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Thread: Bering Sea Chinook bycatch

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Default Bering Sea Chinook bycatch

    I posted this in a reply to a thread in the regular fishing forum, but thought it might be good to place it in the management forum, too. If you're interested, there's lots of information out there, and opportunities to engage the process between now and April. This is an issue that I've been following closely and can try to answer questions, or help point out the relevant information.

    -----------------

    There's stock ID information on Bering Sea trawl bycatch of kings in the new draft EIS (a huge document, 700+ pages):
    http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/sustainable...ch/default.htm

    In 2006 and 2007, the Chinook bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery was about 82,000 and 120,000 kings, respectively. Those were anomolous years...the bycatch usually ranges between 15-60K annually, with the 9 years prior (97-05) average being 38,891. And, the 2008 bycatch was about 17K.

    From what I saw in the EIS about the Cook Inlet (all stocks) proportion of the Chinook bycatch, there were three different studies over the years that came out with estimates ragning from 4% to 17% to 31%. The most recent one (Seeb et al 2008, with study years 2005-2007) had the 4% estimate. The largest stock grouping is western AK kings (Bristol Bay, Kusko and Yukon, predominantly) at 50-60%.

    The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) has been working on a proposal to place new restrictions on the pollock fishery for Chinook bycatch. They're planning to take final action on it at the April 2009 meeting. Right now, their "preliminary preferred alternative" invokes a hard cap (which closes to pollock fishery if it's reached in any year) with two options: 47,591 or 68,392 Chinook. Obviously, the pollock industry is pushing for the cap to be high, western Alaska and other concerned folks are pushing to have it lower (many advocating for a cap even lower than 47K).

    The NPFMC's website is http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/ there's more information on the Chinook bycatch issue in there, as well as information about submitting comments.

    Happy reading!
    Art.

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default

    Thank for the update. What methodology is being used to determine points of origin of the chinook?

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Thank for the update. What methodology is being used to determine points of origin of the chinook?
    willphish, the earliest study in the three I mentioned, which showed 17% was scale pattern analysis from samples collected 1979-1982 (Myers and Rogers, 1988). The second study showed 31% and was samples collected 1997-1999 (Myers et. al., 2003)...I'm unsure of the methodology, but I believe it was a combination of genetics and scale pattern. The last study was genetic analysis and showed 4%...it was samples from 2005-2007 (Seeb et. al., 2008).

    You can find the full citations in the bib of the draft EIS, as well as more discussion about the details of each of the findings in the document itself.

  4. #4

    Default I think

    that they should be fined $100 for every king salmon they catch and kill as bycatch. Any size. I guarantee they will change the way they do things.

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    Default Time to weigh in!

    The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is scheduled to take final action on the issue of Chinook salmon bycatch at their March 30-April 7, 2009 meeting in Anchorage at the Hilton Hotel. The agenda for the meeting can be found at http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/Agendas/409Agenda.pdf

    Written comments must be received by 5:00 pm on March 25, 2009 and can be sent to:
    North Pacific Fishery Management Council
    605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306
    Anchorage, AK 99501-2252
    Fax: (907) 271-2817

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    that they should be fined $100 for every king salmon they catch and kill as bycatch. Any size. I guarantee they will change the way they do things.
    $100 bucks is chump change to the MEGA-boats engaged in industrial scale strip mining of the ocean floor... not enough of a deterrent to make them change their ways.

    Make it $500 or $1000 and I'd bet the bycatch problem would eventually sort itself out.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    Default no way

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    $100 bucks is chump change to the MEGA-boats engaged in industrial scale strip mining of the ocean floor... not enough of a deterrent to make them change their ways.

    Make it $500 or $1000 and I'd bet the bycatch problem would eventually sort itself out.
    Fines like this do just the opposite - they promote illegal activity with the amount of money involved. It is much better to work with other solutions which are incentives to release or not catch non-targeted stocks.

    Relative to the methods I would not put much stock in scale pattern analysis. It has been shown to be very inaccurate in a number of locations. Genetics is much better if the standards are complete.

  8. #8

    Default What can realistically be accomplished by a fine?

    While I promised myself I would stay away from this one, I'm not so sure that fines wouldn't be a deterrent. I personally think that they would for a good number of people. Would there be illegal activity? Certainly, there is no question about it. But going as far as saying that fines promote illegal activity? That is kind of out there I think.

    Yet, with that said, I don't know how much actual difference having a fine would really make, but as DOC pointed out, if it hurt bad enough, fishermen would definitately try much harder to avoid even getting near Chinook stocks. And while I say this, I really struggle to see how this would even work, or even could work. Yet, something has to be done. The real questions is, what?

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    Thumbs down shut em down

    By catch of any species is a messy buiziness. Small fines do`nt mean do do to a big trawler company grossing millions. I say identify the by catch stocks with genetics set caps and shut em down when the cap is reached. The by catch of herring by trawlers targeting cod and pollock in some bays of Kodiak Is. often excedes the herring fishery allowable harvest. That really sucks.

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    All you would have to do is put some Game and Fish peeps on the ships. As soon as the bycatch limit is hit the fishery shuts down. They would figure it out in a hurry how to avoid Kings. Right now its not a priority for them so i dont think they are doing all they can to avoid killing kings. As soon as you attach a BIG monetary ding for to many kings it would become priority number one and things would change in a hurry. How big are the kings they get out there as bycatch?

  11. #11

    Default

    I'm not really sure what to say about the issue, to be honest with you. So many people depend the ocean to make a living that you can't really help one user group without screwing another. You'd think with fines or a low quota that the trawlers would figure out a new system for getting the fish they are targeting.

    But I've got a bad feeling that one of these years, the kings just are not going to show up, and then everybody will get shut down. Looks like we are in for another rough king year for ocean fishing in SE AK. I really hope I'm wrong.

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    All you would have to do is put some Game and Fish peeps on the ships. As soon as the bycatch limit is hit the fishery shuts down. They would figure it out in a hurry how to avoid Kings. Right now its not a priority for them so i dont think they are doing all they can to avoid killing kings. As soon as you attach a BIG monetary ding for to many kings it would become priority number one and things would change in a hurry. How big are the kings they get out there as bycatch?
    A fish biologist management guy who I'm friends with told me that they are a very good sized king they have been catching on average. I don't think they count the little kings they catch. (under 28")

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default tail that wags

    Money is the tail that wags the dog. The Pollock fishery is the biggest single money fishery in the state. What motivation does the state have to restrict or risk alienating the prosecutors of this fishery?

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    Default misinformation

    There is so much misinformation on this page it's no wonder people get stirred up.

    For the record, I'm a salmon gillnetter who depends on chinook for part of my income so I care about this bycatch issue.

    First,

    fishNphysician wrote, "$100 bucks is chump change to the MEGA-boats engaged in industrial scale strip mining of the ocean floor"

    Pollock fishing is mid-water not ocean floor fishing. The main bycatch I've seen is sleeper sharks, chinook and chum salmon, and squid. There is a little P cod and other fish, but it's a relatively clean fishery. For the amount of pollack caught, the bycatch is very small. That is little comfort to people who depend on the salmon for subsistence or income tho and the amount of pollock caught is very large so the salmon bycatch becomes a serious concern.

    anonymous1 wrote "The by catch of herring by trawlers targeting cod and pollock in some bays of Kodiak Is. often excedes the herring fishery allowable harvest."

    Do you even have a clue what you're writing? Herring are generally excluded by the mesh size used. Cod nets have large enough mesh that most herring can swim out of the nets. Do some get caught? Well yes I've seen one or two herring in a load of cod, but the amount is statistically zero. As for the dragger catch being more than the allowable quota for the bays...... Cod aren't caught by trawling in bays on Kodiak, unless you want to count Marmot Bay which isn't a bay in the traditional sense. Most trawl caught cod are caught well offshore of Kodiak. A lot are caught closer to Seward and Prince William Sound than to Kodiak Island.

    kgpcr wrote " All you would have to do is put some Game and Fish peeps on the ships. As soon as the bycatch limit is hit the fishery shuts down."

    Trawlers are required to have federal observers on board already. But the salmon are counted in the canneries (unless the boat is also a processor). Pollock are released from the net by opening mesh zippers and are basically poured into the fishhold. This is the most efficient way because of how clean the fishery is. Sharks are watched for and removed as they are large enough to spot and will plug up the fish pumps at the cannery. But the rest isn't sorted out until the fish are being processed. The bycatch is picked off of conveyor belts and put in totes to be tallied. Normally, a boat with hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollock will have less than 5,000 lbs of bycatch, total, many times much less. There might be 5 to 10 salmon, sometimes more, sometimes less.

    270ti wrote "A fish biologist management guy who I'm friends with told me that they are a very good sized king they have been catching on average. I don't think they count the little kings they catch. (under 28")"

    and "But I've got a bad feeling that one of these years, the kings just are not going to show up, and then everybody will get shut down. Looks like we are in for another rough king year for ocean fishing in SE AK."

    Very good sized kings? Your source must be guessing. Most bycatch kings I've ever seen are in the 5 to 10 lb range, feeders. Once in a while a lager king is caught, but rarely over 20 lbs. But does the size matter if it's a fish that won't be returning to it's home ground? And all kings are counted regardless of size.

    And lastly..... SE Ak? Do you even know if your kings travel to the pollock grounds of the Bering sea?? They may winter on the Fairweather Grounds or Prince William Sound or Cook Inlet.

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    Default don't let knowledge get in the way

    twodux - you really are spoiling the fun here. Knowledge just gets in the way.

    On a different level - what is wrong with chinook or other salmon being harvested in a fishery that provides a major food source to the world?

    While fisheries should try to keep the targeted stock as clean as possible the idea it is unethical or some othe rmoral sin to catch a salmon in a trawl that is just hype in my opinion. One should evaluate the cost/benifit of these fisheries and make rationale decisions on the best and highest use. From the figures presented it looks like the bycatch is very limited.

    One example I use is coho salmon. Coho salmon can double their weight in the last three months in sea. There was a time when there were fisheries on them prior to this and offshore. By waiting a few months to have the fishery the biomass doubled and the value increased to all users. Therefore it was a positive cost/benifit even if some users had to wait an extra month or two to harvest these fish.

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    Default bycatch

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    twodux - you really are spoiling the fun here. Knowledge just gets in the way.

    On a different level - what is wrong with chinook or other salmon being harvested in a fishery that provides a major food source to the world?
    I agree with you to a point Nerka. There is nothing wrong with a little by catch as long as it is controlled responsibly. But if it gets to a point where it is messing with management of someone else's source of food or income or employment, then changes need to be made.

    It also needs to be pointed out here that this is a federally managed fishery, not a state managed one. That was another misconception from this thread. kgpcr had mentioned game and fish people observing on the boats.

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    Default

    Here is a good link showing current (more or less) catch rates from the NMFS website.
    Also shows Chinook catch rates.

    You have to scroll down a litttle to read
    the pollock and salmon stuff.

    http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/sustainable...ts/outlook.txt

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    Exclamation well now DUX

    I do have a clue

    anonymous1 wrote "The by catch of herring by trawlers targeting cod and pollock in some bays of Kodiak Is. often excedes the herring fishery allowable harvest."

    DUX wrote
    "Do you even have a clue what you're writing? Herring are generally excluded by the mesh size used. Cod nets have large enough mesh that most herring can swim out of the nets. Do some get caught? Well yes I've seen one or two herring in a load of cod, but the amount is statistically zero. As for the dragger catch being more than the allowable quota for the bays...... Cod aren't caught by trawling in bays on Kodiak, unless you want to count Marmot Bay which isn't a bay in the traditional sense. Most trawl caught cod are caught well offshore of Kodiak. A lot are caught closer to Seward and Prince William Sound than to Kodiak Island. "

    I have been a Kodiak fisherman for over 45 years. I won`t argue gear specs with you but I could. I qualified for permits for salmon set net, Purse sein, beach sein, herring purse sein, herring gillnet and have fished all species of crab and halibut and lived in the Bays of Kodiak a good part of my life.
    Last year I was involved in a proposal to the BOF to restrict trawlers in Deadman bay. The reserch we did of the observed fishery in that bay(ADFG data) showed that the by catch of herring sometimes exceeded the TAC for the herring row fishery. It also showed the the by catch of king salmon exceeded the salmon fishery king catch on some ocasions. I guess I could dig it up for proof, but please take my word I don`t say what I don`t know.
    The proposal to BOF stirred up quite hornets nest and we pretty much got our butts kick. I did try to solicit some support here but nobody stood up. We tried and lost there was a lot of $$$ against us. I still say by catch is a dirty buisiness and should be stopped and I am proud to have tried and would do so again.

  19. #19

    Default I think we want the same thing in here.....

    There are a number of great ideas in here which is why I read what you guys post. Sometimes, now and again, I even chime in and give some completely free, and normally completely useless advice. With that said, there is no arguing that in some years the incidental catches that occur are collasal in nature. All people want is a way that would reduce these incidental catches. I see nothing wrong with that. The philosophy in it is well intended. However, the big question is with whatever you propose, will it actually work? And if so, how and why? Stating that people don't have clue, don't know what they are talking about, and a variety of others does nothing to move the conversations forward. In fact, it encourages people that just may have a great idea not to post. Please, let's try to treat each other with more respect.

    Some have suggested that introducing a fine has incentive (and I think it could especially in smaller operations), but is punative in nature (sad since there is no intent involved) and probably doesn't actually change anything at all as the price just gets passed on to the consumer anyway. Some have mentioned the introduction of newer methods or technology and I see that could hold water too. All of these ideas probably would lessen the bycatch.

    But here's my question: Has anyone reviewed any data to suggest that there is a better way to fish that has shown to have a significant reduction in bycatch? If so, how hard would this be to implement?

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    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default

    It really all boils down to priorities.

    The resource extractors' priority is to harvest as much as possible as quickly as possible with the least effort possible.... efficiency of harvesting the target catch is numero uno. They really could care less about by-catch unless/until it poses a risk to their ability to continue harvesting.

    The conservation camp places a priority on reducing by-catch of non-target species. They are willing to forgo harvest efficiencies in the name of sound stewardship.

    Some place in between is a happy medium that doesn't entail the obscene levels of wanton waste we are currently seeing.

    Frankly I don't see a solution without a push toward live capture methods. Perhaps using similar gear but changing HOW it is used. Shorter soaks, not drawing up the bag in one swift crushing load, suspending it loosely like a great big net pen while the catch is live-sorted. Perhaps more fish survive the encounter prior to being released?

    It really boils down to how much harvest efficiency the massive factory ships are willing to forgo in the name of stewardship.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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