Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Deckload of Halibut PSC Caught and Unobserved

Waste on a Grand Scale

Just when the Kodiak trawl fleet is announcing their "celebration of groundfish," dock talk includes the story of an unobserved deckload of halibut PSC by the Mar del Norte.  Estimates are as high as 80,000 pounds of wasted halibut.

Where are the cameras?  Observers are too few and far between to make a difference in the ongoing destruction of our public resources by sloppy and careless operators.  VMS tracks tell the tale.  When observed, trawlers fish somewhere clean; without an observer, trawlers go to the Sand Box or some other rich place and wreak havoc.

As Scott Houcoma, skipper of the Pacific Storm explains in his NPFMC testimony at the February Portland meeting:

“The bycatch numbers are wrong. We don’t do enough survey work and there is way more halibut out there than anybody is acknowledging.
“We see ‘em everyday.  And this elephant in the room---the 100% …observer program…that might be workable if we started with the right amount of numbers, but we don’t have the right numbers of halibut out there.

“It is way more than you guys are talking about here.  We can’t take 100% observer coverage when there is so much more halibut than you are already talking about.  It isn’t going to work.” 02/02/2016 C-2 Public Testimony, recorder time 9:10:59 

In other words, Capt. Houcoma is admitting before the Council that 100% observed trawling would shut down the industry due to the high rates of halibut bycatch.  It is only through gaming the observer system that they can continue to trawl on and waste the halibut resource.

Nice for the community.  Let's celebrate.

Keep yer flippers wet.

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