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Thread: This should be a big deal!

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    Default This should be a big deal!

    In the ADN this morning: http://www.adn.com/2013/06/02/292439...-american.html

    Even though the practice of massive unreporting of catch was wide-spread and long-lived, the company got off with only a minor fine and it appears no one is going to jail. Overall, I'd bet the company made a lot of money even paying the small fine.

    This sort of violation of our laws is a real shame - we should all demand accountability and some real punishment for those responsible at American Seafoods. Instead, by our lack of action we encourage this sort of thing to continue. As long as we continue to tolerate this sort of behavior and refuse to punish those that ignore our fisheries management laws we can only expect to see our fisheries continue to decline!
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    Default More questions than answers

    another article from Seattle: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/201...oods-27-milli/

    Judging from the length of time and the breath of this illegal practice went on one has to wonder:

    -Can we believe that this company has any sense of integrity and honesty in anything that they do? Note that American Seafoods is one of the largest players in the industry according to the article.

    -Can we trust that they correctly reported their by-catch? Perhaps the by-catch issue is really much larger than has been reported since American Seafoods apparently can't be trusted. Are companies like American Seafoods a bigger contributor to the shortage of kings than we have suspected?

    -Is this level of abuse of the fisheries common in the industry? If not, should there be screams of outrage from those that do obey the law?
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    If everyone is breaking the law, there will no screams of outrage. Just some snickers from the folks who haven't been caught yet.

    It's possible that there is a wide-spread notion among the trawl fleet that if they follow the regs as written, they will be out of business within a year. So everyone looks for ways to cut-corners, rig the scales, hide the by-catch, and get thru another fishing season without getting caught.

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    Default tip of the iceberg?

    I'll only single out the guys that got caught because they have admitted they are guilty - but as you point out- it sure makes you wonder about the others in a highly competitive market. With all the people involved and the long time frame it is hard to believe that there hasn't been a lot of winking and looking the other way.

    Perhaps the biggest question is: What else did / do they lie about? By-catch of kings with current the low king runs is certainly an area I suspect they would under-report also. After all - these guys are already admitted liars and it is proven that they can't be trusted - no one can deny that fact.

    We really need some cries of outrage from the whole fishing community to make certain this nasty matter isn't blown over without all aspects being thoroughly investigated.

    But how many of us really truly care enough to cry out and demand a full investigation? I suspect it is far too few.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    If everyone is breaking the law, there will no screams of outrage. Just some snickers from the folks who haven't been caught yet.

    It's possible that there is a wide-spread notion among the trawl fleet that if they follow the regs as written, they will be out of business within a year. So everyone looks for ways to cut-corners, rig the scales, hide the by-catch, and get thru another fishing season without getting caught.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    All I can say is "wow"! Fixing the scales to show less weight is about a crooked as it gets.

    But, does anybody expect things to change? Big Seafood has the pols, the lobbyists, and everything else they need to rape/pillage what's left in the ocean. **** shame too.

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    I wonder if they have state certified scales? You would think it would be mandatory to have scales that are tested and sealed just like the ones at your local grocery stores,
    There should be an easy way such as a state sticker that must be cut or broken to access the adjustment portion of the scales. Then all the observer would have to do is verify they have not tampered with the sticker or sealing tag.
    I always wonder the same things with charter boats and their logs they do themselves and send in without any observers ever present?
    I am sure 99% are honest but you know there are a few out there who will always try and cheat the system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    I wonder if they have state certified scales? You would think it would be mandatory to have scales that are tested and sealed just like the ones at your local grocery stores,
    There should be an easy way such as a state sticker that must be cut or broken to access the adjustment portion of the scales.
    I know that the scale used to unload sablefish and halibut from our boat has to be state-certified complete with the state sticker verifying that it has been checked within the designated amount of time. I've got to assume the same is true of the larger-scale fisheries.

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    Wink Flash . . breaking news . . . !

    Some people are crooks? Dishonest? Try to game the system?


    Who knew?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I know that the scale used to unload sablefish and halibut from our boat has to be state-certified complete with the state sticker verifying that it has been checked within the designated amount of time. I've got to assume the same is true of the larger-scale fisheries.
    Thanks Brian I figured they must also be required to have certified scales.
    I wonder if there is a way to place the sticker so it would be clearly evident if it the scale had been tampered with? Something like the sticker covering the seam of the hatch you would need to pull in order to access the adjustment knob?
    I am guessing each style and brand of scale would be different but it couldn't be all that difficult to do.
    Then all the observer would have to do is verify the sticker is intact and they would know it had knot been messed with since its last inspection.
    Just a thought I had while reading this.
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    Default major crooks..

    The length of time and the involvement of multiple boats is a big statement as to the character of the company we are dealing with. If one does a search on American Seafoods it is obvious they are one of the biggest players in the business - certainly a major influence in the industry.

    On top of the lies and crookiness, they denied that they were guilty when caught last year. http://kucb.org/news/article/america...ing-fine-over/ It appears that when the feds finally crunched down on them they have now admitted guilt and decided to "co-operate".

    Since we have now pretty much determined the character of the company and their captains, how do we determine all the other things that they most likely lied about? I suggest by-catch reporting be investigated also - we may have a smoking gun as to where a significant number of our kings are really being killed.


    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    All I can say is "wow"! Fixing the scales to show less weight is about a crooked as it gets.

    But, does anybody expect things to change? Big Seafood has the pols, the lobbyists, and everything else they need to rape/pillage what's left in the ocean. **** shame too.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    There are some good points and questions in this thread. I’m going to provide some links about all this to help inform. I am not making judgment calls though, as I can’t.

    The flow scales are inspected yearly, and additionally are tested every day in the presence of the observer. This WAS caught, and shows the hard work of the observers, the Observer program, and the NOAA office of law enforcement. I’d think the fact that the NOVAs were served shows what the agency thinks of it. As for what the amount was that is based on law, and if you read the novas they would explain it. Each fine, from what I understand, was the maximum for that action. And every single violation that was actionable was fined. The amount of the fines are the summed value of all the individual fines.
    Bycatch (except Chinook) is extrapolated from observer samples. Incorrect flow scales would impact that data. Salmon are not dependent on the Flow scale. Flow scale regulations came before the salmon hard cap. The Chinook regulations came out after flow scale regulations, and are much tighter. There are cameras, more protocol, and less ways less ways to mess it up.
    TV……for all the outrage…….did you listen to the link I provided on the NPFMC as they discussed this very issue yesterday, and found ways to improve/eliminate any further fraud? Your testimony may have been helpful. I doubt that you did. I will include that link to the improvement suggested.

    http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/regs/679b28.pdf
    The actual details included on the scales to be used, how they must be tested, where the sticker must go, and all other actual details.

    Salmon numbers are done in different, specific ways. Here is a link to how the salmon are counted on the Catcher processor pollock fleet.
    http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/regs/679b21.pdf
    This one is a little harder to understand, but pm me if you have any questions.

    Basically the Chinook numbers are very solid for the BSAI Pollock fisheries.

    http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdo...owScale513.pdf
    The actions suggested are ways of improving weighing of catch at sea, and eliminating ways to break the regulations and their intent.

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    more........

    Enforcement actions help protect sustainable fisheries

    Preventing overfishing and rebuilding stocks depends not only on state-of-the-art science and management programs, but also on fair and effective enforcement. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and Office of General Counsel help make sure that fishermen and others in the fishing industry follow the rules put in place to sustain fisheries resources for the long term.
    On May 8, 2013, American Seafoods Company and the owners and operators of the catcher/processors Ocean Rover and Northern Eagle were charged by NOAA’s Office of General Counsel for tampering with the equipment used for weighing Alaska pollock. Pollock on these vessels are processed for many uses, from frozen fish sticks and imitation crab to roe and fish oil.
    The respondents in these cases are alleged to have adjusted their flow scales to record lower weights, and then recorded these inaccurate weights in their logbooks in violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the American Fisheries Act.
    Flow scales are used to ensure accurate catch accounting. Adjusting the equipment to record a lower weight allowed the vessels to go over their quotas, essentially stealing fish from others permitted in the Alaska pollock fishery.
    Felony and major civil cases involving the potential for significant damage to the resource or to the integrity of management schemes are a high priority for the Alaska Division of NOAA’s Law Enforcement, which investigated these cases.
    “We are enforcing regulations at all levels of industry,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Matthew Brown. “Our focus is not on the ‘big guy’ or the ‘little guy.’ Our focus is on the damage to the resource. Violations of this magnitude have the potential to severely impact fisheries if left unchecked.”
    The Alaska pollock fishery is one of the largest, most valuable fisheries in the world. It’s also considered one of the best-managed fisheries in the world, adopting U.S. catch shares management early. Every year, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council adjusts the amount of Alaska pollock fishermen can harvest according to pollock population levels and other factors, such as the overall limit on groundfish catch for the eastern Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands region. Trained observers closely monitor catches to ensure that limits of pollock, and of other species incidentally caught in the pollock fishery (bycatch), are not exceeded.
    “We view sustainability as a process rather than an end point,” said NOAA Fisheries’ Sam Rauch, on announcing the 2012 Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries earlier this month. “Cases like these help us actively manage our fisheries to achieve the greatest benefit for the nation.”
    These are not the first cases of their kind. NOAA’s Office of General Counsel issued a Notice of Violation and Assessment (NOVA) in January 2012 for similar violations alleged to have occurred on another American Seafoods Company catcher/processor, the American Dynasty. The penalty being sought in this pending case is $543,500. In the Ocean Rover case, NOAA’s Office of General Counsel issued a NOVA proposing an assessed penalty of $848,000; in the Northern Eagle case, General Counsel issued a NOVA proposing an assessed penalty of $1,337,000.
    A NOVA is issued to persons and entities believed to be responsible for an alleged violation, which could include owners and operators of vessels. The respondents have 30 days from the receipt of the NOVA to respond by paying the penalty, seeking to have the assessment modified, or requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge to deny or contest all or any part of the charges and the penalties assessed.
    NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and Office of General Counsel protect marine wildlife and habitat by enforcing domestic laws and internationaltreaty requirements designed to ensure these global resources are available for future generations.
    Fair and effective law enforcement also is critical to sustaining the multi-billion dollar domestic commercial fishing industry.
    This story was developed by Lesli Bales-Sherrod, communications specialist for NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement. To contact her, please call 301-427-8234 or email Lesli.Bales-Sherrod@noaa.gov.
    More information:




    Read the novas above to get a real feel for the work that went into this. Please.

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    Akbrownsfan-

    Thanks for providing the additonal information and the link to the call in conference.

    Unfortunately I was unable to get the call-in set up; it will require more effort on my part or another computer / and or browser. This week has been very busy for me but it idefinely a good source of information. Again - thanks.

    The links for the NOVAs don't appear to be valid; at least I can't get them to open. Perhaps you can repost them or I'll run them down myself when I get a little more time. They should indeed provide a much better picture than the newspaper reports.

    Again , the whole thing that really bothers me is the whole climate of acceptable cheating by a major processor, and the lack of apparent outrage by the rest of the industry. Creditabilty and reputation should be vital to any industry that is dealing with a natural resource but it doesn't really seem to be much of an issue here. I'd love to know what the talk is around the docks concerning the matter; perhaps someone in the industry can share that with us.

    Nest week should be much less hectic; I do want to read the notice of violations and would love to catch some of the hearings.


    Quote Originally Posted by Akbrownsfan View Post
    more........

    Enforcement actions help protect sustainable fisheries

    Preventing overfishing and rebuilding stocks depends not only on state-of-the-art science and management programs, but also on fair and effective enforcement. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and Office of General Counsel help make sure that fishermen and others in the fishing industry follow the rules put in place to sustain fisheries resources for the long term.
    On May 8, 2013, American Seafoods Company and the owners and operators of the catcher/processors Ocean Rover and Northern Eagle were charged by NOAA’s Office of General Counsel for tampering with the equipment used for weighing Alaska pollock. Pollock on these vessels are processed for many uses, from frozen fish sticks and imitation crab to roe and fish oil.
    The respondents in these cases are alleged to have adjusted their flow scales to record lower weights, and then recorded these inaccurate weights in their logbooks in violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the American Fisheries Act.
    Flow scales are used to ensure accurate catch accounting. Adjusting the equipment to record a lower weight allowed the vessels to go over their quotas, essentially stealing fish from others permitted in the Alaska pollock fishery.
    Felony and major civil cases involving the potential for significant damage to the resource or to the integrity of management schemes are a high priority for the Alaska Division of NOAA’s Law Enforcement, which investigated these cases.
    “We are enforcing regulations at all levels of industry,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Matthew Brown. “Our focus is not on the ‘big guy’ or the ‘little guy.’ Our focus is on the damage to the resource. Violations of this magnitude have the potential to severely impact fisheries if left unchecked.”
    The Alaska pollock fishery is one of the largest, most valuable fisheries in the world. It’s also considered one of the best-managed fisheries in the world, adopting U.S. catch shares management early. Every year, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council adjusts the amount of Alaska pollock fishermen can harvest according to pollock population levels and other factors, such as the overall limit on groundfish catch for the eastern Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands region. Trained observers closely monitor catches to ensure that limits of pollock, and of other species incidentally caught in the pollock fishery (bycatch), are not exceeded.
    “We view sustainability as a process rather than an end point,” said NOAA Fisheries’ Sam Rauch, on announcing the 2012 Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries earlier this month. “Cases like these help us actively manage our fisheries to achieve the greatest benefit for the nation.”
    These are not the first cases of their kind. NOAA’s Office of General Counsel issued a Notice of Violation and Assessment (NOVA) in January 2012 for similar violations alleged to have occurred on another American Seafoods Company catcher/processor, the American Dynasty. The penalty being sought in this pending case is $543,500. In the Ocean Rover case, NOAA’s Office of General Counsel issued a NOVA proposing an assessed penalty of $848,000; in the Northern Eagle case, General Counsel issued a NOVA proposing an assessed penalty of $1,337,000.
    A NOVA is issued to persons and entities believed to be responsible for an alleged violation, which could include owners and operators of vessels. The respondents have 30 days from the receipt of the NOVA to respond by paying the penalty, seeking to have the assessment modified, or requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge to deny or contest all or any part of the charges and the penalties assessed.
    NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and Office of General Counsel protect marine wildlife and habitat by enforcing domestic laws and internationaltreaty requirements designed to ensure these global resources are available for future generations.
    Fair and effective law enforcement also is critical to sustaining the multi-billion dollar domestic commercial fishing industry.
    This story was developed by Lesli Bales-Sherrod, communications specialist for NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement. To contact her, please call 301-427-8234 or email Lesli.Bales-Sherrod@noaa.gov.
    More information:




    Read the novas above to get a real feel for the work that went into this. Please.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    Thanks TV, I understand not being able to listen/attend meeting. I've been there before. However we should all be careful when hurling serious accusations. While flowscale tampering was laid out in the NOVAs that doesn't mean the salmon data is bad. I do know that the regulations for groundfish are complex. These are highly regulated fisheries, and have lots of regulations directing them. It's hard to know everything.

    I will try to get those NOVA links to work as they are really informative.

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    link to statement, NOVAs, (notice of violations) are on the bottom, and the link works there.

    http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ole/slider_...oodsnovas.html



    Thanks again TV and others for being interested in this...........it is a really big deal.

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    Default deliberate violations..

    Thanks for the updated link.

    It is interesting to see that the NOVAs show both delberate vilations and reckless violations. This matter is simpe oversight of failing to fill out a form and report on time etc. - American Seafoods was actively engaged in serious violations of their allotments.

    In what could be more significant than the small fine, it would appear that some of American Seafoods customers are now beginning to take note of what American Seafoods ahs been doing: http://www.undercurrentnews.com/2013...g-allegations/

    I'll continue to watch for updates on this story and post them when I discover something significant. This story is much too important to just let it slide by.


    Quote Originally Posted by Akbrownsfan View Post
    link to statement, NOVAs, (notice of violations) are on the bottom, and the link works there.

    http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ole/slider_...oodsnovas.html



    Thanks again TV and others for being interested in this...........it is a really big deal.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    Default from Dutch Harbor...

    http://www.thedutchharborfisherman.c...cale_tampering

    I'm still trying to determine if the fines are going to be appealed or if American Seafoods is going to fess up. If I understand correctly last Friday was the last day to file an appeal.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    One thing that is extremely disturbing to me is that the vessels are allowed to continue fishing. The environmental impact of fishing violations being undertaken by these large factory vessels is enormous; fines do not cause biomass that has been taken to be returned to the ocean. In recent years many major fisheries, both commercial and sport, statewide have been restricted or closed completely due to low numbers. Yet the sum total harvest in many of the fisheries wouldn't equal one good haul by a factory trawler.

    If a sport fisherman poaches even 1 fish, he may lose his license to fish for a year, pay a fine of up to $300, and have all gear used to catch the fish confiscated. The processors in this article have overharvested thousands of fish, over a lengthy period of time... yet after paying a fine that is a fraction of their profits in one season, continue to fish, with no forfeiture of gear nor license. What is the point of law enforcement, and criminal proceedings, if no one sees jail, no licenses are lost or suspended, and business goes on as usual?

    Illegal harvest is the scourge of fisheries management. Or so we are led to believe. The actions available to enforcement tend more to a wink and a nod than actual meaningful penalties.

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    Default real penalties, teeling the truth etc.


    American Seafoods is one of the largest commercial fishing operations in the world with revenues of over $500 million. http://investing.businessweek.com/re...ivcapId=426774

    Their harvest is meaured in 100s of metric tons - tens of millions of fish. One calculation showed the fine - if it all stands - at about a dollar for every 90 lbs of fish illegailly harvested. In the case of illegal harvest - crime apparently does pay - and pays very well. For a company that apparently has no ethics nor sense of moral direction the tempation to overharvest is all too great.

    The penalty as you point out is way too small and certainly out of proportion to what a sportfisherman faces. And the boats keep right on fishing while the fines are reduced down to almost nothing. With half of their boats engages in scale rigging I'll propose keeping the fleet tied up until the matter is resolved, fines at double the illegal profits made, and some serious jail time for both the boat captains and company executives. But the commercial fishing lobby is just too strong so we'll be lucky to see a minor slap on the wrist for these crooks.

    One also has to wonder as to some other important related questions:

    1) Perhaps most important - how common is the practice of over-harvesting amoung the commercial fishing industry? Is American Seafoods typical - or just one bad actor? Can we really trust the commercial seafood industry to do the right thing - or is the industry all about greed and profit?

    2) What other laws and regualtions is Amercian Seafoods - and perhaps others - breaking, ignoring, manipulting, and avoiding? How about the reporing of by-catch, pollution, waste of harvest, safety, hiring of illegal alliens, etc? In my experience, a liar about one thing will lie about another - and American Seafoods appears to have some serious issues in tellng the truth!

    Perhaps the knowledgable supporters of commerical fishing on this forum can help us out on these questions. They really need to be answered. Can anyone help us out here?


    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    One thing that is extremely disturbing to me is that the vessels are allowed to continue fishing. The environmental impact of fishing violations being undertaken by these large factory vessels is enormous; fines do not cause biomass that has been taken to be returned to the ocean. In recent years many major fisheries, both commercial and sport, statewide have been restricted or closed completely due to low numbers. Yet the sum total harvest in many of the fisheries wouldn't equal one good haul by a factory trawler.

    If a sport fisherman poaches even 1 fish, he may lose his license to fish for a year, pay a fine of up to $300, and have all gear used to catch the fish confiscated. The processors in this article have overharvested thousands of fish, over a lengthy period of time... yet after paying a fine that is a fraction of their profits in one season, continue to fish, with no forfeiture of gear nor license. What is the point of law enforcement, and criminal proceedings, if no one sees jail, no licenses are lost or suspended, and business goes on as usual?

    Illegal harvest is the scourge of fisheries management. Or so we are led to believe. The actions available to enforcement tend more to a wink and a nod than actual meaningful penalties.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    TV your concern is admirable, but why do you have to be so insulting? I'm not sure you meant to be, but you were. So if I do reply, I’m a supporter of commercial fishing? I happen to support facts, and responsible management. I’m not really a supporter of any one sector, gear type, or fishery, but do think commercial fishing is a good thing when done correctly. I’m also vested as I work in Fisheries. In short I find your post insulting, and was reluctant to reply. I was thinking good things about your posts recently, but then see junk like this.

    The penalty is based in law. While many may have liked more/higher penalties, the amounts are set in law, protocol, and regulations. The commercial fishing lobby influence has absolutely nothing to do with it. I’ve already stated that I believe the amount is the most that can be currently given and still be legal. If you’d like different penalties then by all means work towards them, but realize it will take some time given how these things work. I see from your “issues” within question 2 that your biases on workers, taxes and others coming out. I have a feeling your true feelings here have more to do with that than flow scale tampering. I hope I’m wrong.

    Your question 1, if one oil producer is fined and breaks the law on the slope do ALL of them do it? Of course not…….there is sufficient oversight to say that. The same is true of the large commercial fisheries. So while the NOVAs are plain in regards to violations, to say all do such various, illegal things is nuts. You clearly don’t understand how such things are done, what oversight there is, and what restrictions are in place. I’m not saying it’s all perfect, it’s not. However, it’s highly regulated, but NMFS can only enforce regulations as they are written you know. I’ve offered to explain it, but you’ve never asked. You just continue to spout assertions and accusations.

    To discuss overharvest you have to know how harvest is tracked. Some fisheries are landing based, some by scales, some few by production reports, some by volumetrics, and some a blend. Then also you have to species or species group are you talking about in regards to overharvest? So you lump all of your topics together when this is not so simple. All of the emotional over-the –top issues you brought up on question 2 are different, have various levels of accountability, oversight, different federal/state agencies, and it’s simplistic to ask the way you are. Do you want me to discuss each one as a separate post? It would take me many, many pages.

    In short, if you want to actually know things how about being less manipulative in your posts?

    I am not making light of flow scale tampering either. It really makes me upset, it introduces uncertainty in the data, is insulting to all the public, illegal, and I firmly believe it needs to be fixed asap.

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