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
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:
|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.