Chinook PSC Limits in Gulf of Alaska Up For More Consideration

Federal fisheries managers say they will consider action at their
December meeting in Anchorage to extend Chinook prohibited species bycatch limits
in the Gulf of Alaska from pollock to the non-pollock groundfish fisheries.
The decision came at the October meeting of the North Pacific
Fishery Management Council in Anchorage, where the council heard feedback on goals
and objectives for Gulf of Alaska prohibited species catch tools.
To facilitate development of alternatives for analysis in this
long council process, staff was asked to work up a discussion paper outlining carious
catch share options for the Central Gulf trawl sector that may meet the objectives.
Staff was told that the paper should also examine how other comparable programs
have considered and applied the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management
Act catch share provisions to meet similar objectives.
The council said it intends to develop a data collection program
for fisheries included in the program to provide baseline data to assess effects
of the change of management. A purpose and need statement produced by the council
in October states that the current management limits the ability of the fleet to
effectively address challenges arising from limits on prohibited species catch,
Steller sea lion measures and variable total allowable catches.
In written testimony submitted for the meeting, Jeff Stephen,
manager of the United Fishermen’s Marketing Association in Kodiak, urged the council
to include all Central Gulf of Alaska groundfish harvest sectors in its initiative
to develop a new fishery management system for Central Gulf groundfish. Stephen
urged the council to consider the distribution of economic, social, cultural and
community impacts, costs and benefits that may affect other Central Gulf groundfish
harvest sectors, gear types, fisheries and communities as it proceeds in developing
a new fishery management system for the Central Gulf groundfish trawl sector.
Kodiak harvester Darius Kasprzak told the council in his written
testimony that while working on at least eight trawlers in the Central Gulf over
the past several decades he had personally discarded hundreds of thousands of pounds
of bycatch.
Kasprzak said he believe accessible tools to mitigate trawl bycatch
already exist in the toolbox. These include, he said, restrictions on night fishing,
horsepower, mesh size, overall gear size, and two durations/speeds. He also suggested
that bycatch reduction devices and trip landing/catch limits be considered.