Monday, February 15, 2010

Kodiak letter sung to the tune of 'OUR TOWN'

This letter was C.C.'d to me by the author, addressed to the politicians representing the Kodiak area: Rep. Alan Austerman, Sen. Gary Stevens, Gov. Sean Parnel's office, U.S. Sen. Begich's office and U.S. Sen. Murkowski's office. It describes the drying up of the once thriving fishing community. The reason? Jane Lubchenko and NOAA's famous 'catch shares' system I suspect. But listen to the author, she lives there.

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, 2-14-10
Alan , you asked me during the LIO call in, to make sure I tell the country that Joe Childers
dosn't represent all Alaskans. How about you guys do that, too? It would mean alot! It's exactly what I've been asking. When you just stand by and let this happen, don't raise your voices to anyone in gov't, or anywhere else that I can tell, aside from the HR21, that got stuck in your office Gary, it's condoning the plan.

There was an opportunity to take a stand, and honestly, Gary, I think you could have tried harder. It's not over yet, and a lot is happening. We need you. This town is becoming a ghost town. Island TV just closed. That means that we have 3 vacant spaces right here on the mall. Norman's is open 3 days week and Ardingers only on Saturday. The building where I used to be for 8 years, next to AC, has a minimum of 3 spaces for rent. The corner of Center and Mission, where I was for about 1 year, was available all summer and fall. I finally got relieved of the whole rent, but am still responsible for a goodly sum. After we couldn't rent it for what I was paying, Mel kind of bought my lease.

Now the USCG is expanding into that space, but that's a shame because it used to be prime retail space. Royal T's used to be there and moved in next door to The China House, is only open on the weekend, after taking another job.

My business is down between 60 and 70%, from last year, and I have the best possible spot in town, next to Henry's. One reason I felt comfortable making a life here, investing my life in this town, is because the fishing industry insulated our economy, to a large extent. That is no longer the case. So many jobs have left town and the boats that fish here are usually from somewhere else, and they bring their crews with them.

Come on. God darn it! Please. Alaska needs to take a stand. The North Pacific Council is gearing up to give away the Gulf of Alaska groundfish. Doesn't that bother you!? Do you think it's right to let this travesty go on right in front of your eyes, and do nothing about it? You seem to hide behind the fact that it's "the Council", a group of self serving interests, who are out to take our resources, and my livelihood, and are above reproach.

No! I believe it is your responsibility to tell the truth. So many livelihoods, all around the country, are at stake, (, and we know, you know, what the outcome will be, without a doubt, and you do not raise your voices? I have to take high blood pressure medication because of the stress of it on me; both from the fact that I have no money, and I am watching this scenario unfold and our state govt is doing NOTHING about it!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time! How about it?! I'm sick of hearing 'it's not my call!' No one is paying me for the hrs. I spend trying to fight this. You are being paid, and I want my monies worth, please!
I will be looking forward to hearing about your progress. Of course, if there is anything I can help you with, please let me know. I'm here for you! Thank you, Rhonda Maker
907 481 3100

And here's another one from the East Coast, which is why a national rally is being held on the steps of the Capitol in D.C. on Feb. 24. It's a national issue of preserving our marine food supply for the local economies.

Hello Everyone,
> Thank you Rhonda, for this heartfelt letter. I stand behind you.
> My own family has lost our fishing livelihood to this scam
> called Catch Shares.
> ITQ's (Individual Transferable Quota)
> is an economic tool, not a conservation one. The scallop
> fishery that I've been part of the last 20 years is not over fished now or
> recently. Some closed area scallops are dying of old age.
> My state of Massachusetts, has made a powerful
> political statement by electing Scott Brown to replace Senator
> Ted Kennedy's place.
> Our country is a mess right now.
> Main Street, America is suffering from unemployment. Jobs are our number
> one concern and we are losing them needlessly.
> We need political leaders who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. If
> you are not willing to act for the people, we will find someone who will.
> Thank you,
> Mary Beth de Poutiloff
> family fisherwoman

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A response to the NPFMC whitewash

Hi, Duncan,

As always, thank you for a quick response. I never claimed that Bruce Leaman, IPHC Director, ever said what Steve Hare, his employee, did to PAG at the IPHC annual meeting we both attended. Bruce Leaman is a gentleman, a scholar and a diplomat, everything my mother and grandmother wanted me to grow up to be, but didn't. Remember Bruce is accountable to Hillary and her counterpart in Ottawa. Bruce CANNOT say what his chief scientist, Steve Hare, admitted in public two weeks ago to PAG. Bruce has to take the national interest of Canada and USA under consideration EVERY time he opens his mouth. Enough said? Within 5-years (way too late) Bruce will say in public what Steve Hare already has. That's his job description and I need to respect it, which I do.

Duncan, as a voting member on the NPFMC, which was conceived, sold-door-to-door in the U.S. Senate and won against heavy odds by the Old Man, Don and a bunch of Kodiak waterfront rats, you MUST follow the best scientific information available EVERY time you make a status of stocks (OY, ABC, TAC) decision. If you don't, the SOC can remove you at his pleasure. As an attorney, you don't need a peg-legged "sea lawyer" like me to remind you of that. You are your Father's son and he remains one of the wisest men I ever met in my life AND he always made time for me and other young guys around Kodiak in the 1970's, without exception in my memory.

Can you and Sam wait another 5-years for Bruce to get permission from Canada and Hillary to admit the "best scientific information available," which Steve Hare struggles with every day? You know as I do that the Observers Union has twice told Bill Karp tht there's been organized halibut bycatch hanky-panky going on aboard Kodiak trawlers for over 3-years. Bob Alverson's cell # is (206)972-9616. Call him at your convenience. You know, as well, the downward track that the halibut TAC is on now. You heard, like I did, Steve Hare throw cold water all over the "coming rebound in halibut recruits to the commercial fishery starting in 2011. The man almost apologized ahead of time for the possible recruitment failure. Talk about lowering expectations while painting a rosier picture. That got to me, Duncan. Can Alaska coastal communities afford to go on this way? Can those halibut families bet on the come that Steve Hare's just another Chicken Little, that Denby, as Chairman of the Council's Observer Committee, can make a dime's worth of difference before 2013 at the earliest, that Jim Balsiger will evoke his emergency power to increase observer coverage on Kodiak trawlers in 2010? I don't believe they can. I know Bill Alwert can't and doesn't want to.

But, I'll tell you what. let's just continue to take the easy way out and BLAME THE GODDAMN LONGLINERS for the disappearance of over 100-million pounds of halibut bycatch these past 4-years according to Steve Hare, not Bruce Leaman...yet.

Duncan, your Father was a born 'n' bred soil conservationist. For hours, he indoctrinated me that any nation's (never mind region's or state's) strength and durability are only as sound as its soil. I say this to you without reservation but also with personal admiration for you: Your Father would raise holy, God-awful Hell if he'd been voting in your seat this week in Portland. He'd have thanked Bruce Leaman for his sincere testimony and then demanded that Steve Hare come forward next and describe the best scientific information available about this horrible mostly-unobserved GOA halibut bycatch and "deficit" and their impact on so many Alaska families.

Duncan, I'll come to Anchorage at any Council meeting you choose, kneel and kiss your ass in front of everyone, if Governor Sean, representing every single Alaskan alive today, sides with Bruce Leaman, who was born a better man than I'll ever become, instead of Steve Hare. By the way, please remind me who's successfully bull-shitted Governor Sean lately. I read ADN regularly and haven't seen that list in there yet. Quite the opposite.

Otherwise, you kiss mine at the same venue. Deal? In fact, I'll give you three for one: I'll kiss Julie's and Al's, as well, if I lose.

With respect and personal admiration for you and your Father, a genuine Pioneer of Alaska,

P.S. I read and re-read your wife's Halibut poem frequently. I gets to me every time and I'm still envious that she got that gift and I didn't.

On Feb 13, 2010, at 6:17 PM, Duncan Fields wrote:

> Hi Tom,
> I appreciate your concern on this issue. You may have been listening to the Council on line but I specifically questioned Bruce on this issue and he indicated that "bycatch" was one of many variables that could account for the "lost" halibut etc. I know there is more to it than that, but with Bruce's responses to my questions, I wasn't able to get a "hook" to proceed on that agenda item. Stay tuned, Sam and I are working through the Council process to have a complete discussion of halibut bycatch allocations.
> Not what you want but the best I can do.... at this point.
> Duncan
And a minor letter from yours truly to help a reporter get some facts in the matter

I'm racking my brain to help solve this. One thing that strikes me is there is a blog with video footage of halibut sinking white side up in a long column and still a big pile of halibut on deck getting tossed over. The blog is the Tholepin blog authored by someone in Kodiak. Tom might know what was entered in the record of the Council meetings and the IPHC meetings. But the Council most often, and I think this case might be the same, decides to call the evidence 'hearsay' so it doesn't have to be entered in the record. I'm sure the NPFMC isn't the only Council that does this, although the NPFMC is particularly adept at covering huge mistakes and thefts.

My time is limited as I'm now in Homer working to get an old state ferry polished up to service the cod jig fleet, the only fishery that isn't privatized. To demonstrate a successful marriage of sustainable fishing and sustainable processing without privatization. But the Council only gave the jiggers one percent of the TAC, so they aren't too concerned. But I have to fight the trawlers efforts to stop us from providing this assist to these sustainable fishermen. They have asked the NPFMC and the Kodiak City Council to ban floaters from Kodiak waters. Maybe the only place in the world such a thing would be even discussed. But a jig fisherman testified that such a floating service vessel is sorely needed to just keep the jig boats from depleting individual spawning cod stocks.

The fishery managers on the Grand Banks have found that these many small spawning stocks are genetically distinct, like salmon runs. Once one small spawning stock is wiped out, it never returns. And Duncan Fields is dedicated, by his own admission, to engaging in this practice with the gear than is so effective at it: trawls. We want to have a researcher on board to do DNA studies. The State and Federal govt won't do studies that jeopardize these trawlers it seems. Heck, the NPFMC won't even do the economic impact analysis on the halibut IFQs they were supposed to do twelve years or so ago.

If Tom or I wrote a whole book on the subject, under the current Council System it would be just labeled 'hearsay.' Even if we had five thousand fishermen sign the book. A longline crewman who fished under Arne Fuglvog can describe in detail, and has for Law Enforcement, the collusion that exists.

Wouldn't it be novel if the more sustainable fishing methods were given priority access to the fish resources? It wasn't the king crabbers who knocked down the stocks in the Bering Sea, it was the trawlers bringing up 'red bags' for a couple of years after the NPFMC opened the 'crab sanctuary' to bottom trawling. Their trawls were solidly packed with red king crab that they had to throw over dead. Like the real numbers of king salmon bycatch, it's all been covered up for years. It would take a lot of Freedom of Information Act invocations and a lot of money to tell the real story. I'm sure nobody was talking as the buffalo were being extinguished either.

I could get the evidence, but I couldn't say how here. And it would cost more than you or I make together. Emails aren't safe. The floater ban attempt came a week after I starting sending emails on our project. Pretty coincidental.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

NMFS decides 100 M lbs isn't worth worrying about

IPHC's Steve Hare strikes out in 3-straight pitches at NPFMC meting in Portland
Sat, February 13, 2010 7:41:27 AM
Tom Casey
Add to Contacts
Cc: Gary Painter

IPHC's chief scientist, Steve Hare, who told the halibut processors at January's IPHC annual meeting in Seattle that over 100-million pounds of "un-accounted-for-GOA trawl halibut bycatch" is missing from the IPHC's halibut abundance estimates these past 4-years, STRUCK OUT in three straight pitches at this week's NPFMC meeting.

STRIKE 1: The Council's industry Advisory Panel (AP) voted 11-7 NOT to investigate Steve's conviction. "Case Closed!" as far as they're concerned.

STRIKE 2: The Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) never even took up Hare's concern, even though IPHC has a permanent voting-member on the SSC. What up (as they say in the 'hood) on that? IPHC Executive Director Bruce Leaman is as vigilant as they come. How'd that one get by him and his man on the SSC?

STRIKE 3: Even after public testimony (Finally, thank God!), the NPFMC, itself, decided (as of Friday close of business) to IGNORE Steve Hare's conviction and DISMISS it as mere hearsay, NOT credible enough to cause any serious, scientific review at this time. So the ADFG Commissioner (Denby) , the NMFS Alaska Regional Director (Doug), all 3-Washington State voting members (Bill, Dave and John), representing the dominant sector of the Pacific halibut fleet, and even the voting-members from Homer (Sam) and Kodiak (Duncan), the two largest halibut ports on Planet Earth, simply blew-off Steve Hare's best attempt to explain the 100-million pound halibut "deficit" as a routine math error, I suppose. I mean, we all make them, right? What's the Big Deal anyway? Maybe Steve just misplaced a decimal point or 2 or 3. Things like that happen. You know?

Anyway, here's where the rubber meets the road, though. Alaska Governor Sean, who, recent polls show, is very likely to be re-elected (based on his current, over 2-1 voter approval ratings) in November, has chosen to run in Alaska's coastal communities on a "Maximize bycatch reduction in 2010" platform this year. Will Governor Sean take Steve Hare seriously or kick him to the curb as the NPFMC did this week in Portland? As I told you in January, I don't believe Governor Sean is that easy to bullshit or lead down a primrose path. I'll give you 2:1.

But, we must be harshly realistic. The GOA trawlers (Julie and Al) won HANDS-DOWN this week and halibut long-liners and sports fishermen lost their asses. Don't shoot the messenger, namely me, please. Maybe Arnie Fugulvog will get Lisa to intervene some how. He's never shown any fondness for a swift kick in the chops before (him and his Dad being halibut long-liners, themselves) and Lisa's way up there now in the U.S. Senate's Republican hierarchy, appearing on CNN, MSNBC and FOX almost every day now.

So, don't scuttle the ship yet. Maybe it's a twilight double-header we're playing here and we'll take the nightcap under the lights. Who knows? Just don't bet the farm on it yet. I wouldn't.

P.S. Forgive my vanity, please, but has it occurred to you that Lisa hasn't aged a single, goddamn day since her election to the Senate, while my hair keeps falling out like those curly, pink, polyethylene fibers on a cheap, Value Village bathroom rug? What up on that one, too? That girl's a genuine "Babe," with deference and respect for her intellect, judgement and her professional office. She knocks me on my ass. Seriously. Always has. Anyway. Whatever. You catch any kings off Chiniak lately or are you stuck on the beach cause Captain Courageous, Gunnar, is still chasing senioritas down in Argentina? Get a freakin' life, Wilhelm. This is pathetic. I remember when you used to be cutting-edge. Hell, I remember when I used to be cutting-edge. Nevermind. Call me when you lose your grip on the Crown bottle and give Huckins a generous ration of shit for me, as well. He deserves it! Call Denby, too. I'm sure he'll welcome your "input." He got hitched in December, you know. Laurie's got his ears pinned-back already, as far as I can tell. Ain't that just peachy? Anyway, adios.


P.S. What'd the Modoc say? Did he come up to Newport or did you go down there? We still have to exorcise him this year. Yes?

On another note, the intrepid Alaska Governor, Sean Parnell, decided that the crewmen aren't worth worrying about either. One commentator said that the official state statistics have that there are only three, (yes 3) crewmen in the anchor Gulf of Alaska community of Kodiak. Not a good way to get support for the many hundreds of crewmen there who got left out when 'catch shares' were passed out. Just officially pretend they don't exist, then their rights and role in Alaska society can be trivialized for the benefit of a few who will yield campaign contributions. Thanks for nothing, Sean.

This commentator intends to bring up the issue at about election time this fall. Right at the last week before the election when things stick in voters' minds. And I reckon I'll bring up the issue of the 'Alaska contingent' on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council not demanding an official investigation of the missing 100 million lbs of halibut. You gotta realize that this has been going on a lot longer than just the last four years too. And that it isn't just halibut, but tanner crab, king salmon, chum salmon, herring, squid, and unknown number of lesser species. A price tag on the lost economic value of this by-catch to the North Pacific economy? In the billions of dollars. This is not chump change. Stop protecting the villains, Sean. Unless you want to be labeled one yourself.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Letters on the missing 100 million lbs of halibut that were 'found.'

Last night at the IPHC party at the Edgewater Hotel, we were told by a halibut processor who attended Steve Hare's presentation to PAG that Steve admitted to them that the 100-million pounds of missing halibut that the IPHC cannot account for these past 4-years was caused by "un-reported GOA trawl bycatch." Steve NEVER told that to us fishermen on the Conference Board, which really stinks. I request 2-minutes tomorrow morning to put this on the record at our Observer Committee meeting at AFSC. Denby, this is grotesque and it suggests that the IPHC process, itself, is warped towards favoritism, which we have NEVER believed before, NOT ONCE. We trust Bruce and Greg. But Steve makes us wonder now. Plus, why wouldn't Jim and Ralphie come clean with us yesterday? Don't they think we can handle it?

Can you please call Steve on the carpet tomorrow and make him explain why he failed to fully-inform us fishermen and the Observer Committee of what he knew about the true status of our halibut stocks. Based just on what the Canadians told us yesterday, they'll insist on being compensated for this and we long-liners don't have the deep pockets to pay them off. I'll bet you they start ogling the trawlers ITQs or that $34-billion in the Alaska Permanent Fund (to get the Council's attention) just to bring this issue to a boil when they address the NPFMC in Portland next month. Trust me, they are really pissed off now and it seems unlikely they'll take it anymore(Remember Peter Finch's 1976 performance in "Network"? Double it!)

Don't mean to ruin your day,


I am the grandson of Luigi Lepore, who grew up in the 1890's commercial fishing in the Bay of Naples. Before he turned 25, he immigrated to America and worked on the railroads of the Northern tier. By the time he turned 30, he'd married an Irish immigrant woman and settled down along the West shore of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island to raise his 2-boys and 4-girls fishing scup, tautog, shrimp, blue fish, hard shell (quohaugs) and soft shell (butter) clams and oysters to support them.

Italian tradition dictates (as does the Yupik's) that the first grandson "belongs" to the grandparents as a form of Social Security (ask the elders in Togiak). This was ordained by God the Father in Luigi's mind, even though his daughter, my mother, never bought into it. Regardless, since I was his "property", he decided that early-morning fishing and preparing the catch for delivery to his customers took precedent over my grammar schooling. Since my mother taught in the same school system that I was frequently truant from, there was often Hell and professional embarrassment to pay. But in the East Coast Italian culture of the 1950's and early 1960's, daughters did not raise their voices to their Fathers in front of anyone else, ever.

But after years of my mother's frustration over Luigi continuously delivering me to grammar school by Noon, instead of 9 AM, Father and daughter went out to the chicken coop behind his green and white garage one Sunday afternoon following lunch and screamed at each other for 10 minutes or so, after which my indentured servitude ended and my daily education began in earnest the next morning.

Here's what I remember most vividly from those early years: "Fish always rots from the head!" As soon as possible, Luigi would cut the head off whatever fish we caught that morning, just like clockwork. We even pulled the heads off the bay shrimp shortly after beach seining them, which was a royal pain in my frozen fingers, since I got stuck with the job normally.

So who cares?

If the "Fish still rots from the head," Steve Hare, or someone else, has to be promoted or fired tomorrow morning if the IPHC and NPFMC and NOAA Fisheries in DC are to sustain ANY fisheries management credibility. Know what I mean? Who's been in charge of reducing bycatch (a strict mandate of MSA 2006) since Steve Hare realized that there's been an extra 100-million pounds of GOA halibut mortality destroyed these pasty four years? Anyone? Or nobody?

More precisely,

1. What did IPHC Commissioner and NOAA Fisheries Director Jim Balsiger know about Steve Hare's revelation and when did he know it?

2. What did IPHC Executive Director Bruce Leaman know about his own employee's revelation and when did he know it? Here's what he wrote to me last month.

3. What did Denby, our Observer Committee Chairman and ADFG Commissioner, know about Steve Hare's revelation and when did he know it?

4. What did Eric, our NPFMC Chairman, know about Steve Hare's revelation and when did he know it? Before the Council re-set the 2,000 mt GOA trawl halibut bycatch cap for 2010 at their December Council meeting?

5. What did Doug MeCum, our NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Director, know about Steve Hare's revelation and when did he know it? If never, shouldn't Jane (who's been an Oregonian longer than you have, Billy), our NOAA Director in DC, appoint Sue Salveson to replace Doug immediately? Isn't that only fair given that Steve Hare claims that over 100-million pounds of halibut have been destroyed by Julie's and Al's Kodiak trawlers these past 4-years without a single ticket or $20-fine being written and levied by NOAA Fisheries enforcement agents? Sound as fishy to you as it does to me?

6. What did Chris, our NPFMC Council Executive Director, know about Steve Hare's revelation and when did he know it? No one I've met has been able to bullshit Chris since he took the job. Not me, not no one. Was he blind-sided like the rest of us?

Here's the good news, though. Governor Sean is running for re-election in Alaska's coastal communities this year on a "Minimize Bycatch Now" platform. My guess is that if Kodiak's City Mayor and Borough Mayor and Kodiak fishermen, themselves, ask Governor Sean to convene a special investigation during the campaign to iget to the bottom of Halibut-Trawl-Bycatch-Gate by call Steve Hare to testify under oath as his star witness, we might actually put and end to this federally-sanctioned insanity long before 2013, as the NPFMC and NOAA Fisheries now plan, at the earliest!

My money's on Jane (currently on leave from Oregon State University), though. Once she picks up on Steve Hare's revelation, the you-know-what will hit the you-know-what-else. Wait and see. I'm just glad I'm not the one who'll have to tell her to her face. My guess is that she'll be "disappointed" to say the least, meaning severely pissed-off and mad as Hell at whoever compromised her leadership credibility.

Bob Alverson tells me that Jane doesn't suffer fools and their transparent excuses very well. Good for her! Kodiak trawlers flushing $400-million of un-accounted for GOA halibut bycatch down the drain these past 4-years ain't chump change.

We ought to build a tall, bronze statue of Jeff Passer (NMFS enforcement agent) on the grounds of the IPHC at UW and in front of Fishermen's Hall in Kodiak. Jeff has been completely vindicated by Steve Hare after many years of bureaucratic intimidation and suppression at NPFMC meetings.

Who knows? Maybe, with any luck, the Kodiak trawlers will get a first hand chance to explain themselves to Jane, personally, with Steve Hare and Governor Sean standing right beside her. Think we could sell that show out in the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage or in the Kodiak High School auditorium or in the UW Fisheries School auditorium in Seattle? Bet we could!


Hi Tom
Noooo…we haven’t put any number on what we think the true bycatch might be. Yes we believe it is higher than the cap but I don’t think anyone could say, with any greater credibility than anyone else, that is x million pounds. In the absence of data, no one has a lock on truth. It’s not just the zero observer coverage on <60 footers, it’s the requirement for only 30% coverage (and the games involved with that) on the 60-125 ft boats.

…and I don’t venture to speak for Dr. Jim.. J


The hottest rumor in Ballard this week is that you and our IPHC staff now suspect that there's a very high probability that closer to 8-million pounds of halibut bycatch is actually being killed in the GOA trawl fishery than to the official 4.4-million pound annual cap set by the NPFMC because of the total absence of observer coverage on the under-sixty-foot trawlers.

Do you think that our lead IPHC Commissioner and friend, Jim Balsiger, will put his foot down now before our annual longline TAC shrinks another 10%-20%? None of us in Kodiak, Seattle or Newport believe that Barack, Michelle, Jane, Margaret or Monica would tolerate for a New York minute this type of reckless over-fishing on their watch, especially because thousands of Northwest and Alaska families depend on the GOA longline halibut fishery to pay their monthly bills and send their kids to school. Think we're wrong?