GOA Trawlers Stand Down for Bycatch

Representatives of trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and processors say they will voice their concerns at the federal fisheries meeting that opens today in Portland, Oregon, regarding a proposal to restructure bycatch management in the Gulf.

Julie Bonney, executive director of the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank at Kodiak, said captains and crew of 50 trawlers opted to stand down for two trips in the first week of February and that some of them would be in Portland to testify.

They are concerned over a recent state of Alaska proposal to restructure their fisheries that would harm their livelihoods and the economies of their fishery dependent communities, the group said in an announcement issued by the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank, Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, and Peninsula Fishermen’s Coalition.

Their concerns center around council agenda item C2, a discussion paper with several alternatives before the council that is a long way from any final action.

Alternative 3 defines a program in which prohibited species catch is allocated to voluntary cooperatives, but groundfish quotas are not. Prohibited species catch would be allocated on the basis of vessels as opposed to licenses, and could not be allocated according to either “equal shares” or vessel capacity.

Alternative 1 is a “no action” alternative.

Alternative 2 defines a program in which groundfish and prohibited species catch access privileges are allocated to voluntary cooperatives based on their fishing history associated with the federal licenses that are enrolled in each cooperative. Those elements include measures that are intended to promote stability in trawl-dependent fishing communities, including consolidation limits, quota regionalization, and active participation requirements.

The discussion paper provided for the Portland meeting addresses several issues, including a comparison of alternatives 2 and 3 in terms of how they address the defined purpose and need and goals and objectives that guide the council.