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This Week in Bycatch - October 2

Nancy Heise

Incidental catch of king, opilio, and tanner crab by vessels targeting groundfish more than doubled for the third week in a row, according to data from onboard observers compiled by the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS.  Crab bycatch totaled just under two hundred and fifty thousand animals for the week ending September 21. About one hundred eighty thousand were opilio crab landed by non-pelagic trawlers fishing for yellowfin sole in Areas 514 and 524, covering the American portion of the northern Bering Sea.  Vessels pot fishing for Pacific cod in Area 512 in southern Bristol Bay added seventeen thousand red king crab to the total. 

Halibut bycatch during the same period remained higher than it had been through the summer, with two hundred fifty three thousand pounds of halibut mortality.  Area 630 again recorded the highest total.  Observers on non-pelagic trawlers in the large area of the Central Gulf of Alaska south of Homer recorded ninety-five thousand pounds of incidental halibut mortality, mostly from vessels targeting bottom pollock and arrowtooth flounder.  Longliners targeting Pacific cod added about twenty four thousand pounds, about the same as the prior week, mainly in Area 610 in the Eastern Aleutians. 

Eight hundred thirty chinook salmon and twelve thousand non-chinook salmon were caught as bycatch across the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands.

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