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Call For Lower Salmon Bycatch

US - Members of the Federal Subsistence Board are recommending that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council lower by thousands the number of salmon caught incidentally in Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea pollock fisheries.

The board, which oversees the federal subsistence management programme, voted at its meeting on 3 and 4 May in Anchorage to recommend a hard cap of 15,000 king salmon caught as bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska Pollock fishery, and a hard cap of 50,000 chum salmon in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.

Tundra Drums reports that the federal fisheries council is scheduled to make a final decision on king salmon bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fishery during its June meeting in Nome, and a final decision on Bering Sea bycatch of chum salmon in the groundfish fishery at its December meeting in Anchorage.

At its April meeting in Anchorage, the federal fisheries council adopted a preliminary preferred alternative of a prohibited species catch limit of 225,000 Chinook salmon for the western and central Gulf of Alaska pollock fisheries.

Additionally, the preliminary preferred alternative would implement an interim observer requirement of 30 per cent coverage for trawl vessels under 60 feet while fishing for pollock in the central or western Gulf of Alaska. That interim requirement would expire once the observer restructuring programme is implemented, likely in January 2013 because that programme also includes observer coverage on vessels less than 60 feet.

Full retention of all salmon would be required by all vessels directed fishing for Pollock, and the National Marine Fisheries Service would work with the industry to improve observed and extrapolated Chinook salmon estimates and their timeliness.

According to Tundra Drums, for the Bering Sea fishery, the council voted previously on a target lower cap of 47,591 Chinook salmon in the Bering Sea pollock fishery and in February of this year considered hard caps on the chum bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery of 50,000-325,000 fish.

the Fish Site Editor

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