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?
"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.