Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for Proposed Alternatives to Limit Chinook Salmon Bycatch in Trawl Fisheries: Amendment 21b - Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Plan
Analysis of an amendment to reduce Chinook Salmon bycatch
The objective of the alternatives considered in this analysis is to provide the Council with the means to control chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish trawl fisheries. Chinook salmon bycatch control measures are needed for two reasons. First, many chinook salmon stocks are fully utilized, and uncontrolled bycatch constitutes an additional, unaccounted for allocation of the resource. Second, uncontrolled bycatch levels exceeding recent highs may lead to conservation problems for Alaskan and Canadian chinook salmon populations. During the past 10 years, several major river systems have experienced low levels of returns, particularly the Nushagak, Yukon, and Kuskokwim rivers.
Most of the approximately 107 trawl catcher vessels landing groundfish from the BSAI meet the definition of a small entity under the RFA. Any of the alternatives that would result in a closure of a portion of the BSAI to trawling for any amount of time will affect these catcher vessels. The impact increases with larger closure areas or longer closure times. However, in all cases except a closure of the entire BSAI, these vessels would be able to continue fishing in another areas of the BSAI.