Archive for » December 12th, 2017«

Alaska Airlines’ new planes a boon to state’s fresh seafood sales

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A little over six months ago on May 19, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 took off from Cordova, Alaska, landing in Seattle, Washington. On board were 22,000 pounds of fresh sockeye salmon, the first fruits of the Copper River run. That event kicks off Alaska’s salmon season and generates a lot of publicity.

Next year could see a lot more fresh seafood flown from the state. The state’s seafood sector is poised to benefit in 2018 and beyond from Alaska Airlines’ investment in Boeing 737-700 cargo freighters.

The recent phaseout of the carrier’s fleet of “combis” — Boeing 737-400s, which carried large quantities of cargo in the middle and 72 passengers in the back — marks the end of an era. For decades that plane was the carrier’s cargo workhorse, providing 19 Alaska communities with much needed shipments, and, for many, a way to get their fresh seafood to market.

Rick Bendix, the airline’s manager of marketing and business development for cargo, told Undercurrent News that the supply runs to Alaska include “produce, milk, eggs, building materials, anything that’s rushed, a part for a boat that’s broken”. 

The fishermen and processors who make up the carrier’s seafood sector customers mostly ship salmon, but halibut, sablefish, crab, even geoduck are also sent to the “lower 48″.

“It’s the Trident’s, Ocean Beauty’s, the big guys, Yukatat Seafoods but it’s also fishermen who have their own small business too and they may be supplying a restaurant in Portland,” Bendix said.

The new freighters can carry around 40,000 pounds of cargo per flight.

“Seafood’s super dense. So we can pack it super full and there’s probably some space left before we hit the weight limit of the plane,” Bendix said. 

The new planes will be a boost in airlift of about 20%, he added.

“We’ll be serving Bristol Bay in Alaska much more and with a freighter for the first time so that will be good. We’re still talking about what that’s going to look like exactly but that’s something we weren’t able to do because we had one freighter and five combis before that were often controlled by the passenger schedule,” he said.

That flexibility could benefit the seafood sector, particularly the key Bristol Bay salmon fishery.

“With these new ones we can basically say, ok this time of year we want to operate into Dillingham and King Salmon, this time of year we need extra flights in Cordova,” he said. “I think folks up here should be very excited, not just in seafood but the amount of flexibility we have and the more space that we have is going to be good for the state.”

Tom Sunderland, vice-president of marketing for Seattle, Washington-based Ocean Beauty, told Undercurrent that the new freighters should bring benefits.

“Improved lift out of Alaska will allow us to get fresh product to market faster; it’s a good thing because it’s been a bottleneck,” he said, adding that the Copper River fishery, which is mostly sold fresh, will especially benefit “because there’s tremendous value in high-value species.”

Delayed transition

The fleet transition hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Alaska Airlines. Speaking to a roomful of seafood industry workers at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s recent “all hands” meeting in Anchorage, airline representatives apologized to their customers for recent disruptions to service seen as the combis were phased out but the freighters weren’t quite ready to take their place. 

Bendix told Undercurrent that the Federal Aviation Administration took more time than anticipated to ensure that the 737-700s — which, for the the first time, had been converted from passenger jets — were certified to fly.

Because the phase-out of the combis had already been scheduled, the end result was a temporary shortfall in airlift.

“It ended up happening at the same time,” he said. “It was not ideal.”

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Eric’s Outboard opens new location at Black Point Marina

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Eric’s Outboard Marine Service has opened a mobile service center and Contender Boats showroom at Black Point Marina, whose waterside location makes sea trials and service easier than ever for customers.

Founded by Eric Raistrick in 1986, Eric’s Outboard is among the top Yamaha dealerships and service centers in the country. Its headquarters in South Dade is also home to Eric’s Contender Boat Sales, dealer of high-end custom-made fishing vessels manufactured in South Florida.

The expansion at Black Point, Raistrick said, marks a significant step forward in customer care, convenience and great service for his company.

“To have a place out on the water is a huge thing to be able to offer,” he said. “We’ve always catered to clients whose boats are hard to get to the shop—we’ve provided trailers, trucks and a location to take the boats. We can still do that, but now we can offer this new option to the residents of Gables Estates, Gables by the Sea, Cocoplum and many other neighborhoods at this accessible waterfront facility.”

Eric’s secured a long-term lease at Black Point’s barn, with boat racks and a lift system that has been upgraded to accommodate the larger boats the company is known for servicing and selling.

Customers who need service need only make an appointment, bring their boat to the dock and let Eric’s do the rest. And for the duration of their service clients pay no daily storage fee, says Eric’s Outboard Chief of Operations Kelly Fullerton.

“The marina’s waiting for them,” Fullerton said. “They can just drop off their keys and say, ‘I’m with Eric’s.’”

Prospective boat buyers can also arrange to take Contender boats out on the water for sea trials, whether for purchasing a used boat or to develop ideas to custom build a new boat to their own specifications.

Contender Boats is a Homestead-based builder of custom tournament fishing boats. Customers have a say in nearly every aspect of construction; with Contender, you truly can build your dream boat.

“Customers love it,” Raistrick said. “Who wouldn’t like being able to pick the color, size, T-top, type of seats and leaning posts? The reactions I’ve gotten are great.”

A Yamaha Five Star Dealer and Authorized Service Center, Eric’s Outboard has the largest on-hand inventory of Yamaha parts and accessories in South Florida.

Eric’s offers a full range of services, from minor tune-ups to major overhauls, all of which can be done on premises or on location by mobile technicians. All technicians—including two Yamaha certified master technicians, of which there are only a handful in the country—receive ongoing training at Yamaha Marine University.

“We’ll go to your house, to your dock or to marinas all over Miami-Dade [County], the Keys and Fort Lauderdale,” Fullerton said. “Our customers are No. 1, and that’s how we built our business: by treating them like family.”

For information or to book an appointment, visit or call 305-251-4067.

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North Korean bodies and boats reach Japan’s coasts, but more survivors, too

It was yet another grim discovery: The bodies of three unidentified men suspected to be from North Korea were found Tuesday, washed ashore on a beach in Fukaura, Aomori Prefecture, just over a week after a small wooden boat was found in the area.

The latest find has further deepened a mystery that has captured the attention of the Japanese public in recent weeks — an apparent surge in the number of wooden boats from North Korea that have been found on and just off the Sea of Japan coast.

Over the past two months, local authorities have already uncovered debris from five similar boats in the same town, with all believed to have come from Japan’s isolated neighbor.

Last month alone, the Japan Coast Guard found 28 wooden boats believed to be from the North across a wide swath of the country’s Sea of Japan coast and in the waters nearby.

In December so far, 20 similar cases have already been reported as of Tuesday, according to the coast guard.

While that number may appear alarming, the coast guard has routinely found a number of similar North Korean fishing boats — including those holding bodies — stretching back several years. And this year’s number, according to the coast guard, may still fall within the range of past years.

According to coast guard data, it has spotted 79 wooden boats believed to be from North Korea on and off the Sea of Japan coast so far this year. Last year, 66 such boats were spotted, while 45 were found in 2015, 65 in 2014 and 80 in 2013.

What made this year different, and is seen as a possible reason for the increased media attention, has been the surge in the number of surviving crew members from wrecked or damaged North Korean fishing boats.

This year, authorities have found 42 survivors, while a total of just five survivors were found from 2013 to 2016.

Hideshi Takesada, a professor at the Takushoku University graduate school in Tokyo and an expert on North Korean affairs, has speculated that the greater number of survivors may be because more fishermen have been forced further from their shores after Pyongyang reportedly sold much of its fishing rights in nearer seas to China.

“As a result, they have to come to Japan’s exclusive economic zone to catch fish. They’re not to used to making a such a long trip on such a small boat,” he said.

Takesada said this meant that they were loading up with more supplies, including food and water, than in previous years. Because of this, he said, “there’s a higher chance that they survive.”

Pyongyang, desperate for foreign currency, is believed to have sold a chunk of its fishing rights to China. An August 2016 report by the Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean government source as saying that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earns $75 million annually from the sales of Sea of Japan fishing rights to China.

“It has been confirmed that North Korea has sold its fishing rights in the East Sea to China, in addition to the Yellow Sea, to earn foreign currency,” the source was quoted as saying. South Korea refers to the Sea of Japan as the East Sea.

The coast guard says hundreds of North Korean fishing boats have been detected in the Yamato Bank area in the middle of the Sea of Japan this year.

Most are believed to have been engaging in illegal poaching in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

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Brunswick announces partnership with DockMaster, MyTaskit

Brunswick Corp.’s dealer services team, Brunswick Dealer Advantage, has partnered with DockMaster to offer exclusive discounts on DockMaster and MyTaskit products to their marine dealers in the United States and Canada.

Launched in 2007, Brunswick Dealer Advantage is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and DockMaster and MyTaskit are two of several new programs being launched in honor of this milestone.

“Brunswick Dealer Advantage is committed to offering Brunswick dealers with more options to strengthen their businesses and increase their profits,” said Kirsten Schuchardt, program manager for Brunswick Dealer Advantage. “By partnering with DockMaster and MyTaskit, our dealers now have access to two more industry-leading comprehensive and integrative dealer management systems, and for much less.”

DockMaster pioneered the Marine Management Software industry, deploying the first marine management solution in 1983.

Today, DockMaster continues to meet the demanding needs of marine dealerships and marinas with scalable full-business management solutions.

DockMaster software offerings include accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger, haul and launch management, parts inventory, prospect management, service and work orders, boat sales with FI, order entry, point-of-sale, reservations, slip and rack management, and so much more.

In addition, DockMaster partners with over 16 best-in-class web-based and mobile apps to provide CRM, dealer website integrations and EMV credit card processing, among others.

“We are excited to partner with Brunswick Dealer Advantage to provide their extensive dealer network with exclusive pricing on our DockMaster and MyTaskit products,” said Cam Collins, president of DockMaster. “As a technology solutions company that is 100 percent dedicated to the marina and marine industry, the BDA program provides us with a unique opportunity to help more dealers grow and improve their businesses.”

As an official reseller of MyTaskit, DockMaster will also be providing Brunswick dealers with exclusive discounts on the MyTaskit software product.

MyTaskit provides a comprehensive software platform for work coordination within companies and between multiple businesses and their customers. The software allows service professionals to assign tasks from work orders to each other or subcontractors, prioritize works tasks for technicians, allow entry of labor hours and notes for work tasks using mobile phones, look up boat history using a mobile phone, seamlessly share labor hours, notes, tasks status and more between DockMaster and MyTaskit.

“We are very proud to be affiliated with Brunswick Dealer Advantage and the Brunswick marine brands,” said Kevin Hutchinson, founder and CEO of MyTaskit. “MyTaskit provides marine dealers and marinas with a platform to run their businesses more efficiently and move away from chaotic paper based processes and overuse of email and texting which are fast becoming cumbersome and outdated. We are excited to offer our robust software solution to all Brunswick marine dealers in the US and Canada.”

Brunswick Dealer Advantage consists of dealer services that are designed to help dealers reduce costs and drive revenue, as well as enhance the retail customer experience and reward employees.

Dealers can visit Booth 826 and 828 at this year’s Marine Dealer Conference and Expo (MDCE) in Orlando to learn more about more about DockMaster or MyTaskit or Booth 832 to learn more about BDA.

Dealers can also contact DockMaster and MyTaskit directly at (561) 969-2882 (Option 2) or Brunswick Dealer Advantage at (877) 462-3884.

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