Salmon genetics likely to dictate any decision; more “discussion” in February
Last April the North Pacific Fishery Management Council rejected calls for a chum cap by its AP and new Salmon Committee, instead opting for “more policing” and “self-regulation.”
“From my seat, this is now a humanitarian crisis,” said Acting NPFMC chair, Bill Tweit of Washington. “Three consecutive years of people of Western Alaska not having access to one of the most important sources of food, one of the most important elements in their culture, one of the most important parts of their lives is, to me, unimaginably devastating… However, the full extent of the council’s ability to remedy the crisis is not clear.”
In response to the chum cap recommendations, Stephanie Madsen, executive director of the At-sea Processors Association, said “There’s no way the pollock fleet can sit here and say we will accept these,” claiming the hard caps “could shut down the Alaska pollock fleet entirely,” not just her member companies.
Her organization represents Bering Sea pollock fishing giants American Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, Arctic Storm, Coastal Villages and Glacier Fish.
During last year’s Alaska Bycatch Task Force meetings, Madsen always diverted discussions about trawl salmon bycatch to the need “for more studies to determine the origins of the Western AK salmon.”
Below is the graph that will likely be used as a basis for any chum bycatch restrictions by pollock trawlers
According to the data by trawl lobbyists and the NPFMC data, less than 9% of the chum bycatch was destined to return to Western AK rivers. Salmon that originated from Asia or other regions would be discounted.