Kodiak hosts June North Pacific Council meeting

Bering Sea crab mortalities, 5-year NPFMC research priorities are on the agenda. Public can comment through Friday, May 31.

by | May 28, 2024

Meetings set for June 3 – 12 at Kodiak Marketplace; Public comment deadline is Friday, May 31

Unobserved fishing mortality, a review of Bering Sea crab management and a NPFMC five year research plan are among the topics to be addressed during the upcoming Council meeting at Kodiak. Public comments are accepted through May 31.

HERE is the agenda where comments can be posted.

To receive text alerts on Council timing, text the word “NPFMC” to the number 1-833-237-1598.

The golden king crab fishery that occurs along the Aleutian Islands is a species of focus at the June meeting.

In a twist that can’t be blamed on the trawl sector, a posted NPFMC document reveals in its intro that more crab died than was retained — “During the 2023/24 fishery, the estimated retained catch was 2.578 kt (5.7 million lb), while the estimated total catch mortality was 2.755 kt (6.1 million lb).”

The document added this caveat: “At the time of the 2023/24 assessment, the groundfish fisheries had not been completed, so total catch mortality is an estimate, and the total fishery mortality will be updated in September 2024.”

To receive text alerts on Council timing, text the word “NPFMC” to the number 1-833-237-1598.

Unobserved fishing mortality (UFM) will focus on the “big three” crab stocks

An Unobserved Fishing Mortality Working Group (UFMWG) was formed in October 2023 to address Council-approved “objectives and end products.”

The Working Group emphasized that the gear types that currently lack research but may contribute to a higher magnitude of UFM are lost pots, NPT (non-pelagic trawl), and PT (pelagic trawl). The WG suggests research on bottom contact, event-level crab encounter rates, and lethality for these gear types be prioritized.

The Working Group document says: “Given the complexity associated with estimating UFM, the WG determined that it was most appropriate to discuss UFM in the context of the “big three” crab stocks: Eastern Bering Sea (EBS) snow crab, Bristol Bay red king crab (BBRKC), and EBS Tanner crab. While many of the topics discussed may be applicable to other federally managed crab stocks, the specific recommendations of this WG apply only to these three stocks.”

The NPFMC’s stated objectives are:
● Identify data sources, major data gaps, and assumptions to estimate unobserved mortality for stock assessments and to better understand temporal/spatial extent across fisheries and gear types.
● Provide research priority recommendations and/or needed research projects.

The anticipated end products include:
● Framework for estimating unobserved fishing mortality and explicitly incorporating estimates into stock assessments.
● Report on specific research priorities and data needs.
● Recommendations for approaches to investigate spatial/temporal extent of unobserved mortality over fisheries and gear types to the extent practicable.

HERE is the agenda where comments can be posted.

To receive text alerts on Council timing, text the word “NPFMC” to the number 1-833-237-1598.

Comments on research priorities call for focus on trawl impacts to fisheries, ocean environment

The NPFMC wants public input on its research priorities for the next five years.

Comments were accepted through May 17. Sixty comments were submitted to the federal record and all called for studies on trawl impacts on the ocean environment.

Below are the recommended research priorities by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC):

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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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