This Week in Bycatch - August 20

Aug 21, 2019

Credit Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

***CORRECTION:  A previous version of this piece overstated the amount of king salmon caught as bycatch to date in 2019.  The correct number is twenty-nine thousand five hundred thirty two.  KBBI regrets the error***

Incidental catch of king salmon in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands groundfish fisheries jumped for the second week in a row.  One thousand one hundred six kings were caught across all gear types, up from two hundred last week. About one thousand were caught by pelagic trawlers in two adjacent regulatory areas just north of False Pass in the Bering Sea.  According to National Marine Fisheries Service data, *twenty nine thousand five hundred thirty two king salmon have been caught as bycatch across all groundfish fisheries to date in 2019, the majority by pollock trawlers.  Preliminary harvest estimates by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game indicate that this year’s total harvest of kings across all Alaskan areas and gear types in fisheries targeting salmon is approximately two hundred twenty five thousand fish. 

Total halibut bycatch mortality was about seventy five thousand pounds.  While most of the incidental catch for the last few weeks had been in the Bering Sea near the Pribilof Islands, this week the largest share came from the Gulf of Alaska.  Bottom trawlers fishing Area 630, south of Homer between the east side of Kodiak Island and Prince William Sound, saw around twenty two thousand pounds of halibut mortality, while its western neighbor Area 620 added another seven thousand. 

Bycatch of opilio, tanner, and king crab rose from roughly eight hundred crab last week to four thousand seven hundred this week across all areas and gear types.