Kenai visitors center reels in '2001: A Fish Odyssey' art exhibition for summer

PHOTO/Courtesy Aspen Hotel

The largest fish art show ever in Alaska opened May 1 at the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center. Dubbed "2001: A Fish Odyssey," the exhibit features the works of more than 100 Alaska artists and 14 artists from outside the state.

 All mediums are featured, including fish skin basketry, wood carvings, fiber arts, three dimensional works, sculptures, pottery and much more.

"Fish are central to our life in Alaska," said guest curator and art professor Gary Freeburg. "This exhibition examines our close connection with fish on a variety of different levels. I guess you could say that this show, pardon the pun, has guts."

The exhibition will run through Labor Day.

Live groundfish

Fishermen in Oregon are finding an eager market for live groundfish. WorldCatch News reports that anglers are "wading into the lucrative business of selling live fish that are bound for glass tanks in chic California restaurants."

Species in demand include lingcod, greenling and yellowtail flounder, which sell for about $4.50 a pound in San Francisco restaurants, compared with 40 cents per pound for dead fish.

"It’s a new fishery. You can’t stop it," said Port Orford live-fish buyer Tony Cottor. "And it’s a money maker." About 20 commercial boats now engage in live-fish angling near Port Orford, and several charter boats also land groundfish in the area.

The profit potential of the live fish market appeals to commercial anglers searching for ways to make money while waiting for the region’s salmon to recover, and after enduring poor crab and shrimp seasons. "The problem is we don’t know how abundant these species are," said Jim Golden, marine resources program director at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "The concern is that we could be overfishing these species without even knowing it."

The most recent near-shore stock assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service was completed in 1997, when the agency listed 47 near-shore species as "status unknown." It is known, however, that eight species of groundfish are considered overfished, and seven of them are rockfish species.

Port Manager Alex Linke said he does not see an enduring value in the live-fish fishery and he questions its sustainability. But even if the port wants to stop live fishing, the anglers say it has no jurisdiction in fisheries management.

Packaging ends smell

ASDA, a supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, has launched new packaging that it claims ends the problems of fishy smells contaminating other items in the fridge.

The new product, called Alpamer, is the result of 10 years of work by French scientists. It is a combination of polythene, aluminum, paper and linear low-density polyethylene. It is supplied in sheet form and can be cut to fit the fish exactly. The package is then heat-sealed, leaving the product leak- and odor-free.

The packaging will maintain the fish at a constant temperature for up to two hours and is fridge and freezer ready. It is not damaged by extremes of temperature and will not crack or break.

According to Intrafish, Alpamer has been used in ASDA stores on a trial basis over the last year. Surveys have indicated that 100 percent of customers were impressed by its odor-retardant properties, and 96 percent believed that it maintained the quality of the fish.

The new packaging will now be used on all ASDA fish counters, and the company believes it will increase demand for fish.

Updated: 
11/12/2016 - 5:52pm

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