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 ...to the sea." Three hours? Halibut are tough. But three hours is a guaranteed death sentence. Hyenas!
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.