Story last updated at 12/18/2013 - 5:08 pm
It's traditional during the Christmas season to decorate a down town with lights - for Kodiak and other coastal communities "downtown" means the boat harbor.
This month, alongside the local businesses on shore, Kodiak's floating storefronts will be showcased in the downtown lighting festivities - meaning the 650 or so fishing businesses that each support one or several Kodiak families. Think of it as a mall in a marina!
The revamped Harbor Lights Festival is an old theme with a new twist, said Toby Sullivan, director of the Kodiak Maritime Museum.
"The only difference is that the boats won't be parading down the channel. They will just stay in the harbor," he said, referring to over a decade ago when festively adorned fishing and sport boats would motor through the channel while people enjoyed the displays from shore.
Bad weather too often forced cancellations of the light show, said Kodiak Mayor Pat Branson, who braved many a blustery boat parade.
"It was tough to get your boat all decked out in lights and then have foul weather postpone the event," she said. "We decided to hold it in port and allow the lights to shine regardless of the weather."
Branson, the Maritime Museum, and the Downtown Revitalization Committee believe it will bring more focus to the hundreds of small businesses that are floating in Kodiak's two harbors.
"We are hoping that people will come down and walk around and look at all the boats," said Toby Sullivan. "That's what we are all about - the boats and the harbor and the commercial fishing industry, and I think this is one way to highlight that."
The Harbor Lights Festival will be held at Fishermen's Hall on Dec. 21st from 5 to 9 p.m. It will feature music by the Isle Belles and St. Innocents Academy Choir.
Help out with halibut - Halibut scientists plan to expand the depth and breadth of their stock assessments by 30 percent next summer, and will add 390 survey stations to the existing 1,300 that range from Oregon to the Bering Sea.
Since 1998 the halibut surveys have been done in at a depth of 20 to 275 fathoms where most of the fishing was taking place. But halibut watchers are seeing changes in the fishery.
"We're seeing the catch coming out of deeper areas, particularly out in the Unalaska region, out through the Aleutians and on into the Bering Sea," said Claude Dykstra, survey manager for the International Pacific Halibut Commission. "And we've seen shallower water captures being pulled out of various Gulf areas as well."
Surveys will be added in the zero to 20 and 275 to 400 fathom ranges next summer. More boats are needed and Dykstra said that's posing a bit of a challenge.
"Finding boats and crew experienced in fixed gear is one challenge; the other is that a lot of these guys diversify their operations and they move into salmon fisheries in the summer. So there's some competition in getting the work," he said.
Each charter region takes about three weeks of fishing and boats can bid for up to three regions. Vessels also get 10 percent of the halibut sales and 50 percent from any other fish retained and sold. Typical payouts range between $70,000 to $120,000 depending on survey regions. Interested? Contact email@example.com (206) 634-1838
Food trends - Environmental sustainability, local sourcing, and health/nutrition are and will remain the hottest food trends 10 years from now. That's according to an annual survey of 1,300 members of the American Culinary Federation by the National Restaurant Association. Children's nutrition and gluten-free cuisine rounded out the top five.
"Today's consumers are more interested than ever in what they eat and where their food comes from, and that is reflected in our menu trends research," Hudson Riehle of the NRA's research and knowledge group said in a statement.
The trends that made the biggest leap in the survey were nose-to-tail/root-to-stalk cooking (11th place), pickling, ramen, dark greens and Southeast Asian cuisine. The largest drops on the list were Greek yogurt, sweet potato fries, new cuts of meat, grass-fed beef and organic coffee.
Southeast Asian cuisine made the biggest jump in trendiness among ethnic cuisines, Peruvian and Korean cuisine also made the top-five list in that category, along with "regional ethnic" and "ethnic fusion."
Salmon surge - Salmon abundance in the North Pacific remains at near record levels, according to data from the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission
The 21st annual NOAFC meeting was held last month in Vancouver (using an email format) with 71 participants from member countries including the U.S., Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.
While the North Pacific Ocean continues to produce large numbers of salmon, the abundance levels vary among species, often from year to year.
Alaska led all others for pink salmon catches this year at 313,800 tons, followed by Russia at 241,292 tons and 13,171 tons in Canada. Russia was the leader for chum salmon catches at 101,395 tons, with Alaska at 65,120 tons. The NOAFC report said catches of Chinook salmon are at low levels with landings reported at 1,640 tons in Alaska, 512 tons in Russia and 214 tons in Canada. Figures for hatchery contributions were not available yet.
Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's fishing industry since 1988. She lives in Kodiak. Visit her website at www.fishradio.com