Fish stories

 

Regarding your story "The Most Cooked-up Catch," I was there when the 200-mile limit was, in fact, first imposed (HCN, 8/03/09). (Editor's note: Congress enacted the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone in 1976.) I was a freshly minted Coast Guard airman sent to Kodiak, Alaska, in 1967 to commence fisheries enforcement for the new 200-mile limit.

The Russians, Japanese and Koreans were, at that time, treating the continental shelf of Alaska as their personal ground-fishing larders, with large fleets of large vessels busily depleting these fisheries. When on-scene over the fishing fleets, we had to fly at 200 feet so the National Marine Fisheries Service enforcement officer could identify the fish species on the decks of the boats we were flying over.

For the first few months it was comic relief when we would burst out of a squall line or fog bank in a hard turn, with one wing nearly dragging on the water and with one or two engines shut down/props feathered to conserve fuel, and watch the deck workers running for safety, convinced we were in distress and about to crash.

In 1967 there were fewer than 10 crab boats based in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Serious Alaska king crabbing had started only a few years earlier, when a shrewd fisheries entrepreneur created a market for the mysterious "delicacy" with a highly successful advertising campaign. Kodiak fishermen had been catching Dungeness crab for years, and had considered king crab to be a nuisance, plugging up their small traps. By the time I left Kodiak in 1972, king crab had been fished out all around Kodiak and the march down the Alaska Peninsula had begun.

If Jenkins had included a sidebar listing the Alaska fisheries that had been wiped out before practical species management was enforced (herring, shrimp, cod, pollock are a few that come to mind) it would have added yet another dimension to his report on the value of the management of the king crab and snow crab that kicked in ...  just in time.

Fred J. Kahrl
Woolwich, Maine


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