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Senator Micciche and Alaska Senate Applauded for Supporting Chinook Bycatch Reductions

The Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) is applauding Senator Peter Micciche and other co-sponsors and members of the Alaska Senate for passing Senate Resolution (SR) 5 today. The resolution encourages fishery managers to lower limits on Chinook bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, and supports increased coverage by fishery observers to obtain accurate estimates on bycatch. It passed with 18 yeas and no opposition.

“On behalf of our organization and members across the state that depend on healthy Chinook salmon stocks, we thank Senator Micciche, other co-sponsors and the Senate for their leadership in reducing bycatch. SR 5 is an important statement from our legislature that fishery managers must go further to reduce waste of our valuable king salmon,” said Kelly Harrell, Executive Director of AMCC.

Senator Micciche from Senate District O that includes the Kenai Peninsula was the original sponsor of the bycatch resolution and shepherded it through the Senate. Other co-sponsors of the resolution included Senators French, Coghill, Fairclough, Bishop, Egan, Olson, Dunleavy, Dyson, Wielechowski, Gardner, Giessel, Meyer, and Ellis.

“Ensuring healthy king salmon runs is a matter of vital importance to our state, our communities, commercial and sport fishermen, and subsistence harvesters. At a time of low abundance, it has been clear we have to do what is in our power to give our kings a fighting chance. Ratcheting down bycatch limits in trawl fisheries is one action we can take now to support the health of our Chinook runs that we depend on,” said Pete Wedin, organizer for AMCC and a charter boat operator out of Homer.

A similar resolution (HR 6) that was moving through the House and was sponsored by Representative Paul Seaton from Homer was withdrawn last week. Representative Stoltze introduced an amendment that was counter to the intentions of the resolution and led Seaton to pull HR 6 from consideration.

“We sincerely hope members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council heed this call from the Alaska Senate, as well as letters from the Bush caucus, several Board of Fish Advisory Committees, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and numerous fishing organizations, fishermen and residents who are all calling on them to further reign in bycatch,” added Harrell.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will be taking up the first-ever cap on Gulf of Alaska Chinook salmon bycatch in non-pollock fisheries at their meeting in Juneau in June.

The full text of SR 5, the Senate resolution can be viewed here:

http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill_text.asp?hsid=SR0005A&session=28

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