National Fisherman


National Fisherman - November 2011

1111

The frontier spirit

By Jessica Hathaway

I’ve known Katherine Carscallen for a few years now. Long enough to know that when she is on a mission, it’s because she’s fully dedicated to the cause. She doesn’t do anything with half a heart or a partially made up mind. Nor does she act rashly or whimsically (except perhaps when procuring kittens).

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Land of second sons

Determination shines in Petersburg, Alaska — founded by Norwegians and thriving on fish

By Jessica Hathaway

When I stepped off an Alaska Airlines 737 in Petersburg, Alaska, I was struck by how small the airport is, given the size of the plane (a flight that nestles between the muskeag and mountains twice daily). I would soon cement the idea gelling in my mind that this town is awash in contradictions.

Known as Alaska's Little Norway, Petersburg has streets lined with perfectly appointed Scandinavian-style houses with manicured lawns and impeccable gardens. Yet, its main street (which in most parts of the country is considered the avenue of first impressions) is rather perfunctory. A string of unassuming shops and restaurants primarily cater to the principle industry in Petersburg: commercial fishing. The locals are fastidious, but above all, they're industrious.

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ATY Northeast

Lobstermen race to fight MS; boat is stolen and then found

The third weekend in August, 60 lobster boats showed up at the MS Harborfest Lobster Boat Races in Portland, Maine. This is the last race for points in Maine's lobster-boat racing circuit. It was also a chance to raise money to fight multiple sclerosis.

This year the races generated slightly more than $11,000 for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The money comes from race entry fees and from fishermen who give back their prize money for first, second and third place. "Almost everyone gave money back," says Jon Johansen, a race organizer.

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Gulf/South Atlantic Oysters

Supply, demand low as region recovers from oil spill and consumer perception

One thing seems certain as the 2011-12 oyster season approaches; there won't be an abundant supply of Gulf of Mexico oysters. Demand also remains below normal.

While Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama fisheries were still recovering from the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill, an abundance of fresh water from record Mississippi River spring flooding flushed central gulf oyster grounds and killed a lot more oysters. Then, the Texas summer drought raised Galveston Bay salinity to the danger level, increasing the odds against a normal fall opening. By mid-August, only Florida's fishery had escaped serious setbacks.

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Close to home

From U.S. Coast Guard Reports

On a cool, sunny February day near Hopedale, La., a 31-foot bayou shrimper was making its way back to port with three crew. She was moonlighting as an oyster dredge on this trip.

The skipper, mate and deckhand had worked four days hauling, cleaning, and bagging 130 sacks of oysters. The skipper and mate had fished together for some time. The deckhand was a greenhorn.

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Inside the Industry

The Downeast Salmon Federation has received a major grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to ensure and improve the water quality of eastern Maine’s most important rivers, according to the Ellsworth American.

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Louisiana crab fishermen and their catch are feeling the pressure of a downturn in the state economy, and a resulting upturn of people entering the fishery.

“It’s a crazy business right now,” said Pete Gerica, the New Orleans fisherman who now serves as president or the Louisiana Crab Task Force, a legislatively-created board of industry voices that makes recommendations to state government.

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