Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chum Bycatch Up for Discussion Before North Pacific Fishery Management Council

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which is meeting this week in Anchorage, has set aside 12 hours for an initial review of the Bering Sea chum salmon prohibited species catch management environmental assessment and regulatory impact review.

It’s all part of the federal council’s continued effort to reduce the catch of prohibited species chum salmon in the Bering Sea Pollock fishery.

The documents the council will be discussing and hearing testimony on were developed to provide federal decision makers and the public with an evaluation of the predicted environmental, social and economic effects of alternative measures to minimize primarily chum salmon as prohibited species catch in the pollock fishery.

The proposed action would amend the Bering Sea–Aleutian Islands groundfish fishery management plan and federal regulations, and take new steps to reduce chum salmon bycatch in the Bering sea Pollock fishery to the extent practicable while achieving optimum yield.

The documents note that the Bering Sea Pollock fishery catches the majority of the chum salmon harvested incidentally in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fisheries.

Any amendment approved for the fishery management plan must comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Council staff also noted in an executive summary of the draft environmental assessment that with respect to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the amendment must be consistent with all ten national standards.

Most relevant for this action would be National Standard 9, which requires that conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, minimize bycatch and to the extent bycatch cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of such bycatch. Also applicable is National standard 1, which requires that conservation and management measures prevent overfishing while achieving the optimum yield from each fishery.

The Magnuson–Stevens Act defines optimum yield as the amount of harvest that will provide the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities, while taking into account protection of marine ecosystems.

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