Fishermen's News Online
The action by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, on June 8 in Kodiak, calls for bycatch reduction to be phased in, with a 7 percent reduction in 2014, another 5 percent reduction in 2015 and a third reduction of 3 percent in 2016.
The council vote came after two days of testimony by several dozen people involved in the fisheries industry. The majority of those testifying favored at least a 15 percent reduction in the catch of millions of pounds of halibut caught in prohibited species bycatch during groundfish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska.
In its final motion, the NPFMC approved a 15 percent reduction in bycatch by trawl gear, and hook and line gear in the catcher vessel fleet, plus a 7 percent reduction in bycatch for the freezer-longliner catcher processor boats.
Halibut, a popular white fish once in abundance in Alaska waters, has been in serious decline over the past few years, prompting the International Pacific Halibut Commission to institute drastic reductions in harvest limits, particularly for the commercial setline fleet. Yet no significant efforts have been approved since the late 1980s to reduce the millions of pounds of halibut annually caught incidentally to Gulf of
Bristol Bay drift gillnetters and set netters meanwhile are starting to show up on the grounds, where the forecast is for a run of 32 million sockeyes and a harvest of nearly 23 million reds. In Upper Cook Inlet, harvesters already had taken 51,000 reds.
As of June 12, popular Anchorage seafood retailer 10th & M Seafoods still had whole Copper River kings for $18.95 a pound and king fillets for $25.95 a pound, but the reds, they said, are all gone for this season. Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle was holding forth meanwhile, with whole Copper River kings at $28.99 a pound, king fillets at $43.99 a pound, sockeye fillets at $16.99 a pound and whole sockeyes for $49.95. Their prices have not dropped.
As of June 8, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game was calculating the preliminary Copper River commercial harvest at about 1,038,000 reds and 9,300 kings, and more were expected from another 36-hour opener ended on June 12.
Biologists said the cumulative sonar count through June 8, a total of 542,000 fish, came in well above the anticipated count of 292,900
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