The Council received a number of reports related to BSAI and GOA salmon bycatch including the EBS pollock fishery incentive plan agreement (IPA) reports, an update from the SeaShare food donation program, genetic stock of origin reports for chum and Chinook in both the GOA and BSAI and a summary of a NPFMC-sponsored workshop on salmon bycatch and genetics from April 2019. The Council identified priorities and tasking for future work.
Per regulation, EBS pollock IPA representatives provide annual reports on their measures to reduce and avoid Chinook and chum bycatch. The written reports from all three sectors (catcher vessels, catcher processors, and motherships) are posted to the Council website and agenda. Representatives from the inshore catcher vessel and catcher processor sectors also provided verbal summaries of their actions in 2018. The Council commended all three sectors for their extensive and continued innovative efforts to avoid salmon bycatch at all levels of encounters.
A voluntary update was provided by SeaShare, a non-profit food donation program which is authorized to accept salmon and halibut PSC for hunger relief. This organization continues extensive efforts to provide fish annually to additional communities each year across Alaska and to expand efforts to reach remote villages by providing donated food storage facilities. The Council continues to appreciate the hunger relief work by SeaShare and acknowledges the industry funding and efforts to support this valuable program.
Geneticists from the AFSC Auke Bay lab provided reports on the stock of origin of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch for the 2017 Bering Sea pollock fishery, the GOA pollock fishery, GOA rockfish (and arrowtooth) CV trawl fishery and the GOA non-pollock CP trawl fisheries. The report this year provides finer scale spatial and temporal resolution. On average in the Bering Sea, the relative proportion of salmon from western Alaskan rivers caught as bycatch continues to decline while proportionally, interceptions from British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest have increased. Chum bycatch continues to be dominated by Asian origin fish. Age-specific stock composition results are also now available for chum bycatch. Similar age data is lacking for Chinook but it was noted that a backlog of scales is available for aging.
The Council reviewed a report from the salmon bycatch genetics workshop held in April 2019. The purpose of the workshop was to facilitate feedback on how stock composition reports can be improved to better inform industry bycatch avoidance efforts, discuss appropriate spatial and temporal resolution of stock identification, and identify other associated analyses that could be used by stakeholders to better understand the causes of, and potential measures to minimize, salmon bycatch. A number of recommendations were brought forward from workshop participants.
The Council moved to identify a number of priorities for future work as well as a suite of tasks for the Council’s salmon bycatch workgroup (which consists of NMFS, ADFG, and Council staff). The Council intends to send a letter to the AFSC to request prioritization of aging the back log of Chinook scales. This work would allow the agency to update the age-length key used in the BSAI Chinook adult equivalence (AEQ) model as well as to develop an age-length key for GOA Chinook. Additional tasking to the workgroup includes the following: examination of the available bycatch datasets to prioritize analyses for informing future management actions, exploring additional collaboration amongst genetic laboratories for continued development of coastwide genetic baselines for chum and Chinook salmon and identifying existing data gaps and defining stock composition in the GOA for development of an AEQ.
Staff contact is Diana Stram.