Emergency Request to Stop Bycatch Has Been Denied

ALASKA— On Feb.2, National Oceanic Atmospheric Association fisheries announced the denial of a request from six Alaska entities to eliminate Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea Pollock fishery. 

           They also requested the implementation of a hard cap on chum salmon bycatch because it doesn’t meet the necessary criteria for implementing an emergency rule.  

           Petitioners asked commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to close the Bering Sea Pollock fishery this year. In addition, they requested tribal consultations with western and interior Alaska tribes to develop long-term measures to reduce chum salmon bycatch, an effort that NOAA Fisheries said is underway.

           The agency said the petition did not contain information indicating it meets all Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requirements. 

           In addition, the petition did not include information indicating the petitioned action is “practicable,” a statutory requirement, nor was the requested action likely to address the emergency from salmon run failures in western Alaska.

           NOAA officials said that the best available scientific information indicates that those river failures resulted from broad changes to the marine and freshwater environment.

           NOAA Fisheries did acknowledge residents of western Alaska have endured significant cultural and economic losses due to low Chinook salmon runs since 2008. 

           More recently, the 2021 Chinook and chum salmon failures in the Yukon River. As a result, no commercial or subsistence harvests were allowed on the Yukon River in 2021. However, they said they would continue to consult with tribes in western and interior Alaska to develop long-term solutions to minimizing salmon bycatch and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and other stakeholders on bycatch issues.

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