Archive for the ‘regulations’ Category

24th November 2009

November 27, 2009
Preparations in Timaru for sailing went well, most of the crew had arrived by Thursday 19th for an all day ACC training seminar while Francois and I were at the Wellington briefing. On Friday / Saturday fuel and stores were loaded leaving Saturday night for the boys to celebrate Christmas, New year, birthdays and whatever else they will miss during the next 10 or 12 weeks at sea. Amazingly, all crew turned too at 08:00hrs Sunday morning for last minute stores and lock down hatchers for sailing.

Just before we left the wharf, Greg (Sanfords deep water fleet manager), came aboard and wished us well for the coming season and a reminder about safety on board in Antarctic conditions. He also explained the conditions and changes to our permit from last season and emphasized the importance of compliance in an internationally managed fishery.

The weather forecast looks reasonable and I expect we will enter CCAMLR waters on about the 26th. However, I don’t think we have to travel too far south to find our 1st ice berg, by all accounts they are drifting north to meet us this year.

Greg J addressing the crew in the mess room just before sailing at noon on Sunday.

 Rgds: John B.

22nd November 2009

November 24, 2009
During the last month we have all been busy with preparations for the 2009-10 Ross Sea Toothfish season.

It all starts in Hobart where CCAMLR (Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) members gather every year. Scientists and government officials from around the world convene to set and agree on sustainable catch allocations for all fishing within the CCAMLR jurisdiction. This includes area 88.1 and 88.2 which we regard as our Ross Sea fishery.

For us, the outcome was great….. Once again, all four New Zealand vessels were allocated licenses and the scientists have recommended a slight increase for the total allowable Toothfish catch for the coming season. But, there are a few more regulations and research requirements attached to our permit conditions this season.

The CCAMLR round of negotiations is followed by another meeting in Wellington just before we sail for the Ross Sea. This time, representatives from MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade), MFISH (Ministry of Fisheries), the Observer Program, NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere), SEAFIC (Seafood Industry Council), RCCNZ (Rescue Coordination Centre NZ), LINZ (Land Information NZ) and our team from the ITC (Industry Toothfish Committee) all get together to make sure everyone is up to speed with the latest research and permit requirements. Every year the number of participants to this meeting increases, this time there were around 43 people attending and everyone was involved in some way with the Ross Sea Toothfish Fishery.

Francois lining up with people from the Observer program, NIWA, Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Fishery for lunch.

Jeff (Skipper of Janas for Sealord), Pete (Skipper of San Aotea II), Me, Greg (Sanford Deep Water Fleet manager), Trevor (MFAT), Jack (Sanford research and developments).

We sail south on Sunday 22nd November 12:00hrs…..by all accounts I don’t think we have to go far to see our first ice berg.

Rgds: John B.

4th September 2009

September 8, 2009

As the wharf space in Port Stanley is limited, when the catch verification process is finished, and we have loaded the stores and supplies we need for the trip home, we must move away and allow the next boat in line to start their verification process.

The last thing we need is about 154 ton of fuel to top up our tanks before we head home. Usually we do that from the wharf, but at this time, shore supplies were low and we had to go alongside a small trading fuel tanker in Berkley Sound, just around the corner from Port Stanley. That went well, and we were finally on our way by 02:30hrs on Friday morning. First waypoint is for Cape Horne, about a day ½ South-west from the Falklands.

Home boys

This shot was taken just before we left the wharf at Port Stanley.
From left, Grant, Masa and Shooter have been aboard since April and are looking forward to the flight home on Saturday, it’s been a long haul for them, 5 months at sea. Migs (from Sulivan Shipping) has been our agent for the last 4 seasons and he takes care of coordinating customs, port authorities, stores, equipment and just about anything we need while we’re at the Falklands. Dean (on the right) is our vessel manager, he has flown over from NZ to meet the ship. Dean is kept busy during the verification process working alongside the MSC people that weigh our fish and eventually issue the very important  “Catch Documentation” paperwork.

Rgds: John B.

2nd September 2009

September 8, 2009
Port Stanley when the sun comes out looking South West.

Port Stanley when the sun comes out looking South West.

We have been alongside the wharf in Port Stanley for 3 days now and the crew have just finished reloading. This is called the “catch verification process”, we must unload all of catch and have the weight checked by inspectors from the South Georgia government. This has to be done to satisfy requirements for MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) accreditation. Without this we can not sell our fish anywhere in the world.

Each fish is wrapped in a plastic bag, the big fish go into sacks and the smaller fish are packed in 20kg boxes. Each sack and box has a barcode label that is scanned during the unload. At the end, our reported catch figures must be the same, or very close, to the figures the inspectors have before they will officially verify our catch. This season we had a difference of 0.08%. To the best of our knowledge nobody has come close to that level of accuracy in this fishery before. We’re patting ourselves on the back for that.

Unloading in the snow, FIPASS wharf, Stanley.

Unloading in the snow, FIPASS wharf, Stanley.

Reloading from the holding containers, into the cargo nets to be lifted back aboard.

Reloading from the holding containers, into the cargo nets to be lifted back aboard.

Tomorrow we take bunkers (Fuel) and start heading for home.

Rgds: John B.

22nd August 2009

August 24, 2009

As part of our licensing requirements in the South Georgia & South Sandwich fishery we must undertake to tag and release a percentage of the Toothfish we catch.

This season we have tagged almost 800 fish from both areas. At US$18.00 per kilo that equates to about NZ $75,000 worth of Toothfish we have tagged and returned to the water. It is a high price to pay but necessary for the proper, effective management of a sustainable fishery.

So far this trip we have recaptured and recorded details off 106 previously tagged Toothfish, 14 of those fish were tagged by us during the last 4 seasons we have fished in South Georgia.

Masa measuring TOP

 

In this photo, Masa has carried this fish from the hauling station to the live fish holding tank where it will calm down for a while before being measured, weighed, tagged and then released.

 

 

Sandy tagging

In the second photo, Sandy and Juliet are tagging Toothfish. There are about 6 more fish in the tank waiting to be done. Then we have to choose our moment to put them in the water otherwise the Seals will get them before they’ve gone 10 metres. Sometimes we have to hold them in the tank for hours before letting them go.

Rgds: John B.

20th August 2009

August 21, 2009

For today’s comment it is worth looking at a website of an organization that is committed to stamping out Illegal and Unregulated Toothfish Piracy.

A large number of companies that operate in the CCAMLR Toothfish fishery, along with gear supplier and fish wholesalers, are members of an organisation called “COLTO” (Coalition Of Legal Toothfish Operators).

If you check out  their website you can read all about the hard work that goes on behind the scene to combat illegal fishing on the highseas.

Sue and Noel in the galley holding my "COLTO " T shirt. These shirts are hard to come by. They will have their own one day.

Sue and Noel in the galley holding my "COLTO " T shirt. These shirts are hard to come by. They will have their own one day.

Rgds: John B.

30th July 2009

August 3, 2009
We can’t let this day pass without giving special thanks to Emma Jones.

Emma has been one of the Chief Fisheries and Customs Officers at King Edward Point in South Georgia for the last few seasons and today is her last day before heading home to warmer climates and, no doubt, a change in life style.

Every day we send our daily catch reports to the team at KEP; from there they monitor the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the fishery and advise all vessels when fishing areas are about to close as the TAC for that area is reached. In return we get a comprehensive news bulletin every week with local and international news reports from around the world, mainly those countries that have vessels licensed in the South Georgia Fishery. The open and friendly working relationships between fishers and fisheries management in South Georgia is a great example of how a sustainable fishery should be managed.

This photo was taken during our preseason briefing and customs clearance in 2007.

This photo was taken during our preseason briefing and customs clearance in 2007. From left: Andrew (MRAG observer) Me, Emma, Sarah (British Antarctic

Rgds: John B.

23rd July 2009

July 24, 2009

Research fishing, the collection of biological data and the tag and release of Toothfish and Skates are just some of the many responsibilities we must undertake so this fishery continues to be properly managed and compliant with (MSC) the Marine Stewardship Certification authority.

Sam is our official observer for this trip. He is appointed by a British “Marine Research Advisory Group” (MRAG) to help us comply with all the relevant fishing regulations, collect important biological data, record species by-catch, details of tag release and recaptured fish. Every week Sam sends his report to the South Georgia Fisheries base, at King Edward Point where his records are compared with our daily reports for accuracy.

Adam (on the left) is assisting Sam by writing down the details of a small recaptured Toothfish as Sam calls them out (weight, length, sex, gonad state, general condition and tag numbers). You can just see the little yellow tag behind the fishes dorsal fin.

Adam (on the left) is assisting Sam by writing down the details of a small recaptured Toothfish as Sam calls them out (weight, length, sex, gonad state, general condition and tag numbers). You can just see the little yellow tag behind the fishes dorsal fin.

Each time a Toothfish is recaptured the crew get $10US. Sam will hand out the cash to the crew that spot the fish when we get back to Port Stanley. This is a good incentive for the crew and helps create some interest in the tag and release program. After all…it is their wages that gets put back in the water in the first place.

Rgds: John B.

18th July 2009

July 20, 2009

At the start of setting each line, first the floats and GPS beacon are thrown over, then around 2 kilometers of down line to reach the bottom. Each end of a line is held by two 40kg anchors and two 40kg chains. Usually we work between four lines in the area we choose to fish. That is around 1.3 ton of anchors and chains that have to be manhandled about the deck every day just to hold each line so it doesn’t move. When the weather gets foul we put extra chain on the down lines to be sure they stay in position.

On their shift: Chevy (right) and Aaron are responsible for connecting everything together as it goes over the stern while setting. They need their wits about them, a rope turned about a wrist or a foot in the bite of a line would have them over the side in a flash.  For this reason that part of the setting operation is monitored by two closed circuit cameras and continuous voice communications monitored on the bridge. The skipper or 1st mate must watch and listen to every move while the stern doors are open for setting.

On their shift: Chevy (right) and Aaron are responsible for connecting everything together as it goes over the stern while setting. They need their wits about them, a rope turned about a wrist or a foot in the bite of a line would have them over the side in a flash. For this reason that part of the setting operation is monitored by two closed circuit cameras and continuous voice communications monitored on the bridge. The skipper or 1st mate must watch and listen to every move while the stern doors are open for setting.

Note: The lead core back bone or main line is to make the line sink faster and stay out of reach of foraging seabirds. We are proud to report we have not caught a single seabird during 11 years of Toothfish operations. The CCAMLR and MFish observers monitor our activity very closely when it comes to seabird safe fishing practice.

14th July 2009

July 14, 2009

I have finally got a photo of Francois for you.

Francois is our compliance officer/factory manager. He is responsible for keeping the records straight and sending our daily catch reports to the Sanford office, South Georgia Government and CCAMLR.

To comply with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation we have to provide what is called a Chain of Custody (COC). For the system to work, our daily reporting must be accurate to the kilo when we unload our catch at the end of the trip. It is a reasonably complicated system and Francois manages this very well.

The bottom line is: every fish we catch has a barcode attached that will go with it showing the time and location it was caught for the consumer, wherever that may be. If the paper work isn’t accurate we could loose access to our market, or worse, we could lose our license to catch fish. We must forgive Francois if he looks a little stressed.

Francois working at his office station on the port side of the wheelhouse. As you can see he is still a little sensitive about his hair cut….. I think it looks fine….. besides, it will eventually grow again!

Francois working at his office station on the port side of the wheelhouse. As you can see he is still a little sensitive about his hair cut….. I think it looks fine….. besides, it will eventually grow again!

NB: Francois has asked me if he can spruce the photo up a little before sending it through the satellite system. Its ok with me…..I assume he has done that.

Rgds: John B.