We were asked to believe the trawler pollock industry really did not want to catch all those King, Chinook, Salmon in 2007, over 120,000, and they were capable of figuring out ways to avoid catching the Kings. They did not need harsh limits and restrictions because they were going to just not catch them now that they knew it might be an issue, especially with Yukon Kings.
Well guess what…..they caught almost triple the Chinook By-Catch recent average this season and did most of that damage in less than 2 WEEKS. The average yearly catch has been around 20,000 for the last 2-3 years but this season they have caught 58,336 with almost 25,000 of those from Oct 1-17 of this year.
So what the heck happened? Where are all those ‘excluder devices’ they talked about? What steps come next? Will the industry be shut down?
The ADN is reporting…
“Pollock boats and other commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Alaska have accidentally caught an estimated 58,336 king salmon this year, a level of bycatch that could trigger restrictions.”
“COULD trigger restrictions”? WHAT? Only ‘could’?
We hear in the Kodiak Daily Mirror that although the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is scheduled to meet in December there is nothing on the agenda to address this issue.
“The council is not scheduled to take any final action, but will consider a new paper on the subject.”
If you read the article you will also see …..
“By far this is the largest (bycatch) we have ever seen,” Josh Keaton, a fisheries manager with the National Marine Fisheries Service, told the Kodiak Daily Mirror. “Hopefully it means a lot of kings are out there to be caught and they ran into a big pack of them.”
I am not sure what rock Mr Keaton has been under for the last few years but King returns, back to the rivers to spawn, have been well below averages. This year we saw a number of closings all over Alaska due to low returns. Bristol Bay has been hit the hardest for shear numbers of Kings and yet to hear almost nothing about that. Might it have something to do with it Bristol Bay Economic Corporation, the local CDQ, having partnership in a good number of trawling vessels?
We went through all those hearings in Anchorage in the winter of 2009 with the National Marine Fisheries Council where we heard how the industry really cared about the life of those who rely on the salmon for their subsistence lifestyle. Here’s my live blog — part 1 and part 2.
Not sure you if remember these two nuggets but I sure do….when one industry representative told us all how important it was for this less than 20 years old industry to survive because the fish that for years have been considered ‘trash’ fish were feeding thousands overseas! I even remember the reaction of one of the board members, something to the effect of …..We are so glad to know that feeding others overseas was more important than those here in Alaska!!
Then…. one villager voiced that in his village they had been threatened with a reduction of CDQ, Community Development Quota, monies for his village if they spoke out or moved to reduced any catch of the pollock industry. (The six CDQ programs are major owners in a number of trawler boats and companies)
This was no surprise to many of us there who had been at the receiving end of CDQ antics over the years. To hear it stated in federal committee testimony by someone who could suffer ….was nothing less than courageous.
The reason this seems to be getting so much attention now ….it seems that some of those lower 48 endangered Kings might have been caught in this by-catch.
The more I read of this lack of action to address the issue for the Alaska King runs the more I have to listen to the village discussions of ignoring all the ‘advice’ from the experts and move toward getting those Kings/Chinooks listed as at least “threatened”.
To top that discussion off we won’t even start the discussion of how the Pollock industry can continue to garner a ‘Sustainable’ rating by the MSC.