Fish Radio
November 6, 2013           Observer data for longline fleet, high discards                                      

Longlining halibut

Longlining halibut

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — A first look at observed catches from the longline fleet. More after this –

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 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


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