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Comments Due to Alaska Bycatch Task Force by November 1

The Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force (ABRT) is set to hold one of its final meetings on Tuesday, November 1st at 9 am AKST to make the final recommendations that it will put forward to the Governor. AMCC will provide testimony on a variety of topics and we encourage you to as well! One of the timely recommendations that could provide an immediate benefit to seafloor habitat is to exclude pelagic trawl gear from areas closed to bottom trawl, such as the Red King Crab Savings Area.

During the April 2022 North Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting, a report was introduced that listed pelagic trawl gear’s interaction with the ocean floor to be anywhere between 40 to 100% of their fishing time. Pelagic trawl gear is currently defined as fishing in the middle of the water column; because of this assumption, this gear type is not managed to mitigate impacts to seafloor habitat and species, whereas bottom trawl gear is.

With the current changing state of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, now is the time for immediate action. The science – and at times lack of fundamental fisheries information – demands a precautionary approach to protecting critical habitats and populations, and it is up to the public to amplify these demands. Expanding current bottom trawl closures around Alaska to include pelagic trawl is an immediate step we can take to protect not only our waters, but the sustainability of our fisheries for the future, until the gear type can be adequately monitored or modified.

See the agenda and Zoom link here.

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