Humboldt Currents Fall 2014

Casey AllenHumboldt Currents, Marine Protected Areas

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Pacific halibut economic study, especially those who provided leadership like HASA’s Scott McBain and Cliff Hart; Deb Wilson-Vandenberg, CDFW; Joe Tyburczy, Sea Grant; Miki Takada and Dr. Tim Mulligan, HSU; Kristen Sheeran, Taylor Hesselgrave and the folks at Ecotrust.

The Pacific halibut economic study is an important piece of our quest to secure a reasonable catch share for Northern California. The study combined with recent survey data are the nuts and bolts of our request. Our Pacific halibut fishery is relatively new and will continue to grow economically as traveling anglers learn they can catch quality halibut without an expensive trip to Alaska. Human population in our region has not changed much in the last 50 years though we have lost a lot of job opportunities with the decline of timber and commercial fishing industries. As our economy becomes more and more dependent on recreation and tourism, the value of Pacific halibut is growing.

HASA has been invited to attend the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s annual meeting January 26-30, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia. We have enlisted Captain Tim Klassen to attend as he is most equipped to speak as a recreational angler and a businessman. “This year’s meeting is scheduled to open on Monday with presentations on the fishery, the 2014 stock assessment, and the harvest decision table, and conclude on Friday with Commission approval of catch limits and regulations. All public sessions and administrative sessions will be open to the public. These open sessions will also be webcast.” For more information visit the IPHC website: http://www.iphc.int/meetings-and-events/annual-meeting.html.

Work to prepare the environmental documents for the State Lands lease application for the Humboldt Offshore Reef Project is continuing. Adam Wagschal at H. T. Harvey & Associates believes the application will be submitted to the State Lands Commission in December. After a review, we will learn what steps we need to take to obtain permits and begin construction. It is a long process.

The Humboldt MPA Collaborative met for the third time led by Calla Allison, Director of the MPA Collaborative Implementation Project. Most of the discussion was around providing public education through signage, information panels and kiosks. Most of our Marine Protected Areas are hard to access so the signs would be placed at marinas, launch facilities, and visitor centers. The need for boundary markers for the Samoa and South Bay MPAs were discussed. We were reminded that boundary information for all MPAs will be widely available on electronic devices that support GPS. We still felt a physical marker in the bay and on the beach was desirable. The most popular potential project was the production of an MPA video. Everyone agreed this was a great public outreach tool and there were many ideas about content and theme. The big question was whether the short film could be produced within the provided $10,000 budget. Jenifer Savage (Northcoast Environmental Center), Beth Chaton (Humboldt County Office of Education), and Joe Tyburczy (CA Sea Grant) volunteered to co-chair a sub-committee to explore the possibilities.

Many kudos go to Bert Colbert on Banker’s Hours, with buddies Josh Mitchell and Jeffrey Switzer. They arrived at the False Cape for some rockfishing just in time to see two guys in another boat frantically waving their arms. At first Bert thought they were warning him of submerged rocks, but then they both jumped overboard as their open aluminum boat capsized. It only took a few minutes for Bert to motor Banker’s Hours to the stricken anglers and with the help of another boat they pulled the guys out of the cold water. One guy was wearing a life vest and the other was clinging to a throw cushion. Both were so cold after just a few minutes in the water that they could not help their rescuers pull themselves into the boats. Bert volunteered to transport both soggy anglers back to port and ended up transferring them to the USCG off Table Bluff. It is not known what caused the boat to capsize.

My favorite fish story of the season came from Rick Alexander who hooked the biggest halibut of his life. He fought the brute for over 30 minutes in 300 feet of water. The fish shook its massive head and took short powerful runs typical for very large halibut. As Rick’s muscles were running out of gas and with everyone looking over the side for color, ready with the gaff, it turned out to be a half a truck tire. Unfortunately, it came off before they could get it in the boat.

With this the season of giving thanks, I would be remiss not to note that Hank Seeman, Deputy Director of Environmental Services and County Supervisor, Rex Bohn, spearheaded the movement to name the Fields Landing Boat Launch Facility after retired County Supervisor, Jimmy Smith. Hank and Rex engineered a surprise dedication at the facility where approximately 200 people attended, including Congressman Mike Thompson. Jimmy was genuinely surprised and was heard to say, “what the hell is going on here?” See page 4.