US - Looking back on 2014, Laine Welch picks her favorite 'fish picks and pans' of the Alaska fishing industry.
Biggest fish wait and see: Senator-elect Dan Sullivan
Trickiest fishing conundrum: Sea otters vs. fisheries in Southeast Alaska
Best fishing career builder: University of Alaska/Southeast for its hydraulics and vessel electronics courses, fish tech training – all available on-line.
Best Fish Givers: SeaShare, which has provided close to 200 million fish meals to food bank networks since 1994.
Biggest fishing industry critic using questionable “facts:” Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch News
Best fish reality show: Kodiak’s fish debate featuring Begich vs. Sullivan and Young vs. Dunbar. Sullivan’s plans to pull a double debate no show backfired when the “fish diss” story went viral. Sullivan showed up, but it was Rep. Don Young who corked the night with death threats and overall bad behavior.
Most outstanding fishing town: Once again, no town highlights its local fisheries and supports its future fishermen like Sitka.
Most earth friendly fishing town: Kodiak, which now generates nearly 100% of its electricity from wind and hydropower. Kodiak also turns its fish wastes into oils and meals at a ‘gurry’ plant owned by local processors.
Best fish gadgets: SCraMP iPhone app with vessel stability indicators. It’s free.(www.vesseldynamics.com) E-Stop switches that prevent winch injuries.
Biggest fish blunder: Former governor Parnell naming Pebble Mine flak Ben Mohr as his fisheries adviser.
Best up and coming fish pols: Forrest Dunbar, Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins
Scariest fish story: ocean acidification.
Best fish to kids project: The fabulous Fish to Schools Resource Guide by the Sitka Conservation Society.
Best fish ambassadors: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI)
Worst global fish story: Illegal, Undocumented and Unreported (IUU) catches by fish pirates—up to 20% of the global fish harvest.
Best fish watchers: Cook Inlet Keeper, RiversWithout Borders
Best fish-crats: Duncan Fields, NPFMC; Nick Sagalkin, new ADF&G Westward region supervisor
Best fish writers: Margie Bauman, Jim Paulin and Molly Dischner
Best fish economist: Andy Wink, McDowell Group
Worst, most awful, unacceptable, no good, very bad fish story: Giving six million pounds of halibut as bycatch to Bering Sea trawlers in the two billion pound flatfish fisheries (not pollock), and leaving just 370,000 pounds for the small boat fishermen at St. Paul, a 70% reduction for the upcoming halibut season. The halibut bycatch levels, which are set by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, have not been changed for the flatfish fisheries in 20 years. Meanwhile, halibut catches for commercial and sport users have been slashed every year for a decade due to stock depletion and slow growing fish.
Biggest fish story of 2014: Mark Begich’s defeat in November meant losing one of Alaska’s most fish savvy US senators, as well as the loss of the chair of the Fisheries/Oceans/USCG committee and an Alaskan seat on Appropriations, where all those federal dollars get doled out.
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