Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another perspective on the 32-foot limit

As noted in my last post, the state Board of Fisheries soon will consider whether to eliminate the longstanding 32-foot vessel length limit in the state's biggest salmon fishery at Bristol Bay.

In the past, I suppose I always considered this proposal rather narrowly.

Could an aggressive fisherman pack more sockeye than his competitors? Could he add chilling or even processing equipment to maximize the value of his catch?

Or might a bigger boat allow the bay's more boorish players to simply bully smaller boats off the line?

Well, on my recent visit to Seattle I ran into a fisherman who broadened my perspective a little. He made two points I'd never considered before.

First, he said bigger boats wouldn't necessarily offer an advantage, as they would have a deeper draft and couldn't fish shallow waters like lighter boats.

Second, a bigger vessel might offer fishermen more versatility. For example, the boat could be used not only to net sockeye at Bristol Bay, but also to work in waters or fisheries such as halibut that ideally require more size.

Deckboss is confident plenty more points will be made at the board's Dec. 1-8 meeting at the downtown Hilton hotel in Anchorage.


LAR said...

Deckboss - I would like to echo the point made by the individual in Seattle from another perspective: SAFETY. There are a lot more factors than length to be considered, of course, but bigger boats can be much safer in the long run. A longer boat will also tend to be broader, and displace more water, potentially making it more stable.

Anonymous said...

Bigger does not necessarily equate to deeper draft. I could build an aluminum skiff the size of a football field that would draw 3"!

Ray Wadsworth, anyone?

Anonymous said...

If your Working the Egegik lines, there is definitely more manueverability with a smaller vessel, and as far as shallow draft vessels, it depends on where you fish....If you are fishing the inside, on the north egegik line, it's obviously in your favor to have a shallow draft boat, on a falling tide...I think the perfect size would be a vessel 36'x 14 x 28 inches....But, it depends on where, exactly, you do most of your fishing, and how many permits and net length you have....alot to consider....Alot of boat can be had with a 36' vessel....if it's planned out right....

Anonymous said...

The concept of lifting the 32 foot limit in the bay is long overdue. All you have to do is look at the aging fleet and the warm fish coming out of the poorly insulated and cockpit style boats that will ensure a low price. If you read the comments from the BBEDC report they dont want any change at all...WAKE UP watershed residents the world is passing you by and all you want to do is not change anything. 70 cents a pound is what you will get if you keep that unrealistic view that someone wants your poorly handled fish. The ability to add 4 feet to a 40 year old shore or rawson style boat is the only realistic avenue to increase your quality of fish and get the better prices that others are enjoying

Anonymous said...

Another Idea that should be considered is the idea advocated by the Late Phil Bolger, a boat designer from Massachusetts. That a fishing boat should be limited by displacement not length, as this would encourage fisherman to build longer, shallower, and narrower boats that would be much more efficient than the wide boats which are common in the bay now.
Something to look at is the Robin Jean, a 30 foot Phil Bolger design recently built and featured in the Nov. edition of National Fisherman. A larger version of this boat could make a very efficient and cost effective Bristol Bay boat

Anonymous said...

Another consideration in this fight is that all of our infrastructure in the Bristol Bay is based on a 32-foot boat. Additionally, improvements to the fleet and the value of the fishery is going up. Incremental changes and improvements have been made, and continue to be made. BBEDC has put millions of dollars into ice machines, slush bags, and insulating watershed residents' fish holds. We should allow these improvements to play out before we make any drastic changes to the fishery. All of the proponents to this proposal understand that the local watershed residents who cannot afford a bigger boat will be the likely ones to lose out if the 32-foot limitation is removed. What baffles me is that is appears that the advocates of this proposal really don't care. If the local, primarily Alaska Native population is disenfranchised from the fishery, guess what - Alaska Natives WILL look to see what has been done in other states, such as Washington, Oregon, and California, where tribal fishing rights are federally protected.

Anonymous said...

Why should a vessel owner be limited in his ability to advance because someone wants to continue to run old boats and selling a second class product? That's backward thinking.

Anonymous said...

Repealing the 32-foot limit is not a viable option for increasing the overall value of salmon in Bristol Bay. You cannot create systemic price improvements in Bristol Bay by allowing a select few fishermen with access to capital to change the way they fish. Take $250,000: this amount would lengthen and install RSW in three 32' vessels, or purchase one adequately equipped 36 footer. This capital would also be enough to purchase one 30-ton ice machine, which could provide 30-40 boats with slush ice. Salmon value will not change based on infrastructure improvement of 5% of the fleet, instead it depends on what we do with the 35% of the fleet that is not doing anything to improve their fish. Our prices are being brought down by this percentage, and any effort forward should focus on bringing them up. The BBEDC, RSDA and some processing companies have helped to slowly chip away at this group over the years, and we have seen improvements.

Anonymous said...

Bristol Bay sockeye is a beautiful product in the water. We need to do anything we can to better preserve the quality that the public deserves. Longer boats would help do that. I agree that short, smaller, low profile, boats are best for line fishing by far. (32X12 ft flush deck Marco = perfect line boat). Longer boats would be worse for the line, but better for the fish.

Anonymous said...

There disenfranchized from the fishery, due to selling their entry permits, allowed as an individual right as anyone can buy and sell, in or out of the fishery.

Just look at permit stacking, used in many west coast fisheries, like San Franscisco Herring or Puget Sound Crab, where equal shares of geaqr are given to those who choose to stack, 2 equal lengths of net in the Frisco Herring Fishery, or double the crab pots in the puget sound crab fishery.

Evidently the "Equal Protection Clause" of the 14th Amendment is only confused as usual in the Alaska Division of ficiton in law.

Resident or Non-Resident, isn't an issue, shown best with Carlson v. State, and the great interest rate of 11.5% interest on the Departments illegal licens fees for the non-resident. The best rate of return since Jimmy Carter was President. Love that Alaska Department of Law don't we!

Does the Commerce Clause of 1789 really have to be this confusing to the Alaska Department of Law.

Lets bring back the sailboat too, infrastructure changes every day, or is that U.S.S. Constitution still headed to the Persian Gulf?

Anonymous said...

And the disenfranchised Native?

Did that happen, before or after he ran to the BBEDC Permit Brokerage to buy into disenfranchisement?

Truth is always a confusing concept, now it's everyone elses fault that the local resident sold out?

Can we get some more welfare sent over to the BBEDC from the BBRSDA to improve the obvious?

Don't you just love it, taxing the RSW vessel owner, to subsidize the ice barges, wow, isn't it great when Heyano, sits on every board of confusion.

Anonymous said...

I bet we will see another parade of Bristol Bay residents in line to testify against everything at this Board of fish. Like the last time when I watched nearly everyone say "no to this " and "no to that", "dont change anything". When I asked them privately why... I couldn't get and answer other than "I was told to say that!!" Barely any articulation as to why! This time they get an all expense paid shopping trip to the big city,hotel, and food complements of BBEDC. Take that same money and improve your fish quality so you dont continue to drag everyone else down with your "way we've always done it!!"

Anonymous said...

Bigger boats and rsw won't cure the biggest problem in the bay, volume and processing capacity. Having a bigger boat doesn't matter much if you're on a limit or you have to hold your fish because the processors are swamped.

Anonymous said...

Don't get the idea that BBEDC speaks for all the residents MR CEO claims, it isn't even close.
More than a few residents are for lifting the 32' limit and allowing permit stacking, but don't have the millions BBEDC does to run to the meeting for a week and speak out.

If you track down the history on the 32' limit it was off once but again DLG cried foul and a sunset clause let it come back.

Residents in the lower part of the bay have been for getting rid of it for years and DO speak out.

We ALL need to be able to compete and many of the proposals this year will allow for that. Trying to pit residents against non-residents is foolish and fishermen you SHOULD NOT ALLOW IT.

Let's hope the BOF can se past some of this and given there are less DLG paid talking heads on this board we MIGHT stand a chance to update this fishery, FINALLY!!

Anonymous said...

And the paid lobbyists, Robin Samuelson, buying a 2nd permit for "My People" seems a bit hypocritical, and then argue against the 32 ft change after watching a 40,000 lb delivery by a Russian???

What a concept from a supposed so called leader?

I guess the BBEDC only allows the Board to purchase second permits for a long overdue salmon restructuring plan for Robin?


Go next door, to the Board Meeting and read the APA Contract, with the Alaska Fishermen's Union, from 1938 when We were United?

Of course we need another study, in the obvious, "a house divided cannot stand."

Anonymous said...

We don't want to work any different on this only job we have in the Bay - any change will make it different and more difficult for me - I am poor suffering local person trying to make ends meet with the only job there is for me in my community.

I don't want to have to bleed and ice my fish, cause that is not how my traditional ancestry did it - we just didn't bleed and ice back in the days of subsistence fishing.

What's that hon, you mean the fish you women put up each year for us to eat is bleed and iced - oh that's right, I forget, we do bleed and ice our subsistence fish just like we always have.

Just don't make any change in the way I make money. I only have this job to work for the whole year and I don't want any changes that would make me work any harder.

I work hard enough in my subsistence fishery icing and bleeding the fish for my wife to process, I don't want to have to do it also for my only job of the year, too.

Too much work to do all that!