Spent six weeks of the summer working in Kodiak, Alaska.
Below are some photos.
Most people have a bias or preconceived idea about commercial fishing. Especially factory trawling. Or catcher processors to be politically correct.
The following are photos of the Amendment 80 Fleet. A small group of companies who received shares or rights to fish the Bering Sea after a rationalization was implemented to manage resources. The Fleet consists of six companies, five of which participate in a cooperative sharing data, technology and quota shares. The six company is the one I work for. Why they haven’t joined is another story. Something I might when I release with Storm 3.8. The boat I’ve designed.
Remember that post Love Does – about me designing a factory trawler? I might have said I don’t know what I’m doing but I do. I grew up on one. When I design I pick the best person in the industry then compare myself to them. In this case my the dad (not the best, but design thoughtfulness he does okay). Think Bank Jamie Dimon, Car JB Strubble / Elon Musk etc. It’s not healthy but I do.
I grew up on a factory trawler. Where I got my first taste for the bond of man and machine.
Growing up on a commercial fishing vessel is what gave me an appreciation for good design. To think long term. “Are the nuts stainless steal? Did you add neverseeze? Did you label it - port – starboard – top – bottom – front – back – bow and stern? Will the person after you know what they’re doing, did you build it for serviceability? Did you. . . build it for the guys at sea?”
From the beginning my dad was adamant about serviceability. Re: Accessibility. If it took an extra month to fix a net winch pin and $15,000 so be it. Nothing was built in the mind set of obsolescence. Work was to be a seamless closed system with no outside input. A continuum. Or continuous concept.
Ask my mom. They bought a vessel with the intention of turning it around in two years and stretched it to seven plus $500,000.
Most people including my mother never understood this.
His obsessiveness to design so intimately the details that were going to be torn apart and go unnoticed at sea. Because in the end they always came back. The boats came home to him for servicing.
Working with dad taught me a lot.
But what he really gave me was place of grace. A place to learn and a say “I don’t know”, then strap my boots and iterate.
A place to fuck up and recover in real time, and to know that it was okay.
“Draw it. Sit on it, then draw it out it again.” “Make time to do it right the first time. The function invisible. So you don’t have to come back to it again.”
Once caught fish gets sorted on the deck via a process called deck sorting for the company I work with (different than presorting, which most boats have to have a permit to do).
Fish the vessel is allowed to keep gets processed on onboard then frozen in plate freezers. “Bycatch” such a halibut or salmon have to be returned into the sea and genetically sampled for data. Government employees or third party contractors called “observers” oversee and take notes on what the vessel is catching, while “flow scales” weight and count the amount of fish being processed so the Amendment 80 vessel doesn’t exceed its right or quota limit. Salmon and other groundfish are also donated to food banks.
Once frozen the fish gets placed into fiber or brown bags then store in the fish hole below the factory. Boats can offload at dock or by tramper (other boats at sea).
From there, fish is loaded into shipping containers and sold by brokers to other areas of the United States or overseas. Curious about my start in big business and banking? Yup. You can thank my dad. It started with crude oil, exchange rates and fishing.
The previous photos are of my dad and the captain’s son Storm. The last one, my dad and I taking a tour of the U.S. Intrepid, another Amendment 80 vessel to discuss third wire cameras and fish behavior.
Third wire cameras are under water cameras that allow captains to see what they’re catching real time. Vessels still use analog monitoring systems but the cameras are more accurate: Captains can see what and how much they’re catching and, understand the species they’re they both are and are not fishing for.
Example: Slow the boat down to 2 or 2.5 knots and the halibut will swim in front of the net. After an hour the Captain can slowly lift up the net.
Without catching the exhausted halibut the captain can then move to another fishing ground repeating the process again. The slower fishing is easier on fish, fish grounds and gear, paying for itself in fuel savings, data and avoiding unintended catch. Politically a hot topic.
The added Bonus? Companies can see if their flume tank technology and net design functions as intended.
“Mark said close the door”
Where we dock in Kodiak also houses a cannery.
Bored Pissed off and wanting to avoid my dad I walked in and asked the person in charge if I could help clean fish. Tom, the guy looking up in the last photo, gave me a nice smile and position at the table deworming fish.
Tables are illuminated to see through the flesh better cleaning the fish. My problem was that one) my knife skills are the equivalent to someone who can’t even butter toast and two) I’m a perfectionist.
After an hour Tom gave me a nice smile and pat on the back recommending I pursue a different profession. “You good worker. Good hard worker. But too slow.”
Ah geez, thanks Tom.
Drone – owned by Fishermen’s Finest, fishing vessel (F/V) U.S. Intrepid.
The last three photos were taken at the Kodiak Shipyard. Better photos if you click the link.
F/V is an acronym for fishing vessel. Amendment 80 vessels use F/T for Factory Trawler though I use them interchangeably as I worked with both catcher vessels (trawl vessels without factories) and my dads boat is the smallest vessel in the fleet. See black and gold boat to the one behind it.
Storm is our captains son who also grew up on the Golden Fleece. Storm went out to sea with his dad while I grew up on the business and maintenance side of the vessel.
Storm and I got to take a helicopter ride in a mutual friends chopper. Best way to see Kodiak Alaska is via by sky. Thank you Mark ❤
This is Minivahn. I call him ‘M’. His passion is welding though like the rest of us that work with my dad he’s a generalist. Painting, soldering, carpenter work, you name it. If we can’t do it we learn it.
Top photo he’s soldering our shore power cord.
It blew out because a short so we had to fix it.
I was standing on the back of the boat shooting the shit with my dad when POP POW! Shore power cord blows out. Scary shit man.
Trawl door sensors with Hula hair on the cod end.
Photo below – Storm and I practicing how to make mesh or net webbing.
I’m not the most eloquent or politically correct. A lot of people because of the way I look take me at face value. Which is fine. I’ve been sent to meetings and through accident have be told how voting was going to go. Not in our favor but that’s okay because I know how back deals go and when people make up their mind. Set the standards or follow them. Tuff shit.
The text above was from a competing company. What the sender wanted (I think) was a meeting to ask if my dads company was for sale. Commercial fishing is anti-competitive. To get into commercial fishing or expand your company you can’t just buy a boat, you have to own the right to fish. The problem isn’t that you can’t “buy in” it’s that no one is selling. Why the person contacted me.
I knew this my dad knew this but because the sender wouldn’t explicitly tell me this I gave him the gate keeper bullshit. Think Tour De France. Personal assistants and secretaries to CEOs know a lot more than you think. Be nice. Don’t blow them off.
Rosa came up to help me sand and varnish the boat with other odd jobs I needed help getting done. Thank you for the help and patience. She’s a love.
I originally got flown up to help fix the net reel. The flange pin in the motor got sheered so while we took it apart while taking notes American motor, metric flange <- centimeters off can cause big problems then painted and put it back it together again, I went to visit the wind mills.
Pretty cool technology. Good job GE.
Grace When you can’t make the bridge.
I’m not great at asking for help, but sometimes you just need it.
See bridge between vessel and dock below?
A processor from the American No.1 helped me on and off the boat. To get on the vessel he gave me his hand. To get off the vessel he had to catch and hold me by the ribs.
Think trust exercise. But instead of falling backward into a persons arms you fall forward from a 160′ vessel during high tide caught by hands you don’t know.
Grace was accepting his help. Me letting go. (A complete gentleman by the way.)
Fishermen’s Finest www.fishermensfinest.com
Fishermen’s Finest has two of the more beautiful/ well designed boats in the fleet. The American No. 1 – photo above – is a Marco Boat. You can tell by the flume of the hull and aspect or characteristic of the house (see website). Marco’s no longer in business, but it was a Seattle based Shipyard.
Their second boat the U.S Intrepid is a converted vessel like a few other Amendment 80 boats in the fleet. Originally designed for dredging mud we call them “mud boats”.
If you look closely on at their website you can differentiate the hull design; the American No.1 is sleek and hydrodynamic while the U.S. Intrepid more stout and hardy.
Form and function right.
I came across this fish in the cannery. It’s a halibut that weighs 329 pounds. The problem I have with fishing for sport, or right, not out of function or need is that larger catches like this should be released back as broodstock.
Female halibut release anywhere from a few thousand to 4 million eggs, depending on the size of the fish. Male or female halibut this big have done something right. They’re capable and have learned how to survive. Those genes are worth something. Pass on the heredity/ dexterity to survive.
Female Halibut www.alaska-halibut-fishing-charters.com
Accounting for and Managing All Pacific Halibut Removals – IPHC www.iphc.int
Halibut Crucifiers The Economics of Marine Resources and Conservation Policy
NOAA Fisheries – Selectivity and Survival of Atlantic Cod
Captains are often sent to Denmark or Norway to design, study and take part in the net manufacturing.
Like I said. Commercial fishing and fishermen get a bad rap but know that those who can are trying.