Will provide feedback on a’ discussion paper’ for review in December
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council announced recently that it is seeking nominations for a new Salmon Bycatch Committee. Its task is “focused upon issues that affect the Council’s management of salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.”
It follows several actions from the June meeting related to bycatch and research. Agency experts and Council staff will support the new committee, according to the NPFMC write up.
The Council would like “broad and balanced representation from in-river users of chum and Chinook salmon such as Tribal representatives, subsistence fishermen and local community members from western Alaskan regions (e.g., Yukon, Kuskokwim, and Norton Sound/Bering Strait) as well as the Bering Sea pollock fishing industry and impacted CDQ groups and communities.”
The salmon bycatch committee’s role will be to address the Council’s request for feedback on the following:
- a discussion paper on chum salmon bycatch building upon previous analyses from 2012 that will be reviewed during the December 2022 Council meeting;
- the findings and recommendations from the State of Alaska’s Bycatch Review Task Force and the work of the Western Alaska salmon subcommittee;
- current information, including Local, Traditional, and Subsistence knowledge, and needed research to determine what is driving western Alaska salmon declines.
With salmon bycatch the focus at the June Council meeting, public testifiers asked the NPFMC to begin a process to put a cap on chum bycatch, wrote Peggy Parker of SeafoodNews.com. They also asked the Council to consider lowering the Chinook cap to be closer to the actual amount caught.
A genetic report on chum salmon caught by pollock trawls in 2021 showed a total of 546,043 chums, “the second highest bycatch number since 1991 and considerably higher than the 10-year average of 257,023.”
For Chinook salmon, a 2020 genetic stock composition report noted “Based on analysis of 2,614 Chinook salmon bycatch samples, Coastal Western Alaska was the largest contributor (52%). Smaller contributions came from British Columbia (15%), North Alaska Peninsula (13%), and West Coast US (7%).
“The number of fish caught from the Coastal Western Alaska stock was substantially higher than the 10-year average and represented the second highest catch in the last decade,” the report said.
Instead of responding to the pleas from the people, “The Council requested the pollock industry to institute immediate measures to reduce chum bycatch during the summer fishery and report back to the Council on those efforts following the end of the B season,” according to the official minutes from the meeting.
Nomination letters for the NPFMC salmon bycatch committee should include the candidate’s relevant background and interest as well as endorsement from local, regional or industry organizations.
Letters can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations will be open until noon September 30, 2022, and appointments will be announced at the October 2022 Council meeting.