View Full Version : Mid Water Trawlers

Fly Rod
02-01-2004, 12:08 PM
How long can the population of herring withstand the on slaught of mid water trawling ? ? ?:confused: Here in the 21st centuary we haven't learned how these same boats devastated the european herring fishery almost into extinction. The fishery has grown from just a 1/2 dozen boats to nearly 20, each capable of holding a million pounds. And they are also doing a job on the mackerel.

Not always but frequently these trawlers catch 600,000lbs. in a two hour tow. In todays world of sophisticated bottom sounders and sonars which some are mounted to the net, spot and help keep the net on the fish. They raise and lower the net as needed from the pilot house. It's not like the old days when all you saw was a bleep on the screen , put the net out and tow and you would catch some but not all of the school of fish.

Tuna, cod ,haddock STRIPERS and other fish depend on these bait fish. Here off of Cape Ann the tuna didn't come close to shore this year, there were no herring.

The government says that there is a big bio-mass of herring and mackerel . They also claim that there is two seperate bio -masses of herring, an inshore and off shore . the off shore being around Georges Bank.

I'll give the fishery about two years to collaspe to a point where it won't be veasible to maintain a big commercial fleet.

02-01-2004, 02:43 PM
Fly Rod,

The frustrating thing is that according the best available science, herring are being fished sustainably. However since all of the trawlers are taking these herring in the same places relatively nearby, there has been "localized depletion" of herring. As a result, the herring have moved further offshore (and north). And other species such as tuna and cod have also left looking for them as well. (if you mention this to the herring industry they claim that this shift is due to recent weather patterns).

I think a larger issue here that is being overlooked is the issue of bycatch. There are reports that claim the gear used in the herring fishery is "clean" but then again there are other reports that document massive amounts of bycatch (see attached - the mackerel numbers alone are staggering).

First we need to do something about this localized depletion (cut back effort and/or entry?). Second, we need to insist that more observers are put on these boats to determine what the real deal is with bycatch in the atlantic herring fishery once and for all.

Mike Flaherty
Quincy, MA

Fly Rod
02-01-2004, 03:46 PM
I'm well aware of there allotment of by catch which is 5% So lets just use one million pounds of herring caught=5% = 50,000lbs of by catch per trip you might say. That's allot of by catch though out the year. And yes I know that you have it broken down on stats.
They should have observers on every trip.
Whale watch boats have em randomly.

02-01-2004, 11:02 PM
I agree about observers being on board, at least with some of the boats. Just to get a feel for what is going on. The bycatch is going to change with the seasons, and I would bet the bycatch is higher during the warmer months. During the winter I would bet that the mid-water boats are harvesting mostly herring--for traditionaly the bulk of the mackerel are out in more than sixty fathoms of water. This is the case south of the islands anyway. I've never worked on a herring boat before, but I have made many mackerel trips in the late winter and the early spring. All of this was done well offshore. We had are own bycatch issues then, as any commercial method is going to have.
Are you guys seeing herring boats up north right now?
Or are they all operating south of the Cape?
I see them around here, but I haven't seen any of the really big boats that I saw in November.

Fly Rod
02-03-2004, 04:40 PM
They are fishing south of Block Island.

Just where I do not know.

I know that they have been working on the Mackerel lately.