Summer salmon season: Alaska’s opening set
National Fishermen by Jessica Hathaway - May 16, 2019
It may not feel quite like summer in most of Alaska today, but Thursday, May 16, marks the official opening of the state’s summer salmon season.
Alaskans enjoy the journey of the first Copper River salmon of the year
KTUU by Rebecca Palsha - May 17, 2019
ANCHORAGE (KTUU) After a long, white winter, summer colors are starting to show. The air smells different. Alaskans are starting to stay up later, maybe a little too late on these final school nights. The sun and all of its promises are being revealed. And, the first taste of the season is finally here: Copper River salmon.
Another Pebble Mine Legal Challenge
Fishermen's News - May 15, 2019
Proponents and opponents of the proposed Pebble mine are awaiting an Alaska Superior Court decision in the latest litigation challenging the right of a regional seafood development association to use its funds to oppose the mine.
Satellite tags reveal what’s eating older chinook salmon
UAF News by Lauren Frisch - May 13, 2019
Sometimes being a scientist requires a bit of detective work.
Andy Seitz, a researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, needed his detective hat when an alarming number of his fish tags started popping up to the surface of the ocean early.
Vanishing Bering Sea ice threatens one of the richest U.S. seafood sources
Science Magazine by Warren Cornwall - May. 15, 2019
When ice failed to cover much of the eastern Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia in early 2018, oceanographer James Overland chalked it up to a freak chance. Then, it happened again this year, with late-winter sea ice falling to some of the lowest levels seen in at least 4 decades.
Alaska’s biggest ever commercial seaweed harvest is happening right now
Anchorage Daily News by Michelle Theriault Boots - May 16, 2019
The biggest commercial seaweed harvest in Alaska history is unfolding this week in waters off Kodiak, one slick blade of sugar kelp at a time.
Alec Brindle Leaves Legacy of Leadership and Philanthropy
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - May 15, 2019
Alec Brindle, a leader in Alaska’s seafood industry for six decades, died Sunday, May 12, 2019. He was 80 years old.
Brindle was the son of one of the original owners of the Wards Cove Cannery near Ketchikan and with his brother Winn Brindle, oversaw the family’s salmon and later groundfish plants throughout the state. The Brindle family helped shape Alaska’s seafood industry from the early days of pre-statehood to its current position as the largest employer in the state.
Alec Brindle, Sr. was known for his generous nature, wit, business acumen, and connection with the people who lived and worked in the Alaska and Pacific Northwest seafood community.
In a speech on the floor of the Senate, Alaska’s senior senator Lisa Murkowski lauded Brindle on the occasion of his retirement in 2004.
“Although Alec was born in the Seattle area, his life has long been tied to Alaska's fisheries,” Murkowski said.
“Almost his entire extended family has been involved in Alaskan fisheries since well before Alaskan statehood. As a young boy he spent summers in Ketchikan, at first playing around the cannery, and then, at age 13, he began his career as an employee of the family salmon packing operation.”
Brindle’s career and commitment lasted more than 50 years, through much of the natural vagaries of Alaska’s seafood industry.
"He has truly seen it all,” Murkowski said. “At various points in his long career fish prices for red salmon have varied from pennies a pound to a point in the late 1980's when a single fish was worth more than a barrel of North Slope crude oil.
“As Alec himself has pointed out, the fish business is one where at the beginning of the season the processor doesn't know how much fish he will be able to buy, what price he will pay, or at what price he will be able to sell the finished product.”
Colleagues remember him as a true gentleman in a very tough business.
“Many fishermen and processing workers have spent their entire careers enjoying an association with Alec and other members of the Brindle family,” Murkowski said.
Brindle earned his law degree at the University of Washington and spent a year clerking for Alaska Supreme Court Justice John Dimond. It was the early days of Alaska statehood, and Brindle helped to create a judicial system for Alaska.
Brindle started out in the salmon business, but he was also involved in the crab, herring and groundfish sectors. Brindle served as president of Alyeska Seafoods and Chairman of the Board of Wards Cove Packing Company. He was also Director of National BanCorp. of Alaska Inc. since 1982 and National Bank of Alaska, a subsidiary of National BanCorp. of Alaska Inc. since 1977.
In the mid-1990s, the Puget Sound Business Journal noted the company’s “sprawling array of canneries, freezer plants and fishing fleets stretches from Ketchikan across Alaska to a small Russian island north of Japan's Hokkaido Island.
“On Yuzhno Sakhlinsk Island, a regional capital where Alaska Airlines now flies weekly from Seattle, Brindle's company and Tunaycha Fisheries & Tourism Co. Ltd. have formed a joint venture -- Tunaycha/Wards Cove Processing Co. The processing facility markets ikura (caviar) and half-pound cans of pink salmon in Russia. This is the second season for the 50-50 joint venture,” the business paper reported.
“Alec Brindle is also president of Alyeska Seafoods Inc., and his brother, Winn Brindle, is operations manager of this joint venture in Dutch Harbor with two Japanese firms, Marubeni Corp. and Maruha Corp., both of Tokyo. The plant processes salmon, salt cod, herring and various bottom fish, plus surimi, imitation crab made from pollock.
“Among Ward Cove's major processing centers are the Alitak cannery for salmon, herring and black cod at the south end of Kodiak Island and the Ekuk cannery and freezer plant on the Nushugak River in Bristol Bay, a canning operation for salmon in southwest Alaska at the beginning of the Aleutian Islands chain.”
The article also included two other Wards Cove facilities in western Alaska: a red salmon cannery at Kakne, Alaska, and the Egegik facility in Bristol Bay, a camp that provided support for the company's local fishing fleet of approximately 185 vessels. Another fish camp at Craig, on the south end of Prince Wales Island, was noted as serving the company's seine fleet.
In 2002 Wards Cove halted its salmon operations in Alaska after 75 years. Just four years earlier, Brindle noted to a reporter that “The world is awash in salmon.”
"There's a world-wide surplus of salmon. That means prices will be down significantly, so it won't be a good market for us, just for consumers,” he noted. Wards Cove closure was a move that rocked Southeast Alaska’s fishing communities, and a tough announcement for Brindle to make.
"This is a very sad day for the Brindle family, our employees, our fishermen, and our friends throughout Alaska and Washington, and it is a day which I wish would never have had to happen," Brindle said at the time.
Closing the plants has made sense for the past few years, Brindle said, but the company’s long history in both areas made it harder to make the decision.
“It’s one we should have made a few years ago,” he said. “We kept hoping things would get better, but eventually reality overcame hope.”
Brindle led various industry trade associations over years, including Pacific Seafood Processors Association, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the National Fisheries Institute, and the National Food Processors Association. But he will likely be remembered also for his generous philanthropy.
In 2012, a $100,000 donation to the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center (KMC) was made for on behalf of the Alec and Cornelia Brindle Family for the Cancer Resource Room to provide help and support to cancer patients and their families.
Cornelia "Pinky" Brindle, Alec’s wife and mother of Alec Brindle Jr., died from lung cancer in 2008.
In 2012, the Brindle family started a scholarship program in Ketchikan by donating another $100,000 to the Alaska Community Foundation and the Ketchikan Community Foundation. The $5,000 scholarships were given to students at Ketchikan High School who achieve valedictorian status for further education.
The Brindle family were inspired to create the Alec and Cornelia Brindle Family Scholarship by Alec’s father, A.W. “Winn” Brindle, who graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1920. That fall, Winn entered the University of Washington where he planned to major in Mining Engineering. But the death of Winn’s father and lack of tuition funds forced him to stop his education after only one year and return to Ketchikan to take care of his mother and six younger siblings.
“This scholarship is intended to honor my late father’s aspirations and what he could have achieved had he been able to stay in school,” said Brindle then.
In 2017, Brindle wrote "Ward's Cove - The Brindle Family in Alaska: 1912-2016". The book details the history of three generations of the Brindle family and their Alaskan salmon fishing and canning business.
Alec Brindle, Jr., Alec and Pinkie's son, is a admiraty law attorney and current Chairman of the Board and CEO of Wards Cove Company, now owners of retail stores in Alaska and real estate assets in Washington state.
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