Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost Four Tenths of One Percent Pays Draggers Big Dividends

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.

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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 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?