Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PSC Drag Removals Eliminate Stocks, Endanger Future

Since the NPFMC voted for Tanner crab savings areas to be expanded two years ago south of Kodiak's Kiliuda Bay to protect mounding female Tanner crab,  the NMFS has doggedly dragged their feet in implementing these closures to draggers without 100% observer coverage, saying that the new observer program would provide the protection.  The new observer program, however, not only precludes 100% observer coverage for special areas, but further degrades the poor coverage we now have over these dirty fisheries to an unacceptable 13% percent and bills most of the cost to the halibut longline fisheries whose stocks are declining in size and number, very likely due at least in part to wholesale wastage by the draggers as glimpsed by the previous article in this blog.

A widely repeated refrain by draggers is "if we remove them, they will no longer be a bycatch problem."  This cynical attitude fits perfectly with what we know about the disrespect draggers show for fixed gear, the gaming of observed tows, the collusion and conspiracy over tactics applied to the NPFMC and local governments.  There is far too much money at stake for ethics to take an upper hand here.  Influence over NMFS back in DC is no doubt part of this conspiracy to boost dragging over all other fisheries, at least in Alaska.  Money does indeed talk.  Now the draggers are asking the NPFMC to give them ownership of the Gulf so they can control their bycatch.  "Hey, I'll rob you unless you give me your money."

Trawling has eliminated the king crab around Kodiak Island, has severely damaged Tanner crab (to the point there is likely to be no fishery this year), halibut populations are in steep decline and now king salmon have failed to show up in their natal streams. The following argument, from Deckboss's comments section sums up the logic of the drag industry and the major processors who support them.
AnonymousAnonymous said...
If ADFG scientists were able to fix this problem, it would not have happened in the first place. It is “political science” that has taken down this resource. Solid fisheries science will bring it back, but unless ADFG is allowed to utilize honest fisheries science, it will get worse until lawsuits are filed and Chinook in many systems are listed as Endangered Species which will remove control of management from an inept management of politicians telling ADFG what to do, to the hands of a Federal judge.

When ADFG was announced to be leading the charge to recover the Chinook salmon, the fix was in trouble, since the Chinook declined under their watch, and the chances of ADFG fixing it are between slim and none.  So now it is going to work?

The Endangered Species Act is designed to remove control from State and local agencies which have failed to save a species for along term of time. Alaska’s Chinook salmon qualify.

What would cause the State to ignore their own Chinook resources and their existence threatened?

Money. Trawl money.

While the trawl industry is quick to point out declining Chinook bycatch due alone to their efforts. ADFG will not point out that most of this decrease in trawl by catch is due to declining abundance. If the Chinook become extinct the trawl industry will hail their by catch of zero, as a success.

More escapement is the only answer that will work, and in local State waters, all commercial, most sports, and most subsistence shut down, there is nowhere else to turn for more escapement than the trawl industry. The trawl industry is not willing to sacrifice.

It is too bad, because the trawl industry has been over harvesting Chinooks for years, and only lately under pressure being brought under regulation. Notice how all their Chinook caps are based on historical harvest and do not take into account in any way the needs of the natal stream. This is not science, it is politics.

The trawl industry is making good faith efforts now, but this was not what the trawl industry had been doing for the last three decades. If they had started sooner, Chinook salmon stocks would be without question in better shape. The trawl industry is going to fight to keep what it thinks is “theirs”.

ANILCA, Equal Protection Clause, and the Endangered Species Act will be the only solutions for any Chinook users except the trawl industry. Only a courtroom where lobbyists and politicians are normally prohibited from testifying will solve this Chinook problem and save the species. Anything else is just a delaying tactic.

It is sad to say, but the only thing that will arrest this long term decline in Chinook salmon and quite possibly their very existence will be attorneys and judges.

State fisheries will bear 100% of the conservation burden so that a bunch of out of state and multi-national companies can continue to make billions.

PS, it should be noted that there is one group in the trawl industry that has been screaming for lowering by catches of all salmon, halibut, and crab of all salmon, for over a decade now, and that is the Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups. These groups understand the depressing results of bycatches have done to real people in the villages.These CDQ groups also understand who was harvesting salmon for centuries before the non-resident multi-national trawlers ever showed up on the scene.

CDQ groups had voluntarily lowered their salmon, halibut, and crab by catches two decades ago. Too bad the marauding fleet had not followed their leadership, as we would not find ourselves in this Chinook crisis if they had.

October 22, 2012 12:07 PM
Keep yer head down and yer flippers wet.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halibut Declines -Bycatch Continues

As we watch the halibut decline in size and numbers the Kodiak hard on the bottom drag fleet continues to destroy this high value resource:

Many of the low value species targeted by draggers are taking huge amounts of super valuable halibut.  Also note the chronic offenders. Tows refers to the actual number of observed tows.  American No.1 with a 20% bycatch rate for junk fish like arrowtooth is terrible, and the American No.1 has huge capacity.  Survival rate for these halibut is next to zero.

Source: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2012/pscinfo.htm

Keep yer head down and yer flippers wet.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New Observer Program is DOA


  1. Coverage is halved.

  2. Costs are doubled.

  3. 75% the cost is borne by halibut fishermen.

  4. Dirty draggers get further room to game.

  5. NMFS refuses to address real issues.

  6. East Coasters selected to be observers.

  7. What else do you need to know?

More details and explanations later.  But in general a complete failure.

Keep yer head down and yer flippers wet.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Council Recognizes Observer Shortcomings


The NPFMC has at least recognized the shortcomings of the 'new' observer program.  But as we understand it, the contract for the observers has been signed (with an East Coast company having no Alaska experience) and is good for two years.  So don't expect major changes any time soon.  Promises again of electronic monitoring, but we've heard that before.  So the stocks subject to excessive bycatch will continue to take a pounding.

Keep yer head down and yer flippers wet.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blame the Crew (But the Owner/Operator Are Responsible)

Received as a comment...

Good job, blame the crew.

Talked to a trawl crew a month ago who had just quit a local drag boat. First tow of the trip (unobserved) had 20,000 of halibut. When they set back to tow the same grounds he asked the captain why they didn't move.

Was told "won't be that much halibut on the next tow in the same spot and less the tow after that."

Yes, blame the crew for the new observer program too. No more coverage for the trawlers but lots for the little boats. That's the ticket.

The same old story.  It's the end of fishing as we've known it if these unobserved draggers are allowed to continue to destroy the Gulf.

Keep yer heads down and yer flippers wet.