The excluder was initially developed and tested for avoiding Chinook salmon in the Bering Sea pollock fishery, and the exempted fishing permit proposes to adapt the device for use in the Gulf of Alaska pelagic trawl fishery.
The action taken at the December meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage is still subject to approval by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Gauvin, who is working with the North Pacific Fisheries Research Foundation on adapting the device for use in the Gulf of Alaska, said Dec. 7 that he hoped to begin testing the device in March or April in the Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery, where the incidental catch of Chinook salmon is an issue.
The goal of the exempted fishing permit is to refine the excluder device to better reduce Chinook salmon bycatch without significantly lowering pollock catch rates in the Gulf of Alaska.
As noted by Jim Balsiger, administrator for the Alaska region for the National Marine Fisheries Service, in a letter to the council, testing in two or more seasons each year would allow the excluder device to be assessed during pollock roe and non-roe bearing seasons, and in a variety of salmon abundance and weather conditions.