Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Failure of Restructured Observer Program

The restructuring of the observer program went into effect in 2013 and resulted in the entire groundfish fleet (trawlers, longliners, pot boats) being required at least in part to carry observers.  While this may seem a good thing, it reduced the amount of coverage for trawlers to between 13 and 15 percent down from roughly 30 percent.  Trawlers, due to their large volume catches, have the greatest impact on bycatch species, including PSC (prohibited species catch) of halibut, Chinook, and crab.  NMFS seemed pleased that they found that longliners had a bycatch rate above what they had expected, (remember that the survival rate of bycatch for longliners is around 89% and the survival rate for trawlers is around 25%, according to NMFS.)

One vessel, the CP (catcher/processor) Golden Fleece lost its special exemption to the 100% observer coverage for CPs with the restructured observer progam. (See Old and New 50 CFR below). We have argued that when trawlers are observed, their behavior changes; they hide their bycatch by fishing cleaner grounds and making other changes in order to appear to be clean fishing.  If indeed,  the CP Golden Fleece had now to fish 100% observed, her recorded bycatch should change too.  Golden Fleece would be forced to fish as usual without an opportunity to hide her bycatch.  Using NMFS data let's take a look.

Chinook salmon numbers in blue, the observer numbers in red.

Conclusion.  Allowing trawlers to game when to fish clean, obscures the true impact of their fishing on the resources in the GOA.  When the restructured observer program reduced the percentage of observed trawling, it mostly likely allowed the trawlers to hide their actual bycatch. Therefore, NMFS has colluded to hide the impact of trawling on the GOA, while emphasizing the bycatch of other gear groups.


Old 50 CFR 679.50:

(ii) Amendment 80 vessels in the GOA. Except for the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE (USCG Documentation Number 609951), all Amendment 80 vessels, except when directed fishing for scallops using dredge gear, in the GOA must have onboard at least one NMFS-certified observer for each day that the vessel is used to harvest, receive, or process groundfish in the GOA management areas or adjacent waters open by the State of Alaska for which it adopts a Federal fishing season.

New 50 CFR 679.50:

(2) Groundfish and halibut fishery full observer coverage category—(i) Vessel classes in the full coverage category.The following classes of vessels are in the full observer coverage category when harvesting halibut or when harvesting, receiving, or processing groundfish in a federally managed or parallel groundfish fishery, as defined at §679.2:

(A) Catcher/processors;

The Golden Fleece Hits the Halibut Hard Too.

The graph representing the Golden Fleece's increase in halibut PSC bycatch when fully observed is not as dramatic as it is with King Salmon, but probably deserves airing.  Not quite double the increase, but still telling.

Obviously halibut bycatch was on the upswing in 2012, but when you remove the blinders of selected observation there is a 61% increase in halibut PSC bycatch over 2012, and 900% over their reported  bycatch of halibut in 2011.  Remember, the Golden Fleece has a hold capacity of at least 200,000 pounds, so we are talking roughly 4000 pounds of halibut per trip.  She made 26 trips to the end of September.  100,000 pounds of halibut?

Who is getting fleeced here?

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dirty Peggy Jo's Brazen Behavior at Trident Dock

The Peggy Jo has for a number of years been a scandalously dirty trawler.  During a cod season a few years back she was responsible for shutting down the cod season by ignoring the warnings of other trawlers and hitting the halibut very hard with full observer coverage.  Later she was rumored to purposely make dirty drags just to get in her licks in on those who crowed so much about bycatch. That guy runs another local trawler today.  So it goes. Without full observer coverage, the level of waste of valuable resources can only be imagined.  The public outcry would cause endless trouble for the bottom line of these dirty players if the truth were known. So it is that there is little photographic or video evidence available to the public.  Cameras are simply not allowed aboard these boats.  Crew are paid well enough that few will cross the line and turn 'state's evidence' against these boats.  But then who would they turn it in to?  NMFS knows perfectly well what is going on and prefers to see commerce over conservation.

The dock talk goes on and guys continually quit crewing on draggers because they can't stand the waste. Here is just a tiny example, brazenly feeding sea lions at the Trident dock with PSC (Prohibited Species Catch) halibut. When the feds were called about this, the responding agent purportedly laughed and said, "Trawlers really hate those halibut."  No shit, Sherlock.  And king salmon, and crab, and the list goes on.

Note:  We have slowed the video down to 12% so you can see clearly what is going on, and edited out some slow spots. Filmed on October 23, 2013.  Source withheld by request.
Where is the equity in the justice system?  Can you envision the judge's outrage in court at your wanton waste? What is that conviction going to cost you, your guide's license?  Getting busted for one fish over the line, Sweet Jesus!  Feeding sea lions?  There is simply no justice here.  Where ever trawlers unload, there are often piles of halibut under the docks unless, like this smart boy, he throws them into the jaws of waiting sea lions.

Get in the loop:

But keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, October 4, 2013

GOA Chinook Under Heavy Bycatch Pressure By Trawlers

Just when it looked like draggers like the Golden Fleece were cleaning up their act, an examination of the Vessel Specific Bycatch figures by NMFS shows outrageous Chinook bycatch:
Keep yer flippers wet.

Bycatch High Marking for Halibut: Dirty Dozen

Here are the top halibut destroyers for the Gulf as of September 21st.  There must be a new regime in the dragger processors, as only the Vaerdal continues with its 'death by a thousand cuts' hammering halibut for the low value-high volume rex sole.  The Golden Fleece used to be as bad or worse but has apparently changed its behavior.

First the Dirty Dozen:
Note:  Even with a change of operators, the Peggy Jo continues her history as a particularly dirty dragger.
Now for the low value-high volume dirty chronic, the Vaerdal:
Consider the number of tows and the volume taken, these apparently low percentages represent huge numbers of halibut as bycatch.
The real story here is the shockingly low percentage of observed tows draggers are subject to in the course of their pursuing their target species.  Probably not all of them are doing so badly, but those dirtiest are being screened by the purposeful ill-design of the observer program by NMFS.  Until that changes, consider the Gulf of Alaska fish stocks to be under threat.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

East Coast--West Coast--North Coast, Same Story, NOAA Drags Its Feet On Conservation

"The government is threatening to derail the efforts to protect groundfish and other depleted fish populations, like river herring. The New England Council meets Wednesday, and government leaders need to work to turn overwhelming public sentiment into regulation as opposed to throwing a wet blanket on the will of the greater fishing community."

Read the whole story:

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Worth A Read

As traditional fishermen lose their grip on the resources they have depended upon for  generations and the big money interests go for the brass ring, enemies emerge from unexpected places and the fight for survival hardens.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stolen Halibut Transformed to Good Deed by Thieves

While the newscaster's gushes about how the Coast Guard flew 13,000 lbs of filleted halibut to
Kotzebue for food bank dependents, the real story is one of theft, and public relations spin.  The public tax money used to pay for the under funded Coast Guard's flight, is carrying a mere 3/10s of one percent of the 4.4 million pounds of halibut wasted by the draggers in the Gulf of Alaska.  Most of those halibut are far too small for filleting, and represent the future of halibut. 

So in return for killing off the halibut stocks, the draggers and their processor cronies get a gushy sound bite by the news media.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

AJOC EDITORIAL: NMFS Alaska puts trawlers ahead of conservation

Good read:

"McCarty didn’t lobby the council at the Kodiak meeting in June 2012, but her client John Whiddon of Pacific Seafoods did. Whiddon submitted a letter to the council on behalf of Kodiak processors asking for either no cuts or a smaller cut in halibut bycatch.
"Whiddon, at the time, was also putting his name forward for appointment to the International Pacific Halibut Commission on which Balsiger sits as the federal designee to the six-member U.S.-Canadian body.
"It might sound bizarre to think that someone against cutting halibut bycatch would think it even possible to be appointed to the IPHC.
"Despite mountains of evidence that halibut bycatch negatively impacts the species, or the decline in tanner crab populations around Kodiak or chinook salmon around Alaska, NMFS Alaska consistently sides with the trawl fleet while it is standing by junk science shutting down fisheries in the Aleutians."

NMFS=No More Fish, Sorry

Keep yer flippers wet.

Most Offensive Bycatch Draggers Year to Date

As you can see by these data sorts of NMFS stats of Vessel Specific Bycatch, there are habitual offenders who either don't have the skill to avoid PSC bycatch or don't give a shit.

For Chinook Salmon:

For Halibut:

Read it and weep.

Where have all the fishes gone?
Long time passing?
Gone to draggers everyone.
Long time ago.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Attacks On Fisheries Observers More Than Double

You think the current 13% observer coverage is bad?  What about the abuse of observers?  Tolerated?  Observer companies have a conflict of interest? You mean there is corruption in the drag industry?  Complicity between industry and the agency (NMFS)?  The general public has no idea of how badly managed our North Pacific fisheries really are.

Keep your flippers wet.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Too Informative and Concise Not to Re-Post

Color them DIRTY:  Let's outlaw these boats or suspend their licenses for a year.  They are fishing 'trash' fish anyway.
And to borrow freely without permission:

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is scheduled to take final action at their June meeting in Juneau. This is your chance to speak up for meaningful reductions. Send a letter to the Council by May 28th (see instructions and letter writing tips below) and  sign our open letter to the Governor and North Council asking for meaningful bycatch reductions.  

In August 2012, a 25,000 Chinook bycatch cap went into effect in the Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery. This historic cap is important, but there is another offender out there. Other trawl fisheries in the Gulf also catch Chinook salmon as bycatch while targeting flatfish, cod and rockfish. On average these other fisheries are responsible for about a third of the Chinook salmon bycatch every year but in some years these fisheries have been responsible for 60% or more of the bycatch. In 2010, non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Gulf caught nearly 10,000 Chinook salmon as bycatch.
This waste occurs despite recent and dramatic declines in Chinook returns in the Gulf and across the state. Runs were so poor in 2012 that the Secretary of Commerce declared a fisheries disaster for Cook Inlet Chinook salmon. The set net fishery was almost completely shut down in 2012, and the Kenai River was closed to all Chinook salmon fishing. Economic losses in Cook Inlet to commercial fishing alone are estimated at almost $10 million, with another $17.7 million to sport fisheries and additional losses to subsistence fishers.
Preseason forecasts and fishing restrictions across the Gulf for Chinook salmon in 2013 are further cause for concern. In short, the situation for families and communities dependent on Chinook salmon throughout the state remains dire.  Yet even at a time of low returns, fishing closures and declared disasters, Gulf trawl fisheries are allowed to catch thousands of kings as bycatch. The Gulf non-pollock trawl fisheries are the only fishery left which catches a significant amount of salmon bycatch, yet does not have a limit. This is unacceptable. It’s critical that we close this loophole and put a cap in place.
This year the Alaska State Senate passed SR5, a resolution introduced by Senator Peter Micciche of Soldotna urging the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to work to reduce Chinook bycatch in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea.  The Alaska House Bush Caucus also sent a letter to the North Council requesting bycatch reductions in trawl fisheries.  The North Council also needs to hear from you!

Letters must be received by Tuesday, May 28th. Make sure to write agenda item “C-4 GOA Salmon Chinook bycatch” on your letter. 
Send letters to:
North Pacific Fishery Management Council
605 West 4th Ave, Suite 306
Anchorage, AK 99510 (ck)
Anchorage, AK  99501
Fax: (907) 271-2817
Points to Include in Letters/Testimony:
  • As a ________ (commercial halibut fisherman, charter operator, sport halibut fisherman, subsistence fisherman, consumer of halibut, etc.) I strongly support reductions in Gulf of Alaska Chinook salmon bycatch in all trawl fisheries.
  • The Council should set a cap of 5,000 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock fisheries in the GOA as a starting point. Bycatch must be reduced further in future actions.
  • Chinook salmon have declined severely throughout Alaska: Commercial fishery failures and disasters were declared for the Upper Cook Inlet, Yukon River and Kuskokwim River.
  • The Gulf non-pollock fisheries are the only fishery left which catches significant amounts of salmon bycatch, yet has no limit.
  • Chinook salmon is critical to subsistence, sport and commercial fisheries, and a major contributor to the economy and culture of Alaska.
  • All other users have to reduce their harvest to conserve Chinook salmon in years of low returns, the trawl fisheries must do the same.
  • National Standard 9 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that bycatch be reduced.
At their meeting in Juneau, June 3rd-11th, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will consider a bycatch cap range between 5,000 and 12,500 Chinook salmon in Gulf non-pollock trawl fisheries.  This is final action on a bycatch cap and will be the only mechanism to control bycatch at this time.
Attend the June Council Meeting in Juneau
The Council is scheduled to take up Gulf Chinook salmon bycatch starting June 7th at Centennial Hall. You can provide testimony in person at the Council meeting. It’s critical that the Council hears directly from people impacted by the Chinook salmon shortages and closures about the need to reduce bycatch in the trawl fleet.
Here is the  agenda for the meeting. 

And keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, May 17, 2013

20 Worst GOA Dragger Bycatch for Halibut and Chinook, YTD

Here they are again, from the latest NMFS data:  In general few numbers of observations are the shore based fleet and the large numbers of observations are three GOA catcher processors, requiring 100% observer on board, but roughly only 50% coverage, since they are limited to a 12 hour day.

In this data, NMFS helps hide the true halibut damage by putting it in terms of percentage of targeted catch.  Since these vessels may hold +300,000 pounds, the percentages of halibut bycatch mean very large numbers of dead halibut.  Insist on actual halibut numbers.

The true damage to Chinook stocks are hidden by the low observation rates for the catcher vessels.  The Pacific Star, for instance might have had a bad day, or, that could be more common than the bean counters at NMFS will admit.  NMFS is decidedly pro-trawler.  Notice that it appears bottom dragging is the greatest Chinook killer this year, and mainly for very low value 'trash' fish.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rationalization and Cheating

There won't be a change in cheating on catch and bycatch when the Gulf is rationalized if these guys are any example:

"On May 8, 2013, American Seafoods Company and the owners and operators of the catcher/processors Ocean Rover and Northern Eagle were charged by NOAA’s Office of General Counsel for tampering with the equipment used for weighing Alaska pollock. Pollock on these vessels are processed for many uses, from frozen fish sticks and imitation crab to roe and fish oil."

"These are not the first cases of their kind. NOAA’s Office of General Counsel issued a Notice of Violation and Assessment (NOVA) in January 2012 for similar violations alleged to have occurred on another American Seafoods Company catcher/processor, the American Dynasty. The penalty being sought in this pending case is $543,500. In the Ocean Rover case, NOAA’s Office of  General Counsel issued a NOVA proposing an assessed penalty of $848,000; in the Northern Eagle case, General Counsel issued a NOVA proposing an assessed penalty of $1,337,000."

Insist on 100% observer coverage of all draggers in the GOA.

Keep yer flippers wet

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Talk of the Dock

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Clarification for the Record": 

It will be interesting to see how long it takes before halibut biomass falls off the cliff. Someone once said after clearing the deck during their first arrow tooth trip that if this kept up It would only be a few years before halibut were endangered. That was a while ago. 

This story, and several like it circulate dock talk on a regular basis, when drag crews either seek attention of their peers in other fisheries, or just get fed up and tell the straight story.  They are commonly heard in any seaport where dragging is ongoing and uncontrolled.  Here, in Kodiak, they circulate on every bycatch species from herring and capelin to king salmon, king crab, halibut, and tanner crab. They are true, as far as I can corroborate, and are the dark side of commercial fishing.  Cameras, video recorders, and even phones are not welcomed on draggers.

As to the end of halibut, well, ask yourself if schooling fish and herding animals are likely to need a minimum biomass size to remain reproductively viable or able to avoid predators by massing, and it gets tricky.  Passenger pigeons?  East Coast cod?  Wild Atlantic salmon?  Here the pink shrimp masses are gone, king crab are gone, tanners close behind.  These resource failures occurred during the rise of dragging in the Gulf.  These population collapses were blamed on various things like decadal oscillation, climate regime shifts, predator prey relationships, but never the most apparent...effective, efficient, and destructive dragging.  Kodiak's Economic Godsend.  Really? 

Two friends met at sea, one a dragger and the other a longliner.  The longliner asked the dragger, "Why the hell you have your gear down in a known hot spot for juvenile halibut?"  The dragger replied, "The sooner the fucking halibut are gone, the sooner I won't have to worry about bycatch."

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Clarification for the Record

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Intolerable Willful Destruction": 

1.  So these are the Highest numbers you can find? 
2.  Doesn't surprise seeing as how the shore based catcher vessels (which aren't include in your graph really) are observed 30% and they can easily avoid showing what they are really doing out there. 
3.  Bring out the 30% observed numbers and you can see where the games are played. 

1.  Not so hasty there.  These figures are a sort of the NMFS spreadsheet.  They are sorted for the highest bycatch recorded by observers in the fleet of draggers operating in the Gulf of Alaska for the week of column one.  If you don't think 875 Chinook for four observed tows isn't high, you are an idiot.

2.  Catcher processors are shown in red.  It is easy, for the most part, to see who is a shore delivering (shore based) dragger; just look at the number of observed tows.  Few observations are shore deliver draggers (in purple). Under the new observer program, only about 13% of shore delivering draggers are observed.  Since the observers are alone on the dragger and are working twelve hours a day, some would argue that is really only 6.5% observed, because draggers may operate 24 hours a day.  Night fishing is the dirtiest, and should be outlawed, or have two observers.

3.  See #2.  6.5% observed.  There are no 30% figures, stay informed.  But if the PacStar were observed 100% could they have 875 Chinook X 50 or 100 tows (4,375 or 8750), who can say?  Without 100% observed dragging, expect your Chinook and halibut and crab to continue to diminish.  Below are the top 61 bycatch draggers in the Gulf, year to date.

The preponderance of the data suggests that 100% observed draggers (catcher processors) have the highest bycatch rates because they have few 'tools' with which to hide their dirty fishing.  If all draggers 100% observed, the bycatch rates would be shockingly higher than this poor data.  The occulting of data by draggers with a wink from NMFS is a continuing outrage.

Shoreside draggers in purple, catcher processors in red.
There are more but this should be demonstrative of the point.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Intolerable Willful Destruction

Sorted from:
This is the end of Chinook as we have known them, all for targeted species that have a very low value.

Do not assume that the new proposed measures by the NPFMC will contain 100% observer coverage.  If 100% observer coverage were tolerable, they would have it now.  The dirty secret is that trawling is too dirty a kind of fishing to be sustainable for long.  If the truth were widely known as to the outright wanton waste of our national resources, we would close them down.  The Gulf of Alaska is not long for its productivity as long as we put up with this destruction.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

As We Have Contended All Along

Read more here:
Commercial and sport fishing interests in Alaska are no strangers to allocation battles over the resources that fuel our businesses and ways of life. It's a rare but important occasion when those of us usually on opposing sides can agree to get together to speak out for the conservation and health of the very resource we depend on. The current threat to our businesses and livelihoods we are united to address is bycatch.
On the commercial side, halibut quotas continue their downward slide leaving many in the lurch with large quota payments. Commercial salmon trollers, who take great care in delivering a quality product that demands a premium price, sit by and watch as the trawl fleet catches and wastes Chinook while dragging the bottom for fish that are valued at a nickel a pound. Setnet fisheries from Cook Inlet to the Yukon River have seen complete closures and limited openings that have resulted in the Secretary of Commerce declaring disasters in those fisheries.
Recreational and charter fishermen have been greatly curtailed in recent years with many rivers shut down completely and not meeting escapement goals. Direct users of these fish species, like ourselves, are taking massive hits in our pocketbooks due to declining stocks. The impacts to our communities and local economies due to low abundance have soared into the millions. Yet, we hear time and time again how the trawl fleet cannot handle further reductions because of economic impacts, while we endure them firsthand. It is hard to accept this rationale and the mismatch in management.
For many years, individual fishermen and groups have come before the council and asked that bycatch be lowered. The council has responded with some measures that have proved beneficial, but more must be done.
For example, there currently is no limit to how many chinook can be taken as bycatch in non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska. This is unacceptable. The council is currently considering a bycatch cap ranging between 5,000 and 12,500 chinook and will take action to address this critical issue at the June 3-11 meeting in Juneau. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can let the council know that a meaningful cap on chinook bycatch in Gulf of Alaska non-pollock trawl fisheries must be put in place by submitting comments The deadline to submit comments is Tuesday, May 28.
While a comprehensive bycatch plan is moving forward that may help to end the race for fish in the Gulf, we know there are things that can and must be done to reduce the impact of bycatch now.
The State of Alaska has a tremendous stake in the future health of our salmon resources, and can be a strong voice for cleaner fishing and bycatch reduction. The state has a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and should use that wisely as a voice for the people and our local industries that are suffering and are demanding a reduction in waste. The Alaska Legislature can also help by giving a voice to the people that are unable to invest the time and money into traveling to council meetings to testify.
In this year's session of the Alaska Legislature, Sen. Peter Micciche of Soldotna introduced and successfully passed SR5, a resolution urging the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to work to reduce Chinook bycatch in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. This resolution was co-sponsored by a dozen other senators and passed unanimously.
Ultimately, bycatch decisions will rest with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Yet, the state can wield influence by weighing in both on the Council as a voting member, and through the voice of our Legislature. A strong state voice will help see that these critical decisions take into consideration the needs of many user groups, not just a few well-represented fleets. Alaskans who depend on fisheries need both the state and the council's help in preserving their livelihoods.

Kip Thomet has been a commercial fisherman in Kodiak for 30 years. He is active in the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association, the Northwest Setnetters Association and on the Kodiak Advisory Committee to the Board of Fish and Game. David Bayes owns and operates the charter vessel Grand Aleutian at Deepstrike Sportfishing LLC. He is president of the Alaska Charter Association and a member of the Homer Advisory Committee to the Board of Fish and Game.

Thank you,
But without at least 100% observer coverage, how will we know what is really going on?

Keep yer flippers wet.

Read more here:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bering Sea Video

When truth is of benefit to you, it seems self evident; but when truth requires your sacrifice, you resist believing it. But it is still the truth.
The Gulf of Alaska has similar management concerns. But lousy observer coverage of trawlers makes them especially dire.

Keep yer flipper's wet.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Projected Mortality for King Salmon and Halibut Bycatch

The actual mortality is probably far higher since only something like 13% of the the trawlers are actually observed.  This as a result of the new restructured observer program which favors the trawlers and burdens the other gear types.  The burden is a pay back for all the trouble we have given the trawlers for trying to force them to clean up their act.

Halibut is in metric tons, 1000 kilogram increments.  Chinook are in projected numbers.
Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mining the NMFS Data Base for Vessel Specific Bycatch

Bycatch of king salmon is shockingly high for bottom trawlers (non-pelagic trawl).


Bycatch of king salmon appears to be much less in these midwater trawlers, but the failure of the NMFS to have those vessels observed 100% of the time allows them to "game' their fishing and to prevent accurate oversight.  Notice the small 'sampled haul' numbers.


Of course king salmon are not the only prohibited species being decimated by trawling, halibut, an unofficial stock of concern, is continually hammered by several gear types.  In trawling the halibut mortality is officially around 80%!  Notice the Vaerdal is here again as a especially dirty player; in the running too for dirtiest king salmon bycatch.


Longliners can be dirty fishers too, auto-longline gear, set in huge lengths can be very dirty.  Here the Freyja stands out as the dirtiest.  If she were fishing during halibut season she might have to keep her legal sized fish, if she had enough IFQ.  Season openings to allow halibut legal catch during other specie targeting would help control this waste, as would requiring ownership of sufficient quota to cover the unintended bycatch.


Finally a gear type that is clean fishing for most species, pots.  The 'dirtiest' boat here is remarkably clean for fishing cod.  Tanner crab bycatch does occur in pot codding, but otherwise a very clean gear type.


Isn't about time (long past time) to clean up our act?  We have several species (shrimp, king crab, tanner crab, halibut, and king salmon) now suffering steep declines due to the uncontrolled bycatch and over harvest rates being allowed by the agencies.  It is time for a change in fisheries management.  We do not want to end up like the East Coast.  It can happen here.

For you wonks who want to follow up the accuracy of my data mining.
Select: "Fisheries"
Select: "Commercial Fisheries"
Select: "Catch Reports"
Select: "2013 Catch Reports and Stats."
Select: "2013 Vessel Specific Bycatch"
A familiarity with spreadsheets is helpful.  Mine, sort, and be revolted.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Who Can Kill the Most Chinook Salmon?

From a concerned fisherman, mining the NMFS database:

"It’s a close race to see who can kill the most Chinook salmon in the GOA.  As of today the Golden Fleece and the Vaerdal are neck and neck.  1123 Chinook for Golden Fleece and 1099 for Vaerdal including monumental effort of 574 Chinook on the last trip dated 4/13.   Curious that the Chinook counts are the highest on Catcher/Processors that are chasing mostly arrowtooth and some sole in the GOA and not the pollock trawlers that get so much press.   Extended trips with high observer sampling of 20-30 tows per trip.    Then they come in to the Majdic dock in Kodiak and unload into freezer vans and ship the money south.  There has got to be a better way!"

"The Chinook bycatch is now 8,811 fish on the count or 35% of the 25,000 cap."

But the cap only applies to pelagic pollock trawling!

Keep yer flippers wet.

Dead Wrong

A friend of the resource writes:

"NMFS is poised to make appointments to the International Pacific Halibut Commission 

Stephanie Madsen, director for the factory trawl fleet, is pushing hard for the Alaska seat.

Trawlers are responsible for over 90% of the halibut bycatch off Alaska and are now taking more halibut as bycatch in some areas than is left to the coastal residents who depend on the directed halibut fisheries.  That is dead wrong. 

Why would NMFS allow the trawl industry to run the Halibut Commission?


CALL TODAY and demand the Alaska commissioner be a halibut fishermen who cares about the halibut resource and the halibut industry.  

I support Linda Behnken--she is the best qualified for the job--but whoever you support--weigh in NOW against trawlers running--and ruining-- your halibut fishery!"

Phone numbers are below:

Bob King (Senator Begich staff) 202 375 0344 or (907) 586-7705
Jay Sterne (Senator Murkowski) 202 224-6665 (Corrected)
Dave Whaley (Congressman Young) 202 226 2311
Eric Schwaab (NMFS) 202 482 6255
Governor Parnell 907 465 3500

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Recognize our Mortal Sea as we prepare to give away the Gulf of Alaska.

As we prepare to give nearly 45% the Gulf of Alaska away to the draggers, perhaps we need to be reminded of what has happened to our East Coast neighbors. If we are to judge by what has gone before, our management strategies, of which we are so confident, are flawed.  Our 'need' for development and growth and economic expansion are all inclined to reduce our Gulf of Alaska to the same empty sea as the Atlantic.

Take for instance the failure of king crab stock, once so abundant they could be picked up out of the shallows at low tide, now only a memory, a stock that should be declared endangered in the GOA. What about the shrimp, such incredible abundance...gone.  Tanner crab scarce enough only a few hundred thousand pounds for harvest, when there were once tens of millions.  Regime shift?  Decadal oscillation? Where are the halibut, 35 million small fish gone missing?  Avarice, over confidence and mismanagement have resulted in these losses.  King salmon are there now too, on the missing fishes list.  And the NPFMC can't control the arrogance of the drag fleet, who must already 'suffer' because they have to leave quota 'stranded' if they are to conform to the PSC caps.  The Gulf is not limitless.  The arrow tooth are taking over because the resident stocks are damaged.  The balance is upset.  So to solve it, we give the Gulf away, piecemeal to the draggers, then the pot boats, and finally the longliners.  They are all screaming there won't be enough for them.  They are right you know, but there won't be enough left for anyone unless action and not some flaccid good intentions are brought to bear by management.  The sea is mortal, like the buffalo, you can indeed kill them all. Watch. You will see.

Give a listen to the abundance that was once the Atlantic:

Winslow Homer, Fog Warning, 1885.

And keep yer flippers wet.