By BILL LUNDQUIST
Groundfish fishery closures announced Thursday may not affect as many fishermen as initially thought.
Brookings commercial fisherman Ralph Brown, a member of the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), e-mailed The Pilot Saturday to correct and clarify information about fishing closures.
Brown said the only closure this year north of Cape Mendocino will be for the groundfish trawl fishery.
Trawlers will be prohibited, beginning Sept. 1, from catching groundfish in waters from 600 to 1,500 feet in depth.
Because the closure is intended to protect dark-blotch rockfish, said Brown, it shouldn't affect long-line and "pot" fishermen who fish for sablefish in those depths.
Earlier in the week, some of those fishermen had believed they would also be banned from those waters, putting them out of business.
That initial misconception led to charges of bias on the part of trawl fishermen on the PFMC.
Bernie Lindley, trawl fisherman and president of the Brookings Fishermen's Marketing Association, said Monday that the long-line fishermen better understood the closures by Saturday.
He said Brown, a trawl fisherman, had always given fair consideration to all the different types of fishing when setting harvest allocations.
Lindley said the closure will actually move trawlers out of waters 600 to 1,500 feet deep and turn them over to longliners and pot boats.
He was optimistic that the trawlers could stay out of those waters and still make a living, though he said it would have some impact.
Brown said the only other closure this year, which will begin July 1, is to protect boccacio rockfish south of Cape Mendocino. He said the quota for the year has already been taken, mostly by recreational fishermen.
As a result, hook and line fishermen (except for the sablefish fishery) and recreational fishermen will not be able to fish in water deeper than 120 feet. Trawlers will have to fish deeper than 900 feet. Those restrictions do not apply north of Cape Mendocino.
Brown said options for next year will go out for public comment, and the PFMC will select actual management measures in September.
He said the concerns will be for boccacio rockfish in the south, and for yelloweye, canary and dark-blotch rockfish in the north.
"The options are all attempts to minimize the catch of these fish while allowing some catch of other fish," said Brown.
He did not want to reveal any of the proposed options before he received a finalized typed version from the PFMC office. Brown, who will be in Washington this week attending meetings, will try to schedule a public meeting in Brookings on the closures when he gets back.