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.

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.

The NPFMC is taking up a proposal to create a more flexible catch shares environment for the Amendment 80 fleet. This video and computer animation explains the challenges faced by the fleet, along with proposed solutions.

Here's a new technical memorandum on genetic analysis of Chinook salmon taken as bycatch during Alaska's pollock trawl fisheries in 2011.