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.