SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Fish Factor

Bristol Bay catch tops 1 million fish


June 28, 2010

As of June 25, Bristol Bay sockeye salmon catch totals exceeded 1 million fish. The actual number almost looked faked given its numerical configuration 1-2-3-4. The total catch as reported on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Commercial Fisheries page for June 25 was 1,234,405.

ADF&G is forecasting a total sockeye salmon run of nearly 40 million fish with a commercial harvest of nearly 32 million.

ADF&G has an in-season salmon report on the web that allows you to check any of its monitored areas and see just how many of which kind of fish have been caught. The easiest way to find it is to Google "in season Alaska salmon summary." You can pick the fishery you want to track from the page that comes up. (If you are reading this on-line the actual link is here.)

Ahead of the season opening Coast Guard crews conducted more that 250 courtesy dockside vessel examinations. The Coast Guard estimates that its crews inspected one in five of the anticipated 1,100 vessels fishing the Bristol Bay region.

These pre-season vessel inspections are common for many Alaska fisheries. They have been credited with saving lives.

The extremely cold water temperatures combined with quickly changing weather condition and long distances to shore or rescue make for a deadly combination. The dockside examinations ensure fishermen have the best chance they can to beat the odd against them.

The focus of the inspections is education and safety, not prosecution.

"We don't issue fines or other penalties for any problems we discover," said Lt. j.g Anne Besser, CG Sector Anchorage prevention officer. "We focus on safety concerns such as flairs, fire extinguishers and navigational charts, lights and signals."

Bristol Bay - The Ship

Did you know that the Coast Guard has a cutter named the Bristol Bay? It's an icebreaking tug with its own specially-designed barge for maintaining aids to navigation in the Great Lakes. The 140' Bristol Bay is home ported in Detroit and is called the "Workhorse of the Great Lakes."

The Bristol Bay's primary responsibility is opening and maintaining icebound shipping lanes in the Great Lakes. According to the Coast Guard's website, Bay-class tugs are designed to continuously break at least 20 inches of hard, freshwater ice. The ships can break more than 3 feet of ice by backing and ramming.

The Bay tugs have a special hull air lubrication or bubbler system that forces air and water between the hull and ice. This system improves icebreaking capabilities by reducing resistance against the hull, reducing horsepower requirements

The ship also performs missions such as search and rescue, marine environmental protection, law enforcement and port security and safety.

In August 1991, Bristol Bay became the first Bay-class tug to receive a barge specially-designed to perform aids-to-navigation work. The 120-foot long barge works with the ship to service more than 160 aids to navigation each year.

The Bristol Bay was built by the Tacoma Boatbuilding Company in 1978 and was commissioned in Detroit in 1979.

Alaska fishing group helps in Gulf of Mexico

An Alaska organization is helping to underwrite a Gulf Coast fishing effort to develop a citizen advisory committee to monitor the Gulf of Mexico oil industry. reports that the Gulf effort would be based on Alaska's successful regional citizens' advisory committees operating in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. The Alaska RCACs were created after the Exxon Valdez spill and monitor terminal and tanker operations, conduct research and provide advice to ensure industry operations are conducted in environmentally sound ways.

Mark Vinsel, executive director of the United Fishermen of Alaska, is also chair of the Alaska Fishing Industry Relief Mission (AFIRM) which is sending a $10,600 donation to Louisiana to underwrite efforts there to create advisory committees in the Gulf.

"We believe the RCAC systems in Alaska have been instrumental in keeping marine oil operations as safe as possible," Vinsel told "They are an excellent example of cooperation and collaboration to bring very different interests together for their joint benefit."

The Alaska Fishing Industry Relief Mission was formed as a non-profit corporation to help the Gulf of Mexico fishing industry following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Cook Inlet RCAC given prestigious award

The Coast Guard presented the Meritorious Public Service Award to the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens' Advisory Council for consistently providing its expertise and dedication to protect the Cook Inlet region and its citizens. The Coast Guard specifically cited the council's actions during Mount Redoubt's threat to the Drift River Terminal in March 2009.

The Council was also cited for assisting in two vessel incidents. One was the grounding of the tanker vessel Seabulk Pride which was struck by an ice flow while moored at the KPL dock in February 2006. The other was the sinking of the offshore supply vessel Monarch while making a delivery to the Granite Point Platform in January 2009.



Kodiak journalist Maggie Wall is filling for vacationing Laine Welch.

This weekly column focusing on Alaska's seafood industry began in 1991, and it now appears in over 20 newspapers and web sites. A spin off - Fish Radio - airs weekdays on 30 radio stations in Alaska. The goal of both is to make all people aware of the economic and social importance of Alaska's fishing industry to our state, the nation and the world. Happy New Year and thanks for your continued support of fishing news!

Laine can be reached at msfish[AT]


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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