On the heels of Oceana’s success in establishing sensible density and antibiotic usage standards for the Chilean farmed salmon industry comes another salmon victory, this time from Alaska. For the first time, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to limit the number of Chinook (also known as king) salmon that the Bering Sea pollock industry incidentally kills every year.
Wild salmon populations have suffered huge population losses in recent years, culminating in the decision to cancel the California salmon fishing season in 2008 and again this year. Meanwhile, pollock nets continued to kill thousands of Chinook salmon – a record 121,704 in 2007 – that would have otherwise returned to West coast and Alaska rivers to spawn.
When NOAA Fisheries implements the Council recommendation, the Bering Sea pollock fishing fleet will have to shut down if it surpasses 60,000 king salmon caught and killed in its nets. And while I applaud this critical step in restoring salmon populations, it is not enough. Our team here at Oceana will continue to press for lower limits and more responsible fishing that will allow salmon to recover their historic plenty.
Meanwhile, Oceana has taken a big step forward in protecting marine wildlife elsewhere in the Pacific. The Pacific Fishery Management Council has agreed to deny new fishing permits for swordfish boats along the U.S. West coast whose longlines are infamous for snagging loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, seabirds and dozens of other untargeted species. Oceana also continues to fight on other fronts to protect all sea turtles endangered or threatened with extinction.
[Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.]