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Thread: Remember the Fish Trap?

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    Default Remember the Fish Trap?

    Reading about the halibut limits for charter clients in SE reminded me of the argument from commercial fishermen against using fish traps-- they were too efficient at catching fish, employed too few people, sent the earnings out-of-state and could not control bycatch.
    When Alaska became a state in '59, fish traps were banned. Does anyone else see a similarity in the arguements but with the roles switched?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BTK View Post
    Reading about the halibut limits for charter clients in SE reminded me of the argument from commercial fishermen against using fish traps-- they were too efficient at catching fish, employed too few people, sent the earnings out-of-state and could not control bycatch.
    When Alaska became a state in '59, fish traps were banned. Does anyone else see a similarity in the arguements but with the roles switched?
    Sorry, I do not see what you are saying. Could you elaborate some?

    My understanding of the fish trap issue was mainly control of the industry by out of state processors. Seattle and San Francisco had the fishery under its control.

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    Nerka has a very good question on this. As I recall the traps were brailed out.....live fish so by catch could be totally eliminated...as the cannery needed fish. They swam around live until they were needed. The quality of the product was at least as good as the best iced fish we get now. It was a control issue....trying to get control back into the hands of the local residents.

    I don't know why fish traps would not work well now if the commercial guys could come up with a fair way to share the harvest like they did in Chignik a couple of years ago. I have relatives who fish there and they sure were basically happy with the way the fishery worked while they had the co-op.

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    The majority of fish traps were owned by people outside the territory at the time, implying the money went out too. The main criticism, though, was their efficiency by not employing enough people FOR THE AMOUNT OF FISH HARVESTED. They were also blamed for not being able to absolutely control the species caught (including whales.) Heavy pressure was put about to ban them by the boat fishermen (not sport charters.) Now the same commercial fishermen are fighting to defend the same attacks from other users. The out-of-state drain of dollars applies to all user-groups still, but the one that brings the most dollars UP might be charters.

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    I think that every fishery should be as clean as it possibly can be. Especially when waste takes $ amounts away from other legit user groups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gusdog44 View Post
    I don't know why fish traps would not work well now if the commercial guys could come up with a fair way to share the harvest like they did in Chignik a couple of years ago. I have relatives who fish there and they sure were basically happy with the way the fishery worked while they had the co-op.
    Well, some liked the Chignik co-op and others had real (and legitimate) problems with it. It was quite a mixed bag. The Court struck it down...but I had to deal with many of those concerns while I served on the BOF (it was created by the Board prior to my appointment). There were good arguments on both sides...it was a real sticky issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gusdog44 View Post
    Nerka has a very good question on this. As I recall the traps were brailed out.....live fish so by catch could be totally eliminated...as the cannery needed fish. They swam around live until they were needed. The quality of the product was at least as good as the best iced fish we get now. It was a control issue....trying to get control back into the hands of the local residents.

    I don't know why fish traps would not work well now if the commercial guys could come up with a fair way to share the harvest like they did in Chignik a couple of years ago. I have relatives who fish there and they sure were basically happy with the way the fishery worked while they had the co-op.
    Just a clarification - the quality of the fish when the traps were fishing was terrible. They had to empty thousands of fish in less than a hour because of the tides in UCI. They used pitch fork like tools to do this so the fish were really damaged. The concentration of fish also made bleeding them impossible and ice was not available. So quality was a major issue but since the fish went into cans it was not back then.

    Today, some of these issues could be resolved but the idea that they could harvest on a as needed basis is not correct. The volume of fish would be still difficult to deal with in a short time frame between tides.

    Guddog44 I have to take off for a Christmas Bird count but if I remember which is about a 50/50 chance these days I will send you some pictures via PM.

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    Several years back, before Lands End bought the old Libby Kenai cannery, I toured the place with the caretaker, a semi-retired gentleman who had worked there from the early 50s. He told me that they were able to release non-targeted species if they wished....but in those days if it was edible it went into the can. He also said quality was much better than fish caught by other means.....perhaps that was in comparison with the technology available in other fisheries in the 50s - loading with pitch forks instead of suction hoses, no ice ir bleeding and such, but I think it could be a way to capture a high quality fish with the least environmental damage and cut down on by-catch.

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    ask any processor or fishmonger about quality issues and I think he will agree that a bled and chilled sockeye harvested in the middle of the lower inlet on a short drift beats a beach caught fish that can only be retrieved at certain stages of the tide. Plus, for maximum efficiency I would think that fishtraps would need to be located in or near terminal harvest areas, which further reduces quality issues.

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    The quality of fish has never been an issue. If it did we could just let the consumers decide whether they prefer fish traps or boat-caught. But, it's not an issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BTK View Post
    The quality of fish has never been an issue. If it did we could just let the consumers decide whether they prefer fish traps or boat-caught. But, it's not an issue.

    Two of the four posters prior to my post mentioned quality. Some buyers pay 20 cents a pound more for properly bled and chilled salmon. How can quality not be an issue?

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    Default Not sure where this came from.

    Quote Originally Posted by BTK View Post
    The quality of fish has never been an issue. If it did we could just let the consumers decide whether they prefer fish traps or boat-caught. But, it's not an issue.
    I am not sure where this is coming from but quality is a major issue. The industry is investing tens of thousands of dollars (in UCI alone two ice machines were purchased that totaled 500,000 dollars) to produce a quality product. It is a major factor which allows wild fish to complete with farm raised fish. Processors are paying higher prices for fresh caught, bled, and iced fish.

    Gusdog44, I found the pictures and will try to attach them here for everyone to see. I do not know why someone would tell you they could release non-targeted fish as you can see from the trap pictures trying to separate them out is difficult.

    Also, a drift caught fish is much better than a shorebased trap caught fish. There are number of reasons. First, the fish are fresher - the shorebased fish have held in the freshwater lens of UCI and thus are more mature than the drift caught fish - do not get me wrong shorebased fish in UCI can be of good quality but the drift fish are caught as they enter the inlet. Second, to be of high quality they need to be alive upon capture which drift caught fish can be. Third, they need to be bled and iced immediately. A trap or set net fish has a higher percentage of dead fish and ice is a problem as they have to be brought to shore. In a drift boat the ice is in the hold. Temperature is imporatant - if the fish does not stay chilled the quality goes down. Finally, the fish must not be packed upon one another as the muscle and flesh are damaged. So again shorebased fish are usually not as good as drift fish.

    I happen to know this as I helped purchase the ice machines via a state grant for the UCI fishery. It was an interesting lesson.

    Anyway, fish traps are not coming back to UCI so we should move on. The social and political ramifications are just too great and the management issues are significant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BTK View Post
    The quality of fish has never been an issue. If it did we could just let the consumers decide whether they prefer fish traps or boat-caught. But, it's not an issue.
    I have a SE troll permit and I'll be the first to say that quality is everything when it comes to fish, particularly salmon. Troll caught coho's/kings will command a much much higher price than seine or gillnet caught fish, FWIW. The general public wouldn't buy salmon if it was all mush.

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    Thanks for posting the picture Nerka. I've seen similar, within the last ten years, when set netters uloaded at Salamatof's dock in Kenai. They didn't use pitchforks but I would bet the vacuum hose bangs em around somewhat. Not sure how many hours they went un iced and un bled and walked on but it was probably a couple.....

    The fish traps I am most familiar with are the floating ones that used to be in service in southeast...they didn't go dry with the tide so fishermen only brailed out what was needed. I got the impression that Cook Inlet fish traps didn't go dry but I must have gotten incorrect information.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gusdog44 View Post
    Thanks for posting the picture Nerka. I've seen similar, within the last ten years, when set netters uloaded at Salamatof's dock in Kenai. They didn't use pitchforks but I would bet the vacuum hose bangs em around somewhat. Not sure how many hours they went un iced and un bled and walked on but it was probably a couple.....

    The fish traps I am most familiar with are the floating ones that used to be in service in southeast...they didn't go dry with the tide so fishermen only brailed out what was needed. I got the impression that Cook Inlet fish traps didn't go dry but I must have gotten incorrect information.
    I think it depended on where the trap was located relative to going dry. However, the main issue was the current from the tides. They just did not have long to work the gear with the strong tides.

    Nick Leman has great pictures and history of the traps. He fished them for years and I believe he may have written something up on them. I think he is still alive but not sure.

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    Default About salmon Traps

    IMHO as a salmon fisher/canneryman fish traps good politics bad.
    check out these books. The congressional hearings give some remarkable insights into the issues surrounding the demies of the traps. There are some rare copies out there in libaraies and occasionally on ABE every argument you can emagine pro or con was debated to nausium a long time ago.

    http://books.google.com/books?q=alas...ks&output=html

    http://www.alaskool.org/projects/tra...p/FISHTRAP.htm

    http://www.sakl.fi/sampi/pyydysselvitys3_0a.pdf

    there are some pretty good models of small scale traps that could easily replace the set gillnet fisheries in alot of Alaska like Kodiak or CI but the nimby`s ain`t gonna let it happen

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