This Week in Bycatch
Each week the National Marine Fisheries Service releases data from observers onboard fishing vessels about bycatch of halibut, salmon, and crab, and each week KBBI’s Jeff Lockwood sifts through that data for this report.
Halibut bycatch mortality in Alaskan fisheries fell for the second week in a row, to just under one hundred thousand pounds for the week ending March 21. Much of the drop seems to be from reduced fishing effort throughout the Gulf of Alaska, where the federal Pacific cod season is closed. Area 630 between Kodiak and Prince William Sound recorded just twenty-two hundred pounds of halibut mortality, all from the non-pelagic, or bottom, trawl fishery. Area 513, east of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, reported this week’s highest total, about fifty-six thousand pounds.
So far in 2020, just over one-point-six million pounds of halibut bycatch mortality have been tallied across all areas. The IFQ longline fishery for halibut, which opened March 14, has landed three hundred eighty thousand pounds through its first two weeks.
Bycatch of chinook salmon was also concentrated in the Bering Sea. 82 of this week’s one thousand seven hundred seventy seven kings were taken in the Gulf of Alaska, and all the rest came from the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands regulatory area. Just over half of them, 972, were caught in Area 509 north of False Pass. Most of the rest ended up in midwater trawls in Area 521 northwest of the Pribilofs.
The week’s crab bycatch data was mistakenly uploaded as a blank report. The National Marine Fisheries Service is working to correct the error.