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.