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.


Anonymous said...

Crucifixion killed jesus and is killing the Halibut stock!
Put that on your bumper sicker.

Anonymous said...

So we know what the problem is....Is there a solution that does not result in the financial ruin of the industry? Or is that result going to enable the destruction to continue until there is nothing left for future generations?

Anonymous said...

How do you know that the halibut were discarded? IFQ regs require the retention of legal sized halibut if the boat has quota for that area.

Wiglaf said...

You are right. The legal size may not be discarded if the black codder has enough halibut Q. However, what of the undersize? These are the very fish most likely damaged by rough handling. Point is, large percentages of non targeted bycatch is not good management.

Anonymous said...

I worked on the Clipper Surprise and what a surprise it was. Stupid deckhands doing anything the skipper said was reality-no questions asked. I was amazed at the wanton waste and inability to fish clean gear. Should have stayed on the beach and tied gangions for them. Never again, that's for sure. Gotta watch what I say for fear of retribution by big money

Anonymous said...

IFQ regs are a joke on the clipper boats. They just wait til the observer is in the bunk and then anything goes. My personal observations are why I must remain anonymous.