The National Marine Fisheries Service has allocated an additional 1,600 chinook salmon to be used as bycatch for the Gulf of Alaska non-pollock, non-rockfish groundfish trawl fleet.
The year-round Gulf of Alaska non-pollock, non-rockfish fishery had to shut down on May 2, having exceeded its allocation of 2,700 chinook salmon bycatch. Somewhere between 13,000 to 15,000 metric tons of groundfish would have been left in the water in the second part of the season, approximately $4.6 million in ex-vessel value and $11.3 million in first wholesale value.
As a fishery scientist who has worked for more than 20 years with trawl fishermen to reduce salmon, crab and halibut bycatch, I find the recent rhetoric around proposed North Pacific Fisheries Management Council changes to the Bering Sea halibut bycatch cap very frustrating. In particular, I hear media campaigns underwritten by environmental NGOs claiming, “It’s been 20 years since the halibut bycatch cap was last reduced,” implying that this has created a conservation issue.
There’s no doubt that the recent announcement of shutting down directed fishing for groundfish will have an effect on Alaska fisheries, particularly for cod, but U.S. fisheries officials told SeafoodSource that this doesn’t mean no one can fish for cod and flatfish.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will hold its second meeting of 2015 from April 8-14 at the Anchorage Hilton.
The council's biggest agenda item will be final action on measures to reduce chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery. The alternatives, introduced for public review in December 2014, include both voluntary and regulatory controls to shorten seasons, provide incentives, and reduce bycatch caps.
JUNEAU -- Commercial fishermen who make their living in federal waters off Alaska are watching as Gov. Bill Walker prepares to announce a set of appointments to the board that manages the multibillion-dollar fishing industry in the North Pacific.
One of the principal roles of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is overseeing the massive, Seattle-based factory fishing vessels that catch and process lower-value groundfish like pollock, mackerel and sole.
A limited entry state waters pollock fishery could ease some of the impending Gulf of Alaska rationalization headaches, but the experimental permits fishing for pollock with non-trawl gear haven’t yet proven their value.
A working group of stakeholders and fisheries officials met for the third and last time on Feb. 18 to discuss adding a limited entry state pollock fishery to Alaska waters for both trawl and non-trawl vessels.
NMFS issues a proposed rule to implement cost recovery fee programs for the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program for groundfish and halibut, and three limited access privilege programs: The American Fisheries Act (AFA), Aleutian Islands Pollock, and Amendment 80 Programs.
NOAA Fisheries is being asked by the state of Alaska and representatives of the Pribilof Island community of Saint Paul to institute emergency action to lower halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea groundfish fisheries.
The request to Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries Eileen Sobeck came in late December from Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, the city of Saint Paul, the Tribal government of Saint Paul and Tanadguix Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation.
The overall feeling at the meeting seemed to be discontent with a grain of salt. Many fishermen who attended voiced their frustration with the observer program in general. But, many also said that they understand what its purpose is.
That sentiment is nothing new to Martin Lefled, who works with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, based out of Seattle, and is the director of the observer program in Alaska for the federal fisheries. He says NMFS has received a lot of feedback and it’s listening.
Conscientious chefs, shoppers, and restaurant goers in search of sustainable seafood just got a heap of new options to choose from. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s highly regarded Seafood Watch program recently announced an unprecedented upgrade in the listing of 21 species of fish caught on the U.S. West Coast. The sustainable seafood ranking program no longer cautions consumers to avoid these species, thanks to improvements to fisheries management in the 14 years following the collapse of the entire West Coast groundfish fishery, when many species were considered dangerously overfished.
The nation’s most influential sustainable-seafood group believes a host of once-troubled West Coast bottom fish are now recovering so well that consumers should seek them out at restaurants and markets.
Marine scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium said Tuesday that government regulators and fishermen had made such strides in how they manage and catch 21 species of rockfish, flounder, lingcod and sole that it listed all among the “good” or “best” seafood choices in the new edition of its popular guide.
A federal judge has ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to prepare a supplemental environmental assessment for the revised marine observer program that was implemented in 2013.
No immediate changes to the program will be made, but Judge Russel Holland found that NMFS did not account for whether it would lose data quality after learning that higher costs would reduce the amount of observer days at sea by more than half compared to what was originally planned.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has published the proposed rule that would allow Bering Sea fishers some flexibility as they target flatfish.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council created the new regulation in April, which would allow Amendment 80 cooperatives and community development quota entities to exchange harvest quota for three flatfish species — flathead sole, rock sole and yellowfin sole.
Washington, D.C. – Alaskan Congressman Don Young today shared his support for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) report reversing its opinion on the status of the Steller Sea Lion, following overbearing National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) restrictions that hampered and closed certain Aleutian Islands groundfish fisheries in 2011.
NMFS has taken a reccomendation from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and tightened halibut bycatch limits for commercial groundfish fishermen in the Gulf of Alaska with plan set to start this year. The Amendment 95 plan will minize halibut bycatch for GOA groundfish fisheries which include pollock, Pacific cod, rockfish and other flatfish.
Charter halibut regulations and groundfish catches top the list of discussion items at the upcoming North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting. The council, which meets in Anchorage Dec. 11 to 16, is tasked with recommending halibut management measures for 2014 and will have to incorporate the preliminary information on the overall halibut harvest quotas.
The numbers for next year’s groundfish catch quotas are scheduled to be posted today by federal overseers. Based on summer surveys, the stocks for Alaska’s largest fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands appear to be holding fairly steady. Most of them were a slight uptick up or a slight downtick down. So we are not expecting major changes.
Fishing industry stakeholders and federal managers in June will begin crafting a bycatch reduction plan for trawl groundfish fisheries in the Gulf. It will include some form of catch share plan, and as the main delivery port for more than $100 million worth of pollock, cod, flats and other fishes, Kodiak is closely guarding any giveaways.
Incidental harvest of thousands of Chinook salmon in Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries is an issue that just won't go away, simmering before federal fisheries managers as debate continues over whether a catch share program would solve the problem.
A new plan is being crafted by federal managers for Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries that will reduce bycatch by trawlers, and it will very likely result in a catch share plan. Now is the time for fishing residents to make sure the new program protects their access to local resources and sustains, instead of drains, their coastal communities.
Currently, the plan includes trawlers in the Central Gulf and both trawl and pot cod gear in the Western Gulf.