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Thread: Commercial Shrimpers vs Recreational Shrimpers

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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    Default Commercial Shrimpers vs Recreational Shrimpers

    I was gonna comment on another thread about folks complaining on numbers for shrimp down this year, but I didn't want to hi jack. Last weekend Memorial day, we spent 4 wonderful days on the water in PWS. It was gorgeous to say the least. I was shrimping in the vicinity of Granite Mine near Hobo Bay and Packenham Point at 450-600 feet of water. On my first set as I was setting there was a commercial boat with lots of pots on board kinda just handing out. I lingered in the area, and within an hour, that boat pulled two shrimp pots from the water and left the area. I didn't think much of it. Later on, I was wondering if season was open for him that day? Anyways shrimp count was very inconsistent, but over all about 1/2 of what I did last year. The commercial fisherman were out catching Chums at the enterances of Esther Passage on both ends of the pass. I was camped just inside the pass across from where I was shrimping. One of the fisherman, he and his wife had set a net blocking the beach were I was obviously camped so I pulled along side and asked how much longer before he pulls his net so I could get to my camp spot so I would not interfere with his set. We got to talking and I asked him if he had any insite on the commercial shrimping, how they did and how profitiable it was. He shared that he didn't personally shrimp with his boat, but he said several of his buddies all get together and shrimp. When I asked how profitable it was he laughed and said, there was really no money in it, it was how everyone filled their freezers and their friends and family's freezers, and its a great write off. I asked how they did this with 20 pots and he said the limit was 40 pots per vessel.

    Well to say the least, I didn't reflect my instant sour pissed off attitude to him as he and his wife were pretty gracious, pulled their net and moved while we watched upclose on how it they caught fish. My son and wife got a kick out of watching. Not knowing how true this information he shared was, but it really got to me. If the pot limit was brought down from last year of 8 back to 5 but the commercial guys went up from 20-40 and they really can't make any money at it, but are filling their freezers, family and friends freezers, isn't that what we sport fisherman are doing minus the tax write off. So why the double standard?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    There is probably some truth to what this man was saying, but it's not the whole story. There are some fishermen that are simply dropping pots once in a while and keeping the catch as home-pack as allowed by the law (though there are not many fishermen participating at all and the number is dropping), but there are also some that are finding ways to turn a profit with this fishery. I know two fishermen who have found a way to make it work, though it'll never be a big-money fishery. Both of them work their boats alone - one sells his catch at local farmer's markets where he can get a premium price, while the other is out as often as possible and makes his operation as efficient as possible on a relatively small vessel.

    As for the double-standard, the split between the commercial and the sport harvest is set by law. Last year the commercial fleet didn't come anywhere close to catching their quota, so they increased the pot limit in order to provide more opportunity to fill the quota allocated to the fishery. They're still not even close this year, but it does provide a better opportunity for those that want to make this a viable fishery and actually make a profit. That was darn near impossible under a 20 pot limit. As for the sport fishery, last year's sport catch was higher than anticipated and thus needed to be limited. Again, the catch limit for each is set by regulation, so they're managing the pot limit accordingly. I can certainly see how that would leave a sour taste in your mouth, but I don't think the practice that was described to you is very wide-spread at all. During the last completed reporting period, only 15 vessels reported landing any shrimp at all.

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    Quote.."During the last completed reporting period, only 15 vessels reported landing any shrimp at all"

    Brian...Does that mean the rest of the pro fishermen got completely skunked?...Or just did not honestly report? I have to side with Chico on this one! I am independently "poor"..not that fishing isn't fun, I enjoy it beyond description..but I do it with always with a subsistence mentality. I need to make it pay...just like a commercial fisherman. Too bad I can't write off my expenses to put food on my or friends/extended families table/freezers.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garyak View Post
    Brian...Does that mean the rest of the pro fishermen got completely skunked?...Or just did not honestly report?
    First of all, I made a mistake. As the adfg pws commercial shrimp pot fishery page describes, it was 19, not 15, boats that reported landings during the last opening. As for honest reporting, I can only say that commercial vessels that do not honestly and accurately report face significant fines. In my experience, commercial vessels are quite inclined to accurately report their catch. Many vessels that participated in the early shrimp openers are now targeting salmon, thus the effort has decreased significantly, as reflected in the vessel effort numbers.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, a commercial shrimp pot license is only $75 (plus any additional fees to make your boat valid for commercial fisheries). It's not (yet) limited entry, so anyone can participate.

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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    I don't think I need commercial license to try to beat the system to fish more pots to get more shrimp is the proper way to go. IMO those commercial fishermen that can't show a legitimate profit margin in a couple years don't need to fish it commercially. Those padding there freezes and buddies need to sport fish it like everyone else. Obviously if the numbers are down for most sportsmen, maybe the fishery can't support the 19 commercial shrimpers plus sportsmen. If the state is needs the 1475.00 it collected from the CF, I for one would not oppose paying 25 bucks for a shrimp stamp. Add that to all SF and buy out the unsuccessful CF scamming the system or just buy them out to begin with.

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    Here's the deal yo. Most of the shrimpers up there (my friend included) are just in it to put a few pots out each year to participate in the fishery. In the future when they rationalize the fishery - like cod, halibut, etc. these folks will have a monopoly, a permit to sell, etc. It is a no brainer. Enter the fishery grasshopper.

    Rationalized fisheries are the downfall of alaska fisheries. What happened to capitalism and being a good fisherman ;-)
    Mike
    www.coffmancoveak.com
    Prince of Wales Island

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    Iím an average joe that enjoys a little subsistence shrimping that would like to offer a few comments and observations on the new commercial shrimp fishery. Let's use a little common since and explore what this new shrimp fishery might be worth and how it relates to subsistence shrimping and overall PWS quality of experience. I have no idea what price the processor currently pay for whole shrimp but my guess itís less than $5 a pound. So if the commercial quota is 50,000 pounds that makes the entire fishery worth $250,000. I frankly see this as chump change as it relates to the big picture. What value does quality of experience have?? Is it worth starting a commercial fishery that could ultimately damage and disrupt the shrimping opportunities for the many subsistence users, while also degrading the experience of a few days enjoying the sound catching subsistence shrimp? I frankly find it almost absurd to think this is happening.

    My shrimping buddies and I have all noticed a significant reduction in the number of shrimp in our pots. The light catch started last year with worse results this year. My only explanation is we now have a commercial fishery taking more shrimp ultimately dening other users the opportunity to catch a few subsistence shrimp. Does this make since?? If in fact the commercial fishery is so small and insignificant, with such a small quota it barely makes money, only good for filling friends and families freezers, why on earth have they opened this fishery.

    Does this always have to come down to the almighty dollar? These shrimp belong to all residents and should remain that way. It seems to me maintaining a reasonable, quality, subsistence opportunity is worth a heck of a lot more than a minimal barely break even commercial fishery. So as a Master card add might say: Enjoying a sunny summer day on the sound with family and friends catching a few subsistence shrimp: Priceless. Losing this opportunity for a barely breakeven commercial shrimp fishery: ridiculous.

    Just so every one knows there have been three commercial shrimping periods so far this year with limited results and now a fourth period has been approved. So enjoy setting your 5 pots next to the guy with 40 pots filling his friends and families freezer. What a crock of %^&*.

    The third fishing period of the Prince William Sound (PWS) Area E commercial shrimp pot fishery closed at 8:00 p.m. May 18. The reported harvest was 11,500 lb from 15 vessels bringing harvest in the fishery to approximately 28,000 lb. A fourth commercial shrimp pot fishing period will open at 8:00 a.m. May 22, 2011 and close at 8:00 p.m. June 19, 2011.


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    Member Soundfisher's Avatar
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    Well said whatablast! I could not agree with you more. The board/commercial guys depleted this fishery in the 80's. It is going to happen again. I am not against commercial fishing at all, but this small pocket area which the majority of the recreational fisherman in the state have access to is not the place to do it. One thing for sure is that the comm guys are more organized, and use there pull with the lawyers and lobbyest much better than the sportfish guys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfisher View Post
    The board/commercial guys depleted this fishery in the 80's. It is going to happen again.
    With all due respect, I believe the first hit PWS shrimp took was in '64 when the Quake destroyed much of their aquatic habitat. The second, most notable, and recent hit was in '89. Exxon Valdez decimated the Shrimp and Herring stocks in PWS. Prior to the Spill the few, and there were only a few, commercial shrimpers where, for the most part running mid-level trawls for Shrimp, and that fishery was so small that the vast majority was sold dockside directly from the boats to locals, by the ziploc bagful (The Wayward was one wooden trawler that would tie up in Seward after a trip and sell their catch in this fashion, as I recall it was $5 a bag for the quart size). After '64 I believe you'd be hard pressed to find any canneries or processors who where even buying shrimp from the boats, and in the 80's I can't think of any canneries buying shrimp in any volume, certainly not a volume that would "destroy" the fishery.
    ďLife has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.Ē ― H.S.T.
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    I have fished the commerical shrimp fishery the last two years and all the boats that I know of are selling the shrimp to local buyers. I sold mine to Peter Pan Sea Foods in Valdez and to Sell-Fish Seafoods out of Soldotna. I sold 1760 pounds of tails at $8.50 a pound. I missed this last openner because of a raw water pump going out and Halibut Charters. I was planning to go back out on the 6th of June but with all of the commerical salmon fishing it it would be hard to shrimp.

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    The harvest after the quake never really changed. There really was not a lot of change until about 1978.

    From 1960-1978 the yearly harvest was between 0 and 9461kg per year. The average was probably 3000 kg over the whole time. In 1979 the harvest increased to almost 20,000kg, 1982/80,000kg,1983/80,000,1985/104,800kg,and by 1986 they harvested 110,079 kg.Then they harvest rapidly dropped off in 1988 due to over harvesting. There was a partial closure prior to to 89 oil spill because of drastic drops in harvest numbers. In 1989 they harvested 11,000kg, 1990/13900kg,1991/6658kg.

    You may not be able to remember any processors, but those shrimp were harvested, and the the numbers were depleted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfisher View Post
    The harvest after the quake never really changed. There really was not a lot of change until about 1978.

    From 1960-1978 the yearly harvest was between 0 and 9461kg per year. The average was probably 3000 kg over the whole time. In 1979 the harvest increased to almost 20,000kg, 1982/80,000kg,1983/80,000,1985/104,800kg,and by 1986 they harvested 110,079 kg.Then they harvest rapidly dropped off in 1988 due to over harvesting. There was a partial closure prior to to 89 oil spill because of drastic drops in harvest numbers. In 1989 they harvested 11,000kg, 1990/13900kg,1991/6658kg.

    You may not be able to remember any processors, but those shrimp were harvested, and the the numbers were depleted.
    So if the current combined harvest amount for both personnal and commercial is 110,000 lbs or 50,000 kg. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we are heading down the same path of over harvesting the resource for chump change. Like I said earlier ridiculous.

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Good posts. What-a-blast, point taken and I agree.
    I'd REALLY hate to see this fishery shut down for the recreational guys. It's something our family really enjoys and makes PWS even more special when compared to other waters we frequent. Not too mention all the $ we have spent gearing up and learning the "ropes" of shrimping.
    BK

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    Right on soundfisher,,,the shrimp were all but gone from over harvest before the oil spill,,, One thing is for sure it is being over harvested again (WE ALL KNOW THAT) it's just a matter of will they do anything to stop it or just run with greed???

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trakn View Post
    One thing is for sure it is being over harvested again (WE ALL KNOW THAT) it's just a matter of will they do anything to stop it or just run with greed???
    How do we all know that? Because it seems like we're catching a few less shrimp this year? A couple of points to consider: First of all, this is only the second year of the commercial fishery, and it is taking place in a completely different area of the Sound this year than last. The commercial catch last year was well below the allowable harvest level. The sport catch was over the harvest guideline last year, but in response the number of pots allowed per vessel was cut, so hopefully that'll put the catch back within the range of what F&G bios have determined is sustainable. The catch limit for both the commercial and the recreational fisheries is determined in a scientifically sound manner and is monitored closely. I understand that folks are concerned when they see a few less shrimp in the pots from year to year, but given the active management, I'd say that folks are jumping the gun a bit in concluding for certain that the shrimp are being overharvested.

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    Brian I really wonder about the active management, how accurate the sampling is and how the conclusion was drawn to increase pressure on PWS shrimp. If one looks at the Alaska shrimp Fish and Game management web page http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyareapws.pws_potshrimp_u pdates I see a map of the sample areas. (Really not a major number of sample areas) I also see a graph that shows the mean number of shrimp per pot since about 1988. Obviously there has been an increase in the larger spots however there also been a significant reduction in the number of small spots starting in about 2007 for what ever reason. It almost looks like a crash has started in the numbers of small shrimp and interesting enough it also looks like subsequent reduction in larger shrimp has begun. So considering this why was a commercial fishery opened that will certainly increase the pressure on the entire resource. If the total poundage increases by the commercial fishery allotment there will be a significant increase in the harvest and without the small shrimp to grow into big shrimp I question the management decision to increase harvest pressure by opening a commercial fishery. Without question management of this fishery has got to be difficult and nearly impossible to determine a reasonable harvest-able poundage, but considering the over harvest that occurred in the past it only makes since to manage on the side of caution.

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    The spot shrimp have a life cycle of about 7 years. That was much longer than the biologist origanally thought when they fished/managed the commercial fishery years ago. That meant that they were not reproducing as quickly as once thought. The lack of knowledge led to over harvesting. I believe that this will happen again. Like I said before, I am not anti commercial fishing. But I must admit that this comm fishery pi$$e$ me off. The fact that it is accessable by the majority of the sport fisherman in the state to enjoy, and what is to be gained by a few comm guys makes NO sense to me. Even if they do manage to keep it going for several years, every year will be harder and harder to get enough for our own family. Unless of coarse I choose to "become" a commercial shrimper and have a hell of a good time with my 20, 30, or 40 pots.

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    Not to Hijak the thread, and I am ready for the beating, but Brian stated that the sport/commercial split is set by law. So how do interested people go about trying to change the 40/60 split to a 60/40 split?

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    Quote Originally Posted by polardds View Post
    Not to Hijak the thread, and I am ready for the beating, but Brian stated that the sport/commercial split is set by law. So how do interested people go about trying to change the 40/60 split to a 60/40 split?
    This topic to me has really has left a bad taste in my mouth. I just got into shrimping last year and really love to do it. A few years ago, I went Haines and bought some spot shrimp at a local fish market. The owner schooled me on how most of the Lynn Canal had been abused my the commercial fishery as they had allowed shrimping during egging season and had devastated the fishery. It was closed to everyone for unknown years to come according to him, and I don't want that to happen to PWS for a few folks to make a few bucks and others to abuse the system IMO. For the first time in my life, I plan on going to the BOF meetings when this topic is tabled if I am scheduled off. I would like to see more control on this so called Home Pack Crap and if the commercial guys are doing it commercially, they should sell all of their catch. As far as 60% Sport and 40% Commercial, I would be somewhat happier as long as the Home Pack Crap was illegal. If they want to keep their catch, do it like everyone else. Also, if you as a commercial fisherman can't make a profit out of it, then close it commercially. This tax write off crap with consistant loss needs to go if its depleting the fishery also. Basically, I'm all for commercial fishing, but its a bussiness bottom line, and if a bussiness can't show profit, it needs to go away, especially if it depletes or diminishes a fishery. Hell, Alaska has an abundance of wildlife in some areas, why don't we have a commerical hunters that sell meat? Yeah, sounds pretty stupid doesn't it? My point exactly!!!

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