NOAA report shows huge PSC of chum salmon by pollock fleet – Fishermens News
New federal and state reports show that while salmon runs in Alaska have in some cases reached a critical point, trawlers are catching and discarding more chinook and chum salmon from the Yukon and Kuskokwim river systems than subsistence and direct fishers. are not allowed to harvest.
The issue of declining salmon stocks remains complex and multi-faceted, involving many discussions on topics ranging from trawl bycatch to climate change to the impact of juvenile hatchery fish produced in Alaska, Washington State, Japan, Russia and South Korea.
NOAA Fisheries genetic studies of salmon trawl bycatch in 2020 and 2021 released in late May determined that 52% of Chinook salmon bycatch from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pollock trawl fishery in 2020 included approximately 16,796 fish originating from the west coast of Alaska, and that BSAI’s Pollock trawler fleet caught 51,510 chum salmon originating from western Alaska and the upper and middle Yukon River in 2021 .
In 2020, according to the NOAA report, the number of Chinook salmon caught in West Alaska coastal stocks was significantly above the 10-year average and was the second highest catch in the past decade.
Pollock trawlers in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands also caught 546,043 chum salmon as bycatch in 2020 alone, NOAA said.
“The burden of conservation falls on subsistence and commercial salmon fishermen, while factory trawlers are allowed to kill tens of thousands of people in these same river systems (Yukon and Kuskokwim),” said Tim Bristol, director executive of the Salmon State fish protection group.
Bristol said NOAA Fisheries Administrator Janet Coit traveling to Sitka for this week’s meeting of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, an entity Bristol says, “has been largely deaf to repeated pleas from Alaskans for Trawl Bycatch Reduction”.
Meanwhile, NOAA Fisheries has developed its first equity and environmental justice strategy and is gathering feedback through August 19 online, in webinars, by phone, and in in-person meetings.
“Federal and state management agencies are obligated to maintain the continued existence of salmon and our salmon fisheries, and then we implore action,” said Salmon State campaign strategist Lindsey Bloom, who called the Board’s inaction to date indefensible.
Fishing industry veteran Jack Schultheis, managing director of Kwik’Pak Fisheries at Emmonek, said hatchery fish are a bigger problem than bycatch.
When he arrived in western Alaska in the mid-1970s, before the 200-mile limit was adopted, Japanese motherships were fishing off the coast of Alaska. Bycatch has continued since after World War II, but there is less bycatch now than there ever was, he said.
The biggest problem is the millions of hatchery salmon produced each year by Alaska, Washington state, Japan, Russia and South Korea, Schultheis said.
“Hatchery smolts are twice as large as native smolts when released,” Schultheis explained. “Even about 25 years ago, five billion hatchery fish were dumped into the Bering Sea. All fish are getting smaller because they can’t get the food they need. Wild fish are replaced by hatchery fish. This has been an ongoing problem.