The issue of “Foregone Harvest” was among the topics addressed during a major fisheries science symposium that’s ongoing in Anchorage. Foregone harvest is defined as fish that are counted as escapement over and above what is necessary to reach established escapement goals. The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery was used as a case study during Thursday’s session of the 27th annual Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium being held in Anchorage.
The discussion about “Foregone Harvest” was led by Steve Langdon. He’s an anthropology professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Much of his talk was focused on opening up opportunities for the native people of Bristol Bay to harvest surplus sockeye salmon that make it past the traditional commercial fishing districts. He says there are challenges in law, regulation and policy for people in Bristol Bay to commercialize those salmon if they are not operating in the traditional commercial fishery.
Currently it’s illegal for sockeye salmon that make it through the commercial fishing districts in Bristol Bay to be harvested and sold commercially despite the fact that in some years a percentage of those fish are not needed to meet the pre-season escapement goals. Langdon suggested area villages, organizations and individuals could be strengthened if a system was developed to allow those fish to be harvested, either commercially or through subsistence fishing efforts, and then sold.
Often sockeye salmon fishermen in Bristol Bay are limited in the amount of fish they can harvest due to poundage limits placed on them by processors who only have so much processing capacity available. In some years the imposition of limits means that large numbers of fish make it through the commercial fishing districts and are counted as escapement. The symposium runs through tomorrow.
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