Posted on Apr 26, 2019
Viking of the Week
Inspiration for you to participate in Viking Tour!
 

Scribes needed to take meeting notes

Cindy Tveit asked for Note Takers for Friday Breakfast meetings: besides Cheryl Harris. Cindy Garfein and Mary Gorman both volunteered!
 

Important Announcements

• 4/26 Tonight: Schmidt’s Wine Tasting 
• 5/4 Plant Sale 
• 5/19 Viking Tour 
 
Cheryl Harris
Cheryl Harris finally got her Blue Badge! Presented by Amy Schmidt. 
 

Commercial Cod Fishing Industry Then and Now

Jim Shields THEN
Jim ShieldsJim shared a fascinating video (shot in 1950 and narrated by his Grandfather) that provided background on how the Cod Fishing industry was conducted, focusing on the years between 1911 and 1950. It was during this period that his grandfather worked on the “John A,” a lumber schooner converted to a cod fishing vessel. John A was 165 feet in length and now resides as a museum in the San Francisco area.
 
• Crews of 35 men worked on the vessel for 5 months, fishing for cod in the Bering Strait. Primary job of the owner or cook was to figure out how to buy and preserve enough food for that crew (because they don’t eat fish every day)! 
• The general schedule for the crew was 4 AM Breakfast then launch smaller boats (Dories), Return for 9 AM Lunch and relaunch, and 4 PM Supper. Dories were 19 feet long and could hold a 3 ton load. 
• Cod was caught on hook and line system, brought back to the John A, and immediately preserved in salt. The fish were individually caught and counted, as the men were paid per fish.  
• Processing: Once the fish were on the boat, each fish was processed individually and on average, was handled 30 times before processing was complete: Heading box – heads cut off and gutted (about 600 fish / hour), back bone out, liver saved for Cod Liver Oil, tongue cut out of head – delicacy? Salted 
• Once the catch was complete, the schooner returned to port (200-300 mile round trip daily) and further processing for market completed: Fish dug out of sale and then put on dock by size, Fish placed in large holds / tanks in Salt Brine solution, Fish drawn out of tank, skinned and back bone removed. Skin was shipped out to be used for glue, remaining bones were removed by pliers, boneless filets were then cut into 1 pound packages, wrapped in parchment, and placed in cartons for market Approximately 40 people involved in this part of the process.
 
Michael and Amelia Burns (father and daughter) NOW
Michael and Amelia Burns (father and daughter) NOW
Michael and brother founded Blue North Fisheries in 1983 and operate out of Freemont. Current practices have become safer for the fishermen and more humane for the fish: “Line Caught Humane Harvest Alaska Cod” and “Doing the right thing tastes better”.
 
New Boat took 3 years to build (in Anacortes) and design was leveraged from practices in Norway. The boat is 190 feet long and can hold 1.5 million tons (not sure I heard that metric correctly), and is much more plush and climate controlled than the vessel John A!
 
• Fish are still caught by Hook and Line, one at a time, but the line can be up to 42 miles long!
• Dories are no longer used, but the line is drawn in by roller, fish are “stunned” and then stored in a “moon pool.” Humanely handled fish are scientifically proven to be: more nutritious, better tasting. higher quality, flakier fish for consumption 
• All processing and preservation (frozen, not salted) is now down on the vessel and entire process from catch to packaging takes only 3 hours. 
 
Michael imagines that in approximately 70 years, his grandson may be presenting to that Rotary slides that show how his grandfather fished “in the old days.
 
Modern fishing vessel
 
Questions from the floor:
• What about Waste?
  • Heads, skins, and Livers generally go to pet food
  • Stomachs are processed for the Asian market
  • Trim is used in fish patties.
• How is the health of the cod population / stock?
  • Generally in the Bering Strait all product is either level of raising
  • Cod specifically goes in wave cycles, and is currently on the downward trend
• Fishing limits are heavily controlled, conservatively managed and cod fishing is in a 10% reduction for the next 3-4 years.
• Scientists make limit recommendations that are usually reduced by policy makers.