Tag: bycatch

Congressional Bills Introduced to Restrict Bottom Trawling
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Congressional Bills Introduced to Restrict Bottom Trawling

Two bills recently introduced in Congress by Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska that would restrict bottom trawling are drawing kudos from commercial longliners, crabbers and salmon fishermen and criticism from the state’s pollock fishery. The Bycatch Reduction and Mitigation Act, introduced in the U.S. House on May 22 would authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Bycatch Reduction and Engineering Program at $10 million for five years. The Bycatch Mitigation Assistance Fund to be established under that program would be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help harvesters and vessel owners purchase new gear or technology to reduce bycatch, including salmon excluders. The Bottom Trawl Clarity Act would mandate that federal fishery managem...
NPFMC Approves Revisions of Salmon Bycatch Proposals for Another Staff Analysis
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NPFMC Approves Revisions of Salmon Bycatch Proposals for Another Staff Analysis

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) on April 8 approved a lengthy revised list of alternatives for staff to analyze as part of a process where final action is still a year away. As council member Andy Mezirow noted during the meeting, the analyzed document is expected to come back before the council in the fall and final action is expected in April 2025. “This is not an action we are taking that will change anything,” said Mezirow, a charter vessel operator from Homer whose last council meeting before leaving office is set for June in Kodiak. “When the Board of Fisheries meets, they make a decision, but here it takes more time. “How can we do a better job of communicating that?” Mezirow asked fellow council members.  “Is there a better way of communicating we ...
Coalition Defends Limits on Trawler Halibut Bycatch
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Coalition Defends Limits on Trawler Halibut Bycatch

A dispute over the amount of halibut allowed as incidental catch by trawlers targeting groundfish in the Bering Sea has prompted the newly-formed Halibut Defense Alliance to intervene in litigation on behalf of the National Marine Fisheries Service. The coalition includes commercial fishermen, charter operators, processors and community organizations that represent halibut-dependent communities across Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, who support the NMFS decision to allow more bycatch when halibut abundance is high and less bycatch when abundance is low. As of early March, the Justice Department was preparing the entire administrative record, with all related documents, to deliver to the federal judge in Anchorage. After that, both sides in the case were to bring their arguments...
Tens of Thousands of Chinook Salmon Discarded as Bycatch in Canadian Trawl Fishery: DFO Report
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Tens of Thousands of Chinook Salmon Discarded as Bycatch in Canadian Trawl Fishery: DFO Report

A new report from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) confirms that an estimated 28,117 salmon were caught and discarded as bycatch in the groundfish trawl fishery off the coast of British Columbia in the 2022-2023 fishing season, including some 26,273 Chinook salmon. The DFO report, released Jan. 22, said that over 20,000 Chinook salmon were likely thrown overboard, while 3,700 were landed and subsequently discarded as waste. The discard of the Chinooks, a major food source for a remaining 75 endangered Southern Resident killer whales, comes as the Canadian government is investing millions of dollars into protecting Southern Resident orca whales, plus millions of dollars to support wild salmon. “The is an appalling waste for not just a salmon species that is listed as threatene...
Unalaska, Tribal Entities at Odds Over Chinook Salmon Bycatch
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Unalaska, Tribal Entities at Odds Over Chinook Salmon Bycatch

Increasingly low returns of prized Chinook salmon in Alaska have become a hot new point of contention between the city of Unalaska and tribal entities calling for a cap of zero king salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) advised the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) on Jan. 28 that six tribal entities have asked NMFS to begin an emergency rulemaking under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) that would halt the bycatch of Chinook salmon in the Bering Sea pollock travel fishery. The NMFS has urged the NPFMC to review the request and provide input. If the council does not review the request, NMFS is expected to independently review it consistent with section 305(c) (1) of the MSA,...
Federal Fisheries Council Action on Bycatch Prompts Critical Rebuttal
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Federal Fisheries Council Action on Bycatch Prompts Critical Rebuttal

A group of commercial, sport and subsistence fishing entities are taking issue with a decision by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) to postpone setting limits on chum salmon bycatch and reducing seafloor damage caused by midwater trawl gear. Their concerns were summarized in a statement issued Oct. 12 by the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA), SalmonState, DeepStrike Sportfishing and the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association. During its October meeting in Anchorage from Oct. 2-10, the council approved analysis of additional management measures to minimize chum salmon bycatch. The council acknowledged that about  99% of the chum salmon encountered as bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery are encountered ...
NOAA Fisheries Offering $2.3M for Bycatch Reduction Projects
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NOAA Fisheries Offering $2.3M for Bycatch Reduction Projects

NOAA Fisheries on Sept. 28 announced funding totaling about $2.3 million is available for collaborative bycatch reduction projects. NOAA has invited non-federal researchers who are working on development of improved fishing practices and innovative gear technologies that reduce bycatch to apply. The stated goal is to find proactive, meaningful and equitable community engagement in the identification, design and/or implementation of proposed projects. The agency is encouraging applicants to include and demonstrate principles of diversity, equity, including and accessibility. Funding is expected to be issue in 2024. Bycatch is defined by NOAA as catch fishermen don’t want, cannot sell or aren’t allowed to keep. The concern is that bycatch of fish, marine mammals or turtles can h...
Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force Delivers Recommendations
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Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force Delivers Recommendations

The Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force has delivered its recommendations to the state on research, state engagement and management priorities on tackling the subject of thousands of fish caught incidentally to directed fisheries. In its final report to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the task force said that while bycatch can and should be reduced, it can’t be completely eliminated without significant economic consequences. The report recommended continuous work to reduce bycatch through research, implementation of effective management measures and public engagement. As the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council has heard frequently in testimony, any action taken to change management of one fishery always has some impact on other vessels targeting other fisheries in the same area.  Balancing th...
Bycatch Review Task Force Nears Time for Report to Alaska Governor
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Bycatch Review Task Force Nears Time for Report to Alaska Governor

The Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force, created last November by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, is preparing to submit its final recommendations to the governor next month. One draft recommendation on the table for the task force would put a firm numerical cap on chum salmon bycatch by the Pollock trawlers in the Bering Sea. Last year alone, the Bering Sea Pollock fishery took 540,000 chums as bycatch, as well as halibut, crab and other species. Salmon runs have been so low on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) hasn’t allowed residents of these river villages even a salmon subsistence fishery, a fishery critical to their food supply and cultural heritage. The recommended cap on chum salmon taken as bycatch is a phased-in one, as any ca...