Archives for February 2014

Halibut surveys to test deeper, shallower waters = Boats Needed in BSAI

Fish Radio

February 27, 2014Halibut regions

This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. Halibut surveys do it deeper – and shallower – and need more boats.   More after this —

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Plans to expand halibut surveys by 30% have been trimmed a bit but boats are still needed to help. Each summer halibut scientists survey 1,300 stations from Oregon to the Bering Sea. Since 1998 the surveys have been done in a depth range of 20 to 275 fathoms where most of the fishing takes place. Now they want to check out deeper and shallower depths.

The situation is we use the area from zero to 400 fathoms as halibut habitat but our surveys cover the area from 20 to 275 fathoms. So we actually are considering halibut from deeper and shallower depths and we’re using the catch rates from our existing survey depths to extend into those areas. 

 Bruce Leaman is director of the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

If we just ignore the deeper and shallower depths we know we are ignoring some habitat where fishing is going on.  


Leaman says researchers plan to expand the surveys from 275 to 400 fathoms and from 20   down to 10 fathoms along the Pacific Coast and in area 4A – the Bering Sea edge and eastern Aleutians near Unalaska.


And that’s actually one of the areas where we are seeing an increasing amount of fishing going on below 275 fathoms. 9   Actually all of the Bering Sea – particularly areas 4A and 4B has a significant number of survey stations that are in depths that we don’t currently occupy.  19

There are four survey regions in Area 4A and each one contains 40-50 stations. Leaman says it takes three to four weeks to get the job done.

Normally have 14-15 survey vessels running up and down the coast every year but because we have this expansion into new areas we will need additional vessels.  7

 It’s a chance to make a good chunk of change. Survey manager Claude Dykstra said  typical payouts are between  $70,000 to $120,000 depending on survey regions.  Boats also get 10% of the halibut sales and 50% of    any other fish retained and sold.

The halibut stock surveys occur from late May through August.   Apply now at

 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods.  Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.         

Salmon have built in compasses to find their way home

Fish Radi0

February 28, 2014

Salmon coming home Credit:

Salmon coming home

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – How do salmon find their way home?  I’ll tell you more after this –

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How salmon find their way to their home streams to spawn is an amazing mystery. Scientists have long believed the fish use their sense of smell to get home – but after years far at sea, how do they know which direction to go in the first place?  They seem to use the earth’s magnetic field.

In this most recent study of ours we’re actually able to show this does occur. That the fish are able to figure out where they are based on the magnetic field they’re in.

Nathan Putman is a professor at Oregon State University. Research by his team show that sea turtles, sockeye salmon, and now in a new study, king salmon, appear to have built in compasses. It confirms what scientists have suspected since the 1960s.

We changed the magnetic field around the fish to simulate one that exists sort of north of their oceanic range, and even though they’re sitting in rural Oregon, they act like they’ve been displaced somewhere up near Alaska. And they swim to the south. Give them a magnetic field that exists in the southern end of their range, and they act like they’re there – they swim to the north.

The ability to navigate is based not just on magnetic intensity,  Putman says but also the angle of the field as well.
 We know they can tell the difference between far north, far south, and the center of their range, which is sort of the home area. But whether they’re doing anything more specific with it, those are the experiments we’ll be doing in the coming year trying and figure that out.
The earth’s magnetic field   moves around quite a bit in geologic time, and Putman says that could be a reason salmon seek out new areas, are late, or never return home at all.

 We’ve actually seen some evidence for that with sockeye salmon down in the Fraser River. Whether fish are coming in from the northern or southern end of Vancouver Island seems to be dependent on how the magnetic field is at any particular time.
Putman’s research shows that  salmon appear to be born with the navigational skills that determine north from south.   Their sensitivity to magnetic fields should be kept in mind, he says,  when rearing  salmon in hatcheries built of concrete and iron rebar


Thanks to the assist from KMXT/Kodiak.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.