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.