Story last updated at 5/16/2012 - 12:09 pm
Several Alaska towns are vying for the title of 'Ultimate Fishing Town' which comes with a $25,000 check for local fishing projects.
The annual competition is sponsored by the World Fishing Network, "a 24/7 television network dedicated to all segments of fishing," according to its website. WFN, which focuses on sport fishing, originally launched in 2005 and is now seen in more than 20 million North American households via cable, satellite and the Internet.
As of Friday, nine Alaska towns were among the hundreds of hopefuls on the leaderboard - but they have a lot of catching up to do.
In the lead for the best fishing destination was Waddington, N.Y., (on the St. Lawrence River) with 18,645 votes.
Ranking No. 6 with 2,307 votes was Dillingham Alaska, touted as "The hub for Bristol Bay, nicknamed America's fish basket, and home to the world's largest sockeye salmon run."
"How could the wildest fishery in the world be losing to the East Coast?" asked Apayo Moore, Dillingham artist/activist, of the Bristol Bay Times/Dutch Harbor Fisherman. "We deserve to be the ultimate fishing town because our life is fish and we attract people from all over the globe to our world-renowned fishery."
Coming in at No. 8 with 1,228 votes was Petersburg (Alaska's Little Norway, king salmon and 300 pound halibut ... home to the largest salmon ever caught at 126 pounds.)
Other Alaska towns on the list include Igiugig with 41 votes. (Gateway to an angling paradise on the Kvichak River, which runs through town and feeds Bristol Bay); Seward (Alaska starts here.) - 38 votes; and Cordova (Home of Copper River salmon) - 10 votes.
Soldotna (Known for the world famous Kenai River, home to the world record king salmon ) - 7 votes; Kodiak (Anywhere and everywhere, from 400 pound halibut to king crab and king salmon) - 3 votes: Anchor Point (The most western location of the North American highway system) had two votes, as did Valdez (Absolutely the best salmon fishing there is.)
Sitka, where "Everyone in town dresses like a fisherman and the biggest tourism sector is sport fishing. On a bad day you catch fish" - had one vote.
WFN will hold the official $25,000 check presentation in the winning fishing town. Second place gets $5,000 and $2,500 for third place. Voters can cast four votes every four hours through May 31 at www.worldfishingnetwork.com.
Halibut in schools - Teachers can now put math and science skills to the test using Pacific halibut as the subject. The new school series is a first try for the International Pacific Halibut Commission, which oversees stocks for the West Coast, British Columbia and Alaska.
Throughout four lessons students play roles that range from ocean organisms to fishery managers, said Heather Gilroy, program manager at the IPHC.
"Students are asked to think of the entire ocean ecosystem and be an organism, an industry person, a biologist and a manager," she told KDLG.
The free halibut program, complete with colorful Power Points, integrates math, economics, technology, geography and civics. Lesson plans are geared to fifth- through eighth-graders, but can be adapted for high school. Find it at www.iphc.int/library.html.
More plastic - Tiny pieces of plastic floating beneath the ocean's surface are most worrisome because fish are believed to suffer liver damage from eating the particles. While working in the Pacific Ocean, oceanographer Giora Proskurowski from the University of Washington, noticed that while the water was covered with tiny pieces of plastic, most disappeared the moment the wind picked up. He discovered that the wind was pushing lightweight particles below the surface - meaning that decades of research conducted by skimming the surface have been producing the wrong results. Proskurowski believes the amount of plastic in the water has been underestimated by two and a half times - and by as much as 27 times in high winds.
Tsunami watch - The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, chaired by Senator Mark Begich, will hold a hearing on Thursday, May 17 called "Stemming the Tide: The U.S. Response to Tsunami Generated Marine Debris."
The hearing starts at 6:30 a.m. and will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website.
Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's fishing industry since 1988. She lives in Kodiak.