Thursday, February 16, 2012

Trawlers Want Rewards for Behaving Badly

In another piece of outstanding journalism, Andrew Jensen cuts through the fog of the NPFMC and NOAA to reveal what is going on with bycatch controls foot dragging and much more. Here it is in his words.:Alaska Journal of Commerce.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, February 10, 2012

NPFMC Lays the Groundwork for Failure to Move on Bycatch

If you follow the proceedings of the faux judiciary-like process the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council uses in order to appear to be sufficiently respectful of its responsibilities to the fisheries it 'manages,' you can often see them telegraph their punches, and reassure their various supporters.  So it was this last meeting.  The movement to do nothing in regard to the criminal bycatch of high value species (among others) by the drag industry became clear when Chris Oliver made an (out of focus) YouTube video touting the Council's concern over bycatch but weaseling about how much it was going to cost draggers.  Talking out of both sides of your mouth, Mr. Oliver, especially when it is put on video tape is never a good idea.  Crying about how cutting bycatch will cost the Kodiak draggers ten million dollars in lost revenues while not addressing the 4.4 million pounds of halibut waste at a current ex-vessel value of seven dollars a pound or 30 million dollars lost to the longliners, commercial charterers, sportsfishermen, and subsistence users is negligence, written large.  Little mention is made of the fact that some draggers are able to avoid much halibut bycatch and others are filthy fishers.   The Scientific and Statistical Committee finally spoke up chastising the Council process by admitting that making decisions affecting the health of the Gulf of Alaska based on, not just poor information as to observed catch, but purposefully gamed information, is a grave error.  Kudos to the SSC for having more courage than we expected them to have and by taking back some of the high ground to which the scientific community is supposed to adhere. 

Maybe the science community is finally seeing the need to come clean at the Federal level in light of the way the State of Alaska science community is being co-opted by this current twisted administration bound to develop all resources at whatever cost.  " A new, Orwellian policy requires scientists to espouse only the state's official position, as dictated by Parnell and his closest advisors"  Rick Sinnott. Governor Parnell made that very plain when explaining that having conservation in the mission statement for the Department of Natural Resources wasn't necessary as it was already implied, and then having Cora Campbell appoint Doug Vincent-Lang to replace indicted Corey Rossi as head of the Alaska's Division of Wildlife Conservation.  Cora Campbell shows her true colors (or is she a Petersberg cameleon?) by voting with the outside interests on the Council to up the number of king salmon allowed to be taken by bottom trawls.  Why are we surprised?  Parnell was originally appointed to the Governor's job by Sara Palin, a self serving no brainer if there ever was one.  A no brainer perhaps, but there is much craft in witchcraft.

It appears that the number of Alaskans on the Council who remain concerned over the health of our fisheries is now three: Fields, Cotton, and Hull.  Sean Parnell is wrong; CONSERVATION of our resources is not to be simply implied, it must be written large.  Conservation must be first, if there is to be a future.  If our kids are going to inherit an Alaska worth living in, we have to think ahead.  But short term development goals are all that are important to Parnell, 'and the devil take the hindmost.'  Out of one side of Parnell's mouth comes states' rights dogma and rhetoric, with such ilk as Vincent-Lang as spokesman, thus assuring the rabble of the railbelt will blindly follow.  (The True Believer, Eric Hoffer)  Out of the other side of his mouth Parnell blows sweet kisses to foreign backers of the Pebble mine, Wash-Ore trawl interests in the GOA and BSAI, foreign fish processor interests who need cheap fish for profits, and finally his favorite of favorites, Big Oil, who he argues will loves us more and share more of our wealth with us if we give it to them for less.

The Wash-Ore boys were probably right.  Some Alaskan interests represented on the Council were perhaps making a wiggle to free Alaska from colonial status but with a little help from their friends, the Parnell administration has sided with the big money to move the Council back from the precipice of conservation and healthy management to development at all cost.  Wasting high value species (not to mention all the other waste) in order to supply masses of cheap fish for processor profits is what is important.  Now all the draggers will be able to afford to have a new copper roof.

Keep yer flippers wet.