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Thread: Commercial halibut fishing: The Final Solution?

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    Default Commercial halibut fishing: The Final Solution?

    Well, what with friends like the Peninsula Clarion's "An Outdoor View" column today*, the halibut charter business doesn't need any enemies. The column, if one can believe it, actually asks:

    ". . years ago, Americans demanded laws that made commercial game hunting illegal. Why do we continue to allow commercial fishermen to . . “hunt” the ocean, . ."
    Somebody needs to tell this person to put a cork in it before anyone takes him seriously or as a serious voice for the halibut charter industry. . .

    Over the top . . . way over the top . . .


    *
    http://peninsulaclarion.com/outdoors...r#comment-4015

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    I don't normally agree with Les Palmer on fishing issues because he has an anti-commercial fishing viewpoint, but on this issue I agree with him. Longliners already catch 80 percent of the halibut in the central gulf and now they want even more. They just put charter guys on moratoriums at least give it a couple years to see if the moratoriums work in decreasing charter harvest before their allocation is cut to one fish per person. Cutting to one fish per person almost ensures the charter harvest wont even achieve the new proposed GHL.

    The one thing that I think has merit about this quote you selected is the fact that commercial halibut fishermen have quota and therefore own a certain amount of halibut. I don't know of any salmon fishery in Alaska where commercial fishermen own a certain number of pounds of salmon or a percentage of the salmon that return on a given year. All a comm. salmon permit does is give you the opportunity to fish and aren't guaranteed anything.

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    Thumbs down Fomenting discord . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by 33outdoorsman View Post
    I don't normally agree with Les Palmer on fishing issues because he has an anti-commercial fishing viewpoint, but on this issue I agree with him. Longliners already catch 80 percent of the halibut in the central gulf and now they want even more. They just put charter guys on moratoriums at least give it a couple years to see if the moratoriums work in decreasing charter harvest before their allocation is cut to one fish per person. Cutting to one fish per person almost ensures the charter harvest wont even achieve the new proposed GHL.

    The one thing that I think has merit about this quote you selected is the fact that commercial halibut fishermen have quota and therefore own a certain amount of halibut. I don't know of any salmon fishery in Alaska where commercial fishermen own a certain number of pounds of salmon or a percentage of the salmon that return on a given year. All a comm. salmon permit does is give you the opportunity to fish and aren't guaranteed anything.
    Yes, and well-noted. Palmer has long abused commercial fishermen and many others when he perceives they threaten the self-interests of sport-fishing. What is so incredible, demented even, and without credibility is his current call to shut down commercial fisheries. All commercial fisheries? Or just the commercial fisheries that threaten Palmer's self-interest? Whatever the merits of the various allocation arguments, Palmer has successfully removed himself from the realm of rational discussion.

    In the meantime, what is being missed here is that commercial fishermen are not the end-user of the resource. The commercial fisheries exist only to serve the overwhelming majority of American citizens who too have a share in the privilege of enjoying a halibut dinner even if they don't catch the halibut themselves.

    Ill-considered diatribes like today's "An Outdoor View" serve no purposes except to divisively pit one user group against another, foment ill-will between neighbors, and encourage greed at the expense of others. There are better, more rational ways to discuss the issue . . we are all in this together.

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    Marcus you make it sound like comfish are public servants. They are saving the world from starvation for just 20.00 a pound. In the mean time Alaskans will be limited to one fish as they get whats left after 85-90% go to comfish and still more to waste and bycatch. Sportfish is getting the table scraps and you want them to be happy about it?? I think he was pretty spot on.

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    Question Say what?!

    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    Marcus . . I think he was pretty spot on.
    Who? The columnist? The guy who questions why we let commercial fishermen continue to "hunt the oceans"?

    Is that your opinion as well?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    In the meantime, what is being missed here is that commercial fishermen are not the end-user of the resource.
    The charter operators are not the end user of the resource either, but their clients put even more money in the local economies (on a per pound basis) than the person in Kansas that buys halibut at the grocery store. From an economic standpoint, why isn't the charter sector given a higher priority in the halibut take? Why are there TWO major changes going forward that will reduce the charter catch, but NONE that address the bycatch issue? I have no problems addressing cuts to the sportfishing catch, when necessary, but it seems premature to bare the fangs, when there is a larger problem that seems to be ignored.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Who? The columnist? The guy who questions why we let commercial fishermen continue to "hunt the oceans"?

    Is that your opinion as well?
    As Dan pointed out charter operators are not the end user either. Seems the thing you miss is that charter operators simply provide access to a fishery to the people who own the fish. Charter operators are not end users either. While i do not think that comfish is evil in any way i do think the allocation is VERY lopsided.

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    Cool Making their case . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in Alaska View Post
    The charter operators are not the end user of the resource either, but their clients put even more money in the local economies (on a per pound basis) than the person in Kansas that buys halibut at the grocery store. From an economic standpoint, why isn't the charter sector given a higher priority in the halibut take? Why are there TWO major changes going forward that will reduce the charter catch, but NONE that address the bycatch issue? I have no problems addressing cuts to the sportfishing catch, when necessary, but it seems premature to bare the fangs, when there is a larger problem that seems to be ignored.
    True enough, Dan, those are valid points, but I don't see how they help the charter-boat case. The halibut fishery, commercial and private, is not a sport-fishery, it's a meat fishery as has been pointed out elsewhere on these fora. And as a meat fishery, the market for that meat is divided between those who catch their meat (private and charter anglers) and those who buy their meat. Both market segments deserve access to the resource.

    Second, while it's no doubt true that the charter industry makes the halibut meat-fishery more profitable to local economies, that localized profit must come at the cost of profit to the state's and nation's larger economy. If there's only so much biomass available for harvest, it's a zero-sum game. Profit in one market segment must come at the cost to profit in another market sector.

    So while I can sympathize with charter operators facing tougher times, and while I have no illusions concerning the altruism of commercial halibut fishermen, the charter boats have yet to make a compelling case for increased harvest capacity for their market segment.

    Rants like the Clarion column referenced above do not help the charter operator's case and in fact do it great harm by making that interest group sound like a bunch of wild-eyed wing-nuts. If charter operators want what amounts to increased harvest capacity, they must make a compelling case for such, and the "good-for-local-economies" argument doesn't cut it.

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    Cool Making their case . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    As Dan pointed out charter operators are not the end user either. Seems the thing you miss is that charter operators simply provide access to a fishery to the people who own the fish. Charter operators are not end users either. While i do not think that comfish is evil in any way i do think the allocation is VERY lopsided.
    No argument, kgpcr, charter operators are not end-users. But they are part of the "catch-my-meat" market demand for halibut. The other segment of the market demand for halibut is "buy-my-meat," and it too deserves access to the product.

    If one considers the halibut market as a whole, what percentage of market demand for halibut comes from the "buy" sector, and what percentage comes from the "catch" sector? It'd be my guess that the "buy" sector totally dwarfs the "catch" sector—tens of millions as compared to a few thousand. The market demand—divided between "catch" and "buy"—for halibut is, as you note, lopsided, and current allocations reflect that lopsidedness.

    Charter operators have yet to make any kind of compelling argument for why their market share should be increased at the expense of other market shares.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    The halibut fishery, commercial and private, is not a sport-fishery, it's a meat fishery as has been pointed out elsewhere on these fora.
    For the private fisherman, the halibut fishery IS managed as a sport fishery. Because these sport fisherman choose the catch halibut because they think they are delicious, is of no consequence. They still use rod & reel, and they still pursue them under sport fishing guidelines. For the private guy, it's a sport fishing endeavor.




    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Second, while it's no doubt true that the charter industry makes the halibut meat-fishery more profitable to local economies, that localized profit must come at the cost of profit to the state's and nation's larger economy.
    This pretty much sums up a HUGE portion of Alaska's state budget - federal dollars. In fact, it's a litmus test for the politicians we Alaskans send to Washington. If you'll remember, our female senator won a write-in campaign on this very issue by saying that the other guy would cut too much federal pork for our state.

    So, what's the difference? We Alaskans are more than happy to take "free" federal money, but our state officials won't oppose rules that will reduce the number of people that are actually willing to work for it themselves? That's just sad.

    An economy operates by money changing hands. A strong economy is one that has LOTS of people freely exchanging money, not just a few big shots. Our entire economy is based off this principle.




    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    and the "good-for-local-economies" argument doesn't cut it.
    As opposed to what argument? "We can't figure out how to reduce the bycatch, and it might upset too many big campaign contributors anyway, so we're just going to stick it to the other guys." That argument?




    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Charter operators have yet to make any kind of compelling argument for why their market share should be increased at the expense of other market shares.
    How about THIS argument: "Nine million pounds of useful fish is better than twelve million pounds of wasted fish." Let's concentrate on fixing the real problem before we create more problems that can't fix - like permanently damaged local Alaskan economies.




    And, Marcus, I appreciate the manner in which you're conducting yourself. It's nice to that see civil discourse still has a useful role in society. I believe there has been too much happening in politics via yelling & screaming, as of late, not nearly enough listening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    No argument, kgpcr, charter operators are not end-users. But they are part of the "catch-my-meat" market demand for halibut. The other segment of the market demand for halibut is "buy-my-meat," and it too deserves access to the product.

    If one considers the halibut market as a whole, what percentage of market demand for halibut comes from the "buy" sector, and what percentage comes from the "catch" sector? It'd be my guess that the "buy" sector totally dwarfs the "catch" sector—tens of millions as compared to a few thousand. The market demand—divided between "catch" and "buy"—for halibut is, as you note, lopsided, and current allocations reflect that lopsidedness.

    Charter operators have yet to make any kind of compelling argument for why their market share should be increased at the expense of other market shares.
    Under this same argument, people accessing their halibut via a charter service, dwarf the non charter sector so why aren't they restricting the unguided angler before restricting the guided angler. As a nation and a state, we should be investing in the market that provides the highest return for the least amount of resource gathered. The market price paid for sport caught fish dwarfs the price paid for commercial caught fish. We should be promoting our state as the best sport fishery in the world. We would add jobs to our growing population and economic growth. Instead we're shooting ourselves in the foot. The reason we aren't is because there is a lack of leadership in government and crooks on the council. Arne Fuglvog and the people associated with him like the UFA are the reason we're in this mess. Compelling arguments and facts can be discussed all day long, but when the crooks control the council and government leadership the sport fisherman doesn't stand a chance.

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    Thumbs down By-catch . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in Alaska View Post
    . . How about THIS argument: "Nine million pounds of useful fish is better than twelve million pounds of wasted fish." Let's concentrate on fixing the real problem before we create more problems that can't fix - like permanently damaged local Alaskan economies.

    And, Marcus, I appreciate the manner in which you're conducting yourself. It's nice to that see civil discourse still has a useful role in society. I believe there has been too much happening in politics via yelling & screaming, as of late, not nearly enough listening.
    Thanks, Dan, and same to you—your posts are refreshing. Nothing can be gained by nastiness and demagoguery. Regarding your question, by-catch is a legitimate concern.

    But by-catch happens whenever man intrudes into the natural order in his efforts to wrest a living from the planet. As already noted, mice and birds are gobbled up by combines, mountains are leveled mining coal, and so on. If charter operators expect any traction by pointing their fingers at commercial by-catch, I fear they are doomed to disappointment. Society is pretty much immune to any shock-and-awe over collateral damage. By-catch is a legitimate concern, but allocative issues are not the place to address that concern.

    So far, the only argument coming from the charters that is at all rational is the appeal to local economies, and that's a tough, tough sell in terms of the larger economic picture. In the meantime, the commercial guys have, I think, better arguments on their side of the issue: conservation and the unbridled growth of the charter fleet.

    Time will tell, and the issue will be settled by others. In the meantime, it will benefit us all to keep the discussion civil. Hateful rants aimed at pitting neighbor against neighbor, citizen against citizen, deserve our scorn.

    Thanks again . . .

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    Thumbs up More civil discussion . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Halibutgrove View Post
    Under this same argument, people accessing their halibut via a charter service, dwarf the non charter sector so why aren't they restricting the unguided angler before restricting the guided angler. As a nation and a state, we should be investing in the market that provides the highest return for the least amount of resource gathered. The market price paid for sport caught fish dwarfs the price paid for commercial caught fish. We should be promoting our state as the best sport fishery in the world. We would add jobs to our growing population and economic growth. Instead we're shooting ourselves in the foot. The reason we aren't is because there is a lack of leadership in government and crooks on the council. Arne Fuglvog and the people associated with him like the UFA are the reason we're in this mess. Compelling arguments and facts can be discussed all day long, but when the crooks control the council and government leadership the sport fisherman doesn't stand a chance.
    To differentiate between private boaters and charter boaters is a false distinction, Hg, in that both fit into the larger category of "catch" as opposed to "buy." And again, your suggestion fails in a zero-sum game in that to avoid restricting charters, one must restrict private boaters. No easy answers there.

    Second, it is simply not so that sport-caught halibut dwarfs the price paid for commercial-caught fish when all the downstream economics from commercial halibut is figured in. Only if one restricts the economic picture to purely local considerations do the charter operators have a case, and even then it's a tough sell.

    As for the whole "crooks-in-control" thing, it's a dead end. One man's crook is another man's saint. Best not to go there . . things are what they are, and we all must play with the cards we're dealt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    If one considers the halibut market as a whole, what percentage of market demand for halibut comes from the "buy" sector, and what percentage comes from the "catch" sector? It'd be my guess that the "buy" sector totally dwarfs the "catch" sector—tens of millions as compared to a few thousand.


    And you'd be correct. The total take, divided by 300 million, means Alaskans would be left with a total sport/personal use/subsistence take of approximately seven halibut. Total. Is that the criteria we are to use? Is that "utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle, subject to preferences among beneficial uses"? Like others here have pointed out, those who spend thousands in the state in order to catch a couple of fish are providing much more to the state than the wholesale value of the fish in the meat market, and they are enjoying their meat much more than those buying it frozen at $20 per pound from Ed Tunk's Country Store in Podunk, America. However, I'm cognizant of reality; this issue is out of our hands as a state. It's back to territorial days, except now we pay federal taxes. The feds are slowly but surely taking back the same control they had in 1955. We are a colony again, especially with regard to this issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    But by-catch happens whenever man intrudes into the natural order in his efforts to wrest a living from the planet.
    You'll get no argument from me. Some waste is always a result of resource development. It's the magnitude of the waste that gets my goat with the halibut bycatch issue. A full third more halibut are wasted every year than the ENTIRE CATCH of EVERYONE sport fishing for halibut. The entire state's best efforts with a rod & reel still fall three million pounds short of the commercial halibut bycatch. It really is quite staggering!

    From purely an arithmetic standpoint, you CAN NOT squeeze, stretch, pull, or manipulate 9 million and turn it into 12 million. Bernie Madoff couldn't even pull off that kind of math.

    I think the whole assault on the charter industry is rooted in a complete lack of political will to do anything about the bycatch issue, and I find that absolutely unacceptable.


    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    In the meantime, the commercial guys have, I think, better arguments on their side of the issue: conservation and the unbridled growth of the charter fleet.
    I am glad you used the term "arguments." Plural. Has anyone else noticed the ever-changing argument of the commercial sector? First it's about conservation; too many fish are being caught.....no, it's about ever-expanding charter fleet; they catch too many fish, not us.....no, no, it's about historical catch; the charter guys are the new guys wrecking everything.....no, no, no we feed the WHOLE COUNTRY....oh, and don't worry about bycatch because we subtract that right out of there before we take our cut. Nothing to see here...

    It's appearing more and more to be a shell game. If you can't d***le 'em with brilliance, baffle them with BS, and if all else fails, buy some politicians to stack the deck in your favor.

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    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    By the way, you commercial guys really need to stop with the "we feed the whole country" argument, because it's not true. My sister-in-law hates fish, and I have an aunt that is a vegetarian. Therefore, you can't claim to feed the WHOLE country.....grin.

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    Smile Put-downs, omniscience, irony, and humor . . .

    . . those who spend thousands in the state in order to catch a couple of fish are . . [enjoy] their meat much more than those buying it frozen at $20 per pound from Ed Tunk's Country Store in Podunk, America. . . It's back to territorial days, except now we pay federal taxes. The feds are slowly but surely taking back the same control they had in 1955. We are a colony again, . .


    Oh, my! "Tunks Country Store"? "Podunk, America"? Is that any way to speak of one's fellow Americans? . .

    And we know this how? . . that tourists enjoy their halibut more than do the folks in Podunk? . .

    As for being a colony [again], what a joke considering how this state milks the Federal tit.


    ***************

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in Alaska View Post
    By the way, you commercial guys really need to stop with the "we feed the whole country" argument, because it's not true. My sister-in-law hates fish, and I have an aunt that is a vegetarian. Therefore, you can't claim to feed the WHOLE country.....grin.
    Thanks for the humor, Dan. It's a piss-poor day when we can't laugh at ourselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Oh, my! "Tunks Country Store"? "Podunk, America"? Is that any way to speak of one's fellow Americans? . .


    That would be me (in a former life) and my Mom. Ed Tunk's Country Store was my favorite as a kid, complete with sawdust on the concrete floor (imagine that in today's "perfect" world) and free roasted peanuts for the kids.

    And we know this how? . . that tourists enjoy their halibut more than do the folks in Podunk? . .
    Because they spent thousands of dollars to come up to acquire them that way?

    As for being a colony [again], what a joke considering how this state milks the Federal tit.

    Those days are rapidly coming to a close, aren't they?:

    http://www.adn.com/2011/08/24/2030428/our-view-funding-warning.html

    I wonder if federal intrusions into Alaska fish and game management is likewise coming to a close?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    As for the whole "crooks-in-control" thing, it's a dead end. One man's crook is another man's saint. Best not to go there . . things are what they are, and we all must play with the cards we're dealt.
    Really? A leader in fisheries management can cheat and lie? Who's saint is he? It would take a lot of charter boats to catch 30,000lbs of illegal fish. This is a guy who was considered for the head position of the National Marine Fisheries Service and was a strong force in what has come out of the NPFMC for years. I'm not interested in playing those cards.

    Cruise ship travelers to SE increased at a rate of 5-7%; for many consecutive years starting in 1997. This correlates nicely with the "unbridled growth" of the charter industry. Could this train wreck have been prevented? I think so. It boogles the mind that the state can promote tourism so vigorously, yet fail to see the implications. In any other arena, the charter industry would have been commended for taking advantage of a business opportunity. Unfortunately, the resource is finite and here we are.

    In south central, the charter industry would be fine with the current ghl and some reasonable method of QS transfer for the future. How about waiting for the LEP dust to settle before deciding on a catch sharing plan which will most certainly eliminate many businesses without actually leaving any additional fish in the water. The CSP will cut the ghl by 30% and will lead to a one fish limit, or some form of restriction on guided anglers, basically forever, as we are a long ways from a 27 million lb tac.

    What happens when the charter harvest bubbles into the private sector? My customers will not stop fishing, they will just stop fishing with me. In PWS the private harvest has increased something like 38% over the past few years. From what I am seeing on the water, this continues to climb. How long before they are restricted?

    Bycatch is the cost of doing business. We continue to hear that argument. Just for fun, how about some more emphasis on genetic and migration studies to better understand where all of those little fish would have gone if they were allowed to grow up? I know that if my boat is sinking because of a big hole and a small hole, I'd fix the big hole first and then take a hard look at the small hole.


    "The eastern north Pacific
    halibut resource is presently managed under the assumption that a
    single, fully-mixed population exists from California through the eastern Bering Sea. This theory
    rests largely upon studies that indicate there is northwest larval drift balanced by migration of
    juveniles and adults to the southeast, over broad geographic expanses, together with tag recovery
    data showing extensive movement of
    fish." (IPHC genetic study abstract)


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    Cool One man's saint, another man's sinner . .

    Quote Originally Posted by offshore View Post
    Really? A leader in fisheries management can cheat and lie? Who's saint is he? . .
    He's a saint to the folks on the other side of the argument from you . .

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