Final Action Slated on Bering Sea Salmon Bycatch

Federal fisheries managers are slated to take final action
in early April on the incidental harvest of Chinook and chum salmon in the
Bering Sea pollock fishery.
Also on the agenda for the April 6-13 meeting of the North
Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage are final action on Gulf of
Alaska sablefish longline pots, an update on Gulf of Alaska and Bering
Sea/Aleutian Islands salmon bycatch genetics, a discussion paper on Area 4A
halibut retention in sablefish pots, and an initial review of observer coverage
on small catcher processors.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, after much
deliberation at its December meeting in Anchorage, modified alternatives under
consideration to include two major changes.
The first was the option of modification of seasonal
apportionment of pollock total allowable catch from the A season to the B
season, including shifting 5 percent to 10 percent of the B-season quota into
the A-season. The second change would be reducing both the performance standard
and the overall prohibited species catch limit by the same percentage
reductions of 25 percent to 60 percent in time of low western Alaska Chinook
salmon abundance.
The analysis taken under review by the council in December
to modify bycatch management for Chinook and chum salmon in the Bering Sea
pollock fishery summarized the impacts of several broad management measures. These
included combined management measures for Chinook and chum salmon under pollock
industry-run incentive plan agreements, modifications to pollock seasons,
modifications to management for Chinook under incentive plan agreements, and
lower performance standards for Chinook bycatch under conditions of low western
Alaska Chinook abundance.
The analysis indicated that moving chum salmon into
incentive plan agreement management would likely be beneficial and provide for
more comprehensive management of both species.
Measures to incrementally create more stringent incentives
within the incentive plan agreements for Chinook salmon were expected to be
successful in reducing some additional Chinook salmon bycatch, although actual
savings would depend on the magnitude of the incentives and vessel-level

The council concluded that measures to modify the pollock B
season were also expected to result in savings of Chinook salmon as they
reduced the need to fish in September and October when Chinook bycatch rates
are highest. However, this could increase chum salmon bycatch incrementally as
well as result in the potential for forgone pollock harvest, particularly at
the vessel-level, council staff noted.