Political Inaction

Lu Dochtermann, a 72 year old still in his wheelhouse for multiple annual fisheries, continues to obtain a simple and swift solution to the problem plaguing the North Pacific Halibut longline fleet.  When the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s surveys resulted in a severe cutback over many years now, in the total commercial allowable catch, the calculus of profits aboard many vessels changed to the point of dire circumstances.  Part of the problem is the high lease rates taken right off the top, but fuel costs are prohibitive, especially when combined with needless travel and at-sea time required by senseless regulations that failed to anticipate a 73% drop in ALC and individual quotas.


For weeks, Dochtermann has been asking for some immediate action, and today, again takes up the cause with Senator Lisa Murkowski and her fishery aide, Jay Sterne in Washington DC with the following email.  It is pretty remarkable that given all those who understand the problem that a temporary exemption can’t take place immediately; at the least an understanding that NMFS OLE will not pursue cases on this particular matter for the interim.  Lu does a service to fishermen nationwide by explaining what the catch share and immense regulatory burden brings.


From: Ludger Dochtermann [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 12:48 PM To: [email protected]; [email protected] Cc: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; Dan Hull; [email protected]; David Long; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; Eric Olson; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected] Subject: Immediate Need for exemption on max. Halibut quota aboard 1 vessel


NB: We have already communicated at length over the past few weeks with Sen. Begich and Bob King.  We need ACTION!


Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK)

709 Hart Senate Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Main:  202-224-6665

Fax: 202-224-5301

[email protected]




Dear Lisa and Jay:

We need your immediate assistance in securing a temporary exemption to current regulations prohibiting adequate halibut quota to be fished aboard a single vessel due to the far-reaching cuts in overall commercial halibut fisheries. Can we please get a rule suspension (NPFMC) and temporary injunction against having NMFS enforcing the existing rule of maximum permitted per vessel and thereby avoid a NOVA, so that we can operate with reasonable business sense and make a profit?

You are likely aware that the drastic cutbacks in the IPHC determined North Pacific halibut fisheries has meant that permit/quotaholders are now facing serious alterations to our business expenses and plans. When the North Pacific Fishery Management Council tailored the maximum level of quota allowed on board for a vessel in the various zones of fishing, it failed to encompass a dismissal or exclusion clause, or redemptive qualification – call it what you may – for cases of drastic overall stock guideline harvest levels for commercial fishermen.

If the 73% cutback in overall Allowable Catch Limits is not a case for recognizing the serious impacts on business expenses – given the huge quota leases coming off the top & the exorbitant cost of diesel fuel, the major expense – then please tell us what is?!  With quotas stated in percentages then taken by the ACL/GHL it determines the pounds allowed.

I have quota that could be split onto two vessels I own, and the ability to bring some leased quota in from parties who have no vessels of their own, but the regulations will not allow me to fish all of that on the grounds without returning to Kodiak, then outfitting my second boat for a second fishing trip.  In practice, this means trying to save fuel costs by lumbering back to Kodiak on only one engine, slowly, and then re-outfitting aboard my second vessel.  This doubles crew time and costs, complicates bait and fuel purchases, and other negative, necessary costs imposed on my business.

It then means the second boat has to retrace the same path, hundreds of miles West of Kodiak to pass through the Peninsula and head north to the Pribilofs and adjacent grounds (area 4D etc.).  This is wasteful and costly, and more.

This year, we will still be able to fish area 4, but well placed rumblings are indicating that in 2015, that area will be closed to halibut fishing altogether.  It is imperative that those of us who can fish the quotas of parties who do not own vessels be able to help provide a return on their books as well.  In my case, I am training the young recipients of inherited quota aboard my vessel – fighting back the greying of the fleet; as well as eager to fish their distant (not in Alaska) mother’s quota for her benefit.

Last point: please do something about the exorbitant fuel prices, the largest cost which vessel owners and captains and crews must bear in these fisheries.  Alaska provides one-fifth of the nation’s oil but Alaskans, especially fishermen, pay about a dollar more per gallon than elsewhere.  Why!?

I am heading to the fishing grounds this afternoon, after costly vessel repairs, and need to receive a response ASAP so that I can arrange via on board communications for adaptive business actions to keep our crew and others in the black – i.e. remain taxpayers.  Please be aware that I am contemplating a lawsuit if we do not receive some measure of relief now.  Thank you.


Ludger W. Dochtermann

F/V NORTH POINT & F/V STORMBIRD, Owner and Operator

P.O. Box 714; Kodiak, AK 99615

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