SB: What kind of fish? Where? Where fish sold?
RJ: Pacific Whiting or more commonly called Hake. This fish was not used much until the fishery developed large mid-water nets and the boats installed refrigeration systems so we could chill them rapidly. This fish spoils very fast but now the boats chill sea water and we can chill them and bring them into port cold. They are processed within 24 hours of being caught. A boat like our holds 130,000 lbs and we try to deliver every day. Some boats hold up to 450,000 lbs.
There is a small season in Calf. now and the main season starts on June 15th. The quota is about 700 million lbs. The season is an Olympic system – meaning, first come first served, so it is very competitive. The goal is to get your fish, get in and unload and get back out. If anything goes wrong on your trip and you miss a day the boat loses a days earnings. The nets are very complex and if not used correctly will not work. I am somewhat of an expert in this area.
This is a very inexpensive fish used to makes fake crab meat and fish sticks. A lot of it goes to Eastern Europe and the Middle East as a headed whole fish. Cheap protein for poor countries. Last year the price was & cents a pound but they hope to get 12 cents or more this year.
The problem with this type of fishery is that on these larger boats handling large nets and huge amounts of fish any mistake can be serious. Not only can you lose fishing time but people can get hurt.
ROD [ hope I didn’t wear you out ]
SB: Is there ever a concern of wiping out the stocks of targeted fish like cod in the Atlantic? Curious if there is any long-term view re such management? Is 700 mil lbs. a drop in the renewable bucket or does anyone really know??? Just think of depleted salmon and steelhead runs.
RJ: These fish reproduce rapidly and have a short life span compared to other fish. Large areas of the west coast are off-limits and fishing is really regulated. There are a few long living fish that have been over fished and its like the spotted owl situation in logging. We would be allowed more hake but we are limited by the amount of these other fish we catch.
Its called by-catch and if we catch to many of these other fish they shut us down. They even have camera’s on the boats to keep us honest. Knowledge of the ocean bottom to stay away from areas where this by-catch lives is important.
A lot of fishing problems are caused by boat captains that don’t know or don’t care enough to worry about the future of the future of fishing. One or two poor captains can make everyone look bad.
Rod has been involved in the commercial fishing industry for 40+ years and is a gentleman’s gentleman.