Thursday, July 14, 2011

Skeena Seine ITQ Fishery

With the Skeena sockeye Tyee numbers trending upwards lately the total return estimate has been revised upwards to 1.86 million fish. This means commercial fishing time! With 1,050,000 sockeye required for escapement and First Nations FSC requirements this leaves approximately 810,000 sockeye for harvest. The gillnetters started yesterday with their first opening in  Skeena. The seiners are planned to start on July 15th.

This year the seine fishery will again be ran under the ITQ system (Individual Transferable Quota). The latest North Coast Salmon Update presents some information on this.
As per the Allocation Policy, seines are alloted 25% of the sockeye catch while gillnetters receive 75%. How that unbalanced allocation jives with DFO's Selective Fishing Policy and MSC bycatch promises is anyone's guess...but nothing surprising in the DFO world really.

For the weeks of July 15-21, 79,538 is the seine sockeye share in 'pieces' (that disgusting industry term for individual fish) to be divided between the 108 licenses in the fishery. 108 licenses doesnt translate into 108 boats, though. Through 'license stacking' and quota wheeling and dealing, the number of seiners actually out fishing will probably be half of the 108 or so.
For the week of July 15-21 the Weekly ITQ per license is 295 sockeye.

Some of the reasoning behind ITQ fisheries is related to allowing fishermen more time in order to better comply with selective fishing measures. By taking away the time constraints of the usal 16 hr openings, managers presume seine crews will take more time and handle and release non-target fish better. While this seems reasonable on paper, as in any money making endeavour, there are folks who cut corners in order to make a few more bucks and the commercial fishing world is no different than any other in this regard. To ensure high compliance with the rules and regulations there needs to be some form of consistent monitoring either by onboard, independant observers or by extensive Fishery Officer patrolling. Apparently, DFO says there will be observers on both seines and gillnetters for 2011.
We'll be exploring the ITQ fishery in more detail throughout this season.

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