Sunday, January 16, 2011

Do You Believe Everythng You Hear?

Regarding the damage that draggers and their supporters, the processors, wreak on our Gulf of Alaska resources, perhaps we should review some evidence:
  • Eye witness accounts abound about the wasteful practices of the drag fleet.  Since draggers themselves believe they should hang together so as to present a united front, we must unfortunately condemn the whole lot.  Stories, each unique, told by credible witnesses, recount deckloads of mangled crab, codends full of bloated yelloweye rockfish, ping pong paddle halibut shoveled dead out the 'shit chute,'  observer tows made on known sterile grounds, observers not doing their jobs but smoking a joint on duty while in the galley, falsified observer record keeping,  hungry crewmen quiting a good paying boat in disgust over Tanner crab hauls south of Ugak Island, draggers selling their cod bycatch to a jig boat, sea lions shot on deck after they have survived the extra drowning time at the end of tows; hundreds killed in the JV bad old days.  No, not every story is perfectly accurate, but there are just too many to be discounted.  'Believe it , mon.'
  • Blind eyed mismanagement based on 'scientific evidence' while acknowledging that the evidence is flawed, fixed, poor, mixed, or missing.  Relying on the 'groundupfish data bunk' for information; a self described, self serving, propaganda wing of the Whitefish Trawlers, formerly the Alaska Draggers Association.  Profound foot dragging by management for observational coverage of fishing operations in the GOA, including electronic (which at the least might show observers doing/not doing their jobs), burying the observers with sampling work which impinges on their ability to do the bycatch observation so important to sustainability.  Excellent scientific evidence is the best, but some reasonable effort must be made to gather it.  Obstruction of evidence gathering is unconscionable.
  • 'We base decisions on the best available science.'  That sounds so good, but the available science is not the best, in fact the data is 'gamed' heavily.  Projections on bycatch of the unobserved fleet are little more than raw speculation, since the when and where tows are observed are controlled by the captain of the dragger.  This 'gamed' data is then plowed into the statistics as though it were good science and management decisions are based upon it.  Were we to build bridges or airplanes so, the folly of such 'best available science' would be more clearly grounded.  The outcomes of this poor methodology is becoming evident as the stocks of king crab have already collapsed, Tanners struggle to recover, king salmon staggers below escapement goals, and halibut numbers decline.  Unless the way we do business in the Gulf of Alaska changes, expect a dismal future.
  • The corporate tentacles reach far, from political influence which appoints the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the Board of Fish.  There is no attempt to isolate these movers and shakers from the money that is made exploiting the GOA.  In a further attempt to obfuscate the truth, outfits like the Marine Stewardship Council and Marine Conservation Alliance are created for and supported by corporate industry to make us feel good about the 'responsible corporate citizens' who are making a killing off the public resource.  Anytime Unilever and World Wildlife Fund get in bed together, the offspring is bound to be twisted.
So, do you believe everything you hear?  Well, you better not.  But the truth is out there.  It is not easy, pleasant, or comfortable.  But as adults in a democratic society, we'd better wake up and demand that we get better representation on our management councils, and stop letting industry control the group think.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Processors and Trawlers Squash Cod Price

Because of the squashed quality and the mass quantity of trawler cod mush, rumor has the posted price of all cod, dragged, longline, pot, and jig down to an incredible 25/35 cents a pound 24 inch split, ex-vessel.  I see Europe and the East Coast looking and laughing at us, colonial Alaska, nothing ever changes.  Major processors set the price.  Congress, NPFMC and the State give carte blanche to big industry; trawlers are in bed with processors, and small players are either legislated out or crushed out by big players.  Alaska's natural resources are given away at ten cents on the dollar to mostly foreign owned corporations...this is basic colonialism.  Alaska is a state in name only.
This ad is from Cabelas' website.  That's $16 a pound!  Recovery isn't nearly that of halibut, but 35 cents a pound to fishermen?  Even at 20% recovery, $1 a pound would be more reasonable for cod.  But why would processors pay more when they get cod for next to nothing en mass from draggers.  Who is talking quality product here?

Let's see...45,524 metric tons of GOA cod TAC, or around 100 million pounds.  Conveniently decimal.  At .35 a pound ex-vessel means 35 million dollars gross. For every 10 cents the processors short us on our cod, they short us 10 million dollars!  Short the community 10 million dollars for every dime.  Outrageous!  What about that, Louise?

Keep yer flippers wet.