Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for Modifying Existing Chinook and Chum Salmon Savings Areas, Amendment 84 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
In the mid-1990s, the Council and NOAA Fisheries implemented regulations to control the bycatch of Chinook salmon and non-chinook salmon taken in the BSAI trawl fisheries.
These regulations established closure areas in areas and at times when salmon bycatch had been highest, based on historical observer data. Information from the fishing fleet indicates that bycatch may be exacerbated by the current regulatory closure regulations, as much higher salmon bycatch rates are reportedly encountered outside of the closure areas. Some of these bycaught salmon include Chinook and chum stocks of concern, originating from western Alaska. Further, the closure areas impose increased costs on the pollock fleet and processors. To address this immediate problem, the Council will examine and consider other means to control salmon bycatch that have the potential to be more flexible and adaptive, but still meet Council intent to minimize impacts to the salmon in the eastern Bering Sea.