Council ready for action on Bering Sea bycatch

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will hold its second meeting of 2015 from April 8-14 at the Anchorage Hilton.

The council’s biggest agenda item will be final action on measures to reduce chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery. The alternatives, introduced for public review in December 2014, include both voluntary and regulatory controls to shorten seasons, provide incentives, and reduce bycatch caps.

The pollock fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, or BSAI, takes substantial amounts of chinook and chum salmon as incidental catch, known as bycatch. The total Bering Sea chinook bycatch by the pollock fleet in 2014 was 15,031 salmon.

The council acknowledges that chinook bycatch management has been effective at keeping the level below limits, but would like to affect vessel behavior in times of low salmon encounters for both chum and chinook while still allowing flexibility to the pollock fleet. The council will need to find the solution that accomplishes all three goals.

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