OceanFAD's last observation of Albacore Tuna Troll fishing off the West Coast, 2011.
7 Nov 2011
Captain John-boy rejoined Ocean Joy and, after making necessary repairs to the vessel, departed Coos Bay, Org. for the final Albacore fishing trip of 2011.
John got word that many fishing vessels had given up on the idea that the fish were going to be showing up late and quit fishing. Only a few "Trollers" remained fishing at this point, and they were giving up also. Fleet fishing production was down 50% from last year and many were going "in the whole". Most vessels that had alternate fisheries, such as crabbing, or swordfish with driftnets, left the albacore fishing grounds for the year. This was going to be a hard trip.
I would like to note, for observation purposes and better understanding of the fishery, I'm making the entry of "By-Catch".
The "Pole & Troll" method for catching tuna is, by far, the "Cleanest Tuna Fishery in the World!"
Also making note of the use of discrimination and superiority between methods of fishing, or "gear types".
October 15th - Pos. 43:20%N X 124:50%W. Ocean Joy departed Coos Bay Org. Heading North West. No fishing effort was made.
October 16th - Pos. 44:31%N X 125:26%W Wx. moderate & SST 61.0% and dropping.
40 albacore landed. 0 net marked fish & "0" by-catch (as usual).
October 17th - Pos. 44:20%N X 125:20%W. Wx. conditions moderate & SST 59.6%. Good bait & bird sign.
51 tuna kept on board. 0 net marked fish. "0" by-catch. "0" discarded.
October 18th - In the same area. Wx. picking up to 25 knots. SST 58.3%. Started working with 3 other troll vessels.
304 Albacore Tuna kept. 0 fish with net marks. 0 by-catch. 0 discards.
October 19th - Ocean Joy moved to the west 20 miles. Wx. moderate. SST up to 60.4%
97 tuna fish landed. 0 fish with net marks. 0 by-catch & 0 discards.
October 20th - Ocean Joy returned to the east 20 miles as one of the troll vessels reported better catch rate.
361 albacore caught. 0 net marked fish. 0 by catch. 0 discards.
October 21st - In the same area. 3 Pole vessels showed up in the area. Each "troll" vessel had a "pole" vessel in his mediate vicinity. Each pole vessel averaged just under 700 fish per vessel. Each troll vessel averaged less than 50 fish per vessel.
36 fish taken. 0 fish driftnet marked. 0 by catch. 0 discards.
October 22nd - Ocean Joy traveled north threw the night. Pos. 46:00%N X 126:20%W. Wx up to 25 knots of NW wind. SST 60.6%
Having been in similar situations before, where bait boats (pole boats) move into a given area, the production of the troll vessels goes down considerably. Eventually the troll vessels must relocate to be productive. The other troll vessels that remained in the area caught less ended their trips.
136 tuna kept. 0 net marked fish. 0 by-catch. 0 discards.
October 23rd - In the same area. This area has only "Troll" vessels and most of the fishing vessels are spread out. A few times the boats came together when a good catch was reported, but dispersed later to continue working the fish together. Even though the fleet was made up of 2 nationalities, the method of fishing was not discriminating among fishers. It dose not matter if you are aboard a 100 foot vessel with a 5 man crew, or aboard a 40 foot vessel fishing with just one man, the fish will follow just the same. The feeding habits of the tuna are best described as "grazing" and schools of fish tend to stay small and spread out.
The fact that 30 out of 50 vessels, in the fleet, are Canadian Fishing Vessels fishing inside US EEZ is discrimination. American fishermen resent foreign vessels taking their rightful ocean resources, especially during a poor year when albacore stocks are down.
156 fish caught. 0 fish with driftnet marks. 0 by-catch, and 0 discards.
October 24th - In the same area. Wx. moderate with SST at 60.4% - 59.0% Good edge and boats continue to migrate north with the body of fish.
145 fish landed. 0 noted with driftnet markings. 0 by-catch. 0 discards.
October 25th - In the same area. As more vessels entered the area, our production dropped off.
86 albacore landed. 0 marked by driftnets. 0 by catch. 0 discards.
October 26th - Pos. 45:30%N X 126:00%W. Wx started picking up to 30 knots of wind. SST dropped to 58.6%
Ocean Joy started to move south towards Coos Bay.
32 fish caught. 0 fish marked by nets. 0 by-catch. 0 fish discarded.
October 27th - Pos. 43:22%N X 126:00%W. Rough wx. with big seas. Entered Coos Bay Org. No fishing effort was made.
October 28th - Pos. 43:22%N X 126:00%W. Rough wx. with big seas.. Departed Coos Bay for fishing. Heading north. No fishing effort was made
October 29th - Pos. 45:15%N X 125:18W. Wx. moderate with SST at 57.2% Cold water edge close by.
204 albacore tuna taken. 0 by catch. 0 discards.
October 30th - In the same area. 3 "Pole boats" came into the area. Each averaging more than 300 fish.
1 fish landed. 0 by catch. 0 discards.
October 31st - Ocean Joy moved to the south threw the night. SST is cooling more all the time 57.2%
37 albacore tuna landed. 0 fish with driftnet marks. 0 by catch. 0 discards.
November 1st - 5th Ocean Joy descended down the coast to 37:00%N X 123:13%W Wx. crappy & SST 56.7%
Averaged 2 fish per day with 0 by-catch and no discards.
In conclusion to the trip and to the 2011 season: This was the 1st trip where no (0%) driftnet marked fish were caught! This was a great improvement of 2% average for the year, compared to last year of 20% net marked fish.
The most reported driftnet marked fish came from the area off Sur Canyon just off Monterey Bay, California. F/V Wet & Wild reported driftnet marked fish every day. Average fish weight 25 lbs per fish and was catching 30 - 50 albacore tuna per day. f/v Wet & Wild is a "Troll" vessel. Suddenly Wet & Wild's production dropped to only 3 - 7 fish per day. They gave up fishing and returned to port.
Meanwhile, driftnet vessels fishing for swordfish off the Davison Seamount, west of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary, were averaging 1 - 2 ton of 25-30 lb. albacore tuna daily. This is noted as their by-catch.
I must ask, "How hypocritical is that?"
Driftnets discriminate against Trollers in our own California State waters. Even with a sanctuary in place, nothing is sacred anymore. This is the land of the FREE? Where is our Freedom of the SEA?
November 6th - Ocean Joy returned to Monterey Bay for the winter. This concludes OFAD's observation of the 2011 coastal albacore tuna Troll season.
Until next season, Over & Out.
Captain John Harder