Report from Sitka

It is being reported that the new head on weight requirement is causing major problems on the first few halibut loads coming into Sitka. Local processors are weighing fish head on, taking fish out of totes, cutting heads, putting fish back in totes, and reweighing, then taking them out of totes to sort for size and weight splits, adding extra handling of the fish, ice and slime issues, and a fair bit of extra time. 

On top of these concerns, NMFS /RAM deducting 1.25% more weight off the fishermen’s QS on the first load that has been weighed head on and processed than the final weight the processor got when the fish were re-weighed head off, which is the weight basis for paying fishermen, which amounts to a $900 difference on a 6,000 pound delivery (of course the fishermen expects to be paid based on what came of his quota but the processor can’t really afford to pay for fish he doesn’t have).  While once thought workable, folks are thinking differently now. 

While no specific solutions are being offered – the IPHC has reminded us that this requirement is to provide a better estimate of total removals of Pacific halibut to improve management of the stock. This requirement removes any bias introduced by the variation in head cuts among ports/processors and provides a consistent coast-wide approach for catch accounting.

(Photo: Unidentified DFSU Brother and Koll Bruce on the Evening Star)