October, Busiest Month for Alaska Fishing Industry
October 05, 2012
The state’s biggest crab fisheries get underway in the Bering Sea on October 15 – the Bristol Bay red king crab catch will hold steady at 7.8 million pounds, while the snow crab harvest has taken a dip to 66.3 million pounds, down from about 80 million pounds last season. The St. Matthew Island blue king crab fishery is also down a bit to 1.6 million pounds.
Hundreds of divers in Southeast Alaska are plying the depths for 1.5 million pounds of sea cucumbers, 3.2 million pounds of sea urchins and more than a half million pounds of giant geoduck clams. A few dozen divers also target sea cucumbers and urchins in smaller fisheries at Kodiak, Chignik, the Alaska Peninsula and the Bering Sea (175,000 pounds total for cukes and 80,000 pounds of urchins).
Fishing for big spot shrimp also opens in October throughout Southeast with a catch of just over a half million pounds. Also in Southeast: the Dungeness crab fishery reopened on October 1, and trollers will be back out on the water fishing for king salmon starting on the 11th.
Elsewhere, fishermen in the Gulf and Bering Sea continue fishing for pollock, cod, halibut, sablefish and various other groundfish. The halibut and sablefish fisheries close on November 7 this year and will reopen in early March.
Fishing for fuel savings
Diesel fuel is $5.27a gallon in Kodiak and fishing boats elsewhere face similar or even higher fill up costs. Fishermen could soon find some relief from a state backed project that aims to find ways to reduce fuel needs for fishing vessels.
“Fuel costs can really affect the bottom line for a fisherman when you’re skimming off 30-40% of your annual income for diesel fuel,” said Jim Browning, director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which received $250,000 from the state to launch a three year energy audit pilot project to begin next spring. AFDF will partner with Sea Grant marine advisory agent Terry Johnson in Homer to design and implement the project.
The program will begin by obtaining baseline information on fuel usage by vessels of all sizes. It will then test various fuel additives, hydrogen generators and other new technologies aimed at saving fuel and increasing efficiency by up to 20%.
AFDF is currently seeking industry stakeholders to serve on a steering committee, as well as vessel owners who would like to have an energy audit on their boats. Anyone interested can contact AFDF in Anchorage 907-276-7315. www.afdf.org
Football has forced a big change in dates this year for Pacific Marine Expo to after Thanksgiving.
“The show dates rely on the Seattle Seahawks football schedule at Centurylink Field,” explained Expo director Bob Callahan. “This year there was a bit of a wild card – the Washington State Huskies are renovating their football stadium so they took up a few weekends in November at the Field. So between the Seahawks and the Huskies we had to move our dates.”
The new Expo dates are set for Tuesday through Thursday, November 27, and response has been “surprisingly positive,” Callahan said. Early registrations are up by more than 600 people compared to this time last year and the trade show continues to grow.
“The show has been growing each year by about 10 percent and we are 4,000 square feet and 40 booths ahead of last year. We are actually in the running for one of the fastest growing shows in the country for its size,” he said.
Expo is the West Coast's largest marine industry trade event for 46 years and attracts over 400 companies and nearly 9,000 visitors.
“Any trade show mirrors the success of the industry, so obviously, the industry is doing well and it is reflected in the growth Expo,” Callahan added. See the complete lineup at www.pacificmarineexpo.com .
Chinook salmon meetings
ADF&G has scheduled a scientific symposium on Oct. 22 and 23 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m at the Egan Center in Anchorage. The Department said “ The symposium will feature scientific presentations and panel discussions from a wide variety of experts from private, state, federal, and academic backgrounds. The goal is to discuss gaps in knowledge of Chinook salmon abundance and productivity, and assemble a targeted list of research priorities to fill these gaps. More details about this event will be forthcoming in the first weeks of October.”
The state Board of Fisheries meets in a worksession on October 9 and 10 at the Egan Center in Anchorage. Its meeting cycle this session focuses on Bristol Bay, Arctic-Yukon-Kuskowkim and Alaska Peninsula/Aleutian Islands fisheries starting in December.
This year marks the 21st 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.