Thursday, February 19, 2015

Every Halibut Counts!

Count every halibut; like King Salmon are counted in bycatch statistics.  The current system of counting halibut poundage is a corrupted statistical method to minimize the terrible damage being done by trawlers in the GOA and the BSAI.  NMFS denies that halibut grow and become economically valuable assets in the fish market, by denying the existence/value of small halibut.  If that halibut is six inches long or sixty inches long, it needs to count.  Current methodology converts halibut bycatch to a poundage based upon recovery rates as applied in the directed fishery.  This is the definition of bullshit.  Each halibut has the potential to grow and become part of the directed or sport fishery unless it is bycaught and discarded by (primarily) the drag fishery.  Count every halibut.  The bean counters will scream, but it is irresponsible to do it any other way.   Every halibut counts.

All this has developed from when the groundfishery was just a gleam in the trawlerman's eye.  I recall when no groundfish were delivered to processors.  We fished shrimp, and shitty state management and greed and the mythology of endless resources wiped them out.

None were left.


Anything to jump start the groundfishery was sought by fishermen, innovative processors, and NMFS in an attempt to win the cold war on the high seas.  Yes, there was a cold war on the high seas.  To distort bycatch, whether King Salmon, halibut, or King and Tanner crab was the cost of getting this bottom fishery going.  "Throw all the bycatch over, we can straighten that out when the bottom fishery is strong"  Marginalizing bycatch was necessary.  It was the cost of doing business...for the start-up groundfish business.  It basically spelled the end of King crab.  Well, people, we are there.  We have arrived.  The groundfish business is on its feet and supporting communities.  Now with limited access, it's owners are making huge profits. But they are operating under a start-up regime that is costing other successful and productive directed fisheries their very life.  The success of the drag fleet is costing subsistence and sports fishers their opportunities.  This start-up dragger regime is using antiquated jump start methods to rape profits from the BSAI and the GOA with the blessing of the NPFMC.  Now is the time to stop this insanity and start managing draggers like other responsible resource harvesters.  If draggers can't participate without extinguishing whole species and ecological niches, then they should not be allowed.  If the NPFMC can't see that innovation should be rewarded for clean fishing; that a free pass to destroy a whole species isn't good management, they need to be removed as responsible managers.

Keep yer flippers wet.