Bycatch is fish that are caught but not kept on board a fishing vessel. Although fishermen try to avoid it, every fishery has bycatch. In some cases it’s fish that are too small or aren’t marketable. In others, the law prohibits fish from being kept. NOAA Fisheries has recently published a National Bycatch Reduction Strategy which explains bycatch in detail. See more at NOAA Fisheries Bycatch Program.
In the Amendment 80 Bering Sea fisheries, our principle concern is halibut bycatch. Halibut intermingle with Amendment 80 target fish such as Pacific cod and flatfish, making it impossible to completely avoid halibut when catching these species. All halibut caught in the Amendment 80 fisheries must be thrown back, even if the halibut are already dead.
Amendment 80 fishermen have a strong track record of collaboration and cooperation with research scientists, fishery managers, and other fishing industry groups to reduce halibut bycatch in our fisheries to the extent practicable. We have achieved these reductions though changes to fishery management practices, improved avoidance, fishing gear modifications, and changes to halibut handling procedures.
Today halibut bycatch within Amendment 80 fisheries are the lowest on record. For more on bycatch, visit BycatchFacts.org