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.