Bycatch

Bycatch of prohibited species such as halibut and crab is closely regulated in North Pacific fisheries.  In fact, every year flatfish and cod fisheries are shut down, not because the fishermen have taken the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of a species, but because they have caught the cap of halibut or crab bycatch allotted to that fishery.

Halibut and crab swim on the bottom with flatfish and gear innovations are only a partial solution for reducing bycatch of these species.  In addition to gear innovations, an area avoidance has also proven effective.  The industry’s ability to implement avoidance of areas with higher incidence of crab and halibut (so called bycatch “hot spots”) was once rather limited.  Fishermen only had access to the NMFS observer data collected on their vessel and these data were often only available weeks after the bycatch occurred.