For most of you this is old news but since we've had so much technical discussion about the SRA and fleet consolidation we need to have a ten point -give or take- clarification here
1. This is not a conservation buy back.
The SE purse seine fishery is as robust as at any ten year period in history. There have been only 340 million pinks harvested in the past decade, due to a couple of droughts and tough winters. The average harvest on odd cycles exceeds 40 million, while even cycles are around 20 million. This brings us rapidly to point number 2.
2. The cycles necessitate a tighter fleet on the off( even)years.
The even cycles have been particularly slow in north end recruitment and rebuilding. In 2008,2010 and 2012 the seine fleet didn't fish central or northern Chatham at all, save for the Hidden Falls THA and the postage stamp at Augusta. This jammed the entire fleet in the southend, a few assorted bays and the hatchery areas. And we all know what kind of congestion we already have in the hatchery THA's.
3. Fuel coats, insurance, shipyard bills, boat purchase costs and overall operational expenses are going through the roof.
Although SEAS ED is trying to punch through with a 20th century vessel, I still run my 1949 wood Sagstadt built vessel. My operations cost just to outfit and run the boat are well over $100,000. And that's a vessel that has no mortgage or bank payments. In the years of plenty there is enough to go around but let's face facts: there simply is not enough gravy in this fishery to pay the bills year in and year out with an expanded fleet.
4. The next phase of the buyback is chipping away at permits likely to be deployed in the next year or so.
The 3% is already being collected. We are down 100 permits since we began and this phase is likely to only retire a dozen or a couple dozen permits. But this would knock the total permits down by 4%-8% more. And these are permits that have a high likelihood of being fished in the next couple of years.
5. The fishery can go one of two ways. More boats and less fishing time or vice-versa.
The managers of the SE purse seine fishery have a number they consider when making announcement decisions. The fewer the boats, the more likely we will get expanded fishing time and area.
6. The seine fleet is a mobile fleet.
Unlike many other salmon operators in the state, i.e.,set net, Bristol bay, copper river...the seiner in false pass, PWS and Kodak, not to mention the sardine and squid seiners of Cali and OR, are extremely mobile. There's at least 2 dozen guys who fished PWS in 2012 who will be in your lineup in 2013. Maintaining a tighter number of permits in SE keeps us within predictable expectations for future years.
7. Boats are bigger. Gear is more effective. Equipment is more efficient.
While the SE fleet is still catching up to modern efficiencies practiced in most Alaska salmon fisheries due to the low economic condition we experienced with pink salmon a half decade ago, the fleet is constantly increasing in boat size, net efficiency and skiff power. This leads us to either a reduced fleet or reduced fishing time in order to make the correct management calls for the resource.
More to follow.......
Hope you all have a Happy and prosperous 2013.
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