Monday, November 30, 2009

Risky Behavior: Crab Podding in Trawl Traffic

Photo: Braxton Dew, NMFS (Ret.)

"I thought you might like these slides, which show the obvious connection between red king crab behavior and their vulnerability to draggers. Trawl encounters with red king crab pods might be rare (compared to yellowfin sole, which are more evenly distributed across the bottom), but each encounter would be a relative disaster. Because these high-impact encounters are rare, they can easily slip through holes in observer coverage. Therefore, observer coverage should be 100% to provide meaningful bycatch numbers for highly gregarious, patchily distributed species such as red king crab, bairdi, and opilio."

Photo: Doug Smith, former NMFS observer

"Red king crab bycatch from a single yellowfin sole haul delivered by the domestic trawler Vega to the Soviet processor Chasovoy in late August 1981. This catch and several more like it were taken from a water depth of 55-75 meters off Black Hill, Bristol Bay.

"Of the several thousand dead crab shown here, 80-90% were mature females with egg clutches. Damage to the Bristol Bay brood stock, beginning with the advent of commerical trawling in 1980, quickly eroded the reproductive capacity of the population.

"As was typical of these unexpectedly large catches, none of the red king crab shown here was counted or measured by observers before being dumped. The fact that such catches are omitted from extrapolations to total fleet bycatch mean that observer estimated bycatch numbers are woeful underestimates for the period surrounding the collapse of the Bristol Bay red king crab population.

"After this photo was snapped, such impolitic catches began being dumped at sea, away from the eyes of observers, who were confined to the processors. This photo, along with the knowledge that JV trawling killed off much of the Bristol Bay brood stock, is nearly 30 years old. Anyone who sincerely believes that trawling and crab populations can coexist has a poor grasp of reality. "

Friday, November 20, 2009

Trawler Greed Destroys Halibut Stocks, Robs Other Gear Types Permanently

"In 2004, there was a substantial halibut PSC (prohibited species catch) overage for trawl gear. Despite an aggregate annual PSC limit for shallow and deep water fisheries of 2000 mt of halibut, 2824 mt (6,212,800 pounds) of halibut PSC was taken (read wasted) with trawl gear. Most (1947 mt) of this amount was taken in the shallow water target fisheries." (see Filthy Video of Halibut Waste below)

Read the NMFS report at:

Based upon this information, the trawl fleet in the central Gulf of Alaska, based primarily in Kodiak, destroyed and wasted $18,638,400 dollars worth of halibut (at $3 a pound) in order to harvest $9,021,540 worth of cod (at $.30 a pound). This halibut could have been harvested by longliners and other user groups and utilized...not wantonly wasted. The 5,500 mt of cod ($3,630,000) which the trawlers took in spite of having exceeded their halibut PSC by 824 mt ($5,438,400), would have been part of the cod quota available for harvest by longliners, pot boats, and jig boats. Therefore it was effectively stolen from the other segments of the fleet. Shallow water fisheries are for flounders, collectively called 'flats,' and these are are of marginal economic value but are targeted by the trawlers for the allowable 'incidental' catch of cod and, in deep water, sablefish. Although called 'incidental' by draggers and their apologists, this allowable catch is targeted by draggers fishing low value species to pad out their wallets. Trawler PSC bycatch of halibut and crab in shallow water trawling for flats is a horrific waste of these highly valuable species, to say the least. The current system of management by the NPFMC is broken, disfunctional, and corrupt, (part of the proud Ted Stevens legacy). This is only one small example!

If this weren't bad enough, the trawlers are claiming a permanent right to the spoils of this misuse of the resources by claiming they should be credited directed cod catch and incidental catch in the 'sector split' that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is about to take final action on at its December meeting in Anchorage. The NPFMC has agreed to give way to the trawlers, as they almost always do.

So, while trawling on the flats, wasting halibut and crab, in order to keep and sell cod 'incidental' catch may seem to have only short term benefits to the draggers, being GIFTED that 'incidental' catch in perpetuity through the sector split dodge (read ITQ), has clear long term benefit for these owners, their assigns, and heirs.

Express your outrage to the Council through letters, emails, phone calls, or best yet, show up and testify at the meeting in Anchorage. All members of the NPFMC are listed on their website at:

The trawler industry is counting on your non-participation in order to have their way with your resources. So far they are getting all they want. You only have everything to lose.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Up to $5000 paid for photos or
videos of trawler bycatch of
halibut, crab, or salmon.
respond to:
Kodiak Daily Mirror
1419 Selig St.
Kodiak, AK 99615
Blind Box Q
...As posted in tonight's Daily Mirror.
Hey what about pics of my brethren shot or drowned in tows? Come on! Wonder if they will accept donations at this same blind box.
Keep yer flippers wet!