fisheries-conservation

Homer Halibut Festival Focuses on Partnership

Date Posted: September 27, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Calendar/Events, Fisheries Conservation, Halibut Bycatch, Homer, Sustain Alaska's Halibut, Working Waterfronts

By Hannah Heimbuch

Watching two adults hoist a massive pot of hot cod chowder onto the counter, I wondered if enough people would forgo the fall sunshine to make a dent in it. It steamed there on the counter, flanked by baskets brimming with soft slices of fresh bread, seeming to whisper the secret of festival planners through the ages: If you feed them, they will come.

And they did. It was the first event for the united Homer Halibut Festival and Wooden Boat Festival, and on the inaugural night we joined festivity forces and welcomed our community to the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center for a movie and speaker evening featuring the almighty halibut and the ships that pursue them. Whether drawn by the prospect of talking fish, or by the savory food magic of Two Sisters Bakery, one by one the room filled with more than 70 seafood lovers and boaters, scientists, and fishermen.

20160909_181911 International Pacific Halibut Commission took the floor to share some of the history and science behind the Commission’s work and its signature species. We ended the evening with a documentary on the North Pacific’s historic wooden halibut schooners, some still fishing after more than a century harvesting halibut. I carried an empty chowder pot back to the truck. Mission accomplished.

By the time the sun came up again, a new team had assembled for our second event, the Halibut Fest Fish Fry, held this year at the Wooden Boat Festival grounds on the Homer Spit. But before we could fry, we had to prep.

20160910_142144-1Time to engage Homer’s steadfast ecosystem of community helpers. Potato salad for 300 people? Easy. Portioning 100 pounds of halibut donated by local fishermen? No problem; Homer volunteers show up with their own fillet knives. Coal Point opened the doors to its kitchen, and our generous sponsors helped us purchase the necessary ingredients. We even discovered that halibut scientists are excellent at both ecological study and making vast amounts of coleslaw. Between our rotating prep cooks, dishwashers, food servers, fish fryers, and clean up crew—plus the generous fishermen of the North Pacific Fisheries Association and the processors that donated time and protein—the community truly showed up for the Halibut Festival.

With full bellies and a fall sunburn, we left the fish fry and headed for Alice’s. Before starting a raucous evening with the salty tunes of Rogues and Wenches, we auctioned off a suite of buoys decorated by artists from around Alaska; yet another host of generous supporters that contributed to the success of this year’s events.

fb_hhf-auctionHomer Halibut Festival is a celebration of this fish we love and the incredible marine ecosystem that supports them. Much as it takes a village to raise a child—or a festival for that matter—the same is certainly true for the fish we rely on and the communities we’ve built around them. Every halibut caught in the North Pacific, every business that depends upon halibut, and all the people fed by halibut, are the positive results of a complex ecosystem of species and dynamics working together.

Whether we’re talking about halibut bycatch, ocean acidification, ecosystem-based fisheries management, clean water, healthy fishing communities, or any number of other issues vital to sustaining our fisheries and fishing way of life, all roads lead back to one essential thing: a healthy ecosystem with many working parts that are valued and considered vital to the whole.

We woke Sunday to a strong southeasterly blow, but the last hours of the festival weren’t to be missed. The Kachemak Bay Running Club hosted the 2nd Annual Halibut Hustle 5K run, a loop around the harbor that had us running into a feisty head wind on the home stretch. This made a final visit to the Wooden Boat Festival grounds all the sweeter, gripping cups of coffee and standing around the fire rumbling in the large outdoor stove near the beach, the Rogues and Wenches leading us in some sea shanties to close the celebration, and bid farewell to summer. See you next year Homer, for a bigger, badder Halibut Festival.

Hannah Heimbuch is AMCC’s Homer-based Community Fisheries Organizer. She can be reached at hannah@akmarine.org. 



Homer Halibut Festival Returns Sept. 8-11

Date Posted: August 26, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Calendar/Events, Fisheries Conservation, Homer, Sustain Alaska's Halibut

HHF logoFollowing last year’s successful inaugural event, the AMCC team is looking forward to co-hosting the 2016 Homer Halibut Festival from September 8 – 11 with the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society. We’ve coordinated schedules and teamed up for key events to create four days of marine festival fun! 

Full event details are available at www.homerhalibutfest.org

Here’s a sampling of events throughout the weekend:

Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. — Join the Wooden Boat Festival folks at the Salty Dawg for an evening of shanties and stories.

Friday, September 9 at 6 p.m. — Alaska Marine Conservation Council and the Wooden Boat Society join forces for a reception, followed by an informative presentation on halibut ecology by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and a film about the historical wooden halibut schooners of the North Pacific.IMG_0537_zpsu9uz7ctt

Saturday, September 10 at 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. — Join AMCC for a community fish fry at the Wooden Boat Festival grounds. Halibut donated by local fishermen! This event is free.

Saturday September 10 at 7 p.m. — AMCC and Wooden Boat invite you to an evening soiree and fundraising event at Alice’s Champagne Palace. Enjoy our fabulous one-of-a-kind art buoy auction and the foot-stomping tunes of the Rogues and Wenches. $10 cover charge per person.

Sunday, September 11 at 10 a.m. — Cap off the weekend with another Halibut Hustle 5K Fun Run, hosted by the Kachemak Bay Running Club, which starts at Land’s End Resort. Then visit the Wooden Boat Festival grounds for more music from the Rogues and Wenches and a final day of festival fun. To register for the Halibut Hustle, please visit www.kachemakbayrunningclub.org



Celebrate Alaska Wild Salmon Day Aug. 10th

IMG_8421Our team has been living the salmon life and feeling the salmon love this big time summer! Our Bristol Bay sockeye salmon shares offered through our community supported fishery were once again a huge hit. We have been sorting fish and weighing shares and are excited to deliver beautiful fillets from Naknek Family Fisheries to customers next week! Stay tuned for September’s seafood lineup which will include the cadillac of coho salmon from our friends at Taku River Reds along with Kodiak jig-caught rockfish and Norton Sound King Crab.

The AMCC team also traveled to Bristol Bay at the end of July for the community celebration known as Fishitval where we had a table at the bazaar and hosted a fish-themed pub quiz. Thanks to all who came out and supported our work!

Two of our resident staff fishermen recently finished up salmon fishing seasons in Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound. We are so glad to have them back!

In other news, AMCC staff are just wringing out from a rainy but fun Salmonfest 2016 with fish and music lovers in Ninilchik this past weekend. Check out our Facebook photo album and tag yourself if you took a picture in our photo booth. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat, take our healthy fisheries pledge, or sign our community buoy!

There’s still more salmon love to be squeezed out of summer! Just earlier this year Governor Bill Walker made it official: Every August 10th will officially be known as Alaska Wild Salmon Day. Events will be held all around the state for the inaugural celebration and the special connection that Alaskans have with our beloved silvery sirens of the sea.

Ways to Celebrate Wild Salmon Day – Wednesday, August 10th!

#1 Anchorage AK Wild Salmon Day Celebration – Cuddy Park from 5:30-8:00 pmAKWSD_fb

The AMCC team is joining forces with The Alaska Center and partners for the AK Wild Salmon Day Celebration at Cuddy Park in Anchorage from 5:30-8:00pm. There will be a free salmon barbecue, rides on the bucking salmon, music, fly-tying and more! Check out the details and RSVP here.

#2 Purchase Alaska Seafood, Salmon Chowder and Salmon Grilling Spices from our Partners!

We’re proud to partner with great local businesses who support AMCC’s work in honor of the inaugural Wild Salmon Day. Check out their special promotions to eat well and contribute to healthy fisheries at the same time!

  • Copper River SeafoodsStarting at midnight tonight through 11:59 pm on August 10th, Copper River Seafoods is offering a 15% discount to customers on Wild Salmon Day, 5% which will go to AMCC in support of our programs. Customers should use promo code WildSalmonDay2016 to receive the 15% off at checkout. Order at www.copperriverseafoods.com
  • Heather’s Choice:Stock up on Heather’s Choice’s Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder. Heather’s Choice will be donating all proceeds from their Salmon Chowder sales to Alaska Marine Conservation Council on August 10th in recognition of Wild Salmon Day ~ a day to honor Alaska salmon as the gold standard for seafood. Support AMCC and the conservation of wild fish by making sure you have a few bags of Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder tucked away in your backpack for your next adventure! Order at http://www.heatherschoice.com/
  • Summit Spice & TeaVisit Summit Spice & Tea at 3030 Denali Street in Anchorage between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm and buy some of their new Lemon Herb and Spicy Cajun Salmon Dip Mixes, or pick up some Slamm’ Salmon Rub for your next BBQ today! Summit Tea & Spice will donate a portion of their sales to AMCC in support of our programs. You can also place your order online at http://www.summitspiceandtea.com/index.html

#3 Other Wild Salmon Day Events Across the State

Wild Salmon Day events are also being held by Bristol Bay Native Corporation in Anchorage, the Northern Center in Fairbanks, Cook Inletkeeper in Soldotna at the Wednesday Market, United Tribes of Bristol Bay in Dillingham, in Palmer and more! Check out the full lineup of events and other ideas for celebrating at www.aksalmonday.com



AMCC Seeking Science Consultant- Apply by July 31

AMCC seeks a science consultant with expertise in population dynamics modeling, fisheries stock assessment, and fisheries management strategy evaluation to analyze two management actions being developed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council). A successful applicant will have a:

  • PhD in fisheries science, with a specialization in fisheries population dynamics modeling, fisheries stock assessment, and fisheries management strategy evaluation;
  • A background in fisheries management and policy, with preference for experience with the Council and IPHC processes;
    Sufficient time and capacity to dedicate to project in the timeframe identified and ability to attend the Workgroup workshop on September 12 (in Seattle);
  • An appreciation for the social, biological, and economic dimensions of fisheries management.

All proposals shall be submitted as soon as possible but no later than July 31, 2016 (note deadline was extended from July 15th). Proposals should be submitted via email to Shannon Carroll (shannon@akmarine.org).

For full details on the position click here.



Staff Spotlight: Connie Melovidov

Date Posted: June 28, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Bering Sea, Fisheries Conservation, Internships, Staff

connieThis month our Q&A series is shining the spotlight on the newest member of our staff. Meet Connie Melovidov, our fantastic 2016 summer intern! Connie came to AMCC through Alaska Conservation Foundation’s conservation internship program. Connie was raised in the remote Bering Sea community of Saint Paul Island. Growing up in the Pribilof Islands, which are culturally and economically influenced by both a rich subsistence lifestyle and the commercial halibut industry, she became interested in science and fisheries. Her father and brothers are commercial halibut fishermen, and Connie has enjoyed a few long-lining trips herself. Currently, Connie is a senior attending the University of Alaska Anchorage majoring in biology.

During her time with AMCC, Connie is primarily supporting our Fisheries Conservation and Catch of the Season programs. We’re lucky to have her on board this summer!

How did growing up in a remote Bering Sea community shape who you are today?

Saint Paul Island. Photo: Tom & Michelle Grimm

Saint Paul Island. Photo: Tom & Michelle Grimm

I absolutely love that I was able to grow up in Saint Paul Island. Growing up in this small and tight-knit community allowed me to recognize the value of family. I grew up spending a lot of time with my siblings and I was also very fortunate to have been able to grow up around almost all of my extended family. I also take pride in the fact that other members in the community are always looking out for one another and ensuring everyone is being taken care of. The island is filled with an abundance of amazing wildlife and plants for us to gather and subsist on, and and everyone loves to share food.

Now that I’m older and have spent time away to go to college I really value my visits back home. Growing up in the Pribilofs gave me unique and useful life lessons that I probably wouldn’t have had the privilege of experiencing if I had grown up in a larger city.

What is your most vivid fishing memory?

My very first halibut fishing trip was on my dad’s boat, the FV Aleut Crusader. I was 14 years old and I was with my dad, three brothers, and a family friend. I woke up SUPER early because I was worried I was going to sleep in and it was very rare that I was able to go fishing. Good weather is hard to come by! I got lucky. It was a gorgeous day and I didn’t get seasick!

Connie's dad and brothers on the Aleut Crusader

Connie’s dad and brothers on the Aleut Crusader

When I boarded the boat I got comfortable in the cab where I started to watch my brothers begin their routine to prepare for the day. I could see and smell the freshly baited hooks, which made me more excited to finally be on the water and observe the long-lining process.

It was finally time to haul our first string and I remember hearing my dad and oldest brother talking back and forth because fish were finally starting to surface out of the water. I eagerly watched my brother gaff halibut after halibut! The whole crew was beaming as halibut continuously came onboard.  

All day I listened to the constant communication between everyone, watched how hard each crewman worked, and the teamwork they demonstrated. This is one of my most cherished memories I have with my father and brothers.

Does your family have any fishing traditions?

My mom, sister and I always greet my dad and his crew down at the harbor when they are delivering their fish to the processor. This is one of the best ways to see the halibut, ask how their fishing trip went, and also to see how other vessels did.

You’re majoring in biology at University of Alaska-Anchorage. How do you plan on using your degree?

Connie at Lukanin Beach on Saint Paul Island.

Connie at Lukanin Beach on Saint Paul Island.

I haven’t fully decided on what exactly I want to do after I get my degree. I’m very interested in marine biology and Saint Paul’s fishing industry so finding a balance between the two is what I’d prefer.

What are you excited to work on or learn more about during your internship this summer?

I’m excited to be learning more about AMCC’s advocacy programs and how they address the social and economic concerns of other small coastal fishing communities.

What part of AMCC’s work resonates most with you?

I really value AMCC’s mission and how we share information effectively to the general public, fishing communities and policymakers around the state.

Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?

I went to high school in Sitka, Alaska—so gorgeous!—so I would love to spend even more time exploring Southeast Alaska.



AMCC’s Theresa Peterson Appointed to North Pacific Council

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2016

CONTACTS:

Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Policy Director
Alaska Marine Conservation Council
907.382.1590 // shannon@akmarine.org

Jen Leahy, Communications Manager
Alaska Marine Conservation Council
907.787.9257 // jen@akmarine.org

Peterson and Laukitis confirmed to North Pacific Fishery Management Council
Two long-time commercial fishermen from the Gulf of Alaska appointed

Anchorage, AK — Alaskans Theresa Peterson and Buck Laukitis were confirmed today by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to serve a three-year term on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council). Peterson, a Kodiak resident, will replace long time Council member Duncan Fields, also of Kodiak, who served three consecutive terms. Laukitis resides in Homer and replaces Dave Long of Wasilla.

Theresa Peterson

Theresa Peterson

“I am honored to serve on the Council and look forward to the opportunity to give back to a fishing industry that has provided so much for me and my family,” said Peterson. “Many of us here in Alaska today had a chance to get into the fishing industry; we stayed and raised our families in coastal communities throughout the state. I want the next generation of fishermen to have similar opportunities to commercial fish and work their way up to ownership. Small boat fishermen are the fabric of maritime communities around the state and their voices must be heard in the Council arena along with large scale fisheries.”

The Council is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) to manage federal fisheries (3-200 miles from shore). The MSA is designed to encourage local level participation and representation through the regional council structure. The Council also works closely with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Board of Fisheries to coordinate management program in state and federal waters.

The Council is made up of 11 voting members and four non-voting members. The 11 voting members include seven stakeholders that are familiar with the fishing industry, marine conservation, or both. Five of those seats are designated for Alaskans and are appointed by the governor. The selection is then confirmed by the commerce secretary. Peterson and Laukitis were Gov. Walker’s preferred candidates.

Peterson has participated in a variety of state and federal fisheries, including pot fishing, set-netting, seining, driftnetting, and long-lining, in addition to subsistence fisheries. She and her husband own and operate a small commercial boat and salmon set-net site in Kodiak. She has been a steadfast advocate for small-boat, independent fishing businesses, who many believe comprise the heart of Alaskan fishing communities.

Peterson is a multi-term member of the Council’s Advisory Panel, as well as an outreach coordinator for Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC). As a member of the Advisory Panel, she works to improve participation of small scale and community sectors and encourages community members to engage in the process to influence policy making decisions which reflect Alaskan coastal community values.

“The Council process benefits from input from coastal community members who live with the outcome of the management decisions. I have long felt that small scale fishermen were the most underrepresented group in the Council arena and I am encouraged by an Alaskan administration that supports broad representation on the Council,” said Peterson.

buck

Buck Laukitis

Laukitis also has a long history of engagement in Alaskan fisheries. As a long-time commercial fisherman, he brings a direct understanding of the importance of sustainable fisheries management. He is the owner and operator of two fishing vessels that fish for salmon, halibut, and cod in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutians Islands. Fishing is a family business for Laukitis; his wife, two daughters, and son-in-law all work in the family fishing business.

Laukitis brings a comprehensive understanding of the federal fisheries management process. He served as vice president of AMCC’s board of directors for eight years, representing the organization at congressional hearings surrounding the reauthorization of the MSA in the mid-90s. Laukitis was also president of the Homer-based North Pacific Fisheries Association, where he represented the organization before the Council and International Pacific Halibut Commission on a wide range of issues.

“As the owner of two vessels and a nearly year-round fishing business, Buck understands what fishermen need to keep their vessels working and profitable. His experience in Alaskan fisheries and fisheries policy, as well as his commitment to the resource, make him highly qualified to serve on the Council,” said Kodiak commercial fisherman Darren Platt.

Founded in 1994, Alaska Marine Conservation Council is a community-based, nonprofit organization committed to protecting the long-term health of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and sustaining the working waterfronts of our state’s coastal communities. Our members include fishermen, subsistence harvesters, marine scientists, business owners, conservationists, families, and others who care deeply about Alaska’s oceans.

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Policy Update: Trawl Bycatch Management Dominates Discussion at June Council Meeting

By: Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Policy Director

Earlier this month, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) met in Kodiak for its third meeting of the year. Though the Council took up other issues, including a 10-year review the Bering Sea crab rationalization program, it devoted much of its time to the Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch management program.

During the three days devoted to the issue, the Council heard from nearly 75 stakeholders. Testimony largely focused on community concerns regarding the proposed program. Trawl vessel owners and processors continued to stress the importance of the trawl fishery to Kodiak, and reiterated the need for tools that would allow them to reduce bycatch and harvest under-fished flatfish. Other stakeholders, including community members and salmon and halibut fishermen, highlighted the need for 100% observer coverage, entry opportunities, and protective measures to mitigate the kinds of community impacts associated with past catch share programs.

These impacts include excessive consolidation, out-migration of wealth and access, and the loss of support services. The Council also received a presentation on the Community Fishing Association (CFA) concept by AMCC staff and other community members.

At the conclusion of public testimony, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner, Sam Cotten, made a motion to establish three overarching goals for the program: (1) bycatch management, (2) increased groundfish utilization, and (3) maintaining opportunities to enter the fishery by—potentially—limiting any groundfish harvest privileges that might be allocated. The purpose of the motion, according to Commissioner Cotten, was to ensure that access to the fishery remains a top priority in the development of the new program. Permanently allocating a public resource to current participants, he noted, effectively locks out the next generation and benefits larger corporations with access to the most capital.

After a lengthy discussion, and one amendment, the Council passed Commissioner Cotten’s motion. The Council also passed a motion adopting the stakeholder-proposed changes to the CFA alternative. These changes included a more defined board governance structure, community eligibility definition, and specific goals and objectives.

The Council will next review the program during its December meeting in Anchorage.

Full motions from the Council meeting are available via links from the Council agenda here. The Council’s newsletter describing these actions in greater detail is posted here.

For more info on Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch management:

Council adds guidance to Gulf alternatives
Catch shares are still a drag

The Council bid Duncan Fields farewell

It was fitting that Duncan’s last meeting was held in his hometown of Kodiak. In his nine years on the Council, Duncan has been a tireless advocate for Alaska’s coastal communities and small boat fishermen. We at AMCC will certainly miss him.

Read more here: Fields’ voice never louder as he ends nine-year council run



Council Seeking Comments on Gulf Trawl Management Plan

The North Pacific Fishery Management Councilkodiakharbor3_zps573d5691 is holding its June meeting in Kodiak, where it will be once again be reviewing the Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management Program. The long-term health of Gulf communities depends on a management plan that protects the role of independent, community-based fishermen, and the health of all Gulf fisheries. AMCC believes the Gulf Trawl Bycatch Management Program should allow for viable entry opportunities, community protections, and meaningful reductions to bycatch. Additional information about the program is available through the Council’s agenda.

If you wish to comment on the management plan, the deadline for written comments is 5:00 pm (AST) on Tuesday, May 31. Comments should be emailed to npfmc.comments@noaa.gov.

Read on for full details…

What’s Happening?

Recognizing the importance of minimizing Chinook and halibut bycatch, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has recently taken action to set or lower limits on bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska. At the same time, the Council has also taken the position that the current management structure does not provide the trawl fleet with the tools necessary to meet existing bycatch reductions, or further reduce bycatch beyond current levels.

As a result, the Council has been looking at implementing a new management program for the Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries. In addition to the status quo, the Council is currently considering three options (alternatives):

  • Alternative 2 is a traditional catch share program that would allocate pollock and cod as target species, and halibut and Chinook as bycatch to harvester-processor cooperatives, based on the qualifying catch history of the trawl members’ LLP licenses. Allocated fishing privileges would be transferable, somewhat similar to the halibut IFQ fishery.
  • Alternative 3 would annually allocate halibut and Chinook bycatch to harvester-processor cooperatives, based on equal shares, some measure of dependency and engagement in the fishery, or some combination of the two. This bycatch quota could be traded within a cooperative, but is not transferable without also selling the vessel or license.
  • Alternative 4 would allocate a specified percentage of quota to a Community Fishing Association (CFA). Quota allocated to the community is then used to address community goals of keeping a local fleet, providing a viable point of entry for new entrants, equitable crew compensation, and vessel/owner residency.

kipandLeigh_zps292e4e12 (1)The Council Needs to Hear From You

During the June meeting in Kodiak, the Council will be looking for community input on the Gulf Trawl Bycatch Management Program. Hearing from community members about what they would like to see in the new program will go a long way in ensuring that community protections, bycatch reductions, and future access measures are included in the final action.

 

What’s Next?

Written Comment: If you wish to comment, the deadline for written comments is 5:00 pm (AST) on Tuesday, May 31. Comments should be emailed to npfmc.comments@noaa.gov.

Public Testimony: There will be two opportunities to testify at the June Council meeting:

  • The Advisory Panel will begin hearing the GOA Trawl Bycatch Management Program agenda item on the afternoon of Thursday, June 9th. The Advisory Panel will be meeting in the Elks Lodge.
  • The Council will begin hearing the same issue on the morning of Saturday, June 11. The Council will be meeting in the Pavilion Room of the Convention Center.

If you’d like more information on submitting written comments or offering public testimony, contact Shannon Carroll, at shannon@akmarine.org.



Policy Update: Council Hears Testimony on Halibut Bycatch Plan

By: Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Policy Director

Last June, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) promised to take further action on halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea. Over the course of the past several meetings, the Council has followed through on that promise, developing a draft strategic plan for halibut issues, strategies for improved communication with the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), and a framework for an abundance-based halibut bycatch policy.

During the April Council meeting in Anchorage, the Council voted to continue evaluating an abundance-based approach to halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea. This followed a presentation by the abundance-based bycatch workgroup—which consists of Council, National Marine Fisheries Service, and IPHC staff—as well as testimony by halibut stakeholders, including AMCC. The workgroup’s current focus is determining an index for halibut abundance that can, among other things, be used to effectively capture the impact of bycatch removals on Bering Sea halibut. The workgroup will continue analyzing various indicators used to measure halibut abundance and will be holding a public workshop sometime in August. Abundance-based halibut management will likely be on the agenda again in October.

AMCC appreciates the Council and workgroup’s continued effort find a long-term solution to halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea. A robust, scientifically-sound abundance index is a key step in this process. We look forward to continuing to providing input on this effort.

More on the full range of issues covered in the April meeting can be found in the Council’s newsletter.

The next NPFMC meeting will be held June 6-14 in Kodiak. At that time, the Council will be hearing community and stakeholder testimony on the the Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management program.

For more information on Council actions and upcoming meetings, visit npfmc.org.



Stay up to Date on Bering Sea Halibut Bycatch

By: Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Policy Director

Here is the latest news for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s work on halibut bycatch.

Halibut Management Framework

Since June 2015, The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has been working to develop a Halibut Bycatch Framework (Framework). The goal of the Framework is to serve as a strategic planning device for future halibut management actions along with improving and increasing communications with the International Halibut Commission (IPHC).

The Framework is often described as a “living document,” with the intention to continue refining and adjusting the document to fit ongoing Council needs. After receiving input from stakeholders, including AMCC, during the October and December Council meetings, the five halibut management objectives:

  • Manage halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries and harvests in the commercial, guided and non-guided recreational, and subsistence fisheries consistent with the Council’s Magnuson-Stevens Act conservation objectives.
  • Manage halibut bycatch to balance the objectives of directed users and bycatch users in both the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and the Gulf of Alaska (GOA).
  • Pursue an abundance based approach to managing halibut bycatch and directed harvests in coordination with the IPHC.
  • Provide for the sustained participation of historic participants and fishery dependent communities.
  • Maintain monitoring and catch accounting programs for halibut users in the BSAI and GOA in order to provide the data necessary for management needs.

The Framework has also led to more formalized communication with the IPHC, including the formation of a Halibut Management Committee and likely development of a Joint Council/IPHC Committee that would meet on an annual basis. The Council will be reviewing the Framework again during the April Council meeting in Anchorage, so stay tuned for news regarding that review process.

Abundance-Based Halibut Bycatch Management in the Bering Sea
AMCC has been working with other halibut user groups to push for a halibut management structure that links both catch and bycatch limits to halibut abundance levels.  This is in contrast to the existing structure, where bycatch limits are fixed, regardless of halibut abundance.  An abundance-based management structure would help both the IPHC and Council better share the responsibility of halibut conservation. Currently, the IPHC manages only the directed fishery and cannot make reductions to bycatch limits during times of low abundance. Were the Council to adopt abundance-based management, it would have an additional tool to protect halibut stocks at periods of low abundance.

The Council has recognized the potential value of this approach and has formed an interagency workgroup comprised of staff from the Council, the IPHC, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. This workgroup has been tasked with developing alternative approaches to abundance-based management and will be providing advice to the Council during either the April or June Council meeting.

Stay tuned for more halibut bycatch updates following the April Council Meeting!



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