Apr 29, 2016

Proposal by the Trinidad Bay Fishermen's Association seeks to mitigate damage locally caused by domoic acid levels

This is the entire text of the letter dated today by Mr. Craig Goucher, president of the Trinidad Bay Fisherman's Association:


"Dear Director Bonham,

On Thursday April 28, commercial Dungeness crab fishermen from California's northern ports
(Crescent City. Trinidad, Eureka and Ft. Bragg) met via conference call. The purpose of the meeting
was to craft a management option to permit opening the D.crab season in the northern management
area. After considerable discussion regarding the inconsistent pass/fail results of Trinidad test crabs and the fact that two thirds of the normally scheduled season has now passed, north coast fishermen
respectfully request that the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) consider the following proposal:

1. Open commercial D.crab fishing from the OR/CA border south to Patrick's Point (41.08 degrees N.
latitude).
2. Maintain a closed area from Patrick's Point to 6 miles north of the Humboldt Bay North Jetty
(42.52 degrees N. latitude), while continuing domoic acid testing.
3. Open commercial fishing from 6 miles north of the Humboldt Bay North Jetty south to the
Mendocino/Sonoma county line.
4. Permit the delivery of crab caught in open areas into the Port of Trinidad.
Obviously, this option is least advantageous to the Trinidad fleet. Logistically, given that the Trinidad
fleet is comprised entirely of smaller boats, displacing that fleet to other ports is untenable, posing an
unnecessary burden on Trinidad fishermen. However. opening from north of Patrick's Point would allow Trinidad boats to fish at least some part of their normal grounds. When combined with permitting thelocal fleet to deliver into their home port, this proposal becomes much more viable. We believe that thiswould pose no problem to DFW Enforcement given that only 12 boats will be fishing out of Trinidadand that the offloading facility accommodates only a Trinidad style vessel.


The Eureka fleet too is compromised by this proposal by displacing all of the fishing effort into a muchmore confined area. Typically, the Eureka fleet fishes from Trinidad to Cape Mendocino, fairly evenly distributed over nearly 30 miles of coastline. Extending the Eureka zone north of the North Jetty would provide significant relief to the local fleet. Despite the fact that the Eureka fleet would still be concentrated into little more than half its' normal fishing area, this proposal has strong support with that fleet as the one remaining option that gets boats working as soon as possible.
Though this proposal is a departure from more preferable management area openings. there is near
unanimous support with north coast fishermen for this approach. This option opens nearly 175 miles of coastline to fishing while effectively isolating the one continued problematic test site; it allows all north coast fishermen to fish at least some part of their local grounds, sooner rather than later, or perhaps not at all. Additionally, while crab quality at the present time is reported as excellent, the inevitable clutch/molt phase of the the D.crab life cycle continues to approach. Thus, north coast fishermen consider it imperative that the harvest begin without further delay. Even if adopted in the most timely manner, less than one third of the normal season will remain. Time is of the essence.
With the onset of the domoic acid event last October, commercial D.crab fishermen and managers alike were caught in a most unpredictable and abnormal situation. Though District 10/South opened to fishing in late March, the north coast remains as the one area on the West Coast that has not yet
harvested crab this season. The present situation requires a more nimble, creative solution than time
afforded in past months. We believe that this proposal can get the north coast fleet fishing relatively
soon without compromising public health concerns or public confidence in California's most valued
seafood product. North coast fishermen respectfully encourage DFW to adopt and implement this
management proposal as soon as possible."

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