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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Halibut Bycatch

I just watched a video where literally tons of halibut were dumped overboard to die - apparently the boat is trawling for flatfish and since halibut are bycatch they can not be kept. So they are discarded, thrown overboard to die and float to the bottom - I noted that a few actually did live and manage to swim away - Hooray! Admittedly, I do not know a lot about this issue, but the video really struck a cord. I found it at the blog address below - check out the October 31rst blog entry titled 'Filthy Halibut Waste'. Watch the linked video, and have patience - it only gets really interesting when they start dumping all the halibut overboard at the end. I gather a fisheries observer made the video and released it illegally.
(I also linked the blog on the 'other blogs of interest' list to the right under Tholepin).

What gets me about the video is that I struggle to catch enough halibut to feed my family. Catching a couple of halibut is a big deal. Our family only needs 2 or 3 a year to feed the family. Two or three halibut is over a 100 pounds of meat - maybe 30 family meals, or halibut for dinner every week or so. What gets dumped over the side in this video would feed the City of Kodiak for an entire winter! And, apparently, it is legal! According to the 'Tholepin blog' draggers in the Gulf of Alaska are allowed to catch up to 12.5 MILLION pounds of halibut every year as bycatch. That's 12.5 MILLION pounds - or at 3 pound a meal, roughly 4 million family meals of halibut wasted. I gather a lot of King Salmon are wasted this way too.

Draggers are just one way to catch fish commercially. Basically they drag a net along the bottom and catch what they can. I gather a lot of the pollack and scallops that we eat are caught this way. But there are other ways to catch scallops, halibut and pollack. Are all the methods as wasteful? I tend to think not. However, at this point I better stop because I am not an expert on the commercial fishing industry, and I got a pretty one sided story about draggers from the Tholepin Blog. But I do want to know more about this issue, and plan on investigating it further. I hope that you do too. I wonder why our local paper has not had more stories on this issue? Patrick

1 comment:

gpc said...

I look forward to seeing what you learn -- I suspect we need to turn out whole commercial food system upside down if we're going to avoid destroying our food sources.