National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

lincIn Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.

History was made on two fronts at this year's Fisherman of the Year contest held at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.

Eike Ten Kley, operations manager of Iliamna Fishing Co. in Portland, Ore., claimed the coveted Fisherman of the Year title, becoming the event's first female winner. Her husband, Reid Ten Kley, won last year's contest. That makes the Ten Kleys the first husband and wife combination to hold the title.

2014 1125 FOYC 2013 Ten KleysMG 2945Last year when Reid Ten Kley and his wife, Eike, competed in the knot-tying contest, he went on to win the Fisherman of the Year contest. This year, Elke claimed the title. Lindsey McMorrow photoContestants in the annual event display their skills in three areas — net mending, knot tying and rope splicing — with winners in each contest earning a crisp $100 bill plus a slot in the survival suit competition for a shot at the title.

Fisherman Joao Domar of B Fisheries in Seattle won the net-mending contest, repairing the patch of torn net before him in 34.57 seconds. Then it was on to the knot-tying competition.

Competitors must correctly tie three knots while blindfolded — a bowline, a crab hitch (aka a sheet bend) and a figure eight. The quickest to do so wins.

The Ten Kleys were pitted against each other, with Eike emerging victorious when Reid momentarily lost hold of the rope when tying the last knot.

Fisherman Chris Guggenbickler, of Wrangell Ports and Harbors, in Wrangell, Alaska, makde a three-tuck splice in 40.05 seconds in the rope-slicing contest to grab the last spot in the finals.

The three winners then squared off to see which one of them could don a survival suit the fastest. Ten Kley clambered into her suit in 29 seconds and securing her face flap just in time to take the title, earning another $100 as well as a personalized Fisherman of the Year jacket donated by National Fisherman.

It's always impressive to watch fishermen display their skills, but it's especially rewarding to see how quickly contestants are able to don the immersion suits. Yes, it's great that it can help them secure a Fisherman of the Year victory. But if it helps a fisherman survive a real emergency at sea, that's far and away the most important victory to claim.

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John Aldridge, an offshore lobsterman from Montauk, N.Y., who last summer survived 12 harrowing hours in the Atlantic Ocean after falling overboard, shared his remarkable story in the keynote address at Pacific Marine Expo.

2014.11.19 aldridgeJohn AldridgeAldridge has called the Atlantic Ocean his office for 20 years, as he became a successful fisherman. In the wee hours of a July morning in 2013, while the 45-foot Anna Mary’s other two crew members slept, Aldridge was trying to move two heavy ice chests on deck. He snagged a box hook onto the bottom cooler’s plastic handle, but as he tried to pull the coolers, the handle broke. Aldridge went flying backward and off the open stern ramp.

Suddenly he found himself alone in the water 40 miles from shore; no one aboard the boat knew he was missing. Thus began his battle to survive, during which he willed himself to stay afloat for some 12 hours while the Coast Guard and Montauk-area fishermen embarked on a massive search effort to find him.

During his presentation, Aldridge will discuss three important factors that he believes helped him remain alive: the survival instinct, the will to live, and the ability to think outside the box. 

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Greetings from Seat 24D aboard a United Airlines plane Somewhere Over America. You see, it's go time for the editors of National Fisherman and WorkBoat. So I'm flying the friendly skies to Seattle for Pacific Marine Expo 2014.

2014 1118 Mixed Catch PME IMG 1980Pacific Marine Expo 2014 begins Wednesday, Nov. 19 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. Lindsey McMorrow photoThe 47th edition of the show is taking place Wednesday, Nov. 19 through Friday, Nov. 21 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center. No doubt you're making your way there, too. Question is, what's your battle plan when you get there?

It's a big show, and there's a lot to do and see. It can be a little overwhelming. You know, sort of like when you walk into a mega supermarket. Unless you have a list of what to get, you may wander aimlessly through the miles of aisles looking in vain for the loaf of bread, gallon of milk and carton of eggs you came in for.

But I remember reading once that a good plan of attack is to jot down on the back of a business card three things you really want to get done each day at the show. Your agenda might look something like this:

• Check out the exhibitor booths. If you're looking to buy some gear, you've come to the right place. PME has a wealth of exhibitors displaying their wares. In one convenient location, commercial mariners can find the latest and greatest in equipment, propulsion, builders, suppliers, new products and more.

• Attend interesting and informative conferences. PME has an intriguing slate of sessions each day that should provide you with ideas and knowledge that are important to your business on and off the water.

• Take some "me" time. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. So get together with your friends over a refreshing beverage in the ZF Beer Garden, open during the last hour of the show each day. And stop by the National Fisherman booth (#755) to say hi, take advantage of our show special subscription offer and tell a story or two for our NF Live cameras. Who knows? You could become an Internet sensation.

See? Getting the most out of your Pacific Marine Expo experience is as easy as one, two, three.

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John Oliver, host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," may have found a new use for an innovative system designed to transport migrating Pacific salmon past dams.

The Salmon Cannon just gained a little love from Popular Science magazine, which awarded it a spot on the publication's annual Best of What's New Award list. It's one of 100 winners the magazine selected. But the system may receive more notoriety from Oliver, who discovered another use for the Salmon Cannon, using it to take aim at celebrities.

Oliver, the former "Daily Show" contributor, did a piece on the Salmon Cannon, developed by Bellevue, Wash.-based Whooshh Innovations. The company originally developed a system to move fruit plucked in Washington orchards rapidly yet gently in the fields via transport tubes.

Then the company realized its technology could be adapted to transporting fish, too; a pressure differential is introduced between the front and back of the fish to move them through a flexible tube. The company dubbed the resulting system the Salmon Cannon.

According to the company, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife used a 120-foot long system to safely transport nearly 100 tons of live migratory hatchery-bound salmon from the Washougal River.

And the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in an independent U.S. Department of Energy-funded study, recently tested both a 40-foot and a 250-foot Whoosh fish transport system, comparing it to the traditional fish "trap and haul" process used to move fish past dams and other barriers. The study, the company says, is necessary for the transport of Endangered Species Act fish.

Oliver explored another way to use the Salmon Cannon. He loaded his own salmon cannon with fake fish and then "fired" them at a variety of stars. His targets included John Stewart of the "Daily Show," late night talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman and actor Tom Hanks, among others — even Homer Simpson couldn't escape Oliver's aim. Talk about your flying fish!


Whether Popular Science rewards Oliver with a Best of What's New Award next year remains to be seen.


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I'm one of those people who like the holidays to be celebrated in order. Hence my annoyance when I see Christmas displays popping up in stores before Thanksgiving, never mind Halloween.

2014 1104 December promo 14dec NF FEATspread 310pxWideHaving said that, I believe Christmas is coming early for NF readers. And it comes in the form of our December issue cover story, courtesy of fisherman/photographer Corey Arnold, who shares his spectacular photos of Bering Sea winter fisheries.

Happily we've gotten to feature Arnold's fishing photos since 2006. Back then, he was fishing on the Rollo of "Deadliest Catch" fame. This time around we're treated to his spectacular photos of Bering Sea winter fisheries plus his very entertaining story in which he recounts his trip to photograph the fishing industry in Alaska's Aleutian chain.

It's quite an adventure. First, he tags along on the 295-foot factory trawler Seafreeze Alaska as it targets Atka mackerel. He then takes some time to do some "militant eagle stalking" to snap photos of majestic bald eagles before joining skipper Kjell Stewart and the Jennifer A crew on their short but sweet crab trip as their 2014 opilio season wound down quickly and successfully.

I'm not sure who will find the trip more rewarding — Arnold or us lucky folks who get to view his beautiful photographs. Either way, it's a pretty good way to kick off the holiday season.

And by the way, there's only 47 days until Christmas. National Fisherman subscriptions always make a great gift for your fishing friends.

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There are so many variables that affect our nation's fisheries — management regulations, climate changes, global economies and consumer demand just to name a few — that it's nice to know there are some constants to rely on from year to year. One of them is the list of the nation's top fishing ports, specifically the ports that are always at the head of the class.

2014 1030 Mixed Catch FUS Infographic1 FINALNMFS has released its report Fisheries of the United States 2013 which contains a variety of landings statistics pertaining to the nation's fisheries. NMFS photoNMFS released its annual report Fisheries of the United States yesterday, which contains the annual list of the country's top ports. Dutch Harbor, Alaska, again led the nation in volume for the 17th straight year, with landings of 753 million pounds valued at $197 million. According to the report, Alaska pollock made up 88 percent of the Dutch Harbor volume and 46 percent of the value (snow crabs and king crab accounted for another 32 percent of the port's value).

Likewise, New Bedford, Mass., captured the value crown for the 14th consecutive year, recording 130 million pounds worth $379 million. Sea scallops, which continue to drive the port's landings, accounted for 81 percent of the port's landings value.

However, the report contains other constants that are less comforting. It would be refreshing to see a significant rise in the amount of seafood consumed per capita in this country. Likewise, the major imbalance between the amount of seafood imported into the United States and U.S. seafood exported continues.

According to the NMFS report, U.S. commercial landings reached 9.9 billion pounds (up 245 million pounds, or 2.5 percent from 2012) worth $5.5 billion (up $388 million pounds or 7.6 percent). Yet more than 90 percent of the seafood eaten in the United States is imported.

Foreign trade data shows that imports of edible fish products totaled 5.4 billion pounds worth $18 billion. The import volume decreased slightly by 34 million pounds while value increased by $1.4 billion compared with 2012.

Exports meanwhile totaled 3.3 billion pounds valued at $5.6 billion. Volume increased by 69.3 million pounds over 2012 and value increased by $112.8 million.

NMFS says the import total is somewhat deceiving, as it includes U.S.-caught fish that ends up being sent overseas where it's reprocessed and shipped back to be gobbled up by consumers. It also says that encouraging aquaculture development in this country would be one way to lessen dependency on foreign product.

On one hand, it would appear domestic consumers enjoy chowing down on seafood. According to the report, Americans ate 4.6 billion pounds of seafood in 2013, making the United States the world's third largest seafood consumer behind China and Japan.

Then again, domestic per capita consumption sat at 14.5 pounds of fish and shellfish, essentially the same as in 2012 (14.4 pounds). For years, per capita consumption has rarely strayed from the 14- to 16-pound mark.

By comparison, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was predicting that in 2014, per capita consumption of beef would fall 4.8 percent from 2013 to 54 pounds. Pork consumption this year is predicted to be 45.9 pounds, and chicken is forecast to hit 83.5 pounds.

That's maddening. Fish and shellfish are a tasty and nutritious source of protein that should be able to rival beef and poultry for prime space on America's dinner plates. There are wonderful seafood marketing efforts afoot throughout the country. I'm looking forward to the day when the annual NMFS report sports seafood per capita consumption statistics that are substantially higher.

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2014 1023 Mixed Catch Waltzing819xKB2QYgLWaltzing with Lady Luck
A Novel with Teeth
By Clark Snow
Black Rose Writing, 2012
Softcover, 225 pp., $

So what would you do if you won the lottery? Would you keep fishing? Would you pay off the boat loan and the mortgage? Would you upgrade to your dream boat and house? Or would you walk away from fishing, feeling secure in the knowledge that you and your family are set for life?

If you decided that you still wanted to fish, how do you think your fellow fishermen would react to you? Would everybody treat you the same as they did before you hit the jackpot? Would some resent you? Clark Snow's novel "Waltzing with Lady Luck" raises these questions and more.

According to Snow's biography, he's worked on the water for some 40 years, the last 12 on coastal tugboats. However, he says his most memorable years were spent working on fishing vessels that helped him feed his family and his imagination, ultimately leading him to write this story.

Victor Janes, a young Newfoundland fisherman with a taste for adventure, emigrates to the U.S. and marries into a prominent New Bedford, Mass., fishing family. Then he wins a national lottery that pays off millions of dollars.

You think that the story's happy ending has arrived before it's even begun. But Victor and his wife Fabulia aren't people who only want to lead a life of leisure.

Victor decides he wants to keep fishing, but wants to try his hand at something no one's attempted before. He builds a prototype factory trawler that's equipped to fish in thousands of feet of water for royal red shrimp. Fabulia meanwhile starts a non-profit organization to help children and the elderly, and ultimately battered women; after some early reservations about the business side of her charitable work, the project gets rolling.

The shrimping expedition goes well, but the boat's net also comes up with manganese nodules, which, to the delight of a shrewd Vietnamese crew member, contain petrified shark teeth at their core. The crew member begins storing the nodules against Victor's orders.

And when a multi-national mining corporation learns of the manganese modules, and Victor's fishing operation gets a whole lot more complicated, especially when he's charged with harvesting the nodules without a permit — even though it's questionable whether their harvest falls under NMFS' jurisdiction. Eventually, things get crazy enough that Victor must relocate the boat and his family all the way to Brazil to try, with the help of the family lawyer, how to extricate himself from what's become an international mess.

It's a lighthearted tale that largely makes for pleasant reading. I doubt many of us are likely to hit a huge lottery jackpot anytime soon. But dreaming about what we'd do if we did costs us absolutely nothing.

And if in the process, we figure how we'd want to treat people if we came into megabucks, how we'd want people to treat us if we did and how we'd treat those around us who hit it big, well, maybe we'd be richer for it. Of course it'd be nice to have the opportunity to put the answers into practice.

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How easily could you swim 2 miles? In an Olympic-sized pool (50 meters long), you must swim 16 laps (down and back) to complete 1 mile; could you swim 32 laps? The task becomes more daunting if you suddenly find yourself overboard in Mississippi Sound as Long Beach, Miss., shrimper Mitchell Sevel did Sunday night.

A rogue wave hit the 45-foot Kar-Lyn-Dawn, causing the 30-year veteran to slip and fall overboard. The boat continued on, and the noise of the vessel's generator prevented the boat owner in the wheelhouse from hearing Sevel yelling for help. The boat continued steaming along.

According to the Biloxi Sun Herald, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources says he fell overboard about 2 miles off Pass Christian. Sevel quickly decided that he had little choice but to start swimming if he wanted to survive.

Still, he worried that he wouldn't have enough energy to swim all the way back to shore. But thoughts of his wife, Lori, kept him going.

Hours later, Sevel found his way to shore in West Past Christian, Miss. He pulled the fire alarm at the nearby Henderson Port Condos for help and was reunited with his family by 1:30 a.m. Monday. You can see the couple recount Sevel's remarkable story in the Sun Herald video below.

That Sevel could fight the current in the dark of night, and the fear that likely accompanied being alone in a vast, cold ocean is remarkable. Those resiliency lessons his father taught him truly paid off.

Of course, Gulf of Mexico shrimpers, who in recent years have dealt with an influx of cheap imported shrimp, devastating hurricanes and the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, are a pretty resilient bunch.

Sevel is a lucky man. Would the rest of us be so lucky? If you and your crew aren't using them already, consider wearing PFDs. Safety experts say they extend your survival time in the water. And today's PFDs are manufactured to be far more comfortable to wear on deck.

Nor would it hurt to invest in a personal locator beacon that you can wear. You switch it on manually to alert rescue personnel of your predicament and position. Ones that allow GPS units to be integrated into the distress signal can help rescuers home in on your position even more accurately (within 100 meters). Safety gear like PFDs and PLBs can keep you alive should you find yourself, like Sevel, going for an unexpected swim.


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October is National Seafood Month, and it's a great opportunity to promote the U.S. fishing industry and the seafood fishermen provide. For example, according to NMFS Director Eileen Sobeck's Leadership Message on the agency's website, NMFS will be featuring stories on the site this month that highlight sustainable fisheries and the health benefits of eating seafood regularly.

Alas, while we have a whole month to spread the seafood gospel to consumers, there are other food-related holidays vying for the public's attention in October. A quick Web search of October food holidays yielded the following goodies at — and these are only selected examples from a rather lengthy list. For example, Oct. 4 was both National Taco Day and National Vodka Day.

2014 1007 National Seafood MonthNMFS is promoting sustainable fisheries and the health benefits of eating seafood on its website. NMFS photoThis week, we get to observe National Fluffernutter Day (it's apparently the Massachusetts state sandwich) on Oct. 8, followed by National Moldy Cheese Day (I am not making this up) on Oct. 9.

Then next week, we can celebrate National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day on Oct. 14  and National Roast Pheasant Day on Oct. 15.

Rounding out the month are National Greasy Foods Day on Oct. 25, and Buy a Doughnut Day on Oct. 30 (not to be confused with National Doughnut Day, which occurs in June).

Quite a list, isn't it? I, for one, am glad all these food holidays occur during National Seafood Month. By the time people get done gorging on tacos, Fluffernutters, chocolate-covered insects, greasy foods and doughnuts, seafood is going to look awfully appealing to consumers. Certainly it's a wonderful source of protein, and omega-3 rich seafood offers a variety of health benefits.

But what sets seafood apart from other foods that are touted as being good for you? That's easy — it's delicious. You can have the carrot juice. Serve me up some scallops, shrimp or salmon, some haddock or halibut, heck, give me a nice tuna sandwich, just to name a few tasty choices. As tempting as it may be to savor some moldy cheese (and I fear we have some in the fridge at home), I think I'll stick with the seafood.

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This is always an exciting time of year for us here at the NF office, because this is when we get to introduce our readers to a new batch of Highliner Award winners. Congratulations to Gloucester, Mass., fisherman Russell Sherman, Bluff Point, Va., waterman Ida Hall and Madeira Beach, Fla., reef fish harvester Martin Fisher, who make up the 2014 class. Veteran NF writers Kirk Moore, Larry Chowning and Hoyt Childers contributed profiles of this year's Highliners to the cover story that begins on page 22 of the November issue

20141002 Highliners blog2014The Highliner Award dates back to 1975, when then-West-Coast-based NF associate editor Robert J. Browning came up with the idea of recognizing fishermen for their overarching contributions to the industry and their communities. By my count, we've had the pleasure of recognizing 117 Highliners, plus another half dozen industry contributors who have received special awards.

When New England's groundfish management regulations were becoming increasingly strict in the 1990s, his fellow fishermen urged Sherman to advocate on their behalf, and he quickly immersed himself in the management process. Hall is a 40-year veteran harvester who works with watermen and state officials to improve the health of Chesapeake Bay and its blue crab stocks as well as fishermen's fortunes. Fisher possesses a passion for the industry that shows whether he's selling his catch at the St. Petersburg, Fla., Saturday Morning Market or working to promote the sustainability of the region's fisheries and fishermen.

I had the honor of calling Fisher to inform him that he'd been selected as one of this year's Highliners. He was surprised but excited to learn he'd been chosen, and very appreciative that NF was recognizing his work.

Informing a fisherman that he's been selected to be a Highliner was a new experience for me. What a pleasure to get to deliver the good news! That was truly a happy task.

But you can't help but feel good when you're around the Highliners. I've had the pleasure of attending Highliner dinners through the years, and I'm always struck by how much they love the industry, by their energy and by their willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty to help the industry and their fellow fishermen.

They're an inspiring group of people to be around. I think Russell Sherman, Ida Hall and Martin Fisher will fit in with them quite nicely.

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National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14

In this episode:

NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first


Inside the Industry

Fishermen in Western Australia captured astonishing footage this week as a five-meter-long great white shark tried to steal their catch, ramming into the side of their boat.
EAST SAND ISLAND, Oregon—Alexa Piggott is crawling through a dark, dusty, narrow tunnel on this 62-acre island at the mouth of the Columbia River. On the ground above her head sit thousands of seabirds. Piggott, a crew leader with Bird Research Northwest, is headed for an observation blind from which she'll be able to count them.
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