Friday, February 17, 2012

Board of Fish: Date-Feb 24 to March 5, Ketchikan

SEAS-USAG Agreement of December 2011 and the upcoming Feb 24-March 5 Board of Fisheries meeting in Ketchikans

SEAS and USAG agreed in Sitka this past December to pull all untoward proposals that each group had submitted to the Board of Fisheries for the 2012 meeting in Ketchikan this month. Although it is widely acknowledged that seiners are way out on the low end of our range and visa-versa with the gillnetters (2011 saw gillnetters at 52% and seiners at 28% in the most lopsided show ever), SEAS and USAG determined that it was in our best interests to maintain the 2009 Board of Fisheries agreeement terms of 1-1 fishing time in Anita Bay, Neets Bay and Deep Inlet.

The disaster at Hidden Falls and Deep Inlet made 2011 the poster child for how bad the allocation percentages can get during the short term. ( Indeed it was so bad -62,000 chums at HF- that it's also a poster child for why we need the buyback as well) SEAS is hopeful that there will be some better survival and thus harvest, at the usual and accustomed locations where seiners catch enhanced salmon. One of the misconceptions that the gillnet fleet has had over the years is that with fewer seiners on the water that we somehow catch less hatchery fish mixed in with our wild stock, mixed stock harvest. This is hogwash, of course, as seiners, as opposed to the other gear types in Southeast Alaska, harvest strictly based upon the availability of wild stocks. Never do we harvest in mixed stock areas based upon the availability of hatchery stocks. Never. There could be 15 million DIPAC and Hidden Falls chums marching into Icy Strait and upper Chatham and if there were not a robust pink run accompanying them we would not fish a single set.

The SEAS proposals were very meritorious and we really had to trust nature and chance here with our enhanced allocation plan but SEAS believes that a long-term viable enhanced allocation plan (as we've had since 1994) needs to be a guideline more than an absolute set of numerical changes and demands. We will, however, be back in 2015 with very similar proposals if the current trends don't change a bit.

One other late catch that we didn't even know we were negotiating against is that USAG did indeed have a proposal to close Frederick Sound to salmon purse seining from Fanshaw to Pt League.

That, along with all the 7 other 'hate and spite' proposals put forth by USAG, were withdrawn as part of the SEAS-USAG agreement.


The Board of Fish will have a couple seine related proposals that deserve our attention however.

1. 58 foot limit. While the proponents of the change of 58 foot limit to allow longer vessels to participate in the S01A fishery, the fleet is still against any change by a ratio of 65-35 in our latest poll. While the additional permit requirement makes it more palatable, the time for changing the 58 foot limit has yet to arrive. The arguments are good for making the change. Trollers and gillnetters have no limit. They could have 1000 foot boats if they wanted. The gear requirements wouldn't change, we'd still have the same 450 deep by 250 fathom nets. Potentially more processing on board, etc etc. But the bottom line is that the fleet is against it.

2. 2 nets on board. SEAS is in favor of this proposal. There are darned few boats in the fleet that have the potential to pack 2 nets, but, again, gillnetters and trollers have extra gear. If a troller loses gear, he just puts new stuff on. Same with gillnet shackles. But if a seiner trashes a net at Cape Chacon, he has to go back to Petersburg or Ketchikan or whereever and get a new net or fix up his old net prior to getting back out to the grounds. This has not been the subject of major polling so if you have any qualms about this proposal, please call in at 907-723-8267, text at that number or email or go to our website and comment. This is not a unanimous position by any stretch of the imagination so please be sure to weigh in on this one.

3. Hidden Falls new management plan with assessment in lieu of cost recovery. Recall that back in 2006, SEAS passed the legislation that enabled the NSRAA board to move on this one. The final legislation mandated that a majority (51%) of a hatchery board of directors could vote to move ahead under the legislation SEAS produced in 2005-06. This was the most commented on and garnished the most testimony of any issue SEAS members have weighed in on. And SEAS members and non-SEAS members were 100% united in their support. There was no opposition by seiners.

4. Establishing a SHA at SE Cove for seine and troll. Gunnuk is stepping up to attempt to be a part of the allocation program and support the fleet with it's production. There will be gillnetters who want a piece of the action but this has historically be seine-troll only and should stay that way.

The SEAS board will be meeting, TBD, during the week of the Board of Fish meeting Feb 24-March 5.

All SEAS members are welcome to attend. Call for more information if you are attending.



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