A complex tapestry of options for a Gulf of Alaska bycatch plan is slowly moving its way toward completion.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has added an alternative to the ongoing redraft of the Gulf of Alaska bycatch management plan. The council now has a broad array of options, including 100 percent observer coverage for Gulf of Alaska trawlers, cooperative catch shares, individual catch shares of both groundfish quota and bycatch caps, and reductions in overall bycatch caps.

Groundfish trawlers using midwater and bottom gear in the Gulf of Alaska have become cumbersome for the council to manage. Steller sea lion protections have coupled with complex bycatch caps to prompt a redesign of the Gulf’s groundfish fishery. Aside from Bering Sea shoreside cod, Gulf of Alaska trawlers are the last remaining federal fishery without a catch share system.

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