GOA Trawl Bycatch Measure Inches Forward

Federal fisheries managers are inching forward with a
proposal for a revised management structure for Gulf of Alaska groundfish trawl
fisheries, directing staff to look at several issues within the draft
environmental impact statement.
Alternative 3, which was added to that discussion paper
during the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s October meeting, defines
a program under which prohibited species catch is allocated to voluntary
cooperatives, but groundfish quotas are not. If the council choose during an
upcoming meeting to select Alternative 3, prohibited species catch would be
allocated on the basis of vessels as opposed to licenses, and could be
allocated according to either “equal shares” or vessel capacity.
Additional elements within that alternative would limit
consolidation through transfer restrictions, and direct cooperatives to develop
contract terms that promote active participation, council staff said in a
background document.
When new or revised fishery management plans come before the
council, they go through a lengthy process, which include discussion of how the
new or revised plan will affect the economies of coastal communities dependent
on fisheries, plus bycatch, sustainability and other environmental issues.
The council, guided by national standards for fisheries
within the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, moves with
caution, at a pace that usually results in final action taking several years.
Julie Bonney, executive director of the Alaska Groundfish
Data Bank at Kodiak, was one of several representatives of the Gulf trawl
fishery who signed a letter to Alaska Gov. Bill Walker contending that the
proposal before the council “will make it virtually impossible for our industry
to maintain the kind of economic benefits we have provided to towns like
Kodiak, Sand Point and King Cove.”

Bonney said the proposed revised management plan is
unrealistic in its assessment of the effects of Alternative 3 on cooperation
between fishery participants and how the co-ops will work.