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.