Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dirty Draggers-Round Up The Usual Suspects

With the June meeting of the North Pacific Fisheries management Council scheduled for Kodiak, the drag fleet has been busy killing off the halibut.  Foisting the argument that "we just can't do better on halibut bycatch" these trawlers continually hammer on the halibut stocks as they have, basically without controls for the past few decades.  It is no wonder halibut in is decline.

The Sea Mac's nearly 40% tow of halibut while targeting cod was reported as a result of one observed tow, so he will argue that that was an unlucky exception.  He had a total of seven observed tows, this one being particularly bad.  Unless the new observer program fixes the gaming, Sea Mac's dirty dragging and others will continue to hammer the halibut.

In the first season, Sea Mac and the usual suspects exceeded the already liberal Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) by 9% or 39 metric tons (85,800 pounds).  In the second season, they did even worse, with a 28% overage, or 85 metric tons (187,000 pounds).  So the drag fleet is on its way to hitting the cap of 2000 metric tons of halibut this year...4,400,000 pounds of halibut wasted.  "But we can't do better."  This argument is like 'I can't drive unless I'm drunk.'  It is bullshit.  Besides the other cleaner gear types could easily harvest and employ more fishermen harvesting cod, where so much of the bycatch occurs.  Just saying.  But the NPFMC has given that away already with the sector split.

Press the NPFMC here in Kodiak at the June meeting for a tougher policy on halibut (and other) bycatch .  At least 15%.

Keep yer flippers wet.


Anonymous said...

You do realize that their overages roll over to the next season dont you? The amount of cap they exceed in the 2nd season will be deducted from the 3rd season.

As for halibut that is 'wasted' - that's the fault of the Council. No fishermen like to throw away fish. All halibut, alive or dead, must be discarded at sea. Dead halibut should be brought to town and either sold with profits given to local charities or given to the food bank. These are ideas coming out of the trawl fleet.

Wiglaf said...

The early seasons are not as dirty as the last one, so rolling the overages forward doesn't ameliorate the damage done. They will undoubtedly cap out. But since they are largely unobserved they will exceed the proscribed limits as they always have. If the facts were known...

You show how little you know. Most of the bycatch of halibut is of fish too small to out-swim the trawl; too small to be useful as food; of those small halibut that are brought ashore are ground up at BioDry for meal. Result: WASTED! The best idea of all is to not kill off as bycatch high value species (really any species) so low value fish can be caught enmass to make large profits for a small cadre of draggers and the processors, while putting the rest of us out of work.

Anonymous said...

Trawl species can be caught without the bycatch, but the big guns wouldn't profit as much.

And no, all halibut must not be discarded at sea. We delivered after a smaller dragger and the dock was full of totes of 1 lb halibut going to the fish meal plant.

When we asked about it we were told it was too rough to sort at sea and perfectly legal to dump 'em all in the hold.