Such a conflicting month this can be with wrapping up year-end expenditures, fish sales, and still engage in the Joys of the Christmas season. We are grateful for the Lord’s blessed provision in our lives, the efforts of our Fisheries Scientists and Managers to manage stocks for future abundance, our crew who worked diligently during the season, our vendors for their fine service, and our customers who have paid us fairly and faithfully for our products this past year. We appreciate you all and God Bless!
Captain’s Log 2011
After a hard push for NOAA/NMFS to pass the Catch Share Plan, a halibut management plan intended to keep Commercial fishermen and the Guided Sport industry within their allocations that would then pro-rate somewhat evenly as abundance floated up and down. Unfortunately, the harvestable halibut amount is currently in low abundance which would mean a drop from 2 fish to only 1 fish bag limit for the sportys in 2012. This was was just too significant to take in one year creating a lot of push to re-visit the Plan. Since it became big news around the State, the Halibut Coalition, http://www.halibutcoalition.org was quick to respond to press requests and interviews which both Rhonda and Jim got dubbed for on an Anchorage station. The experience confirmed our understanding of the news media in that it needs constant discernment otherwise its easy to get duped.
While Jim spent the month catching up on crew settlements and other business, Rhonda became featured in the Alaska Magazine for some of her wing-nut culinary skills. See link to the story here- http://www.alaskamagazine.com/article/77/7/holiday_meals_alaska_style.
August & September
Jim ended up harvesting all of his sablefish and others throughout Southeast, West Yakutat and Central Gulf regions within about 6 weeks time. Rhonda, negotiated sales and served as logistics coordinator trying to simplify complicated load plans in order to minimize freight cost and meet customer demand.
The Kruzof went back to work in the Central Gulf harvesting halibut. Our nephew Grant joined the crew as an unexpected new face. He ended up being quite thankful that his plane destined for a longline vessel in Adak didn’t make it due to weather. As a consolation he got to go fishing with uncle Jim for the rest of the summer which helped boost his college fund.
After arriving in Seward from the Bering Sea the Kruzof took some time off. It was a welcomed break that included a trip to Kodiak to attend a funeral for Brian Young. While there we took time to visit and hike the beautiful Island with friends Mark & Andrea Anderson and my cousin Junie and her family.
Brian Young died unexpectedly of exhaustion on Mount McKinley in early June shortly after he ascended the top. We attended his funeral in Kodiak on June 25th. He was one of our friendly fishing colleagues we always enjoyed crossing paths with. Condolences to his wife, four children and one grandchild who survive him. Brian’s two son’s Jeremy and Josh are courageously moving forward in their father’s footsteps as commercial fishermen. We wish them well.
The snow continued to dump in our area, which made it difficult to leave the home front for any length of time. This winter season provided nearly a record snow fall for Seward.
Around mid to late March the Kruzof landed some Frozen @ Sea Alaska Cod from Prince William Sound. Although season was short-lived at only 6 days long, we had time to accumulate a container load of H&G Cod, but landed it when the market was full and interested buyers were dropping out. Consequently prices were not the best and the product spent some time in cold storage before being sold.
On our way back home we weighed in on the North Council meetings in Anchorage. The agenda items of concern were trawler halibut by-catch and the hiring of skippers by original owners of IFQ’s. The latter pitted those fishermen who originally received quota share against new or 2nd generation buyers. The debate ensued for the purpose of maintaining a owner operated fishery rather than an lease / leaseholder fishery. The vote passed 7-4.
The Kruzof participated in the oil response training in Seward, better known as SERVS. Our fleet will be prepared if there ever is an oil spill.
The Kruzof landed halibut when the season opened on March 12th. The weather was decent, so Rhonda joined the trip and was happy to only be somewhat seasick 1.5 days out of the 2 day trip. Shortly after the trip, it was off to the Boston Seafood show where Jim learned to appreciate what it took to market our seafood. He knew quickly he wanted to stick with just the harvesting side of the business. After two days of walking and working crowded aisles we took a refreshing side trip to Fairhaven, Mass where we got to swap stories with other local fishermen. We compared notes and challenges of our industry and enjoyed sharing our unique commonalities as a fishing family.
Pacific Cod is in demand and the Kruzof is off to fish and freeze some products in Prince William Sound. Improvements in the processing layout this year included a bleed tank spawned in thought by Jim and built by Sound Oceans Metal Fabricators in Seattle. Final touches for fitting on deck came from Nicks Iron Works out of Kenai. The tank will also be used for processing sablefish, so we are looking forward to a blood free pack. More to come on its results.
Jim went to the IPHC meetings in Victoria, Canada. He enjoyed the experience but not so much the results. The Commission stuck to their guns on quota cuts this year (see results at http://www.iphc.washington.edu/news-releases/159-nr20110131.html) with the Southeast region having to endure the biggest cuts. While reductions are not always welcome, they are well understood and respected by a long history of research and management measures needed to keep the stocks sustainable. Our best consolation however is that prices will be high, which could be troubling for marketers if they get too high.