Alaska pollock is the stuff of fish sticks, fish oil and artificial crab. It is a lowly fish, not emblematic of Native American culture or particularly prized by chefs. But it amounts to 40 percent of the U.S. commercial fish catch, and feeds a billion-dollar industry based in Seattle.
In "Billion Dollar Fish," the story of the pollock boom of the 1980s and 1990s is told by Kevin Bailey, who for three decades was a fisheries scientist at Seattle's Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Bailey has written dozens of scientific papers about pollock. The penalty for the reader is that in his chapter on biology he delves into the science more deeply than some will want to go. But he knows his fish, and comes at the topic neither in the pocket of the industry nor its environmental critics.
Much of his book is a business story. In economic terms, pollock is a latecomer, a species known for decades before Americans figured out how to exploit it. The fishing grounds in the Bering Sea are remote and dangerous, and per pound the fish is far less valuable than crab or salmon.
The Japanese, who prize pollock for its roe, were the first to go after it. They, the Koreans and Russians would have eventually wiped it out. Bailey recounts how they fished out the pollock in the Doughnut Hole, the part of the Bering¡ Sea not in any country's 200-mile limit. Bailey begins his book describing his time on a foreign boat two years before that limit, a young American welcomed with big smiles as long as he didn't look too carefully.
Congress passed the 200-mile limit in 1976. Sovereignty brought regulation, but the fleets catching the pollock were still foreign-flag. Legally, U.S.-flag boats could be first in line — if there were any.
The first was the Seafreeze Atlantic, a factory trawler built by the U.S. government and tied up on the East Coast. John Sjong and Konrad Uri, Norwegian-Americans, bought it for 38 cents on the dollar and renamed it the Arctic Trawler.
Read the full story at the Seattle Times>>
National Fisherman Live: 10/21/14
In this episode:
North Pacific Council adjusts observer program
Fishermen: bluefin fishing best in 10 years
Catch limit raised for Bristol Bay red king crab
Canadian fishermen fight over lobster size rules
River conference addresses Dead Zone cleanup
National Fisherman Live: 10/7/14
In this episode, National Fisherman Publisher Jerry Fraser talks about the 1929 dragger Vandal.
NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association will host its 4th Annual Marin County Dinner at Marin Catholic High School, 675 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield on Friday, Oct 10, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.