After several days of emotional testimony, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted on Sunday afternoon to reduce limits on halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea – by 21 percent overall.

Many in the groundfish fleet say it will take a big toll on their industry. But halibut fishermen in the Bering Sea say the cut isn’t big enough to save their communities.

The Bering Sea is a tough, unforgiving environment. As Alaska Native peoples we have survived and flourished for thousands of years by sustainably harvesting this sea’s bounty, including the noble Pacific halibut. Our home, the island of Saint Paul in the Pribilof Islands, is located in the central Bering Sea in the heart of the nation’s richest commercial fisheries.

In Sunday’s guest column, the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association referred to trawl fishing as a grave threat and an “environmentally disastrous policy” that has devastated their halibut fishery and “plundered the Bering Sea.”

In two unanimous decisions, the Alaska Supreme Court on Friday came down solidly on the side of a group fighting the proposed Pebble mine, backing efforts by two Alaska icons, former first lady Bella Hammond and state constitutional convention delegate Vic Fischer, to give the public a voice in mineral exploration.

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.

Today, the Alaska Supreme Court issued an opinion that protects Alaskan’s right to know about — and to have a say in — how their resources are used. The Court ruled the Alaska Constitution requires the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide public notice and to evaluate whether exploration activities for the proposed Pebble Mine are in the public interest. The Court said it best: “The state must know how it should act before it acts.”

The Marine Stewardship Council will facilitate mediation for the salmon processors who disagree about who can participate in the client group that has the council’s sustainability certification. Back in April, ten of Alaska’s major salmon buyers asked to rejoin the label they dropped in 2012, saying it will help them tap back into picky European markets.

President Barack Obama’s administration gave an early promise to stop Rep. Don Young’s changes to national fishing laws before the bill has even seen the light of a full House discussion.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, governs all fisheries in the federal waters from three to 200 miles off the U.S. coast, and authorizes eight regional fishery management councils, including the North Pacific Fishery Management Council that oversees fishing in the waters off the Alaska coast. It was first passed in 1976 and most recently reauthorized and amended in 2006.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will spend the first four days of its weeklong meeting in Sitka beginning June 3 deciding on a series of deep cuts in the halibut bycatch allocation for the Bering Sea groundfish bottom-trawl fleet, but it may do so without a majority of the votes on the final decision coming from the Alaska delegation.

Gov. Bill Walker’s office announced on May 20 that Robert Mumford has been appointed to the vacant seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

“I am pleased to announce Bob Mumford as my appointee to the Board of Fish,” Walker said. “His vast range of experience in multiple fields — as a commercial pilot, hunting instructor and fish and game State Trooper — has taken him all over the state.”