Laine Welch: Fish picks and pans for 2013

Laine Welch

Here are my annual Picks and Pans for the Alaska fishing industry in 2013:

Biggest fishing adjustment: The expanded observer program that includes onboard coverage of the roughly 1,500-boat halibut longline fleet for the first time.

Best new fish dish: Cod dinners from Alaskan Leader Seafoods. From freezer to oven in a half-hour, you have a cod dinner for four, complete with choices of Thai Curry or six other sauces. All caught and made in the USA!

Best Fish Feeders: SeaShare, a partnership of fishermen, processors, transporters and others who have provided more than 180 million fish meals to Feeding America's food bank network since 1994.

Dirtiest fish story: Dilution is the solution to pollution! The Parnell administration aggressively led the charge to discard a 2006 law (passed by citizen initiative) and allow cruise ships to discharge wastewater and sewage into "mixing zones" in any Alaska waters through which they travel. The public's right to know where these zones are located was also dumped.

Best go-to-bat for Alaska fish: Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich.

Most outstanding fishing town: No town highlights its local fisheries and supports its future fishermen like Sitka.

Most earth-friendly fishing town: Kodiak, which now generates most of its own electricity from wind and hydropower.

Best fish gadget: Salmon locator mobile apps for Copper River and Bristol Bay salmon.

Biggest fish high-five: To the Aleutian Islands, which jumped to third place on the list of top 10 U.S. ports for fish landings. Nearly half a billion pounds was delivered to Trident's plant at Akutan. (It dropped Kodiak to No. 4.)

Biggest fish research backers: The Pollock Conservation Cooperative for its ongoing $1 million annual donations to the state university for research. Total so far: $13 million and counting.

Best fish caretakers: State and federal fishery managers, under whose stewardship Alaska's stocks remain a model for sustainable management and the envy of fishing nations around the world.

Biggest gives-back fish bucks: American Seafoods Co., Alaskan Leader Foundation.

Biggest fish blunder: Setting a legal precedent in Alaska by letting 11 miles of productive salmon stream be lost to a low-grade coal mine. Coal is so yesterday, governor.

Scariest fish story: Ocean acidification.

Best fish ambassadors: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).

Worst global fish story: Illegal, Undocumented and Unreported (IUU) catches by fish pirates. The United Nations estimates that IUU catches amount to 20 percent of the global fish harvest.

Best fish news sites:, Deckboss.

Best fish advocates: Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Fish Basket Coalition.

Best fish-crats: Nicole Kimball, state federal fisheries coordinator; Geron Bruce, deputy director of commercial fishing, Alaska Department of Fish and Game; and Duncan Fields, North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.

Biggest fish consumer snub: No labeling required for genetically modified salmon.

Best bivalve outreach advocate: Ray RaLonde, Alaska Sea Grant aquaculture specialist.

Trickiest fishing conundrum: What to do about sea otters vs. commercial fisheries in Southeast Alaska.

Biggest fishing industry enthusiast: Bob Foy, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Research Center at Kodiak.

Best fishing career builder: Paula Cullenberg, director of Alaska Sea Grant.

Biggest fish story: Taking the 'stream' out of streamlining.' A bill introduced this year by the governor is intended to expedite permitting and change the way state lands and waters are managed. HB 77 will ax all laws calling for in-stream flow protections to ensure salmon have enough water to survive before other uses are permitted. Say so long to public comment periods on resource decisions and any public appeals. The bill gives unprecedented decision-making power to the DNR commissioner Color this a huge change -- and not a good one -- in citizen participation in government. HB 77 will be revisited when the Alaska Legislature convenes in mid-January.


Laine welch