Watchdog: Bycatch from Commercial Trawlers Hurts Native Communities and Smaller Commercial Fishers
Washington, D.C. — Today at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, members heard testimony regarding pending legislation, including H.R. 4690, the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act of 2021. In response, government watchdog Accountable.US released a research report showing that bycatch (fish unintentionally caught while fishing for a specific type or size of fish) from large commercial trawlers threatens the livelihood of smaller commercial fishers and endangers food security in native Alaskan communities. The findings demonstrate how Trident Seafoods and the pollock industry contribute to the bycatch problem.
“The reckless harvesting practices of Trident Seafoods and other companies using big trawler vessels have created a crisis in communities that fish for sustenance and economic survival,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Alaska’s native communities and smaller commercial fishers are crying out for help. It is long past time for Congress to right this ship and show they are listening.”
Read the full research report.
- Big trawler vessels harvest an outsized share of salmon, drawing complaints from subsistence fishers, smaller commercial fishers, and conservationists.
- As of November 1, 2021, at-sea processors association members have already harvested nearly 160,000 salmon as bycatch in 2021; simultaneously, the U.S. Department of the Interior has noted a loss of 190,000 salmon to Yukon households.
- The At-Sea Processors Association and other industry groups have resisted calls to address the issue by limiting bycatch.
- Trident Seafoods has been caught in multiple bycatch scandals, including illegally buying bycatch octopus and taking in thousands of pounds of halibut bycatch.
- The North Pacific Fishery Management Council took no meaningful action to limit salmon bycatch at its October 2021 meeting despite desperate need from Alaska native villages.
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