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This Week in Bycatch - September 10

Nancy Heise

Pacific halibut bycatch mortality rose for the third straight week in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries.  Onboard observers reported just over one hundred seventy thousand pounds to the National Marine Fisheries Service for the week ending August 31.  The largest share, about one hundred sixty three thousand pounds, was caught with non-pelagic or bottom trawl gear.  Just under sixty four thousand pounds came from Area 630, a large chunk of the central Gulf of Alaska between the east side of Kodiak and the entrance to Prince William Sound, all from vessels targeting arrowtooth flounder.  Area 513, just east of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, had the second highest halibut mortality with almost fifty-five thousand pounds, split just about evenly between vessels fishing for flathead sole and rock sole.   

Total halibut bycatch mortality for the month of August was five hundred seventy three thousand six hundred eighty six pounds.  The fleet participating in the IFQ longline halibut fishery caught just short of two million pounds during the same period. 

Observers recorded one thousand seven hundred thirty three chinook salmon caught during the week ending August 31.  One thousand three hundred seventy six were caught by pelagic trawlers targeting pollock in Area 610, on the southern side of the Eastern Aleutians.  Sixty-three thousand salmon of the other four species were caught across all areas. 

Twenty six thousand five hundred thirty seven king, bairdi, and opilio crab ended up as bycatch, the highest number in several weeks. About half of that came from bottom trawlers fishing for yellowfin sole in Area 524 in the northern Bering Sea, who caught fourteen thousand opilio crab.

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