Amendment 80 Captain Gives His Take on Halibut Bycatch issues in 2 part Op-Ed
SEAFOODNEWS.COM March 31, 2015 [Opinion] by Bill Hayes
Bill Hayes is captain on the Vaerdal, a 124-foot catcher processor owned by United States Seafoods, one of the larger companies in the Amendment 80 Coop. As the Council begins working on draft documents about halibut by catch, a number of Amendment 80 Captains have been publicly testifying about their need for halibut and their view of the history of their halibut bycatch allocations. The Opinion piece below, which we will run in two parts, is based on Bill Hayes' testimony before the council in January.
I have participated in the groundfish fisheries from the very beginning. After starting my career crabbing, I moved to a Joint Venture catcher boat in 1983 before being hired on to captain the Vaerdal, a 124 foot trawl catcher/processor in 1986. I have worked there ever since (closing in on 30 years). I’ve been part of the agony and ecstasy of an industry that has gone through extraordinary changes. Extra ordinary has been our response to changing regulatory requirements.
In 1988, when halibut bycatch quotas were initiated for the trawl fleet, we lobbied for a cap that would float based on the biomass of the halibut stock. That was summarily dismissed and a fixed, hard cap was instituted. It was anathema to the halibut interests that our fleet might benefit from a potential increase in the stock. It was much easier to pick a number and call it good.
Of course, now that stocks are falling, we’re hearing a very different story. While a fixed cap might insulate the halibut fishery from trawlers in a rising biomass, it also insulates trawlers from any effect they have on the biomass. That’s not good for anyone, especially trawlers. Full Story »