ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The North Pacific Fishery Management Council wants to cap king salmon bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska. Last year, pollock trawlers netted over 41,000 salmon.
NPFMC is proposing a cap of 22,500 -- right now there is no cap. Julie Bonney, the Executive Director of Alaska Groundfish Databank, says the Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery is too fast-paced to keep track of bycatch, and make money. Bonney says the openings are very short and fishing vessels are racing to catch as much as possible. She says the Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery should be managed more like the Bering Sea pollock fishery.
"So when you have a catch share program it allows you to slow down, take your time, and balance both bycatch and economic return of the fishery," said Bonney.
The proposal follows a year where several rivers across the state saw low Chinook salmon returns. But biologists say there is no way to know where the salmon that are caught up in the pollock trawlers would have gone.
"The fact of the matter is that they are Chinook salmon that somebody depends on, you know, for either their livelihood, their subsistence or their recreation," said Pete Wedin an Alaska Marine Conservation Council Board member.
The NPFMC will vote on the proposal at its June meeting in Nome. If passed, it would go into effect in 2012.