Despite the name, don't confuse the Pinbone Wizard with the classic The Who song about a pinball phenom.

Although, once you see the machine in action, quickly and efficiently pulling tiny pin bones out of a salmon filet without wrecking the meat, it's hard not to walk away with the descending chord progression of the classic rock 'n roll song stuck in your head.

 

In Congress today, a bill that would allow foreign students to work in Alaska fish processing plants cleared a major committee. The provision is part of a spending bill now headed to the Senate floor. Both Alaska senators say they pressed for the return of the J-1 visa program to help meet demand for seasonal seafood processors. But the program is controversial.

 

J-1 visas are intended to promote cultural exchange. As the State Department explains it in promotional materials, it’s all about “hands-on experience to learn about U.S. society and culture.”

Halibut prices are up significantly over last year, but buyers aren’t backing off due to depleted inventory levels and also thanks to the fact that there simply isn’t much supply.

“It’s taken off again,” Trish Haaker, senior vice president of Orca Bay Seafoods, told Undercurrent News. “It’s so expensive. I think the majority of it is going fresh.”

Multiple sources told Undercurrent buyers went into this season, which kicked off March 8, with very low inventories.

Frustration is growing in the Kuskokwim region of western Alaska, as subsistence fishermen challenged managers for more openings on the river that has seen harsh restrictions this season in an effort to conserve king salmon.

Managers heard their concerns at the Kuskokwim River Salmon Working Group meeting in Bethel Tuesday, but reiterated that their efforts were for conservation, as the king salmon run in the region appears on track to be abysmal going into the 2014 season.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a new bone removal machine receiving patents.

Larry Kozycki invented the Pinbone Wizard in the 1990’s.  But when Kozycki died in 2001, the manager of the Geophysical Machine Shop at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Greg Shipman took over the development.  Shipman says when he is current developer but Kozycki was the brains behind the original prototype.

Salmon prices at wholesale show marked seasonal variations for both wild and farmed fish. It’s a pattern that has been tracked for decades by Urner Barry, the nation’s oldest commodity market watcher in business since 1895. The prices tend to decline through June, July, August and September and they begin rising again from November through the following April or May.

Two things drive the well-established pattern, said market expert John Sackton, who publishes Seafood.com, an Urner-Barry partner. 

US - Salmon prices at wholesale show marked seasonal variations for both wild and farmed fish. It’s a pattern that has been tracked for decades by Urner Barry, the nation’s oldest commodity market watcher in business since 1895. The prices tend to decline through June, July, August and September and they begin rising again from November through the following April or May. 

 

Pacific Northwest trawl fishermen who net rockfish, Dover sole, black cod and other groundfish species got a boost on Tuesday as their harvest gained Marine Stewardship Council certification.

The council provides certification for an eco-label that, in an era of increasing concern about world fishery stocks, can help fishermen market their catch as coming from a sustainable and well-managed harvest.

A 191-foot (58-meter) fishing boat suspected of using an illegal high seas drift net to catch a half-ton of salmon in the North Pacific was detained by the U.S. Coast Guard last week and turned over Tuesday to Chinese authorities.

The Yin Yuan was spotted by a Canadian aircraft hosting Japanese observers. It was seized by the Honolulu-based U.S. cutter Morgenthau, which was carrying two Chinese law enforcement officials.

"All these countries are affected by illegal activities," said a Coast Guard spokesman, Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst.

Prices pretty much fall during the June, July, August and September period and they begin rising again pretty much from November through April or May. 2