If you believe the science, somewhere around 4.8 million sockeye salmon were likely caught and released in Bristol Bay last year and half them died before spawning. That’s 2.4 million dead fish.

Consider this the mother of all catch-and-release salmon kills in Alaska.

Nobody noticed, however, because it happened out of sight in a commercial fishery where the catch and release has a different name: “non-retention mortality.” Many things happen out of sight in Alaska’s commercial fisheries, and some odd terms are used to describe these things.

“Discards” is the word used for the highly valuable halibut caught and released in federally regulated offshore fisheries. With 88 percent of the halibut caught and released in the pollock fishery – the biggest fishery off the Alaska coast – ending up dead, a reasonable observer might find the description a little disingenuous.

But as with commercial catch and release in Bristol Bay, discards happen out of sight of the general public so few really notice.

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