Word from the west coast fishermen of Pacific Albacore Trollers ass. Int. The true stewards of the Ocean. Regarding the movie on Netfix called "Seaspiracy." This movie exposes the gory truth about what has been happening on our Oceans. If you have seen this movie you must agree, it is sickening and shameful. Believe me when I say, “it gets worse.”
You’re probably wondering why tuna fishermen would say “don’t eat fish”. The answer is easy & just as seaspiracy states. If we don’t stop eating fish, there won’t be any fish left to eat. It’s already happening. Our oceans are being overfished at an alarming rate by China/Taiwan. We, North American fishermen, happen to be responsible fishermen and try our best to preserve & protect our oceans.
We want to clear the air and let it be known that not all fishermen are trying to deplete the Oceans. We do not catch more than the ocean will allow us. For the past 20 years, our albacore stocks have been hammered by illegal unregulated and unreported (IUU) driftnet fishing. Heck, we jig fishermen can’t even catch enough to make a living, and our fishery is deemed sustainable.
Oh, that’s right, there’s no such thing as sustainable fishing, according to Captain Paul Watson from Sea Shepard. If we were a sustainable fishery, we’d be catching fish like crazy. We’d be pulling fish onboard till the cows come home. If we want to save our oceans and our planet, stop eating fish.
If people were not lied to, or mislead by the “dolphin safe” sticker, or if “MSC” labels were, in fact true, we would truly be a sustainable fishery and you would not be eating dirty white meet tuna. That would mean we would be protected from any other methods of fishing dominating ours. Thus, infringing on our benefits along with negatively altering the natural habitat of the sea.
The 1st concern, in the movie, was about the beached whales and the fishing gear in their bellies. Then Ali, the author, went to Japan to witness the slaughter of the whales for the simple reason as to catch more tuna fish.
Fishermen are ruthless, but whales can be cruel too. Whales are very smart and will target a boat, stripping all the fish off their line, like plucking grapes from a vine. The whale no longer needs to catch the fish swimming free. They only need to follow the fishing boat around till they get full. Even after they have had enough to eat, they may continue to nibble on each fish just because they can. After all, they are at the top of the food chain.
They are king. Then again, if there was a lot of fish around for the whales to eat, who’s to say the whales would not spare the fishermen and catch & eat their own fish. Especially if the fishermen are not harassing the whales & always trying to kill them. At one time, this held to be true. Hence, “Only take what the Ocean will allow.”
The difference between responsible or irresponsible and greedy fishing practices. Sadly, as it is, most Asian countries are like Japan. They go around killing Dolphins & whales wide open wherever they go. It's like they declare war on the mammals because they interfere with their fishing & it’s acceptable in their culture.
They are encouraged, by their superiors & fish markets, to shoot dolphins at random. Whenever they come up to the bow of the boat to play, it’s like open season for them. All day long. Truly sad.
Ali goes on about “following the money”. Nothing truer than this. Ali claimed Japan’s Mitsubishi co. controlled 40% of the Bluefin market…. Believe me, they control much more than that. Almost all of what is caught in the Pacific Ocean gets passed by Mitsubishi, one way or another.
I remember the 1st time I heard of the Mitsubishi co. I thought of the car company. We, Pacific Albacore Trollers, were transshipping tuna to a freezer ship in the middle of the Ocean, back in 2002. Just before the freezer ship was fully loaded, the fish stopped biting. The few fish that were being caught started bearing driftnet scratches on their sides.
The agency we were ordering our freezer ships from was asking us if & when we wanted our next freezer ship. I explained that our fishing dropped off dramatically and that a ship may not be needed. The agent passed on that our competitors had just ordered a ship from Mitsubishi and was in charge.
Just about that time, Taiwanese & Chinese IUU driftnet fleet started showing up around our Jig fleet. It was further explained to me that Mitsubishi controls much of the transshipping going on in the Pacific. Bait, squid, tuna, whatever is transshipped on the high seas having to do with fish, Mitsubishi co. is either related or knows about it.
That goes for legal or illegal fish. Much of the fish that is loaded on freezer ships & transshipped on the high seas is bought & sold at sea. It’s all about the money. The fish going to the highest bidder.
The big money in our fishery has always been the US canneries. Bumble Bee, Starkist & Chicken of the Sea (Big fish) were involved in buying & ordering our freezer ships. They also control the market price & whether they were even going to buy our fish. Big fish quit buying American caught albacore since the early 80’s.
Ever since we started our “offshore” fishery & discovered the albacore stocks in the mid-North Pacific, “big fish” negotiated deals with the Asian driftnet fishery to harvest our albacore stocks. They could catch it cheaper & much more tonnage to keep up with the demand.
“Big fish” is now owned by the Asian countries. Chicken of the Sea is owned by Thai Union. They flat out told us they were going to take over, & they did. Bumble Bee Tuna, who dealt with Unicord, shut down their cannery in Honolulu, HA. just as Pacific albacore trollers lined the harbor full of fish. Go figure.
That same year, the price dropped $600 per ton. They also run a monopoly, or price fixing. Whatever one cannery dose, so dose the others. At this very moment, 2022, Starkist is the only albacore buyer in American Samoa.
They control the Island now that Samoa Packing shut down and then forcing Tri Union out of business just a few years back. Starkist, now owned by Korea, along with the other big fish, put the “Dolphin Safe” sticker & now “MSC” label on their cans. That alone is fraudulent, in my eyes. The long-standing joke around the docks is the Captains of the Asian fleet would wipe their ass with the “dolphin safe” document, then turn it in. It meant nothing. There was no enforcement to check the fish, especially with the “at sea” transshipping.
The albacore tuna sold buy “big fish” dose NOT sell you “dolphin safe” albacore, nor do they support American sustainable fishing. If America, & the world, would stop eating fish coming from “Big fish” which is around 80% of the fish on the shelves, maybe China (& Taiwan) would curb their overfishing. China has 17,000 fishing boats registered to fish in WCPFA, American has less than 300 boats. Does that sound fare? China is out of control in international waters & the industry & government agencies know it. Freedom of the sea, “Freedom of fishing”, does not exist.
In our eyes, if America would have stood STRONG with the United Nations on enforcing a total ban on high seas driftnets, back in 1989-1991, the Oceans would be cleaner, safer & not as overfished. There would be a lot less plastic in the sea too. Instead, there is a driftnet moratorium in place which is a giant loophole to allow this destructive fishery to continue, leaving their nets scattered all over the oceans.
Pacific Albacore Trollers were the 1st to alert the public about the destruction of driftnets in the Pacific in 1982 (as WFOA). We have been crying out ever since, but our outcries fall on deaf ears & shunt out by the powers to be. We, the sustainable fishermen, are speaking out one last time before we are depleted completely. The ocean has been unproductive for our fishery for decades. Please, STOP eating “big fish” & ban driftnets in international waters. Pray it’s not too late. Don’t say the fishermen did not warn you.
We, want to give a special thanks to Ali Tabrizi for making the Seaspiracy movie. More truth must be told. If you want to eat fish, source your products. Buy US & Canadian caught albacore or nothing at all.
What makes Pacific Albacore trollers so sustainable as a fishery?
For many reasons starting with:
We cannot or will not deplete our resources or stocks of fish. After we are done fishing, there is always fish left under the boat that remain in the ocean. By using barbless hooks to catch our albacore, we only capture the hungry ones. Not all fish are hungry or easily fooled by our artificial bait called “Jigs”. At times, the fish will just not bite, aka “off the bite”. On an average, fish may only bite 3 hrs. per day. This minimizes our catch rate but assures the fact that the stocks will remain healthy.
We have 0-1% by-catch. West coast fishermen have advanced an age old fishing method using large “Trolling Poles”, lowered on each side of the vessel. Lures, or jigs, are connected to these poles and then drug threw the water at a curtain speed that attract Albacore tuna to bite. It is truly an act of nature, that albacore tuna, like no other fish, will continue to follow our boats around and bite the jigs that allows us to be highly productive. It is not uncommon to catch 1 ton (2,000 lb.’s) or 150 fish per day with only two crew on board, yielding thousands of dollars for 1 good day.
After fishing for 30 days, catching 6,500 fish, we might catch 3 fish of another species besides albacore. Maybe 2-3 yellowtail or a few skipjack tuna. I have gone on long trips without catching 1 fish other than albacore. It is truly amazing how unique this trait is to the albacore species.
If say there was a shark caught while trying to eat a fish on the line, our barbless hooks make it easy to release the animal back into the sea with “0” mortality. Undersized fish are carefully dehooked back into the sea and usually swim right away.
We leave no footprint below the water. There is no long fishing line or nets to be discarded or lost at sea. No lost fishing gear except a few broken off jigs. We stow all our plastic on board & discard in a dumpster while in port. Our only footprint is the burning of 1-200 gal. of deasil per day which is very minimal compared to other fishing vessels, processors, or seiners.
We catch “0” dolphins or whales. Dolphin will swim right with the boat and feed all around us without getting caught on our jigs. They are too smart & not fooled by our jigs. We have had killer whales come right up to the boat to take our caught albacore from the line, but never get caught by our hooks.
I have fished for over 45 years and have yet to catch a dolphin. I had one get snagged one time but broke the letter line. Sometimes, the great albatross will get hungry & go after the jigs. If one dose catch jig, we carefully bring it in to the boat, take out the hook, let it rest for a bit till it is revived, then release it back to the sea.
As albatross are sacred to us fishermen, and some being endangered, we strive for a “0” mortality rate. They are not the smartest birds but are hearty and always welcomed around the fishing grounds. Many times, the birds & the dolphins & whales lead us to good fishing. We honor them and try not to harm them in any way.
Yes, there is such a thing as sustainable fishing. Working in harmony with nature, Pacific albacore troll & pole fishing, using “hook & line”, is proud to say, is one of the most sustainable fisheries in all the oceans along with pole boats (bait boats) from all nations.
Only if net fishing, for this species, and others, is eliminated completely, as requested by the United Nations 30 years ago, will this fishery ever become prosperous again. We remain the true “ghost” fishery. What a shame. All focus and recognition should be on us, being a sustainable fishery. We should have strong support with subsidies along with state-of-the-art fish transponders to track migration patterns…
There is so many ways to advance this fishery, yet we can’t even get recognition. We are censored.
Now China passed a law to turn off their AIS transponders, going back to the dark side. It does not appear China has any intentions of cutting back on their fishing effort anytime soon.
Now that you know of us, please do not forget us when we are gone. Enjoy your chicken & corned beef, tofu, etc. as the fish in the sea, with us, will be gone.
Stop eating “Big Fish”! It’s dirty.