Washington, D.C.— Thursday, U.S. Representative Mary Peltola shared a letter to NOAA Administrator Janet Coit expressing deep concern over the recent NOAA Fisheries report revealing that nine killer whales were incidentally caught in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Island (BSAI) groundfish trawl fisheries this year, with just one released alive. As the issue of marine mammal interactions in commercial fishing has intensified, Representative Peltola emphasized the urgency of addressing this alarming bycatch problem.
“Whales being snared in trawl nets aren’t just tragic accidents—it’s clear evidence that our current approach to reduce bycatch is not working,” said Representative Peltola.“Our ocean environments are fragile and the entire ecosystem is being impacted by trawling, from our devastated crab populations on the ocean floor up to the largest mammals. I wrote to Administrator Coit to urge that NOAA thoroughly investigate these entanglements to determine why and how they are happening and what can be done to protect whales and other marine species from bycatch. We must return our oceans to abundance to protect Alaskan jobs and our ways of life.”
Representative Peltola is working collaboratively with all stakeholders, fisheries managers, and user groups to develop innovative bycatch solutions at every level, from Congress on down to individual vessels and gear improvements. A comprehensive approach to reducing bycatch would enable responsible fishing practices while protecting marine mammal populations, and safeguard Alaska’s ocean resources for future generations.
The text of Representative Peltola’s letter is included with this release.