Saturday, January 23, 2010

Contact IPHC About Dragger Destruction of the Resource

The International Pacific Halibbut Commission is meeting in Seattle January 25 through 29. Here is an opportunity to contact Executive Director Bruce Leaman and make your concerns known about the wanton waste of halibut in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea by the American trawler fleet. While halibut stocks plummet and fishermen dependent on the resource continue to suffer economic impacts, the trawler fleet continues to decimate the halibut (and crab and salmon) stocks with impunity. By shear numbers of concerned citizens, perhaps if we add our voices to those in attendance who will be demanding changes in the way the IPHC and NMFS (No More Fish Sorry) calculate the real loss of halibut and habitat by the trawl fleet. Speak up now, loudly and often, before there is nothing left, like what has happened to the East Coast fisheries.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tholepin Called Biased...

Since when is truth biased? We are moving in a scary direction, people.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Dope on Marine Stewardship Council Certification

You pay 'em and they certify. Wow. That's what they mean by 'green.'

If you want to object to certification, you have to pay them...up to $30K. WTF.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Do Not Certify Pollock as Green!

The blue tangles of threads on this tanner crab is chafing gear from a trawl net proving they are contacting the bottom and fragile crab, as well as everyting else! These were common during tanner crab season 2009 in Kodiak.

The Marine Stewardship Council ( is about to re-certify the pollock trawl fishery as green and sustainable. Of course it is neither green or sustainable. It has a dark history going back at least as far as the joint venture days when hundreds (some say thousands)of my fellow sea lions were killed in the Shelikof Strait. More recently huge numbers of salmon, especially chum and chinook are taken by trawlers here in the Gulf of Alaska and in the Bering Sea, where resultant shortages of fish have closed the Red and the Karluk Rivers to fishing on Kodiak Island, and have starved the residents of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers who depend on these fish for food and income. These systems have been declared a disaster for lack of fish, bycaught by the Bering Sea trawlers.

Here in the Gulf of Alaska, it is well known that the 'midwater' trawls frequently contact the bottom (they call it 'kissing') crushing crab and other species while the trawlermen chase the pollock close to the bottom. Furthermore, juvenile pollock excluder gear allows for larger average fish size while excluding these juveniles. As a result of going through the excluder mesh, these smaller pollock are damaged and most do not survive thus distorting the catch stats. Since there is no accounting, these excluded/killed fish are not counted against the total allowable catch quota. Like the king and tanner crab that are crushed, if you don't see 'em you can't count 'em.

There is no way the pollock fishery is green or sustainable. You can make an objection to the Marine Stewardship Council, but only if you are a registered participant and are willing to pay up to $30k. Now that's some green!

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, January 15, 2010

SEACOPS Joins the Fight for Cleaner Fishing

Welcome SeaCops to the fight to stop the wasteful destruction of our fisheries resources by the dirtiest fishing gear ever invented, trawling.

"Wiglaf - thanks for your work, we need your help! WE NEED VIDEO AND PICTURES. We're experiencing a severe decline of Halibut in SE Alaska and the charter sector is getting a lot of the blame for this. Go figure-punish the smallest user group with the least representation who get the most value per pound of fish caught.
"We are on a mission to educate the public about how ALL halibut drift west as larva and grow up in the nurseries of the Western Gulf only to be slaughtered by draggers as juvenile fish before they can complete their migration and be recruited into the fisheries = 2,000,000 individual fish! That's more halibut than the longliners and sport fishermen will get to catch this year combined.
"I work closely with SEACOPS ( who had a lot to do with getting rid of the draggers in SE Alaska in the '80s. We've got SEACOPS active again and are working on a presentation to educate SE communities about why our halibut numbers are down so low.
"Can we get a copy of your filthy halibut video for the presentation, and do you have pictures?"

Absolutely. On its way.
Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Central Gulf, An Issue Overview for Non-Fishers

The Central Gulf of Alaska
The richest area of the Gulf of Alaska, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, is the central gulf, composed of the near shore, the continental shelf, and the continental shelf edge waters between 159 W and 140 W longitude. Huge flats areas, mountainous pinnacles, and muddy gullies offer an incredible diversity of sea life. Most trawling occurs in waters well under 500 fathoms. This Google Earth view shows the continental shelf and the deep offshore abyssal waters. Jurisdictions include state waters (out to three miles) and federal waters out to 200 miles.
The state waters are mostly managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and federal waters by the National Marine Fisheries Service through the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Halibut are managed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Comments about management should be addressed to your state senator, or representative as well as the governor's office, and the commissioner of Fish and Game. Comments about federal management should be addressed to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, and copied to your US Senators and Representative Don Young. Don't expect much from the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council unless they are flooded with comments. They are not a democratic council and mostly follow the directives of their interest conflicted Members. Petitions and letter writing campaigns have greater effect than individual letters. Organizations also have greater effect, based on member numbers. Start your movement today. You might consider:

Bear in mind the following:
  • The Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) of halibut for trawlers in the Central Gulf is 2000 metric tons (4.4 million pounds). All of these fish are killed, thrown overboard and wasted. Because less than 30% of the trawler tows are observed, and these observations are often manipulated by the trawlers, the actual PSC is believed by most non-trawler fishermen to be far higher.
  • This PSC doesn't change with the abundance of halibut. Now that halibut abundance has gone down for several years in a row, effectively the trawler fleet is killing and wasting a much larger share of the halibut.
  • The trawler fleet wants to negotiate a larger PSC so they can catch more flounders (flats), since they reach their halibut PSC cap without catching all the flats they might otherwise be allowed. They call this stranded quota. The actual value of the flats is very low, but trawlers are allowed to keep targeted incidentally caught codfish which pays for the trips. So they want to waste more halibut to waste more flats so they can catch a little cod. Does this make sense to you?

If you are not a commercial fisherman and this all seems complex, remember, this is the simplified version. This all becomes more and more complex the more you learn and the NMFS and the trawler industry intends it to be too daunting to understand. The less the public knows, the more trawlers and their friends can get away with. The trawler fleet actually hires their own analysts to feed both NMFS and the public data and information most carefully spun to their distinct advantage. How else would they be able to continue to waste Alaska resources with such apparent nonchalance?

Missing data. Where is the data you ask? Missing or carefully manipulated. Because observer data is fragmentory, it used to both support trawler arguments before the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council , and dismissed as insufficient when used to criticised the trawler industry. When fewer than three vessels are involved in any area, the claim of proprietary privacy is made and the federal or state government can not by statute release the data. We need more data, no doubt, and to this end 100% observer coverage must be instituted to see what really goes on with our resources.

Begin your education at:


  • 100 % observer coverage on all trawlers in the Central Gulf.
  • Individual trawler bycatch caps on all PSC (halibut, king salmon, and crab).
  • PSC cap of halibut at 2000 metric tons must be linked to the highest abundance of halibut, and scaled back according to current abundance.
  • No increase of PSC. Enough wanton waste already.
  • Demand cleaner fishing practices by all gear types, no more free pass.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tholepin Hits Around the World

Tholepin Hits Alaska

Tholepin Hits Outside Alaska

We won't break any records, but according to our SiteMeter, Tholepin is averaging 96 page views per day. Considering the weighty material in these pages, not too bad. These graphs indicate the interest is well beyond Kodiak Island. Juneau and D.C. hits were especially interesting. Are the Maryland hits coming from our potential new NMFS Director Eric Schwaab? Too good to be true? He might be an honest man. Come could happen.

Keep yer flippers wet.