Salmon setnetters challenges and changes                                                             images


This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. Salmon set netters share their challenges and changes. Hear more after this…


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A gill-netter once said…

“You can have a really good year and you don’t get rich. Or you can have a really bad year and you don’t go poor.”

For a few set net families in Larsen Bay no matter what the salmon season brings it’s a tough job that can’t be beat.

 “You never know if it’s going to be boom or bust. So there is always that element of stress if it’s going to be a good season or not.”

Erik O’Brien is a life long set netter and permit holder at far side fish camp.


“Then half way through a bad season you realize it’s going to be one of those years that you’re going to go backward or not make any money at all. And of course the flip side to that is where at any time it could be a bust you have the opportunity to make a great deal of money, so it’s exciting.”


Jane Petrich reflects on the ups and downs from her 30 years of gill netting.


“When I first started the fishery wasn’t that strong and we weren’t making that much money. Then we had some big boom years, then Exxon and the prices went down, but we were still catching a large volume. But boy the last five years have it’s just been vary challenging because there hasn’t been that much fishing or fish to catch. So financially it’s been a struggle.”


O’Brien adds…


 “These last couple years being on the beach has been really challenging. Not being able to operate and work and trying to fund the operation adds that extra layer of stress. But in the end set netting is relatively low cost and a low overhead so it is fairly easy not to go backward.”


Better gear and the advances in fish handling has produced good results.


“Attention to quality. Taking care of the fish differently, compared to twenty, thirty years ago. It’s all about maintaining quality as best you can before you deliver it. That’s probably the biggest change I have seen.” 


Mark Beardsly thinks the extra care is worth it.


“It’s a little more work involved, but I think it’s easier…

We are able to unload multiple times during a day, Instead of putting wet burlap over your fish and waiting…

Those days are gone now.  You couldn’t sit and let a fish bake in the bottom of your skiff for ten hours, now it’s on slush ice and delivered in a few hours.  It’s all about quality which is good thing.”


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 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at In Kodiak I’m Stephanie Mangini.