SALMON AND POLLOCK
Salmon support large and critically important commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries throughout Alaska and elsewhere. Salmon management programs, including significant investments in hatchery capacity to supplementnatural runs, occur in Russia, Korea, and Japan, as well as for North American stocks in Canada, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. In addition, salmon are taken incidentally in offshore groundfish trawl fisheries,especially in the pollock pelagic trawl fishery. Nearly all salmon taken as bycatch are Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and chum salmon (O. keta). The origin of salmon taken as bycatch in the Bering Sea includes rivers in western,southcentral and southeast Alaska, Asia, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.
HISTORY OF BYCATCH CONTROL MEASURES
In the mid‐1990s, the Council and NOAA Fisheries implemented regulations to control the bycatch of chum and Chinook salmon taken in the BSAI trawl fisheries. These regulations established closures in areas and at times when salmon bycatch had been highest, based on historical observer data. The BSAI Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) specifies prohibited species catch (PSC) limits for catch of non‐Chinook and Chinook salmon by the directed pollock fishery. When these limits are reached, the FMP authorizes regulatory measures to close the specified areas to directed fishing for pollock. For Chinook salmon, the Chinook Salmon Savings Areas were established under BSAI Amendment 21b and revised under BSAI Amendment 58. These areas close to pollock trawling if 29,000 Chinook salmon are taken. The timing of the closure depends upon when the limit was reached. Amendment 82 further modified the areas to establish a separate Aleutian Islands subarea Chinook PSC limit of 700 fish, the attainment of which by the Aleutian Islands pollock fishery closes the area that is located in the Aleutian Islands (Area 1). For non‐Chinook salmon bycatch, the Chum Salmon Savings Area was established in 1994, by emergency rule, and then formalized under Amendment 35 in 1995. This area is closed to all trawling from August 1 through August 31. Additionally, if 42,000 non‐Chinook salmon are caught in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area during the period August 15 through October 14, the area closes again from September 15 to October 15.
North Pacific Fishery
605 West Fourth Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
. Notice of availability of Amendment 91 to the FMP for Groundfish of the BSAI Management Area to manage Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery. Comment period
through April 19, 2010
Stram, D. L., and J. N. Ianelli. 2009.
Eastern Bering Sea pollock trawl fisheries: variation in salmon bycatch
over time and space. Pages 827
C. C. Krueger and C. E. Zimmerman,
editors. Pacific salmon: ecology and management in western Alaska'
populations. American Fisheries
Society, Symposium 70, Bethesda,
Maryland; available on the Council’s
mortality of Chinook (#s)
mortality of Chum (#s)
FLEXIBLE MANAGEMENT TOOLS HELP WITH SALMON AVOIDANCE
Although the salmon closure areas are still effective in regulation, since August of 2006 the pollock fleet has been exempted from the closures, first under an exempted fishing permit, and then under Amendment 84. In 2004, information from the fishing fleet indicated that bycatch may have been exacerbated by the current regulatory closure regulations, as much higher salmon bycatch rates were reportedly encountered outside of the closure areas during closure periods. The Council considered other means to control salmon bycatch and allowed pollock cooperatives and community development quota groups participating in a binding inter‐cooperative agreement to utilize a rolling hot spot closure system to adaptively close small areas with high salmon bycatch rates. Participants in the agreement are exempted from compliance with the regulatory savings area closures. Vessels fishing in trawl cod or flatfish target fisheries (who have very little salmon bycatch in their fisheries) are also exempt from the closures. The pollock industry is also involved with developing a salmon excluder device for trawl gear, which allows salmon to escape from the trawl net underwater, while retaining pollock. The success of such devices relies on the different swimming behaviors of pollock and salmon. Through experimental fishery permits authorized by the Council and NOAA Fisheries, various iterations have been tested, and their use by pollock skippers is increasing.
ON THE HORIZON
In April 2009, the Council adopted Amendment 91, which replaced the exemption conferred under Amendment 84 with specific, hard caps for BSAI Chinook salmon bycatch. Under this amendment, the fleet as a whole can fish under a hard cap of 47,591 fish, or participate in a NMFS‐approved incentive program and fish under a higher cap level of 60,000 fish. These cap limits are allocated by season and among sectors. Once a seasonal cap for a sector is reached, pollock fishing in the Bering Sea is closed for the remainder of the season for that sector. Vessels that do not choose to fish under an incentive plan agreement (IPA) would be limited to a proportion of a lower cap of 28,496 fish.
The Council is currently evaluating ways to better control bycatch of chum salmon in the BSAI, including cap threshold limits, sector specific allocations, and area closures. The Council will finalize alternatives for analysis at the June 2010 meeting. The Council is also evaluating Chinook salmon bycatch in GOA groundfish trawl fisheries. Chinook salmon are taken regularly from the start of the trawl fisheries on January 20th through early April, and also in high quantities during June/July and September/October in the pollock fishery. The Council will be reviewing a discussion paper in April 2010, and determine if further action may be needed.