National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



So is anybody jazzed that Exxon Mobil has been ordered to pay about $500 million in interest on the 507.5 million in punitive damages payments to plaintiffs in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

It's understandable. After all, Exxon can still appeal the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco's ruling. Given the years of protracted legal wrangling Exxon engaged in to whittle the punitive damages sum from $5 billion to $500 million, would it be surprising if the oil giant does so again?

If the appeals court's decision stands, average payments to Alaska natives, fishermen, related businesses and others harmed by the spill would double from $15,000 to $30,000. Considering the toll upon fishermen — years of lost income, families torn apart while waiting for years for the case to resolve — you can understand it if folks aren't jumping up and down for joy.

And if Exxon does appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, who knows how long it'll take to render a decision? Hence, readers commenting on the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News article announcing the court's decision were underwhelmed by the ruling.

Asked one reader, "Do we REALLY believe that these folks will ever see any more money from Exxon?"

After years of disappointment, the plaintiffs will believe it when they see it.

Inside the Industry

The anti-mining group Salmon Beyond Borders expressed disappointment and dismay last week at Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s announcement that he has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

This came just days after his administration asked members of his newly-formed Transboundary Rivers Citizens Advisory Work Group to provide comment on a Draft Statement of Cooperation associated with Transboundary mining.


NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.

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