The fisheries council is dropping the ball on salmon bycatch. Why should commercial trawlers’ wasting a million fish a year be acceptable? I’m using that number because more than half a million chum salmon were wasted last year by the Bering Sea and Aleutian Island trawl fishery, as reported by the The Alaska Beacon in Yereth Rosen’s article of June 15. That number does’t cover other species of salmon or other Alaska waters. The bycatch of other species is also very high and has been covered in the past in the ADN.
As the story read, “The council urged more voluntary bycatch reduction by the pollock industry.” That’s a joke! Last year’s bycatch was twice the 10-year annual average! The trawler companies are disregarding pleas to do something about it. This waste is unconscionable! Yes, we know that something bad is happening in the seas and rivers, something human-caused known as climate change! All the more reason to value every fish out there! No, the trawler companies don’t have a God-given right to harm other fisheries.
My proposal for solving this problem is that the trawlers be required to process the bycatch fish, including freezing them, and deliver them to major ports in the affected areas and pay for distribution to the subsistence fishermen and villages along the rivers at no charge to the recipients. Then the trawlers would own the problem and be much more interested in finding a solution to bycatch.
There is a political solution as well. Vote for elected officials who care for the conservation of resources and not for the people who believe in exploiting resources until they are gone. Vote against officials who look after big companies rather than the needs of the people and the planet.
— Jean Eaton
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