The Journal of Commerce
“Glacial” is the word most often used to describe the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process, but that’s actually unfair to glaciers.
Not even time-lapse photography would reveal much movement on reducing halibut bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska until the council’s vote June 8 in Kodiak to cut it by 15 percent starting in 2014.
The only previous cut in trawl halibut bycatch was a 27.4 metric ton reduction for the rockfish program passed in 2010 that represented about 1.4 percent of the 2,000 metric ton, or 4.4 million pound, trawl halibut bycatch allotment in place since 1986.
Rather than compromise on the amount of the reduction, as many expected, the council compromised with the trawl fleet on time by phasing in the maximum cut under consideration over three years.
We applaud the council action as an important first step, and encourage the members to continue pushing toward more meaningful measures to reduce bycatch even further.
The trawl fleet made [a] series of self-defeating arguments against cutting halibut bycatch, taking the position the move was more allocation than conservation, pointing fingers at discards in the commercial halibut fishery, suggesting trawlers are balancing the ecosystem by removing arrowtooth flounder and juvenile halibut, and even attacking the International Pacific Halibut Commission.
A majority of the council — namely, the Alaska delegation — didn’t buy any of that.---
For more, follow the link to The Alaska Journal of Commerce.