Washington State Calls For Council Action On Bycatch

Through a letter from the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is called on by Washington State to remove incentives employed by certain harvesters to avoid much needed observer coverage.

Fishing observers provide the much needed oversight and incentive for harvesters to do as much as possible to reduce and avoid “Bycatch” - the wasteful practice of catching fish that must be discarded, almost always dead, back into the sea.

On the strength of testimony given by interim NPFMC Chair and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife employee, Bill Tweit, and through industry stakeholder input, the Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Commission has clearly stated its request for immediate action in the letter sent to the Council last month.

The citizens of Washington are becoming increasingly more aware of the untenable oversight of the North Pacific Fishery, the Washington Coast, the Puget Sound and the Columbia River fish ecosystems.

Washington State wants to see an immediate end to the cynical and irresponsible practice where certain harvesters look to reduce their chances of being assigned an observer for a fishing trip by repeatedly offloading their catch to a tender instead of delivering onshore to a processing facility.

“This type of apparent loophole erodes public trust in the monitoring program; it also appears to introduce a bias into data obtained by the monitoring program” -

Washington Fish & Game Chair, Brad Smith

Washington State delegates to the Council and its various committees and workgroups should find the attached letter from Washington Fish and Game Chair, Brad Smith, to be clear direction on this matter and proceed accordingly.