The Council received a series of reports on the stock of origin of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch taken incidentally in selected BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries, the relative adult equivalence and impact rate to streams of origin of Chinook bycatch in the Bering Sea, reports from the Bering Sea pollock industry on their efforts to avoid chum and Chinook by sector in the Bering Sea, as well as an update on efforts by SeaShare to distribute bycaught fish for hunger relief. Following the reports, the Council established a Salmon Stock Composition Workgroup comprised of staff from AFSC, ADF&G, Council/SSC, and NMFS Alaska Region. This group is tasked to hold a public workshop to best facilitate industry feedback on the use of salmon genetics in bycatch avoidance efforts by the fleet, and other analytical efforts to assist in minimizing bycatch. The report from the workshop will be presented next April when salmon bycatch issues are annually scheduled for review at the Council. A summary of the reports follows. Staff contact is Diana Stram.
Salmon bycatch genetics
Genetics reports on stock of origin of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch were provided for the 2016 groundfish fisheries including: the Bering Sea pollock fishery, the GOA pollock fishery, GOA rockfish (and arrowtooth) CV trawl fishery, and the GOA non-pollock CP trawl fisheries. As with previous years, Bering Sea pollock fishery samples were dominated by the Coastal Western Alaska stock grouping (34%) with a large contribution also from the British Columbia region (29%). Some variability in stock composition groupings is seen between A and B seasons. Chum salmon in the Bering Sea continues to be dominated by Asian-origin stocks. Spatial and temporal sampling efforts continue to provide additional detail within season on the locations of western Alaskan chum stocks. In the GOA, Chinook samples continue to be dominated by the West Coast U.S. followed by British Columbia stock compositions (64% and 27%, respectively). As with previous years, chum salmon samples in the GOA continue to be dominated by the eastern GOA/Pacific Northwest stock grouping. These reports are available as NOAA technical memos on the Council’s website.
Salmon Adult Equivalency (AEQ) update
An updated analysis of Chinook salmon adult equivalency (AEQ) was provided to estimate the relative number of salmon caught annually as bycatch that would otherwise be returning to river systems. Chinook salmon bycatch and length composition data from the pollock fishery were converted to age composition estimates using the strata configurations and available age data from the previous analyses. These estimates were then applied to a model to arrive at adult equivalency (AEQ) estimates and then applied to the latest available genetics data to estimate AEQ to regional origins. Finally, these estimates were compared with the recent run-size estimates provided by ADF&G. Results indicate that the ratio of AEQ relative to regional run strengths for coastal west Alaska and Yukon river stocks remains low (<2% of run sizes) since implementation of new management measures under Amendments 91 (2011) and 110 (2016).
Chinook salmon Incentive Plan Agreements annual reports
Under regulations to implement the Amendment 91 Bering Sea Chinook salmon bycatch management program, annual reports are required of each IPA entity and provided to the Council at this meeting. The three IPA entities report annually on the efficacy of bycatch reduction measures. The reports include but are not limited to the following:
- Incentive measures in effect in the previous year;
- How incentive measures affected individual vessels;
- How incentive measures affected salmon savings beyond current levels;
- Transfer information between vessels as well as entities
Regulations promulgated under Amendment 110 incorporated reporting on chum salmon bycatch into the IPAs as well, and the reports also include a description of how chum salmon is managed under each of the three IPAs. The IPA reports are posted on the Council’s website.
SeaShare program update
SeaShare provided a presentation to the Council on participation in and donations to the Prohibited Species Donation Program, whereby bycaught salmon and halibut in BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries may be reclaimed and distributed to hunger-relief programs. This program has been in operation since 1993 and has expanded to include donations of target fish species in addition to donated prohibited species. In 2017, SeaShare donated over 363,000 pounds of fish in Alaska. The annual report from the program is available on the Council’s agenda here.