The Council received a tremendous amount of heartfelt public testimony on the impacts of low salmon runs in recent years (particularly in 2021) to the people living in western Alaska communities, and the importance of salmon resources for food security as well as traditional and cultural purposes. After substantial discussion, the Council moved to request a report to continue the process of evaluating the estimation and impact of high seas bycatch of salmon on run returns as well as continued support for research funding to better understand the diverse causes of low salmon returns to these regions.
Specifically, the Council requests:
- An updated bycatch impact (AEQ) analysis which includes current genetic stock identification information and an updated age/length composition for Chinook salmon along with estimates of how many Chinook salmon taken as bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery would have returned to Western Alaska Chinook salmon stock groupings. The analysis should include a PSC harvest rate analysis and an estimate of the Chinook salmon bycatch impacts to each specific stock grouping at the current cap levels and at actual bycatch levels in recent years.
The Council also requests that the report include recommendations to evaluate impacts of chum salmon bycatch in the pollock fishery with currently available data.
- A stock status update of Western Alaska Chinook and chum salmon stocks.
In addition, the Council requested two letters be drafted. The first is to the Secretary of State to request help to identify levels and stock composition of bycatch of salmon in waters outside of the jurisdiction of the United States. The second letter is to the Secretary of Commerce in support of recent requests to for increased and dedicated funding for salmon research, observation, and monitoring, including on the lifecycle of salmon species in the freshwater, nearshore, and marine environments, and the effects that environmental changes are having on salmon throughout their lifecycle.
Additional information on the State’s intention to engage local users in the development of a research plan and strategy to address these issues as well as continued progress on the availability of the Council’s requested report will be posted to the Council website.
Staff contact is Diana Stram