SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Fish Factor

Casting call for "Alaska Fishermen’s Wives”


January 18, 2011
Tuesday PM

A casting call is out for Alaska women to star in an Animal Planet reality show.

 “The name of the show we are casting is Alaska Fishermen’s Wives,” said Annette Ivy, casting producer with Shed Media US in Los Angeles. “We are looking for a kind of flip side of Deadliest Catch, and that would be the fishermen’s wives and their lifestyle. We’re interested in the stresses and challenges they go through when their husbands are out at sea and they’re left holding down the fort.”

“People are interested in seeing other lifestyles,” Ivy added.  “Do these women fish and hunt? What do they do for fun?  We want to peek into their lifestyles because it really is very unique. We are very excited.”

Ivy said producers are seeking a “community” of 5 – 6 women who live near each other and are friends. Coast Guard wives whose husbands are on fisheries patrols for long periods also fit the casting profile.

“We want a lively bunch, big personalities, very talkative and outgoing and outspoken,” she said.

Ivy said the casting call is “now” and they hope to cast the program “in a few weeks.”

Contact Annette Ivy at 323-904-4680 Ext. 1061, or Ext. 1206 for Mark Neal.  Email a photo and short bio to or Interviews can be done by phone.

Good grades in the Bay

Bristol Bay salmon fishermen got good report cards for boosting the quality of their fish.

 For the past two summers, a group of 15 driftnet fishermen at Egegik participated in a project that graded portions of the salmon catch they delivered to processors. The fish was headed and gutted and graded by plant standards to see how much, or if, their quality scores improved.

The results?  

 “The percentage of #1 quality fish went from 43% in 2009 to 69% in 2010. That’s a huge jump,” said project director Mark Buckley, a 23 year Bay fisherman and owner/operator Digital Observer, Inc.

That jump in quality translated to a nice price boost.  

“Comparing 2009 with 2010, the average value of the fish  we studied rose 18 cents a pound.  Just by improving the quality,” Buckley said.

The fishermen were provided with simple tips to improve their handling practices out on the water, such as lowering brailler weights, or using a Salmon Slide to reduce wear and tear on the fish. In follow up questionnaires, Buckley fishermen unanimously supported the report card incentive and the handling quality tips they received. The program will be expanded throughout Bristol Bay this summer.

Buckley said he believes the Bristol Bay salmon fishery has reached a turning point for the better, and he credits the Bay’s Regional Seafood Development Association for leading the way.

 “If they weren’t funding this work, no one else would be. This is motivated and driven by the fishermen themselves with the interest in improving their bottom lines through common sense methods of improving quality,” he said. Some project funding also came from federal grants.

Buckley added that he will continue to advocate for fishermen to be rewarded for the quality of salmon they deliver.

“Everybody would get the same grounds price at the end of the season. After all the sales are made and the company knows how much it’s going to split up among everybody, let’s pay some guys a little bit more than others,” Buckley said. “It doesn’t cost the company any more and everybody gets a bonus, but some guys get more because of the quality of their fish.”

Tanner time!  

Crabbers at Kodiak, Chignik and the Alaska Peninsula had buyers bidding for their catches even before they left the docks (weather permitting) on January 15.  The region wide quota of 4.4 million pounds is nearly tripled from last year, thanks to a big year class of    crabs  recruiting into the fishery.  

The newly molted crabs are ‘big and beautiful,’ according to local biologists, and average weights are likely to approach 2.5 pounds, compared to 2.2 last year. The local bairdi Tanner crabs are the larger cousins of snow crab, and right now, it’s just what the market is looking for.

 “I would not be surprised to see the guys in Kodiak get record prices this year, the same way there has been a record price in king crab earlier this fall,” said John Sackton, a crab market expert and editor of

Sackton said the crab market remains “very short” and a lot of big buyers are not backing away from the higher prices.

 “As a result you have a lot of heavy weights slugging it out to get access to crab,” he continued. “That’s what’s making the crab market so crazy right now. No one is backing down.

The Japanese have a 30-40% currency advantage and they also are trying to ramp up their crab supplies, and you have the large U.S. users still bidding for it because it is too popular to take out of their product line.  so when you get both of those forces bidding against each other, you have the recipe for record prices, and that’s what we are seeing right now.”

A fleet of 63 boats was signed on for the Kodiak fishery, 46 boats for two Peninsula districts and 12 at Chignik. The advance price to crab fishermen was reportedly $2.50/lb.   

Hearing on coal buffers

Grass roots groups in Upper Cook Inlet are asking the state to set up buffer zones to protect the Chuit River and its tributaries from coal mining.    Chuitna Citizens and Cook Inletkeeper filed an Unsuitable Lands Petition with the Dept. of Natural Resources that is set for one public hearing in Kenai on January 19.

“The petition does not preclude mining or stop the mine,” said Dennis Gann, a spokesman for Cook Inletkeeper. “It sets up a buffer zone on the river and tributaries, similar to logging companies, where they couldn’t mine within 100 feet of tributaries and 150 feet from the main stem of the river. It’s basically the same buffer we see with logging companies today. We think it is a reasonable request. If a salmon stream isn’t an unsuitable area for coal mining, then what is?”

“The petition is not a referendum on the Chuitna coal mine, Gann added, “It’s about protecting the river and the salmon for future generations.”

The Chuitna coal mine project being developed by PacRim Coal of Delaware is located 45 miles west of Anchorage. It hopes to extract over one billion tons of sub bituminous coal from 32 square miles of the Chuitna Watershed for export to Asia.

The DNR hearing is January 19, 6-9pm at the Kenai Challenger Learning Center. Comments on the Unsuitable Lands Petition also can be sent via email by Jan. 19 to . On the Web


This year marks the 20th year for this weekly column that focuses on Alaska’s seafood industry. It began in 1991 in the Anchorage Daily News, and now appears in over 20 newspapers and web sites. A daily spin off – Fish Radio – airs weekdays on 30 radio stations in Alaska. My goal is to make all people aware of the economic, social and cultural importance of Alaska’s fishing industry to our state, the nation and the world. 


Laine can be reached at msfish[AT]
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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska


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