Fact or Fiction?

Click the boxes below to reveal facts about the Amendment 80 fishery

Halibut bycatch

What is the state of halibut stocks in the Bering Sea?

MYTH: Halibut stocks are collapsing in the Bering Sea.

FACT: Halibut stocks are at a high level but exploitable biomass (or fish that can legally be harvested by halibut fishermen) is at a relatively low level. Exploitable fish are those that are over 32″ in length.

Citation: Letter from Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, US Department of Commerce, to Bruce Leaman, Executive Director, International Pacific Halibut Commission, January 20 2015
Has the amount of halibut bycatch discarded by A80 vessels changed in the last 20 years?

MYTH: Halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea has not changed in the last 20 years.

FACT: Halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea has dropped 40% since 1995.

Citation:Incidental catch and mortality of Pacific halibut, 1962-2014 Gregg H. Williams. In the IPHC 2014 Report of Assessment and Research Activities (RARA), page 323.
Have halibut bycatch limits changed in the Bering Sea?

MYTH: Halibut bycatch limits have not changed in 20 years.

FACT: When Amendment 80 legislation passed, the halibut assigned to the sector was reduced by 50 tons per year for four years. Fifty tons of that went to Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups, and the other 150 tons are not available for harvest by any groundfish fishery.

Citation: Amendment 80 final rule, 72FR 52668 September 14, 2007
What was the recent halibut bycatch reduction made by fisheries authorities?

MYTH: Halibut bycatch reduction made by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in June is only the equivalent of 0.7%.

FACT: Some sectors will have no effective reductions because they were not using all of the halibut allocated to them. The Amendment 80 sector’s cap was reduced by 25%. This equates to a 17% cut from actual use, but will be more like a 22% cut given the need to maintain a ‘buffer’ under the cap to ensure fishing can continue throughout the year.

Citation: Public Review Draft of EA/RIR/IRFA to Revise Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Halibut Prohibited Species Catch Limits Supplemental Information – June 5, 2015, prepared for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Amendment 80 Trawlers

How do bottom trawlers work? How much contact do they make with the ocean floor?

MYTH: All bottom trawlers are essentially bulldozers that decimate everything on the ocean floor.

FACT: Modern flatfish trawls have lifting devices so that only 10% of the entire fishing system is touching the bottom. Trawl doors are often fished off-bottom to minimize drag.

CitationRequire Trawl Sweep Modification in the Bering Sea Flatfish Fishery, Establish a Modified Gear Trawl Zone, and Revise Boundaries of the Northern Bering Sea Research Area and Saint Matthew Island Habitat Conservation Area, Environmental Analysis prepared for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council August 2009. Figure 3-7, page 19.
How much of what is caught by A80 trawlers is discarded as bycatch?

MYTH: Trawlers end up discarding half of what they catch as bycatch.

FACT: Amendment 80 vessels keep over 95% of everything that they catch. This figure includes consideration of species that have to be discarded by regulation.

CitationAmendment 80 annual cooperative reports.
Do we know what happens at sea on Amendment 80 vessels?

MYTH: The sea is the new wild west. No one knows what really goes on out there.

FACT: Amendment 80 vessels carry two federally-mandated observers at all times in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands. They monitor and report on activity and ensure that regulations are followed.

Citation: Requirement for two observers is in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50CFR Chapter VI Part 679.50(c)(6).
Do fisheries in the North Pacific have strict regulations that are followed?

MYTH: Fisheries are unregulated and anything goes.

FACT: The North Pacific fisheries are among the most tightly regulated in the world.

CitationUse of annual catch limits to avoid stock depletion in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (Northeast Pacific); DiCosimo, J., Methot, R. D., and Ormseth, O. A. 2010. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 67: 1861–1865.

The Economics of A80 Fisheries

How does the Amendment 80 fleet contribute to Alaska economically?

MYTH: Amendment 80 vessels take all of their money out of the state.

FACT: The Amendment 80 fleet spends about $50 million a year in fuel, food, and taxes in Alaska.

CitationMeasuring the Multiregional Economic Contribution of an Alaska Fishing Fleet with Linkages to International Markets; Waters, Seung, Hartley and Dalton, April 2014.
Are Alaskans are employed by the Amendment 8o fleet? How many?

MYTH: Only non-Alaskans are employed in the A80 fleet.

FACT: Amendment 80 accounts for 2,900 direct and indirect jobs in the State of Alaska.

CitationMeasuring the Multiregional Economic Contribution of an Alaska Fishing Fleet with Linkages to International Markets; Waters, Seung, Hartley and Dalton, April 2014.
Who eats the fish caught by the Amendment 80 fleet?

MYTH: The A80 fleet catches only trash fish that Americans don’t eat. It all gets exported internationally.

FACT: A80 flatfish and rockfish are found in a wide variety of US grocery stores, fish markets, and restaurants.