A David and Goliath battle is brewing in the commercial squid fishery, with "scoop" fishermen alleging larger purse seiners are robbing them of their livelihoods, sometimes illegally.
Based mostly in Southern California, members of the smaller brail, or scoop net, fleet say they have not been allowed to fish for three years because larger purse seiners, many of them built in Canada, have pulled in the quota of 118,000 tons before the brail season becomes ripe.
Commercial fishing boats in the United States must be American-built and registered with the Coast Guard. An exception is a foreign-built boat with a hold capacity of less than 5 net tons, or 500 cubic feet, which is considered a recreational vessel and can be registered with the state.
Brail fishermen are complaining that competitors are taking advantage of the exception by paying pennies on the dollar for large Canadian-built purse seiners idled by that country's fishing regulations. The American fishermen then use creative marine architecture, or "deep framing," to reduce the measurable holds and get the vessels registered as less than 5 tons.
Once registered, brail fishermen say, the owners pull out false walls and floors and pull in as much as 150 tons of squid a night.
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National Fisherman Live: 4/22/14
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