Alaska State Legislature
State Capitol
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Dan Hull, (Chairman)
North Pacific Fishery Management Council
61)5 West 4th, Suite 306
Anchorage, Alaska 99501-2252

April 15, 2015

Re: Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Halibut Bycatch Reduction

Dear Chairman Hull,

As members of the Alaska Legislature with constituencies that include fishermen and families who depend on soundly managed halibut stocks for their wellbeing, we urge the North Pacific FisheryManagement Council to take action as soon as possible to lower halibut bycatch limits in the BeringSea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI). Specifically, we ask that the Council adopt a regulation change thisJune to reduce halibut bycatch limits by 50 percent.

 Over the past decade, more than 62 million pounds of halibut has been caught, killed, and discarded as bycatch in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands. During the same period, landings of halibut as the target species have declined from an already alarmingly small 52 percent of the total removals toonly 34 percent of removals. This startling dynamic, in an ever worsening state, has continued for too long.

In 2014, the BSAI trawl fisheries killed and discarded seven times more individual halibut than the directed fishery in the same region landed. This bycatch total was overwhelmingly comprised of juveniles, weighing less than five pounds on average and well below the level of maturity necessary ever to have reproduced.

In tagging studies conducted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, 70 to 90 percent of halibut tagged in the Bering Sea were recovered in the Gulf of Alaska. Hlence, the waste allowed in the BSAI is adversely affecting halibut users far beyond the Bering Sea.

The impacts on Alaskans have been considerable. Conservation measures implemented over the past 15 years to address declining halibut stocks have fallen disproportionately on the backs of halibut fishers all over the state. While the bycatch limit for the BSAI trawl fleet has hardly changedin decades, catch limits for Individual Fishing Quota owners have been cut by 70 percent, and charter fleet harvests have been reduced by 50 percent in some waters.

  We urge the NPFMC to carefully consider the effects of halibut bycatch on all Alaskan coastal communities and in June make a 50 percent reduction in bycatch limits in the BSAI to ensure that the directed halibut fisheries across Alaskan waters remain viable.

Sincerely,

Senator Lyman Hoffman

Senate District S

Representative Bob Herron

House District 38

Representative Neal Foster

Ilouse District 39

Representative Cathy Munoz

House District 34

Senator Donny Olson

Senate i)istrict T

Senator Dennis Egan

Senate District Q

Senator Peter Micciche

Senate I)istrict 0

Representative joh nathan Kreiss—Tomkins

House I)istrict 35

epresentative Jim Colver

House I)istrict 9

Representative Bryce Edgmon

House District 37

Representative Paul Seaton

HOUSe I)istrict 31

Representative Dan Ortiz

F louse 1)istrict 36

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