Still Uncertainty Regarding Salmon Bycatch Issues In Western Alaska Waters

There is no easy answer to solve the ongoing dispute between Alaska pollock fishing trawling fleet bycatch numbers of salmon landing in nets. Alaska Public Media has some details on the back-and-forth fight:

Supporters of bycatch limits say reducing the accidental catch of chum and chinook salmon in the Bering Sea could help improve runs along the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers, which have seen record-low returns in recent years. But the pollock industry is pushing back. 

Mellisa Johnson is government affairs and policy director for the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Tribal Consortium and a member of the council’s advisory panel. She said while the council is moving in the right direction, the motion doesn’t immediately address villages along the Yukon and Kuskokwim that have been hit hardest by the chum and chinook crash.

“Indigenous people … have provided testimony [that] they have not been able to fish for three years,” she said. “There’s a high possibility that they may not be able to fish with 2023 being the fourth year.”

But the report also cites that the trawler fleet has argued the bycatch limits for chum salmon could be devastating to the industry’s bottom line. So it’s a struggle to find common ground.