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 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 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


Keep yer flippers wet.