Novak Djokovic double-faulted, then shook his right arm and grimaced.Seconds later Monday night, a weak serve produced a wince from the U.S. Open’s defending champion, then was followed by a missed forehand that gave away a set – the first set dropped by Djokovic in the first round of any Grand Slam tournament since 2010. (Serena Williams set to open quest for more history)While he managed to emerge with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, there were plenty of signs of trouble, starting with a visit from a trainer who massaged Djokovic’s bothersome arm after only five games.INJURY SCAREAsked about his health during an on-court interview, Djokovic deflected the question, saying, “I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about this now. I’m through. I’m taking it day by day.”When the subject arose at his news conference, Djokovic again avoided addressing the topic, saying the trainer’s visit “was just prevention; it’s all good.”During the match, Djokovic hit first serves around 100 mph, sometimes slower – 25 mph or so below what’s normal for him. He hit second serves in the low 80s mph. He flexed that right arm, the one he has used to wield a racket on the way to 12 Grand Slam titles, and appeared generally unhappy, covering his head with a white towel at changeovers.NERVOUS BECKER Djokovic’s coach, Boris Becker, gnawed on his fingernails, looking nervous as can be.All in all, Djokovic’s issues figure to loom large as the tournament progresses, and therefore were the most noteworthy development on a Day 1 at Flushing Meadows that did include drama elsewhere.advertisementThere was 20th-seeded John Isner’s comeback from two sets down to edge 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe before a rowdy, standing-room-only crowd at the new Grandstand. And 26th-seeded Jack Sock’s five-set victory over 18-year-old Taylor Fritz in another all-American matchup.More, too: A first-round loss by Rio Olympics gold medalist Monica Puig, and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza’s complaints about having trouble breathing after dropping the first set of a match she would go on to win in three.This was the No. 1-ranked Djokovic’s first match at a major since losing to Sam Querrey in the third round of Wimbledon, which ended the Serb’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam after titles at the Australian Open and French Open. He exited the Rio Olympics in the first round this month, then sat out the Cincinnati Masters because of a sore left wrist.”After all I’ve been through in last couple of weeks, it’s pleasing, of course, to finish the match and win it,” said Djokovic, who lost to his next opponent, Jiri Vesely, at Monte Carlo in April. “Look, each day presents us some kind of challenges that we need to overcome, accept and overcome.”The wrist appeared to be just fine against Janowicz, a former top-20 player who reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2013 and is now ranked 247th after his own series of injuries.NADAL NOT AT HIS BEST Earlier in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Rafael Nadal stood near the net after winning his first Grand Slam match in three months – 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 against Denis Istomin – and unraveled the thick wrap of white tape protecting his all-important left wrist. He said he’s still not back to hitting his forehand the way he does when he’s at his best.Nadal’s afternoon match was played with the new $150 million retractable roof open under a blue sky, while offering some extra shade on a day when the temperature reached 90 degrees.The good news for Nadal, he said afterward, is that the pain is gone from his wrist, which whips those violent, topspin-heavy forehands that are the key to his success – 14 of his 21 winners came off that wing.BAD NEWS FOR NADALHe still is working on feeling comfortable hitting down-the-line forehands, in particular, after sitting out – not just zero real matches, but barely any practice, either – from his withdrawal at the French Open in late May to the Olympics.”Not easy to go 2 months out of competition, in the middle of the season, without hitting a forehand,” Nadal said. “I need to have the confidence again with my wrist.”Both Nadal and his coach, Uncle Toni, described the way Rafael changed the way he hits a forehand during the Rio Games to try to avoid pain.Both said things are improving.But as Toni noted: “We need a little time.”Istomin, ranked 107th, was not likely to give Nadal much of a test. So what did he think of Nadal’s play Monday?advertisement”For the first set, I was feeling that he was not hitting hard,” Istomin said. “A lot of short balls.”Nadal’s summation of his day: “Not very good; not very bad.”
(Photo Courtesy of Erik Velsko)A fisherman based out of Homer posted images on social media of halibut bycatch headed for the grinder at Kodiak’s Trident Seafoods processing plant.Listen nowThe post got a lot of attention online and sparked criticism of Trident, the Gulf of Alaska trawl fleet and a body that regulates the commercial fishing industry.A conveyor belt whisks bright red fish with bulging, quarter-sized eyes and spiny fins past workers inside Kodiak’s Trident Seafoods processing plant.“Today we’re processing rockfish caught in the waters around Kodiak, ” Paul Lumsden, plant manager for Trident Seafoods operations in Kodiak, said.Trident is the largest primary processor of seafood in the United States and is heavily invested in Alaska.“We’re a company built by fishermen for fishermen and we don’t just buy pollock or cod or crab or salmon or halibut, we buy everything that we can sustainably harvest and feed the world with. Halibut is a very important part of our business,” Lumsden said.Longtime fisherman Erik Velsko says if Trident really cares about halibut and sustainability some things need to change.Velsko recently called out Trident on Facebook posting photos and video of excessive halibut bycatch at the plant that appeared to be from the local trawl fishery and which was going to be turned into fishmeal.An overview of rock fish being sorted by workers at the Trident Seafoods plant assembly line in Kodiak, Alaska on Saturday May 27, 2018. (Photo by Daysha Eaton / KMXT)“Totes full of halibut and you know obviously they had some markings and looked a little damaged. They were not gutted or dressed, as we call ‘em, longline – so the only place they could have come off of was a trawl vessel,” Velsko said.In all, Velsko alleges there were around 15 totes, each containing about one thousand pounds of fish. The images were taken in fall 2017, when a fellow fisherman captured them but wanted to remain anonymous, so Velsko posted the images to his Facebook page this May with a paragraph alleging wastefulness.“I just threw it up there not really thinking anything of it and the next thing I knew it was all kinds of people commenting and re-sharing it,” Velsko said.At last check, Velsko’s post had been shared more than 500 times.The Trident plant in Kodiak processes many varieties of fish from all gear types. The majority of the fish processed at the plant is pollock. But they also process a significant amount of fish caught with bottom trawl gear such as pacific cod, flatfish (like rock sole, arrowtooth flounder, rex sole, and flathead sole) and rockfish. Bottom trawling involves pulling a net along the ocean floor. Sometimes they haul up halibut too.“Every fishery has some element of bycatch and it is impossible to just catch exactly what you’re after,” Julie Bonney said. Bonney is the Executive Director of Alaska Groundfish Data Bank and a paid advocate for the trawl fishery.Rock Fish on the Trident Seafoods plant assembly line in Kodiak, Alaska on Saturday May 27, 2018. (Photo by Daysha Eaton / KMXT)Bonney says the trawl fishery operates under strict regulations. They’re not allowed to keep a single halibut. She says most are discarded at sea, but ones that aren’t sorted out end up at the processing plant.“The plant is required to enumerate every one of those fish and it goes on a fish ticket. NOAA enforcement examines every fish ticket and if they feel that the vessel was egregious in terms of their sorting practices, then that vessel will get a monetary fine,” Bonney said.Bonney said there is an overall bycatch cap of 1,705 tons for the Gulf trawl fishery. It is hard to tell, she added, whether the halibut that appears in Velsko’s Facebook post was collected into those blue totes over one delivery or many deliveries of hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish headed for market.The Trident plant manager also saw Velsko’s post.“I did see the photos, yes,” Lumsden said. “And that was alarming to me. It was disheartening to say the least.”But Lumsden says the images were taken out of context.“The frustrating thing is when you see a 30-second video like that and you don’t know the background,” Lumsden said. “When that video shows a full tote, a thousand pounds of fish being dumped into a truck [it] gives a false representation like there is just tote after tote after tote after tote and that is simply not the case.”Velsko, the fisherman who posted the video, says he believes what is happening with halibut at the Trident plant in Kodiak is legal, but immoral and wasteful, and it was especially upsetting to him in light of recent restrictions on the halibut fishery due to conservation concerns.And Velsko says there’s a reason that he waited six months to post the photos and video. He wanted the issue to be front and center at the upcoming meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council which is scheduled to take place in Kodiak June 4 – 11. A report about observer coverage is on the agenda.