Dragset said at the Seafood Expo North
America that twenty years ago in 1987 Norway was cognizant of and working to minimize bycatch, introducing a discard ban on
cod and haddock for economic and ethical
reasons. In 2009 Norway’s discard ban was
expanded to require all dead or dying species
of fish be landed, though viable fish can be
released back to the sea.
When a commercial operation discards
dead or dying fish instead of hauling them to
port, the bycatch becomes de facto unrecorded catches. This can skew fishery statistics,
which is problematic for the scientific assessment of stocks to develop best practices and
policies for fish management.
Alaska has multiple world-class fisheries.
Seafood is significant in Alaska as an economic driver, but fish are also an integral
part of the life and culture of every Alaskan.
Alaskans are fierce about protecting its fisheries, and that will only continue as new techniques and policies are developed in Alaska,
the United States, and internationally to keep
fisheries safe, clean, and productive. R
Dimitra Lavrakas is the former associate
editor of Alaska Business, and former
editor of The Arctic Sounder, The
Skagway News, and The Dutch Harbor
Regional partners including Japan, Canada,
Russia, South Korea, and China contribute to
enforcing fisheries regulations and other laws
in the area. Operation North Pacific Guard
has seen significant success since its inception
in 1992. In fact, “We have had zero foreign-flagged fishing vessels found illegally fishing in
the US exclusive economic zone surrounding
Alaska in 2015, 2016, or 2017,” Dykens says.
Despite the presence and persistence of multiple countries, IUU fishing continues in the
North Pacific, says Dykens. The most recent
incidents were three high-seas drift net fishing
vessels that were seized for fishing illegally, one
each in 2011, 2012, and 2014. In addition, foreign
partners have prosecuted twelve vessels for IUU
fishing from 2013 to the present.
In December 2016, the US government officially established the Seafood Import
Monitoring Program to address IUU fishing
products entering the market: reporting and
record-keeping requirements for certain seafood products were established to prevent illegally caught or improperly labeled seafood
from entering the US market. This first phase
applies to abalone, Atlantic cod, blue crab,
dolphinfish (mahi-mahi), grouper, red king
crab, Pacific cod, red snapper, sea cucumber,
sharks, shrimp, swordfish, and tunas.
The program coordinates efforts to combat
IUU with cooperation from local and state
governments, the fishing industry, and non-government organizations to create a risk-based (meaning penalties are applied) program to trace seafood from the net to the port.
“For the first time, there is a national mandate of a broad-based certification program
focused on traceability recognizing that
more information needs to arrive with the
fish,” Warner-Kramer said.
Bycatch is a classification of sea creature that
was unintentionally caught during commercial
fishing operations. Bycatch runs the range of
being entirely the wrong species to members of
the correct species that are the wrong size, sex,
or age. Bycatch is often discarded, tossed overboard back into the fishing area, though much
of the bycatch is often dead or non-viable.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires, to the
extent practicable, that commercial fisher-men “(1) minimize bycatch and ( 2) to the
extent bycatch cannot be avoided, minimize
the mortality of such bycatch.” The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is a national standard that was
established in 1976 and amended in 1996 to
directly address overfishing and bycatch.
Deirdre Warner-Kramer discusses the federal
government’s approach to controlling illegal
“For the first time, there is a national mandate of a broad-based
certification program focused on traceability recognizing that
more information needs to arrive with the fish.”
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Marine Conservation, US Department of State
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