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Sturgeon's House

Fishing Is The Most Dangerous Job In America (Donward's E-Peen Intensifies)


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I was going to comment here earlier but got distracted.


The sad truth is that many of the fatalities incurred in the fishing industry are entirely avoidable with the use of simple safety equipment like Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). Ever since our accident, my wife has been working with different safety groups to help raise awareness of the issue. For decades, there has been a sort of fatalistic culture in the fishing community about dying at see which is compiled by myths regarding how long you can live while in the water. The good news is that a new generation of fisherman aren't buying into the idiotic notion. Something as simple as wearing a $150 PFD can turn a man overboard accident and fatality into a punchline.


Hey guys, remember that time when the crab pot knocked me into the water? Wow, that was crazy!


The "Deadliest Catch" which is Alaska's commercial crab fishing industry is no longer the deadliest and is a good example of how sane rules and regulations combined with an emphasis on safety training can make a job as crazy as that more routine.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Alright Gents. The missus and I are right in the middle of the final stages of packing for Alaska and we'll be leaving Seattle tomorrow morning with stops at Anchorage, King Salmon, Naknek and finally South Naknek. As I've mentioned before, Internet access is pretty spotty and we're usually too busy fishing anyway. There are parts of the sockeye salmon run where you are so busy that the choice is sleep or eating but not both (I always opt for sleep). On the plus side, technology is progressing and even though we still stay in cabins perched on the tundra 7 miles from "civilization" with no running water or electricity, we have progressed to the point where we have cell service and texting. And last year one of Shannon's insufferable cousins set up satellite Internet at the fish camp that maybe we can glom onto this season.


Fortunately, Sturgeon's House seems to use little bandwidth so I'll be checking in when I can. We should be back sometime late August or maybe the first week in September.


And as always, our motto is "Don't Do Anything Stupid" which has stood us in good stead several years now. 

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  • 3 months later...

They have been catching salmon longer and further north than earlier anticipated which points to how resilient the various salmon species are. Also, catching salmon, even if it is chum is a lot easier than hoping to spear a mammoth. Plus it is predictable seasonal food source and fairly easy to preserve. No doubt the fishing helped facilitate the spread of human occupation of North America.


Earliest evidence of ancient North American salmon fishing verified


The findings counter traditionally held beliefs that Ice Age Paleoindians were primarily big-game hunters. They are based on analysis of 11,500-year-old chum salmon bones found by University of Alaska Fairbanks anthropologist Ben Potter and colleagues at the Upward Sun River site in Interior Alaska. Excavation of the site has revealed human dwellings, tools and human remains, as well as the salmon bones.

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  • 2 months later...

I meant to mention this earlier but since I'm up here doing fishing related business, I just wanted to mention that Alaska has gone a full year without a commercial fishing related death, which is the first time ever.




Improvements in technology, particularly newer safety equipment combined with better communications and fishing equipment have been major factors in my opinion.

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  • 6 months later...

The story is a month old but the last I heard, there are still thousands of male walruses who have hauled up on the beach about 50 miles south of where we fish. 




Our friend Jon King, who flies us around up there got to take a close look at them.


Per the story, the issue is whether or not they'll allow the salmon fishing fleet to operate down there. The main season is still about three to four weeks out.

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  • 5 months later...
  • 3 months later...

The Coast Guard is searching for survivors of a Bering Sea crab boat gone missing with six men aboard.


I've seen the F/V Destination a few times down at Fisherman's Terminal in Seattle. It was a striking looking boat with the bright blue paint job. As is often the case, everyone is suspecting the boat rolled over due to icing conditions.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sea lion boards fishing boat, attacks fisherman in Alaska

Mike McNeil was untangling a net off the back of a fishing boat docked in Sand Point in January when he felt a pair of teeth sink into his calf.

A Steller sea lion heavier than a grand piano had jumped onto the boat, slammed him to the deck and was now trying to drag him into the water with its powerful bite.

Judging by the recorded sea lion attacks mentioned in the article, the favorite part of the fisherman to bite is his ass.

Sea lion attacks in Alaska are rare, but they are not unknown.

In 2014, a sea lion jumped out of the water and "bit the rear end of a 19-year-old sitting on the railing of a fishing boat" in the Sitka harbor, Alaska State Troopers said at the time.

In 2007, a sea lion took a bite out of the backside of a Petersburg fisherman as he was unloading halibut at a dock.

A few years earlier, a King Cove fisherman was sitting on a boat when a 12-foot-long sea lion "leaped out of the water, chomped into the seat of his britches and yanked backward," pulling him into the water, according to an Anchorage Daily News story from the time. The teenager swam away unharmed but for a tear in his coveralls and a few scrapes.

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  • 5 months later...
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  • 2 weeks later...

Speaking of ridiculously, overpriced seafood, the Copper River salmon run is coming in with numbers far below forecast.





Biologists blame the "Blob": a large mass of unusually warm water that lurked in the Gulf of Alaska from 2014 through 2016 when young sockeye returning now swam out to feed.

For the commercial fishery at the Copper River's mouth, this year's sockeye catch is the second lowest it's been in 50 years, after Fish and Game shut down that fishery in late May.

State fish biologists say otherwise there might not be enough sockeye swimming back up the Copper River to spawn and keep the run going strong.




Dismal returns have marred the Copper River's commercial fishery, too.


This year, some customers are balking at $35 a pound for Copper River fillets, said Leif Wespestad at Pure Food Fish Market in Seattle.




The roughly 500 boats that net salmon at the Copper's mouth haven't been on the water since May 28, when state managers shut down the fishery after just three periods.


Their concern: There aren't enough sockeye returning up the river to make a 360,000-fish minimum escapement goal — the lowest number biologists say is necessary to preserve the health of the run. As of last week, just a little over 100,000 fish had returned.



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On 6/14/2018 at 6:17 PM, Jeeps_Guns_Tanks said:

So low fish numbers can be in relatively small areas? This means more fish go to other river systems?




The science is not really settled. 


There are multiple river systems which are home to the five species of Pacific salmon (Chinook/King, Sockeye/Red, Coho/Silver, Humpy/Pink, and Chum/Dog) stretching from Kamchatka in Russia all the way through thoughout the river systems of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and down to the Bay Area in California. And there are different environmental issues that effect the five species differently, be it natural or caused by man.


But folks are worried since the Copper River run of King and Sockeye is one of the earlier returning runs. So adjacent river systems could suffer the same fate. Where we fish in Bristol Bay, the salmon might have been far enough away so as not to be hit by the Warm Blob but we'll see in a few more weeks.



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As an example, competition from one species of salmon could possibly alter the populations of other salmon (along with other species).




There is the suggestion that abnormally high populations of Pink (Humpy) salmon can basically gobble up all of the food (in this case copepods) in the ocean and not leave enough for other species.



Pink salmon eat copepods. And, the Japanese scientists noted, pink salmon are most abundant in odd calendar years. The Japanese scientists postulated that pinks, which have exploded in numbers since the early 1990s, had gobbled up many of the copepods.

About a decade ago, biologists Alan Springer and Gus van Vliet noticed a similar pattern among tufted puffins in a well-studied colony on Buldir Island in the Aleutians. The puffins were laying eggs earlier in even-numbered years and later in odd years. They too wondered if pink salmon might be responsible, by leaving less food for the puffins.




In that time of pinks' greatest growth — from about March to July in the spawning year — they may be eating so many shrimp, fish, squid and krill that they are not leaving enough for other species. Their ferocity and eating efficiency could even be affecting birds half a world away, off the coast of Australia and New Zealand.




(Personally, I blame Russian hacking hatcheries)


Russians have pink salmon hatcheries that increase numbers in the North Pacific and Bering Sea Alaskans run hatcheries in Valdez and other places in Prince William Sound. Hatchery managers release more than half a billion pink salmon smolts into Prince William Sound each year, some to be caught by fishermen. Canned and frozen Alaska pink salmon are sold all over the world, with a strong market in China.



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  • 1 month later...

This happened a couple weeks ago up in Bristol Bay. A driftboat lost engine power and drifted between two processing ships.





The footage really shows the current the large tides of Bristol Bay can generate and what can go wrong if your boat gets pinned.




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In addition to the F/V Kristi sinking, there were three fatalities (so far) in the 2018 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon season.


A Togiak set-netter fell overboard and drowned. He wasn't wearing a PFD. His partner - who also wasn't wearing a PFD - fell overboard trying to toss a life-ring to the man but managed to swim ashore with the use of the life-ring.




man fell overboard in Ugashik from a driftboat while not wearing a PFD. His body was not recovered.




And a seiner/tender in Nushagak capsized. Two crew were rescued but the body of a third - who apparently was not wearing a PFD - has not been recovered.






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