The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set aside 12 hours of its schedule for its spring meeting in Anchorage March 28-April 3 to deal with the contentious issue of chum salmon caught incidentally to groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Also on the agenda, which is online at www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc, is a 10-hour slot for habitat conservation issues, eight hours for halibut issues, including final action to allow Area 4B fish-up, and six hours for Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod issues. The last will include an updated discussion paper on Pacific Cod jig management, a discussion paper on limiting other gear on jig vessels, and a discussion paper on Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod A-season opening dates.
Also noted on the council’s website is an upcoming workshop for the council and the International Pacific Halibut Commission April 24-25 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Seattle.
The workshop is to include short summary presentations from agency science staffs and invited industry science representatives, with a scientific panel to be charged with providing a review of the discussion and its findings. The panel is to include staff from IPHC, the Council, the NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center, the council’s SSC, Canada’s DFO, independent scientists sponsored by the fishing industry and two independent, external scientific experts on bycatch issues.
The council is evaluating proposed reductions to the halibut prohibited species catch limits for trawl/longline fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska. The council notes in a draft document that on bycatch estimation, “there is broad agreement that the current levels of bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska are poorly understood, partly beause of necessary extrapolations to vessels not subject to observer coverage, and are not subject to high confidence intervals.
“Recognizing that the groundfish observer program in the GOA is being restructured to address these deficiencies and to provide better use of available observer coverage, a review and assessment of bycatch estimation at this workshop could be very informative to that restructuring process,” the council document said.