Monday, December 12, 2011

MCManman and Keaton Conspire to Confuse Less Careful Readers

On page six  and seven of December's 2011 Pacific Fishing Magazine's Don McManman starts a twisted apology (probably mostly to advertisers) about having passed on information Wiglaf pulled from official NMFS numbers (although McManman seems to confuse Wiglaf and Medred).  Josh Keaton of NMFS also weighs in to twist Wiglaf''s flippers over the posting.  Admittedly, Wiglaf has been pretty hard on NMFS for not protecting the resources of the GOA.  McManman even includes some palaver from Merrick Burden, of MCA, a wholly owned and operated extension of the draggers and processors serving as a thinly guised propaganda service to promote DP interests.  Ordinarily, I wouldn't bother to respond, but since this is a clumsy attempt to gut our credibility, here goes.   I do appreciate that this need to fill two pages in Pathetic Fishing means we hare having some effect, or no one would mention us.

No projections of the Alaska Beauty's catch was made by Wiglaf.  Straight off NMFS's report.  No application to the fleet was made by Wiglaf; the Alaska Beauty is regularly dirty, owns no IFQ halibut and so is apparently disinterested in taking care of that resource.  (Don't you love the way Keaton apologizes for the Alaska Beauty?)  We have to wonder though, what happens when Alaska Beauty doesn't have an observer aboard.  Keaton says one observed bad tow, NMFS records show there were five.  NMFS numbers: 43% of his catch of cod was PSC halibut.  Beauty, eh?  A black mark on Alaska to be sure.

The fleet-wide catch was officially extrapolated with an approved NMFS model by NMFS number crunchers and published as such.  That they adjust these numbers regularly as they feel the pressure by the industry to deflate them or find errors in their methods (are there many?) should be our concern, but we publish as the information surfaces.
24 September 2011
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/car240_psc_halibut.csv
This link has weekly bycatch rates/mortality by area and gear type. (Thanks, GF)

As far as to what Craig Medred says (we saw the error in his report), we have little care.  Medred is devoutly anti-commercial fishing, and so is hardly an ally, except that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" occasionally makes him useful.  Nobody, after all, informed of the horrific bycatch waste in the Gulf of Alaska fails to flinch.  And while it is true we all have bycatch, whether pot, longline, seine, troll, jig, gillnet; the fact remains that trawl bycatch is beyond what anybody should tolerate, and while we argue, trawlers are busily degrading the GOA, its habitat and ocean inhabitants.  NMFS is comfortable with its own models and sincerely does not have the will to change the modus operandi of GOA trawling.  Some say they sincerely don't care.  Too much trouble and too much well financed opposition with no political backbone in DC to back them up.  Fisheries science is up for sale.  Wake up. 

"At times the GOA trawl fleet seems more intent on avoiding halibut (PSC bycatch) than actually catching its target species.  The fleet voluntarily stood down for three weeks in September because of high (observed) halibut bycatch."  Don McManman says.  Oh, Don, come on, you are not really that simple are you?  They had damn well better be careful.  If they exceed the PSC they will be forcibly shut down by Federal law.  Their behavior is called self interested self preservation.  McManman kisses on...

"The GOA trawl fleet also voluntarily took on 100 percent observer coverage---paid for out of their own pockets---to ensure an accurate and timely count of halibut bycatch."  Really?  Don, they didn't do that out of the goodness of their hearts, it is called CYA.  A PR ploy that worked on you and didn't cover anymore time than they needed it to, operating as an informal co-op.  Part of this was to stopper their 'pirate' or sloppy skippers who can't avoid bycatch because they are too unskilled or impaired.  It was also a demonstration of what they could do if we give them the Gulf as IFQ.

Years ago, Al Burch said we had to hang together as commercial fishermen or the greenies and the tree huggers and PETA would hang us all separately.  It is a simple argument that has appeal if you are basically distrustful or paranoid, but not if you are more willing take a chance with honesty with the fish consuming public.  It is the public's ocean.  We need to clear the air, fish as cleanly as we can and change how we catch fish if we need.  If dragging is unable to clean up its act, it needs to go the way of the dinosaurs...extinct.  That restricting trawlers might affect Pacific Fishing's bottom line, or anyone else's, is meaningless in the long run, and that is what we care about, the future of fishing.  We look east of us and see it is mostly gone or a shadow of its former health/wealth.  We don't want to look back at the good old days.  We want them from here on into the future.  You got a problem with that?

Bycatch is an emotional issue, you say?  Damn right.  To see the future swept away by the lust for profits, to see the passive response of NMFS and the NPFMC to such criminality of wasting this year 1829 metric tons of halibut.  One metric ton is 1000 kilograms, so a metric ton is roughly 2205 pounds, so 1829 X 2205 = 4,032,945 pounds.  Check that Don.  No bullshit. 

http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/car120_goa.pdf
This is straight off the internet.  Try it, you'll like it.  And if what we believe is true, this is a fraction compared with what is really being killed off as bycatch in the Gulf. 100% observed trawling for an entire year will get us some ground-truthing of what the real cost to the resource is for complacency over trawl bycatch.


Journalists are dependent on economics to survive.  Fishing magazines (all small magazines) are under stress.  They need every advertising dime they can garner.  The smaller the outfit the more dependent they are on their advertisers.  Advertisers hate controversy.  It is hard on the bottom line.  So most journalists are not very independent, they depend on advertising dollars for their daily bread.  Bloggers are not dependent on cash made from their journalism.  They can speak the truth as they see fit without the compromise of fearing offending groups (except for violent threats).  The blog is a leveler.  Wiglaf is saying nothing that hasn't been said before on the docks, but for the first time, you can read it out loud and online.  This news can get beyond the shorelines of this little fish town.  That shakes things up.

Last. Anonymity is for self protection.  What's a name, anyway?   Call me Wiglaf.   Judge the argument.   If you want to get a hold of me, use the comment link, but otherwise don't waste my time.

Keep your flippers wet.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Proposal: 100% Observer Coverage an All GOA Trawl Vessels for One Year

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GOA GROUNDFISH TRAWL SUBSECTOR OBSERVER PROPOSAL
Submitted Repeatedly for Six Years
on the Official Record of NPFMC/NOAA Fisheries
D-3 Groundfish Issues and D-5 Staff Tasking-Requesting Placement on the Agenda

Applying National Standards: 
NS #1  Issues of rebuilding, optimum yielding, preventing overfishing
NS #2  Best science and providing most current, comprehensive information
NS #3  Close coordinated management
NS #7  Minimize costs (damaged stocks, wasted fuel, etc.)
NS #8  Sustained community participation
NS #9  Minimize bycatch and mortality on non-target species.  For multispecies management to maximize net national benefits from Kodiak fisheries

Name of Proposer: Ludger W. Dochtermann
Date: (orig. June 1, 2005) December 7, 2011

Brief Statement of Proposal:
Full (100%) Observer Coverage on All Gulf of Alaska Trawl Vessels for the Year 2012, and once in every 3 years, thereafter.  By "Year 2012," I mean "year-1 deployment" - i.e., before any further Rationalization or Catch Share regulations are promulgated.  So, inherent in this proposal is a halt to further action until the best (adequate) scientific data is made available.

Objectives of Proposal (What is the problem?):
To accurately evaluate the trawl fishery subsector's entire catch performance regarding the bycatch of non-targeted species and the on-board management conduct of the fishery's prosecution.  There us a serious need to have years of full knowledge regarding bycatch for several reasons, not the least of which is for comparison with other years of reduced coverage where the Nation relies upon self-reporting during non-observer hauls.

Need and Justification for Council Action (Why can't the problem be resolved through other channels?):
Due to the nature of the extraordinary value of bycatch-often exceeding the value of targeted species, and due to the nature of massive discards when incidents of "bad hauls" occur, NOAA Fisheries and the Council need a more accurate base, of first data year statistics.  Absent the presence of constant recording cameras and other means of improving data collection-and given the need for human confirmation of such 'remote sensing' were it to occur-the 2012 fishery would be a first start in accurate measurement.

Human behavior, swayed by overwhelming economic rewards and absent effective comparison data and enforcement, demands that NOAA base its decisions on more accurate data, and confirm that said behavior is not incorrectly reported when observer coverage is not at 100%.  The Council and NOAA are also aware of the uselessness of GOA bycatch data.  The OMB needs to review Compliance with Data Quality Act in the self-reporting system.

The recent submittal of pictures of tanner crab bycatch in the Kodiak groundfishery at the June 2009 session clearly demonstrates the need for 100% observer coverage, full time for one base year.  The pictures from tholepin.blogspot.com simply reinforce this message.  While some have historically considered Bering Sea crab pod encounters to be rare, true or not, around Kodiak, trawlers do fish shallow bays and other grounds that increase the likelihood of pod encounters or are simply dragging through crab abundantly concentrated on the ocean floor.

Foreseeable Impacts of Proposal (Who wins, who loses?):
The program would arguably be costly and operationally inconvenient to many vessels, however government could cover much of the costs in return for the knowledge gained.  For the cost of not having full and complete knowledge-at least every 3 years, and at least once in 2012-before creating any further arbitrary resource allocation (property rights shifting) regulations (such as rationalization schemes) may be a grave loss to society and regional economies as heavy impact, intense methods of fishing, i.e. hard on bottom trawling, proceed unabated and unwatched.

The question of  'who loses' has been answered by the profound losses suffered by crab and halibut fishermen unless a 100% observer program for one base year is put in place.  Considering that Kodiak was once the 'king crab capital of the world' and its restoration continues to be severely harmed by trawl subsector bycatch incidents, the Council needs this base year to analyze such comparable loses.
The question of  'who wins and who loses' is also moot under the logic that the Public resource is an invaluable asset for the Nation, and no one loses when we all know what are the true conditions of the prosecution of such fisheries.  Everyone wins when regulations are based on the best data, and when they follow the National Standards in the Magnuson-Stevens and Sustainable Fisheries Acts, in their spirit and intent-especially when the regulatory process proceeds on science, not politics and greed.

Are there alternative solutions?  If so, what are they and why do you consider your proposal the best way of solving the problem?:
There is another means of keeping an eye on the prosecution of the fishery, but the cost of having numerous Coast Guard vessels on site, around the clock, along with random boarding fair observer coverage would be much higher than instituting a full coverage year stratification program that operates only once every 3 years.

Supportive Data and Other Information (What data are available and where can they be found?:
This is a complex matter, as NOAA has not had adequate budgets for better research.  But the conduct of the trawl fishery and the witnessing of its highly destructive prosecution are well known among NOAA personnel, Alaskan communities, and fishing crews.  The Council and NOAA have greater insight on data collection and statistical need, and that could all come out during discussion of this proposal were the Council to specifically request NOAA to go forward with 100% observer coverage in 2012 (or 2013).

I ask you to please take this into discussion on Groundfish Issues, and to make your motion for prioritization of a 100% observer coverage Year 1 deployment, specifically in the GOA trawl sector.

Signature:
Ludger W. Dochtermann,  F/V North Point, F/V Stormbird- Kodiak, Alaska

Monday, December 5, 2011

Unaccounted for Halibut Mortality Explained?

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Wiglaf,

The announcement by the IPHC that halibut predicted by the stock model have gone missing in following years has led me to think about where they may have gone.  When Doug Hoedel was on the NPFMC (and had a huge halibut PSC problem while trawling cod), he said, at an informal meeting in Kodiak, that trawlers needed 8,000 metric tons of halibut for their bycatch needs. Later, at another meeting, Julie Bonney of GFDB repeated the same number.  Now I wonder how they both came up with that specific number? 

Most people familiar with this fishery realize that the present 2,000 metric ton PSC cap on Gulf trawlers is nearly meaningless due to gaming of the observer program, potential sampling problems, and industry involvement in the generating of bycatch numbers that appear to always lead to reductions.  Could it be that the 8,000 metric tons (17,600,000 pounds) of halibut bycatch desired by the GOA trawler is closer to the actual number that they know they catch?  If it is true, 6,000 metric tons (13,200,000 pounds) of mortality would be missing from the IPHC management model each year from this one fishery in the Gulf of Alaska. Each year the model would recommend a directed catch that was substantially too high.  The next year's survey and directed fishery CPUE data would see this but the model would produce a new harvest goal that was still wrong due to the unaccounted for mortality.

Unaccounted for bycatch leads to poor modelling by stock managers.

I would recommend to IPHC director Bruce Leaman that his staff retrospectively run the model calculations with 8,000 metric tons of gulf trawl bycatch to see if the model predictions are corrected.  Knowing the magnitude of the "missing" halibut would be a good start to finding them.

Graybeard

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost Four Tenths of One Percent Pays Draggers Big Dividends

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Laine Welch reports all over the 'net that draggers destruction and waste equal warm and delicious fuzzies for the poor and indigent. "Alaska food banks are the beneficiaries of fish taken as bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska thanks to Kodiak fishermen and local processors."  And all this positive spin for 3.7 tenths of one percent of the waste of halibut alone.  The story goes on to state that 5000 pounds of halibut and chinook bycatch were donated to Kodiak and 10,000 pounds of halibut and salmon bycatch were donated to Anchorage; the rest of the 4.02 million pounds of halibut and the 20, 983 king salmon were destroyed, wasted and lost.  No one knows how many kilotons of other species, not named or counted were destroyed, since they don't have name recognition or official value to make it into the NMFS statistical accounts.

For at least the past two weeks very positive news stories have circulated warm fuzzies, making it seem that bycatch has a valuable other side.  Contrarily, the magnitude of the outrageous waste and destruction of the public's resources by a small number of trawlers (about 40) has been neglected by the news media, who, lazy and ill informed, take the easy path and report the most simplistic news story.  Shame on Laine Welch and all the simpletons who picked up this story.  The painful truth remains untold, except maybe here.  They don't even need thirty pieces of silver to sell out the Gulf of Alaska, 3.7 tenths of one percent of their waste is enough.

If we make those donated pounds into meals, we get (at 1/2 pound of donated bycatch per meal), about 30,000 meals.  Wow, that is a lot of food for the poor.  But what remains untold is that at least 7,908,000 meals are dumped and that is just counting this year's reported halibut PSC.  Nevermind the salmon, cod, crab, and everything else.

Picture removed by Google.
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Point.  The waste of bycatch in the GOA can not be compensated for by some half ass program to feed poor people (as nice as that is) when the real story is the wholesale destruction of tens of millions of pounds of fish in the GOA.  Some of these fish are not valued (like Kodiak and Anchorage's poor?), but they play an important role in the health of the Gulf of Alaska.  3.7 tenths of one percent is all that the draggers need to donate of make a positive spin in the media. 

As far as keeping all these fish and feeding the masses, think again, most of the halibut wasted by draggers are very small.  You can see them sorted into totes for grinding at our local canneries.  Six inches long.  Total waste. GroundupFish Data Bunk and friends claim small halibut don't count.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Will Alaska wake up and see the real toll before it is too late for the Gulf? Will the NPFMC do its legal duty to the people of the USA and Alaska and protect these resources? Or will the spin specialists like the Ground(up)fish Data Bank and the 'pugh boys' on GOA draggers destroy one of the last great fishery resources left in the world.
BTW, I hear that NMFS says Wiglaf's figures are not accurate; well of course not, he gets them from NMFS on the web, and NMFS changes them constantly, especially when AGData Bunk calls them, so go figure.  And they impugne Wiggy's credibility?  Look, almost all NMFS figures are extrapolations based upon few (and far between), skewed and inaccurate observations.  If NMFS would become transparent, Wiggy would be forced to get his flippers off this keyboard.  He can't wait. 

But until that day, Keep Your Flippers Wet,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tanner Crab Quota Cut, NMFS Drags Feet on Regulations, Trawlers Drag on Tanners


Here the Golden Fleece and her cohort, both owned by Wm. Bisbee of South Bend, Washington, drag away on arrowtooth and pollock.  This area is a known tanner crab hot spot (halibut too).  AIS from 10/29/2011.
As the Kodiak 2012 tanner guideline harvest level is cut some 650,000 pounds as compared to the 2011 season, trawlers continue to drag away on known tanner crab habitat.  Of particular concern are vessels like the Golden Fleece whose March 2010 bycatch was particularly inexcusable, reaching over 350 individual tanner crab per metric ton of catch observed.  Consider: the capacity of the Golden Fleece is listed by the Alaska CFEC at 6000 cuft (times 64 pounds divided by 2200), or 174 metric tons; the Golden Fleece could have removed as many as 60,900 tanners per trip.  While this 350 crab number was observed only for four hauls, the real take is completely obscured, or occulted by the faulty observer system, by the gaming, and by requiring only 30% observer coverage for vessels under 125 feet.  Regardless of the actual  numbers, to err on the side of caution, when population numbers of species are down, is prudent management.

2010 data show how devastating trawler hauls on tanners can be. 

Curiously, the Golden Fleece disappeared from AIS shortly after this screen shot was taken. 
Spring forward to 2011 data from http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/pscinfo.htm Vessel Specific Bycatch:


While the extremes of 2010 data are not found in 2011, nevertheless huge numbers of tanners were observed to be caught by GOA draggers.  Golden Fleece here represents three differently dated observations resulting in 24 observed tows. These are the worst offenders in 2011.
In 2010, the NPFMC  passed restrictions keeping trawlers off some known critcal tanner bottom in the Kodiak area without full observer coverage, yet the NMFS has not published the regulations putting these new restrictions into effect.  The result?  More tanner crab get lost to bycatch, fewer crab available for harvest, less money coming into the Kodiak economy, less likely the tanner crab will recover to historical levels, etc.  
Golden Fleece and Mar Pacifico position from AIS,  on the proposed tanner crab protection area as selected by the NPFMC.  What is the delay in implementation?
KYFW.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hammer, Hammer, Hammer the Kings; Trawl Away, Drag Away, Throw Away the Kings

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Obviously, the draggers don't feel any compunction about dragging away (and throwing away) Alaska's threatened stocks of king salmon.  Although the take is half of last week's, it is still an outrage. 
No cap is yet in place for Kings.  Although the NPFMC has passed a 25,000 cap of Kings, it does not apply to this year's catch.  Kiss your King salmon good bye!
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/car120_goa.pdf

That the Golden Fleece doesn't lead the worst offenders is surprising. But then they specialize in destroying tanner crab. The Kodiak vessel Caravelle continues her reign as a worst offender in halibut and king salmon. O'Donnell has been heard to claim he doesn't alter his behavior in the face of observers. If true, he is either an especially dirty dragger, or the rest of the fleet is gaming the hell out of their observer coverage.  Come to think of  it, where is the rest of the fleet?  Unobserved!
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/pscinfo.htm


KYFW

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Than 5200 Chinook Wasted By GOA Trawlers Just This Week

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In a switch from wasting at least five million dollars worth of halibut last week, GOA trawlers hammered away on the king salmon, a species widely regarded as suffering from steady declines.  Like halibut, the prevalent attitude of "the sooner they're gone, the sooner we can have our way with the GOA," is expressed by those draggers having no stake in the PSC resources.



We know from past observations that the Alaska Beauty is particularly dirty, so it is interesting that they have only one observation here.  This is an example of gaming.  Looks like the Walter N with double the observer coverage knows how to fish relatively cleanly.  How about: reward the clean boats with a high proportion of the quota, when it comes to that?  Since the practice has been to fish for history so they get the biggest share of the Gulf, turn this around and reward the cleanest boats....what a crazy idea, because now the rewards go to the pigs.   http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/pscinfo.htm


Picture removed by Google.
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KYFW...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Trawlers Smash Halibut, Wasted PSC Exceeds 700,000 Pounds NMFS Reports

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Week ending October 8, 2011 makes last week's halibut PSC look like a warmup. Interestingly, the percentage rate of halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) has diminished, while the actual PSC of halibut has soared to over three times last week's PSC.  Abstrusive statistics are part and parcel of NMFS's 'public process' and 'openness.'  But the occultive practices fail to conceal that pelagic trawling is used on the bottom to catch pollock and the Chinook which feed with them.  Trawl slaughter of Chinook takes a sharp upswing, at 2445 fish wasted.
 Source:http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/pscinfo.htm


KYFW

Friday, October 7, 2011

Getting Wasted: The Tragedy Continues (photos censored)

The pictures which were here were anonymously donated to someone who gave them to someone who gave them to Wiglaf for the tholepin blog.  These photos of illegal activity have since been claimed by the skipper of that vessel who filed with the Google blogging service and they have since been taken down by Google.  This is part of a larger conspiracy by the trawling fleet cooperative to limit their exposure to the public for the secret damages they are doing to the Gulf of Alaska.  Personal threats are received regularly here against Wiglaf and others suspected of being him/her.  Ask not what the Gulf of Alaska can do for you, ask what you can do for the Gulf of Alaska. In the future always save anything you find of interest here and repost elsewhere.  These supposed copyright infringement claims do not have to be substantiated for Google to take them down.  We do not blame Google.  They are simply covering their ass.  Blogs are the last potential for freedom of the press.  But freedom of press in America is an illusion after all.  wt
Picture removed by Google.
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Remember, this is in metric tons.  So 99 X 2200 = 217,800 pounds X $7 =  $1,525,600 in ex-vessel value, last week. http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/car120_goa.pdf

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Of special interest, while Miss Leona whores through the cod, Alliance is heavily observed and apparently knows how to trawl.  Elizabeth F meanwhile sets the standard for stewardship.  .http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/pscinfo.htm

KYFW.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Halibut Waste Rises as Draggers Hammer Cod and NPFMC Fails Again

Here are this week's Dirty Dozen Draggers placed here to celebrate the NPFMC's failure to control waste in the GOA.  In the right column is the percentage of halibut PSC as compared to the catch.  Ironically the Alaska Beauty is the dirtiest dragger this week with fully 43 percent of their 'cod catch' halibut PSC.  No reasonable country or state would tolerate this kind of resource waste.  Other draggers on this list show they can control their PSC, at least some of the time. Source.  We will publish the NPFMC motion and vote when it becomes available.


http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/car120_goa.pdf
104 X 2200 = 228,800 pounds of halibut wasted by draggers just last week.  Value? In cash terms to longliners, about one million six hundred thousand dollars ($1,601,600).  In lost reproductive potential, in lost growth potential, in long term resource damage; all unknowns...but far in excess of the cash value lost.  All in one week.  Are we sure that is the full extent of the damage?  Not at all, as the observer program is badly flawed.  Well what about the report that just came out show that Alaska's bycatch was so much lower than the rest of the country?  Totally misleading and released in a timely way to bolster dragger arguments before the NPFMC that they are so good and righteous...but the fact is that the bycatch in Alaska is a great unknown due to the misleading character of the posits in the extrapolations of a badly flawed observer system.  Wouldn't you think the media in Alaska would examine this stuff?  Wouldn't you think they might look deeper than a feel good press release by NMFS?  Why would they? There is no more reward for real investigative journalism than for the embrace of press releases, that you don't have to rewrite for a public which remains largely uninformed.  The preceding article here regarding faulty red king crab science is an indication of how easily twisted the shaky science is in institutions where uncomfortable findings are suppressed and independent thinking scientists are marginalized.

KYFW,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NPFMC Should Protect Halibut Stock by Rolling Back Trawler PSC

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http://www.alaskajournal.com/Alaska-Journal-of-Commerce/September-2011/Halibut-bycatch-heads-menu-for-council-in-Dutch-Harbor/  by Andrew Jensen, Alaska Journal of Commerce

"Both commercial and charter sectors have pointed to bycatch of halibut in the Gulf by trawlers as a contributing factor to declines in exploitable biomass.

"Unlike the regulatory process over years to craft and then draft the halibut CSP, the action can take effect as soon as 2012 as part of the regular quota process for groundfish if the council chooses to reduce halibut bycatch in the Gulf.

"The trawl sector, between the deepwater and shallow water fisheries, may take up to 2,000 metric tons, or 4.4 million pounds, of halibut as it prosecutes the Pacific cod, pollock, rockfish, arrowtooth flounder, rex sole and other groundfish fisheries.

"The hook-and-line sector is allowed to take up to 300 metric tons, or 661,000 pounds, of halibut each year. When the caps are reached for a sector or for a season, the fishery is closed. Under current management, the hook-and-line fishery has been closed because of reaching its halibut cap just once since 2004; various trawl fisheries have been closed under status quo for every year between 2000 and 2011.

"The council is contemplating options for 5 percent, 10 percent or 15 percent reductions in the amount of halibut allocated to trawlers and longliners in the Gulf.

"Retrospective analysis of the trawl and longline fisheries under the proposed reductions in halibut allocation show potential foregone first wholesale revenue averaging anywhere from $2.32 million to $9.9 million per year.

"Analysis from biologists with the International Pacific Halibut Commission, which sets the harvest quotas for the U.S. and Canadian coasts, suggest that reduced halibut mortality from Gulf bycatch would add yield to the commercial sector on more than a pound-for-pound basis, and that female spawning biomass would benefit at more than twice the rate of any reduction in trawl bycatch.

"The IPHC analysis also stated that halibut migration was not built into the model, and therefore “downstream” effects on Southeast and Canada were likely underestimated in terms of both economic and biological benefits to the halibut sector."

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

110 Million Pounds of Halibut Wasted! Letters in Today to NPFMC Regarding Halibut PSC

For your comments to get into the NPFMC packets, fax them to the Council by 5 PM today.  Address them to the Chairman, Eric A. Olson.  Maximum consideration is for a 15% rollback.  Considering the stress the halibut stock is showing and the fact that draggers have been killing up to 2000 metric tons of halibut every year since 1986(that's 110 million pounds of halibut wasted), isn't it about time?  Most of us suspect there has been a lot more halibut taken than that, since official observations are hard to believe and we know subject to manipulation and games.  The Council has little will for this and the opposition fierce, but the Alaska delegation may be able to make progress.  Twenty-five years of halibut PSC waste is enough, don't you think?  Do you think?

Here is the initial draft review: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/halibut/HalibutPSCLimit911.pdf.
Here is the NPFMC's Fax: 907 271 2817

Put up or shut up.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bering Sea King Crab Headed for a Steep Decline-Incomplete Knowledge Leads To Overfishing

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As we have argued before, incomplete science, cherry picked data, bum projections, and plain old fashioned dishonesty are a problem in the North Pacific fisheries.  Although our focus is the Gulf of Alaska, problems in the Bering Sea king crab fisheries demonstrate dangerous faults in fisheries management.

According to Deckboss:

 
"Results from this summer's eastern Bering Sea trawl survey is fueling fears of a painful cut in the catch limit for the state's most valuable crab. The estimated biomass of legal-sized male Bristol Bay red king crabs is 15,412 metric tons, down 27.8 percent from the 2010 estimate. It's the fourth consecutive year the biomass has fallen."


But faulty modelling by the State of Alaska, according to Braxton Dew, may be one of the reasons for the collapse.


Reinventing the Wheel (and Getting It Wrong)
Braxton Dew
Fisheries Research Scientist
NMFS, Ret.
Today’s crab managers and modelers have reinvented red king crab biology to assume that all adult (≥120 mm carapace length) males are capable of mating each year with multiple females. However, back in the 1950s and 1960s, fishermen, processors, and researchers knew that adult male red king crab do not molt and mate in the same year. For example:

1) Based on the results of Bering Sea tagging studies, male red king crab do not molt and mate in the same year and only about 50% of the population’s mature males move inshore to participate in mating in any given year (Fujita et al. 1973; Takeshita et al. 1990).

2) Molting males, because of profound physiological changes associated with the molting process, undergo a severe reduction in muscle mass and meat content. They are unsuitable for processing and canning from December to March (USFWS 1942; Wallace et al. 1949).

3) Newly molted males were largely absent from catches in the spring Japanese tangle-net fishery, which caught mostly old-shell, non-molting males during April-June as they moved to nearshore Bristol Bay spawning grounds (Kawasaki 1959; Miyahara and Shippen 1965).

4) Consistent with the female-predominated populations found on the spawning grounds (Dew 2008), winter-molting males remain offshore as non-participants in the migration to inshore spawning grounds (Korolev 1964; Chebanov 1965; Rodin 1970, 1990).

Meatless and Mateless
The above graphic shows that adult males molt in winter, mainly during February. Japanese research shows that meat recovery is a slow process, continuing through spring, summer, and fall. Until they regain a reasonable complement of muscle mass, it is unlikely that recently molted males can participate in mating.

Crab Cannot Be In Two Places At Once
Below is a map (from Dew, 2010) showing the Bering Sea ‘bachelor grounds’ centered on Station F6, which is more than 200 km from nearshore spawning grounds. In any given year millions of newly molted mature males can be found on these bachelor grounds, while viable old-shell males are servicing females on distant spawning grounds. During a half-century of sampling, less than 1% of the more than 12,000 mature crab collected at these stations were females; 99% were large, new-shell males. At Station F6, only a single female has been collected in 26 years of sampling. Clearly, there’s not much mating going on here. Why are these hollowed-out, relatively meatless males, far from any known spawning grounds, counted in the model as viable spawners? Clueless managers, oblivious to the reproductive implications of the molting bottleneck common to all crab species, used this same kind of counting during the years leading up to the Bristol Bay population’s ‘mysterious’ collapse in 1980-81.
Bering Sea Bachelor Grounds
All of these data and observations from Japanese, Soviet, and US researchers, indicating that Bering Sea red king crab do not molt and mate in the same year, were compiled and published in 2005 by Dew and McConnaughey for the convenience of red king crab managers and modelers. However, despite the concurrence of scientists from three nations, the information has been ignored by ADF&G’s red king crab model-maker, Dr. Jie Zheng.
In 2009 an independent review of the Zheng model by the Center for Independent Experts (CIE) recommended the following:
Assess mature male molting time. If a fraction of mature males are not capable of mating during the survey time (Dew 2008), then the current calculation of mature males available for mating (>120 mm) would be overestimated.

Dr. Zheng’s non-response to this CIE review comment, which can be found in the 2011 Crab SAFE on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) web site, is that Dew (2008) is wrong. Fair enough, but what about the work of USFWS (1942), Wallace et al. (1949), Kawasaki (1959), Korolev (1964), Chebanov (1965), Miyahara and Shippen (1965), Rodin (1970), Fujita et al. (1973), Rodin (1990), and Takeshita et al. (1990)? Unlike Dr. Zheng, these were research scientists who worked in the Bering Sea. Dr Zheng is not a research scientist but is an ADF&G biometrician, whose job it is to acknowledge reliable information and data from biological research scientists and to incorporate such into his statistical model. It is unlikely that Dr. Zheng can produce credible data that contradicts a half-century of Bering Sea findings by Japanese, US, and Soviet scientists, as discussed in Dew and McConnaughey (2005), Dew (2008), and Dew (2010).


Incomplete Knowledge Leads To Overfishing


Why does the Zheng model assume that all male red king crab greater than 120 mm CL can and do mate each and every year with 1-3 females? What about the 25-50% of the adult male population that molts in late winter (Jan-Mar), shortly before the mating season (Feb-Jul)? Counting newly molted crab as fully functional males, as is done in Dr. Zheng’s length-based model, results in a substantial (33-100%) overestimate of annual male reproductive potential. In a male-only fishery, such miscalculation can be fatal, as understood by Canadian managers who make allowance for the fact that snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) cannot participate in mating in the same year they molt (Sainte-Marie et al. 1999, 2002).



It would be interesting to know how the model’s flawed representation of king crab reproductive biology passes muster each year with the Crab Plan Team (CPT) and the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), both of which are advisory bodies whose primary duty is to prevent overfishing. If it is true that a substantial proportion of the adult male population does not participate in mating each year, then management safeguards such as MSST (Minimum Stock Size Threshold), ESB (Effective Spawning Biomass), etc. are compromised and the Bristol Bay red king crab stock is most likely overfished.


In response to recent questions about why Bering Sea red king crab abundance is declining, Dr. Zheng offered his expert opinion that “Something’s happening out there that we don’t understand.” Perhaps Dr. Zheng, along with his CPT and SSC overseers, should begin by understanding that Bering Sea red king crab males do not molt and mate in the same year.


Literature Cited
Chebanov, S. M. 1965. Biology of the king crab, Paralithodes camtschatica (Tilesius), in Bristol Bay. Soviet Fisheries Investigations in the Northeast Pacific, part 4. TINRO 53:82–84.



Dew, C.B. 2008. Red king crab mating success, sex ratio, spatial distribution, and abundance estimates as artifacts of survey timing in Bristol Bay, Alaska. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 25:1618-1637. doi:10.1577/M07-038.1


Dew, C.B. 2010. Historical Perspective on Habitat Essential to Bristol Bay Red King Crab. In: G.H. Kruse, G.L. Eckert, R.J. Foy, R.N. Lipcius, B. Sainte-Marie, D.L. Stram, and D. Woodby (eds.), Biology and Management of Exploited Crab Populations under Climate Change. Alaska Sea Grant, University of Alaska Fairbanks. doi:10.4027/bmecpcc.2010.04


Dew, C. B., and R. A. McConnaughey. 2005. Did trawling on the broodstock contribute to the collapse of Alaska’s king crab? Ecological Applications 15:919–941.


Fujita, H., K. Takeshita, and K. Kawasaki. 1973. Seasonal movement of adult male king crab in the eastern Bering Sea revealed by tagging experiment. Bulletin of the Far East Fisheries Research Lab 9:89–107.


Kawasaki, S. 1959. Report on the research by Japan on the king crab in the eastern Bering Sea. International North Pacific Fisheries Commission 322(1):1–8, Vancouver, B.C.


Korolev, N. G. 1964. The biology and commercial exploitation of the king crab, Paralithodes camtschatica (Tilesius), in the southeastern Bering Sea, Soviet Fisheries Investigations in the Northeast Pacific, part 2. TINRO 49:102–108.


Miyahara, T., and H. H. Shippen. 1965. Preliminary report of the effect of varying levels of fishing on eastern Bering Sea king crabs, Paralithodes camtschatica (Tilesius). Rapports et Proce`s-Verbaux des Reunions, Conseil Permanent International pour l’Exploration de la Mer 156:51–58.


Rodin, V. E. 1970. Some data on the distribution of king crab, Paralithodes camtschatica (Tilesius), in the southeastern Bering Sea, Soviet Fisheries Investigations in theNortheast Pacific, part 5. TINRO 72:143–148.


Rodin, V. E. 1990. Population biology of the king crab, Paralithodes camtschatica Tilesius, in the north Pacific ocean. Pages 133–144 in Proceedings of the International Symposium on King and Tanner Crabs. University of Alaska Sea Grant Program, Report AK-SG-90-04, Fairbanks.


Sainte-Marie, B., J.-M. Sevigny, and M. Carpentier. 2002. Interannual variability of sperm reserves and fecundity of primiparous females of the snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) in relation to sex ratio. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 59:1932–1940.


Sainte-Marie, B., N. Urbani, J.-M. Sevigny, F. Hazel, and U. Kuhnlein. 1999. Multiple choice criteria and the dynamics of assortive mating during the first breeding season of female snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio (Brachyura, Majidae). Marine Ecology Progress Series 181:141–153.


Takeshita, K., H. Fujita, and S. Matsuura. 1990. A note on population structure in the eastern Bering Sea adult red king crab, Paralithodes camtschatica. Pages 427–433 in Proceedings of the International Symposium on King and Tanner Crabs. University of Alaska Sea Grant College Program, Report AK-SG-90-04, Fairbanks.


USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). 1942. Report of the Alaska crab investigation. Fishery Market News 4(5a).

Wallace, M. M., C. J. Pertuit, and A. H. Hvatum. 1949. Contributions to the biology of the king crab, Paralithodes camtschatica (Tilesius). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fishery Leaflet 340.


Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, September 2, 2011

They Can Keep Raping the Ocean...

"When are people going to realize that allowing the trawl fishery 2300 metric tons of halibut bycatch per year (tossed back dead, average weight of each fish 4-5 pounds) is truly the problem? They are killing off the baby halibut. That is why we have a resource issue. But as long as the big money fisheries can keep the rest of us fighting (small commercial, charter, personal use & subsistence) they can keep raping the ocean, killing everything in their paths."  akdebs...reader comment Anchorage Daily News regarding Halibut Catch Sharing.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rainy Morning Quote

"95% of trawl bycatch is caught while bottom fishing, meaning Halibut. This is directly responsible for stock decline.
Don't believe me though. I'm just some anonymous dude, and I'll admit I don't have any PhD's(player hater degrees). Just a bloody cod knife I use to shank halibut out the shit shoot as they come across the conveyor." ...Anonymous post on Deckboss.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Halibut Bycatch Revisited/NPFMC to Address Halibut Bycatch

Halibut PSC Waste in Percentages of Targeted Catch:
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NPT is dragger speak for hard on the bottom dragging.  Although we know the percentage of this bycatch, we do not know the actual bycatch numbers for the individual vessels because the target catch numbers are kept private.  Look at the waste of high value halibut for the nearly worthless arrowtooth!  Incredible!

We do know that to July 23, 2011, draggers have wasted 870 metric tons of halibut, or 1,914,000 pounds, or $12,153,900 at $6.35 a pound.  That is 191,400 ten pounders.  Horrifying waste.  Of course these are probably little ping pong paddles that would grow to be big fish so the waste is exponentially higher.  According to the IPHC, "approximately 1.7 pounds are lost as yield to the fishery per pound of bycatch mortality." http://www.iphc.washington.edu/publications/scirep/SciReport0078.pdf.  So taking 870 metric tons of halibut is really removing 1470 metric tons from the fishery.

It is past time for the NPFMC to roll back the halibut PSC.  Preliminary review is scheduled during the next meeting scheduled inconveniently at Dutch Harbor starting September 28th to October 4th.  http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/Agendas/1011agenda.pdf
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Letters to the NPFMC are critcally important since most concerned fishemen will not be able to fly to Dutch for personal testimony.  ($482 round trip from Anchorage.)  Council's current range of options to review at 5, 10 and 15% reductions in the halibut PSC is far too little in an already almost too late action.  Forward rolling reductions based on halibut abundance are in order and the Council should be urged to re-evaluate the range of options to take more serious action to constrain the drag fleet in its destruction of the halibut resource.  With so much of the behavior of the drag fleet unobserved and shamefully secret, only the rumors of draggers wholesale halibut resource destruction surface; rumors the Council refuses to acknowledge.  This conspiracy of silence is only occasionally broken as with this video:
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video
or this photo:
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Eagles feast on king salmon amidst the carnage of halibut junveniles.

If all the IFQ owners who fought the Council's moves to restrict halibut IFQ leasing would apply the same pressure on the Council, which currently appears somewhat willing to roll back the waste in the GOA, great things might be accomplished.  To accept the same old defeatist line just plays into the hands of the draggers and their processor allies.  As halibut quotas continue to shrink, it is clear that 5 to 15% reductions are not sufficient to control the halibut waste of the drag fleet. 

Citizens, sportfishermen, charter operators, IFQ owners and subsistence fishermen must bring pressure to bear on the Council to re-evaluate the range of options for analysis to reduce the halibut PSC by the drag fleet.  Productivity in the GOA depends on you.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Who Do They Think They're Kidding?

NMFS continues to disguise the damaging bycatch of Prohibited Species Catch through their statistics.  By protecting the catch numbers we are left to guess at the totals taken by individual vessels.  But some extreme examples stand out: Vessel Specific Bycatch:
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While dockside rumors say the Pacific Star has been shut out of further rockfish dragging (this quarter? this season?) due to excessive bycatch of halibut, it appears that they are not the worst offenders.  And it further appears that the US Intrepid is aptly named; appears anyway, unless their observer was compromised.  Without video observer confirmation, how would we know?  Appears too, because observer coverage in general is spotty and inconsistent, heavy gaming of coverage is the rule and halibut PSC is a percentage of the total catch, we are not allowed to see. 

Halibut PSC needs to be in numbers of fish, so we can be informed of the real destruction going on.  NUMBERS OF FISH!  Yes, including the little ping pong paddles that the draggers choose to ignore as unimportant.  Im told that these are converted to what would be the 'recoverable weight,' so it heavily skews and belittles the loss to the halibut resource. 

Since when is killing off nurseries an acceptable practice?  (Which NMFS allowed  for king crab in 'cod alley).  If we could see the true numbers of halibut being killed, not some craftily abstracted numbers, the decline in halibut abundance in the GOA and elsewhere would no longer be a "mystery."
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How many halibut is seven tons of ping pong paddle halibut, the future?  15,400 one pounders?  But the recoverable weight of a one pound live halibut can only be at best maybe 9 ounces, so go figure---27,400 individual ping pong halibut.  See how it adds up?  What the hell does 2000 mt of small hallibut amount to in actual numbers? 

"I have seen the future, brother, it is murder." L. Cohen

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Balsiger Is Compromised

About that vote to increase the GOA king salmon bycatch cap...

"Balsiger's enthusiasm over the final package — he called it a "fabulous step" — was a sharp contrast against Campbell's disappointment and raised a few eyebrows in the room because Balsiger's wife, Heather McCarty, has repeatedly lobbied the council on behalf of Kodiak processor Pacific Seafoods for the least restrictive cap possible."

Good journalism here:  http://alaskajournal.com/stories/061711/fis_gccsa.shtml

Balsiger should immediately resign.  He should have recused himself.  Who can doubt the Council's corrupted condition with such behavior?  Where is Eric Schwaab's leadership.  Jane Lubchenko?  So they approve of this kind of behavior by their caporegimes?

NMFS...No More Fish Sorry.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

NPFMC Votes Hard Cap on King Salmon

Draggers only managed to get an additional 2,500 added to the cap, but the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council vote for 25,000 is still better than the 30,000 bycatch king salmon kill the draggers wanted.  

The State of Alaska showed it was concerned with king salmon trawl bycatch, as ADFG Commissioner Cora Campbell made the motion for the Council's preferred alternative of 22,500 kings for the bycatch cap, backed by Duncan Fields, and Sam Cotten.  This was amended to 25,000 kings when Dan Hull, Ed Dersham, and Jim Balsiger failed to stand for Alaska and sided with the draggers and their processor allies.  The other Council members...well, you know.

From the Bristol Bay Times: First-ever king cap placed on Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery

Interestingly, the dragger testimony, in a thinly veiled argument for the Council to move toward 'rationalization' of the Gulf of Alaska groundfish, complained that they couldn't do better in controlling bycatch because of rogue captains who would not comply with conservation efforts.  So perceptions that the drag fleet is out of control have been publicly confessed to be true.  Draggers must be made to follow the rule of law.  The Council must regulate the drag fleet.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Does NOAA/NMFS Care About King Salmon Bycatch?

News Update:

"Chinook bycatch: The industry is making a concerted pitch to increase the cap to 30,000. The AP selected a 30,000 cap over the preferred alternative but a strong minority report will help neutralize the AP’s effect.

"Eric Olson is not here because of a family emergency so Alaska is missing a key vote. The swing vote is NOAA's Jim Balsiger."

Or Dan Hull, who is unconvinced that 22,500 give the draggers enough kings as bycatch in the GOA.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rumours are that recently, the Pacific Star, dragging rockfish, observer onboard, using bottom drag, nailed the halibut big time.  So much halibut in fact as to piss off the other dragger because it potentially closes off some quota access.  We'll see if this surfaces officially.  Another example of the Rockfish Pilot Program's great potential? 

With no observer aboard, the Golden Fleas has been spending a lot of time hammering away on the flats off Chiniak.  Halibut boats nearby are getting lots of small halibut too, so the unobserved Golden Fleas (special exemption) must be helping reduce the abundance of small halibut in the GOA.  Time to collar the secretive Golden Fleas.  Unobserved solitary draggers are scarier than whole fleets, since they are more capable of secrecy.

"(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?  Uncle Ted or Yon Dung?

State of Alaska's backbone on King salmon bycatch by GOA pollock draggers appears to be weakening.  Julie and her gang have been banging out their statistical bullshit to some affect, claiming 'stranded quota' of pollock trumps King salmon damage by GOA draggers.  This is a free admission that the drag fleet is incapable of controlling themselves or their bycatch.  Isn't that why we have laws?  'Stranded quota' should never be an argument for allowing wasteful behavior.

Warm fuzzies and wet smoochie kisses to all the fat spinning spiders for getting the food banks involved in covering the sins of the drag fleet.  This feel good program does perhaps pass on a fraction of the otherwise groundup high value bycatch to hungry people, but it diffuses the outrage at that waste, and so is an enemy of good management. 

Starting in August, more fish will be delivered from the Gulf of Alaska.
"A lot of the processors who work in the Bering Sea also work in the Gulf," said Jim Harmon, Sea Share director. "They came to us earlier this year and said, 'We want to provide more fish to hunger relief, and we want to include the "prohibited species catch" we get in the Gulf pollock fishery.'"

Thieves, who give their victims' bodies to beggars, are still thieves.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Last Call for King Salmon Comments as PSC Totals Continue to Mount

The June meeting of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is coming up shortly (June 6-14 in Nome), and this is your last opportunity to write a letter to the NPFMC regarding king salmon bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska.

"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 May 31, 2011. 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."  Address your letters to Eric Olson, Chair, Fax 907 271 2817.

Call Governor Sean Parnell's office and voice your concern as well, as this is a state's rights issue over our fisheries.  http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/contact/email-the-governor.html

As you can see from the PSC catch information below, the GOA draggers are on schedule to exceed the proposed cap again this year.  It is important that the cap on king salmon be implemented ASAP and be held to at least the 22,500 fish as listed in the Councils' preferred alternative.


Don't put it off, your input has convinced the NPFMC to begin a review of the terrible bycatch waste in the GOA by draggers, and perhaps we can sustain this forward momentum, but only through your involvement.  It has been years since the NPFMC has taken a hard look at the waste of resources in the GOA.  You have finally moved them. Next we'll push them to stop the killing off of our halibut by these same irresponsible draggers.

A dragger crewman's account available at: http://www.alaskacafe.blogspot.com/

Find out more about the Council's meeting agenda at :http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/Agendas/611Agenda.pdf

Listen in to the proceedings: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/audio.pdf

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Halibut Bycatch by Longliners Targeting Sablefish

All gear groups must be held responsible for their bycatch.  The latest stats from the NMFS (http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/pscinfo.htm) reveal that the observed longliners (over 60 feet) targeting sablefish, are catching (and releasing) very large percentages of halibut. 
  • Clipper Surprise had 64% halibut bycatch in 6 observed hauls
  • Clipper Epic had 61% halibut bycatch in 5 observed hauls
  • Baranof had 47% halibut bycatch in 8 observed hauls
  • Evening Star had 33% bycatch in 15 observed hauls
While longlined halibut are not killed outright, like most trawl bycatch,  "...injuries are most frequently caused by improper release methods used by vessel crews. Other significant factors include the length of the soak time, which can exacerbate the mortality caused by hooking injuries and also increase the potential for amphipod predation."  Soak time is an underdiscussed issue for vessels targeting halibut, as well, since long soak times are especially lethal on undersize fish, with regard to sand fleas and other predation. If the NPFMC is going to revisit PSC bycatch for trawlers, they also need to examine the unacceptable levels of bycatch by the autobaiting longline fleet, limiting soak time for halibut longlines, the impact of early halibut openings on the late season spawning halibut.  

The last two issues are under the purview of the IPHC, but a good kick in the pants by the NPFMC won't hurt to help the IPHC re-examine their season timing with the changes going on in the Gulf as a result of the climatic shifts we are seeing.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dirty Dozen Halibut Trawlers



NOAA sources (http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2011/pscinfo.htm) show that the GOA non-pelagic draggers are continuing to damage halibut stocks at unacceptable levels.  The Chellissa, bottom dragging for pollock, is thus far the worst offender, killing 31 % of her total pollock poundage in halibut.  Fishing this dirty is criminal behavior.  The fact so few of these drags are observed more than likely means this wastage of the halibut resource is only the tip of the iceberg.  
Arrowtooth is a worthless fish, "This is the nastiest fish I have ever tasted!" (http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/alaska-flatfish-pudding-now-wal-mart-near-you), for which the highest price fish in the GOA is being wasted.  Apparently draggers can make a dime off of it by delivering the bycatch of other species like cod, to support fishing arrowtooth.  
The NPFMC will not consider halibut bycatch at their June meeting in Nome, but have moved to consider alternatives to push back halibut bycatch by 5, 10, or 15%. http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/current_issues/halibut_issues/halibutPSCmotion411.pdf  Obviously these proposed reductions to halibut bycatch are far too small to have any real effect on the decline of halibut and the criminal waste of this high value resource.
  1. Chellissa  dragging pollock  took 31% halibut in 6 observed tows
  2. Pacific Star dragging arrowtooth took 17% halibut in 9 observed tows
  3. Cape Kiwanda dragging cod took 16% halibut in 3 observed tows
  4. American No 1 dragging arrowtooth took 15% halibut in 5 observed tows
  5. Caravelle dragging arrowtooth took 13% halibut in 7 observed tows
  6. Ocean Alaska dragging arrowtooth took 11% halibut in 7 observed tows
  7. Michelle Rene dragging cod took 10% halibut in 16 observed tows
  8. Miss Sarah dragging cod took 9% halibut in 3 observed tows
  9. Sea Mac dragging cod took 9% halibut in 13 observed tows
  10. Vaerdal dragging rex sole took 8% halibut in 18 observed tows
  11. Ocean Alaska dragging arrowtooth took 8% halibut in 11 observed tows
  12. Peggy Jo dragging cod took 8% halibut in 15 observed tows
Keep yer flippers wet.