November 6, 2013 Observer data for longline fleet, high discards
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — A first look at observed catches from the longline fleet. More after this –
Fish Radio is brought to you by the At-Sea Processors Association. APA fishing companies hold job fairs and support training programs to promote good paying job opportunities for Alaskans in the Alaska pollock industry. Learn more about fishing and processing jobs at www.atsea.org
Check out the line up at Pacific Marine Expo– new mid-week dates: November 20-22 in Seattle. www.pacificmarineexpo.com
This year for the first time the expanded observer program has been covering small boats and the hook and line fleet. Besides getting data on what’s actually coming over the rails, the program has three main goals –
The three main goals are being accomplished so far. — Reduce bias by randomly selecting when vessels or trips were observed. Second was to fill data gaps – there were a number of fisheries, particularly the smaller boat fisheries we had never observer before, and also because of bias we did not have the kind of coverage we wanted on some of our other fisheries, like shallow water trawl flatfish in the Gulf — and third, to distribute costs among all the participants who are benefitting from the observer information.
Glenn Merrill is the Assistant regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries in Juneau.
The category with the most new coverage and information was the catcher vessel hook and line in the Gulf of Alaska — in that fishery we did see some substantial discards in those fisheries compared to some other gear types — in the skate fisheries, rockfish, shark and halibut discards in the directed halibut fishery in particular – that we didn’t have information on before.
Based on data from January through August, seven percent of all longline fishing trips were observed. When that percentage is extrapolated over the entire fleet, discards were estimated at just over nine thousand metric tons of halibut, or over 20 million pounds. Roughly 3 million pounds of P cod and five million pounds of skates were discarded.
That is the actual metric tonnage directly observed on the catcher vessel fleet directed halibut, sablefish and pacific cod fisheries.
Merrill says the new data could eventually result in new fishery management plans and bycatch caps, but any changes are a few years away —
This is a brand new program for us – I think we feel confident with the data but it’s always nice to have at least a year or two of data under your belt before you start making decisions about future management – but ultimately it could.
Link tot he observer report here
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at www.oceanbeauty.com .. In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch