Click for pictures from the Event:  Seaport Steel cuts Evraz DNV steel for Dakota Creek Hull #63

Click for video from the Event:     Seaport Steel cuts Evraz DNV steel for Dakota Creek Hull #63

Fishermen's Finest ~ a team of excellence ~ our name says it all.


Halibut bycatch in Bering Sea groundfish fisheries is not a conservation issue. The abundance of small halibut -- the ones hardest to avoid in the trawl flatfish and cod fisheries -- is almost twice what it was in 2002. Additionally, halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea has been reduced by nearly 50 percent since its peak in 1992. The halibut reduction required in 2008 for the Amendment 80 sector may not have satisfied everyone, but after careful consideration, it was deemed to be "practicable" as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The act doesn’t have a footnote that says, “After 20 years you can throw practicability out the window and let politics prevail,” but that is the talk coming out of Alaska right now. Aside from the legality of these actions, there appears to be little regard for the jobs in fishing, processing, and support sectors in Alaska communities that depend on the groundfish fisheries. Read ADN May 28, 2015

The official comment period for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council June/Sitka 223rd Plenary Meeting ended at 5pm yesterday.  Here's a list of companies that weighed in supporting the Amendment 80 sector:

Click to read more on this important allocation issue facing our sector: C2 NPFMC 223

Fishermen's Finest ~ a team of excellence ~ our name says it all. 

Editors View: Wrestling with Bycatch Means New Thinking Needed

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Editors View] by John Sackton 

Bycatch is becoming a huge issue in Alaska fisheries, even as the industry makes incredible advances in reducing bycatch of all kinds.

Maybe it is time to rethink bycatch.

Our present system - established in laws and regulations, is that bycatch is wrong.  Non-target species, and the wrong sizes of fish, should not be caught, and in an ideal world their numbers would be reduced to zero.

So part of the National Standards, under Magnuson Stevens, is to reduce bycatch whenever possible.

In Alaska, many of the rules about bycatch are written into laws.  For example, with halibut, it is illegal for anyone with gear other than longline to possess halibut.

There is a great deal of attention paid to prohibited species bycatch, whether it is chinook salmon in pollock trawls, halibut in flatfish trawls, rockfish of the wrong species, or even non-target species such as the short tailed albatross, where a single bird killed by longline can shut down a fishery.

I would argue that the industry as a whole has about reached the limits of bycatch reduction through gear improvements, changes in fishing strategy and season, cooperative allocations, and individual vessel responsibility.  

We believe safety isn't an accident - you have to work proactively to maintain a safe workplace and to train a safe workforce.  That is why we encourage our crew to better themselves by attending safety courses offered through organazations such as

Not only do we encourage our crew, we step up to the plate and pay for our crew to attend.  Further, a more trained crewmember will move up in the pay scale aboard the vessels.  It's a win-win-win.

Listed below are just a few of the safety training opportunities that are out there:

FFinest crew, see Renee Brem in Human Resources to take advantage of furthering your career and maintaining your safety preparedness.

Fishermen's Finest ~ a team of excellence ~ our name says it all.