Groundfish Forum lobbies for 19 Seattle-based groundfish trawlers
The Groundfish Forum represents the so-called “Amendment 80” trawl fleet that fishes hard on bottom in the Bering Sea, primarily for yellow fin sole and other flounders. It is the fleet that fishery managers agree takes most of the halibut and other fish species as bycatch in the Bering Sea. All of the boats are homeported in Seattle.
The group fought for six years against a proposed management change by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council that would reduce a fixed annual cap of roughly four million pounds of halibut bycatch that would instead fluctuate based on the ups and downs of the halibut stock. That is how the halibut catches are applied each year to all other users – commercial, sport and subsistence.
The new “Abundance Based Management” tool was passed by the NPFMC last December and will be in place by 2024. Groundfish Forum executive director Chris Woodley responded: “For the first time in its history, the Council has ignored science and its own analysis and chosen a path that has no conservation benefit and results in a net negative benefit to the nation… During its discussion, the Council ignored the potential that their action could put at least one flatfish company out of business, so we don’t take this issue lightly. We believe this action does not meet the standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and we are exploring all options due to the unprecedented nature of this decision.”