Fishermen’s Blog Log
2009 Season

model of the F/V Kruzof
Model of Kruzof built by Randy Holmberg


January - March: -- Desert Visit, Boston Seafood Show, and Halibut trips

Jim started the year with full intentions of going Pacific Cod fishing. Well the price was free falling simply due to market fright, hence he held back until we knew where it was going to settle and there would be a willing buyer. Unfortunately to Jim’s angst, a trip never materialized .

In February we went to Palm Springs and Borrego Springs to visit friends and a fellow whose quota we fish out of Southeast Alaska. The warm dry weather helped engage vitamin D through the body systems again and was much appreciated. In mid March Rhonda went to the Boston Seafood to hobnob with seafood buyers and see what was up and coming in the industry. Traceability (tracking the supply chain of our seafood) and Sustainability (encouraging seafood consumption from healthy well managed fisheries) were a couple of interesting highlights of the show. Many traders and buyers seek cheaper substitutes of certain seafood without proper disclosure of origin and labeling. This results in the public often not getting what they pay for. Consequently it is becoming a going concern among distributors and wholesalers and enforcement is catching on. So be careful, when you think you are being served wild Alaskan cod for example, you might just be getting farmed raised tilapia instead. So always ask before you eat.

Boston Seafood Show exhibit floor Rhonda at the ASMI reception
Boston Seafood Show floor Rhonda at the Alaska Seafood Market Institute Welcoming Party-- the Seafood dishes were great!
Jim fished the halibut opening on March 21st despite the discouragement of many buyers since inventories of last year’s halibut was plentiful and recession worries were kicking in. Processors wouldn’t breathe a digit on price until product landed. Having a bit of inside info from the seafood show Rhonda encouraged Jim to go for it. Fortunately the first few trips paid off at around $4/lb before the price went to predicted levels of $2.50-$3.00./lb in April. Of course the lack of fish landings (Jim bombed out with a pathetic 8,000 lbs landed for his first trip), an initial desire for fresh fish, and weather all helped the price remain descent during the first 2 weeks of the season. Therefore Jim decided to land two more trips.

 

April-June: -- National Television, Norway, Sablefish trips, and the Global Food Show

All the film footage that National Geographic took on our boat and of our operation a year ago finally aired in April. The episode was titled “Cowboys at sea - A Long Haul”. In spite of our initial reservations of being filmed, we were very pleased with the outcome, and felt the film footage and writers did a very good job. All who viewed it, seemed to really enjoy it and were not only entertained, but also educated about longlining in Alaska. They may air the episode again since it received good ratings, so keep a look out or inquire via the National Geographic website.

In mid April we accepted an invite to Norway by our gear supplier “DyrKorn” www.dyrkorn.no. Geographically we felt right at home, and Jim especially felt at home given his Norwegian roots of a paternal blood line, growing up in Petersburg known as “Little Norway”, and working his first job on a boat for a Norwegian old timer. We traveled through Oslo, up to the Lofoten Isles to a town call Svolvaer, then down around the Aalesund area. Jim loved viewing all the fishing boats and talking with other fisherman. Rhonda, loved the Cod dishes and other wholesome food offerings like whole grain breads and fish soup. We saw how long line gear was made, visited a fish farm, and lots of museums. The pictures below help explain a lot of what we saw.

Click here to view photo gallery from our trip to Norway. Complete with comments by Rhonda.

 

After returning from Norway it was quickly back to work. Within about 10 days Jim pulled a freezer trip of sablefish, collars and rockfish amounting to a total of 85,000lbs out of West Yakutat. Then it was a quick turn around for another sablefish trip out of the Central Gulf where the whales interfered with our supply of 7/ups (they prefer the choicest cuts), which added two days to the trip.

With two freezer trips back to back, product going 5 different directions including three different countries of export, and attending the Global Food Show right in the middle of it all made June an amazingly busy month. Consequently, I had to re-think the relationship between our work and life. Knowing it was only temporary gave me some resolve. The Global Food Show held in Soldotna June 10th & 11th had great paneled speakers that supported the chain of custody of goods coming from Alaska. An agri-tourism piece was featured along with a new concept to marketing fresh goods via Amazon.com. Check out their website for more insight on the great things Robin Richardson and her team are doing for the harvest and manufacturing industries in Alaska. www.globalfoodcollaborative.com.

Rhonda and Jim
Jim and I at our show booth day 1.
Dinner at Sockeye's
Crewmember Kit and wife Janet, Jim and I, with the infamous but humble "Bill Webber", owner of Galkana Seafoods- a direct marketer out of Cordova.
Lauren and Rhonda
Me and Lauren Fraser, the lady behind the scenes of this wonderful website she helped create along with my niece Sierra Anderson. Lauren was a great contact I made at the last Global Foods Show held in 07'. I highly recommend her if you are interested in building a website.
Rhonda at the 2009 Show
At the show booth, day 2.
July: The Kruzof heads out for halbut. Photos taken by friend, George Reichman.
The Kruzof heading out on July 7th for a halibut trip. 
The Kruzof heading out on July 7th for a halibut trip.
Check out the Crew (with monkey feet) getting things secure on the top house and the anti- roll tank ready to stabilized the boat. 
Check out the Crew (with monkey feet) getting things secure on the top house and the anti- roll tank ready to stabilized the boat.
August: The Kruzof headed to Southeast Alaska for the last of our Sablefish harvest from Clarence and Chatham Straits, then southeast offshore. The weather held us up a week in Sitka, causing delay in harvesting the offshore portion of the trip.
Black Gold
Catching black gold on the fly.
Our nephew
Nephew Douglas joined the crew in Ketchikan for a trip. He desired some different work exposure from the grocery store.
Crew juniors
John Miller and Douglas Hubbard (the juniors of the crew) cleaning and grading sablefish.
Offloading in Petersburg
Allen Burkhart and Kevin Vesel preparing the offload in Petersburg.
September: The last trip of the year involved catching 38,000 lbs of finished weight Sablefish. It also brought on a new female member to the crew, our niece Sierra. She just got off a backpacking trip from Europe after graduating from college and was so poor she could hardly pay attention. Fortunately the extra hand was found helpful and a good mix of company.

The Kruzof left Petersburg for the fishing grounds but not in time to beat the fall weather, hence stranding the Kruzof in Sitka for nearly a week. The Crew got to know Sitka all too well and time was starting to weigh heavy on them. Finally the weather was scheduled to break. However, since Captain Jim was anxious to get on the fishing grounds they headed out before the storm fully passed. After six days on land the crew had more than enough time to lose their sea legs. Consequently, motion sickness claimed all but three. Once the weather calmed and Jim found the right ground for his gear, fishing resulted achieving the quota in 3 days with a 5/up size grade of 82%.
Sierra with a large sablefish
Niece Sierra trying to lift a very large Sablefish.
Sitka Harbor
A view of Sitka Harbor as the Kruzof waits out the storms.
Good sablefish catch
Evidence of good fishing.
October - November: The Kruzof landed in Port Angeles at Platypus Marine for a bit of R&M (repair & maintenance). While there Captain Jim decided to add some interior upgrades to job which of course added more time and money. Even after 35 years in the business and owning 4 boats throughout his fishing career, Jim found he was still learning shipyard lessons.

Jim and Kit moved the boat to Seattle and docked at Fisherman's Terminal. Jim loved the drive up access to his boat, as did many others who dropped by to visit. Consequently the little projects were slow getting done, but compensated by lots of networking and good friendship. Mid November was Pacific Marine Expo Time. Lots of meetings with familiar faces debriefing the season and already talking and preparing for the next.
From the water to the warehouse
The Kruzof being cradled out of the water into the warehouse of Platypus Marine.
The crew plus Sierra
The Kruzof Crew plus one with curls.
From left to right: Allen Burkhart, Captain Jim, Kevin Vessel, Sierra, John Miller, Mike Jones, Kit Durnil.

December: Jim and I capped off 2009 with attending the North Council meetings and being panel participants at the Alaska Young Fishermen's Summit (AYFS) sponsored by the Alaska Sea Grant / Marine Advisory Program . Both were held in the same building so re-connecting with fellow fishers and policy makers was ideal.

This is our 3rd year participating in AYFS as Jim and I are eager to see our Alaskan Fisheries not only be sustainable with an abundant supply of fish, but also with enthusiastic recruits like these gems pictured here.

We help enlighten fishers on what is involved in being a successful a participant in the Alaskan Fishing industry. The program aims to help them understand marketing, science and management, the importance of fish quality, business, banking and tax tips. After the two day crash course, these fishers are no longer called Commercial Fishermen. Instead we target them as "Professional fishers" who give us hope for the future of our fisheries.

AFYS speakers

Opening panel at the AYFS, Featured Speakers, Al Burch and Linda Behnken.

AYFS

Kruzof jacket
Rhonda featuring F/V Kruzof at the AYFS

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