NPFMC salmon bycatch committee meets January 25

A cap on chum salmon trawl bycatch is in the mix of "potential" regulatory recommendations.

by | January 11, 2023

Filed Under Bycatch | Management | Meetings

Agenda outlines nine information requests, invites public comments

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Salmon Bycatch Committee has scheduled its second meeting in Anchorage for Wednesday, January 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Alaska Time. The meeting, located at the NPFMC office at 1007 West Third Avenue, is open to the public and also available via Zoom.

The agenda includes: (a) review of the State of Alaska Bycatch Task Force recommendations; (b) Process and timeline for initiating an amendment/analysis; (c) Discussion of regulatory and non-regulatory management measures for consideration including caps and closures considered in 2012; (d) public comments and (d) other business.  

As of January 11, there were no public comments listed.

Recap of first NPFMC salmon bycatch meeting in November

The 12-member committee first met on November 28. According to the minutes of the inaugural gathering, each member was given time “to express their perspectives and to allow for equitable exchange of information and ideas.”  

 The minutes added: “During these opening comments, several committee members described the impact of the current Western Alaska chum salmon crash on subsistence communities in the region, failures to meet chum salmon escapement goals in the region over the past three years and expressed concern over the increase in chum salmon bycatch over the past four years in spite of incentives for the pollock fleet to avoid chum salmon.”

Over half a million chum salmon were taken as bycatch in 2021 by trawlers targeting pollock.

NPFMC salmon reports, June 2022

 Although some committee members supported a recommendation for the Council to immediately initiate analysis for implementation of a chum salmon bycatch cap for the Bering Sea pollock fishery, there was not consensus on this recommendation. (bold text in the minutes)

Nine information targets

The Council directed the Salmon Bycatch Committee to develop recommendations for potential regulatory and non-regulatory chum salmon bycatch management measures, including a cap.

The committee requested that Council staff provide non-prioritized information on the following nine items (noting that some items may require additional time for staff to evaluate):

1. Temperature changes (warm and cold patterns) compared to bycatch.

2. How do temperature changes interact with prey conditions?

3. Salmon encounter rates compared to pollock total allowable catch (TAC).

4. How or what conditions have changed since 2012? For example, increased CDQ dependance on pollock; in river subsistence restrictions, some synthesis of local and traditional knowledge by in river salmon users across western Alaskan regions.

5. Review State of Alaska Bycatch Task Force recommendations and information available on the Task Force website.

6. Pollock fishery avoidance measures in 2022 for chum salmon.

7. Process for initiating analysis of alternative management measures for chum salmon bycatch

8. Expansion of the discussion of Council rationale for current management priorities for salmon bycatch (i.e., Chinook).

 9. Provide information on most recent analyses of fishing effects on habitat related to pelagic fishing gear.

The Council will review committee recommendations following two additional meetings with a report due in April.

Here are links to the agenda attachments for the January 25 meeting:

Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force Final Report

Council timeline for initiating analyses and amendments

Council motion from December 2022

Salmon Bycatch Committee report from November 2022

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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