Friday, April 06, 2007

More Alaska shipping issues

Here's a shot of the Greek Cruise Ship as it goes down in the Med. So they hit a rock, but I thought the Titanic fixed the "we'll never sink" mentality. Heck, my father had his 385 foot LST blown in half and he anchored the bow half, with only half the remaining crew. This cruise ship had none of these problems. Maybe the problem was that when the Greek captain announced instructions to the Malaysian crew, they couldn't understand him.

The face of salmon transport might have to change to look something like this. This ship came to Alaska as a short-lived scallop operation.

Is it no wonder Governor Palin got so irate when certain Alaska Legislators wanted to gut the Ocean Ranger program for cruise ship monitoring. Although this Alaska drama was playing out before the sinking in the Med., I'm sure Sarah is on higher moral ground now, considering you can't rule out a cruise ship sinking sideways in Gastineau Channel now.

Although the issue involving putting skilled Alaskan mariners on the cruise ships in Alaskan waters had mostly to do with dumping their sewage and waste oil overboard. We really have to hand it to Governor Palin for getting on the radio and announcing that the Ocean Ranger program will provide personnel for cruise ship monitoring at sea and on shore, regardless. Us old Alaskan swabbies like to see that kink of spunk.

And the headlines here read, "Alaska looks south to Prince Rupert port." If you consider that it's the Canadians that are saying that, it really means, "We hope to heck a bunch of Alaska raw product will ship through our new unpaid-for container terminal." Shipping seafood through this facility from S.E. Alaska might actually make sense though. I know the big processors are sending more and more frozen product to China to be value-added. But the last time I looked, the wholesale price of cod in Chicago was $1.08 more than Seattle.

I doubt it would cost $1.08 a pound to ship full containers the four day trip to Chicago. The Alaska Railroad quoted me two cents a pound on a rail car full of frozen cod all the way to New Bedford from Anchorage. That might have been a come-on price of some sort, but you get the idea.

Have you seen those big live transport vessels the salmon farmers have? Now that's the way to get wild caught salmon to market. Just pump them into the live tank out of the seine or holding pound, run 'em to town and fly 'em out live using that Philippine hibernation method. You know how good humpies taste right out of the water, well, that could be experienced by consumers all over the world at that rate. Sure would beat getting ten cents a pound from the processors.

Salmon fishermen are going to have to do it themselves though, nobody else is going to. You know the big processing plants have been working on a business model that phases out fishermen. (You won't find that in the University of Alaska's "Seafood Processing for Dummies" course.) The plan has been working pretty good so far too. If this is a curiosity to you, stay with the program here.

The ultimate low-tech fish shipping solution is to not haul the seine and fish aboard, but to dry 'em up loosely and let them swim for their keep. Talked to a fisherman tonight that did that. He had his haul swim 6 miles to a bay where they could anchor up and process the humpies one at a time. They pressure bled them, filleted them and froze them at 50 below. Great product, and they got three plus dollars a pound at the dock in Seattle; maybe five dollars a fish as opposed to fourty cents at the cannery.

He says rock-fish ship real well in circulating sea water, if they are kept in the dark. They can get them all the way to Puget Sound that way. And you can ship prawns live by air if you inject 100% oxygen into the box and seal the vent and inlet holes tight. The problem is, the Fish and Game Department gurus want to keep their number crunching simple for themselves, so they forbid shipping rock-fish out of state that way. Who's running that railroad anyway, the oilers? Just more wreckage that needs to be cleared from past Administrations.