Saturday, October 31, 2009

Filthy Video of Halibut Waste

Between the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, at least 5300 metric tons of halibut get legally wasted by draggers. This is sanctified by law. It is legally okay to waste 5300 metric tons of halibut so draggers can try to make a payday. Is this sensible? 5300 metric tons is too big to imagine...roughly 11.7 million pounds of halibut, baby...even at $4.00 a pound exvessel...$46,640,000 dollars. Forty-six million dollars get wasted so draggers can pursue their dirty fishing. Hmmm... Forty-six million is a lot of change, enough to sway votes, buy patronage, elect a senator, or congressman and then some! This is only what is observable...and we know (by their own admission and that of the NPFMC) that observations of bycatch are notoriously poor...the draggers cheat and observers only see a fraction of the real damage to our ocean resources. So let's follow a line of reasoning here in regard to trawler by-catch. If in the Gulf of Alaska only 30% of trawling is observed, and if (and we know this to be true) trawlers only take their observers to the cleanest spots for observation on minimal trips, then it follows that tows like this dirty one for flatfish, which looks like it has far more halibut than flatfish, occur with greater frequency (70% of the time?) and the actual waste of halibut in the Gulf is perhaps two, three, four times higher than NMFS projects. Is this the reason we are seeing a decline in the Gulf stocks of halibut? Halibut fishermen are reporting a marked decline in halibut catchability, if not in abundance. How could they not be declining if this kind of waste is not taken into account? Everywhere else in the world, trawling has resulted in the marked decline in fisheries. Will we continue to let this happen here? For the short term gains of a few?

This is a big video, over five minutes, so please be patient. My connection is too slow to see this video without lots of stop action while it plays off the 'net and apparently it doesn't load onto my machine, like a YouTube would. So get a cup of coffee, or something stronger, while this's worth it. This is the meaning of fishery porn. The best of the worst. By they way, recognize the deck layout? Hmmm. Does NMFS enforcement recognize it? Was this by-catch properly logged? What is the statute of limitations on false reporting?
As an aside, misguided charter operators want to fight with IFQ permit holders over a pittance of the harvestable halibut quota but stubbornly continue to ignore the 5675 metric tons legally wasted by the drag fleet. All commercial fishermen are not the same. Some are good and some are bad. Some fish clean and some fish dirty. Not all of us want to destroy the fish and ocean environment we depend upon. Spread the word. The 5675 metric tons of halibut for drag waste should not be sacred, not now, not ever. If you can, download this video (I have been unable to capture it off the blog) and share so it doesn't disappear when the pressure on this blogoshere comes from our friends and neighbors who would rather destroy our world than change their way of doing business. Let's be real...Liberty is a cash and carry corporate commodity afterall. Truth is not.
Send to your politico. Share, share, share.
Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Tragedy of Privatization

Two excellent articles on economics affecting privatization of resources below are worthy of a careful read and further research by all of us who mouth support for freedom, fisheries, and future.

From Wikipedia:
"The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Ostrom's 'research brough this topic from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention,' "by showing how common resources-forests, FISHERIES, oil fields, or grazing lands, can be managed successfully by the people who use them, rather than by governments or private companies." Ostrom's work in this regard, challenged conventional wisdom, showing that common resources can be successfully managed without privatization or government regulation."

"Conservatives used the tragedy of the commons to argue for property rights, and efficiency was achieved as people were thrown off the commons," said Joseph E. Stiglitz of Columbia University, a Nobel laureate in economics himself. "But the effects of throwing a lot of people out of their livelihood were enormous. What Ostrom has demonstrated is the existence of social control mechanisms that regulate the use of commons without having to resort to property rights."

Right now the NPFMC is moving full steam ahead to privatize the remaining fisheries in the North Pacific Ocean, under pressure of the draggers, some larger fixed gear entities, and the processors. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we could get Lubchenko and the new NMFS chief to stop the steam roller for a moment and see that by throwing our fisheries to the big corporate interests is not in the best interest of the people of the State of Alaska, or the health of the Ocean herself, they might rethink the management options. Little hope remains that the NPFMC will do anything unless their feet are put in fire. Anyone have a match?

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So now the argument is arising (Bob Krueger on KMXT) that the pictures posted on this site and other places are not identified because they are not really of tanners scooped up by a Kodiak trawler, but of an ADF&G survey vessel's deck shot. Not! The reason is to protect the informants, the photographers, from reparations, i.e., REVENGE. Besides it would be best if the draggers policed their own and exposed these ugly guys for the rogues that they are...enemies of the people and all that. Too much to expect?

I asked somebody why the landlord of the vessel(s) in question don't get rid of the dirty skipper, and the answer came back...'They make him too much money.' So if there is a GOOD, that's it. This rogue makes his handler too much money. The BAD is this vessel is operated without any conscience at all for the health of the ocean in general, health of the resource in particular, and the future of everyone of us who depends on the bounty of Kodiak's ocean resources to provide us with the life that we all love. The UGLY is the barrage of lies and deceptions which have become second nature to some people in order to protect their incomes while eroding our precious resources. UGLY is the fact that they do not appear to recognize their own lies. UGLY is the totes of halibut ping pong paddles I saw at the cannery; at the codends of spilled yelloweyes; the waste of the incredible numbers of king salmon. UGLY too is the foot dragging of our managers and protection people who, I have learned, know perfectly well what is going on and turn away from it. 'No hard evidence.' 'Unsubstantiated rumor.' Et cetera.

Could the stories we hear be only about one or two of these draggers? Selling cod bycatch to jig boats? Sixteen hours to clean up a haul of tanners in the Sand Box? Dumping a codend of small halibut in Marmot this summer? Dumping a codend and deck load of flats in front of APS this month? Where the hell is enforcement? Where the hell are the 'good guy' draggers who could pressure for this guy to STOP? Hmmm...they must be dirty too...the only possible conclusion.

I am not convinced draggers can fish clean. But I do know that I won't ever be convinced unless they stop swimming in the same UGLY school as the dirty ones.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Observer Shell Game

Note the trawler chaffing gear entangling this Tanner crab. This was a common catch clue in 2009.

Tanner crab dumped overboard from our favorite dirty dragger. Unobserved drags such as this are potentially occuring on the 70% of unobserved drags taking place in the central Gulf. Why else go through the efforts to hide catches by using the 'shell game' currently utilized by Kodiak draggers?

Wholesale waste of Kodiak Tanner crab from a local dragger, more than your whole Tanner season!

From the Federal Register /Volume 74/Number 188...

"While many vessels operate with an observer as they would without an observer, NMFS suspects that others intentionally alter their fishing pattern to meet minimum observer coverage requirements. Often, these fishing events are not representative of normal fishing duration, location, and depth, and catch composition may vary significantly from that associated with the vessel’s normal, legitimate fishing pattern. These non-representative events bias the observer information NMFS relies on for effective management of the groundfish fisheries.

"NMFS’ Office of Law Enforcement has also documented instances in which vessel operators intentionally structure fishing activities to fish unobserved until late in the day, pick up an observer and make a short tow prior to midnight, make one more tow immediately after midnight, and then return the observer to port. Additional fishing activities then occur during the remainder of the second day, during which the observer is not onboard. Under the current regulations, this scenario counts for two ‘‘observer’’ days and may result in biased observer data."

Ya think? This is a well used common dragger ruse. Biased data indeed!

"To reduce the potential for biasing observer data, the proposed rule would revise the definition of ‘‘fishing day’’ at § 679.2 to be a 24-hour period, from 1201 hours A.l.t. through 1200 hours A.l.t., in which fishing gear is retrieved and groundfish are retained. It will require that an observer be on board for all gear retrievals during the 24-hour period in order to count as a day of observer coverage. Days during which a vessel only delivers unsorted codends to a processor will not be considered fishing days, as is currently the case. This revision would reduce the cost effectiveness of making a fishing trip solely to manipulate observer coverage requirements. Revising the definition of the 24-hour period from the current midnight-to-midnight definition (from 0001 hours through 2400 hours Alaska local time) to a noon to noon definition (1201 hours through 1200 hours Alaska local time) is intended to discourage vessels from making sets or tows solely for the purpose of obtaining observer coverage around the transitional hours from one fishing day to the next."

Too little, too late.

I guess, NMFS is sobering up, or at least throwing crumbs to us who have complained for years about the corrupt way trawlers in the Gulf have switched out their observers to escape being caught with their proverbial 'knickers down.' The gripe is, that in paragraph two, NMFS enforcement admits to knowing about cheating, yet they do nothing. The best that can happen is that the clean guys, if there are such, need to stop stonewalling with the dirty guys and speak up for the truth about the bycatch and wanton waste of our ocean resources. Or better yet just negotiate out of trawling into a cleaner gear type. Gear conversion, baby. The North Pacific Ocean is the last bastion of dirty fishing. It has to go. Come clean.