A Serious Lack of Protection of Halibut Habitat

Halibut Stakeholder Groups Question Why Bottom Trawlers are Allowed to Fish in Areas Previously Closed to Foreign Bottom Trawl Fleets as a Conservation Measure

As previously reported, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) is in its third year of development of an Abundance Based Management (ABM) program for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Island where by Halibut abundance is the determinant of what is allowed to be taken as Halibut bycatch.

The Deeps Sea Fishermen’s Union and our allies in this effort - the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association (FVOA) and other-directed user groups have been actively engaged in developing options to tie bottom trawl and a fixed gear bycatch CAP to rising and lowering halibut abundances in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.

The Union’s and FVOA’s efforts in helping create an ABM program are expertly lead by Bob Alverson of FVOA. In his recent letter below, he reminds us that prior to the emergence of a U.S. Domestic Trawl industry, there used to be many areas that were closed to foreign trawlers. These closures were enacted to help preserve the juvenile areas of many fish species including salmon, crab and halibut.

At the June Council meeting in Sitka, Council Staff updated the Council that the BSAI Halibut abundance-based management (ABM) PSC limit analysis is on track for initial review of a draft EIS in October 2019.

Following the release of the draft EIS in early September, the Council will host a web-based informational meeting on the BSAI Halibut ABM analysis in September.  The meeting will focus on providing an overview of the analysis and fielding clarification questions to the analysts from stakeholders.  Details on the meeting will be posted as a spotlight on the Council’s website later this summer.

The Union and FVOA will continue to press the Council for meaningful action on ABM, bycatch reduction and permanent moratorium on bottom trawling in sensitive habitat.

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