Monday, August 22, 2011

Where have all the halibut gone? Long time passing.

The marvel of fisheries management in Alaska is that the 'official' position is that there is not a official position of any kind. I've been saying this for years; that it's a buffalo hunt out there. Some new reporters are 'getting it,' and that's refreshing. Many people are applauding that longtime Anchorage Daily News reporter Craig Medred, for delving into the morass that is halibut fishery management. Read this article first: Alaska Dispatch article here.

Read the second article here.

These articles should be read by anyone with the slightest interest in fairness in fisheries. I would hope, and yes, pray, that the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will cut the average low-budget Joe angler some slack to get some cook fish, relative to multi-millionaire halibut longliners.

Craig has a habit, from not reporting on ocean fishing management much, to use the term 'commercial fishing interests' when defining the competition for fish. On some battle fields like halibut, there is really a consortium arrayed against the cook-fish types. That includes the UFA political action group, not the people they CLAIM to represent. And it includes the bottom trawlers who have a massive by-catch problem of small halibut they are trying to cover up(see the Tholepin blog). And the factory trawl contingent has their own by-catch of salmon, squid, herring, crab, sea mammals and birds they try to hide. So they all ban together on everything in NPFMC meetings. If the halibut longliners want to snuff out the charter guys, then that's all right with the rest of them.

The charter guys, and the public, (maybe one or two go to the major rule making meetings) should not fight this on the council's own turf. They will lose and don't say I didn't warn. They need to go to the real problem of a lack of halibut that the longliners want to ignore, "the missing 100 million pounds of halibut" that the International Pacific Halibut Commission itself iterated. And with each new five year period, it happens again.

What we are witnessing is a repeat of the crash of the Eastern Canadian cod. Much hand wringing by the politicians, silence by the local government officials like Commish Cora Campbell, and a massive rush to get-it-while-they-can by socially callous big boat owners. And this is only the tip of the reef the 'people's fish' are running up on. I know the family Cora came from and I know they wouldn't approve of her ignoring the pleas of 'the least of these.'