- 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.
Keep yer flippers wet.