SalmonState: ‘(PFMC) Fails To Heed Urgent Call’ Amid Uncertain Times For Salmon Fisheries

The following is courtesy of SalmonState:


April 10, 2023

Council fails to heed urgent call as communities face another salmon season marked by subsistence and small boat closures

ANCHORAGE—After days of powerful testimony and comments from hundreds of Alaskans over the course of its week-long April meeting, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council once again failed to meaningfully address the issue of the pollock trawl fleet’s prolific bycatch of chum salmon, king salmon, herring, halibut, snow crab, Bristol Bay red king crab, and many other species. Instead of recognizing the need to manage Alaska’s oceans as an ecosystem and accepting its own Salmon Bycatch Committee (SBC) and Advisory Panel’s (AP) recommendations for a range of measures to reduce chum salmon bycatch, the Council threw out the guidance of the advisory boards they charged with developing this very proposal and assigned the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to start again from square one in proposing a cap. This decision postpones any meaningful action for this fishing season at the very least.

“This Council seems to be prioritizing profits for the pollock fishery over all other interests,” said SalmonState executive director Tim Bristol. “Instead of addressing Alaskans’ urgent calls for action, they’re putting herring, king salmon, chum salmon, crab, halibut, and traditional ways of life on the chopping block so trawlers can keep trawling.”

In the last week, the Council’s Advisory Panel also refused a motion to address caps for Chinook salmon at this time, again attempting to manage the ecosystem on a species by species basis rather than as an ecosystem. They continue to propose setting Prohibited Species Catch limits for chum salmon based on historical bycatch numbers, and based on limited genetic data about Western Alaska returns from a time period in which Western Alaska salmon returns have plummeted dramatically.

“It could literally be years before the Council acts under its current plan,” said Bristol. “This is failure.”

SalmonState was present at Representative Mary Peltola’s salmon bycatch listening session on Thursday, April 6 in Anchorage. Images from the event are available for press use here. Video from the event is available upon request.

Monday, two Alaska Tribal organizations sued “the federal government to protect subsistence fishing as the salmon crisis intensifies.” Earthjustice’s release on this is here.

SalmonState works to keep Alaska a place where wild salmon and the people whose lives are interconnected with them continue to thrive.