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FISHING U.S. boats catch 130,000 chinook - by mistake About half of those salmon would have ended up in Canadian rivers

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TERRI THEODORE The Canadian Press VANCOUVER American fishing boats with massive nets dredging the bottom of the Bering Sea for pollock accidentally caught 130,000 prized chinook salmon last year.

About half of those salmon would have ended up in Canadian rivers.

It came in the same year that fish escapement levels were hardly reached in the Yukon River, well known for its chinook fishery.

Canadian commercial fishermen weren't allowed to take any chinook from the river and native bands pulled just 5,000 fish for a food fishery.

The record accidental catch, or bycatch, has alarmed fisheries experts, environmentalists, government officials and even pollock trawlers, who say a bycatch cap would devastate their fishery.

DNA analysis shows about 20 per cent of the chinook caught up in the football-field-sized nets were bound for the Yukon River, which runs through both Alaska and Yukon Territory.

Another 40 per cent of those salmon were destined for rivers in British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

The U.S. North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is looking over several options to prevent such a massive bycatch again, but it will be two years before new rules are implemented.

"And in the meantime nobody's watching the fish," Gerry Couture said in frustration.

Mr. Couture, a Canadian member of the Yukon Salmon Committee in the Yukon River Panel, said the process to save chinook is moving with glacial speed.

Chinook, also known as king, are the giants of the salmon world and can reach weights equal to an average seven-year-old child.

They are the fish you often see in pictures where a beaming sport fisherman is using both hands to hold up his catch, after fighting to get the fish in the boat.

Pollock are small, sedate and plentiful, and often used in fish sticks or fast-food fish sandwiches. The billion-dollar Bering Sea pollock fishery is the largest in the world.

The bycatch issue has been a problem for years but never have so many chinook been caught up in the nets as in 2007.

Jon Warrenchuk, a marine scientist with the American marine advocacy group Oceana, said the failure to cut the bycatch is a failure in regulation.

"Salmon is so important to many people up and down the Pacific Coast,"
he said from his office in Juneau, Alaska. "It's boggling to me that there's no ceiling limit." And while some native bands aren't even allowed to catch their full chinook quota for sustenance, pollock fishermen are either throwing away the bycatch or donating the fish to food banks because they aren't allowed to sell it.

About 90 per cent of the 130,000 chinook bycatch was picked up by trawlers, while the remainder was captured by all other fisheries in the Bering Sea.

"I know the numbers look very bad," admitted Stephanie Madsen, executive director of At Sea Processors Association, which represents seven pollock-processing companies.

She said the industry agrees the bycatch in 2007 was unacceptable but they're not sure how to avoid the salmon, which seem to be following the pollock or vice versa.

Ms. Madsen said rolling closings haven't worked because they close one spot where the bycatch is high, only to find a high bycatch in the next place they throw their nets.

"We're struggling right now to figure out how to stay out of their way,"
she said.

Each of the four options going to the fishery management council is complicated, but break down into a hard-cap closing that would stop the fishery once a certain number of chinook are caught; a trigger cap that would set off a time-area closing; fixed closings that stop the fishery at a certain time; or keeping the status quo.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans likes the idea of a solid cap and has informed the council it wants that cap set at 37,000 chinook.

The figure momentarily left Ms. Madsen speechless.

She said such a cap on the industry would be devastating.

"It would be a dramatic impact, dramatic," she repeated.

"If you made us live with that cap, in two years without any new tools, I can't even fathom the impact." But the industry did live with a similar cap until 2002, and every year since the cap was lifted the bycatch has jumped.

Ms. Madsen denied the pollock fishery needs to "strain more water"
through its nets to catch more pollock, adding science shows the stock isn't in trouble.

Frank Quinn, with the Department of Fisheries, agreed the industry has been trying to avoid the chinook.

"So it isn't as if there's been a blatant disregard," he said.

While the bycatch doesn't seem to be harming endangered chinook runs, Mr.
Quinn said 130,000 salmon are still a drain on the resource.

"We're seeing results in the river and that's the reason we're taking the steps that we are to have this addressed," he said.

For Mr. Couture - who likens managing a salmon run to shovelling smoke with a pitchfork - the bycatch is an issue that can be solved, unlike disease or warmer water.

"It's another cup full, you might say, in the bucket of low returns."
Mr. Warrenchuk agreed the problem must be addressed.

"To really bring these salmon back you have to address all sources of mortality including pollock bycatch in the Bering Sea," he said.

"That's something you can do something about very easily."
 

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:eek: 130,000 fish thats horrible. If you say the avg chinook is 18 lbs thats 2.3 million pounds. Our coastal quota for westport is around 30,000 lbs per year, so that means their bycatch was 78 years of quota off westport. And they wonder where the runs have gone.
 

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Tiderunner said:
:eek: 130,000 fish thats horrible. If you say the avg chinook is 18 lbs thats 2.3 million pounds. Our coastal quota for westport is around 30,000 lbs per year, so that means their bycatch was 78 years of quota off westport. And they wonder where the runs have gone.
When you put it in perspective like that it even sounds more atrocious.. sick:
 

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no wonder the fish sticks I had at lunch had a little salmon pink tinge to them wink:

...gurrgjjjhhhhhh,,,uh-oh. :roll:
 

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from my commercial fishing buddies up norht i have heard that they may shut down big boat dragging up around sandpoint and the bering sea to bring pollock back and help bycatch.

they actually postponed the cod and pollock season up around sandpoint due to lack of fish while around kodiak it has been a good year for cod with very little bycatch.

also my dads freind up in dutch harobr pot cod fishing ( which has litteraly nealry zero bycatch) caught 1000000lbs, this year in a months time.
 

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Isn't that what is meant by "poor ocean conditions"? conf: I've always believed that some of the unexpected loss of salmon could be explained by by-catch in other fisheries and here's some proof. Of course, this is just one that we heard about. How many more salmon were lost to Russian, Japanese, Canadian and other U.S. fisheries? No one really knows...
 

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seadna said:
Isn't that what is meant by "poor ocean conditions"? conf: I've always believed that some of the unexpected loss of salmon could be explained by by-catch in other fisheries and here's some proof. Of course, this is just one that we heard about. How many more salmon were lost to Russian, Japanese, Canadian and other U.S. fisheries? No one really knows...
exactly, heres a fact for ya, Canada catches 60% of our chums, now think aobut what the percent is for pinks, coho and kings? not to mention reds to.
 

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Just think what the bycatch was before all the technology they have now. Now the commercial fleet actually tries to stay off those fish so they can keep the season open longer. Every day the commercials call in to a central location. It is my understanding that if the commercials have a so called hot spot they stay out of there or pay a heavy price from others.


Tommy those are sick numbers dude, 78 years! That's freakin sick!! And only one place up there. Man when will we learn? When will it end?
 

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We didn't just lose 130,000 salmon. In the years to come those fish offspring's are destroyed. In looking at weight it gives a preceptive of 78 years but when looking at it exponentially how many fish are destroyed? 1,300,000,000 more or less? It hurt Canadians, Natives and Americans.
Does by-catch mean bye-bye?
 

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Dr Hook said:
FISHING U.S. boats catch 130,000 chinook - by mistake About half of those salmon would have ended up in Canadian rivers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TERRI THEODORE The Canadian Press VANCOUVER American fishing boats with massive nets dredging the bottom of the Bering Sea for pollock accidentally caught 130,000 prized chinook salmon last year.

About half of those salmon would have ended up in Canadian rivers.

It came in the same year that fish escapement levels were hardly reached in the Yukon River, well known for its chinook fishery.

Canadian commercial fishermen weren't allowed to take any chinook from the river and native bands pulled just 5,000 fish for a food fishery.

The record accidental catch, or bycatch, has alarmed fisheries experts, environmentalists, government officials and even pollock trawlers, who say a bycatch cap would devastate their fishery.

DNA analysis shows about 20 per cent of the chinook caught up in the football-field-sized nets were bound for the Yukon River, which runs through both Alaska and Yukon Territory.

Another 40 per cent of those salmon were destined for rivers in British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

The U.S. North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is looking over several options to prevent such a massive bycatch again, but it will be two years before new rules are implemented.

"And in the meantime nobody's watching the fish," Gerry Couture said in frustration.

Mr. Couture, a Canadian member of the Yukon Salmon Committee in the Yukon River Panel, said the process to save chinook is moving with glacial speed.

Chinook, also known as king, are the giants of the salmon world and can reach weights equal to an average seven-year-old child.

They are the fish you often see in pictures where a beaming sport fisherman is using both hands to hold up his catch, after fighting to get the fish in the boat.

Pollock are small, sedate and plentiful, and often used in fish sticks or fast-food fish sandwiches. The billion-dollar Bering Sea pollock fishery is the largest in the world.

The bycatch issue has been a problem for years but never have so many chinook been caught up in the nets as in 2007.

Jon Warrenchuk, a marine scientist with the American marine advocacy group Oceana, said the failure to cut the bycatch is a failure in regulation.

"Salmon is so important to many people up and down the Pacific Coast,"
he said from his office in Juneau, Alaska. "It's boggling to me that there's no ceiling limit." And while some native bands aren't even allowed to catch their full chinook quota for sustenance, pollock fishermen are either throwing away the bycatch or donating the fish to food banks because they aren't allowed to sell it.

About 90 per cent of the 130,000 chinook bycatch was picked up by trawlers, while the remainder was captured by all other fisheries in the Bering Sea.

"I know the numbers look very bad," admitted Stephanie Madsen, executive director of At Sea Processors Association, which represents seven pollock-processing companies.

She said the industry agrees the bycatch in 2007 was unacceptable but they're not sure how to avoid the salmon, which seem to be following the pollock or vice versa.

Ms. Madsen said rolling closings haven't worked because they close one spot where the bycatch is high, only to find a high bycatch in the next place they throw their nets.

"We're struggling right now to figure out how to stay out of their way,"
she said.

Each of the four options going to the fishery management council is complicated, but break down into a hard-cap closing that would stop the fishery once a certain number of chinook are caught; a trigger cap that would set off a time-area closing; fixed closings that stop the fishery at a certain time; or keeping the status quo.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans likes the idea of a solid cap and has informed the council it wants that cap set at 37,000 chinook.

The figure momentarily left Ms. Madsen speechless.

She said such a cap on the industry would be devastating.

"It would be a dramatic impact, dramatic," she repeated.

"If you made us live with that cap, in two years without any new tools, I can't even fathom the impact." But the industry did live with a similar cap until 2002, and every year since the cap was lifted the bycatch has jumped.

Ms. Madsen denied the pollock fishery needs to "strain more water"
through its nets to catch more pollock, adding science shows the stock isn't in trouble.

Frank Quinn, with the Department of Fisheries, agreed the industry has been trying to avoid the chinook.

"So it isn't as if there's been a blatant disregard," he said.

While the bycatch doesn't seem to be harming endangered chinook runs, Mr.
Quinn said 130,000 salmon are still a drain on the resource.

"We're seeing results in the river and that's the reason we're taking the steps that we are to have this addressed," he said.

For Mr. Couture - who likens managing a salmon run to shovelling smoke with a pitchfork - the bycatch is an issue that can be solved, unlike disease or warmer water.

"It's another cup full, you might say, in the bucket of low returns."
Mr. Warrenchuk agreed the problem must be addressed.

"To really bring these salmon back you have to address all sources of mortality including pollock bycatch in the Bering Sea," he said.

"That's something you can do something about very easily."
I'm feeling woozy sick:
 

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It's been proven time and time again that nets are an indiscriminate and destructive fishing method. And in my opinion bottom draggers are the worst as they take everything in their path. There is no way to reduce the bycatch if the bycatch is in the area. In my opinion they need to find a different way to catch pollock and shut down the bottom trawlers. This is outrageous.
 

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MYSTICAL LEGENDS said:
Tommy those are sick numbers dude, 78 years! That's freakin sick!! And only one place up there. Man when will we learn? When will it end?
This has always been my point..... While we constantly have our heated arguments over terminal fishery snagging, barbless hooks, single point, nonbouyant lure restrictions, fishing on the right side of the river on odd numbered days, in even number months, etc., etc., etc... BASICALLY TWIDDLING OUR THUMBS OVER NONSENSE...

THIS RAPE CONTINUES.....

When will be learn? History has proven OVER AND OVER that the raping continues UNTIL THE FISH ARE GONE. Does anyone think that a commercial boat in Alaska gives a damn about fish returning to WA, OR or CA rivers?
 

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:evil: Looking at all this information makes me ill. It's not like it just started though. I'm in mid 50s, and I can remember coming out of the channel at Chinook in late 60's heading out to the Columbia River Bar in early AM on several occasions and seeing a Gillnet boat BEACHED on sand Island with the deck heaped with Kings. And we wonder where all the fish have gone!
 
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