SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



No Feed No Fish
By Bill Vander Pol


February 09, 2006

This letter is to address the herring fishing regulations that have just been passed by the Board of Fisheries. I read where the Board of Fisheries has again agreed to allow the catching of our dwindling supply of herring. I'm an old fishing seadog from 50 years ago, when I started off the coast of Southern California. As our fish populations started to dwindle some people wanted to protect the anchovy population and the same scientific reasons to keep fishing what I call the feed fish populations.

I am now reading in the Ketchikan news how the Alaska fisheries are handling the herring fishing regulations. I don't know whether you know it or not but the fishing off the coast of California has gotten so bad that if a person catches a fish that weighs three to five pounds he will probably win the jackpot on the cattle fishing boats.

Most of us everyday fishermen said at the time "you take away the feed, the fish will go in decline." That idea was met with scientific data from all the officials in the know and they ridiculed the idea to preserve the fishery at a 20 year earlier level.

Well, we all know what happened in California, now Oregon and Washington are experiencing the same devastating declines in their salmon and halibut catches, and by their own admission they are using a 20% catch of stocks that are over the threshold, and then call this conservative. I have been fishing Alaska over 20 years and have watched the decline in the salmon and halibut catches year after year. In every other segment of the wild habitat of fish, animals, insects, birds, etc., the more feed the bigger the population. I'm here to tell you, no feed, no fish. It's happened in lakes where predator fish were introduced, they ate all the feed and now there are no fish, even the predators are now starving.

But, continuing to fish the herring 10% of stocks over the threshold, history will prove is disastrous, and coming up with smoke and mirrors that the herring is just moving around is ludicrous. I haven't seen a herring run in Herring Bay in over 10 years and in the old days they were there every year.

What I don't understand is the fishermen in the Ketchikan area of Alaska don't seem upset that they must go further and fish harder to keep financially secure. As I watch the decline in the fisheries of southeast Alaska my heart goes out to the fishermen trying to make a living. Yes, I'm old and I've had my day of fabulous fishing, but I feel for the future generations of Alaska fishermen that will just fade away. I seen it happen before and I see it happening again with all the same arguments and scientific wrangling.

I've seen it happen before and I see it happening again with all the same arguments and scientific wrangling. I know I will be called radical, old fashioned, stupid, uninformed, non-understanding, scientifically ignorant and out-of-touch with reality. I gave this letter a lot of thought and a lot of research, and it keeps coming up the same, no feed, no fish. I thank you for your indulgence in reading this letter to the end.

My heart goes out to you people of Alaska, for truly Alaska is the "last frontier." I hope to be in Alaska for another fishing season this spring and summer.

Your friend,

Bill Vander Pol
Castleford, Idaho - USA

About: Bill Vander Pol describes himself as "an old fishing seadog from 50 years ago".



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Ketchikan, Alaska