Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Trawl Bycatch Could Be Lowered" Guest Contributor

How trawl halibut bycatch could be lowered, more arrowtooth and flatfish harvested, more processing jobs created all without council action starting tomorrow and why it hasn't happened.

Remember how the Bering Sea factory longline fleet formed a co-op all on their own? They had license limitation, sector split for cod and about 20 participants. They didn't need no stinkin' NPFMC, they bought out the bad actors and made their own rules. They set quotas and bycatch quotas on their own.

What does this have to do with groundfish in the Gulf and halibut bycatch? Oh, we can't do that, we have over 120 plus Gulf trawl LLP's, we can't get them to all agree!

But, there are only 7-8 Gulf processors.

In the Kodiak salmon fishery there are over 350 seine permits but only a little over 100 fish. You can't fish without a market and the processors decide who can and can't fish. The processors also dictate where and when seiners fish.

Why hasn't a NPFMC member asked Julie Bonney or Glen Reed why their processors buy fish from the high bycatch draggers?

Curt Waters, a trawl skipper, testified that if he was able to fish where and when he wanted to for arrowtooth he could catch 100,000 lbs in a 1 hr tow with almost no bycatch.

The processors could dictate who, when and how the trawl fleet fishes.

So the processors could say, we will buy no arrowtooth unless you have 100% observer coverage and fish when you can catch arrowtooth when they are segregated from the halibut. They could do something similar with flats and cod.

So why aren't they? And why have we gone 20 plus years with millions of pounds of excess, unnecessary halibut, crab, salmon, etc bycatch???

All I can come up with is that they think they can hold us hostage, by destruction of the resource until we cave in and give them processor shares or whatever it is they want.

All this talk about jobs for Kodiak is disingenuous. They have had the tools to lower bycatch, create jobs AND increase trawl catches all along. They prefer destruction of the resource and habitat to achieve their ends to working for the common good.


More public testimony tomorrow.  Pretty hard to predict where this public melodrama will go. While the majority of the testimony was for 15% reduction in the PSC of halibut, there were moments of preposterous craziness, as when one trawler skipper claimed that the trawlers were rebalancing the ecosystem by cleaning up the ocean.  Moments of drama included Julie Bonney and Curt Waters coodinating a reading of scripted testimony by processor workers claiming that they will lose six weeks of work if the trawlers get cut back 15% on halibut PSC. Too bad the exact same script was read minutes earlier by another processor worker.  That these irresponsible elements, the draggers under Julie's direction, can control the Council and the Gulf of Alaska is a national tragedy. 

Doom Angel #1 by Brendan Harrington
Copyright All rights reserved by Rasmuson Foundation


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favorite highlight was Paul MacGregor's testimony.

He spent his whole time bashing the IPHC process.
Complained that there was no place for him at the conference board and thus groundfish had no influence. On and on, IPHC not subject to federal rules since it's an internationally managed fishery.

A NPFMC council member, a trawl rep I think, reminded him that Commissioner Ralph Hoard works for Icicle which has a considerable presence and, i believe, runs their surimi division.

Then another councilman pointed out that Commissioner Jim Balsiger, head of National Marine Trawl Service for AK, isn't exactly a groundfish novice.

Finally Chairman Olson had to remind MacGregor that he works for IPHC Commissioner Philip Lestenkof 's CDQ group.

The audience got a big yuck but maybe MacGregor got the biggest yuck as he was on billable time.