CBC Oversight Committees

Gear Loss Forum

Lummi Nation Gear Loss Forum

On January 30, 2008, approximately 34 people gathered at the Silver Reef Hotel and Casino from 9:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. for the first Lummi Nation Fishing Gear Loss Forum.

There were four morning presentations for the purposes of educating participants and increasing awareness of concerns regarding industrial dock operations, U.S. Coast Guard vessel traffic management, Lummi fishing practices and economic and environmental impacts from fishing gear losses. Except for the Coast Guard, slideshows accompanied the presentations.

The afternoon session started with a summary by Tom Cowan of the results of 23 discussions conducted with key participants prior to the Forum. The purpose of the discussions was to identify factors that result in gear losses and identify potential solutions. From the discussions, tugs and barges were identified as the primary cause of gear losses. The two main themes expressed for reducing the incidence of gear losses were more predictable vessel routes and improved communication.

At 12:15 P.M., the group broke for lunch, but continued to informally discuss the issues brought out in the morning sessions.

The afternoon session started with a summary by Tom Cowan of the results of 23 discussions conducted with key participants prior to the Forum. The purpose of the discussions was to identify factors that result in gear losses and identify potential solutions. From the discussions, tugs and barges were identified as the primary cause of gear losses. The two main themes expressed for reducing the incidence of gear losses were more predictable vessel routes and improved communication.

The main agenda item for the day followed with a robust discussion between all participants regarding concerns and possible solutions for reducing Lummi fishing gear losses. There was considerable discussion regarding both fishery and industrial vessel actions that contribute to gear losses and proposed solutions. The following bullets attempt to capture the highlights of the discussions:
  • After discussing geographic locations and the logistics of anchoring, it appeared there was consensus that improving predictable anchoring areas for tugs and barges should and could be accomplished.

  • Both Lummi and commercial operators expressed interest in establishing specific transit lanes extending from the federally designated shipping lanes to the industrial piers. These transit lanes would consolidate industrial vessel traffic and leave the other marine areas remaining available for fishing with minimal – if any - commercial vessel traffic interference. As a first step, Lummi agreed to propose potential traffic lane locations.

  • Participants agreed that identifying and establishing transit lanes should be accomplished by agreement, not by law.

  • Improved scheduling of arrivals would allow tug and barge operators to follow a direct route toward docks and reduce the amount of travelling in large circles or figure eights while waiting for dock space.

  • Improved communications between fishermen and vessel operators by cell phone or VHF radio would help the situation. It was also suggested that a system could be established where fishermen could call the USCG VTS to find out the general timing of scheduled vessel arrivals and departures from the Cherry Point industrial facilities.

  • Any work group formed for reducing gear losses needs to include other operators that were not in attendance at this Forum.
  • Participating in the Harbor Safety Committee is a good way to be involved in common issues. Lummi expressed interest in attending these meetings.

Building on the discussion points captured above, the final agenda item of the day was to specifically identify an action plan and next steps. The following action items were agreed to by the participants.

  1. Establish a working group to develop preferred transit routes to the Cherry Point industrial facilities. The goal is to have a proposal distributed to all interested parties by April 1, 2008. Implementation of alternate transit routes should be accomplished by agreement between parties rather than by law. Participants will include Lummi, BP, ConocoPhillips, Intalco, Seaspan International/Council of Marine Carriers, Crowley Tug, Foss Tug, Puget Sound Pilots, USCG VTS, and American Waterways Operators. It was also recognized that other tug companies that were not participating in the Forum need to be invited to participate in this project and that the Harbor Safety Committee be kept informed of the group’s efforts. The working group’s proposal would address the
    following issues:
    • Cherry Point Transit Routes
    • Holding areas/tug moorages
    • Light tug anchorage
    • Vessel movement communications plan
    This group may also work toward input to the USCG regarding future changes to the existing Vendovi Island commercial anchorages.

  2. An education and outreach plan should be developed. Participants and timing were not decided and will be developed.

  3. A derelict fishing gear removal project should be considered for the Cherry Point area. Ginny Broadhurst, Merle Jefferson and Cliff Cultee agreed to work on this.


More Information

Available Documents

There are 2 documents currently available in the Gear Loss Forum portion of the website.

Forecast
On-Reservation
Marine
(Rosario Strait)