Ocean FAD Articles > driftnet scarred albacore 2013

F/V Ocean Joy observes coastal albacore troll fishery
4 Nov 2013

Ocean FAD Report on Coastal Albacore Troll Fishery aboard 
For the past 12 years, Taiwanese & Chinese IUU driftnet fleet have been targeting on North Pacific Albacore. The same tuna stocks that are caught by US and Canadian Artesianal Albacore “Troll and Pole” fisheries.  This fish proves it. 
Albacore tuna are a migratory species that travel from Japan to the U.S. and Canadian west coast seasonally.  IUU driftnet fishing conducted in the western pacific stops this migratory pattern, not only for the albacore, but for all sea creatures such as dolphins, turtles and whales. Why is there is no protection?
July 13, 2013:  F/V Ocean Joy departed Monterey Bay setting out for the Albacore fishing grounds.  Aboard is Captain John-Boy Harder and new observer and crewmember Kristy Faure, who is taking photos and documenting our season.
Just before departure, we are informed that the world market price has dropped 30% to 1979 prices of $1,800- per ton, due to a flood on the market made by the Asian tuna fleet.
July 24, 2013: Our position is approximately 44.38 North/125.55 West. Around 80 miles west of Newport Oregon, which just happens to be the new HQ of NOAA.  By this time we have observed that two out of ten fish brought aboard have marks or scratches made by driftnets.
The fish in this area are 14-16 lbs in weight which puts them in the 3-4 year class. Some of the tuna fish bare scars that may have been from last year, yet some fish have light scratches that appear to be fresh this season.
July 26 - 30 we remained in the same area taking pictures. 
By August 1, we moved north off the Columbia River. Then by the 4th we ended our trip into Westport, WA. We encountered scratched fish the whole way.
After unloading our fish, we left Westport on the 8th of August. We caught our 1st driftnet marked albacore just 50 miles off shore.
As we moved towards the south, the fish size grew smaller, but fish still showed scratches. These 12 lb fish must have passed through a driftnet earlier in the season. These scratches look fresh.
August 28th we returned to Westport for unloading and crew change. We returned to the sea on September 1st and headed south again. This time all the way to Eureka, Northern CA. We found driftnet scratched fish there too. 40.35 N x 125.32 W on the 4th of September.
On September 6th we headed north all the way into Canadian waters. By September 15th, we found ourselves off of Vancouver Island, and caught this fish with gill net embedded in it’s body. Everywhere we fished, we had a sign of IUU driftnet activity.
In conclusion, IUU driftnet fishing continues to target albacore tuna in competition with local west coast sustainable “Troll & Pole” fisheries. NOAA, NMFS, & Department of State could stop this illegal fishing anytime, but choose not to act. 
A good reason for this is the three US major tuna labels were sold to Asian countries, along with US super purse seine vessels. These purse seine vessels catch every kind of tuna other then Albacore. Today, Chinese purse seine vessels, with only a US paper captain & his permit onboard, catch tuna to be sold in the US. The US purse seine industry would not want to jeopardize any negotiations between US & China, Taiwan or Korea, by not buying IUU driftnet caught albacore from the same country. After all, they own the companies. 
Again, Albacore Tuna is not targeted by purse seine vessels. Driftnet vessels target albacore.
In the mean time, major canners such as Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, & Starkist buy & sell this fish to you while the whole ocean suffers.
Shame on those who know better. Shame on us all!

John Harder