Pacific (Rodney Johnson)
Pacific's Take of Hake (Rodney Johnson)

SB: What kind of fish? Where? Where fish sold?

RJ: Pacific Whiting or more commonly called Hake. This fish was not used  much until the fishery developed large mid-water nets and the boats  installed refrigeration systems so we could chill them rapidly. This  fish spoils very fast but now the boats chill sea water and we can  chill them and bring them into port cold. They are processed within 24 hours of being caught. A boat like  our holds 130,000 lbs and we try to deliver every day. Some boats hold  up to 450,000 lbs.

There is a small season in Calf. now and the main season starts on  June 15th. The quota is about 700 million lbs. The season is an  Olympic system – meaning, first come first served, so it is very  competitive. The goal is to get your fish, get in and unload and get  back out. If anything goes wrong on your trip and you miss a day  the boat loses a days earnings. The nets are very complex and if not used correctly will not work. I am somewhat of an expert  in this area.

This is a very inexpensive fish used to makes fake crab meat and  fish sticks. A lot of it goes to Eastern Europe and the Middle  East as a headed whole fish. Cheap protein for poor countries. Last year the price was & cents a pound but they hope to get 12 cents or more this year.

The problem with this type of fishery is that on these larger boats  handling large nets and huge amounts of fish any mistake can be  serious. Not only can you lose fishing time but people can get  hurt.

ROD  [ hope I didn’t wear you out ]

SB: Is there ever a concern of wiping out the stocks of targeted fish like cod in the Atlantic?  Curious if there is any long-term view re such management? Is 700 mil lbs. a drop in the renewable bucket or does anyone really know??? Just think of depleted salmon and steelhead runs.

RJ: These fish reproduce rapidly and have a short life span compared to other fish. Large areas of the west coast are off-limits and fishing is really regulated. There are a few long living fish that have been over fished and its like the  spotted owl situation in logging. We would be allowed more hake but we are  limited by the amount of these other fish we catch.

Its called by-catch and if we catch  to many of these other fish they shut us down. They even have camera’s on the boats  to keep us honest.  Knowledge of the ocean bottom to stay away from areas where this by-catch  lives is important.

A lot of fishing problems are caused by boat captains  that don’t know or don’t care enough to worry about the future of the  future of fishing. One or two poor captains can make everyone look bad.


Rod has been involved in the commercial fishing industry for 40+ years and is a gentleman’s gentleman.

Take of Hake (Rodney Johnson on the Pacific)