: Salmon Processor closes Alaskan operation
12-14-2002, 12:08 AM
Saw an article in today's local newpaper (the Skagit Valley Herald) on one of the oldest and largest salmon processors in Alaska (Wards Cove Packing Company) shutting down its operation due to two years worth of low salmon prices and a glut of fish on the market. They were unable to secure operating loans for next year. This is a company that is based in Seattle and which has been in Alaska for 75 years.
Perhaps with the canneries and rozen salmon prcessors closing their operations, the fish will win. Remember that all of the lower 48 fish must get through the nets in Southeast Alaska and Bristish Columbia before they can get to theri natal rivers.
Hmmmm.......... maybe the commercial boys will have even more incentive to get out of the business if they don't have anyone to take their catch. One can dream can't he.
12-14-2002, 01:20 AM
That you would equate the demise of a cannery in Ketchikan with the abundance of fish in the rest of the west. May haps you really don't know what your talking about.
But then very few individuals do so pardon me for pointing out the less than obvious.
12-14-2002, 10:26 AM
Too much farm fresh salmon on the market?
12-14-2002, 12:14 PM
Regardless of all the bad press these projects are getting of late they've got one thing going for them. You can get/provide "fresh" fish year round at a stable market price. There are no limits, no 'seasons,' no 'closures,'no etc. Suspect the cost of setting up the pens is way cheaper than the cost of opperating, maintaining a fishing boat and all the other required follow-up. (e.g. canneries, etc.).
The economics of commercial fishing became questionable a long time ago. Was interesting to see/read the reasons why/why not the commerical guys gave when the boat buy-back programs were in operation.
12-14-2002, 05:22 PM
I never equated the closing of two canneries in Alaska (one in Ketchikan and one in Juneau) with an abundance of fisheries caught salmon in the rest of the west. You did.
I simply reported on the closure of the canneries and the reason provided by the Seattle based parent company that owns them. To reitereate what the company said it is two years worth of very low salmon prices caused by a "glut of samon on the market". This glut is being caused by fish farming (as Fred pointed out in his post).
I find it very interesting that the cannery companies and the commercial salmon fishermen are joining with the environmentalist in their denunciation of the fish farming operations. Due you honestly believe that the commercial interests are doing this because they care about preserving the resource? The commercial boys and canneries are interested in catching and processing as many fish as possible at a price that they can make a profit at. And the fish farms are taking that away,, which they do not like.
If the canneries are closing, and we know they are, and the commercial salmon fishers are getting into financial trouble due to low prices, which they are, the fish win siimply because there will be less harvest.
Afraid there will come a time in the not too distant future where we may have wished the commercials were still fishing. There is no future for our wild fish when fish farming is all there is. Don't ever believe that fish farming will go inland and use the most modern and advanced wastewater treatment facilities. That would put them in the same position as the commercial fish processors and no longer a profitable enterprise. Guys even if disease from the farms does not kill off our native fish and it eventually will what is going to happen to the worlds forage fish? Commercial fishing is now switched over world wide into not trying to feed the worlds human population but feeding the fish farm population, we forget this or don't understand this. Remember 3 pounds of fish meal to make one pound of farm raised salmon.
If we keep going at this pace there will be little ocean Bio Mass left for our wild fish to feed on while at sea. This is not a concern just for our cold water salmon in the North Alantic and North Pacific but for all our fish world wide. Do any of you realize that the farm raising of shrimp is even more devistating to our oceans than salmon farming? Shrimp aquaculture takes just 18 months before the holding ponds are no longer usable. These ponds are built in our worlds mangrove swamps in SE Asia and South America and the swamps are being bulldozed down at a speed far greater than the Brazilian Rain Forrest is being clear cut or the tropical forrests of Indoneasia, Thailand, Philapenes are being destroyed. Remember that the Mangrove swamps are the breeding place of the majority of our world fish population including the majority of forage fish.
We are totally foolish and near sighted to still be dumping on the last of our commercial salmon fisherman and the industry, we need them as our friend to fight the most important enviromental war that will be fought in the near future, maybe ever. At least we have a say in how our commercial fishermen now fish. We have no to little say in the politics and money backing of the fish farms power brokers and what they are doing to our oceans and our world. Just look at the British Columbia Goverment, they are so politicaly corrupt with Aquaculture money that they will not be stopped for a long time to come.
12-16-2002, 01:50 PM
OC, That my friend is the correct view of a proper coalition member. There is no way that wild fish will be defended without a continueing ,and hopefully viable commercial fishery.
Weither its in Alaska or the Native fishery down here it is a very easily justifiable (to politicians) reason to protect wild fish habitat and feed sources, and of course clean water too.
The battle to save the Tongass National Forest was fought long and hard the number of Fisherman that made trips to DC to lobby the Pol's was unreported. The fish guys and gals were much more effective in preson than a suit representing the Sierra club etc. Not putting down the efforts of the large conservation outfits but only pointing out that it was and is a battle fought on many fronts by a lot of good people that you never hear about in the national press.
Afew years ago there was an organization that sprang up with the single purpose of getting rid of High Seas pelagic drifnet gear. SEACOPS was an International coalition of Enviromentalist, Sport and Commercial Fisherman and community state and national politicians that formed a solid coalition and brought a close to the most wasteful and devestating form of industrial fishing the world has ever scene.
It was started in Sotheastern Alaska by a group of mostly Commercial Fisherman and grew as only an organization can by the dedicated purpose of completeing a single task. Individuals gave freely of there time and considerable of there hard earned cash to win this battle against the will and might of the Japanese and Taiwanese lobbys in the US State Department.
So like OC I find it a little hard to dissmis the commercial fishers and more likely to defend them for what I have scene as many times supporting conservation and fostering the economic well being of many small coastal towns along the Pacific.
12-16-2002, 03:29 PM
12-16-2002, 03:35 PM
I wish I could join your praise and confidence in commercial fishermen's desire to save and protect the resource. However, history shows that in every country of the world and in every historical time period, commerical fishermen used up the resource and depleted it.
Regarding the high seas gill net fisheries being targeted as being bad for the resource by the commercial fishermen, I submit that the commercial fishermen would have said or done nothing if it wasn't a threat to their income. And there were sportsfisher conservation groups and environmental groups involved in trying to get the high seas gillnets banned before the commercial fishermen got involved. It wasn't until the commercial fishermen reliazed that the high seas gillnets were enroaching on their ability to make money that they acted.
As to the coastal communities being hurt that rely on commercial fishing and cannieries, thye can do what every other community has had to do throughout history, diversify or cease to exist. There never has been a civilization or town that has been able to be sustained by reliance on natural resource exploitation.
I have also yet to see the commercial fishermen lobby for and be in favor of reduced harvest quotas, reduced fishing days, reduced numbers of boats, gear restrictions, or boat size restrictions. Instead, I have seen the commercial fishermen and their industry organizations oppose these measures and lobby for increased hatchery production instead so that they can continue fishing.
And when the resource can no longer support a viable commercial fishery a large number of commericial fishermen want the government to buy them out so that they do not lose money because of the boat(s) and other gear they have purchased to persue commercial fishing.
There is no dought what you say is correct. But why must we look at so short sighted. We sport fishermen seem to be only able to see what we want to see. Please this is not a put down.
Even with all the advanced technologies the commercials who fish salmon can not have the effect on the current situation of endangered fish as long as they are closely monitered. World wide commercial fishing for top of the food chain fish is closely watched by many goverments. It is not perfect by any means but the awareness is there.
What is not being monitered or has very little monertering is the commercial fishing fleet world wide that fishes for forage fish to feed the Aquaculture industry. Soon if things continue to go the way they are with increasing fish farms we will wipe out certain segments of the food chain to feed the farms and what chance do our wild fish have then? So we stop the commercials from fishing salmon where do they go next? Just like every other commercial around the world to commercial forage fishing for aquaculture. I think right now that 75 to 80% of commercial fishing world wide is now related to supplying aquaculture.
Enviro groups around the world have recognized that this is happening and yet we sportfishermen are so stuck with a battle already won on the most part. I'm not crazy about commercials fishing for salmon but we need to recognize that the general public will support commercial salmon fisherman as a dying breed who they see as a romantic, hardy brand of men of our past culture.
Why not use that PR for our cause? Commercial Salmon fishermen want to save salmon and can lobby far better than any fishing organization in the world. The public very rarely cares about or supports fishing organizations and I don't blame them because we come across very selfish. It's the fish farms we need rid the world of. Use the commercial salmon fishermen to our advantage, coalitions make strange bed fellows.
12-16-2002, 05:13 PM
I'm not a fan of fish farming either because of the simple fact that fish farms require a lot of forage fish being turned into fish pellets and the attendant pollution from the fish farm concentrated in a small area.
I am in favor of highly regulated, very limited harvest commercial fishing for salmonids and other species simply because it can be controlled and prevent the decimation of the fish. That said, I am not convinced that the government wuld have the fortitude to keep the commercial interests in check to prevent overfishing. the problem is that the commercial interests will throw a considerable amount of money at the politicians for things such as "educational meetings", "educational materials", lobbying, and election campaigns. The politicians have not been able to resist the money of the commercial fishers in the past, and I doubt that they will be able to do so in the future.
Add to this, the nostalgia for the past "simpler way of life and romanticism" of commercial fishing, which the media and public readily eats up and accepts without critical thinking, and I am doubtful commercial fishing can be adequately regulated to keep fisheries healthy.
I really would like to see the media tell the truth about fish farming and commercial overfishing, though I don't think the mainstream media has the stomach to do so. One of the problems I see is that the commercial fishers, canneries, and fish farms have joined in the chorus of fish is good for you and far more healty than other forms of animal protein. The truth is that if a cow is not fattened up in a feedlot with its attendant hormone treatment and rapid weight gain which produces the marbled meet consumers have been led to believe is best, cow flesh is actually low in fat and cholesteral and quite healthy to eat.
Let us not forget that sports hunters went through this same thing at the turn of the 20th century. Commercial hunting interests did not want their harvest opportunity or numbers limited. And the commercial hunters also joined in with others about the dangers of cattle farming for beef and poultry farming for chicken and turkey meat.
What we need is to get the governemtn to adopt a mindset that conservation and good stewardship is the best practice for use of natural resources.
I also am disinclined to support mixed stock commercial fisheries and much prefer river origin targeted fishing. This allows for the protection of the resource to a much higher degree than mixed stock fisheries. Yes, I know that this would have a very big impact on commercial fishers. But is it more important to protect the resource from over-exploitation, or to allow some people to make a good income from the resource?
12-16-2002, 08:33 PM
Hey, Folks- It is true that Wards Cove pulled out of the salmon business in Alaska because of a world glut of farmed fish. It is also true that Pan Fish, one of the largest Norwegian interests in farmed Atlantics, the company who basically ate Ward Cove’s lunch for them, is also on the verge of bankruptcy.
Fish farmers have gotten so good at their game that they have outstripped consumption. Simply put, there are not enough mouths to eat the fish the aquaculture interests can produce, at least at the price they require to retire debt and remain a solvent business.
What I have seen conspicuously absent in arguments on this issue, however, is there has been little mention of fishery management.
Once fishery managers determine an annual harvest quota for fish, whether it’s salmon or bluefin tuna, these fish have automatically become expendable. They are already as good as harvested before the ink is dry. So if there is no Ward’s Cove around to harvest a body of salmon, then those salmon become fair game for umpteen more sport fishing lodges to be built to fill the harvest vacuum. Or it increases Trident Seafood’s or Icicle Seafood’s harvest opportunities.
And it is a source of hilarity to me to continually hear guides and “sports fishermen” direct their snide comments and their bitter invectives at the “commercial sector”, which as you’ve probably already gathered is just barely hanging on by its fingernails anyway.
These same “sports fishermen” who would crucify a commercial troller or a gillnetter think nothing about going up to Sitka or Craig or Dillingham and dropping $ 4,000 on a guide and a boat to return a week later to Sea Tac with 200 pounds of vac-packed Chinook and silver fillets under their arm. And it’s besides the point that 30 % of these fillets will end up buried in their garden because the stoned-out teenager who filleted the fish while they were drinking their single-malt and boasting about their rod and reel exploits left the blood-line in.
In the last ten years the sports fishing lobby in Alaska has eaten the “commercial” sector alive. In other words, there has been a passing of the resource (public resource) from one “commercial” sector over to another "commercial" sector. The “sports fishing” interests have done this because of much stronger lobbying power.
How did they generate such power ? Because sports fishing is big business! Anyone who doesn’t quite understand this should visit Ketchikan airport in July and watch the forklifts loading the pallets of vac-pac Chinook and silver fillets into the bellies of Alaska Air jets, all destines for Seattle, San Francisco, L.A., Des Moines Iowa, New York City.
Any “sports fisherman” who cheers because a Chinook salmon that has escaped Ward Cove’s evil clutches will now somehow live to spawn or provide an opportunity for his fly rod on a pristine riffle somewhere is not plugged in to the real world. That Chinook will become one more slash mark on the other side of the ledger for a “sport fishing” operation in Sitka, where the humble owner/operator, the one with the seven $ 50,000 Grady Whites, each with spring-loaded chairs and Furuno color sounders, can now beat his chest because he’s finally taught those evil commercial fishermen wise and sagacious stewardship of the resource.
And he’s got a spot available for you next July. I’m sure he could fit you in.
12-16-2002, 10:57 PM
the dollars put in, vs. the dollars extracted (chest thumping aside) 'sports fishermen' generate a hell of a lot more real dollars into a local economy than the commercial fishermen. And then they go home ....
Ya, I fished the Big Kings once (and you know where) ... and was never more disapointed (for the same reasons you listed above). Sweet J, it was pathetic. Spent the rest of the week with a fly rod on the beach hooking ... and releasing ... other salmon.
But regardless of how much money my fishing partner dropped at "Good Time Charlies," I dropped about 2 grand for the week. B.. dropped far, far more than that into the local economy. Too bad I said: "would you like a treat on me tonight?" :devil:
And then we both went home.
12-16-2002, 11:30 PM
You are absolutely correct. Money talks and nobody walks. The only thing pathetic about an Alaskan commercial fisherman is that he is not able to derive more dollars out of each fish he puts on the deck (thanks to the Norwegians and Chilenos who can do it cheaper in a pen)
That is precisely why the trollers and gillnetters have lost out to the "other" commercial interests (guided sport fishing operations) who are able to extract more dollars per each pound of available fish flesh.
That poor chinook that Ward's Cove just left on the table ? He is now a marked man because the value of his meat just quadrupled. There's a housewife from Des Moines now who has her eye on his pink meat and a sharp hook for his poor lost soul. And after dropping the equivalent of $ 100 for each pound of him, she's not going to take no for an answer.
12-17-2002, 12:31 AM
And it takes a whole lot more fishing time for hook and line fishers in a river to catch the same number of fish as a single commercial boat can catch in 6 hours of fishing. And hook and line fishers in rivers can release fish that will then live to spawn, gill netters and purse seiners cannot do that.