National Fisherman

Some of the rules that limit commercial fishing in the western Aleutian Islands are no longer needed to protect endangered Steller sea lions, federal regulators said in a management document issued Wednesday.
In a 281-page biological opinion, the National Marine Fisheries Service said a new arrangement of Aleutian fishing seasons for pollock, Atka mackerel and Pacific cod has resulted in a harvest system that does not pose additional jeopardy to the fish-eating sea lions.
The biological opinion’s stamp of approval is expected to bring regulatory changes that “would relieve roughly two-thirds of the economic burden imposed on Aleutian Islands’ fishermen” by the current sea lion protection rules, NMFS said in a statement.
“Finding a way to protect endangered sea lions while minimizing costs to the fishing industry is a real challenge,” Jim Balsinger, NFMS Alaska regional administrator, said in the statement. “I applaud the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and stakeholders for recommending a new suite of measures that effectively balances those two objectives.”
The fishing industry and its supporters cheered the new biological opinion, a document required under the Endangered Species Act.
“We are grateful that NOAA Fisheries has taken a new updated view of their 2010 decision,” Thomas Mack, president of the fishing-dependent Aleut Corp., said in a statement. “This means increased fishing opportunities especially in Adak and other areas of the Aleutians. I also thank the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for their continuous determination to bring fishing back to the Western Aleutians.”
Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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