Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and Rumor Has It...

 The danger of rumors is, of course, they may be false or purposely used as disinformation to manipulate various groups. In keeping with Wiglaf's policy of NOT promoting untruths, we withdraw this PVOA/FVOA rumor.   However, the bottom line remains, dragger bycatch of halibut is intolerable, unconscionable, and unsustainable.  To hammer on and kill the halibut ($6 per pound) while pursuing worthless flounders (.04 per pound) for the relatively valuable (.24 to .35 per pound) 20% bycatch of cod, which shouldn't be allowed anyway, but is, in hopes of "developing a flatfish fishery," remains bullshit.  Whoever said the Russian oligarchs were so corrupt has never looked at Alaskan fishery politics...the last stronghold of real pirates.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Stikine, Taku king forecasts too low for gillnet opening

According to KFSK-FM (Petersburg), there again won't be a commercial king salmon gillnetting season for the Stikine and Taku rivers next May. Alaska Fish and Game has released its pre-season forecasts for the rivers, and the predicted returns won't be high enough to support a commercial harvest. The forecasts are large enough, however, for liberalized sport fishing limits (to be announced in spring). One department official says the expected low returns are likely the result of large escapements in previous years producing crowded stream conditions for young salmon, but that the trend is looking up. Listen to much, much more at APRN.
Thanks to Alaska Dispatch for the "heads up."

So while Kodiak Draggers' reported king salmon catch goes ballistic, fisheries around Alaska close for lack of fish.  Who'd a thought?  But Southeast Alaskans pretend that what happens in the Gulf of Alaska doesn't affect them.  Unconstrained halibut and king salmon bycatch is part of the reason why their halibut catch has been in such dramatic decline, yet they fail to engage in the politics of bycatch control because trawling is essentially closed in SE.  We can only hope they wake up.  Ecology means we are all part of one thing, afterall.

Make your New Year's resolution to write a letter, make a call, or attend the North Pacific Fisheries Managment Council  in Seattle January 31 through February 8, 2011 or the Alaska Board of Fish in Kodiak January 11 through 14 and tell our managers to stop the excessive and uncontrolled bycatch of our precious fisheries resources by unrestrained and unobserved draggers. Letters to the BOF deadline is tomorrow, the 28th.

Keep your flippers thawed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Anonymous comment:

Those "ping pong paddle" size halibut are soon to be commercially viable. They have survived to a size where they are subject to little natural predation. The draggers are their biggest predator.

As Wiglaf points out, the idiot from the rebadged AK draggers Assoc is confessing that their bycatch, measured in tons, is actually many times worse.

What is the value of all those halibut, salmon, crab and don't forget all the wasted small cod and pollock to all fishermen, processing workers and everyone who depends on local landing tax revenue?

Back in '97 the Canucks showed the NPFMC how to drastically reduce bycatch AND catch all your trawl allowable catches. The NPFMC wasn't and isn't interested.

Monday, December 13, 2010

NPFMC Considers Chinook Bycatch Options and Peeks at Halibut PSC

In the meeting that is currently underway in Anchorage, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council has voted to move expeditiously to control Chinook bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska.  Chair Eric Olson framed the crux of the problem as he compared bycatch rates of Chinook in the Bering Sea to those in the GOA, where they are "many orders of magnitude higher."

Council voted to, among other things, to have staff report on a suite of regulatory options to include:
  • full retention of salmon by draggers so a true accounting becomes possible
  • hard caps on Chinook bycatch,
  • observer coverage on Super 8s (under 60 ft vessels)
  • mandatory salmon bycatch control cooperatives
It was clear in testimony that Chinook populations are in trouble and trawler bycatch is egregious.  The same old apologists dragged their feet and attempted to slow action on Chinook, but they did not come out and block Council action.  Final motion passed without opposition. Cora Campbell made the motion.

Groundfish report:

Interestingly, Duncan Fields was the only member of the NPFMC who objected to the extremely high rates of halibut PSC allowed in the GOA groundfish specifications for this next year.  Although it sometimes appears the Council is responsive to the resource, only money moves the majority.  With halibut collapsing, Cora Campbell voted with all others on the Council to approve GOA groundfish specs including 2000 metric tons of halibut waste.  Only Fields stood firm against this.

Speaking of halibut:

Bob Krueger, president of the Whitefish Trawlers Association, in his testimony, blames halibut fishermen and the IPHC for the draggers waste of 4.4 million pounds of halibut.  Pretzel logic?  He also stated that draggers kill mostly 'ping pong paddle' size halibut, which are too weak to out swim the trawls, and not commercially valuable fish anyway.  Go figure.  Like killing off the nurseries is not as bad as killing off the adults?  Destroying fish before they reach spawning age is not a sound idea, Bob.   If they are only one pounders, we calculate that the trawlers are really wasting at least ten times that much fish...an incredible 44 million pounds of 32 inch halibut, if they were to mature to minimum legal size!

"Agenda Item D-1(b) GOA Halibut PSC Limits
---
Council Motion
---
In recent years, the directed halibut catch limits in the GOA regulatory areas 2C, 3A and 3B have declined steadily, and the recommended catch limits for 2011 are almost 30% lower than in 2010. Growth rates of halibut remain very low and size at age has been declining; much of the total biomass is made up of smaller fish that are more vulnerable than larger fish to trawl gear. In addition, evidence of west to east migration of halibut within a coast wide stock may have implications for the impacts of halibut bycatch on stock assessment, and directed fishing opportunities. These factors raise concerns about the current halibut PSC limits in the GOA, and the effect this bycatch has on the directed fishing opportunities, as well as the productivity of the stock.
---
At this time the Council has not selected a specific process for considering changes to the GOA halibut PSC limits. Although the Council believes that an evaluation of the current halibut PSC limits is warranted, additional information about the condition of halibut stocks, the effects of bycatch reduction, and other fishery factors is necessary. Therefore, the Council directs staff to provide information on the following topics:
---
1. The effect of reducing bycatch limits in the GOA on the exploitable biomass available to the directed fisheries, over an appropriate time period; this includes the effects of migration on downstream users. (i.e. what is the effect of a 100mt reduction in bycatch over a 5 year period?).
2. The recent changes in IPHC stock assessment methods, harvest policies, and catch limit setting on directed halibut fisheries.
3. Changes to Federal fishery management programs and halibut PSC apportionments that begin in 2012 that are relevant to the use of halibut PSC.
4. Possible causes of low growth rates and the effects on future exploitable biomass and spawning biomass.
---
The Council further requests the IPHC to provide the appropriate scientific expertise and information to assist the Council."

At first blush, we thought the Council had made progress on these two issues of wanton waste of fisheries resources, but in retrospect, this is a weak and ineffectual response.  The Council works at glacial speed, so interested parties need to keep the pressure up for at least two more meetings before we might see any progress on Chinook and halibut prohibited species catch and the resultant damage to these important resources that affect so many peoples lives.  Uncle Ted used to say this was the best fisheries council in the USA.  So sad.  Please call your representative, your senator, your governor, whomever you determine can give feedback to the council about the horrible waste that is going on in the gulf to support these few draggers at the expense of the rest of us.

In any case, keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Alaska Governor Parnell Promises to Reduce Bycatch

JUNEAU, Alaska - Jan. 20 - Following is the prepared text of Gov. Sean Parnell’s (R) 2010 state of the state address:

"Now to fishing. Alaskans are proud of our fishing traditions and heritage. Control of our seafood resources was one of the original drivers behind Alaska’s push for statehood. Today, we budget for better scientific data and work to reduce bycatch to ensure continued abundance for all Alaskans. "

Now is the time to call Govenor Parnell and tell him you are counting on him to be true to his promises. Chinook, halibut, crab. Seriously. Here is his number: 907 465 3500. Just do it.

It will make a difference.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Canadian Dragger Youtubes Worth Watching

These Canadian YouTube videos have application to US fisheries as well. Basically the same political influence in Canada apply as in the US and Alaska; big money against good sense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvwUeZirCe0&feature=related

"Trawlers continue to destroy the world's ocean and fishes while those responsible become multi-millionaires. Too bad such horrible marine environmental crimes still continue while those responsible get richer and richer. Thanks Martin Willison for your efforts to stop this terrible madness."

Thanks to Reel Knotty for posting on Sportfishingbc.com website, where I borrowed this.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mismanaged PSC Destroys Legal Halibut Quota

International Pacific Halibut Commission reports staff recommended cuts of 47% in Southeast Alaska's area 2B, 28% in area 3A, and 24% in 3B.

As we earlier predicted, the unwillingness of the NPFMC to rein in the Gulf of Alaska trawlers has led to the devastation of the legal halibut longline quota. The kill 'em off strategy of the GOA trawl fleet is being effective. If the legal quotas on PSC species (crab, salmon, halibut) can be driven down far enough, there won't be any viable opposition left to the complete dominance of the trawlers in the Gulf of Alaska. Once these most valuable species are removed, less than forty drag boats will own the Gulf of Alaska and the other thousands of fishermen can apply for food stamps or for a job at Walmart. Meanwhile the spineless North Pacific Fisheries Mismanagement Council makes shallow and ineffective regulations too little and too late to save the larger and economically more important fleet and thereby spells doom to coastal communities bordering the Gulf. There is the smell of bankruptcy in the wind. First crab, then king salmon and now halibut.

Three things are leading us to the end of halibut as a healthy species:
  1. Unknown and uncounted mortality. Poorly covered and heavily gamed trawler observations leave a huge data gap in numbers of tons of halibut that are destroyed each year by trawling. Halibut PSC is out of control. The NPFMC continues to delay movement at the cost of the resource...which is not new. As the Kodiak fleet of trawlers ups their horsepower, the numbers of large halibut killed continues to rise. Forget the official numbers, they are and have been adjusted to a comfortable level, or are just plain wrong.
  2. Crucification of halibut by codfishing longliners. Hook strippers or crucifiers maim and kill uncounted numbers of halibut every cod season when they rip out the hook, tearing off much of the halibut's jaw; sometimes the whole face. Delusional thinking is not confined to trawlers in regard to ethics and conservation of fish species. Ethical fishing, unfortunately, like a lot of things in life, is based on economics. "How much will it cost me to be ethical? If it is too much, I can't afford to be ethical." We hear this argument openly used in one form or another at every NPFMC and Alaska Board of Fish meeting, where it nearly always wins! If we are to have healthy fisheries in the future, ethical conservation behavior must be priority ONE.
  3. Destruction of the large breeder fish. Killing the big halibut MOTHER fish is destroying the most capable breeders, with the healthiest eggs. Never mind what the IPHC says, they will eventually admit it's true. The very large halibut spawn more healthy eggs that result in more live larvae in the water with greater survivability and yet are the target of both sport and commercial fishermen; trophy or cash, the mistake remains a crucial problem for a healthy halibut resource.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fox in the Chicken Coop

Have you ever wondered why so many of these NMFS papers reflect spun data and favor the draggers? The credits of authorship of the Chinook PSC paper tells part of the story. The Fox is advising the Chickens.

On the last page of the paper it reads:

"13 Preparers
November 2010 update:
Diana Evans, NPFMC
Mike Fey, AKFIN

"Other contributors:
Sally Bibb, NMFS, Alaska Region
*Julie Bonney, Groundupfish Databunk (dragger mouthpiece extraordinaire)
Melanie Brown, NMFS, Alaska Region
Mary Furuness, NMFS, Alaska Region
Mary Grady, NMFS Alaska Region
Jeannie Heltzel, NPFMC
Josh Keaton, NMFS, Alaska Region
Martin Loefflad, NMFS, AFSC
John Olson, NMFS Alaska Region
Diana Stram, NPFMC"

FOR PETE'S SAKE! There is no independent data from that quarter! NMFS has so little credibility, why would they squander it with DATABUNK?

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Of Chinook and 800 Pound Gorillas

A large proportion of the at least 60,000 Prohibited Species Catch of Chinook in the Gulf of Alaska are likely to be Treaty Chinook from the rivers of British Columbia, or perhaps the Pacific Northwest or even the Sacramento River, in California. The responsible agency (NMFS) has been remiss in not requiring full retention and genetic sampling of all Chinook PSC in the GOA to determine their origin. What little trial sampling that has been done is well buried in some archive somewhere. More important than Kodiak's Karluk or the Aiakulik, whose run failures are catastrophic, these migrating salmon from elsewhere are the 8oo pound gorilla in the room. 'Outside' interests may be able to help outraged Alaskans finally control the rampant and irresponsible dragger PSC bycatch waste. Help! Call and write your representatives in Victoria, Ottawa, Olympia, Salem, Sacramento, and DC today! Awaken your 800 pound gorilla and get him fighting for all of us.

And keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NPFMC Meets December 8-14, Make Your Voice Heard

If you have been following the egregious Prohibited Species Catch by Gulf of Alaska trawlers of Chinook salmon then this meeting is for you. Attend by Webinar if you can not attend in person, but most importantly, let the NPFMC hear from you in writing regarding the wholesale destruction of the Chinook salmon resource by GOA trawlers. Trawlers in the GOA take ten times as many Chinook in proportion to pollock as do the trawlers in the Bering Sea, yet there is no cap, no limit, no attempts by management for restraint in the Gulf of Alaska.

NPFMC website: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/default.htm

"Written comments and materials to be included in Council meeting notebooks must be received at the Council office by 5:00 pm (Alaska Time) on TUESDAY November 30, 2010. Written and oral comments should include a statement of the source and date of information provided as well as a brief description of the background and interests of the person(s) submitting the statement. Comments can be sent by mail or fax—please do not submit comments by e-mail." (courtesy of NPFMC)

"The following points may be useful in composing your letter:
• The Council has taken action to control the bycatch of Chinook salmon in the Bering Sea by placing a ‘cap’ on the number of Chinooks allowed to be taken. However, the Council has taken no action in the Gulf of Alaska.
• The rate of Chinook bycatch (salmon per ton of groundfish) is over 10 times that taken in the Bering Sea.
• Subsistence, sport and commercial salmon fishermen bear the conservation responsibility through reduced harvest. Groundfish fisheries have not been required to share that responsibility.
• Chinook stocks in Kodiak’s Karluk River have continued to decline during the years 2001- 2010. The stocks have also failed to meet escapement goals for the last four of those years. Chinook salmon on the Karluk River has been CLOSED to subsistence for the last 3 years and sport fishing for the 2009 and 2010 seasons for conservation reasons. ADF&G has recommended that the Board of Fish declare the Karluk River Chinook as a ‘Stock of concern’.
• For the commercial fishery the BOF prohibits the retention of Chinook salmon over a certain size in the outer Karluk district.
• Chinook bycatch is not particularly well estimated in the Gulf because there is not 100% observer coverage in the groundfish fisheries. Estimates are based on assumptions that observed and unobserved vessels are doing the same thing. There is sufficient reason to question those assumptions.
• Low returns of Chinook salmon to the Karluk, Aiakulik and other systems in the Gulf of Alaska have had a negative economic impact on both the guided sport and charter boat industries." (courtesy of AMCC Action Alert)

Address your letters to:
Mr. Eric Olson, Chair
North Pacific Fisheries Management Council
PO Box 103136
Anchorage, Alaska 99510
FAX: 907-271-2817

NPFMC Agenda: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/Agendas/1210Agenda.pdf

Two agenda items need your attention and comment:

C-5 GOA Chinook Salmon Bycatch (4 hrs)
Review discussion paper.

D-1 Groundfish Management (8 hrs)
(b) Review discussion paper on GOA halibut PSC.

The discussion papers regarding Chinook and halibut PSC should be available on line at the end of this week or so. Stay tuned to the NPFMC website for your copy. As always there is not a lot of time for review and comment. (This helps keep outsiders from participating in the process.)

Keep your flippers wet.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wiglaf Unmasked...er...Not!

Anchorage Daily News paper edition reported that Wiglaf of Tholepin is...some sport fisher... Not!

The Anchorage Daily News doesn't know a dingle bar from a tickler chain, so they credit some guy with the work found here. Don't get me wrong, ADN means well, but Wiglaf expresses the informed professional opinion of a relatively large group of concerned commercial fishing sealions, so no single individual can be named as the responsible author. You know what they say, all sealions look alike. We are still here and not identified. Eat yer heart out!

We remember the cod end drownings and the shootings and the woundings, and have recently received plenty of threats, so it is important that we remain anonymous.

But thanks, anyway.

Keep yer flipper's wet!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Get Ready for Rollbacks

NMFS rolls back the Chinook bycatch...which is like a guy taking back the confession that he's been with his best friend's wife...not very believable.



From 59,000 down to 51,916. There you are.

When you publish a 'fact' you can't take it back. There must be some pressure to make the number crunchers recount their beans. The Alaska Ground-Up-Fish Data Bank has been busy, eh?

Are we surprised? No. This is the way the shell game works. Now you see it, now you don't.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Enemies of the GOA Resources


To the left are Tanner crab caught in a Kodiak dragnet. This kind of resource waste gets a blind eye from the names listed below. Read it and weep.



I better get this out there while I have an audience. As much as I hate to say so, the voting block on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council that regularly opposes any conservation interest are the representatives:





  • John Henderschedt (representing processors),

  • Bill Tweit, (representing WDFW, but really Washington trawler/processor interests), and

  • Roy Hyder (representing ODFW, but really Oregon trawler/processor interests). Come on folks, follow the money!

  • Ed Dersham, an Alaskan sportfish seat, regularly votes against conservation if he thinks it might hurt any commercial interests. Sad case. A bitter short timer.


If you want to influence the Council, hammer these fellows, since they regularly vote for profits, against reason, and damn your grandkids anyway, for the big money.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

GOA King Salmon Destruction Continues, Agency Juggles Numbers

Click on report to enlarge.


The October 16 PSC catch report on King Salmon destruction by trawlers shows another 4134 King salmon caught by GOA draggers. Interestingly they add the previously killed 56,636 to this week's 4134 mortality and get 58,194...hmm...NMFS reserves the right to adjust figures based upon...the sampling data. A form of juggling, eh? The actual number should be 60,870 king salmon destroyed.

Still, even these large numbers are probably on the low side, since much gaming goes on with the trawl fleet in order to hide the damage being done to achieve their short term profits.

The December NPFMC should be a good one. Plan to attend and testify to stop this madness, or at least to see how well the Alaska Groundup Fish Data Bank can dance and juggle at the same time. The dogs and ponies are already rehearsing, we're sure.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dirtiest Draggers in the GOA to Date

By doing a sort of data provided on-line by NMFS http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2010/pscinfo.htm we can see who the dirtiest draggers are in the GOA, our area of concern. While the majority of the NPFMC refused to recognize the gaming of bycatch figures of tanner crab bycatch, and refused to close down areas of concern for tanner crab protection, the figures provided by NMFS leave us with a very dirty picture of trawling in the GOA.

Crab: Week ending 27 March 2010, FV Golden Fleece, bottom dragging cod, caught 352 tanner crab per metric ton of bottom fish in four observed tows. Were these supposedly clean 'observer tows?' What happened once the observer left?

Halibut: Week ending 11 Sept 2010, FV Dusk, bottom dragging cod, caught 2526 pounds of halibut for every 2000 pounds of groundfish in two observed tows, so about 57% catch was PSC (prohibited species catch). This is just like the video we posted here last year http://www.tholepin.blogspot.com/2009/10/filthy-video-of-halibut-waste.html
Were these supposedly clean 'observer tows?' What happened once the observer left?

Chinook: Week ending 9 October 2010, FV Michelle Rene, pelagic trawling mid water pollock, caught 2606 Chinook in one observed tow. Only one tow observed. "Get that observer off, man, this is going to look bad!" But Michelle Rene had gotten 636 Chinook in one observed tow the week before. So much for avoiding hot spots. FV Pacific Star was there too, with 601 Chinook in two observed tows.

Week ending 9 October 2010, FV Sea Mac, pelagic bottom trawling pollock caught 864 Chinook in two observed tows, while the FV Half Moon Bay caught 674 in four observed tows. Again they were pelagic bottom trawling pollock. And you thought pelagic trawls couldn't bottom trawl? Well the FV Sea Storm apparently didn't know about that (or didn't care) and while pelagic bottom trawling hammered another 1002 Chinook in those same first two weeks of October.

Remember these are the observed tows, what happens when the observer leaves is the real story...but for the NPFMC, if it isn't observed it doesn't exist.

Total count so far this year in observed Chinook waste is nearly 57 thousand fish!

No telling what the real numbers are, but you can be sure this is a fragment of the real number and accounts in large part for diminishing Chinook salmon runs in the Cook Inlet, Kodiak Island, and Alaska Peninsula regions. Other drainages in western Alaska? Probably.

Get engaged, get active, save us from the destruction that dragging brings.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Extinction of King Salmon? A Scandalous PSC Report

We are witnessing the wholesale destruction of the Alaska King Salmon. Unless the trawlers are held back the King Salmon will become extinct. Over 25,000 King Salmon in one week destroyed in the pelagic trawl fishery.
Click report to enlarge.

http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2010/car120_goa.pdf

At the last NPFMC meeting, not one dragger would admit to the killing of Tanner crab. If asked, I suppose those same perjurous characters would say that with their pelagic gear on, they never kill King Salmon either. The US Coast Guard representative had so little knowledge of the gear type that when asked if the CG could tell pelagic gear from bottom gear, he stated that it was clear in the regs that more than 20 crab on a trawler deck would constitute bottom trawl gear. Where the hell is the gear specifications that the rest of us have to comply with? If pelagic is truly pelagic, it should be illegal for it to have chafing gear as part of the net. Afterall, if you are not on bottom, why need the protection from chafe? Trawling remains a shell (game) fishery.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fallacies of Trawler Arguments to Kodiak City/Borough

Fallacies in the Trawler Paper Written for the Kodiak City Council:

Central Gulf of Alaska Tanner Crab Bycatch

1) FALSE: Tanner crab bycatch in the GOA trawl fisheries is not a conservation concern. Because observed bycatch is poor, gamed, and generally unreliable, arguments about the low level of bycatch percentages of total abundance are specious and a poor defense of a dirty fishing gear type. Gross data gaps on trawler bycatch of tanner crab prevent serious consideration of such arguments. More convincing is: 1) the photographic evidence coming to light of excessive bycatch of mature tanner crab, 2) the reported abundance of tanner crab in non-trawled sanctuaries, 3) the commonly heard complaints by trawler crews of waste.

2) FALSE: Closures to protect tanner crab will have adverse economic impacts. Projection of economic impact is always a crap shoot. Tanner crab protection closures in the long run most likely will result in greater legal and deliverable tanner crab catches, as well as raising the productive rate of halibut and codfish. Short term trawler deliveries and economics have the long term consequences of damage to other fisheries that in the long run will destroy the economic viability of the community. A look at the east coast fisheries clearly shows the disadvantages of short sighted management.

3) FALSE: Too many trawl closures. Actually, there are too few. With trawl impacts well known on crab grounds, many formerly productive brooding and fishing areas remain without protection from hard-on-the-bottom trawling. This is widely believed to be responsible for, or contributory to, the reduction of king crab to the status of nearly extinct, the known destruction of 2000 MT of halibut every year, more than 20 thousand Chinook salmon annually, and the crimping of the comeback of tanner crab we are discussing here. And all this is based on poor observer data. If we really knew how bad it is, we might not be so complacent to limit this widespread destruction.

4) FALSE: Crab predation by commercial groundfish, trawling is actually good for crab. This argument is closely related to the same old arguments used to put bounties on bald eagles and seals in the bad old days, and the wholesale shooting of sea lions more recently. These days will be bad old days too, in the future, especially if you buy into these arguments. Natural predation in a natural system should not be used as an argument to absolve responsible parties from the damage wrought by trawling. Pacific cod and Pacific halibut can be caught by fixed gear sectors with far fewer impacts to the environment, and have a greater economic benefit to the fishing community. To argue that trawling benefits crab production is preposterously absurd.

5) FALSE: Wait for better observer data. There is no reason to believe that future changes in observer data will change the impacts of trawling on tanner crab. We have been waiting for these many years for the Council to take action to protect the species under its prevue and responsibility. To delay action until some further action elsewhere can be considered is a poor way to be responsible for a species under duress.

6) FALSE: New science lowers mortality rate of trawl crab bycatch. Until science is peer reviewed, it must remain suspect. Hastily designed studies, unexamined, and unreviewed that are used to defend potentially damaging practices is completely irresponsible. Placards don’t prevent overboard oily bilge discharges, and they don’t stop crab and other species from being crushed and killed in cod ends. Throwing a dismembered tanner crab or dead halibut or Chinook salmon down a newly designed discharge chute is not a conservation measure, it is a travesty.

7) FALSE: Trawlers offer flexibility and innovation. The proposed closures are reasonable and prudent to protect the rebuilding of tanner crab stocks. Permanent or seasonal closures are the only way that protection of rebuilding tanner crab stocks can be reasonably assured. If stocks move across lines, perhaps the lines need expansion. If trawlers were innovative, they would petition the council to convert at least some of their high impact gear to less damaging gear such as pots or longline. Modified sweeps using bobbins simply mean the damaged species are not retrieved to the surface for observation. Juvenile pollock excluders are not catching the juveniles, but damaging them and failing to count that damage. Like modified sweeps, these innovations simply hide the real damage wrought.
_______________________________________________________
We can't blame these inventive spinning spiders for their attempts to portray trawling as a a tolerable, even benefitial gear. They have, like other purveyors of dreams and distortions, come to believe their own deceptive thinking. They have become delusional. Profitably delusional, I might add.

"A delusion is a fixed belief that is either false, fanciful, or derived from deception. In psychiatry, it is defined to be a belief that is pathological (the result of an illness or illness process) and is held despite evidence to the contrary. As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, dogma, stupidity, apperception, illusion, or other effects of perception." Wikipedia.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trawlers and Oligarchs Ramp Up PR Efforts Rant

The Gulf of Alaska trawlers and their friends, (the various, mostly foreign owned, processors) are working their spin machines, sending out passive/aggressive disinformation to bamboozle the public, while fooling no one but themselves. See their latest sophomoric YouTube productions at http://www.youtube.com/user/SeaAlliance#p/u/0/mdwsJDXtnFs where they attempt to show that 'fishermen are all in this together'...NOT.

Like the seafood sustainability rubber stampers, the Marine Stewardship Council, in the blog below, Sea Alliance and its bastard parent Marine Conservation Alliance would have us believe that we are all working for the sustainable fisheries future of Alaska. Sorry to throw cold water on your warm fuzzies, but MSC, MCA and SeaAlliance are a well financed public relations arm of the trawlers and their allies, the processors, the same people who consistently exceed PSC(prohibited species catch), work so hard to avoid observer coverage, operate as a secret guild, protect their catches from scrutiny by prohibiting cameras by their crews, jerk the NPFMC around by its nose ring, and tell the whole world via their videos that they are the true conservationists of the sea. Meanwhile crab, halibut and salmon stocks continue to take major hits. Over there...Southeast Alaska buries its collective head in the sand while sectors blame each other for the steeply declining halibut stocks all the while the Gulf of Alaska trawlers (SeaAlliance and MCA's not-so-secret Daddy Warbucks) just keep killing off the future. Meanwhile the war drums are beating around the docks as the trawlers put on their face paint, girdle up their loins and prepare to do foot to mouth combat at the NPFMC meeting in Anchorage in October. Up for a vote of protection are some of the most productive crab grounds in the Gulf of Alaska, hammered repeatedly by the trawlers for flat fish. Also included are the banks on either side that are productive halibut grounds. The trawlers are counting on their allies to attend in force to get their way as usual with the NPFMC. But the problem statement this time is a real problem statement, thanks largely to Alaska leadership, Denby Lloyd. To quote the NPFMC:

"The purpose of this action is to provide additional protection to Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Tanner crab from the potential adverse effects of groundfish fisheries, in order to facilitate rebuilding of Tanner crab stocks. This would be achieved by closing areas around Kodiak Island that are important to the Tanner crab stocks. Areas would be closed to some or all groundfish fishing, depending on the vessel’s gear type or gear configuration. An alternative in the analysis would allow a vessel to be exempt from the closures if the vessel carries 100% observer coverage. This would provide the Council with a high level of confidence in the assessment of any bycatch caught in the closed area, as a basis for future management action as necessary.

"The Council formulated a problem statement in October 2009, to initiate this analysis, and revised it slightly in April 2010:
Tanner crab are a prohibited species bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) groundfish fisheries. Directed fisheries for Tanner crab in the GOA are fully allocated under the current limited entry system. No specific conservation measures exist in the GOA to address adverse interactions with Tanner crab by trawl and fixed gear sectors targeting groundfish and low observer coverage in GOA groundfish fisheries limits confidence in the assessment of Tanner crab bycatch in those fisheries, and a greater level of observer coverage in the appropriate areas may provide the Council with a higher level of confidence in the assessment of any bycatch occurring in the designated areas as a basis for future management actions as necessary. Tanner crab stocks have been rebuilding since peak fisheries occurred in the late 1970s. Specific protection measures should be advanced to facilitate stock rebuilding."

So there you have it. The crux of the problem. But MCA and SeaAlliance would have you believe it's all warm and fuzzy out here in the Gulf of Alaska. We are taking good care of the resources, using the best science (their money can buy), and are really deeply concerned about the environment, ecology, and other popular shit. But really, what they care about is their wallets, that new house they are building on the hill, and how they can game the public and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council for another day...pay day that is...and the hell with the future. "We got to get it now, while there is still something left to get."
Trawlers killed off the shrimp and the king crab. Now they are keeping the Tanner crab down, pushing back the halibut, crimping the king salmon; fishing down the food chain to the self digesting arrow tooth flounder. Got to get it now. There is no tomorrow. Pretty soon Alaska will be just like the East Coast.

In this scenario, the trawler mouthpiece seems to say, "Spin on. Let deception and obfuscation rule, and the Devil take the hindmost."

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

MSC hurts the populations that are not sustainably taken.

Seafood stewardship questionable: experts

September 1, 2010 The world's most established fisheries certifier is failing on its promises as rapidly as it gains prominence, according the world's leading fisheries experts from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego and elsewhere.

Established in 1997 by the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever, one of the world's largest fish retailers, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has been helping consumers eat fish "guilt-free" by certifying fisheries. Major North American grocery chains such as Wal-Mart, Whole Foods and Europe's Waitrose carry seafood bearing the blue-mark label as part of their sustainability strategy.

But in an opinion piece published in the current issue of Nature, six researchers from Canada, Italy and the U.S. object to the many of the MSC's procedures and certification of certain species.

"The MSC is supposed to be a solution, but a lot of what they do has turned against biology in favour of bureaucracy," says Jennifer Jacquet, lead author and post-doctoral fellow with UBC's Sea Around Us Project.

The largest MSC-certified fishery, with an annual catch of one million tonnes, is the U.S. trawl fishery for pollock in the eastern Bering Sea. It was certified in 2005 and recommended for recertification this summer.

"Pollock has been certified despite a 64 per cent decline of the population's spawning biomass between 2004 and 2009, with no solid evidence for recovery. This has worrisome implications for possible harmful impacts on other species and fisheries besides the viability of the pollock fishery itself," says Jeremy Jackson from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. "How is that sustainable?"

Paul Dayton, also of Scripps Oceanography, and David Ainley, a biologist who works in the Antarctic, remain concerned about the recent certification of krill and the proposed certification of toothfish.

"The certification of the Ross Sea is an embarrassment as it flies in the face of existing data and denies any sense of precautionary management," says Dayton.

"We're especially concerned about the recent certification of Antarctic krill despite estimates of long-term decline and a link between krill population depletion and declining sea ice in areas sensitive to climate change," says Daniel Pauly, head of UBC's Sea Around Us Project. "The rationale for this certification is on further thin ice because the catch is destined to feed farmed fish, pigs and chicken."

Fisheries that are being heavily depleted, reliant on high-impact methods such as bottom trawling and that aren't destined for human consumption should be excluded from certification, conclude the authors, which include Sidney Holt, a founding father of fisheries science.

"The MSC should not certify fisheries that are not demonstrably sustainable, fisheries that use high-impact methods such as bottom trawling and/or fisheries that aren't destined for human consumption," says Pauly.

"The MSC needs to strengthen its commitment to its own principles in order to fulfill its promise to be 'the best environmental choice,'" says Jackson.

The authors also note that the current certification system, which relies on for-profit consultants and could cost as much as $150,000, presents a potential conflict of interest and discriminates against small-scale fisheries and fisheries from developing countries - most of which use highly-selective and sustainable techniques.

Dayton points out that "the failure of the MSC hurts the populations that are not sustainably taken and their ecosystems; it deprives the public of an opportunity to make a meaningful choice and it damages those fisheries that are well managed - this is especially important for those sustainable small-scale fisheries competing with the giants that buy certifications they have not earned."

"Unless MSC goes under major reform, there are better, more effective ways to spend the certifier's $13-million annual budget to help the oceans, such as lobbying for the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies or establishing marine protected areas," says Jacquet.

Provided by University of British Columbia

Borrowed from http://www.physorg.com/

Thanks!

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Are Sea Lions the Big Canary of Our Coal Mine?

Like a fox, digging beneath the snow for mice or voles, let's dig around a bit beneath the snow job regarding sea lions in Western Alaska. I guarantee we will find more there than the smooth white surface that appears to be there and how that relates ot the Gulf of Alaska.

  • NOAA/NMFS is being proactive on the sea lion issue. Now let's get real, NOAA/NMFS never have been big greenies in the past. They are like the Minerals Management Service and the oil industry. They have let one helluva lot of bad things go down and have supported the big fishing industry like nobody's business (but their own). So that should be a tip off that something VERY bad is going down and we need to shake off the fog and try to see what that really is...er, too much fish is being taken from Area 543. Period. NOAA/NMFS recommends shutting it down, so the damage must be very bad indeed.
  • Where was NOAA/NMFS when Cod Alley was being trawled to the elimination of king crab in the southern Bering Sea? Why did they let the Kodiak NMFS boss (BO) suppress studies that clearly showed the area was crucial to king crab production. That research, as shocking as it was, is vaild; the best available science. But NOAA/NMFS turned out that research and that researcher in favor of the trawlers. So when NOAA/NMFS calls for a closure, people, the damage is already unconscionable, probably irretrievable, and irreparable.
  • First Lesson: Bottom trawls work best on smooth bottom. Anything else causes damage to these expensive pieces of webwork. Smooth bottom is crab bottom. If you can't trawl on smooth bottom, you can't trawl. Simple math applies. 1 + 1 = 2. Get rid of the crab that supported so many, in order for a few trawlers to support a few: 1.)a few owners who make big bucks, 2.)a few crew who make big bucks, 3.)a few processor corporations who make big bucks, 4.)and a lot of little people who make minimum wage, are supported by the general public through welfare, subsidised housing, and social support networks and by their own back breaking tenacity and labor. Don't blame these people, they are pawns like the rest of us. The City of Kodiak fell for the PR line and built a huge haulout facility for the trawlers which now rides upon the city residents and their wallets. The City of Kodiak Trawler Support Center. Bottom line? Crab had to go. And it went. You are next.
  • Chant jobs, jobs, jobs. Whenever the destruction of our renewable resources becomes an issue, you will invariably hear the chant, "Jobs, jobs, jobs." And if you look carefully it is always peasant jobs. Low paid, minimum wage, public dole supported jobs. Not a job that most of us would look to do. With trawling, you have a very few skilled workers and a lot of bottom of the barrel jobs. With other forms of fishing, the crews are generally more skilled, there are more crew jobs because of efficiency factors that benefit the larger community; such as crabbing, longlining, seining, gillnetting, and jigging. When you have to handle the fish individually, you require more hands and therefore hire more people. Mass caught trawler mush can be machine handled because it is intrinsically of lower quality. The trawlers require their crews primarily to sort out the halibut, king salmon and crab. When the managers of our fisheries opt for trawler caught, they opt for the lowest value for our resources, at the highest resource price.
  • Halibut is next. Gulf of Alaska trawlers claim they are being limited by the halibut cap of 2000 metric tons of halibut wasted bycatch per year which is constraining the wholesale destruction of the cod resource, et al. 4.4 million pounds of halibut is just not enough for the trawlers in the GOA. That's $22,000,000 exvessel value wasted as PSC. Insiders will tell you that the real trawler waste is far higher, since coverage at best is 30% of trawl time and at least some of that is incompetent observers, or lazy observers, or seasick observers who by regulation can only put in a 12 hour day. 100% observer coverage and 100 % retention of all catch is the only answer right now. Data gaps are used by the trawlers to argue for less stringent scrutiny (You can't prove we are criminals!), but that 'nobody is here to see this' is cause for concern about the wastage by those same trawlers. Where the hell is video surveilance?
  • On the horizon? Replacements at the NPFMC threaten to reverse progress made there in the past few meetings regarding tanner crab protection, king salmon bycatch and halibut waste reduction. Mouth pieces for the trawlers and processors have been busy whispering in the Governor's ears, twisting arms, threatening exposures. Let's face it, Sean Parnell has not yet shown the courage to stand up for the State of Alaska's best interests. DL was not in attendance at this sea lion meeting. He was replaced by CC, who is tied directly to Petersburg fishing/processor interests, and has not heretofore shown herself to have our best interests at heart. Generally speaking, SE Alaska doesn't realize the trickle down effect of trawlers destroying the Gulf, so, by and large they don't care about the rest of the state. SE long ago outlawed trawlers. Can't they see we need the same?

So all this without addressing the details of the proposed sea lion closures in area 543? Well, just because the fox hears scratching beneath the snow doesn't mean it is a mouse or vole, it could just be a weasel. The weasels are in the fine print, and between the lines of print, and in the back rooms, and behind closed doors. When NOAA/NMFS calls for closures and industry cries "jobs" you know that something is on the move; that resources are going to suffer, that history will be repeating itself, and that we are about to witness another great compromise.

Read Margaret Bauman reports, http://www.thedutchharborfisherman.com/article/1033noaa_issues_draft_groundfish_biological

Keep yer flippers damp.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bits and Pieces: Once They're Gone, It Won't Be An Issue

Coming back from a longline trip, Capt. X spotted a trawler with his gear down in a IPHC listed hotspot for juvenile halibut. Capt. X knew the operator of the trawler, so he called him on the VHF. Asked what he was doing dragging in such a place, he replied, "The sooner we clean these f'ing halibut up, the sooner this place won't be off limits."

Capt. Z sets his trawl down hard, real hard, on his way in from unobserved trips regularly. His crew says he has a taste for scallops.

A midwater (pelagic) trawler was in Kiliuda Bay. Capt. Y called him on the VHF to ask why he was leaving. He relied, "I just tore the hell out of my trawl on a crab pot." Midwater crab pots should be illegal?

Why shouldn't regulations make chafing gear illegal on midwater (pelagic) trawls?

Why are the pelagic doors on the F/V Golden Fleece wear polished and why did they go through the expense of having them hardfaced if they aren't digging into the bottom on a regular basis?

(ii) Amendment 80 vessels in the GOA processors. Except for the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE (USCG Documentation Number 609951), all Amendment 80 vessels, except when directed fishing for scallops using dredge gear, in the GOA must have onboard at least one NMFS-certified observer for each day that the vessel is used to harvest, receive, or process groundfish in the GOA management areas or adjacent waters open by the State of Alaska for which it adopts a Federal fishing season. Why? Who arranged that exception, and for how much cash?

Why shouldn't "accidentally" "kissing the bottom" with "pelagic" trawl gear be just as illegal as "accidentally" setting a seine or gillnet over the line?

Why did the USCG have such an issue with using a tape measure to figure Simplified Gross Tonnage? Don't tell me that didn't come from on high. Why?

Why are simple measures to ensure our fishing future so "impossible" for our regulators?

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Guest Predicts "Halibut Stock Collapse in the Near Future"

"I am (name withheld). This is my history. After graduating in 1976, I worked on the Miller Freeman as a trawl gear specialist in the Bering and Chukchi Seas. In 1977, I worked as a fisheries biologist with ADF&G. I was one of the first domestic observers on Kodiak shore based trawlers, and I worked on one of the first draggers delivering food fish to shore plants. I was a deckhand on a Kodiak trawler for three years. There were very few draggers then and they were relatively small and towed modified shrimp nets. Even so I was appalled at the amount of halibut and crab we dragged up. One day as an observer we caught three thousand pounds of egged king crab females in a tow. I told my boss, Phil Rigby, about it and he said “Do not let this get out. We would not want to discourage the bottom fishing industry.” Ironically, the shrimp fleet dragged in the summer and sold pollock in the winter as bait to the crab boats. Well, soon the draggers were putting on public relations through the local newspaper reporter, Chris Blackburn. At the time I thought it was funny. But they ended up making Chris their chief lobbyist, their minister of information. Joint ventures brought more boats and more areas got dragged. There were more gear conflicts. Today those drag boats are much larger and cover more ground.

"Currently I am a commercial halibut fisherman. I bought into the IFQ program. I can hardly believe what I have seen in the last four years or so. First, the fall cod trawl disaster where millions of pounds of halibut were dragged up in the Marmot Gully. The fishing vessel Dusk had 70,000 pounds of halibut and the fishing vessel Peggy Jo had over 100,000 pounds of halibut bycatch. Then there’s the arrowtooth flounder fishery, where millions of tiny halibut are killed and spawning areas are dredged. This year, everywhere I go, I find draggers on the black cod edge. Draggers close by my gear; draggers in high concentrations of halibut with no observers. The price of black cod is so high it gives a powerful incentive to fish dirty. A friend has a picture of the dragger Walter N with deck load of black cod. They only could keep a small amount, after picking out the big black cod, they shoveled the rest over. And now in the past few years we have the super 58 foot autobaiter longline boats (no observers) trashing out the juvenile halibut.

"We have no real effective observer coverage. 30 percent? And that’s not 24 hours. The system is further manipulated by timing the tow before midnight and by the “observer tow” that’s recorded and later the dirty tow that’s not recorded. A lot of damage can be done in one day of unobserved trawling.

"What I see now is a serious decline in area 3A halibut and even more so in 3B. I would say stock collapse in the near future. Fifty years ago it was the foreign trawlers who were responsible for a huge decline in halibut, but now it is the domestic trawlers threatening our crab, salmon and halibut resources. Thousands of sport charter and commercial fishermen depend on halibut for a living. A fishery worth over $300 million in ex-vessel value this year soon to be trashed out as fodder for cheap flatfish. The IFQ program will surely collapse under the weight of loans not repaid.

"As one dragger crewman told my deckhand 'Why doesn’t anyone do anything about it?'"

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alaska Journal of Commerce Reports Rockfish Decision


Rockfish program signals shift in state fisheries policy

By Andrew Jensen
Alaska Journal of Commerce

"The Alaska delegation to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council signaled a shift in policy at the June meeting in Sitka. The group severed processor ties to harvesters and took steps to sharply curtail transfer and leasing of catch allocations for the Gulf of Alaska rockfish fishery.
"The six voting members from Alaska, which include Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd, represent a controlling bloc of the 11-member federal council that governs the Gulf of Alaska fishing waters.
"The Alaska delegation successfully pushed for a dramatic overhaul of the five-year rockfish pilot program scheduled to sunset after the 2011 season.
"Council member Duncan Fields of Kodiak said the "important, innovative" structural changes to the rockfish program were intended to not only shape state policy, but national policy as well by emphasizing cooperative fishing over individual fishing quotas. "

Read the complete article:
http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/062510/fis_rps.shtml

Although we've blasted the NPFMC decision regarding the halibut PSC swaps and gaming that goes on in the Rockfish Program and the observer program, we have to admit that there seems to be a change of tide coming regarding the heretofore carte blanche that the trawler industry has had with regard to decisions by the NPFMC. With the recent reappointment of Duncan Fields of Kodiak and Sam Cotten of Eagle River, it appears that their actions have the stamp of approval by the Obama Administration and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. This is good news for Alaska. For too long, the Council has acted as part of the colonial government of Alaska, setting policy and making money primarily for outside interests, both foreign and domestic, whose concern was profits at the expense of the resident Alaska fishermen and resident Alaska fish resources. I know, I know, some trawlermen are residents, some few. The decisions on rockfish and (we shall see) the preliminary moves to protect tanner crab and Chinook salmon in the Gulf of Alaska to be further addressed this fall, make it seem like for the first time in NPFMC history that protection for trawler abused stocks has taken on some urgency. Is it too late?

Those of us concerned about the GOA and the future of our communities see these moves as hopeful of a new courage on the part of Alaska NPFMC members to take up the struggle to ensure a future to our fisheries. We owe them a hearty thanks, for this latest move. We need to let the Governor know his ADFG Commissioner is doing a good job and we need to retain him. We need to let gubernatorial candidates know the management of Alaska fisheries needs to get off the colonial model. We have a helluva a long way to go. Too many of the continuing trawler fisheries are pursued for the profits of their allowable bycatch (cod, sablefish) which the NPFMC has erroneously granted them as a boon for pursuing what can only be called trash fish. The allowable take of PSC halibut, crab, and salmon should be a crime, but the the NPFMC has kept a blind eye to that economy of waste. So there is plenty to do. That we allow our wonderful natural resources to be thrown away at minimal profits to outside interests and foreign owned processors for some balance of trade scheme is an outrage. Processor linkages give away our fisheries resources without extracting their real value and block Alaskans from ever owning their own waterfront.

Alaska should act as a state and not as a colony. She needs to look after her people and her long term sustainable economic health. Her small coastal communities are not poor step-pups to the big dog Anchorage, but the tributaries of her river of economic health. Exxon, BP, Shell, and their ilk are not friends of Alaska, anymore than they have been to Louisiana, though when they are rubbing your back and shoving money down your pants, it seems like it. Same goes with Pebble Mine, the trawl fleet, and the foreign owned (outsider owned) processors. When their bellies are full (and their appetites are enormous), all their sweet promises are forgotten. Statehood wasn't the end of the fight, it was only the beginning. Until Alaska acts like a state and manages her resources like a state, we will still be a territorial colony.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gaming Reminder: Sleight of Hand, Blinded Eye

For some of you in the know, this reminder is unnecessary, but we have to make it for the sake of honesty. Information concerning bycatch and especially PSC (Prohibited Species Catch) of halibut, crab, and king salmon is only a best guess by the agencies. They do not include in their equation of estimation a gaming factor, but the factor exists and for some candid observers here, suspicion is that the estimated PSC catch is at least twice and perhaps four times as high as is reported. This is widely believed to be the reason for declining catches of affected species.

Advocacy groups, like the Marine Fish Conservation Network, report that 30% of the Gulf of Alaska trawl effort is observed, but they don't count gaming. The MFCN is well meaning but terribly naive. In the simplest scenario, for instance, a trawler will pick up their observer in the evening of day one, make a tow before midnight, make another after midnight, return the observer to the dock and count those two tows as two days of their required coverage. Then they have four days to fish as dirty as they please, without further concern. Most trawler skippers will tell you that such tows are done expressly for the observer, not for fish. Those wastes of time and energy are the cost of doing their dirty business. They are careful to make those tows especially clean. These tows are then extrapolated by the agencies to show the bycatch. Obviously, from such data, they show very little about what is really going on. This is why the trawl industry and their hired PR folks work hard to keep anything like video or still pictures off the internet and certainly out of our hands. Trawler crews who take pictures on deck risk dismissal, black listing, physical threats, and destruction of their cameras. This is not news in the fishing fleet here, simply the way things are done.

Think about it. This is criminal behavior. When observations come to light, it is by mistake. When pictures show up on Tholepin, it is a piercing of the careful mask of propriety the trawler industry works so hard to maintain. That the Marine Stewardship Council certifies filthy flats as sustainable is an abrogation of the public trust. These are the games people play. (Joe South, 1969, The Games People Play, trawler theme song).

Keep yer flippers wet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guest Blogger: New Rule: Halibut PSC Analysis

"Let's say that the allowable halibut bycatch damage is overall 220 MT in the groundfish complex of rockfish and flatfish, two related serial killers of halibut. Now with only 12.5% coming out up front that is 27.5 MT savings put in the bank for halibut, not allowed as part of the trawl slaughter. That leaves 192.5 MT for prosecution of rockfish. Let's say they "use up" 92.5 MT of it (nearly 50%) to prosecute rockfish, that would leave a carry forward to the later flatfish season of 100MT. Under the 55% rule, 45% would be put in savings (not allowed for flats prosecution) so leaving 55MT which would likely get used up before flats would be shut down on that limit. With 27.5 and 45MT in the bank, that's 72.5MT out of the 220 originally, or an overall savings of around 33%, about one-third.

"That's why if it had gone the way the state and halibut fishermen wanted 25% taken out up front (the 75% rule instead of the new motion's 87.5% rule), so 55MT would be taken out first. Then say another 45% later, that is, if following 220 minus 55, equals 165, less let's say 90MT or so used for rockfish, leaving 75 MT times 45% or another 33.75MT dropped before flats are fished. The combination of 55 and 33.75 sums to 88.75, divided by the 220 original, is more like 40% halibut savings in the bank, instead of 33%. Or another way of looking at that is 88.75 less 72.5 is an additional savings of 16.25MT or 35,750 pounds, and if the small halibut in the bycatch were an average of 10 lbs, that would be 3,570 fish, which when grown to size of commercial fish in the longline halibut fishery at say 40 lbs. would be 143,000 lbs, which at $4.50 avg. would mean another $643,500 in the hands of halibut quota holders if all fished later.

"Point is that the savings are important and significant.

"Check my math."

Comment: But all this overly complex calculation reminds me of how some skippers pay crew...like when they lease or borrow for IFQ; baffle them with bullshit rather than just being truthful. Follow me here...rather than granting just enough halibut PSC bycatch needed for rockfish, the NPFMC gives them far more halibut PSC than they need so they can roll that over to filthy flatfish, because if they were to simply to give them a great pile of halibut PSC for flatfish, it would be unconscionable, too completely wrong. Then to cover their tracks (to baffle us with bullshit) they take some of the Rockfish Program halibut PSC back to show just how good they are about managing the resource. And we are supposed to feel very grateful, just like when you get a nickle back on your tax return. Wrong. The Council needs to make serious inroads into the halibut PSC allocation, not just couple of nickles. Wiglaf.

(Keep yer calculators dry.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rockfish Program Halibut Bycatch...Clear Concise Language?

If I didn't get that Rockfish Program halibut PSC exactly right, I blame it all on the clear and concise language of the NPFMC's staff. (I think they used to work for the IRS). The following is verbatum:

"7.3 Prohibited species (halibut mortality) Allowance to the rockfish cooperative program will be based on 75 percent of the historical average usage (during the qualifying years), calculated by dividing the total number of metric tons of halibut mortality in the CGOA rockfish target fisheries during the qualifying years by the the number of years, and multiplying by 0.75. The difference between the historical average usage and the allowance provided above will remain unavailable for use.

"The halibut PSC allowance will be divided between sectors based on the relative amount of qualifying target rockfish species catch in each sector.

"Option for supplementing the last seasonal halibut apportionment for trawl gear 75 percent of any allowance of halibut PSC that has not been utilized by November 15 or after the declaration to terminate fishing will be added to the last seasonal apportionment for trawl gear, during the current fishing year. The remaining portion of any allowance will remain unavailable for use."

If you figure out what this means in regard to 87.5%, 12.5%, and 55%, let me know. Is the 87.5% a replacement for the first 75% or the second? I know it is the Council's business but you'd think they'd let the public know what they are doing, or would they? Until then, I need to get this next set. These satellite charges are killing me, and I need some reds to pay for them.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Halibut PSC Report

This is important to the health of the halibut resource and might begin a process to roll back the 2000 metric tons of halibut waste in the Gulf of Alaska. Hey, it could happen. Be informed.

Here is the report: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/current_issues/halibut_issues/HalibutPSC_510.pdf

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, June 14, 2010

HALIBUT! Rockfish Minority Reports-NPFMC Sitka June 2010

------
"Minority Report (Component 7.3): A seven member minority wanted a maximum rollover of 50% and a six member minority preferred a rollover of 30%. The Rockfish Program claims to reduce halibut bycatch and seafloor contact. The rockfish fishery has achieved these goals. However, if 100% rollover provision of unused halibut prohibited species was rolled over, it would undermine the fundamental intent of MSA (Magnuson Stevens Act) in reducing bycatch, thus something less than a 100% rollover is required. The minority believes that the majority choice of 75% is too high. Bottom trawl time and associated impacts to the habitat have significant impacts to the habitat around Kodiak Island in the fall. In order to provide some level of net benefit to the nation, a portion of halibut savings should truly be realised and left in the water. PSC allocations based on pre-program usage (should be the rule?) A 30% to 50% reduction fulfills commitments to reduce bycatch/halibut impacts while achieving program goals. Signed: Theresa Peterson, Jeff Farvour, Becca Robbins Gisclair, Chuck McCallum, Tim Evers, John Crowley."
------
"Component 16): A minority believes that a hard sunset for the entire rockfish pilot program is important. Both ten year and fifteen year sunsets were supported by the minority. The first line of the problem statement is: "The intent of this action is to retain the conservation, management, safety, and economic gains to the extent practicable..." and it is notable that the program has achieved the benefits of a rationalised fishery without giving away the 'property rights' of the fishery.

"The Rockfish Program began as a two year pilot program which was extended through an act of congress. In complying with the reauthorized MSA is has undergone fundamental changes such as no processor association. This program is part of a piece meal attempt to rationalize fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska in allocating a small rockfish fishery along with valuable secondary species. We have no idea what things will look like tens years down the line; especially with the number of Council agenda items addressing bycatch issues with crab, salmon, and halibut on the horizon. A program duration will create incentives to keep the program working so Council may choose to continue the program and the fleet will not have the expectation that the program will exist in perpetuity.

"All that is required for a limited access program to deliver the benefits of a rationalized program is that there be a meaningful quantifiable limit or a set quota on the amount of fishery resource that can be harvested. The public has zero incentive to design programs in such a way as to maximize the bottom line asset value of the resource quota. Quite the opposite, in fact, because the greater the value of the quota, the greater the negative impact on communities through higher barriers to entry into the fishery Limited program duration can serve to achieve the benefits of rationalization while delivering adequate business stability and trying to keep the barriers to new entrants lower than would otherwise be the case. Signed: Theresa Peterson, Becca Robbins Gisclair, Chuck McCallum."

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Time, Salmon Time




While there are things here on the horizon that could use a flogging, summer time means salmon time and the information resources that support this blog are out chasing fish. News is that observers will now be required on vessels under sixty feet and we will perhaps get some better data on the bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska. There will be few surprises, however, as selective gear types will for the most part still be selective and the less selective gear (read trawls) will remain less selective. It is tragic how we have to prove gravity over and over and the disbelievers keep calling it rumor. Planning sessions are being scheduled for the implimentation of more complete observer coverage. We all must engage in steering this process so that we get the truth about what goes on out there. The days of hiding huge takes of sealions by trawlers may be over. (Did you hear about the fin whale killed in the cod end? Didn't think so.) There are no more king crab so there are no more red bags (cod ends bulging with crushed Paralithodes camtschaticus). But decks covered in king salmon and or juvenile halibut and cod ends bulging with crushed tanner crab are still happening, and being unobserved, and like the oil escaping from the BP well, "if it don't surface, it just ain't there," right? And very like the BP spill, the unified command of NMFS, the NPFMC, ADF&G, and so on, just can't get off their support of "a blind eye for the big guy"...trawlers and, for the most part, foreign owned processing interests who continue to support the gaming of the observer program. Yes, the gaming of the data, of the testimony, of the unseen catches, of the missed observations, the skewed sampling, the skipper's sleight of hand, like BP's oil spill keeps the true magnitude of the damage out of sight and out of mind. What evidence?



Things can change for the better. Keep your cameras ready (and hidden) and we will get your eye on stage to make a difference. Get engaged with the restructuring of the observer program. They won't do this again for a very long time. Your involvement will help get it right. Okay, maybe not right, but a helluva lot better. It could happen.



If you haven't read this entire blog, may I suggest you do so? What is posted here is not spoiling, needs no refrigeration, and for the most part is not time sensitive. When you are done you will be much better informed about the hidden truths about trawling and bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska.

Until later. I have to go catch fish. A sealion has to eat too, right?

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Flatfish trawlers cut bottom contact by 90%!"

Can you imagine anyone with even half a brain to make such a statement? Well, the Marine Stewardship Council did, making them almost too preposterous. It is like an absurd comedy. Except it is an outrage. This is an act of intentional deception and truly deserves a lawsuit. MSA has indeed certified filthy flats as a sustainable fishery. By such action they have helped destroy the validity of that very word...sustainable is now most officially a greenwash word, a salesman's pitch, a perversion of truth. It would be laughable if it didn't mean now there is a stronger market potentially for flats and that trawlers will continue to trash the resources around Kodiak with hard on the bottom flat fish trawling. Crab stocks, halibut, corals, and the general benthic habitat will suffer. Until overwhelming pressure by commercial fishermen, charter fishermen, sportfishermen, and the general public are brought to bear upon our representatives in government to call a halt, these destructive practices will continue. Write your letters, friends, speak your mind while we still have some healthy resources left in the Gulf of Alaska to worry about.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

$$$ MSC to Certify Filthy Flats! $$$

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News is that the Marine Stewardship Council is about to certify GOA flatfish as sustainable and green. Unbelieveable! This is an affront to common sense! Flatfish trawling in Kodiak (GOA) is dirty, dirty, dirty...the worst! Crab bottom, halibut bottom, WTF! 28% halibut death for arrowtooth delivered and this from official NMFS records as witnessed by observers! Filthy Mar Pacifico! A nearly worthless flatfish targeted to get the bycatch and in so doing destroying invaluable halibut.

In the infamous video below you can watch crew sort dead and dying halibut to keep a few flatfish. http://www.tholepin.blogspot.com/2009/10/filthy-video-of-halibut-waste.html This is exactly the kind of behavior that MSC is going to certify as sustainable and green. Unbelieveable and worthy of condemnation. Sustainable indeed. How shortsighted can they get? Don't they believe their own eyes?

Obviously this is a $green$ organization. Pay them your $green$ and they will give you anything you want! If these crooks had any conscience, it was purchased long ago. Give it up people...you are totally compromised. I see they are getting this through the door before the observer restructuring can get its legs (although I have serious doubts that we can put an end to the sophisticated gaming that will go on even if it gets restructured).

While I do not have any faith that sense and reason can trump money, let these people know that their British bullshit is just that. We need to pull down the Marine Stewardship Council as corrupt as is the Marine Conservation Alliance, where they probably get some of their money. Certainly MSC is getting their money from the same origins...trawler and processor profits off the destruction of the Gulf of Alaska and elsewhere, where dirty unsustainable fishing practices rule.

Shoot them your emails protesting the certification of GOA flatfish. Outrageous!

objections@msc.org

If you do not send them a message, you can not complain that they did not listen to you. You can be sure that the trawlers will be writing (their bosses will enforce that) as directed by the whitefish trawler association.

Keep yer bloody flippers wet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Network Releases Report Assessing Needs for At-Sea Observers

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"The Marine Fish Conservation Network recently released Meeting the Information Demands of 21st Century Fisheries: A Needs Assessment for Fisheries Observer Programs, a report that explains the need for more federally funded at-sea observers. At-sea fisheries observers are a central pillar of the National Marine Fisheries Service's national bycatch strategy and the catch data they collect is critical to the success of efforts to end overfishing. The report shows that significant increases in funding of fisheries observer programs are needed to support the information needs of fisheries managers and it recommends other changes to expand observer coverage and maintain public access to data."

Read it at : http://www.conservefish.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=12&id=136&Itemid=332

Well, it is an okay report, but like so many things written by bystanders to the industry it is full of comfortable half truths. "Observer coverage varies widely by region and fishery, from levels of 30 to 100% in most Alaska groundfish fisheries..." Garbage in, garbage out. Too general, not accurate and completely oblivious to the gaming that goes on within the industry. Frankly, I can't worry about how messed up the other regions are, because right here in the Gulf of Alaska, things are not pretty. 30% observer coverage is a goal, is heavily gamed by players so that the data gained is distorted and inaccurate. That data ends up being used to forecast and regulate and is mostly erroneous. Huge gaps exist in the catch and bycatch data. High-grading and wastage are rampant. If a fish dies in the cod end and there is no one there to see, is it really there? Not according to the NMFS. Only occassionally does a brave soul step forward and record the waste, as has been seen here on these pages.

So Marine Fish Conservation Network, nice try, but no you didn't get it right. The system is far more broken than you can imagine. Please try again. Your brush is far too wide and general to have much use. Put a finer point on it. 100% observer coverage must be part of any real plan to manage fisheries, at least until we really know what the hell is going on out there. Make it a rolling 100% coverage. A couple years for each fishery to ground truth what is really going on. Rumor is just not admissible in court. 'They'll never kill all the buffalo." Think again.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dirtiest Bottom Trawlers 2010...Simply Criminal

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These are samples from official prohibited species reports available on the NOAA website: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2010/pscinfo.htm
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Worst Non Pelagic Trawlers in the Gulf of Alaska for Halibut
No.1: Feb 6, 2010 F/V Coho fishing cod 47% bycatch of halibut, 2 observations
No.2: Mar 27, 2010 F/V Mar Pacifico fishing arrowtooth 28% halibut, 1 observation

No.3: Mar 27, 2010 F/V Golden Fleece fishing cod 24% halibut, 4 observations
No.4: Feb 6, 2010 F/V Hickory Wind fishing cod 15% halibut, 1 observation


All halibut bycatch is dead and all tanner crab too, with more tanner crab not recovered to the deck crushed by the trawl and killed. This is PSC. Prohibited Species Catch. It may not be retained and is thrown overboard. Less than 30% of trawler time has an observer on board. These observers are kept busy with sampling work and often are unaware of the bycatch. So this is only the tip of the iceberg, a hint of the destruction going on in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea.

Worst Trawlers in the Gulf of Alaska for Chinook
No.1: F/V US Intrepid 385 Chinook killed, 17 observations
No.2: F/V Vaerdal 311 Chinook, 20 observations

No.3: F/V Ocean Alaska 284 Chinook, 16 observations
No.4: F/V Sea Mac 245 Chinook, 5 observations

No.5: F/V Leslie Lee 227 Chinook, 8 observations
No.6: F/V Marathon 151 Chinook, 3 observations

Getting complicated here, because the latest stats by NMFS have drastically changed since last week. They must be tweaking the data to make it more palatable. Just like the sea lion data that we can't see until Balsinger launders it to make it more acceptable to the players. It is after all, a game. Like Wall Street, NMFS is playing with the numbers and the stats so things don't look as bad as they are. When the whole thing collapses, it won't matter who we blame. The deed will be done.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Happened To The Halibut, Dad?

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Well, Child, people didn't take care of them and they were all killed. It was a sad day when the largest, most magnificent fish in the North Pacific Ocean were destroyed by men who didn't care what they caught in their trawls.
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But, Dad, why didn't you stop them?
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I tried, Child, but we couldn't get the rule makers to see the importance of taking care of the Ocean and the fish that we depend upon. They let too many baby halibut get killed by the trawlers and didn't see that those little fish were the future. Now all we have left are the pictures of those big flat fish. See that king crab on the wall there? That's what happened to them, too.
*** Trawl bycatch in January 2010 (note size of halibut)
The eagles are feasting on king salmon, crab legs lie scattered about.
IPHC data shows...

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Keep yer flippers wet.