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This one is for Norm. . .

Fish heads

Small fine for dumping waste the last straw for Peninsula plant
By BRANDON LOOMIS
Anchorage Daily News
Published: February 22, 2007
Last Modified: February 22, 2007 at 09:33 AM
NINILCHIK -- A dispute over whether fish heads are pollution or just a natural mess has this Kenai Peninsula village's largest employer in limbo, according to the business' owner.
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Deep Creek Custom Packing shut down in December after agreeing to a pollution fine that, while small by federal standards, was the "last straw" in a business that had scraped by since the 1990s, owner Jeff Berger said. His offense: dumping cod heads at the mouth of the Ninilchik River, where they washed along the beaches near the town's harbor.

Berger has put the small plant up for sale, blaming an increase in government scrutiny along with years of marginal salmon markets. The ultimate insult to Berger was that he had to pay $10,500 for what he thought was environmentally benign, if not beneficial.
"Fish waste is not toxic. It's food," Berger said. "It's a natural nitrogen cycle."

The federal government requires dumped fish waste to be ground into half-inch bits, and state regulators say Berger blatantly ignored that rule.

The sequence of events, on which Berger and regulators agree, started with an old permit to dump fish carcasses in the river. Berger says he never used that permit because dog mushers and gardeners used his waste. When the permit expired a few years ago and he asked for a renewal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declined.

Unaccustomed to any inspection or oversight, he said, he proceeded with a couple of "test discharges" to see how well the outgoing tide dispersed waste. Someone noticed the heads and complained to the state, which passed the case on to the EPA.

"Jeff willfully went against what we asked him to do," said Katy McKerney, who monitors the seafood industry for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

McKerney agreed the industry has faced little scrutiny of its discharges in the past. She was assigned to centralize seafood pollution oversight in 2001, and even today is the only state employee charged with that oversight.
"He just wasn't used to being regulated," McKerney said. "I don't think anybody was used to being regulated to any extent."

The question that Berger asks is whether it's really pollution. If fish, crabs and eagles eat it, what's the problem?

McKerney said seafood plants that dump large volumes of fish waste can dramatically change the ocean environment. In the worst cases, she said, a blanket of waste that feeds oxygen-sucking bacteria effectively kills acres of ocean floor. But even in cases where a pile of carcasses doesn't rob oxygen, she said, it will attract sharks or otherwise change the local food chain.
Various studies about whether grinding the waste leads to better results by speeding the decomposition have shown mixed results so far, McKerney said. Regardless, she said, it's unlikely that EPA will relax the grinding and dumping rules, which already are more lenient for Alaska than for the Lower 48.

Berger said that makes little sense, because he is convinced whole heads and carcasses are cleaner. Heads dropped at the river's mouth will drift off on the tide, whereas ground debris will sink in one spot.
"It just stands to reason that if you scattered waste over a huge area, especially where it's going to be used (by animals), that's a better way to dispose of it," he said.
He's not alone in asserting that, at least in some marine environments, leaving fish parts intact is best. Gary Freitag, fisheries biologist for the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association in Ketchikan, said whole carcasses have helped Neets Bay. The hatchery association is allowed to drop salmon carcasses in that Revillagigedo Island bay after stripping roe, Freitag said, and the benefits are obvious to him.

"It mimics what happens in nature," he said, alluding to autumn rains that sweep spawned-out salmon down streams and into the ocean.

The result is a thriving commercial shrimp fishery that didn't exist in Neets Bay before, he said.
By contrast, the Ketchikan waterfront sometimes experiences stinky "burps" when gases building up in the carpet of processors' ground-up waste escape to the surface, Freitag said. "You smell it around town for a day or so," he said. Under those oxygen-starved conditions, nothing lives on the ocean floor.

Freitag noted that Neets Bay is relatively cold, stable water, which preserves the waste as food for shrimp, halibut and marine mammals.

Berger won't fight the rules, he said. But neither will he continue to run a business that employed 40 people year-round and more than 100 in season. He's asking $875,000 for the plant, which sells smoked, canned and frozen seafood and also processes sportsmen's fish.
EPA compliance officer Margo Young said the fee was targeted to Berger's ability to pay, and shouldn't play a role in his closure.

"We feel that that was a fair settlement," she said. "It's a pretty low penalty."

Berger said that's easy for regulators to say when they don't have to make payroll and cover debts.
"They should be working with industry to establish better ways of business, not running around looking for revenue," he said.

Daily News reporter Brandon Loomis can be reached in the newspaper's Soldotna bureau at [email protected] or 907-260-5215, ext. 24.
 

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The argument is that the fish waste is what will naturally occur and will be consumed naturally by the benthos. The problem with that argument is that there isnt a graveyard in the Ocean or esturaries where fish congregate to die. They die all over the place, spread out in a wide area, except maybe in a bluefish blitz(very little usually goes to waste). It is kinda the concept whereby NPDES Permits are issued, or the solution to pollution is dillution.
 

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Norm,
I am sure you realize that this does not support your interest in banning chumming. I think that this is a pretty open and shut case of dumping a waste just to get rid of it, and that it should be subject to the regulations. That is not what is being done when one is chumming. Chumming is an "intended use" of a biological material, and is not waste disposal.

As I have said before, I don't chum, and don't expect to chum, so I don't have a dog in the chumming fight, but I do have a dog in the fight against twisting an environmental law to do something that was not its original intent.

I was going to put one of those wagging finger smilies at the top of this, but when I inserted it, it looked like it was giving the single-digit salute, so I deleted it.:D
 

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Well I guess their will be those that will never see things the same. I don't see any difference in what that guy was doing and chuming. In fact I would like to see just how much he dumped as compared to the amount of chum that is deposited in the bay in just one area in one day of chuming. I would bet that he didn't dump as much. :yes:
 

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Saltfly,
I see the difference in the following way. The individual in Alaska was running a business and a by-product of his business was fish waste. There were various choices available to him on how to dispose of this waste. Each alternative has a cost to him. The low-cost alternative was to dump his waste into the "commons". Unfortunately that approach required a permit and some pre-treatment that he was unable or unwilling to acquire. So he disregarded the rules and just dumped to gain an economic benefit. He was caught.

On the other hand, those individuals who want to fish by chumming, go out of their way, to some extent, to acquire the chum (either purchase it, or catch the ingredients and make it themselves), and use it in the manner in which it is intended (that is, to attract fish). They are not disposing of a waste, and they are not seeking to gain an economic benefit by dumping in the "commons".

There may be good reasons to ban chumming, but my contention is that the Clean Water Act is not the mechanism by which it can be accomplished. After Norm's legal case threads its way though the legal system, I may have to eat my words. I actually have no problem with doing just that.
 

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Bill H.-If you are concerned about the health of the bay you have a dog in this fight. If you don't care about stripers and humans getting infected with mycobacteria, less resident fish of all kinds, low dissolved oxygen and adding to the dead zone you don't have a dog in this fight. If your not part of the solution your part of the problem!

Norm
 

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Norm,
Thanks for your kind words. Please don't talk about my commitment to the environment just because I do not support what I consider to be a wrongheaded approach to the problems facing our bay. It is not an issue of whether chumming is responsible for fish kills or human deaths, or is a manifestation of the antichrist, it is an issue with the tool you are using to fix the problem.
 

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Fish heads are pollution

Tom- this Alaskan case pertains to the sometimes so called Ocean Dumping Law. See U.S.Title 33 Section 1412 (d) Fishwastes. The company was given a permit and they did not comply with the terms so they got fined! Three cheers for the EPA.. Violators of the CLEAN WATER ACT can be fined up to $2,500 per day

(d) Fish wastes

No permit is requuired under this subchapter for the transportation for dumping or dumping of fish wastes, except when deposited in harbors or other protected or enclosed coastal waters, or where the administrator finds that such deposits could endanger health , the envirnonment, or ecological systems in a specific location. When the administator makes such a finding, such material may be deposited only authorized by a permit issued by the administrator under this section. Isn't the Chesapeake Bay an enclosed protected body of water?

I'm still pleased that you posted this article as it is informitive and relates to conservation.

Norm
 

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well bill you and I see what as being dumped differentlly. Fish heads or body parts either whole or ground is still fish wastes no matter how you spin it. As for financial gain. What do you call it when one charter captain out chums another. One is just trying to put more fish in the boat for his customers. Thats financial or economic gain know matter how you write it. Some one makes money some way off of dumping fish parts. As for sportsman. They buy their chum from some one that makes money. We fisherman complain about the polution. shouldn't we be the first to change? Even if what we are doing is only a part of the problem? One good thing will come out of this. The law will deside who is right.
 

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Oh my gosh give it a rest......If they were to ban chumming I will eat a full scoop of it for all to see. Never gonna happen...
 

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Salt,
I really don't disagree with what you are saying. Maybe chum is bad for the environment and the bay, and maybe it isn't. As a matter of fact, if I look at the whole distribution of bay problems, chumming is in there, but it is way out at one of the tails of the distribution along with chunking, live bait, and fish constipation :D caused by bitten off BAs (were you around for that discussion a few years back?).

My concern is that there is an attempt to twist the CWA to satisfy an agenda. And we shall see just what those lawyers have to say. At that point we may not agree that "something good' came from it, but at least it might be settled. I have worked in the environmental business long enough to understand that legal definitions and decisions often do not fit with what we think is "logical".
 

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Yea Bill I was around for the ba thing but stayed out of that one. I guess I will all ways feel if you are going to complain about some ones elses yard.Yours better be in good shape. So all the fisherman that want some one else to stop what thay are doing to polute, should stop their end of the problem to. Beleive me their are a number that feel Norm is being one sided on this. I've known the man not just the fisherman. For going on 40 years now. I met Norm when I was just a young man of 20 and I know in my hart. That he only cares about the bay. Not his oun fishing. If that were the case Norm wouldn't be taking others out fishing and he wouldn't have taken the time to teach people like me how to be a better fisherman. Also why would any body put them selfs in his postion and spend his oun money doing what he is doing. Beleive me the man can catch fish. He doesn't need for people to stop chuming just so he can catch them. Buy the way thanks for being sensable in your discussion and not just trying to belittle the topic.
Walt
 

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Well cut bait yes we would. Now lets look at what is happening in the area of motors. The Manufactures have updated their motors to meet the epa's new standards. New motors are becoming less and less of a polluter. So yes they understand the need. Why is it so hard for fisherman to understand. One thing that has been stated here time and time again. But most seem to want to attack the person and what he is doing instead of looking at all the facts. Manhaden are the princesable protain food for stripers. Than are also the biggest asset to filtering the bay. Yet what is chum mostlly made from and what is introuble in the bay more then any other fish? Manhaden. So just for that reason alone we shouldn't use chum. Also look at what was used years ago. Mano clams. Why arn't they still used? It was a local industery. They decimated the mano clam population in the bay. Again a filter needed by the bay. Oysters are in trouble as well. How many filters do we take from the bay and except the bay to help its self?
 

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Well cut bait yes we would. Now lets look at what is happening in the area of motors. The Manufactures have updated their motors to meet the epa's new standards. New motors are becoming less and less of a polluter. So yes they understand the need. Why is it so hard for fisherman to understand. One thing that has been stated here time and time again. But most seem to want to attack the person and what he is doing instead of looking at all the facts. Manhaden are the princesable protain food for stripers. Than are also the biggest asset to filtering the bay. Yet what is chum mostlly made from and what is introuble in the bay more then any other fish? Manhaden. So just for that reason alone we shouldn't use chum. Also look at what was used years ago. Mano clams. Why arn't they still used? It was a local industery. They decimated the mano clam population in the bay. Again a filter needed by the bay. Oysters are in trouble as well. How many filters do we take from the bay and except the bay to help its self?
Hey Walt

Who is they?

Since there are no soft shell clams in any of these creeks over here and to my knowledge most have never had a clam rig in their bottom, I'm wondering who they is?
 

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Hey Mike
I guess your refering to me using they in reference to mano clams. I used 'they' meaning any of us that not only harvested them but also we that used them. The user is in the same boat from my point of view. Sence I was a user back then. I'm just as guilty as every one else. I wasn't trying to blame anyone. Just pointing out that when we over do anything. man that is. We seem to do it harm. Instead on learning how to use it sparinglly. Mano's where havested all over the bay. We use to buy them right off the boats that were doing the harvesting. We never got ours from tackle stores. As for the creeks you are refering to. I don't know which ones your talking about. But I'm sure you no which had them and which didn't. But that's not the issuse. Just the fact that we over did it with them and now the populations are way down like most of the shell fish through out the bay.
 
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