The year is never complete without some unfinished business it seems. This time it was trying to swallow the newly Re-structure Observer Program rolled out in October by Agency. With little time to correct some much need tweaks for certain size vessels and fishing sectors, many in the industry left the December Council meeting frustrated to say the least. The second piece was being left with an unusual amount of sablefish in inventory. Pressure was on to get paid and settlements out before taxes go up.
So we left the year with added regulations, unsold production and peering over the fiscal cliff. However we refused to let that get in the way of enjoying Family, Children and Friends for some good Southeast King and Smoked Sablefish Sushi for Christmas. At least we are still eating well.
In spite of great effort by the fleet, Sablefish harvest went much slower than last year, further enhanced by whale predation. Plus bait and fuel expenses mounted while fish prices dropped. Jim pulled through though with some “Hail Mary” sets that actually produced before the season closed (an accomplishment we doubted was going to happen).
We considered this the Providential counter-balance at work proving we are not in control and providing a faithful reminder of our vulnerability and personal humility. Praying for wisdom and new insights was high on the list this month.
August / September
The Kruzof geared up for its long trip from home to Southeast Alaska to harvest Sablefish quota from West Yakutat, Southeast Alaska and in State fisheries in Chatham and Clarence Straits. Rhonda joined the Kruzof in August. Given the calm and sunny weather her break from the office was welcomed and akin to a cruise for her.
June – July
The Kruzof headed west towards Sand Point to harvest 3B Halibut. It didn’t come easy. Then there was a problem with mis-numbered oil filters on the engine which caused the boat to go dead in the water for a bit. Jim did some quick modifications to help it limp into Kodiak. The problem occurred with a new order of oil filters that got numerically mis-matched to the engine. The right filters were found and installed. The vessel left Kodiak just as Rhonda arrived to attend the North Council Meetings and testify for a reduced by-catch of halibut by the trawlers.
After a break for Independence day, Jim harvested halibut for his usual group of elders—Dick, Larry and Max. Rhonda also went on one of the trips to have her share harvested. In spite of her affinity to seasickness she endured, but was more happy to land at the dock on a beautiful day with an adequate catch.
May was a month of travel and prepping for the next fishing trip. Our travels took us to Minnesota and South Dakota to visit our elder Halibut quota holders. Jim really liked checking out the big farm tractors as we drove from one state to the next. Then we went to West Virginia to attend a nephews wedding and visit sister Beth’s Farmer’s Market where some of our fish is sold. While there we were also invited to speak with some High School honors students about how our fisheries are managed in Alaska. We shared the types of fish and fishing methods that occur around our state coupled with management practices and policy challenges that affect what we do and how we operate.
By month end the insurance bill has arrived and needs to be paid, coupled with a large order of bait and gear. Yes, its time to get away from the dock and re-visit the fishing grounds.
March – April
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.