Thursday, December 31, 2009

Trawling Pornography Redux

To view the Trawling Halibut Destruction Wanton Waste Video please view archived blogs at the end of this page or click on the link:

Note: even though this video is dated 2004, remember, things have gotten only worse, more horsepower, bigger drags, more hammering the flats on the flats.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Inversely Proportional?

The International Pacific Halibut Commission points out that the halibut are getting smaller. They do not know why. One of my fellow Sea Lions pointed out that the decline in halibut stocks and average size is inversely proportional to the increase in trawler horsepower, net size, faster tow speed, and hull capacity. It can't be that easy, can it?

A Tholepin reader:
"If you look back over 100 years of halibut stock data, the one dip was caused by basically unregulated foreign trawling in the 1950s through the 1970s.

"The stocks rebounded in the early 1980s because we got tough on the foreigners. Now our own domestic trawlers are getting away with stuff that would have gotten the foreigners kicked out."

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Death Rate for Halibut is Federally Guaranteed

Rearing its ugly head again, is the rampant wanton waste of valuable species like halibut and crab by draggers in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands. Not that there isn't PSC in other fisheries, there is, but the admitted level of wasted resources is unacceptably high in the drag fleet. As halibut abundance continues to fall, Kodiak tanner crab stagger to recover, and king crab stands at the threshold of extinction in the Gulf, PSC wanton waste levels remain intolerable. (Perhaps king crab in Kodiak should undergo endangered species listing...that might be a nuclear option on dragging.) It is outrageous that while fishermen who own halibut IFQ continue to see their resource diminish (catastrophically in 2C), the reported PSC wanton waste remains fixed at 2000 metric tons (4.4 million pounds, $13 million 2009 dollars wasted) in the Gulf. While the draggers brag about all the innovative gear they have developed to avoid halibut PSC wanton waste, they are able to pass it around the drag fleet and use it to pursue even dirtier catches, often impacting crab stocks, which are crushed so badly that the observers (if they are present...not!) see only hints of their remains. If a belly dumper earth scraper rolls over you, you won't survive even if you don't end up in the load, eh, Mike? But if the absent observer doesn't see your remains, you ain't dead, are you?

Halibut researchers are looking all over for what is happening to the halibut in the Gulf. Look no further than the Kodiak drag fleet, whose seldom observed tows hammer on the halibut stocks, winnowing out these incredibly valuable fish, and dumping their lifeless carcasses overboard. If you drag catcher processor the Bering Sea, the death rate for halibut is Federally guaranteed!

"Amendment 80 vessels are currently required to place all of the (drag) net's contents into below deck holding tanks without sorting of any of the catch on deck. This requirement is to ensure that the on-board observers have an opportunity to sample all the fish in the catch...The 'no sorting on deck' requirement results in some of the halibut remaining out of the water for several hours before being returned to the sea. As such, halibut discard mortality rates, which are based on viability assessments done by observers in the processing area, currently average 75% across the typical Amendment 80 fishery targets." Bullshit. No halibut, NO HALIBUT, survives out of the water for hours. The more you read the analyses, the more you realise this stuff is soft soaped by NMFS to promote dragging. Foxes guarding chicken coops? No. Wolves!

The study quoted above (Agenda D-2(c), December 2009) admits that 281 tows resulted in 19,649 halibut caught. "For the factory halibut it took on average 186 minutes to return the last halibut the sea." Three hours? Halibut are tough. But three hours is a guaranteed death sentence. Hyenas!

  1. One hundred percent observer coverage for the Gulf. (The killing off the Gulf can no longer be a right. Crying about low profit margins just doesn't ring true while we watch old boats enlarge and new houses build.)
  2. The 2000 metric ton halibut PSC needs to be based on the historically highest year of halibut abundance. Current PSC wanton waste shall be reduced to current abundance levels of halibut. Eventually the 2000 metric ton PSC limit will be phased back and out as gear conversion occurs.
  3. No trawling on or above ADFG designated 'crab bottom.' So called 'pelagic gear' often is not above the bottom, and crab armour is simply not tough enough to survive the crushing. Mud plumes in Deadman's Bay during 'pelagic pollock dragging' tell the tale. Pilots, get out your cameras. But, hell, there's a lot of king crab, just ask Mark.
  4. Fishing observers need to observe fishing...not processing. Get them on deck, with cameras, to OBSERVE the catch. Public reports need to be available. It is a public resource.

It's cold now and the rocks are slippery, the seas are angry and unkind. What's new? 'We're rough, we're tough, we're coarse, what then? We're the salts of the earth, we're fishermen.' Be safe and warm...I got blubber.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stories of waste and shortsighted behavior...

"The few comments here are no measure of what effect this blog may be having.
There are plenty of us from around the state, who have heard these stories of waste and shortsighted selfish behavior from friends and family from the Kodiak area who stop in here...
That we read and leave says nothing about what we think.
This is important work you are doing.
We do ourselves no favor pretending we are living by pretty words like sustainability and economic development while engaging in altogether different behavior.
Go safe, neighbor, and go well." Anonymous at 4:57

That made my day!

The new counter shows the numbers of and where readers are from...Kodiak, Anchorage, Juneau, Portland, Brockton, Chico, Lake Oswego, Rockport, Harrisonburg, Gainesville, Redmond, and Moulineaux-Haute-Normandie (France). So far. Thanks.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Draggers Dupe Kodiak, Scam NPFMC

In a typical, duplistic (though running scared) tactic after their bald exposure on film as resource ravagers, Kodiak draggers have buried the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in a snow storm of BOGUS letters supporting their bid to remain the biggest and dirtiest players in Gulf of Alaska commercial fishing. A mass hoodwinking took place last week where otherwise intelligent people signed their formerly good names to a trashy piece of transparent propaganda designed to pressure the NPFMC into believing that the Kodiak community is fully behind a dragger takeover of our fisheries. Wake up people! At this December meeting of the NPFMC, Pacific cod sector split is up for final action, and if the Kodiak draggers get their way, they will remain on top with:

  • the highest percentage of cod catch,

  • the highest bycatch (waste) of valuable species,

  • the most egregious waste of Pacific halibut, king, and tanner crab, and

  • the most destruction of the benthic ecosystem for the littlest return per pound of damage of any fishermen in the North Pacific.

On top of that, the statisticians at the NPFMC are "reviewing" their numbers for the 2004 drag season to "adjust" the Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) of halibut (see Filthy Halibut video below) to a lower number so the NPFMC can give draggers those filthy years of cod catch to fatten their purses. This group of some 45 or so vessels and their processor bedfellows can manipulate the NPFMC to do their bidding, and that when some data is not in agreement with their appetites, they get to have the observer data tossed out because it is "not reliable." This is why it is so important that dirty secret pictures of dragger bycatch get outed...the system to manage this element of commercial fishing is undeniably corrupt. It is also why emails went out from (you guess) to all dragger skippers and owners warning them to stop letting crews take pictures!

Remember, every pound of Kodiak dragger smashed cod catch actually means about 17% more than that wasted, not to mention other valuable species wasted like halibut, salmon, and crab. This statistic alone demands that the NPFMC should cut dragger sector split of cod by at least 17%. The option to do so is right there in Component Nine. But they don't have the balls to do it. Every species draggers fish for, with the exception of low value flounders and diminshing pollock could be caught by other gear types which employ more crew and spend more dollars, than this handful of dirty draggers. These dirty draggers should be pushing the NPFMC for gear conversion, if they had ethics. If, if, if...ha! 'To hell with the children, to hell with the future, get it now and get out. Screw Alaska!'

By signing on to the dragger letter, local businesses have thrown in their lot with the drag fleet and turned their back on the larger fleet of potters, longliners, seiners, and jiggers in Kodiak. If I can get my flippers on the list of signatories, I will publish it here. If they don't disclaim their signatures to the NPFMC, then we can work to boycott these stab me in the back, I avoid you in the future, eh? "He works hard for his money and you better treat him right."

Here are the businesses:

  1. Alaska Hyraulics
  2. Sea Wing Services
  3. Samson Tug and Barge
  4. Viva Mexico Imports
  5. DanTrawl Inc.
  6. RipTech
  7. Cost Savers
  8. Northern Welding Repair
  9. Radar Alaska
  10. NET Systems
  11. NC Welding
  12. MIREK Trawl
  13. Island Hydraulics
  14. Kodiak Rental Center
  15. Pacific Diving Services
  16. Quality Marine of Alaska

It should be easy to avoid most of these! The reds are not necessarily trawl dependent.

Keep yer flippers wet.