Bering Sea halibut bycatch reforms are still in the works, but the U.S. Department of Commerce has recommended a stopgap measure on behalf of the small boat fishermen most injured by sinking allocations.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has responded to the letter sent Dec. 18, 2014, by the six Alaskan members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council asking for an emergency 33 percent reduction in Bering Sea halibut bycatch limits.
The department’s Jan. 20 response recommends that the International Pacific Halibut Commission increase the quota for regulatory Area 4CDE from its 2015 projections, based on an appeal to socioeconomic crisis aversion and ongoing efforts to voluntarily reduce halibut bycatch by the groundfish fleet.
According to Glenn Merrill, assistant Alaska Region administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, the 33 percent emergency reduction is still under consideration.
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