Wednesday, January 21, 2015

NMFS urges relief on Bering Sea halibut

We've heard considerable worry that halibut catch limits in the Bering Sea (Area 4CDE) could go drastically lower this year, dealing a serious blow to fishermen from St. Paul and other communities.

Now we have the federal government's position on the matter with this letter from Eileen Sobeck, head of the National Marine Fisheries Service, to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Sobeck recommends "a limited increase in the Area 4CDE catch limits in 2015 relative to the current IPHC harvest policy."

This, says Sobeck, would not hurt the halibut stock, would help spare local people economic hardship, and would recognize good progress by groundfish trawlers to reduce halibut bycatch.

The letter comes ahead of the IPHC's annual meeting Jan. 26-30 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the 2015 catch limits will be set.


Anonymous said...

So I guess Sobeck has better info than the IPHC. To bad the concern was not their when they slashed quota in 3A and 2C

Anonymous said...

Ah, the long arm of the Amendment 80 fleet. You can even get NMFS to write a letter for you. Cool.

Anonymous said...

That letter sounds like a New England Council move....

Anonymous said...

What rot!

This is just a promise for more action later. The council already had the opportunity to reduce bycatch and it failed. They have no intention of imposing anything with teeth in it to reduce bycatch. Just look at the proposals the At-Sea Processors Assocation sent to the IPHC--All of their recommendations are a bunch of fluff to buy more time while the directed fishery suffers(i.e. continued research on halibut excluders, initiate conversations withing the fleet to reduce bycatch, etc). There is nothing in there with any teeth in it whatsoever.

While the trawlers and amendment 80 fleet is patting themselves on the back for a miniscule 'voluntary' reduction in bycatch, the directed fishery has taken massive cuts. They have every incentive to kick the can down the road. If the abundance is lower, shouldn't the bycatch fall by a comparable amount?

The Council needs to take action and reduce their bycatch by 35%, a mere fraction of what the directed fleet has taken. You can bet that they will figure out how to reduce bycatch really quickly if there was an incentive to do so.

Send your comments in and tell them to make the largest reduction possible.

Anonymous said...

Raise the quota and the trawl fleet will have to reduce by catch. They will not risk losing MSC certification.

Anonymous said...

If the people do not go to the meetings and or write letters to the council and the president to make the trawlers stand down than we as fisherman and the future trawl fleet will have no fishery. Didnt we all see the big down fall in Sweden and the other countries were the trawl fleet over fished and damaged the bottom floor so much that the vegetation to come back will be decades before the fishing could even be avaliable to even subsistance fishing. research and look what the trawl fleet did in the Kachemack Bay, Gulf of Alaska Seward area the ruined the bottom so much that even to this day there is minimum fish to be caught as the vegetation is gone in Kachemack bay and cook Inlet there is only mud and even sharks dont want to feed and the gulf of Alaska used to be one of the greatest Pacific Cod fishing in the day until the trawl fleet took out the vegetation there also cleaning (fishing) out the area. there is only sharks to be caught now on every hook. Bering Sea problem is that the Trawl fleet. Bottom fishes there. Bottom fishing Trawl Fleet ? YES bottom fishing by catch and halibut mortality is more than 7million tons each year thats almost more than the whole IFQ Quota for the longline and CDQ in all areas and that is only the mortality in the bering sea not counting the other areas. If the Trawl fleet by-catch isnt lowered by 75% or more than all fisherman even the Trawl fleet is in big trouble. We in Alaska are the most fortunate out of all the world so far and if the trawl fleet is only going to have a 35% reduction who knows when? Its going to be to late. the fish the world will be eating is GMO fish and believe me when that happens all of us are in trouble. Imagine what cancer, arthritis, death to families children dying at young ages etc. I think you get the point. Fight and spread the word to congress, IPHC, senators, mayors, governors, before its to late.

Anonymous said...

And this is why the current system we have in place does not work. While I do believe that industry should be at the table, it is obviously overloaded when it comes to health of some stocks. Of course having industry representatives at IPHC who have a strong presence in the drag fleet doesn't help much either.

Anonymous said...


What do you mean by saying that if we raise the catch they will have to reduce bycatch? Please explain as I don't understand the thought process here.

Dang, if ever there was a fishery that needed MSC criticism this is it. How are hatcheries more prone to their scrutiny than decimating the Bering sea halibut fishery?

Send your letters and comments in to the NPFMC guys, this letter proves exactly where their head is. When the trawlers cut their bycatch by 70% like the directed fleet has, then we can talk about what a success their efforts have been. Until then, get your letters in ASAP.