Environmental Assessment of an Experimental Fishing Permit to Test the Effects of an Open-top Trawl Configuration on Species and Size Composition of Catch in Trawls Targeting Yellowfin Sole
This Environmental Assessment addresses an experimental fishing permit application by the Groundfish Forum to test the effects of an intermediate trawl escape panel on species and size composition of catch in trawls targeting flatfish.
The need to create innovative methods of reducing catches of pollock and cod in flatfish trawls is great. Pollock discards for the yellowfin sole and rock sole target fisheries combined were estimated to be 54,000 metric tons (mt) in 1994 (NMFS 1995a), and 28,500 mt in 1995 (EA/RlR for IR/lU, July, 1996). Those two fisheries are the major flatfish target fisheries in the Bering Sea. Although Pacific cod discards in the rock sole and yellowfin sole targets combined are lower compared to pollock, they are perhaps more significant relative to the total allowable catch for Pacific cod. Pacific cod discards were approximately 13,450 Mt in 1994 (NMFS 1995a), and 11,500 mt in 1995 (EAIRIR for lR/IU, July, 1996). Head and gut (H&G) vessels probably account for half of the pollock and cod discards in the yellowfin sole fishery and nearly all of the pollock and cod discarded in the rock sole target