Diving for Dollars

 

This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. Diving for dollars. Hear more after this . . .

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Sea cucumbers

The F/V New Dawn Crew
Sea Cucumber Fishing 2013 Kodiak Ak

Diving for sea cucumbers, geoduck clams, and sea urchins is a unique yet very lucrative fishery. Southeast holds the title for the biggest dive fisheries when it opens in the fall. Around 150 divers are searching the bottom of the ocean for sea cumbers this year. Efforts are good and the harvest is up.

“We have a three-year fishery rotation for sea cucumbers, and for the 2013/14 season it’s actually the highest quota that has been set for these since 2000.”

Mike Donnellan is the project leader for the dive fisheries stock assessment with Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game. This years total harvest for all areas is just under 1.5 million pounds for sea cucumbers in Southeast. Last year the fishery brought in seven and a half million dollars at the dock, at just under five dollars per pound.

A smaller sea cucumber fishery with only 140,000 pounds is open around Kodiak. There are 26 divers participating in the season, making it slightly more active compared to the 20 registered  last year, even though prices down a whole two dollars.

“We got $5.50 last year, and we are at $3.50 this year.”

 

Brian Vitt is the President of the Kodiak Area Dive Marketing Association.

 

“It may still go up, but that was the ending price last year.   You’re always hoping it goes up,  but you never know.”

 

The sea cucumber harvest around Kodiak is 12,000 pounds more than last year, Vitt says they could wrap up the season within the next few openers, but due to weather they have seen a slightly lower harvest rate so far. Lance Parker has been diving around Kodiak  since  1986 and say’s that it is by far his favorite fishery.

 

“Everything that I’ve done with the harvest dives in Kodiak has been profitable and a blast because the things I’ve gotten to see.  I wouldn’t trade for anything. I think I have dove in every bay on this island for one thing or another and the variety of bottom types and the surprises that you always see.  There is always something to spice up the experience.”

Parker says a good day for him is diving at around 35 to 50 ft deep.  He can sometimes be underwater as long as eight to nine hours day or night.  Plucking as many as 2,000 cucumbers per dive; coming in at around two thousand pounds at the dock. There is also a small sea urchin fishery, but with no efforts since 2000.

Thanks to KFSK in Petersburg

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, celebrating 101 years of partnership with Alaska’s coastal communities. www.oceanbeauty.com  In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangin.

 

 

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