Ludger Dochtermann of Kodiak – Alaska Board of Fish & Game

Alaska Board of Fish & Game

Re: Board of Fisheries Statewide Crab Reinstituting Reasonable Crab Pot Limits

 Attn: Taryn O’Connor-Brito, Board Support Section

P.O. Box 1030; Dillingham, AK 99576

Tel: 907.8425142 Fax: 907.8425514

February 22, 2017

Dear Board of Fisheries members:

My name is Ludger Dochtermann of Kodiak, and I own two crab vessels, the F/V Northpoint and F/V Stormbird. Like all others in the fleet, we are deeply affected by the recent sinking of the F/V Destination off St. George Island and the loss of her entire crew.  The Stormbird is also fishing out of St. George this season.

It is obvious that icing played a large part in that sinking, and word is that the vessel had an excessive number of pots aboard at the time.  Tarps were ripped off and found among the flotsam along with buoys and a life ring. The weather at the time made for severe conditions and risky business.

It is challenging to parse between proposals, regulations, and policy, and just plain duty. The IFQ fisheries were instituted for privatization; and a federally imposed IFQ system came into being without NPFMC and U.S. Senate testimonies by vessel architects, load-line engineers, USCG safety officers, insurance experts and experienced captains discussing the specific concerns of safety. Safety began to improve when the earlier CDC NIOSH efforts on dockside inspections were instituted not by IFQs.

What IFQs did was take most of the boats off the waters, statistically warping incident counts, while not reducing the total number of pots.  Under the resulting cavalier attitude of let them have as many pots as they want,” vessels often now use hundreds upon hundreds of pots.  Ive been displeased by this practice, believing the total number of pots per vessel should be restricted by pot limits, as before IFQs.

At this point, given the reminder in the recent tragedy, I believe that this one falls under your mantel of duty, and obligation for policy that backs the NIOSH effort, not one that feeds the IFQ enrichment model. The Board can send a message regarding the best conduct of fishing practices, as remembrance that the lives aboard are worth far more than crabs. Please institute lower, reasonable pot limits again.

 Sincerely, Ludger W. Dochtermann

F/V STORMBIRD, F/V NORTH POINT P.O. Box 714; Kodiak, AK 99615-0714

Telephone: 907-486-5450 — Cell: 206-245-5153 — Fax: 907-486-2272