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This Week in Bycatch - September 17

Nancy Heise

Halibut bycatch mortality in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Island groundfish fisheries dipped slightly for the week ending September 7 by around twenty thousand pounds.  In all, about one hundred forty eight thousand pounds of halibut were killed as incidental catch across all fisheries, according to onboard observers reporting to the National Marine Fisheries Service.  Vessels fishing with pot gear accounted for the smallest share, six hundred sixty one pounds, while non-pelagic, or bottom trawlers were responsible for just over one hundred thirty seven thousand pounds.  The remaining ten thousand pounds was divided almost equally between longliners, mainly targeting Pacific cod, and the pelagic trawl fleet fishing pollock. 

Area 513, a small area east of the Pribilof Islands, registered the largest total halibut mortality for the week, just under fifty-three thousand pounds.  That area also has the highest total mortality for 2019, one million one hundred twenty four thousand pounds, almost twenty thousand pounds ahead of its neighbor to the east, Area 509, north of False Pass. 

Bycatch of king, tanner, and opilio crab more than doubled to sixty-one thousand six hundred sixty two crab across all areas.  For the second week in a row, most of the bycatch, about thirty-nine thousand opilio crab, was caught in Area 524 in the northern Bering Sea. 

One thousand eight hundred eighty one king salmon were caught as bycatch, just over one thousand of them by pelagic trawlers targeting pollock in Area 610 on the south side of the Eastern Aleutians.  Thirty one thousand non-chinook salmon were also recorded.

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