Laine Welch

Sullivan reverses, will attend Kodiak fisheries debate

Fish on! The lure of reaching a statewide audience was too much to pass up for U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan, who will be at the Oct. 1 fisheries debate at Kodiak after all.

Sullivan was able to reshuffle a packed travel schedule to fit in the fisheries event, said Ben Sparks, campaign manager. Sullivan initially was going to be in Bethel on a multi-day swing through Southwest Alaska during the time of the Kodiak event.

Sullivan will attend Kodiak Chamber fisheries debate

Editor's Note: via Laine Welch on Friday morning: "Dan Sullivan is coming to the Kodiak fish debate after all. I confirmed it with Ben Sparks this morning.  So it will be an hour of Begich/Sullivan, then an hour of Don Young and Forrest."

Banning Russian seafood would pinch its king crab sales

If Russia won’t buy seafood from the U.S., we won’t buy seafood from them. 

That’s the gauntlet being thrown down by Alaska’s Congressional delegation to retaliate against Russia’s year-long ban on food products from the U.S. and several nations.

Chinook research begins; Fraser River prices decline with strong run

More than 100 researchers and three dozen projects are underway to find clues as to why Alaska’s chinook salmon production has declined since 2007.   

The ambitious effort marks the start of a state-backed five-year, $30-million Chinook Salmon Research Initiative that includes 12 major river systems from Southeast Alaska to the Yukon. And while it will be years before the project yields definitive data, the scientists have pinned down some early findings.

Russia-Ukraine conflict impacting Alaska seafood markets

Seafood is by far Alaska’s top export and as it heads overseas, global politics play a big role in making sales sink or swim. That dynamic took center stage last week when Russia banned imports of foods for one year from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Norway and Australia in retaliation for sanctions imposed due to its aggressive actions in Ukraine.

Republican Senate candidates talk environmental regs

Breached mine tailings dams be damned! As millions of Fraser River sockeye salmon head for spawning beds polluted by a brew of metal toxins oozing from the Mount Polley gold/copper mine disaster in British Columbia, Republican candidates vying for U.S. Senate want environmental regulators to butt out of Alaska’s mining development decisions.   

The three men hoping to unseat Sen. Mark Begich faced off last week for a Rural Alaska Republican Candidates forum hosted by Bethel’s KYUK.

Vessel discharge exemption advances

Fishermen won’t need special permits to hose off their decks thanks to a bill moving through the U.S. Senate. That’s garnered a big sigh of relief from harvesters across the nation and kudos to a rare show of bipartisanship by coastal lawmakers, notably Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Comment deadlines approaching for Alaska fish issues

Nowhere in the world do people have more say in shaping fisheries policy than in Alaska. While the outcomes might get mixed rants and reviews, no one is ever denied the chance to state ideas, concerns and gripes to decision makers. Several opportunities are available right now.

Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run strong, but prices aren't

It came as no surprise when the first price postings last week tanked for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon to $1.20 per pound, with an extra 15 cents for chilled fish. That compares to a base price of $1.50 a pound last year.

The Bristol Bay catch topped 28 million reds by July 18, 11 million more than projected, and the fish were still coming. (Alaska’s total sockeye salmon catch as of July 18 was more than 37 million and counting.)

Glacial melt changes ocean chemistry, study says crabs hear

Ocean chemists are calling it “revolutionary technology” as unmanned gliders track how melting glaciers may be intensifying corrosive waters in Prince William Sound.

Bay haul beats forecast; Alaska fish get clean bill of health

With salmon fisheries going on every summer all across Alaska, you might wonder why so much attention is focused on Bristol Bay. The answer can be summed up in two words: sockeye salmon.

Bristol Bay is home to the largest red salmon runs in the world and sockeye is Alaska’s most valuable salmon fishery by far. In most years, well over one-third of Alaska’s total earnings from salmon fishing stem from Bristol Bay.

More than just sockeye salmon fisheries underway around state

Salmon takes center stage in Alaska every summer, but many more fisheries also are going on all across the state.

The world’s biggest sockeye salmon run is expected to surge into Bristol Bay any day, where a catch of about 17 million reds is projected. Elsewhere, the annual summer troll fishery in Southeast Alaska kicks off on July first with a target of just over 166,000 chinook salmon.

Not much talk about fish on candidate sites

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: the seafood industry is Alaska’s largest private employer, putting more people to work than mining, oil/gas, timber and tourism combined. The annual revenue the seafood sector contributes to state coffers is second only to Big Oil. So where does the seafood industry rank among the major candidates running for Alaska governor and the U.S. Senate?

Here’s what a thorough look at each of their campaign websites reveals, starting with the race for governor (all in alphabetical order).

Farmed salmon, big Fraser River run impacting 2014 prices

Salmon prices at wholesale show marked seasonal variations for both wild and farmed fish. It’s a pattern that has been tracked for decades by Urner Barry, the nation’s oldest commodity market watcher in business since 1895. The prices tend to decline through June, July, August and September and they begin rising again from November through the following April or May.

Two things drive the well-established pattern, said market expert John Sackton, who publishes Seafood.com, an Urner-Barry partner. 

GM salmon labeling amendment moves ahead

If genetically modified salmon gets a green light by the federal government, it will be labeled as such if U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle have their way. The Senate Appropriations Committee last week passed the bipartisan Murkowski-Begich amendment requiring that consumers be advised of what they are buying.

During testimony, Sen. Lisa Murkowski questioned if the so-called Frankenfish can even be called a real salmon.

Plenty of pink salmon in stock from 2013; price info hard to get

Salmon season is just getting underway, but seafood companies are still selling last summer’s record catch of 226 million pink salmon — and it has prompted lots of creative thinking.

“The challenge is to market all this fish and still maintain the value,” said Tyson Fick, communications director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, or ASMI, the state’s marketing arm.

First Copper River salmon reach state, national markets

Trollers in Southeast Alaska provide fresh king salmon nearly year round, but the runs of reds and kings to the Copper River mark the “official start” of Alaska’s salmon season.

On May 15 the fleet of more than 570 fishermen set out their nets on a beautiful day for the first 12-hour opener amidst the usual hype for the first fish.

Commercial sector dwarfs sport impact; gear contest underway

The debate over which sector – commercial or recreational fishing — provides the bigger economic punch can finally be put to rest.

The annual “Fisheries Economics of the United States” report by the Department of Commerce shows once and for all that in terms of values, jobs, sales and incomes, the marine commercial sector far outscores saltwater recreational fishing.

Halibut prices up; acidification is a problem for salmon

The basic laws of supply and demand are resulting in a nice payday for Alaska halibut and sablefish harvesters.

Prices for both fish are up by more than a dollar per pound compared to the same time last year. Fresh halibut has been moving smoothly and demand is steady since the fishery opened in early March, said a major Kodiak buyer, where dock prices were reported at $6 per pound for 10- to 20-pounders, $6.25 for halibut weighing 20 to 40 pounds, and $6.50 for “40 ups.”

Kodiak roe herring prices, participation, down

Kodiak’s roe herring fishery began on April 15 with little notice and rumors of fire sale prices. The fleet of 22 seiners was down a bit; they are competing for a harvest of 5,800 short tons, similar to the past five years. No gillnetters had signed up for the herring fishery.

Test fishing from the east side of the island were showing nice roe counts, said James Jackson, herring manager at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Kodiak.

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