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commercial fishing

When commercial fishermen spool out long lines in pursuit of sablefish— better known to consumers as black cod—seabirds looking for an easy meal dive to steal the bait off the series of hooks.

Some unlucky birds get hooked and drown as the line sinks to the deep. 
And when the drowned bird is an endangered species such as the short-tailed albatross, it triggers scrutiny.

Al Grillo / AP Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency has settled a lawsuit with Canadian-owned Pebble Limited Partnership over development of a copper and gold deposit in southwest Alaska.

Two years ago, the EPA proposed restrictions on the Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region. The settlement walks back that proposal, giving the company up to 30 months to apply for proper permits and limiting the agency from pursuing further restrictions for four years.

Bristol Bay is host to a world-class fishery and produces about half of the world's supply of wild sockeye salmon.

It doesn't take more than a few episodes of the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch to get the idea that commercial fishing can be a career path rife with risk, making it one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S.

Some New England fishermen are pinning their hopes on a new kind of trawl net being used in the Gulf of Maine, one that scoops up abundant flatfish such as flounder and sole while avoiding species such as cod, which are in severe decline.

The boats are owned by Americans. They fly American flags and work in American waters. The fish they catch — like premium ahi tuna and swordfish — is sold at American grocery stores, on shelves at Whole Foods and Costco.

But the men who catch those fish can't set foot on American soil, The Associated Press reports — and they aren't protected by American labor laws.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Salmon returns in the Northwest are on many people’s minds this week as fisheries managers meet in Vancouver. They’re considering what might be the first full closure of ocean salmon fishing in nearly 22 years.

But you might not notice much change in what’s for sale in local markets. Step up to a seafood counter looking for salmon and you’ll likely find a lot to choose from.

The Gulf of Mexico is now open for commercial fish farming.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last month that, for the first time in the U.S., companies can apply to set up fish farms in federal waters.

The idea is to compete with hard-to-regulate foreign imports. But opening the Gulf to aquaculture won't be cheap, and it could pose environmental problems.

A federal court will hear oral arguments Monday in Seattle, in a case that pits the United States against the State of Washington. It has to do with who gets to take how much fish.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez has set aside 3 weeks in his calendar to hear issues involved.

Three tribes are mentioned in the current litigation: the Makah, the Quileute and the Quinault Indian Nations. They’re fighting with each other.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

How do you create jobs in Seattle and Alaska? By building fishing boats here and hiring workers who might otherwise only get jobs in fast-food restaurants.

That’s the message from a roundtable gathered for U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, in Seattle Thursday.

The problem is access to capital, according to the panel of representatives of the shipbuilding industry that builds and supports fishing boats for Seattle’s fleet.

toddraden Photo / Flickr

Though it’s thousands of miles away, a proposed mine for gold and copper in Alaska’s Bristol Bay threatens to destroy the livelihood of thousands of people in the Puget Sound area. 

Seattle’s fleet of commercial fishermen and seafood processors have been a big part of the opposition to the so-called Pebble Mine.

A new economic report puts the value of Bristol Bay’s salmon at $1.5 billion per year, and says more than a quarter of the jobs it generates are located in Washington state.

Washington Department of Labor and Industries

The 66 Washingtonians who died on the job in 2012 were honored at a memorial on Tuesday. A memorial bell was rung 66 times, once for each victim who died of a job-related illness or injury.

But the father of a 22-year-old commercial fisherman who died says not enough has been done; he voiced frustration over what he called a lack of government oversight of the fishing industry.