National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Top 5 Mixed Catch Stories

I hope all residents of NF Nation had as merry a Christmas as my family did. It was good, albeit it a little unusual this year. We never did get our Christmas tree up, but I took inspiration from fishermen in my attempt to provide a substitute.

Mind you, we had a tree. Usually we get one the first week of December, cart it home, and within a week, it's up and decorated in the family room, nestled into a corner. This year between bad weather and an unusually hectic schedule, two or three weeks slipped by before we found ourselves at Wal-Mart one Sunday night near closing time, scouring the gardening section for a suitable real tree. Thankfully we found one, lashed it to the roof of the car and scooted home.

We carried it around back to the deck off the family room. We deemed it a suitable storage place until we could cart it inside and dress that puppy up. Numerous totes of garland, ornaments and lights, already hauled down from the attic, stood at the ready.

But Mother Nature then made us pay for not throwing a tarp over the tree. She made it rain steadily and consistently during the week before Christmas. I ended up carting a very soggy tree to the basement, hoping it would dry out in time for us to put it up.

No such luck, and still the rain fell. In the basement our tree remained. How could we have Christmas without a tree?

I pondered this question as I wrapped presents late on Christmas Eve. I started thinking about how fishermen use crab pots and lobster traps to fashion Christmas trees to beautiful effect. One Natural Channel video on YouTube declares a Maine lobster trap tree (I suspect it's the one in Rockland, but the video doesn't list the town it's in) one of the 10 most famous Christmas trees in the world, standing alongside those in Rockefeller Center in New York City, and in the White House.

And this year, a couple of lobstermen in Gloucester, Mass., helped give a shout-out to the Jewish community, creating the world's first lobster pot menorah.


Surely I could fashion a non-traditional Christmas tree of sorts, too. I used the small couch situated along the wall as the foundation and stacked all our presents on it. Thinking of the way the traps are arranged to create the alternative trees, I attempted to do likewise with the presents and a few pillows. I topped it with a Santa cap hung from the curtain rod above the couch to crown my creation.

Alas, my makeshift Christmas couch was nowhere near as beautiful as the fishermen's trap trees. But it did get a good chuckle from the rest of the family, and we still enjoyed the holiday. Hope you did, too, and best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.



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On Dec. 17, Northeast scallopers received a nice little early Christmas present in the form of a court victory. The next question is whether Santa Claus can nudge U.S. Commerce Department officials to release a second round of federal disaster aid to the region's struggling groundfishermen.

The scallopers' gift comes courtesy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which ruled in the industry's favor in Oceana's challenge to NMFS's biological opinion for the fishery. The court gave Oceana the figurative lump of coal in the Christmas stocking, finding for NMFS and scallopers on every major challenge.

Oceana made three major claims in the lawsuit: that NMFS used the wrong Endangered Species Act "jeopardy" standard regarding loggerhead sea turtle takes; that the agency failed to properly consider the impacts of climate change; and that the agency's use of a dredge hour surrogate to determine whether the fishery exceeds industry estimates of 161 turtle takes in a given year was unlawful.

According to the Fisheries Survival Fund, which participated as a Defendant-Intervenor, U.S. District Judge Paul Freidman found against Oceana on all major claims. That means that the biological opinion, which allows the fishery to operate, will remain in place.

2014 1218 Fraser NewBedford18Groundfish harvesters in Massachusetts are still waiting for the Commerce Department to release a second round of federal disaster aid totaling $.3 million. Jerry Fraser photoThe ruling should make the scallop industry's Christmas a little merrier. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, lawmakers are pressing Commerce Department Secretary Penny Pritzker to release $8.3 million in federal disaster aid money for groundfishermen left out of the the first round of relief funds. The initial dispersal of $6.5 million was issued to permit holders.

The Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries has crafted a plan to disburse the Bay State's $8.3 million share of the second round of funding, sending its final grant application to NMFS on Oct. 24.

Massachusetts Sens. Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Bill Keating are pushing Pritzker to release the funds before the end of this year. They jointly sent a letter to Pritzker in early December outlining the need for the funds to be released.

"The ongoing groundfish disaster has had a huge economic impact on fishing families and communities in Massachusetts. In many cases the financial hardship is now acute," the letter states. "This second portion of money will help crewmen, shoreside businesses and permit holders who did not qualify for the first portion."

Whether the legislators efforts can pry the funds loose remains to be seen. So Santa, how about you find a way to persuade Ms. Pritzker to turn the funds loose? Doing so might make the holiday season at least a little brighter for the families of the region's groundfish harvesters.

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2014 1209 Mixed Catch Book-Cover-3D-201x300Wisdom from the Sea
Stories for Leaders to Navigate through Life's Turbulent Waters
By James Evanow
James Evanow, 2014
Softcover, 67 pp., $14.95

I never cease to be amazed at all the tasks that must be mastered to be successful skipper. Knowing how to catch a lot of fish is certainly a big part of the job but it's not all of it. Among other things, you also have to be a knowledgeable and proficient repairman who can fix equipment that breaks down at sea. You have to be able to navigate treacherous waters, understand meteorology, global market dynamics, economics, political and regulatory climates and more. And as captain, you have to be an effective leader.

How did you learn to be a leader? Did you take note of how the skippers you worked for handled things? Did you watch the way they dealt with crew members? How did they help you develop your leadership style when you finally became a captain?

Well, James Evanow, who boasts 24 years as a sea captain, explores the concept of leadership in his book "Wisdom from the Sea." In it, he uses his experiences at sea and relates them to leadership and life skills. Evanow's commercial fishing background informs his work today as a speaker who teaches corporate leaders how to communicate persuasively, build trust and become a strong leader that people want to follow.

In his introduction, Evanow says that he's written this book "using sea stories as anecdotes, in order to bring awareness about how we think and act, who we are and how we treat each other."

Evanow writes that people should lead "from a place of compassion, integrity, empathy and self control." That would seem to fly in the face of the stereotypical skipper who routinely screams at his crew.

2014 1209 NF Jun98 CoverNF's June 1998 cover story spotlighted skippers who weren't afraid to use a little lung power to get the attention of their crew.In our June 1998 issue, we did a cover story on loud and proud skippers. "Everybody knows that, when space is tight, hours are long, money swims and somebody is moving too slowly, the skipper's going to be on the giving end of a blood-red dressing down," the story notes.

The screaming is just "part of the business," it continues. "And just as much a part of the business is laughing later — sometimes not until years later — about the time so-and-so lost his cool and left his crew crying like babies after an hour-long tirade."

In his early days as a skipper, Evanow may have been a screamer as well. "When I was younger, it was very difficult for me to be able to come from a position of positive leadership," he writes. "I would get very upset and angry with people when something would go wrong. I wouldn't be held accountable and, when I look back on this time in my life, I realize that many of my actions were based on what I believed I was supposed to do."

Evanow says he eventually realized that he acted that way because of what he'd seen other people do and how they reacted to situations. However, he decided to try and learn to think for himself how he wanted to act. Today he advocates developing what he calls emotional intelligence — in other words, your ability to recognize and deal with your emotions in a difficult situation and respond in a logical and controlled manner.

Interestingly, Evanow writes about how it wasn't always easy to hire solid deckhands to become part of a well-trained and efficient crew. Even so, he advocates interviewing prospective crew members properly to ensure that you hire the right people and select them for the right reasons.

I don't know if Evanow's book will help you become a better skipper. But it could make you think about what your leadership style is, and it offers up some ideas that you could add to your leadership arsenal.

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Our Thanksgiving dinner table was fuller than usual this year. Actually, I should say tables — we had to grab a couple of folding card tables out of the attic and hunt down every last plate and item of silverware to accommodate our 20 guests, a mix of family and friends.

Before we tucked into the variety of desserts awaiting us, one by one everybody offered up what they were thankful for. Several friends remarked that they were thankful they had someplace to go for Thanksgiving because they no longer have family with whom they could spend the holiday. You miss family members who have passed away a little more at the holidays, I think.

20141202 MomentOfYouthBut by the same token, you remember the wonderful times you spent with them, too. In our January issue,  Reba Temple, a 25-year-old lifelong Bristol Bay salmon fisherman and math teacher at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska, writes about the wealth of memories her family made fishing together each summer.

In our Moment of Youth column, which begins on page 9, Reba writes about how she cherishes the memories of fishing with her brother, Ben Sherrett, her sister, Jill Temple, her mom, Lynn, and her dad, the late Tom Temple.

Charlie Ess, our North Pacific bureau chief, wrote a profile of Tom Temple that appeared in our November 2000 issue. In 1986, at age 29, Temple was diagnosed with a serious heart problem and learned he would need a heart transplant. Fish fries and rallies were held, and the city of Homer raised about $38,000 to help pay for the transplant. Fishing friends also made donations, and a statewide fund-raising effort yielded $70,000.

Temple became one of the first two Alaskans to receive a heart transplant, and one of the first in the nation to receive the then-new antirejection medicine that would boost the life expectancy of transplant recipients from months to years.

It worked. Remarkably, Temple was able to return to fishing the next summer — and he continued to fish for 26 more seasons. But in 2013, cancer claimed Temple at age 56.

In her column, Reba Temple writes about how the fishing lifestyle makes a family close. When her dad was diagnosed with cancer, the family quickly came together to be with him, cramming together to stay in his hospital room, just as they did those summers on the family's 32-foot gillnetter, the Cloud 9.

Reba recognizes that her story isn't unique, that there are "countless families in Bristol Bay who return summer after summer to fish together." Fishing families all over the country can tell similar stories. One of the strong points of this industry is the way so many families have embraced the fishing life — and continue to do so, even though the regulatory climate and market forces make doing so increasingly difficult.

But when the chips are down, fishermen band together to help their fellow harvesters. Fishermen are a kind of family, too. Maybe families aren't solely defined by blood. As I was reminded at Thanksgiving dinner, if we're lucky, we also have a family of friends to whom we can turn, especially when we need them most.

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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.

P1010039 webLast 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. Laura Lee Dobson 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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Page 4 of 33

Inside the Industry

The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.


Last week, Alaska senators Lisa Murkowski (R), Dan Sullivan (R) and Rep. Don Young (R) asked Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate with Canadian leaders to make sure appropriate environmental safeguards are in place for mine development in Southeast Alaska.

The congressional delegation explained the importance of this issue to Alaskans and the need for assurances that the water quality in transboundary waters between Alaska and Canada will be maintained.

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