Ocean FAD Articles > Ocean FAD’s IUU Driftnet fishing detection - Albacore Trip #2, 2012

West Coast Sustainable Albacore Troll Fishery observed aboard F/V “Ocean Joy”
19 Oct 2012

 

Sep. 22nd - Left Newport 9 pm. Weather is calm with fog. Hope to be fishing by daylight.
The crew made some modifications to our Refrigerated Salt Water (RSW) deck fish tubs. Ready to try.                       
 
Again we say thanks to Newport for all their help and having us. Thanks to be able to sail again, and to regain the Sea. Thanks to Thee for looking over us for safe return.
 
Sep. 23rd - 44.20N X 126.00W - Weather is fine. Still a little light fog, but calm seas.
135 Albacore Taken, Avg. wt. 20 lbs. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 0 driftnet marked fish.
 
This is our 1st time fishing on the bigger 20 lb fish located closer to the coast. This bigger fish is targeted mostly by the Pole and Line boats. The bigger fish are hard to pull for a Troll boat, and often brake the lines. Troll boats like the 14-16 lb class the best. The problem is there are none to be found.
 
14-16 lb class have been missing for 3 years now. A 15 lb Albacore is only 4 years in age. This is a major concern!
 
Other concerns so far is that no fish has been found off shore.
A few off shore vessels have been checking to the West and finding nothing. Most of the fish are concentrated from the coast and out 150 miles.
Only the coastal boats are doing fair on the fishing. The off shore vessels are starving.
There has been no consistent production in the off shore fishery for the past 10 years.
 
Another concern is the lack of the under 10 lb class. Peanuts have been reported, but not in the abundance of witch would be considered normal.
 
The 20 lb fish we are on today are moving fast, and hard to get to before they go down. We call it “chasing bird schools”. We find a school of birds that show us where the fish are eating anchovies, and drive by the area in hopes they will like our jigs, or lures. Today’s catch was well worth staying for another day.
 
Sep. 24th - 44.15N  X 126.28W- Calm Seas with fog that comes and goes. Hard to see bird schools, but following strong edge holding fish.
99 Albacore Taken, 20 lb avg. wt. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 0 driftnet marked fish
 
Sep. 25th - 44.00N X 127.30W- Weather came up to 20+ knots of wind and a 3 foot chop with seas building.
We moved to the west over night. Back to the area we fished the previous trip.
301 Albacore taken, avg. wt. 12 lbs. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and over 80 Albacore scratched by driftnets.
Sep. 26th - Same area, moving a little to the west. Weather still sloppy, but showing signs of coming down.
325 Albacore taken, 12 lb avg wt. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 50+ driftnet marked Tuna.
Sep. 27th - 43.55N X 128.00W- Moderate weather with 15 knots of wind. Moved Southwest to cold water edge.
241 Albacore taken, 12 lb avg wt. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 30 driftnet marked Albacore noticed.
Sep. 28th - 44.00N X 127.50W- Weather still the same.
              
We are seeing some of the smaller Albacore in the area. That indicates that the small fish to the south is migrating north. That usually means we need to move further north to stay with the fish we were working.
161 Tuna Taken, 12 lb avg. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 20+ Albacore with drift net scratches.
    
Sep. 29th- 44.00N X 128.00- Moderate sea conditions and in the same area.
276 Albacore caught, avg wt 12 lbs. 0 discards, 0 by catch, and 50+ Albacore scratched by IUU drift nets.
Sep. 30th - In the same general area. Weather sounds poor for next few days as a storm is approaching. Most boats heading into port, but we stayed for the day.
\227 Albacore taken, avg wt 12 lbs.0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 40+ Albacore scratched by IUU driftnets.
 
I would like to take this time to explain a situation at hand. 
Most fellow fishermen are not happy with what OFAD is doing. The fishermen are afraid that if we complain that Our Albacore fish stocks are not ok, then NOAA, and NMFS will take away our fishing rights. It happens all the time. Other fellow fishermen want me/OFAD to shut up and not say anything. All the Fish and Game does is cut us off. They give the US fishermen nothing. NMFS uses our fishing log information against us fishermen.
Not like China where the government subsidizes Albacore fishermen and pays for their boats and fuel. Not like France who gives out grant money to improve their sustainable fisheries. All US fishermen get are restrictions that make it impossible for us to make a living. This is discrimination and intimidation. This is not living by the LAW OF THE SEA.
USA claims to set their standards just the same as “The law of the Sea”, signed by 140 some nations, but USA does not.
Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
 
Article 6 - GENERAL PRINCIPLES
 
6.6 Selective and environmentally safe fishing gear and practices should be further developed and applied, to the extent practicable, in order to maintain biodiversity and to conserve the population structure and aquatic ecosystems and protect fish quality. Where proper selective and environmentally safe fishing gear and practices exist, they should be recognized and accorded a priority in establishing conservation and management measures for fisheries. States and users of aquatic ecosystems should minimize waste, catch of non-target species, both fish and non-fish species, and impacts on associated or dependent species.
 
The Albacore Tuna Troll Fishery fits this profile perfectly! Albacore Trolling is the most environmentally sound tuna fishery in the world. Why are we dying? Why is there still driftnet caught Albacore flooding the US markets?
We, US sustainable fishermen, should be treated with honor and respect. We should be treated like kings and looked upon as setting a good example…
 
All I know is what’s right is right. And this is not right! I will continue to tell the public the truth about what is really happening out here on the Ocean.
 
This is a major dark secret that nobody wants you to know.
 
The ones killed the most by this IUU driftnet fishery are the whales, and sharks, and turtles, and birds that nobody sees or knows about. It all goes unreported!!!
 
Thousands of whales and dolphins killed without anyone knowing that the same driftnets are used to catch the Albacore Tuna that sits on the shelves of our stores.
These Sea creatures cannot speak, and only have the likes of me to cry out for them. 
Stop this madness NOW! 
 
Boycott Major US brands “Chicken of the Sea”, “Starkist Tuna,” and “Bumble Bee”
Their Albacore is not from US sustainable albacore troll fishermen. It is from China!
 
October 1st - 44.00N X 127.40W- Weather is coming up fast. Swells up to 5 foot with 25-30 knots of wind.
 
We decided to take this opportunity to relocate to the south. Ocean Joy, along with 3 other vessels are going to look around Northern California where there are favorable water conditions. We ran into cold water immediately as turned South. No fish was found.
0 fish landed, 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and no marked fish.
Oct. 2nd - 41.40N X 126.40W- Weather is rough and almost unworkable. Moving threw cold water with no fish in it.
0 tuna landed, 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and no marked fish.
Oct. 3rd - 44.00N X 126.00W- Sea conditions improving to 5 foot swells and 25 knots of wind.
 
Water temperature got warmer and we started to catch fish again.
124 Albacore taken, Avg wt 12 lbs, 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and only 4 drift net scratched Albacore.
Oct. 4th - In the same area, but moving to the Southeast along a water temperature edge. Weather moderate.
51 Albacore taken, avg. wt 12 lbs, 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 2 driftnet scratched Albacore Tuna.
 
The fishing conditions are not the same in this area as they are to the North. There are no bird schools to look for, nor are the Tuna schooled up into large schools. Instead, the Albacore are scattered along a water change in temperature edge that runs in the southeast direction. The fish are feeding on small krill instead of bait balls of anchovies. The Albacore are of the same year class as to the North, being that the average weight is still 12 lbs, but show a slight different coloration on their backs. This fish is brighter blue then the fish off of Newport. The amount of driftnet scratched fish has dropped dramatically to nearly nothing. Almost identical to last years observation. Less then 5% driftnet srcatched Albacore caught in this area.
 
Oct. 5th - 39.27N X 125.43W- Seas are calm with 10 knots of wind.
247 Albacore landed, avg. wt. 12 lbs. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 11 driftnet scratched albacore observed.
Oct. 6th - 39.08N X 125.40W-  Weather remains good.
146 Albacore landed, avg wt 12 lbs. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and 4 IUU driftnet marked Tuna.
Oct. 7th - 39.07N X 125.18W- Weather still holding.
64 Albacore taken avg. wt 12 lbs. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, with 3 Albacore scratched from driftnets.
 
Being that our catch rate dropped below 1 ton per day (200 fish), and conditions seemed better to the North, we decided to run back to the North.
Oct. 8th - 40.47N X 126.00W- Weather is kind, but no fish in cooler water.
0 Albacore caught, 0 discards, 0 by-catch
Oct. 9th - 43.00N X 126.11W - Still favorable weather and still in cooler water.
0 Tuna caught, no discards and no by-catch.
Oct. 10th - 44.30 X 128.03- Good weather, but conditions have all changed.
 
The warm water pocket, that the fish have been around all season, has dissipated and is now streaky, and cooling fast. I am afraid the season is coming to an end and best to work our way back home to end it.
0 Albacore taken, 0 discards, 0 by-catch.
Oct. 11th - 42.00N X 127.00W- Weather is good back threw cold water.
0 fish taken, 0 discarded, 0 by-catch.
Oct. 12th - 40.30N X 126.25W- Weather still calm, but no sign of fish.
0 Albacore caught, no discards, and no by-catch.
Oct. 13th - 40.30N X 127.30W- Calm Seas. Engine wont start. Dead in the water with dead batteries.
 
I called on a fellow fisherman to come to our aid. Another Fishing Vessel will be in the area by mid day tomorrow. “No man left behind” kind of thing. We are grateful for the help of our fellow fisherman and shows good reason they call this fishery “A gentleman’s fishery”. I have and will, gladly do the same for others. 
It is the “Code of Conduct”, and we live by it! 
We only wish our US State department would do the same!
 
Oct. 14th - 40.20N X 127.20W- Seas still calm. We received a battery from a fellow fisherman, and are back under way. Heading South for Monterey Bay, CA.
13 Albacore caught, avg. wt 12 lbs. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and no drift net marked fish detected.
Oct.15th - 38.44N X 125.22W - Moderate Seas with 15 knots of breeze.
23 Albacore taken, avg. wt. 12 lbs. 0 discards, 0 by-catch, and no net marked fish detected.
Oct. 16th - 37.22N X 123.16W- Moderate Sea conditions.
 
Fishing lines are brought aboard and stowed away. Trolling poles, or outriggers, pulled aboard and vessel made ready for port.
F/V "Ocean Joy" entered port of Moss Landing, Monterey bay, CA for unloading 16 ton of Albacore Tuna.
This concludes Ocean FAD’s report for 2012.
 
I want to thank NMFS , for not passing on the voices of conserned fishermen threw our fishing log reports that show proof , for the past 10 years, that IUU driftnet activity has been taking place and damaging our Albacore fishery. If it was not for NMFS's neglect, OFAD would not exist today and all this would not be necessary.
Thanks again NMFS, for doing nothing.
 
Over and out.
 

Cptn. John Harder