The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set aside 32 hours of its June meeting at Nome to deal with salmon bycatch issues. That includes 12 hours aimed at final action on reducing the number of king salmon caught incidentally to the Pollock fishery in the Gulf of Alaska, plus 20 hours for an initial review of chum salmon bycatch analysis in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.
At its April meeting in Anchorage, the federal council adopted a preliminary preferred alternative that identifies a combined prohibited species catch limit of 22,500 Chinook salmon for the western and central Gulf of Alaska Pollock fisheries. The limit would be apportioned between the two areas based on a combination of the proportional historic Pollock total allowable catch and historic average king salmon bycatch, using the time series 2001-2006 and 2008-2009.
The preliminary preferred alternative would also implement an interim observer requirement of 30 percent coverage for trawl vessels of less than 60 feet while directed fishing for Pollock in the central or western Gulf. That interim requirement would expire once the observer restructuring program is implemented because that program also provides for observer coverage on vessels of less than 60 feet.
All vessels fishing for Pollock in those areas would be responsible for full retention of king salmon caught incidentally to their groundfish harvest. National Marine Fisheries Service would work with the industry to improve observed and extrapolated Chinook salmon estimates and their timeliness.
The federal council is scheduled to spend 20 hours on discussion of its initial review of the chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea Pollock fishery. Council staff will have an analysis to work from to develop management measures to manage chum salmon bycatch in this groundfish fishery, in compliance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The tentative schedule calls for final action by the council of preferred alternatives in December in Anchorage.