Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chum, Chinook Bycatch Measures are Reviewed

Alternatives for reducing bycatch by groundfish fisheries of chum salmon in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and king salmon in the Gulf of Alaska will go out for public review before being heard later this year by federal fisheries managers. First though, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has directed staff to revise the documents, which will be released for stakeholders to study several weeks in advance of whatever council meeting they are scheduled for, some time between April and December.

Complete copies of the initial review materials considered by the council at its December meeting in Anchorage are available online at

The Gulf of Alaska bycatch issue is now tentatively slated for more discussion during the council’s April meeting in Anchorage, but will make a final decision on that at the council’s February meeting in Portland, Oregon. The chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, however, likely won’t come before the council for further discussion until October 2013 at the earliest.

The council’s advisory panel, in its report to council members, had recommended, by a vote of 15-4, that the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands chum salmon prohibited species catch management measures document not be released for public review yet, given a list of changes the panel felt were necessary. The advisory panel also recommended, by a vote of 13-6, that several revised alternatives for the Gulf of Alaska Chinook salmon bycatch measures for trawl fisheries be analyzed.

Several management measures are currently in use to minimize chum salmon prohibited species catch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery. The council is currently considering whether additional management measures are needed to better minimize the incidental harvest of chum salmon prohibited species catch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.

In the Gulf of Alaska, the initial review document analyzed four potential prohibited species catch limits, ranging from a maximum of 5,000 to 12,500 king salmon a year. National standards included in the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act require balancing achieving optimum yield with minimizing bycatch, while minimizing adverse impacts on fishing dependent communities.

Chinook salmon prohibited species catch taken incidentally in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries is a concern.

The council recently adopted a prohibited species catch limit of 25,000 king salmon for the western and central Gulf of Alaska pollock trawl fisheries. The council also indicated intent to evaluate Chinook salmon bycatch in the non-pollock Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries, which currently do not have a Chinook salmon bycatch control measure. Alternatives under consideration for the Gulf fisheries include status quo, several hard caps on king salmon harvest, and full retention of all salmon bycatch until data regarding and biological samples of these salmon has been completed.

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