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.
Habitat is the place where species live and can be characterized and described by the physical, chemical, biological, and geological components of the ocean environment. Habitat science is the study of relationships among species and their environment.
Ocean habitat is essential for maintaining productivity of fishery resources, and is a key component of an ecosystem-oriented management approach. Structural habitat includes boulders, corals, anemones, kelp, and other living organisms attached to the ocean bottom.
Exempted fisheries typically occur when, in order to gather needed data, an experiment must be conducted using gear or methods that would otherwise be prohibited by existing regulations. An exempted fishing permit (EFP) is a permit issued by the Alaska Region of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to allow these otherwise prohibited fishing activities. These permits are issued for limited experimental purposes to support projects that could benefit the groundfish fisheries and the environment. Anyone who is planning on groundfish fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited by the regulations may apply for an EFP. The permit is issued to the applicant but a copy must be on the vessel at all times during the project.
Industry/Government Collaborations or Cooperative Research
According to NOAA Office of Science and Technology, Cooperative research is the partnering of the fishing industry, fishermen and other stakeholders with federal and university scientists to collect fundamental fisheries information. The collection of information on fisheries resources through cooperative research programs assists scientists and managers by providing information to supplement the data currently collected through existing federal research programs. Cooperative research provides a means for commercial and recreational fishermen to become involved in the collection of fundamental fisheries information to support the development and evaluation of management options. For further information, see National Cooperative Research Program