Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Buoy Shooting Validates Longheld Distrust

While it is troubling that two local draggers cooperatively ran down and shot the buoys of another fisherman; there is a deeper issue here, and that is the profound lack of respect Kodiak draggers have for other fishermen and by extension, the resources we all depend upon for our livelihoods.

'Talk's cheap' and its corollary 'actions speak louder than words," are perfectly illustrated by this willfull destruction of another fisherman's property. All the well tuned phrases about advocating for fishermen to work together to assure their economic survival seems to have gone overboard since the draggers are now fairly certain of their share of the Gulf of Alaska fisheries resources through sector splits and the 'tools' they hope to secure through NPFMC action beginning in October.  Now that their slice of the fish pie is assured, and apparently the 'restructured' observer program will not increase the coverage of this the dirtiest and most destructive gear type or put an end to the rampant cheating on bycatch, high grading, PSC overages, and waste by the dragger fleet; draggers now feel they can maliciously and brazenly destroy others' property and livelihoods.  Actions do speak louder than words.

At the Council meeting in Anchorage, we will hear the arguments, the assurances, the promises, the 'boot strap' statistics, and the good and righteous testimony by the advocates of economic growth and stability, all couched in such earnest and heartfelt words, while on the fishing grounds, far from the prying eyes of neutral witnesses, the drag fleet will pursue their destructive behaviors against the resources and now, apparently, other people's gear.

The only assurance that will protect Gulf of Alaska fisheries resources is 24/7 observation of Kodiak's drag fleet.  Nothing less will do, especially when the Council is now going to give the resource to them, lock, stock and smoking barrel.  Add this latest witnessed behavior to a long and tired litany of abuses by the drag fleet, and you have the inevitable destruction of our livelihoods, which the Council steadfastly refuses to recognize. 

Pay to play.  Either afford the 24/7 observer coverage on the draggers which we need to be assured that compliance to law, reason, and civilized behavior are followed, or turn that destructive gear type into one which has healthier long term consequences.  Anything less spells the end of us who depend upon the health of the oceans.

Keep yer head down and yer flippers wet.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Breaking News...Local Draggers Gun Down Cod Pot Buoys

Overheard on VHF channel 16...
Seems like the bad old days again when local draggers decimated my brethren sealions with semiautomatic weapons, only this time it was two local Kodiak based draggers (your good neighbors and mine) gunning down the buoys of a couple of local cod pot boats.  Yes indeed, those good intending, clean fishing, contribute to community foodbanking, bycatch avoiding, give us our rightful share of the GOA groundfishing fellas caught red handed cooperatively blasting the buoys of two different Kodiak pot boats.   Anybody out there got further details?   Sector Anchorage, did you copy that?

Just like your good neighbors, "Whitefish Draggers Are There."

The rest of the story is available in the 'comments' section, so read on.

Keep yer head down and yer flippers wet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Spectre of Gulf Ratz Arises Again

Gulf Ratz is on the move again.  As you may be aware, Gulf Ratz, a close, but more invasive political cousin to the common wharf rat,  is being revived under the guise of a tool for the draggers to control their appetite for wasting the resources of the Gulf of Alaska in the form of PSC (Prohibited Species Catch).  No mention of other bycatch.  The NPFMC will be taking this up at its October meeting.  It is widely expected that there will be the usual shrill and carefully planned call by Bonney and Co. for a rationalization program to award ownership of Gulf of Alaska groundfish to the draggers so they will act as better stewards of the resource.  The logic of "If you own it, you will take care of it" as championed by the NMFS (National Marine Trawler Service) and greenwashed environmental groups will rear its ugly head again.  No mention of any further independent observation of bycatch compliance is evident.  The abject failure of observer restructuring is apparently simply going to produce migraine headaches, economic stress, and out and out business failures for smaller operators of other gear types by denying them electronic monitoring options and forcing them to fish as scheduled regardless of weather and perhaps re-employing the Coast Guard once again as a rescue service rather than as a police force.  Amazing how the manipulation by powerful players can twist up well intended suggestions to their self serving best advantage.

Wiglaf is not the only fisherlion concerned:
"Several fishermen expressed concerns that if small boat fleets don’t survive, communities won’t survive. Many are also concerned about how the proposed program would affect the next generation of fishermen. Overall, no one at the meetings said they favor rationalization. But all expressed the need to protect the traditional fleets and the communities. The overall goal of rationalization is to avoid bycatch while still obtaining optimum yield."  Read more from Aleutians East Borough's Fish News.

Of course NMFS loves rationalized fisheries, and south of us, along the west coast of America, the fisheries are rationalized:

"West Coast Groundfish Catch Shares began in 2011 for the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Fishery. Over ten years in the making, it is one of the most transformative strategies in this fishery's management history. NOAA Fisheries, the west coast groundfish fleet, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the west coast states have worked together toward a common goal of healthy, sustainable fisheries and fishing communities. In addition to catch share quotas, the West Coast Groundfish IFQ Fishery includes a vastly improved monitoring system—using 100% observer coverage at sea and 100% monitoring of landings on shore. This refined monitoring system allows the fishery to be managed on an individual vessel basis, rather than via fleet-wide measures.  While the results presented in this report reflect only one year of data, a picture is emerging that is indeed positive for the groundfish resource, the fishermen, and their communities."
All the happy words are there so it must be okay, right?

Keep yer flippers wet.