Trawlers will propose “gear revisions” at NPFMC workshop on Oct. 2

Trawl stakeholders will be proposing improvements to existing performance standards with the focus on crab bycatch.

by | October 1, 2023

Does this open the door for trawlers to create their own regulations?

On Monday, October 2, the NPFMC will host a workshop “to engage with stakeholders and fishery participants on ways to revise the trawl gear performance standard so that it is clear, enforceable and meets Council objectives.” It will focus primarily on “crab parts.”

The workshop is in response to a North Pacific Fishery Management Council report last April that revealed in writing for the first time that pelagic (mid-water) trawl gear can average up to 85% on the bottom.

The paper also revealed that the federal government applies its rules differently to on-bottom (non-pelagic) and pelagic (mid-water) gears.  

At Monday’s meeting, staff from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, NMFS Alaska Region and the NPFMC will make presentations.

But the trawl sector will be recommending the rules.

Only 14 comments were made by noon on a closing deadline of midnight (AK time) on Sunday. One by William Gehrlein summed up concerns by many that the meeting will promote more “discussions and delays” and few outcomes that favor any changes to trawl behaviors.

Comments can be made until October 1, 11:59pm Alaska time.

“One would think that the Enforcement Committee would be made up of experts on the topic of how pelagic trawl gear performance standards should be enforced, given the name of that committee. Now they want to consult with trawlers to get advice on how to do their job of enforcement. This approach could be very effective at changing enforcement to make it easier for pelagic trawlers to be “accidentally” dragging the bottom without any consequences. Why is input being requested only from representatives from the industry? Should we expect a new definition of pelagic trawling to emerge from this consultation?

Submitted comment by William gehrlein
Professor emeritus, Univ. of Delaware

Here is everything people need to know about the Trawl Gear Performance Workshop and how to participate —

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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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