The expected  but unaccepted news last week that the Secretary of Commerce has accepted the North Pacific Fisheries Fish Management Council’s Chinook salmon bycatch plan has been laying heavily on my mind.

 Stephen Taufen, Groundswell Fisheries Movement, reminds us of a failure in public policy which flows  from  the federal law we call the  Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act :

“According to recent estimates over 50% of the Chinook salmon caught as bycatch are bound for Western Alaska.

Low returns of Chinook salmon throughout Western Alaska have caused severe economic distress in recent years as subsistence harvests are restricted and small commercial fisheries are eliminated.  The Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery was declared a fishery disaster for the 2008 and 2009 seasons by the Secretary of Commerce.  “It is beyond unjust that the pollock fishery will be allowed to continue catching Chinook salmon virtually without limits offshore while in-river families sit on the banks watching their food and income swim by.  This conservation burden should not be borne by rural residents, commercial and sport fishers alone,” said Becca Robbins Gisclair, Policy Director for the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association.”

The failure to incorporate the knowledge that what happens in the Bering Sea may have effects many, many miles from the coast is built into the law just as compartmentalizing different fisheries in the sea, with no back -up -and -look-at -the- whole -picture function is built in…

We can talk about crab here, pollack over there, halibut around the corner…

Here they are a prohibited species/bycatch,

 there they are the target species…

Where is the plan for the Bering Sea ecosystem?

We have  a draft plan, this year, for Alaskan  Yukon waters, which outlines all the measures folks on-river must live with .

We have Alaskans, along the Yukon,  meeting federal mandates for escapement  to Canada  while federal law on the Bering Sea can turn a blind eye to any affect it’s fisheries management has on fresh water fisheries…

Oh, Pffftt…


A lot of work is being done , to try to understand where the fish lost as bycatch come from, from Chinook to chum .  Far, far too many come from Western Alaska.

 Mercifully, bycatch was relatively low this year .

Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Once again the representatives from the Norton Sound CDQ, NSEDC, let the people down at the NPFMC meeting in Sitka this week. Not one person talked about the lack of Chum Salmon and how it is impacting the poor natives. Kudos to Mike Sloan of Kawerak for bringing up the issue. He tried his best. Thanks Mike, the poor and desperate salmon lovers of the Norton Sound appreciate your empathy!

    • Have you had a chance to listen in on the audio ? I haven’t and will have to wait for the transcriptions…

  2. Hey Pi, I just heard about Mike Sloan’s testimony from a reliable resource. I’m surprised that ADN didn’t even mention the recent NPFMC meeting – did a paper in Sitka write about it?

    I’m about fit to be tied, your comment “We can talk about crab here, pollack over there, halibut around the corner…..” spurred it on.

    This spring around about the end of April, Sale Flyers were seen on the bulletin boards in Nome advertising last season’s crab and halibut on sale at the Norton Sound Seafood Products complex. NSSP is the monopoly arm of our region’s CDQ, NSEDC. They hoard all this nice food until it’s time to clean out the freezers for the next season.

    In the meantime, us poor stakeholders of the CDQ program can only dream of affording a nice meal of crab or halibut. If we’re going to be involved in the destruction of the crab and halibut resource, we might as well eat it when it’s fresh – like in good, reasonable prices that the common folk can afford. It makes sense that way doesn’t it?

    • What kind of price does NSSP normally ask for in season?
      Of local stakeholders?
      One of the casualities of expanding processing and marketing for markets far away from the source of a fishery is, far too often, the local market.
      There is no way your local market could support the fishery but there IS every reason local food should be reasonably priced locally.

      Do your schools receive locally produced halibut and crab at reasonable cost?

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