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.
Final action on Gulf of Alaska king salmon bycatch in non-pollock trawl fisheries is scheduled for the June 3-11 meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council at Juneau, as well as the initial review of discussion papers on Gulf trawl bycatch management and Gulf trawl data collection. The federal council also is working on a Gulf trawl catch share program.
Some area fishermen want full observer coverage of all trawl vessels in the Gulf of Alaska, as well as full retention of all fish caught incidentally. As a result, millions of pounds of fish caught incidentally to the directed harvest would be processed for food, rather than thrown back dead into the ocean, they contend.
The 25,000 cap on Chinook salmon bycatch in the Gulf pollock fishery approved by the council went into effect in August 2012, but the Alaska Marine Conservation Council noted that other trawl fisheries in the Gulf also caught king salmon as bycatch while targeting flatfish, cod and rockfish. In 2010, these other Gulf trawl fisheries caught nearly 10,000 Chinook salmon as bycatch, AMCC said.
At COMFISH Alaska 2013 on April 11 at Kodiak, panelists discussed the prospect of a catch share program underway for Gulf groundfish trawlers and pot cod boats.
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