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Thread: Increased Commercial Shrimping in PWS?

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    Member patrickL's Avatar
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    Default Increased Commercial Shrimping in PWS?

    Are any of you aware of this (http://www.frontiersman.com/sports/o...a4bcf887a.html)? From the sounds of it BOF has increased the commercial shrimpery in PWS and tied ADF&G's hands with regards to regulating personal use shrimping. I don't know what's going on or the details but a buddy of mine just showed me this article. Being a personal use shrimper myself I'm a bit concerned with the direction this is going if the article is correct? Perhaps some of you with more knowledge of the details can chime in.
    Last edited by Brian M; 05-22-2012 at 13:44. Reason: fixing link

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    They didn't really increase the commercial shrimp fishery, but rather added a small area that was previously excluded. The areas rotate on a 3 year cycle, so the added area will only be available to commercial shrimping one out of every three years (and not again until 2014). Furthermore, they added some new restrictions on the commercial fishery in that now no more than 25% of the commercial quota can come from a single statistical reporting area. That prevents overharvest in given areas and lessens the potential competition in areas that are popular with recreational shrimping.

    As for the BOF tying the hands of F&G with regards to adjusting the pot limit, that one has me scratching my head. I'm curious as to the rationale for that move.

    Folks need to remember that the commercial fishery existed in the Sound long before the current popularity of sport shrimping. My folks started shrimping the Sound in 1967 and through the 80's we spent our summers running commercial pots and supporting our family doing so. I must admit that I bristle when folks put in proposals to close down the commercial shrimp fishery and make arguments that the commercial guys are taking "our" shrimp. I know that's not the point you're making here, Patrick, but that is what was at the heart of the BOF proposal that set this ball in motion. From where I stand it seems that we've got the best of both worlds right now - a bountiful sport fishery and a sustainable commercial fishery. I'd like to see that continue.

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    What small area did they add to the commercial boundary?

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    Member patrickL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    They didn't really increase the commercial shrimp fishery, but rather added a small area that was previously excluded. The areas rotate on a 3 year cycle, so the added area will only be available to commercial shrimping one out of every three years (and not again until 2014). Furthermore, they added some new restrictions on the commercial fishery in that now no more than 25% of the commercial quota can come from a single statistical reporting area. That prevents overharvest in given areas and lessens the potential competition in areas that are popular with recreational shrimping.

    As for the BOF tying the hands of F&G with regards to adjusting the pot limit, that one has me scratching my head. I'm curious as to the rationale for that move.

    Folks need to remember that the commercial fishery existed in the Sound long before the current popularity of sport shrimping. My folks started shrimping the Sound in 1967 and through the 80's we spent our summers running commercial pots and supporting our family doing so. I must admit that I bristle when folks put in proposals to close down the commercial shrimp fishery and make arguments that the commercial guys are taking "our" shrimp. I know that's not the point you're making here, Patrick, but that is what was at the heart of the BOF proposal that set this ball in motion. From where I stand it seems that we've got the best of both worlds right now - a bountiful sport fishery and a sustainable commercial fishery. I'd like to see that continue.
    Thanks for clearing that up. That's why I love this forum. So many diverse people here with different perspectives that you're bound to get things cleared up in a hurry. The article wasn't very clear on what was going on but I got the same impression you did. The original proposal was to close the commericial fishery and that's what got the ball rolling. What I didn't understand was what the BOF was actually now doing. I'd still like to know what was the rationale for tying the hands of F&G.

    I'm all for a shared resources and so far I'm still catching plenty of shrimp in my pots so I don't have a problem with the commercial guys at all. I was just wondering what the impacts of this would be on my personal use shrimping. I'd hate to lose access to that given we enjoy it more than just about anything else we catch and put in our freezer.

    Thanks again for clearing that up.

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    The spot shrimp have a life cycle of about 7 years. That was much longer than the biologist origanally thought when they managed the commercial fishery years ago. That meant that they were not reproducing as quickly as once thought. This lack of knowledge led to over harvesting. Now they think that a 3 year rotation is going to correct this? Not to mention the large amount of sport fisherman that are also harvesting for personal use. Some people think that the oil spill is what closed shrimping in the sound. That is not correct. By 1987 the shrimp population was decimated do to poor management. I believe that this will happen again. I am not anti commercial fishing, but I must admit that this comm fisheries quota pi$$e$ me off. The fact that this area is accessable by the majority of the sport fisherman in the state to enjoy, and what is to be gained by a few comm guys makes NO sense to me. Even if they do manage to keep it going for several years, every year will become more difficult to enjoy. Unless of coarse, I choose to "become" a commercial shrimper with my 40 or so pots. I personally know several people that are involved in this fishery, and they admit that the write offs are probably more valuable than the actual profit. BrianM, while I do respect your family history in the sound, just because something was allowed before, does not mean that it should always continue. It is not likely that ANY of the comm fisherman from then are participating in the current openers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfisher View Post
    It is not likely that ANY of the comm fisherman from then are participating in the current openers.
    For what it's worth, that's not true. My father is participating, as is another vessel owner that we used to fish with back in the 70s and 80s. We've only dabbled thus far due to time constraints, but the other gentleman we know has been fishing consistently and actually doing quite well by selling his shrimp at farmer's markets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    What small area did they add to the commercial boundary?
    Much of Nellie Juan was added to the area open to commercial shrimping. Again, though, this won't occur until 2014.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    For what it's worth, that's not true. My father is participating, as is another vessel owner that we used to fish with back in the 70s and 80s. We've only dabbled thus far due to time constraints, but the other gentleman we know has been fishing consistently and actually doing quite well by selling his shrimp at farmer's markets.
    While I don't really agree with the way this fishery is managed, I do think that it is awesome that your father is still fishing. I may be wrong, but I would imagine that he hopes it is managed better than it was 25+ years ago. Also, I do not get angry at the folks that are participating, they are just doing what they are allowed to do. I don't want a repeat of the past, but I honestly think that we are heading in that direction.

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    Fair enough, but it seems like they're taking steps to avoid the mistakes of the past. Each year they've started the fishery slowly with very short open periods so as to minimize any risk of overharvest. The pot limits are way lower than they were in the past, and now they've added the stipulation that no more than 25% of the harvest can come from a single reporting area. Perhaps the Sound can't handle an additional 50k pounds of harvest each year, but at that rate I don't think we'll see a crash. It's a small enough harvest that if there are problems, it will be incremental and not a complete loss of the fishery. Or...at least that's my take on it.

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    Like I said in an earlier post thecommercial shrimp fishery is unnecessary, unjustified and a sellout to the almighty dollar. I believe and imagine mostAlaska residents would agree the value of a quality PWS recreationalshrimping experience far exceeds the commercial PWS shrimp harvestvalue. 50,000 lbs of commercially caught shrimp likely worth about$250,000. is chump change and certainly not worth the risk ofdegrading the PWS experience enjoyed by 1000's. So what can I say,the almighty dollar will win again and in this case it'sunbelievable. The commercial harvest will increase, expand andultimately dramatically degrade the fishery enjoyed by 1000's. Justlook whats happened the last couple of years.


    This post is not directed at theindividuals that participate in the commercial harvest it's directedat the misguided thought process that everything has to be managed bymoney. I consider PWS unique and one of the last places on this earththat this type of experience can be enjoyed by many and to risk it is ridiculous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whatablast View Post
    The commercial harvest will increase, expand andultimately dramatically degrade the fishery enjoyed by 1000's. Justlook whats happened the last couple of years.
    What has happened in the past couple of years?

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    Quote Originally Posted by whatablast View Post
    Like I said in an earlier post thecommercial shrimp fishery is unnecessary, unjustified and a sellout to the almighty dollar. I believe and imagine mostAlaska residents would agree the value of a quality PWS recreationalshrimping experience far exceeds the commercial PWS shrimp harvestvalue. 50,000 lbs of commercially caught shrimp likely worth about$250,000. is chump change and certainly not worth the risk ofdegrading the PWS experience enjoyed by 1000's. So what can I say,the almighty dollar will win again and in this case it'sunbelievable. The commercial harvest will increase, expand andultimately dramatically degrade the fishery enjoyed by 1000's. Justlook whats happened the last couple of years.


    This post is not directed at theindividuals that participate in the commercial harvest it's directedat the misguided thought process that everything has to be managed bymoney. I consider PWS unique and one of the last places on this earththat this type of experience can be enjoyed by many and to risk it is ridiculous.
    You seem to be neglecting the fact that the commercial fishery there provides access to the resource that many people in the state wouldn't have acces to otherwise. You choose to participate by actively catching, I choose to participate by paying someone to go catch them for me. By your rational I should not have access to that resource because I chose to buy a river boat rather than an ocean boat? What percentage of the poplulation of Alaska uses that "sport" resource, I bet it's significantly less than the percentage of people buying those shrimp at farmer's markets, etc. I want MY shrimp!

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    Quote Originally Posted by whatablast View Post
    Like I said in an earlier post thecommercial shrimp fishery is unnecessary, unjustified and a sellout to the almighty dollar. I believe and imagine mostAlaska residents would agree the value of a quality PWS recreationalshrimping experience far exceeds the commercial PWS shrimp harvestvalue. 50,000 lbs of commercially caught shrimp likely worth about$250,000. is chump change and certainly not worth the risk ofdegrading the PWS experience enjoyed by 1000's. So what can I say,the almighty dollar will win again and in this case it'sunbelievable. The commercial harvest will increase, expand andultimately dramatically degrade the fishery enjoyed by 1000's. Justlook whats happened the last couple of years.


    This post is not directed at theindividuals that participate in the commercial harvest it's directedat the misguided thought process that everything has to be managed bymoney. I consider PWS unique and one of the last places on this earththat this type of experience can be enjoyed by many and to risk it is ridiculous.

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    I would bet a high percentage of the folks that want the commercial fishery to close didn't even know whittier exsisted before the tunnel was paved! I also think if the rec fishery was given a extra 50,000lbs to harvest nobody would give a **** about the stock being overfished, look what happened a couple of years ago with the 8 pot limit, just about everybody and his brother HAD TO HAVE THE EXTRA 3 POTS to get THEIR shrimp and now we're starting to see the result of that fiasco that F&G created. A couple of years ago one of the biologist's at F&G told me "this is the only shell fishery in the state that has recovered" and when i asked him why the limit should stay at 8 pots i got a dumb look and silence.
    F&G should make the rec fishermen send in the permits on a monthly basis so they can have a better idea of what the rec fishery is catching(they know weekly what the com guys are catching) and close down rec areas if too many shrimp are being caught in those areas. This quibbling between user groups will always be there and F&G likes it that way so they don't look bad if the fishery dies, we should be working together to do what ever it takes to keep it going and getting stronger even if it means giving up area, fishing time or pot limits. Its to good a thing to lose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    What has happened in the past couple of years?
    From a commercial fisherman's perspective probably nothing has changed. From the many subsistence user a lot has happened. Look at how the allotted commercial fishing area has expanded. Without question when we see 100's of pots in a bay that has traditionally been fished (at the least the last few years) by non commercial users we all know the final result will be very few shrimp left in that area. This looks to me like the commercial guys go into a quality shrimp area, drop 100's of pots catch most of the shrimp and than move on to another area. I see that as unnecessary and degrading to that specific area. No problem though next year the commercial fleet gets another areas to do the samething and bottom line I just don't believe the commercial harvest is worth the risk. Clearly the shrimp fishery was devastated in the past by commercial over harvest and it took years for it to recover and considering how slow F & G moves and how few test fisheries are actually done I can see this happening again.

    Oh I also forgot to mention last year it was 40 pots this year its 50. The first year the fishery was open for short periods of time, not this year it's full on with no control unless the reported catch reaches the allotment. Like I said it will continue to grow a little more each year and thats what I mean by what has happened the past couple of years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    I would bet a high percentage of the folks that want the commercial fishery to close didn't even know whittier exsisted before the tunnel was paved! I also think if the rec fishery was given a extra 50,000lbs to harvest nobody would give a **** about the stock being overfished, look what happened a couple of years ago with the 8 pot limit, just about everybody and his brother HAD TO HAVE THE EXTRA 3 POTS to get THEIR shrimp and now we're starting to see the result of that fiasco that F&G created. A couple of years ago one of the biologist's at F&G told me "this is the only shell fishery in the state that has recovered" and when i asked him why the limit should stay at 8 pots i got a dumb look and silence.
    F&G should make the rec fishermen send in the permits on a monthly basis so they can have a better idea of what the rec fishery is catching(they know weekly what the com guys are catching) and close down rec areas if too many shrimp are being caught in those areas. This quibbling between user groups will always be there and F&G likes it that way so they don't look bad if the fishery dies, we should be working together to do what ever it takes to keep it going and getting stronger even if it means giving up area, fishing time or pot limits. Its to good a thing to lose.
    Potbuilder, while you may be correct about the fact that not as many people enjoyed the sound back then, I am not one of those people. As a matter of fact, I was a "deckhand" on a boat that was commercial shrimping out of Whittier in the early 80's. Several years later when I finally had enough money to buy my own boat, I would put it on the train to Whittier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    I would bet a high percentage of the folks that want the commercial fishery to close didn't even know whittier exsisted before the tunnel was paved!
    I am not sure what your point is here. Although I have a long history here, I don't feel I have any more of a right to say what is done that any other Alaska resident that is here today.

    As to what impacts a shrimping area, it is interesting that there are still shrimp to be caught in relatively close to Whittier, even though it is fished so heavily. I have noticed a drop off from earlier in the season, and I find it interesting that an area 'recovers' over the winter. It seems like the shrimp mush migrate into these good habitat areas over the winter, since they obviously don't recover that quickly.

    It seems like it would be best to leave the more remote locations to the commercial operations and leave the areas closer to the ports for the weekend warriors, but it looks like that is not the current strategy.
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    How long do the shrimp live? ie. how old are the large spots that we catch in PWS? How long does it take a shrimp to become mature for reproduction?

    IMO - ADFG is doing a pretty good job with the shrimp management. It really is a wonderful resource. I hope that it will be productive for many years to come.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whatablast View Post
    The first year the fishery was open for short periods of time, not this year it's full on with no control unless the reported catch reaches the allotment. Like I said it will continue to grow a little more each year and thats what I mean by what has happened the past couple of years.
    For what it's worth, that's not quite accurate. In the first year they started with a 3 day season, went to another one or two short (1-2 week) seasons, and then opened it up for the rest of the summer when the participation rate and catch rate fell. They never caught the entire quota and the season instead ended by the calendar regulation (in September, I think?). They did the same thing this year - opened for a short season, then opened it indefinitely - albeit with strict requirements still in place for weekly reports. There's really no difference between this year and the first year's approach.

    When I asked what has changed, I guess I was wondering whether your catch rate has dropped over the past few years. Many people that I know have not experienced any drop in their sport shrimping catch rate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfisher View Post
    The spot shrimp have a life cycle of about 7 years. That was much longer than the biologist origanally thought when they managed the commercial fishery years ago. That meant that they were not reproducing as quickly as once thought. This lack of knowledge led to over harvesting. Now they think that a 3 year rotation is going to correct this? Not to mention the large amount of sport fisherman that are also harvesting for personal use. Some people think that the oil spill is what closed shrimping in the sound. That is not correct. By 1987 the shrimp population was decimated do to poor management. I believe that this will happen again. I am not anti commercial fishing, but I must admit that this comm fisheries quota pi$$e$ me off. The fact that this area is accessable by the majority of the sport fisherman in the state to enjoy, and what is to be gained by a few comm guys makes NO sense to me. Even if they do manage to keep it going for several years, every year will become more difficult to enjoy. Unless of coarse, I choose to "become" a commercial shrimper with my 40 or so pots. I personally know several people that are involved in this fishery, and they admit that the write offs are probably more valuable than the actual profit. BrianM, while I do respect your family history in the sound, just because something was allowed before, does not mean that it should always continue. It is not likely that ANY of the comm fisherman from then are participating in the current openers.
    Thank you, well said! Glad someone on here knows the facts. You took the words right out of my mouth.

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