This Week in Bycatch - July 02
Non-pelagic, or bottom, trawlers in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands regulatory areas recorded just under one hundred thousand pounds of halibut bycatch mortality for the week of June 22, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS. The weekly catch of targeted species, including arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, and rockfish was almost fifteen million pounds. The total month’s halibut bycatch mortality for all gear types through June 29 was 683,000 pounds, or about a third of the two million pounds caught in the same period by the IFQ longline fleet. The jig, pot, non-IFQ longline, and midwater trawl fleets accounted for less than two percent of that total, with non-pelagic trawlers making up the other ninety-eight percent.
NMFS divides the year into five seasons for the purpose of regulating halibut bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fleet. Each season has a limit for how much halibut can be caught. Exceeding the limit closes the fishery for the remainder of that season. The second trawl season ran from April 1 through July 1. NMFS recorded a total halibut bycatch for Gulf of Alaska trawlers of 264 metric tons, or 582,000 pounds, out of a second-season limit of 341 metric tons, about three quarters of a million pounds. The third season began July 1 and continues until September 1. The allowable halibut bycatch in this period is 462 metric tons, a little over one million pounds.
Less than 100 king salmon were taken as bycatch during the week of June 22. Of the other four salmon species, NMFS recorded a total bycatch of 6390 fish.