Salmon Bycatch in the Bering Sea Pollock Fishery

An opportunity to comment on the EIS for reducing the incidental catch of salmon by trawl vessels fishing for pollock in the Bering Sea.  Comments for the scoping are due by Feb. 15th.  Below is the press release on the NMFS website.

The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the Alaska Region of NOAA Fisheries are getting ready to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on measures to reduce the incidental catch of salmon by trawl vessels fishing for pollock in the Bering Sea.

Chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the pollock fisheries has increased significantly in recent years. Reducing and controlling salmon bycatch is one of the most important issues being discussed by the Council this year.

In 2007, NOAA Fisheries implemented management measures that give the pollock industry more flexibility to move their fishing operations to avoid areas of high salmon bycatch. As a follow-up to this action, the Council initiated this EIS analysis of alternatives to further address salmon bycatch. These alternatives include implementing new salmon area closures or establishing bycatch limits that would close the pollock fisheries once the limit is reached.

“The Council is looking at the current regulations and limits on salmon bycatch for the pollock fisheries,” said Doug Mecum, Deputy Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region. “The Council will be evaluating the possible effects of new regulatory closures and salmon bycatch limits.”

“This is the scoping period for the upcoming EIS. We’re asking now for written comments from the public on the issues, including potential impacts and alternatives that should be considered in revising salmon bycatch management,” said Mecum.

The public comment period for scoping on the EIS ends February 15.

Instructions for submitting comments and more detail can be found at www.fakr.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/default.htm

Any regulation changes will be designed to maintain a healthy marine ecosystem, ensure the long-term conservation and abundance of salmon, and to provide maximum benefit to fishermen and communities that depend on these resources.

Analysts will evaluate potential effects on salmon stocks and other components of the marine environment. Social and economic impacts also will be considered, including the effects that salmon bycatch management measures would have on pollock fishermen and on people who rely on commercial, subsistence, and recreational salmon fisheries.

For further information, contact Gretchen Harrington at 907-586-7228 or gretchen.harrington@noaa.gov

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