Ahi by hand
Hawaii's tuna hunters are masters of gear
By Willy Goldsmith
"Well, this is sort of an awkward time to be getting here," murmurs skipper Kenton Geer as he steers the 43-foot Vicious Cycle toward the next small cluster of diving birds. "The bite can go dead here in the afternoon, but any one of these bird piles can hold the pile — the tunas attack the same little squid and sardines from below," he explains, diverting his gaze from the sounder to note the time on the plotter: 2:02 p.m., Monday, April 11. We arrived at the Cross Seamount — the Mountain, to locals — an hour ago, and aside from a stray mahi mahi that snapped up one of the four trolled jetheads, the five fish boxes remain empty. Several red Victorinox paring knives lie ready, scattered across the top of the boxes along with slap gaffs, 3-foot stick gaffs, and a handful of Little League bats.
Shadows and fog
I was sad to hear this month about a plea deal involving 2003 National Fisherman Highliner Arne Fuglvog.
Like most of the people in the industry with whom I talked about this case, I was perplexed and downcast about it. In a time that I believe the fishing industry is in transition toward a better perception by the American public, this kind of news hurts us all.
Arne reportedly signed a plea deal in early April in which he admitted to falsifying catch records. The arrangement includes a sentence of 10 months in prison and $150,000 in fines. However, an addendum to the plea allows for a provision to decrease his sentence in exchange for information. His sentencing is scheduled for mid-November.
Finishing high school pays off; make a plan, don't get shafted
On May 14, a 40-foot kit boat left Wayne Beal's Boat Shop in Jonesport, Maine, on the back of a boat trailer for a 35-mile trip to Cutler, where its owner, Patrick Feeney, was to finish it off.
There was just the hull and top. No engine. No shafting. No bulkheads. And there wasn't any time to waste, because Feeney intended to enter his new lobster boat, the Fraid Knot, in the Jonesport and Beals Island lobster-boat races on July 2.
"We beat it by one day. We threw it overboard July 1st, noontime or 1 o'clock. Had to hook up all the electronics once I got it in the water. The next morning at 7 o'clock we headed to the races," Feeney says. A run of a little more than an hour got him to Moosabec Reach in time for the 9 a.m. registration.
Gulf/South Atlantic Stone crab
Hurricanes only threat to Florida fleet poised for a good year, state takeover
For the first time in a very long time, fishermen can look to the approaching season with confidence born of a good year in both the stone crab and a sister fishery, spiny lobster, in which many of them also participate during overlapping seasons.
Florida stone crab opens Oct. 15 in the wake of strong demand, strong prices and a decent harvest from the previous season, leaving little but the risk of hurricanes as a perennial worry. As of mid-July, weather threats hadn't materialized.
The nick of time
From U.S. Coast Guard reports
The Atlantic scallop fleet has proved to be one of the most dangerous in the United States. Crew members face entanglement with deck winches, propulsion machinery and encounters with heavy gear, along with long work hours in harsh weather.
At approximately 5:30 a.m. on a day late in May, a crew of three was aboard a 59-foot wooden scalloper fishing 25 miles off the coast of Point Pleasant, N.J. The mate and crewman were processing on deck. At 6 a.m., the skipper put her on autopilot and went into the fish hold to prep for bags of shucked scallops. He noticed some debris floating in the bilge next to the discharge pump and reached down to remove it; his jacket became entangled with the shaft.
Callifornia crabbing: Here's a fun video shot on the decks of the Majestik while catching Dungeness crab off the coast of northern California.
Alaska fisherman and commercial fisheries activist Kevin Adams was elected chairman at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors meeting on May 9 in Anchorage.
The governor-appointed board consists of seven members: five seafood processors and two industry representatives actively engaged in commercial fishing. Adams was appointed to fill a harvester seat by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.
With 38 years of fishing experience in Bristol Bay, Adams has long been an active member in the Alaska fishing industry, ASMI says. He has worked for both the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association, and represents Alaska fishermen on numerous boards.
The Northeast Regional Planning Body, a group of state, tribal and federal representatives from New England who are working to implement the National Ocean Policy and address critical New England ocean issues, is holding a series of public meetings in May and June.
The meetings are being held to discuss draft regional ocean planning goals and associated potential actions. The planning body seeks input on these goals and actions. Additional information on the group's progress can be found here.
The meetings will also provide an opportunity to review draft maps and products from initial efforts to gather information on the natural resources and diverse uses of the ocean, including fishing, transportation, energy and infrastructure, aquaculture, and recreation.