Environmental Assessment for Amendment 58 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Area
Amendment 58 will reduce the annual trawl bycatch limits for Chinook salmon and will revise the Chinook Salmon Savings Area in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area.
In September, 1997, the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association submitted a proposal to lower the chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) limit which triggers the closure of the Chinook Salmon Savings Area (CHSSA) in the Bering Sea. This proposal identified the current bycatch limit of 48,000 chinook salmon as inadequate and not effective in reducing chinook salmon bycatch. This analysis examines a range of alternatives intended to:
- reduce the overall bycatch of chinook salmon
- alter the area included in the CHSSA so that only areas of high bycatch will be included in closures
- determine seasonality and source of bycatch by fishing sector.
Economic issues include forgone benefits by Alaskan coastal communities from intercepted salmon and increased CPUE for vessels after a limit is reached and a closure is implemented.
Amendment 58 will:
- reduce the chinook salmon bycatch limit from 46,000 salmon to 29,000 salmon over a 4-year period
- implement year-round accounting of chinook salmon bycatch in the Pollack fishery beginning on January 1 of each year
- revise, the boundaries of the CHSSA, and
- set new CHSSA closure dates
The intended effect of this amendment is to reduce trawl bycatch of chinook salmon in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands management area.