FIRST CATCH – My First COBB Trip

Fig 01

A lift coming onboard, Hitz photo

By Charles R. (Bob) Hitz         Blog # 38                        Jan. 25, 2016

I had been waiting patiently for the skipper to give the command to retrieve the trawl after an hour of towing it along the bottom, hoping it would not hang up on an unknown obstruction and would yield a catch. This was my first opportunity to observe and be involved in working a trawl catch in unexplored offshore waters, under the eyes of chief scientist Al Pruter. There were only two scientists aboard the vessel, Al and myself, for this part of the trip.

I was aboard the research vessel John N. Cobb on the second half of exploratory cruise

Fig 02

Simrad Echo sounder showing trace below, Hitz photo

number 47 to Queen Charlotte Sound, B.C. Canada. In the article by H.E. Crowther entitled “Exploratory Fishing” he writes; “The primary functions of exploratory fishing are to search unexplored waters – especially offshore waters – for new fishing grounds” (1). Prior to when I went out on the Cobb in August, 1960 the exploratory group had worked out a method of determining whether there were any tows in the untrawlable areas that commercial fishermen suggested we explore. First run a series of sounding transects to determine the character of the bottom, then drag a chain over areas suggested as being trawlable by the sounder and finally, replace the chain with a commercial otter-trawl net and fish over those grounds on which the chain was successfully pulled, evaluating the commercial potential of the ground fish present.

Fig 03

Drag chain on deck, replaced with the net, Hitz photo

The waters off the coast of British Columbia had been part of the fishing grounds of the U. S. trawl fleet for years before the Magnuson-Stevens Act became law in 1976 and the 200 mile conservation zone was established. The Western Flyer was part of the trawl fleet that fished Queen Charlotte Sound in late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Some commercial trawl fishermen had pointed out areas off the tip of Vancouver Island that were untrawlable, wanting them to be explored by the Cobb.

Once we arrived on the grounds on August 17, 1960, the first thing was to set haul #45 to determine what species were found there. We were to duplicate haul #44 made in the first half of the cruise when the puckering string came undone, the catch was lost before it could be brought aboard and there wasn’t time to complete another tow. I was waiting to see what was in this catch and I became excited when the fish came aboard in one lift of the cod end and was released into the checker.

Fig 04

Stations, Second half of Cobb Cruise 47, BCF Drawing

The first thing the biologist must do when the catch is brought aboard is make an estimate of the total weight. A full checker holds about 3,500 lbs. and half a checker equals about 1,750 lbs. A lift or a full split is about 2,000 lbs. and the estimated weight for this haul was one ton or 2,000 pounds.

The catch is then sorted by species and a count of each made and recorded on a Data Form. A copy of the original is included here and is referred to as “Station 67”. This number was changed to #45 in the final published report (2) and a copy of Figure 7 from the report has the net hauls plotted with the new numbering system. Otter-trawl drag numbers 39 to 44 were made during the first half and numbers 45 to 56 were made during the second half.

The reason there is a difference between the original and final report numbers is that only the net hauls were used and renumbered in chronological order. All the other stations were deleted such as the sounding transects where an echo sounder was used to determine whether the bottom was soft and trawlable or hard and untrawlable as well as all the stations where a chain replaced the trawl net to reduce damage to the nets.

Fig 05

Cobb’s chart table, Hitz photo

The skipper on the bridge has a chart laid out on the chart table and he plots the drag on it from the start to the end. He uses loran or radar to get the position along with the depth of the drag from the sounder. When making a tow he tries to follow a depth contour, in this case 85-86 fathoms. The biologist later converts the plot into latitude and longitude from the chart and records them along with any other information required.

Fig 06.jpg

Page 1 of Original Data form Station 67 (45) BCF Form

The form is set up for exploratory fishing and the results are of interest to the fishing industry. Since this cruise was designed to find trawlable grounds, when a successful haul like 45 is made the commercial fishermen need the exact location so they can repeat it if they wish, and to know what was in the catch by weight since they are paid by the pounds landed. For example, in this haul there were 200 individual Pacific Ocean perch (POP) at an average weight of 2.5 pounds, equaling 500 pounds.   Adding the weight of each of the food fish species totals 1690 pounds. Adding all the categories on the form the catch total is equal to 2091 pounds, which should equal or come close to the original estimated weight.

Fig 07

page 2 of Original Data Form Station 67 (45) BCF Form

To my surprise there were five different species of rockfish in the catch. In the final report they would be classified as Black, Red and POP but on this form they were broken down by the scientific names except for POP (S. alutus), because there are at least 55 species of rockfish along the Pacific coast and they are difficult to differentiate.

I became so interested in this catch, helping to work up the data and to identify the rockfish, that I completely forgot about being seasick the day before on the transit along the outer coast of Vancouver Island. This was only the first day on the grounds, but a presage of the rest of the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Exploratory Fishing Base, fisheries science, Fishing, History of Science, History of Technology, Maritime History, Ocean fishing, Pacific Fishing History Project, R/V John N. Cobb, Rosefish, Sebastes rockfish | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

RETRIEVING THE TRAWL – My First Cobb Trip

Cobb, 1968 configuration, Hitz drawing

Cobb, 1968 configuration, Hitz drawing

By: Charles R. (Bob) Hitz       Blog # 37                                 Jan. 2, 2016

It’s been over fifty-five years since I first observed the setting and retrieval of a trawl on the Cobb, and I still remember the excitement when the skipper gave the command to retrieve it. I had been waiting for an hour to see what would be brought up in the net, if anything.

Trawl door brought up to the stanchion, Hitz Photo

Trawl door brought up to the stanchion, Hitz Photo

I mentioned in my posting on “Setting The Trawl” that I’d found a number of color slides of that process, which brought back memories of the 1960’s and Lee Alverson’s lecture in 1958 about a major change in the distance water trawl fleets with the introduction of stern trawling, which had been going on for years along the Pacific coast.

Trawl door is chained to the stanchion, Hitz photo

Trawl door is chained to the stanchion, Hitz photo

The Cobb slowed down once the skipper gave his command, the winches were engaged and the trawl cables retrieved and wound onto the trawl drums. The winch operator used the level wind to make sure the wraps were laid evenly. Once the trawl doors could be seen, the winch operators would bring each door up to the trawl stanchion as far as it would go and stop.

The net is pulled to the stern, Hitz photo

The net is pulled to the stern, Hitz photo

The next procedure is just the reverse of what occurred in setting. The chain hanging loosely from the stanchion is hooked onto the door. Trawl doors are then let out until the jam link encounters the figure 8, the strain of the net is taken by the stanchion and the main cable becomes slack. The G-hook is disconnected from the flat link, freeing the doors from the main trawl cable. Then the trawl bridle is pulled in through the block by the idler connecting the trawl cable with the bridle, until the wings of the net reach the stern of the vessel.

Wings are attached to the single, Hitz photo

Wings are attached to the single, Hitz photo

The trawl is long, divided into three parts the wings, the intermediate and the sausage shaped cod end. When the wings reach the stern, one on each side, they are attached to the single by a lifting bridle and raised up as far as it can go to the block at the end of the boom as the vessel is turned to starboard and then put into reverse, bringing the net to the starboard side. The net is then lowered and the intermediate part of the net falls over the rail as the wings are let down on the after deck and reconfigured for setting. The intermediate part of the net is held in place as it is folded over the rail, so that the lifting bridle can be disconnected and the single wrapped around the middle of the net and then pulled up. The sausage cod end is raised until the very end with the catch is brought inboard over the checker and the puckering string is pulled, letting the catch fall into the checker.

Vessel is turned to starboard and put into reverse, Hitz photo

Vessel is turned to starboard and put into reverse, Hitz photo

If the weight is greater than the single can handle, the double is used and if the catch is too large to be lifted, the splitting strap is used by hooking it with the single and as the single is pulled up, the cable encircling the cod end through rings tightens, forcing the catch to split. Part of the catch slides to the closed end and the rest slides back into the sausage of the cod end alongside the vessel. The end is lifted out of the water and released into the checker. The puckering string is retied, the bag put back into the water and the process is repeated until the entire catch is removed from the net. The biologist records the estimated weigh of the entire catch and it is sorted by species.

The net is folder over the rail and the wings are let down, Hitz photo

The net is folder over the rail and the wings are let down, Hitz photo

Single is attached to the net, Hitz photo

Single is attached to the net, Hitz photo

That procedure, used by Pacific coast stern trawlers, differs from that of the European stern trawlers which Lee observed on his trip to Europe in 1958. Since those ships were much larger, the method the Europeans had developed was to drag the entire net with its catch in the cod end up a stern ramp to a deck above and then dump the catch through a hatch in the after part of the ship into the factory below just as they had done with whales, when they would drag a whole carcass up the ramp to be butchered on the upper deck.

Cod end is released, dumping the catch

Cod end is released, dumping the catch

In October, 1957 when Lee Alverson was a fishery biologist with the State of Washington, he made a trip to Hamburg, Germany and presented a paper at a meeting of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The paper, Trends in Trawling Methods and Gear on the West Coast of the United States was published by FAO in 1959 (1). He describes his experience of this trip in his autobiography (2) and this was the same trip during which he observed the Soviet stern trawler that he lectured about at the College of Fisheries in 1959. After viewing them he said “The Russian vessel was so big it looked like a cruise boat or small whaler. The vessels dwarfed anything that existed in the Pacific Northwest; I was almost embarrassed to give my talk on small West Coast stern trawlers.”   His article described the net reel that was introduced to the Pacific Coast trawl fleet in 1952. One was installed on the Cobb and another on the Commando in about 1962. A pair of V-doors were also purchased by each at about the same time.

Catch in the checker, Hitz photo

Catch in the checker, Hitz photo

A split coming onboard, Hitz photo

A split coming onboard, Hitz photo

The net reel is made much more efficient by disconnecting the trawl bridles aft of the doors and transferring them to the drum where the bridles, along with the majority of the trawl net are wound onto the reel. The cod end is lifted with the single and brought around the stern to the starboard side where the catch is lifted aboard. Then the net is rolled up onto the reel, ready to be set again. Using the net reel along with the V-doors which are much more stable, reducing the chance of a collapsed door or crossed doors during a tow, makes trawling safer.

The Cobb's new net reel, Hitz photo

The Cobb’s new net reel, Hitz photo

 

  • Alverson, D. L., 1959, Trends in Trawling Methods and Gear on the West Coast of the United States. Modern Fishing Gear of the World. Fishing New (Books) Ltd. 1959 pages 317-320.
  • Alverson, Dr. Dayton L. PHD, Race to The Sea, The Autobiography of a Marine Biologist, 2008 iUniverse, Inc. New York, Bloomington 553 pages, (Trip to Europe pages 308 to 321).

 

 

Posted in Dayton Lee Alverson, Environmental History, Exploratory Fishing Base, fisheries science, Fishing, History of Science, History of Technology, Maritime History, Ocean fishing, Pacific Fishing History Project, R/V John N. Cobb, World History | Leave a comment

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,700 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Pacific Fishing History Project | Leave a comment

Watching the Soviets off the Canadian Coast

It is amazing to me that there has been so little study of the Soviet fleet off the West Coast in the 1960s. We are very pleased to reblog this post from The Devil of History, which is a totally cool name for a blog.

The Devil of History

David Zimmerman’s new book on the Royal Canadian Navy, Maritime Command Pacific, discusses the navy’s anxieties about the presence of Soviet trawlers or merchant ships off the Canadian Pacific coast. Maritime Command Pacific presumed that Soviet ships were undertaking intelligence activities to monitor Canadian naval and maritime air forces, military radio transmissions, and underwater cables. In wartime, they suspected the Soviet fishing fleet would be cut submarine cables, jam radio communications, lay mines, land secret agents, raid isolated shore targets, support Soviet submarine and aircraft operations, or even scuttle ships to block Canadian ports. As a result, planning for home defense in British Columbia included guards for as many as 3,000 captured Soviet seamen, and naval operations included the close surveillance of Soviet fishing vessels in the Canadian area of operations (which extended beyond Canadian territorial waters).

HMCS New Glasgow at sea, 1956. Canada. Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / ecopy. LAC Ref. Archival reference no. R112-6097-7-E. HMCS New Glasgow at sea, 1956. Canada. Department of National Defence /…

View original post 697 more words

Posted in Pacific Fishing History Project | Leave a comment

WESTERN FLYER – Converted to a Trawler

Western Flyer in Bellingham Whatcom Museum Photo

Western Flyer in Bellingham Whatcom Museum Photo

By Charles (Bob) Hitz, Nov. 11, 2015   Blog Post 36

After World War II the bottom fish market began to grow. Petrale sole made up a large percentage of the landings and the catch of rockfish, specifically Pacific Ocean perch (POP), began to increase with the advancement of refrigeration. This enabled the fish houses to expand the market of POP with Army contracts as well as with buyers on the east coast. There was fierce competition with a similar Atlantic Ocean species called Ocean perch with the decline of the Great Lake’s yellow perch fishery.

Fig 1 (2)Demand for POP grew and Dan Luketa started catching it in the international waters of Canada north of Vancouver Island in Queen Charlotte Sound and Hecate Straits. He purchased Western Flyer in 1952, converted her to a trawler and added her to his two other converted trawlers, Sunbeam and Paul L, to harvest POP. Kevin Bailey’s book gives the reader insight into Dan’s business. It made economic sense to travel the inside passage to the extremely productive fishing grounds off Canada, especially during the winter months when the demand for fish was high, without having to worry about crossing the Oregon and Washington bars.

Drawing Western Flyer as a Trawler Hitz Drawing

Drawing Western Flyer as a Trawler Hitz Drawing

His book has two pictures of the Western Flyer as a trawler, one of which was found in the Whatcom Museum photo archives and is the earliest, waiting with a load of bottom fish to be off-loaded in Bellingham, Washington. The Luketa family were innovators and the trawl doors shown in the picture are different from the doors on the Cobb , which were wooden and of the same design as those used by the rest of trawl fleets throughout the world. The second picture was taken later when she was chartered by the Halibut Commission in 1962, after she had been fitted out with a net reel and V-doors on the stern, also Luketa innovations.

Luketa’s Trawler SunbeamDunatov Photo

Luketa’s Trawler Sunbeam Dunatov Photo

Western Flyer is a typical Pacific coast seiner, which is referred to as a combination vessel. When Luketa purchased her after the collapse of the sardine fishery, he converted her into a trawler by removing the turntable, seine davit, seine winch and the crow’s nest at the top of the mast, which was used in sardine fisheries to spot sardine schools. He added a metal railing around the stern where the turn table had been, along with two trawl stanchions and a centralized trawl winch similar to the Cobb’s.

: Tom’s Dad with white gloves on the left on Sunbeam Dunatov Photo

Tom’s Dad with white gloves on the left on Sunbeam Dunatov Photo

I miss talking with Tom Dunatov. With his passing we’ve lost a fantastic resource about the fishing industry and the Croatian community. Tom talked about Luketa’s trawl fleet of three vessels: the Sunbeam, Western Flyer and the Paul L. His dad worked on the Sunbeam before being employed on the Cobb. We also discussed their innovations, the flat doors that developed into V-doors and are often referred to as the “Luketa doors.” V-doors became common in Pacific coast trawl fisheries, and while I was working on the Cobb in Neah Bay during the ‘60’s I took a picture of the trawler Heather, with its set of V-doors.

Heather with V-doors Hitz Photo

Heather with V-doors Hitz Photo

They are also credited with the introduction of the trawl net reel. Brad Pattie, whom I accompanied when we flew over the Soviet Fleet in 1967, had a few pictures of the Paul L with her new trawl reel on the stern. The date on the photographs was August, 1957, two years after the net reel was introduced to the trawl fleet. In 1959 (1) Lee Alverson published a picture of the Sunbeam with a new trawl reel that appears to be like that on the Paul L. The net reel was a great asset to trawling in the North Pacific when it was introduced – it improved setting and hauling of the trawl by rolling up the bridles along with the net itself.

Luketa’s Trawler Paul- L Pattie Photo

Luketa’s Trawler Paul- L Pattie Photo

I visited the Western Flyer in Port Townsend where she was being reconstructed during the 2015 Wooden Boat Festival and found a couple of modifications to the skipper’s quarters that I had missed when I drew her as a seiner. The first was adding a sliding door. The second appeared to be removal of the top bunk and adding a chart storage cabinet in the wall where the bunk had been, along with a drop-down chart table. I believe that these changes probably occurred when she was converted to a trawler, because the crew size of a trawler is smaller than required by a sardine seiner and navigation had to be more precise in making and locating drags along trawlable grounds. I also noticed where the break occurred between the fish hold and the engineroom. I added the changes to the drawing as she appeared in 1962 as a trawler, which included the net reel and the V-doors, when she was charted by the Halibut commission.

Net Reel on Paul-L Pattie Photo

Net Reel on Paul-L Pattie Photo

Bailey’s book stated that “When the Pacific ocean perch harvest started falling in the 1960s, Dan Luketa realized that he needed a new fishery to support his flotilla. He and the Western Flyer headed north once again, this time to the Aleutian Islands to fish for red king crab in the stormy waters of Alaska”. So when the Soviet Fleet appeared off the Washington and Oregon Coast in 1966 and began fishing in as close as 3 miles off the coast, the Western Flyer had already gone on a new adventure, described in Keith Bailey’s book.

Alverson, D.L., 1959, Trends in Trawling Methods and Gear on the West Coast of the United States. Modern Fishing Gear of the World. Fishing News (Books) Ltd. 1959, pages 317-320

Posted in boat building, Carmel Finley, Cold War, Environmental History, fisheries science, Fishing, History of Science, History of Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Japanese fishing for tuna in the Indian Ocean, 1956

Pacific Fisherman, January, 1956, p. 13

Pacific Fisherman, January, 1956, p. 13

One of the great things about doing research are the little aha! moments that come when you find something interesting–in this case, a clipping from a 1956 article in Pacific Fisherman, about the Japanese fishery for tuna in the Indian Ocean.

The article is about the expansion of tuna fishing into the Indian Ocean, and it quotes a tuna fisherman as saying that “the weight of the tuna population of the seas exceeds that of the human population of the world’s land masses.

Asked about the presence of sharks in the water, Mr. Shinomiya admits there were severe shark depredations when the boats first started fishing.

“However, he finds that the shark population dwindles rapidly under the effect of the fishery, and becomes negligible by the time an area has been long-lined for three months. Thereafter it can be fished only with nominal damage from the in-coming sharks.”

We know now that sharks are very slow to mature and they are not a very fecund species. We have learned a lot since 1956.

Posted in Albacore tuna, boat building, George Moskovita, History of Science, History of Technology, Japanese fishing, Ocean fishing, Pacific Fishing History Project | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The further, further adventures of the R/V Oregon

fig-008By Kirk Pellegrin, Oct. 27, 2015

My father, Gilmore “Butch” Pellegrin Jr., is a fisheries biologist with NOAA/NMFS at the Pascagoula, Mississippi lab and started work there July 1974.  I was born the following Nov. of ’74.

As a small child since I could walk, I’ve been seeing my Dad leave and come back on the NOAA Ship OREGON II and developed a fascination / passion for the OREGON II.

I went to a private Catholic school across the street from the lab my whole life – from Kindergarten, elementary, junior high, high school, through graduation.  All of that time, I would walk across the street to Dad’s office after school.  The Pascagoula NMFS lab and the OREGON II have literally been my second home / after school daycare my whole life.

R/V Oregon

R/V Oregon

I have a strong passion for the OREGON II and other research vessels in the NOAA fleet.

I also have a passion for history and photography.  It’s been my hobby researching the history of the Pascagoula lab and the research vessels that have supported it, as well as, collecting photographs and the histories of the vessels.  It has also been my hobby photographing the NOAA Fleet.

I have been a police officer for nearly twenty years now and I patrol the City of Pascagoula so I maintain an intimate connection with the Pascagoula lab and the vessels.

Posted in boat building, Environmental History, fisheries science, Fishing, History of Science, History of Technology, Pacific Explorer, Pacific Fishing History Project, Resources About Fishing, World History | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Astoria, 1947

Captain George Moskovita

Captain George Moskovita

There are many ways of looking at history. We can look at events, or at the people who were involved in the events, and we can look at how things came together in significant ways.  There is often another dimension here, and it is place, how people and events come together at significant times–but also at significant places. And for the fisheries history of the Pacific, a significant time was 1947, and a significant place was Astoria.

Astoria was booming after World War II.  During the war, the Army had signed

Dr. George Yost Harry

Dr. George Yost Harry

contractsto buy all the fish that fishermen could catch. Fishermen were moving into deeper water, finding new species of rockfish, in enormous quantities. It was an exciting time for fishermen, but also for the Oregon Fish Commission, which began a systematic study of the fish trawlers like George Moskovita were bringing to the docks. George and his father, Dome Moskovita, brought their two boats, the Treo and the New Zealand. and trawl technology from Puget Sound to Astoria in 1940, helping to establish the trawl industry.

JergenGeorge would certainly have met the new biologists the Fish Commission sent to Astoria. First came George Yost Harry Jr., a young naval lieutenant, who had enlisted after graduating with a BS in Agriculture in 1940 from Oregon State University. With a masters degree from the University of Washington, Harry was hired as a marine biologist.

Harry’s first assistant was Jergen Westrheim, who would pioneer the early research on rockfish species, deducing that the fish were older than biologists had originally thought. A second biologist who worked for Harry was Dayton Lee Alverson, who would go on to become one of a national scientific figure, playing a role in the development of the 200-mile limit during the 1970s.

All three scientists were certainly have known–and respected–one of the top trawl boats in Astoria during these years–or should be say, trawl boats, since George Moskovita owned a lot of boats.

And the scientists and the fishermen would certainly have known Nick Bez, the

Nick Bez

Nick Bez

new chairman of the Columbia River Packers Association, the largest salmon cannery on the coast.  Perhaps they didn’t know him personally, but they were aware of his ambitions to expand into the  tuna business. The CRPA  built a canning line for albacore tuna in 1937. Under Bez, the CRPA  and the Pacific Explorer would make an ambitious bid to expand American tuna fishing deep into the Pacific, the waters of the Marshall, Mariana, and Caroline Islands.

All five men left a rich legacy. Moskovita and Alverson wrote memoirs, detailing their life in the world of fishing. Harry’s work, including his 1957 thesis from the University of Washington, laid the foundation for West Coast groundfish science.And Jergen Westrheim carried some of that science with him when the Canadian government hired him in 1963 to oversee their groundfish research program. Bez was a major figure in the industrialization of Washington after the war, starting the first  airline to fly into Alaska. He eventually sold out to Howard Hughes and he was chairman of Peter Pan Seafoods.

Dr. Dayton Lee Alverson

Dr. Dayton Lee Alverson

Historians like to say that we write history by weaving strands together. The strands can be about science, or they can be about boats, or they can be about individuals and how they came together and inter-acted in certain places and times. Each of these men tells a different story. By considering each of the stories, it is possible to see how they interacted and the details that each individually adds to our knowledge of the development of West Coast fisheries history.

It was not an accident that these five men wound up in Astoria; there was  no place along the coast where the future of fishing looked brighter than it did from Astoria, Oregon.

 

Posted in Albacore tuna, boat building, Columbia River Packers Association, Dayton Lee Alverson, Environmental History, Exploratory Fishing Base, fisheries science, Fishing, George Moskovita, History of Science, History of Technology, Nick Bez, Ocean fishing, Pacific Explorer, Pacific Fishing History Project, Sebastes rockfish, World History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The further adventures of the R/V Oregon

2015-10-07_1525On one of the our research trips to the National Administration and Records Administration visits (NARA), we looked through the files of Supreme Command Allied Powers (SCAP) during the American Occupation of Japan. This letter, from the Texas Game, Fish, and Oyster Commission caught our eye.

It was written to the the Americans stationed in Japan, seeking any of the research that might have been done by the Japanese in the Gulf of Mexico in 1936-37. The research may have been done in cooperation with the Government of Mexico.

The Oregon

The Oregon

The letter is interesting, another chip of evidence about how little oceanographic work was being one by both the federal and state governments before World War II. The Japanese, on the other hand, were fishing through the Pacific and into the Atlantic during the 1930s, efforts that turned them into the world’s leading fishing nations.

It was not until after the war that the Americans organized fishery research on any sort of scale. Bob Hitz had untangled the construction of four of the first fishery research vessels in the US, the Oregon, the Washington, the California, and the Alaska.

Yellowfin tuna, image from Pew Fisheries

Yellowfin tuna, image from Pew Fisheries

We have known for some time that the first of the vessels, Oregon, was sent to the Gulf of Mexico to participate in the Gulf Exploratory Fishery Program, and it obviously played an important role in the development of Gulf fishing.

According to the August of 1954 issue of the Commercial Fisheries Review, the Oregon spent six weeks looking for yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares).  More than 3,000 pounds of yellowfin tuna were unloaded at Pascagoula, Miss. The tuna averaged 118 pounds each and  were found over a wide expanse of the western Gulf, thus indicating a broad distribution at this season of the year.

The federal government played a large role in the development of post-war fisheries, not only here in the Pacific Northwest, but throughout the country.

Posted in boat building, Environmental History, Exploratory Fishing Base, fisheries science, Fishing, History of Science, History of Technology, Japanese fishing, Nick Bez, Pacific Fishing History Project, SCAP | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dr. George Yost Harry, 1919-2015

It is with regret that we write of the passing of Dr. George Yost Harry, who was a central figure in the early days of West Coast groundfish research.  Dr. Harry was one of the first employees the Oregon Fish Commission sent to Astoria, to study the growing groundfish fishery started by trawlers like George Moskovita. Dr. Harry was 96.

Dr. George Yost Harry

Dr. George Yost Harry

Here is a bit of information that he wrote about his career:

After four years in the navy during WWII, I enrolled at the University of Washington and after completing course work took a position as marine biologist with the Oregon fish commission. Oregon was just starting a research program after the war. I was stationed in Astoria and Jergen (Westrheim) was one of the first to be added to the staff. The program was gradually expanded to include biologists doing research on tuna and most other commercial fish and shellfish.   Ed Holmberg, mentioned in one of the reports was in charge of tuna studies in California and was one of those added to the staff.

Fred Cleaver was appointed Assistant Director of the Fish Commission and in 1954 asked me to transfer to Portland as director of all research and management studies. I was in Portland from 1954 to 1958. In 1958 a major new federal research laboratory was being constructed in Juneau, Alaska and I was asked to become the first director. At this time the king crab fishery was developing in Alaska and Russia was able to take part in the fishery because the 200 mile limit was not yet in effect. I had the interesting experience of visiting Russia several times to develop research and management plans for the fishery.

In 1967 it seemed time to move from Alaska. The position as director of the Great Lakes Fishery Laboratory became vacant and I was appointed director of the lab in Ann Arbor Michigan, where I had received a Master’s degree in 1941.

In 1970 the National Marine Fisheries Commission, then Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, closed down the regional office in Ann Arbor and also the research operation.   Fortunately for me the director of the NMFShttps://carmelfinley.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/george-yost-harry-and-the-study-of-oregon-marine-fish/ Marine Mammal Lab retired at that time and I moved from Michigan to Seattle. Back to the West Coast where I belonged. Part of my work took me back to Alaska and especially to the Pribilov Islands in the summer for fur seal studies. This position also returned me several times to Russia to coordinate research with the Russians.

Posted in Pacific Fishing History Project | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment