First, thank you for the many letters sent by the members of this Forum during the initial regulatory review of this issue. Now we are coming up on Final action in early June. So if you were ever going to write a letter about this, now is the time.
First let me explain what and why this needs to stop:
THE WASTEFUL PRACTICE OF KILLING AND DISCARDING MILLIONS OF JUVENILE PACIFIC HALIBUT IN THE BERING SEA BY THE A80 TRAWL FLEET
13 out of 14 halibut caught in the Bering Sea this year will be discarded dead as Trawler By Catch!
Why do you care what happens in the Bering Sea?
International Pacific Halibut Commission Satellite tagging has shown that the Bering Sea is a huge nursery for Pacific halibut. Halibut from this area migrate from the Bering to coastal areas from Forth Bragg to Kodiak. All directed fishers – Longliners and Sport Charters are linked to abundance of the halibut stocks….
The problem is that the powerful Amendment 80 Bering Sea bottom trawl sector’s by catch of halibut is not linked to abundance.
As the halibut stocks have declined, the trawl by catch has BECOME THE ENTIRE FISHERY in the Bering Sea. So while small boat long liners and charter operators have seen reductions to 70%, the Amendment 80 Bering Sea trawl sector has made no sacrifices for conservation and still is arguing that until the stock is listed "overfished" there is no need to lower their by catch levels. As a matter of fact they have been collecting signatures at Walmart's across the west, arguing that killing and wasting these halibut is an economic necessity in order to continue to catch low value flatfish for fish sticks. They have collected thousands of signatures from fish stick eaters that did not hear the other side of the argument. The truth is this is not about fish sticks or fillet of fish sandwiches, it is about halibut wastage at unacceptable levels. Don't worry, there are plenty of low value fish that can be converted into fish sticks if that is what floats your boat.
This sector of the trawl fleet has been unwilling to change their behavior to reduce their halibut by catch and the resource is at a point where all other small boat fishermen, longliners, mostly native Alaskans from the remote Aleutian Island and Pribiloff Islands will not be allowed to fish at all in 2016 if the North Pacific Fishery Management Council does not take dramatic action at their June meeting in Sitka. This will be the first time in history that these very hard working small boat fishermen will not be allowed to catch halibut, that they depend on to survive. Make no mistake, these are men that venture out into the Bering Sea in boats that are 32 – 58 feet long and risk their lives to bring fish home to provide for their families.
They are requesting the North Pacific Fishery Management Council reduce Halibut by catch of this fleet of giant trawlers by at least 45% in June
Right now, there are more individual halibut being caught and discarded dead in the Bering Sea than the entire fishery is keeping for sport and food.
The guidelines are clearly stated in federal law under Magnuson Stevens
National Standard 8 – Communities
Conservation and management measures shall, consistent with the conservation requirements of this Act (including the prevention of overfishing and rebuilding of overfished stocks), take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities by utilizing economic and social data that meet the requirement of paragraph (2) [i.e., National Standard 2], in order to (a) provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and (b) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities.
National Standard 9 – By catch
Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, (a) minimize by catch and (b) to the extent by catch cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of such by catch.
YOU CAN SUBMIT ELECTRONIC COMMENTS RIGHT NOW AND IT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!
Submit comments to:
Your letter might look something like this ( please say whatever you feel but if you need guidance, look above or at what is on here):
North Pacific Fishery Management Council
Attention: Dan Hull, Chairman
RE: C2 – Bering Sea Halibut PSC Final action
My name is _________________________, I live _________________________ and I fish ( recreationally) in Alaska for halibut.
I as a recreational fisherman and I am very concerned about the high level of by catch of Halibut in the Bering Sea as described in your Final action item C2 - Bering Sea Halibut PSC.
We know that the Bering Sea has a huge population of juvenile halibut and that those halibut migrate from the Bering Sea to other areas throughout the range of the pacific halibut. Right now the trawl by catch is preventing millions of halibut from leaving the Bering Sea and repopulating other areas.
This practice must be curtailed immediately or rural communities will suffer and the future of halibut fishing all over the Pacific will continue to be threatened. These are unacceptable risks to most of the users of this iconic resource to the benefit of a small number of trawl vessel owners and crews. It is one thing to ask all users to conserve a resource, but it is quite another all together to ask most users to sacrifice and conserve the resource to benefit of a specific group of large factory trawlers. That is what is happening and it is not fair or equitable. By Catch not only needs to be reduced and then linked to abundance, so all users can share in the sacrifice and in the benefits of a healthy resource.
Please show Alaskans you care about the communities and the resource and take significant action to reduce Bering Sea By Catch of halibut to a level that provides opportunity for the rest of us and protects millions juvenile halibut for being caught and discarded.
*** Thanks for reading this post and taking the time to comment on this issue. Fisheries Resource Management often shows us how the Tragedy of the Commons is inevitable unless we revise our practices with some effort of Conservation. Let the NPFMC know how you feel!