This Week in Bycatch with Jeff Lockwood

Apr 10, 2020

Credit Nancy Heise / Wikimedia

Each Thursday, the National Marine Fisheries Service releases bycatch data from the previous week for fisheries across Alaska.  The National Marine Fisheries’ Service, or NMFS, recorded unusually high numbers of bairdi crab bycatch by non-pelagic, or bottom, trawlers during the week ending April 4.  Trawlers targeting arrowtooth flounder in Area 630, the Central Gulf of Alaska between the east side of Kodiak and Prince William Sound, landed 210,256 bairdi crab as bycatch.  This is the highest single week for bairdi reported in the last four years, and the third highest week for all crab species, behind over six hundred thousand opilio crab caught during two weeks in September in 2018.  NMFS’ data indicates that bairdi crab bycatch to date in 2020 is just over 584,000 animals, higher than the yearly total in 2018 and just two thousand crab short of 2019’s total. 2017 recorded about 660,000 bairdi for the year.

King salmon bycatch for the week was concentrated in four areas in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands regulatory area.  About half of the 1,331 kings recorded came from Area 517 southeast of the Pribilof Islands. The majority were caught by pelagic, or midwater, trawlers targeting pollock.  

Halibut bycatch mortality fell to its lowest levels since early February,  around 76,000 pounds. Half was recorded in Area 513 just east of the Pribilofs, with the rest scattered across a number of different areas.