NPFMC Takes Up Groundfish, Salmon, Halibut Issues

The December meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management
Council is under way in Anchorage today, with an agenda that includes the announcement
of groundfish harvest specifications, salmon bycatch and halibut issues, and
A full 24 hours has been allocated for discussion and
testimony on prohibited species catch of chum salmon in the Bering Sea/Aleutian
Islands and Chinook bycatch for all trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska. Both
areas of incidental harvest are up for initial review, and complete documents
for both initial reviews are available online at
Live audio of the entire meeting is also available online at
The Gulf of Alaska initial review document analyzes proposed
management measures that would apply to all trawl fisheries in the central and
western Gulf of Alaska, except the directed pollock fishery. Measures under
consideration include setting prohibited species catch limits in the central
and western Gulf of Alaska for Chinook salmon, measures that would close
fisheries in those regulatory areas once attained, and full retention of salmon
The three alternatives include status quo; a hard cap of
5,000, 7,500, 10,000 or 12,500 Chinook salmon, and full retention of all salmon
bycatch until the number of salmon has been determined by the vessel or plant
observer, and that observer’s collection of scientific data or biological
samples from the salmon has been completed.
The document prepared by staff of the federal fisheries
council notes in its environmental assessment that non-pollock trawl fisheries
have an adverse impact on Chinook salmon through direct mortality due to
prohibited species catch. Under the status quo, there are no additional
management measures to reduce prohibited species bycatch of king salmon in the
Gulf’s non-pollock trawl fisheries.
The initial review document notes that the average
prohibited species catch for the non-pollock trawl fisheries is 6,176 king
salmon over the last 10 years. The highest king salmon prohibited species
bycatch occurred in 2003 and 2010, with catches of 10,877 and 9,694 Chinook
salmon respectively.