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Thread: Trawlers--Something has to be done

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    Default Trawlers--Something has to be done

    I am tired of seeing the King fisheries from all over the State dwindle. I think that a large contributing factor that we as humans can control is the bi-catch of the open sea trawlers. Now, how do we organize to do something about it? What agency should we be putting pressure on: ADF&G, Feds, ??? Is there a solution? Look at some of the king runs all over Alaska from remote watersheds that receive very little fishing pressure.....the runs are going extinct! What will our King fisheries be like in thirty years if nothing is done now?

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    Here we go again....

    Redside, welcome to the forum. You might want to "search" this topic...It's been discussed over and over.

    For the record, I don't know of anyone who condones Chinook bycatch by the trawlers, including the trawlers themselves (no incentive, lots of detriment to catching them).

    Both the trawl fleet and Federal and State fishery managers (NMFS, NOAA, etc.) are working hard to reduce Chinook bycatch, which has dropped dramatically in the last few years due to bycatch reduction programs. Additionally, recent new regulations limiting bycatch have been implemented. You can review all that at NMFS and NOAA. You'll find that the majority of Chinook bycatch are not Alaska's fish, and that the bycatch numbers don't add up to forming legitimate accusations that the trawl fleet is responsible for the Chinook decline in Alaska. No question it is a contributing factor, but chances are there is much more going on...foreign interception, predation, Pacific decadal oscillation, in-river productivity, disease, habitat degradation, sportfishing, commercial, and subsistence pressure, and the list goes on. I think we all cut ourselves short by focusing on the trawlers as the scapegoat for a solution. And of course one of the conundrums is that the Bearing Sea Pollock fishery is one of the largest fisheries in the world, that feeds the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    Both the trawl fleet and Federal and State fishery managers (NMFS, NOAA, etc.) are working hard to reduce Chinook bycatch, which has dropped dramatically in the last few years due to bycatch reduction programs.
    Could this be due to lack of fish that has returned in the last few years?

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    Quote Originally Posted by salmon_bone View Post
    Could this be due to lack of fish that has returned in the last few years?
    If that were the case, then years of high bycatch would've shown big returns, and that hasn't been the case. So, as obvious as that relationship may seem, I don't think it's one we can legitimately, or scientifically make. Bycatch is more subject to how the trawl fleet happens upon the Chinook...where they are schooled up, depths, temperatures, and migration patterns/rearing areas they are occupying. This is where much of the bycatch effort is now being studied, and how I believe we can continue to reduce it...by avoiding the Chinook by knowing where they are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    If that were the case, then years of high bycatch would've shown big returns, and that hasn't been the case. So, as obvious as that relationship may seem, I don't think it's one we can legitimately, or scientifically make. Bycatch is more subject to how the trawl fleet happens upon the Chinook...where they are schooled up, depths, temperatures, and migration patterns/rearing areas they are occupying. This is where much of the bycatch effort is now being studied, and how I believe we can continue to reduce it...by avoiding the Chinook by knowing where they are.
    I sure wish I knew where they were this year. They must be avoiding me this year. But seriously, everything needs to be done to reduce the bycatch and waste of all fishermen (women too). With a growing world population of people and struggling fish populations world wide, we need to be careful with every fish as the demand already is too large for the supply.

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    I agree. Everyone is miffed right now...lots of theories out there. We can put a man on the moon, but can't figure out what makes a salmon tick. As for demand/supply...I read something from NMFS/NOAA the other day that said our world's fisheries are already fully exploited...kinda scarey.

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    Default a few clarifications...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    Both the trawl fleet and Federal and State fishery managers (NMFS, NOAA, etc.) are working hard to reduce Chinook bycatch, which has dropped dramatically in the last few years due to bycatch reduction programs.
    This can't be said with the degree of certainty you indicate, Grampy. It may be helping, but the measures in place right now (the fleet's "voluntary rolling hot spot" closure program) are basically the same as what was in place back during the extreme bycatch years leading up to and including the record bycatch year of 2007.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    You'll find that the majority of Chinook bycatch are not Alaska's fish
    Not correct. All of the stock identification work has indicated that Alaska Chinook comprise between 70 percent; (Seeb et al 2008) to 87 percent (Myers et al 2003) of the Chinook bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.
    Last edited by MRFISH; 07-26-2010 at 10:06. Reason: why won't the new forum recognize the percent (o/o) sign?

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    Pretty touchy subject. Sportfishermen want the trawlers to stop so they can have the kings for their own personal gain, trawlers want to keep fishing for pollack for their own personal gain, so who wins? And i am not saying trawlers are responsible for the low numbers, was there a trawl fleet 20 years ago? If there was a trawl fleet 20 years ago, has there never been a good king return since then? I am confident once the experts figure out what is really happening to the fish, then some regulations will take effect, until then it is all speculation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MRFISH View Post
    This can't be said with the degree of certainty you indicate, Grampy. It may be helping, but the measures in place right now (the fleet's "voluntary rolling hot spot" closure program) are basically the same as what was in place back during the extreme bycatch years leading up to and including the record bycatch year of 2007.
    Not really. Amendment 91 recently inplemented hard bycatch limits (47,591/60,000). So there is no way the bycatch numbers of 2007 will happen again. Plus, the measures in place now are a conglomeration of incrementally increasing closures, boundary restrictions, stepped-up observer programs, new incentives, and a host of other efforts. Given that, and the numbers, I think it's safe to say bycatch reduction is working...at least NMFS will show it is. But you do make a good point. Hey, they can never do enough.


    Quote Originally Posted by MRFISH View Post
    Not correct. All of the stock identification work has indicated that Alaska Chinook comprise between 70 percent; (Seeb et al 2008) to 87 percent (Myers et al 2003) of the Chinook bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.
    My bad. I was referencing an older 2002 document by Witherell, Ackley, and Coon for Western Alaska stocks....

    "The origin of slamon taken as bycatch includes rivers in western Alaska, Southcentral and Southeast Alaska, Asia, British Columbia, and Washington. Analysis indicates that an incidental catch of 30,000 chinook salmon in Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish trawl fisheries equates to about 14,581 adult chinook salmon from western Alaska...We estimated that, on average, salmon bycatch in Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish trawl fisheries reduced the western Alaska chinook salmon runs by less than 2.7%."

    Here's what I found in the most recent report...

    "Analysis of the stock composition of Chinook salmon incidentally caught in the Bering Sea pollock fishery has shown that the stock structure is dominated by western Alaska stocks. A study completed in 2003, estimated age and stock composition of Chinook salmon in the 1997 through 1999 BSAI groundfish fishery bycatch samples from the NMFS observer program database (Myers et al. 2004). Results indicated that bycatch samples were dominated by younger (age 1.2) fish in summer, and older (age 1.3 and 1.4) fish in winter (Myers et al. 2004). The stock structure was dominated by western Alaskan stocks, with the estimated stock composition of 56 percent western Alaska, 31 percent Central Alaska, 8 percent Southeast Alaska/British Columbia/Pacific Northwest, and 5 percent Russia."

    So it could be upwards of 80-95% Alaska-bound fish. Again, thanks for the correction.

    BTW, I'm having trouble with this forum's formatting too. The percent sign doesn't work for me either. Sometimes a get duplicate words and even posts. Certain pop-ups, like the reputation star, I can't see. Glitches yet to be worked out?...

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    I don't think many folks that regular this forum will defend the 2007 numbers of 121 thousand bycatch chinook as they are unacceptable and an outrage. You are right Grampy, they can't ever happen again and if they do I would guess some heads are going to roll. A number of folks on the Yukon really depend on those fish showing up and when they don't there is real hardship. And with science documenting that a large amount of those fish are bound for Western Alaska, it is easy to understand their frustration. To answer the original poster, there is a lot you can do. Contact everyone you can and maybe something good will come of it if you are that passionate. One thing for sure, it can't hurt one bit.

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    Trawlers, something is being done... (an incentive based bi-catch reduction program with a hard cap, aka stick and carrot bi-catch reduction)

    Something is also being done about chum bi-catch (hot spot closures, in the interm with a hard cap and permanent closures being studied to be implemented in the near future)

    Both have reduced bi-catch significantly

    If you don't even know what agency manages the trawlers (NOAA), you probably shouldn't be commenting on management actions...
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    T.R.B, the 2001 bycatch of about 121,000 was not only a tragedy, but an anomaly...especially when you consider the average was around 40,000. Those chinook weren't targeted, but the trawlers were allowed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    As for the Yukon, the BSAI pollock trawlers would be an easy scapegoat, but the numbers don't add up. While they are a factor, there is much more at play. HERE is some good information to review (page 55-63). Only a portion of the BSAI pollock fishery's bycatch (about 60 percent) are Western Alaska chinook. And only a fraction of those (about 17 percent) are Yukon-bound chinook. According to the report, that accounts for a reduction of Western Alaska runs of chinook by only about 2.7 percent.

    I'm all for reducing the BSAI pollock fishery's bycatch as much as we can. But I'm more inclined to find out what's really happening to these chinook.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    T.R.B, the 2001 bycatch of about 121,000 was not only a tragedy, but an anomaly...especially when you consider the average was around 40,000. Those chinook weren't targeted, but the trawlers were allowed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    As for the Yukon, the BSAI pollock trawlers would be an easy scapegoat, but the numbers don't add up. While they are a factor, there is much more at play. HERE is some good information to review (page 55-63). Only a portion of the BSAI pollock fishery's bycatch (about 60 percent) are Western Alaska chinook. And only a fraction of those (about 17 percent) are Yukon-bound chinook. According to the report, that accounts for a reduction of Western Alaska runs of chinook by only about 2.7 percent.

    I'm all for reducing the BSAI pollock fishery's bycatch as much as we can. But I'm more inclined to find out what's really happening to these chinook.

    Thanks for the good reading material

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    I appreciate everyone's replies to the post. I know it is a touchy subject and I wanted to educate myself on what can be done to hopefully find BETTER solutions than what is now being implemented. There has to be a solution that is BETTER than what is currently being done. What is it: I have no idea! It seems like a insurmountable obstacle to try and significantly reduce the bi-catch (I'm not just talking chinook). I know the trawlers want to find a solution too and I'm not bashing them. Since there will always be bi-catch, perhaps there is some way we can increase the survival rate of it so that our oceans can flourish? Maybe our technology will allow us to adequately control it someday, but I fear that right now, not enough is being done.....I know we are trying. Maybe NOAA should--they probably already are--put more money into R&D to come up with a viable solution than what is currently implemented. I'm sure there would be plenty of funding for this R&D from government and private sectors. I know I would gladly contribute! Let's organize, fund, find a solution, and implement it. I know solutions are in place, but are they really good enough? I don't think so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    T.R.B, the 2001 bycatch of about 121,000 was not only a tragedy, but an anomaly...especially when you consider the average was around 40,000. Those chinook weren't targeted, but the trawlers were allowed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    As for the Yukon, the BSAI pollock trawlers would be an easy scapegoat, but the numbers don't add up. While they are a factor, there is much more at play. HERE is some good information to review (page 55-63). Only a portion of the BSAI pollock fishery's bycatch (about 60 percent) are Western Alaska chinook. And only a fraction of those (about 17 percent) are Yukon-bound chinook. According to the report, that accounts for a reduction of Western Alaska runs of chinook by only about 2.7 percent.

    I'm all for reducing the BSAI pollock fishery's bycatch as much as we can. But I'm more inclined to find out what's really happening to these chinook.
    +1 for Gramps! Thanks for the link

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    The righteous indignation is a bit ironic.

    The PNW has had to deal with this situation for many years. Why are the Columbia River Chinook stocks collapsing? (subsitute Yukon River) Who/what is doing this? It must be the hydro system! Or it must be the loss of habitat! Or it must be those darn commercial trollers in BC or SE Alaska (subsititute Bering sea fleet). The fact is that Pacific salmon life history provides a great platform for "finger-pointing". Now the finger is being pointed at the pollock fishery. Is this appropriate? Maybe. Maybe not.

    My point is that the Pacific salmon stocks in Alaska are susceptable to the same concerns and problems experienced throughout the Pacific Rim. Just because you're in Alaska doesn't mean you are immune to the problems that are occuring in, say, the Columbia Basin, or the Sacramento, or the Fraser River, BC. The same problems have plauged Pacific salmon (and Atlantic salmon) for hundreds of years.

    In the famous words of John Donne:

    "No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manner of thine own. Or of thine friend's were. Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know. For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee."

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    Not sure what your point is?

    Nobody has said Alaska's salmon stocks aren't susceptable to what happened in the PNW (although many of Alaska's systems are very different - glacial, access, etc.). In fact Alaska is well aware of what we know at this point about what causes stocks to decline, and we have taken lessons from the past. Alaska's fishery management principles are sound. In my opinion it is the unknown habits of nature (that we continue to learn), along with the emotional and political influences that Alaska is battling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redside View Post
    I appreciate everyone's replies to the post. I know it is a touchy subject and I wanted to educate myself on what can be done to hopefully find BETTER solutions than what is now being implemented. There has to be a solution that is BETTER than what is currently being done. What is it: I have no idea! It seems like a insurmountable obstacle to try and significantly reduce the bi-catch (I'm not just talking chinook). I know the trawlers want to find a solution too and I'm not bashing them. Since there will always be bi-catch, perhaps there is some way we can increase the survival rate of it so that our oceans can flourish? Maybe our technology will allow us to adequately control it someday, but I fear that right now, not enough is being done.....I know we are trying. Maybe NOAA should--they probably already are--put more money into R&D to come up with a viable solution than what is currently implemented. I'm sure there would be plenty of funding for this R&D from government and private sectors. I know I would gladly contribute! Let's organize, fund, find a solution, and implement it. I know solutions are in place, but are they really good enough? I don't think so.

    I think this years bycatch was something like 9,000 (I think I don't quite remember the figures from the seminar I attended) seems to me the system is working ok considering the average of 40,000
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    I think this years bycatch was something like 9,000 (I think I don't quite remember the figures from the seminar I attended) seems to me the system is working ok considering the average of 40,000
    "The system" doesn't go into effect until next year. What they're doing this year is basically still the same as what they were doing when bycatch was sky-high.

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    The bycatch reduction program has been a progressive, changing, "system". If you are referring to Amendment 91, then you would be correct that it hasn't been put into effect yet, but it has been approved by NOAA and is awaiting implementation to the FMP. Bycatch is way down this year...what that means is unclear.

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