Tribal request to halt salmon bycatch denied

NOAA Fisheries has denied a request from six tribal entities for emergency action to eliminate Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea Pollock fishery and implement a hard cap on chum salmon bycatch, saying the petition did not meet necessary criteria.

The federal agency said it concluded that the request did not contain the three criteria necessary for NOAA Fisheries to implement an emergency rule, including information indicating it meets all requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act. The petition did not contain information indicating that the petitioned action is “practicable,” a statutory requirement, nor is the requested action likely to address the emergency from salmon run failures in Western Alaska, the agency said.

The request was submitted on Dec. 21 by Kawerak, Inc., the Association of Village Council Presidents, the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island and the Bering Sea Elders Group.

The petitioners also sought tribal consultation with Western and Interior Alaska tribes to develop long-term measures to reduce chum salmon bycatch. According to NOAA Fisheries, the agency is continuing to consult with the tribes to find long-term solutions to minimize salmon bycatch