NPFMC Will Take Up Bering Sea Salmon Bycatch

Bering Sea king and chum salmon bycatch will be under discussion again by federal fishery managers when the North Pacific Fishery Management Council convenes its summer meeting in Nome from June 4 to June 10.

The subject is a highly emotional one, often pitting harvesters of pollock in the Bering Sea against both commercial and subsistence harvesters, particularly with the decline of Chinook salmon runs so severe that there will be no commercial fishery for the kings.

At this meeting the council will be listening to a staff prepared discussion paper analyzing potential changes to the current king salmon bycatch management plan. The discussion paper will also cover an overview of modifications to goals and objectives of the program needed to incorporate chum salmon bycatch into the existing incentive program agreements. These include shortening the pollock season, requiring salmon excluders and additional constraints on the fleet when bycatch rates are high.

The council expects to post that discussion paper by mid-May onto the council website,

During the council’s April meeting in Anchorage, the Bering Sea pollock industry provided their annual reports on their respective sector incentive program agreements for king salmon bycatch management, as well as a report on the current combined cooperative management of chum salmon bycatch. These reports are already available on the council website.

Amendment 91 to the fishery management plan for groundfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands combines a hard cap on the amount of king salmon that may be caught incidentally with an incentive plan agreement and a performance standard designed to minimize bycatch to the extent practicable in all years and prevent bycatch from reaching the limit in most years. Regulations implementing Amendment 91 require participants engaged in an incentive plan agreement to provide an annual report to the federal council detailing their incentive measures and evaluating their effectiveness.

Council staff noted that the majority of king salmon bycatch in the Being Sea is from the aggregate coastal western Alaska stock grouping which includes rivers from Norton Sound to Bristol Bay, including the middle and lower Yukon and the Kuskokwim Rivers.
The complete meeting agenda is online at