Bycatch Successes

In our 20-year history, AMCC has successfully worked with fishermen, coastal communities and federal fishery managers to advance policy measures that minimize waste in Alaska’s fisheries.

2013: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) voted to place the first cap on king salmon bycatch in Gulf of Alaska non-pollock trawl fisheries with a limit of 7,500 fish.

2012: The NPFMC voted to reduce the halibut bycatch limits in the Gulf of Alaska by 15% for the trawl and hook and line catcher vessel sectors and 7% for hook and line catcher processors, to be phased in over 3 years. This was the first significant reduction made to halibut bycatch limits for the trawl fishery since the late 1980s, and went into effect starting in 2014.

2011: After rates of king salmon bycatch skyrocketed in 2010, AMCC supported fast-tracking efforts to address the unacceptable level of bycatch. Fishery managers voted to place the first cap on king salmon bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery with a cap of 25,000 fish, which went into effect in 2012.

2010: AMCC worked with local fishermen to identify and map habitat important to Tanner crab around Kodiak Island that should be protected from bottom trawling. Fishery managers voted in October 2010 to close an important Tanner crab habitat area to bottom trawling to protect Tanner crab, and also voted to increase observer coverage in key areas to get more accurate data on crab bycatch levels.

2010: AMCC and Kodiak fishermen work together at NPFMC to secure up to 6% of the Gulf of Alaska cod quota for the low-bycatch jig fleet, providing more opportunity for small boats and entry-level fishermen.

2007: AMCC and partners supported a court decision that upheld Amendment 79, which requires bottom trawl vessels operating in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to reduce the amount of fish they throw overboard as waste in the process of targeting the most valuable fish. The court ruling established that the conservation mandate to reduce bycatch is a paramount obligation.

2005: A collaborative effort between AMCC and national conservation groups resulted in action by the NPFMC to “freeze the footprint” of the bottom trawl fishery in the Aleutian Islands and protect expansive coral habitats. 60% of fishable grounds were closed to bottom trawling. Coral “gardens” were protected from all bottom fishing.

2000: AMCC presented a recommendation to NPFMC that corals and the living seafloor should be the focus for implementing the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) requirement to protect essential fish habitat. This effort was the beginning of the NPFMC deliberations that ended with the Aleutian Islands protections (see 2005).

1999: AMCC supported western Alaska tribes and fishing groups to achieve Chinook bycatch controls at the NPFMC. The action established a trigger which, when reached, would close the designated “Chinook salmon savings area.”

1999: AMCC championed the NPFMC action to make the Bering Sea pollock fishery a pelagic-only trawl fishery, reducing halibut bycatch and the impact on the seafloor in the process.

1996: The Magnuson-Stevens Act was amended with new provisions to minimize bycatch – a priority that AMCC championed.

Also in 1996, AMCC advocated for “Conservation Guidelines” for groundfish in State waters and simultaneously, supported a successful Board of Fish decision to allocate the cod fishery to pot and jig gear to lower bycatch and negative habitat effects.

1994: AMCC was founded by concerned fishermen and coastal residents with Paul Seaton as chair and Nevette Bowen on staff. Tackling the problem of bycatch – the fishing industry was throwing more than 800,000,000 lbs. of fish overboard each year – was a priority for the newly formed organization.

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