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.

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:

Find out more about the Council's meeting agenda at :

Listen in to the proceedings:

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 ( 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 ( 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!" (, 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%.  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.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In Case You Didn't Hear…

 “Members of the Federal Subsistence Board …voted at its May 3-4 meeting in Anchorage to recommend a hard cap of 15,000 king salmon caught as bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska Pollock fishery, and a hard cap of 50,000 chum salmon in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.”
Although the subsistence board is no friend of mine (allowing the ‘take’ of sealions by Alaska Natives) they see that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s  preferred alternative for the limit on king salmon bycatch is not tough enough, and represents the status quo, not an effective cutback on the waste of this resource.  Final action is scheduled for June.

Keep yer flippers wet.