NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would reduce bycatch limits for Pacific halibut in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish fisheries.

Bycatch is also known as “prohibited species catch,” or PSC. The proposed fishery management plan amendment, "Amendment 111," would reduce PSC limits for halibut in specific amounts in four groundfish sectors:

- Amendment 80 sector (non-pollock trawl catcher/processors) by 25% to 1,745 mt;
- BSAI trawl limited access sector (all non-Amendment 80 trawl fishery participants) by 15% to 745 mt;

Because of Alaska’s budget crisis, state agencies cut spending this year and are planning additional reductions in the next few years. For the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, those cuts have meant less monitoring of fish runs, a change that will lead to more conservative management and less fishing opportunity.

Coming up this week, there are even more options on the table regarding Gulf of Alaska bycatch after the North Pacific Council met; we have a new director of the commercial fisheries division, and once again proof that you shouldn't mess with the Lacey Act. Help from KSKA's Ellen Lockyer AND Monica Gokey in Anchorage, and KDLG's Molly Dischner in Dillingham.

Scott Kelley is Alaska's new director of commercial fisheries as of Oct. 21, replacing Jeff Regnart, who retired at the start of October. Kelley has worked for the Department of Fish and Game for nearly 25 years, all of it in division of commercial fisheries and a since-merged research arm.

Kelley started his career with fish and game as a port sampler at Excursion Inlet, a major processing facility west of Juneau. Since then he’s held a variety of roles in Southeast Alaska, including working on stock assessments, as an area management biologist, and as a regional management coordinator.

He went missing on a run from Egegik to Ugashik. Our thoughts are with the family. -Ed.

Following the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) first successful use of a stereo camera to verify a US study, some say this technology will soon become a more conventional way to conduct marine research.

The study was conducted to help inform the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) of the state of coral in the Pribilof Canyon in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska and whether it was threatened by pollock fishing in the area, before they made their decision earlier this month to continue to allow fishing there.

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, crews are transitioning seasonal forward operating locations throughout Alaska.

Crews are scheduled to close FOL Deadhorse Thursday. During the summer months, aircrews were deployed to FOL Deadhorse in support of Arctic Shield 2015.

Crews closed FOL Cordova Sept. 30 and are scheduled to open FOL Cold Bay, Thursday, in advance of winter fisheries.

Coast Guard aircrews transferred equipment and air assets to Cold Bay to reduce response time to Bristol Bay, the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands during peak fishing season.

New BBRSDA president Abe Williams, young pollock affected by warm waters, and more.

NOAA Fisheries is developing an Agency-wide Ecosystem-based Fishery Management policy, which outlines a set of principles to guide our actions and decisions over the long-term. The draft policy goals and framework are informed by NOAA Fisheries’ own practices and experience from that of our partners. These ideas are intended to limit neither discussion nor consideration of other potential policy goals.

Crabbers are anxious about survey estimates for snow crab, and even more anxious about how those estimates don’t synch with allocation models.

Bristol Bay red king crab and tanner crab are less than last year’s biomass levels, but still roughly on par with long-term averages. Allocations for snow crab, the largest of the three main commercial crab harvests, could take a worse dive this season, resulting from a questionable modeling method that could make the Alaska Department of Fish and Game manage the fishery more cautiously than usual, up to and including lowering crabbers’ quota.