Articles Posted in Alaska Fishing News

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Alaska’s commercial long line fleet doesn’t know when their season will start for sure. There is no news from the National Marine Fisheries as to when the commercial longline season will start for halibut and black cod. March 11, 2017 was the date agreed to by vote of the International Halibut Commission, however, the start date for the Alaska fisheries requires a publication of a regulation in the Federal Register.

It’s a Presidential Order by President Trump that is causing delays in establishing the fishing opening date. President Trump signed an executive order in January stating that for every new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations must be stricken from the records. The result of the Trump’s Executive order has caused unexpected delays in passing regulations affecting commercial fisheries. Trump also issued an order putting a 60 day freeze on new and pending regulations until they could be reviewed by the head of an agency appointed by the President.

Representatives of the National Marine Fisheries, politicians, and the Department of Commerce are all working with the Trump administration to determine how Trump’s Executive Order impacts the passage of regulations such as the start of Alaska commercial fishing seasons. The impact of President Trump’s broad Executive Order requiring elimination of two regulations for each new regulation did not give consideration to such matters as commercial fishing regulations.

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Two major fishing companies based in Seattle have purchased three Alaska factory trawlers and their quota share from the Fishing Company of Alaska (FCA). The sale was announced on Friday. The purchase price was not disclosed. Two Seattle based companies, O’Hara Corporation and Ocean Peace, were involved in the purchase.

A fleet of six Bering Sea fishing vessels was once owned by FCA. One of FCA’s vessels, the Alaska Ranger, sank in 2007. Five crew were tragically killed in the sinking and the remaining 42 crewmen escaped death following a miraculous rescue effort by the Coast Guard. As a result of the Alaska Ranger sinking, lawsuits were filed against FCA for the maritime wrongful deaths and personal injuries of the crew under the Jones Act. Those cases were settled out of Court. Attorney James Beard represented many of the crewmen and their families. In 2016 a second vessel owned by FCA, the Alaska Juris, sank. No deaths occurred in that sinking, but the sinking of the Alaska Juris remains under investigation by the United States Coast Guard.

O’ Hara Corporation has over a hundred year history in the commercial fishing industry. They own 12 scallop boats based in Maine. O’Hara Corporation became involved in the Alaska ground fish trawling industry in the early 1990’s. Prior to their most recent purchase from FCA, O’Hara owed three Alaska factory trawlers, The F/T Constellation, F/T Defender, and F/T Enterprise. A fourth vessel, the F/T Araho is under construction. O’Hara claims that the F/T Araho will be the most technologically advanced catcher processor in the Alaska fleet. O’ Hara has indicated they intend to continue to fish the vessel it purchased from FCA and will make modifications and repairs of the aging vessels that will bring the vessels up to date with modern fishing and safety standards.