This year alone, trawlers fishing in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska have caught a reported 121,000 chum salmon and 29,000 Chinook salmon as bycatch (1). Along with it, they have harvested a staggering 16.5 million pounds of squid (2), a critical source of food for salmon. And that’s just what is reported.
While Alaskans continue to sound the alarm about fisheries declines, millions upon millions of salmon, halibut and crab vital to Alaska’s subsistence and directed fisheries are being destroyed - in addition to squid, sharks, orcas, corals and many other interdependent species vital to healthy marine ecosystems. This, in the pursuit of enormous amounts of pollock, flatfish and cod.
The impacts of this waste are devastating. Shockingly, there are currently no limits on the bycatch of chum salmon by the Bering Sea pollock trawl fleet, despite chum returns to Western Alaska plummeting to historic lows. Subsistence fishery closures continue year after year, and communities along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers and throughout the region are left to confront a profound loss as they have relied on these annual returns since time immemorial.
I imagine this is as unsettling and unfair to you as it is to me. If that’s true, please renew your support today, at whatever level is meaningful to you. Because, when we stand together – we can accomplish so much more!
Alaska’s fishery-dependent communities thrive when we have equitable access to sustainably managed, climate-resilient fisheries. Yet, industrial business models exert significant control over our fishery policies, making it challenging to turn the tide. This is why AMCC works diligently to amplify the voices of the hard-working people most directly affected by this dynamic. We support small-boat and subsistence fishermen to advocate for their livelihoods, communities and the health of the ocean within a complicated process.
Recent news is hopeful… thanks to you, opposition to the trawl sector’s excessive bycatch is building!
With your renewed support, AMCC will sustain this momentum by:
Advocating for Chum Salmon Bycatch Reductions. Right now, we are collaborating with sovereign, salmon-dependent communities to raise awareness about this crisis and will continue to call for urgent and meaningful action by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) to reduce chum bycatch until meaningful solutions are enacted.
Building Resilience to Climate Change. Right now, together with fisheries scientists and managers at the NPFMC, we are developing and informing critically needed frameworks to guide efforts to build climate-resilient fisheries. These tools will have far-reaching implications for Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska marine ecosystems, fisheries and communities.
Empowering the Next Generation of Marine Stewards. Right now, AMCC and our partners are preparing to launch AK On-Board. This training and apprenticeship program is designed to equip aspiring commercial fishermen with skills in sustainable fishing and sound business practices as well as to become effective advocates for their way of life.
And the list doesn’t end here! We continue to defend crab and their critical habitat by pushing for protections from contact by trawl gear, promoting equity and environmental justice for fishery-dependent communities through improvements to the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s National Standards guidelines and more. But we can’t do this without you.
Our ability to defend and build the resilience of Alaska’s oceans, wild fisheries and fishing livelihoods absolutely hinges upon our urgent and collective action. We hope you'll continue to be a part of our forward-looking, fiercely caring and inspiring community.
With tremendous gratitude,
(1) NMFS Alaska Region, Fishery summary as of October 28, 2023:
(2) NMFS Alaska Region, Forage Fish, Grenadier, and Squid Catch 2023 through November 3, 2023: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/akro/forage_fish_by_year2023.html