‘Alaska Fish Wars’ airs on Friday

Homer boats and the Upper Cook Inlet salmon drift fishery take center stage Friday when the National Geographic channel airs “Alaska Fish Wars,” filmed during last summer’s hectic fishery.
Fishing vessels Night’s Edge, Paragon and North Crow are featured throughout the series, which covers six days of fishing over the course of three episodes.
Wes Humbyrd on Night’s Edge said that having a camera in your face all day was “interesting.”
He said everyone on board had to put on a microphone as soon as they left the harbor, usually around 3 a.m., and keep it on until the boat was finished unloading at night.
“Sometimes it was pretty testy,” Humbyrd said. “I told them a few times I wanted the camera shut off, because I didn’t like what was going on.”
Cameras kept rolling while Humbyrd, who has been fishing Cook Inlet since the 1960s, got a ticket for fishing over the line.
“The first episode had the helicopter flying around me,” he said.
Humbyrd said he was not sure how National Geographic decided which boats to use, but that he received a questionnaire asking him to detail his experience in the inlet, and later got a call asking if he’d like to sign a contract.
He said the boats received a small stipend for their part in the program, which after taxes did not amount to much. “I did it for the industry,” Humbyrd said.
He said the show did not specifically address the politics of the fishery allocation battles that practically define Upper Cook Inlet salmon fishing, but that it was an ongoing topic among the crew and on the radio, especially with the setnet fishery shut down all season. It is expected there will be at least passing reference to the issues.
However, he said that the producer, who also produces “Deadliest Catch” for the Discovery Channel, told him, “Wes, we don’t get into that part of it.”
He added that if audience members are interested they can search information out through various avenues.
Humbyrd said he talked about it every day, but won’t know until the show airs how much made it into the final cut.
He said, overall, he thinks the show will help the public perception of the fishery.
“I think it’s a positive for the industry, because we’re always badmouthed about how we’re so destructive, and people think we have it made, we go out and fish for the month of July and make a big living, but (the episode) where I blow an engine shows just how much my expenses are before the profit margin comes in,” he said. “So I think they’re going to lay it out to show that we do work really hard, and that it takes a lot of money to produce and make a living like we do, and show the (women and families) working in the industry. I think it’s good for the whole scenario.
“I really hope it goes over well because if it does they’re going to have it on again next year, and do quite a bit more,” he said.
The show airs for the next three Fridays on the National Geographic channel at 6 and 9 p.m. Alaska time. Full episodes can also be watched online at http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/

Public radio in Unalaska reports that sea ice pushing south towards the Pribilof Islands could interfere with the snow crab fishery in coming days.
National Weather Service ice forecaster Becky Legett says a low pressure system south of the Aleutians combined with a high pressure system in the Bering Strait area is creating strong northerly winds, which were expected to bring the ice edge down between 10 and 15 nautical miles to the southwest early this week.
Legett says that will likely result in ice encircling St. Paul Island, which could make it difficult for boats to deliver to the Trident plant there.
So far this season, in spite of pre-season forecasts, ice hasn’t been a problem for the crab fleet this year. That is in contrast to last winter, when crabbers spent the better part of the spring dodging ice, and ultimately had to request a season extension in order to catch the full quota. Legett doesn’t think it is likely that will happen again.
“What we’re thinking is that the ice is going to kind of, you could say, ‘dancing’ around the Pribilof Islands this winter. It’s going to be coming down like it is now, and then it’ll be going back and then as the different weather systems come through it will come back down and then back up. So it won’t be as bad as last year by far — that was an exceptional year — but it’s something to be aware of. The ice is out there, getting close to the islands, and you want to pay attention to what’s going on with the ice forecasts.”
About a third of this year’s 66 million pound snow crab harvest has already been landed.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its finalized Chinook Salmon Stock Assessment and Research Plan.
ADF&G states that the plan resulted from collaboration with the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon Initiative on similar planning efforts, and from partnering with federal agencies and academia to develop the gap analysis, including using the 2012 Chinook Salmon Symposium to inform and solicit input from stakeholders.
In developing this plan, the research team considered comments received on the gap analysis, presentations and panel discussions at the symposium, and public comments and questions received during the symposium.
The team also used comments from independent peer reviews solicited from three fisheries scientists familiar with chinook salmon life history and population dynamics.
ADF&G will use the plan to guide its near-term stock assessment and research efforts on chinook salmon in Alaska.
The central objective in implementing the plan is to create a consistent stock assessment framework across a diversity of indicator systems in Alaska that will provide improved information for sustained yield management of chinook salmon for a range of run sizes and productivity regimes. Results will be integral to gaining a more complete understanding of important factors influencing Chinook salmon productivity.
The team envisions the plan as a living document, to be updated in the future as recommendations are implemented and new information becomes available.
Find the plan and symposium information at