The Council reviewed an exempted fishing permit (EFP) application from the Alaska Seafood Cooperative to test ‘hallway’ style excluders in the Bering Sea flatfish trawl fisheries, and recommended that NMFS approve the EFP noting suggestions by the SSC for some experimental protocols where possible.
This EFP project will document halibut and target species escapement rates by using a twin trawl to compare excluder performance in one of the trawl nets. Ancillary data collection will involve taking fin clips from halibut to see whether the sex can be identified. The Council discussion emphasized the importance of this project in helping to understand the use of excluders and associated tradeoffs between escapement of target fish and halibut encounters. The Council was particularly interested in the SSC recommendation that if possible, given logistical constraints, the experiment consider switching sides on the excluder more frequently. The Council commended the applicants for the clarity of project objectives, and early coordination with NMFS on application review and the process for monitoring fishing conducted under the EFP.
The SSC also received a presentation on work completed under a previous EFP, to determine what factors were associated with Pacific ocean perch bycatch in pollock trawling in the Aleutian Islands. While no strong predictors were identified, the SSC appreciated the effort involved in the experiment and suggested avenues for future work. Staff contact is Anna Henry.