Spring into action to reduce bycatch

Over the years, I have heard many fishermen in this community say that bycatch in the trawl fishery in the Gulf of Alaska is wrong and that if only we could do something about it, the stakeholders in this fishery or that would be better off.
Well, in recent years, amidst some pretty stark restrictions in halibut and chinook salmon quotas and escapements, we have seen some progress in this endeavor. Many, including me, think we have not done enough or won enough, but we have made a few baby steps toward more fish being available for harvest instead of being kicked overboard as “wastage.”
I have been able to attend a couple of North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings in recent years in order to testify for reduced bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries. Many of you have faithfully sent in letters of comment and/or signed on to petition-type letters to the NPFMC. Believe me these efforts have been noticed.
The one constant over the years speaking out against this waste and always advocating for the halibut and salmon stakeholders of the GOA communities has been the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. Regardless of gear sector, whether commercial, charter, or private, AMCC has been there to advocate for less waste and more harvest for stakeholders in Alaska’s coastal communities.
The motion to cap the chinook salmon bycatch in the GOA non-pollock trawl fishery will be taken up at the April meeting of the North Council. The deadline for comment will be just after mid-March. Do a little homework and write to the council and let them know that chinook salmon are important to you and your family. Go to the AMCC website at www.akmarine.org to get more information about commenting to the council and other ways to help.
Pete Wedin

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