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 plays...it'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.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. More of this needs to be out and discussed.
We will share it too.
RR

Pete Wedin said...

Thank you for posting this and please, not ALL charter operators are misguided and want to fight IFQ holders. I am a charter operator, a refugee if you will, of the IFQ system. If we all banded together, longliners, crabbers, and charters, wer may have a chance to fight this dirty fishing and make some inroads in this deplorable bycatch. Keep it up....YOU are a hero! Pete Wedin

Concerned Kodiak Fisherman said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I agree, we must share this video with others to stop the abuse of our fisheries, especially the halibut.

Longliners, let someone at IPHC know whats going on.

http://www.iphc.washington.edu/halcom/default.htm

Anonymous said...

Wholesale slaughter. The Highseas Pollock Industry at its best. This needs to stop!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it is not only halibut, but includes all salmon. In the BSAI trawl fishery, over 450,000 chinook salmon were wasted in a five year period! According to a study by Kate Myers, 31% were of Cook Inlet origin, 56% Western Alaska, and the remaining others from SE Alaska/BC and Kamchatka. Last year and this past summer, the Yukon River chinook stocks were low, is the Cook Inlet next to fail? STOP THE WASTEFUL RAPE OF OUR RESOURCES!

Anonymous said...

We gotta solve this problem. By-catch hurts many many fisheries!

Captain Mac said...

Good on you, Tholepin. It's about time this attrocity was given some daylight.

Anonymous said...

These bastards have been doing this for 30 years and then getting all the other fisheries to fight among themselves, blaming eachother. Where is the press on this? Little articles with no follow-up. The dirty politicians ignored the dirty fishing or they took bribes, turning their heads the other way while letting the all the "dumb" fisherman point fingers and exchange words. I longline and charter fish, I've seen this crap go on for 2 decades. This video needs to be seen by all and not swept under the carpet like all the other proofs. We stopped the high seas gillnetters and trawling in Southeast. Lets get the trawlers out of AK before we kill eachother.

Anonymous said...

What a waste. Add the King salmon totals to the halibut, then figure in market value, sport fishing, commercial sales. The dollars wasted are too big to comprehend. This must be stopped.

Anonymous said...

I know what happened to some of the press. The editor of the Dutch Harbor 'Fisherman' published an article explaining some of this about a month ago. She was excited to 'get the word out.' She was fired by the owners, Calista Corp., that week.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to ride herd on the Whitefish Trawlers assoc (AK Draggers/Al Burch) and the Groundfish (smoke and mirrors) Data Bank and there successful efforts to get these tows classified as anomalies.

The current system rewards the dirtiest trawlers, the guys willing to try and fish clean get financially punished. Those that "represent" us at the NPFMC are the worst of the dirty guys so don't expect any change.

Anonymous said...

this is just wrong you shouldn't have to be a commercial fisherperson to know this. once the resourse is gone it is too late. I'm spreading this I just hope it's not too little too late...

Anonymous said...

This is what we have been saying for years and now some one has had the balls to tape it and it can be seen for what it is.The rape of juvinle halibut. the sport and longline fisherman have been blaming each other for years and here is the truth finely

Anonymous said...

As a Mat-Su valley fishing enthusiast I've seen the byproduct of bycatch, last year was one of the worst years for returns of king salmon. I'm now living in Dutch Harbor and I see the wanton waste of the pollock fisheries, absolutly appalling, and they say global warming is our biggest (imaginary) threat.

rb said...

I am curious. I assume this only applies to federal waters, and international waters have much more effect?

Wiglaf said...

International waters? The US (Federal)jurisdiction extends to 200 miles offshore. The continental shelf is all included in Federal waters. Internatinal waters for the most part are too deep to fish for bottom fish, in the thousands of fathoms deep.

rb said...

I find it difficult and confusing to find any recent data. The reports are confusing to an uninformed person such as myself, as they are tables of data with many acronyms and slang that I don't understand. Added to this the data is segregated into various areas which I can find no definition or map of. Last but not least, these areas seem to be further segregated by region, such as the Gulf, Bristol Bay, British Columbia and the Northwest? Does anyone assimilate all this stuff into a report that the man on the street can comprehend? Is there a similar situation on the east coast?

I am also confused by the recent restrictions imposed on charter operators. It would seem that they take a very small piece of the pie, but contribute a great amount to the State's economy through tourism. I should think they shouold be "leading the charge" here if this truly is a significant issue, and I don't doubt that it is. As we say here in the interior of Alaska "a mosquito killed in the spring is worht 10,000 less in the fall" so goes the small halibut I expect. what do you think our survival rate would be if we were jammed into a net with 500 other people, dumped onto a steel deck, starved for oxygen and then shoved off of the deck, banging our backs and hipbones as we bounced over the threshold? The survival rate can't be all that great! We seem to be more worried about long term concussion repercussions to our football players!

To be able to rally our politicians we need many people from many areas of the nation presenting a simple, clear and concise explanation of the problem. A solution would be helpful but not necessary. While the 2004 video is graphic, it is but one video and it is 6 years old. That provides an out for the regulators to justify themselves to the politicians. We need current data in an easy to understand format that shows how the impact affects more than just the Alaskan fisherman.

Wiglaf said...

Thanks, rb. Good points. Part of the problem has been secrecy. When these photos and this video were made public, there was a local firestorm of outrage that this stuff was allowed to go public. If the public knew what we know, trawling would be seriously constrained. The trawlers have warned their skippers to be sure their crew don't have camera and don't take pictures. A five thousand dollar reward for pictures of video have produced nothing, as far as I know. When large sums of money are involved, physical/financial danger is a real potential to whistle blowers or witnesses, hence the anonymous nature of this blog. But using your critique, we will endeavor to simplify, and to answer your questions and pose solutions. Look for this in the near future. Thank you.

rb said...

I found these guys that seem to paint a fairly decent picture, but again a lot of the data seems old: http://www.akmarine.org/our-work/conserve-fisheries-marine-life/impacts-of-bottom-trawling

Nor do I necessarily condone some of their aggenda such as global warming, etc.

What do you know about their organization?

rb said...

Here are some recent photos: http://www.akmarine.org/pressroom/tanner-crab-bycatch-photos-from-kodiak-island-trawl-fisheries

ANGRY CRABBER # 1 said...

Alaska Marine Conservation Council "AMCC" is an excellent organization ran by concerned small boat fishers, and are clean fishery enthusiasts. They work hard to protect OUR small Fisheries Dependant Communities from outside corporate damages. We need to get them on board with SEACOP, as they are an highly accurate, and politically trusted organization. I highly reccomend them. FISH ON!!

Disenfranchised Longliner said...

Well, thats about half of my shrinking quota for next year; going overboard, dead. If this sort of wanton destruction of our home and workplace doesn't end soon, and I mean very soon; hard working and law abiding fishermen are going to be found manning the fryer at McDonalds.

Anonymous said...

I have fished in every major fishery in alaska. Pollock, Cod, Crab, Salmon, Halibut, Blackcod, and Herring. I have used most major gear types to target these fish and fished in Southeast, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Kodiak, Alaska Peninsula, Bering Sea, Bristol Bay, Togiak ect. If you watch the video closely you will see that these halibut are still alive. Halibut are a very resilient fish. I would guess that at least 90 percent of Halibut caught in a trawl in these conditions can be returned to the water alive. I can't say the same for salmon. Measures have been taken in the Bering Sea to reduce salmon bycatch. Bycatch reductions should be observed as technology in this matter increases. The system we have in Alaska isn't perfect. Fisherman must be involved with the protection of our resource and ecosystem.

Wiglaf said...

While I appreciate your experience, and most of us involved in fisheries a long time had similar experiences, but your rationalizing of trawler halibut waste is simply not valid. It is like the man who says "She said no, but really meant yes." A way of placating your self interest at the expense of another. We have all done some rationalizing of our behavior, but it remains wrong. Halibut left on deck while sorting takes place, as we see in the video destroys the majority of the halibut. The halibut have no swim bladder so they don't suffer the bends like cod, but they die as easily as other fish, the death throes you see is not resilient life, but the involuntary muscle contractions of death. If you were not blinded to the truth, you'd never trawl again.

You are right, fishermen must stand strong for the conservation of our resources and our way of life. Raping the sea is not fishing, no matter how you rationalize it.

Anonymous said...

Western Ak. Community Development Quota Program, U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and the Bering Sea Pollock fisheries are all in on it. Before the kings, chums, cohos, etc. come to the Arctic, Yukon and Kuskokwim area fisheries theres so few left for us to make a living. Some communities are not able to go to their traditional fish camps anymore because they don't have enough money to pay for their gear, food, gas and other necessities to operate a fish camp, instead they have to go to the Ak. Dept. of Fish and Game to go in line for handouts. Some of the fish are a day or two days old. This has been going on for several years now.

Anonymous said...

I suppose that people around the world are forgetting that we are suppose the be the guardians of all the resources of the world, we name them for what we think that they are and how they help us survive each day of our lives. Greed!, I suppose is whats going to hurt our families and ancestors in the long run if we all don't get our heads together and start doing something about it before we altogether starve ourselves and the people that will come next in line.

Anonymous said...

This is what I believe needs to be done regarding Bycatch and Alaska fisheries.

Many things need to be changed but the key issue which needs to change is the commercial fisherman's
ability to sell and profit from killing non-targeted species. That would mean that comm. fish should be
required to DONATE all bycatch to charity. By charity I mean a Food Bank. This would avoid comm. fish
donating it to their favorite "comm. fish non-profit".
This change alone, over time, would eventually end up preventing most bycatch. With this change comm. fish would
eventually be forced to at least begin thinking about avoiding non-targeted species. Its all about money, if you
can bycatch non-profitable they will eventually find a way to prevent the loss.
As long as comm. fish is allowed to profit from its bycatch, the bycatch issue will never go away and therefore
all public fisheries will suffer forever. I am suggesting that anglers organization, do whatever it takes to begin
a process which will eventually prevent all comm. fish from profiting from all of their bycatch.
This would mean that we would have to compel the Alaska Board of Fish and the North Council.to make
this change.

Wiglaf said...

Hey, DONATE BYCAYCH,
The problem is that you don't know what the hell you are talking about. No argument with your opinion, but by what you have said, you demonstrate you don't know bycatch from PSC and that means you haven't bothered to take the time and effort to read about stuff and figure out what is what. Then you shoot off your mouth with some half-ass scheme and show by what you say that you are hopelessly ignorant. Do some WORK and stop shooting off your mouth. I'd love to have some allies, but not dumb asses. Get informed and then think before you say dumb stuff. Okay? Halibut, salmon, and crab, among others is PSC, "PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH." It must be returned to the sea immediately, except that in special cases can be given to food banks, not some dragger's friend. Get a clue. Geez!

Anonymous said...

DSFU brethren.....pretty disturbing shit. Now you must see the bigger battle here. This trawl activity goes on all year long baby. Must be clear why halibut quota is shrinking. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

OMG - this needs to stop. The tuna industry was shaken up a few years ago because of their netting of dolphins and killing them while trying to get more tuna per haul. This is the same kind of situation. They are deliberately killing off an entire species for nothing but money!!

Wiglaf said...

A graphic presntation of the waste of a precious natural resurce like halibut is pretty useful. This tape was censored by the authorities since it was purportedly shot by one of their contractors. I thought for sure they would pull it off my site. Point is MSC (Marine Steardship Council) and others certify flatfish as sustainable while they waste thousands of tons of halibut every year. Your protests will help stop the waste for fish. Get involved. Call, write, email, or blog today to demand better use of our natural resources than senseless trawler waste.

Anonymous said...

10 page report from IPHC staff March 2011.....Halibut bycatch impacts...read em and weep you Oregon trawl squatters. Seems as tho this blog has been reporting factual info, no surprise from many. Next move at the council....let us see if the balls exist to make the changes to trawl bycatch nessasary to effect positive change to our halibut stocks.

Anonymous said...

all that halibut should be coming to the dock, only in america is waste built into the system, thanks to treaties and nmfs. give the trawl fleet the right to bring their bycatch to the dock. 100 % retention for all fisheries, pot long line and trawl. when your quota is caught so is your fishing activity.

Anonymous said...

How about calling out the vessel owners of these operations. Naming the companies involved in this is equally important as physical evidence.

If you want to hit the man you gotta go for the wallet. Consumers are savvy. If you can't stop the trawlers directly, boycotting halibut will get the attention of enough long liners to take the initiative to stop over fishing.

Anonymous said...

I am a 30 year ifq and charter halibut operator.

Most of the life long more established well schooled charter operators are very well versed on the issues.

We (speaking from the charter perspective)have never blamed the long liners...it's an allocation issue we had a problem with.

The issue is the biased representation of the the north pacific management council...the special interests groups...As long as they support the draggers we don't stand a chance...on that core level alone they all need to be replaced with unbiased representation.

Until then we get to figure out how to continue with our industries with the smallest piece of the pie given and hold on to an industry we are passionate about and have sacrificed our lives for.

Wiglaf said...

30 year. The issue which should be your burning issue is the wholesale waste of the halibut resource by draggers. In fact, there is every reason to believe that waste alone is less a problem than the draggers actually putting halibut and other species into a fatal tailspin that could spell the end of halibut completely. No hyperbole here either, since there is so little evidence of their bycatch behaviors available to the managers, the NPFMC, who, in large part don't care about anything but short term profits. If you are an IFQ holder, use your Q to support your charter business. The pie is only so big, or help roll back dragger bycatch for a piece of that pie.