Fish Radio

Comments wanted as GOA trawl bycatch reduction plan is crafted

July 21, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Help craft the new Gulf plan to cut trawl bycatch—more after this.

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Crafting a program to reduce trawl bycatch in Gulf groundfish fisheries has been underway for three years. In October the North Pacific Council will begin piecing the new program together in a process that could take several years.

In the terms of better management of all the groundfish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska, in terms of providing incentives to reduce bycatch, better utilize groundfish species, improve operational efficiencies – so the program goals are very broad.

Rachel Baker is a fisheries management specialist at NOAA Fisheries in Juneau.  The new program will   include some form of catch shares to user groups and possibly communities. NOAA and the Council are now preparing an Environmental Impact statement, or EIS, to analyze potential impacts to the human environment.

 Primarily the impacts on the operations of the fisheries, first off, whatever the program ends up being, how that might change the management of fisheries we currently have.

And then the economic impacts are always a big one to try and analyze – if you change the timing of fisheries or all of the other things associated with that – delivery to processors, all those things that  flow through.

I think those are the main things we’re looking at –   and then of course the social impacts on the communities directly involved in the GOA groundfish fisheries. That is of critical importance to this program and was clearly identified by the Council as an important consideration as it develops this program.

The massive new program could include up to 25 species in the Western, Central and West Yakutat regions of the Gulf.  But even that has yet to be defined.

The public can weigh in now on fish species and all other options being considered by managers.  Baker says at this point, nothing is cast in stone.

 If people have very different ideas about alternatives for bycatch management we would really appreciate those comments and the more specific the better, in terms of particular approaches,  Also about things they definitely don’t want to see.  If a member of the public is worried about bycatch management but they  don’t think catch shares are a viable alternative, we’d really appreciate hearing other ideas.  

 She stresses that public input plays a big role in shaping policy –

I have been working in this process for 12 years and I am amazed at the power of public comments in influencing the outcomes of the fishery management programs we develop.  

Comments on the EIS are accepted through August 28. Find links at our website

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.