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Bearing Sea Pollock Fishers Have New Chinook Salmon Bycatch Program for 2011



Juneau, AK—Fishers trawling for pollock in the Bering Sea will have new guidelines beginning next year to minimize the accidental catch—or “bycatch”—of Chinook salmon in their nets.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service today published in the Federal Register the final rule to implement the Chinook salmon bycatch management program for the 2011 pollock fishery. The program:

* Sets a limit on the amount of Chinook salmon that may be caught and shuts down the fishery if that limit is reached;
* Sets up a structure for the pollock fishing fleet to develop incentive plans encouraging each vessel to avoid Chinook salmon at all times while fishing for pollock, not just when bycatch numbers are high;
* Uses a performance standard to ensure that the incentive plan is effective and that bycatch remains below the limit;
* Increases observer coverage for pollock catcher vessels to count every Chinook salmon caught in the pollock fishery.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended the plan as Amendment 91 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. NOAA Fisheries wrote the final rule based on the Council’s plan and taking into consideration public review and comments on the amendment and proposed rule.

The Bering Sea pollock fishery is the largest single species fishery by volume in the United States. It also accounts for about 95% of Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea groundfish fisheries.

“Commercial fisheries as well as communities in Western Alaska depend upon Chinook salmon for their livelihoods and way of life,” said Jim Balsiger, regional administrator for the Alaska Region of NOAA Fisheries. “Minimizing Chinook salmon bycatch is desirable and achievable for pollock fishers as well.”

The final rule and Amendment 91 are available on the internet at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries in Alaska, visit http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov or: www.afsc.noaa.gov

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