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)
Email: npfmc.comments@noaa.gov
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 http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2013/pscinfo.htm 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: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/2013/pscinfo.htm
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: http://www.adn.com/2013/05/04/2889745/compass-commercial-charter-fishermen.html#storylink=cpy
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 tonpfmc.comments@noaa.gov. 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, www.adn.com
But without at least 100% observer coverage, how will we know what is really going on?

Keep yer flippers wet.

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/05/04/2889745/compass-commercial-charter-fishermen.html#storylink=cpy

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.