That's right, trawlers win. But Kodiak crab stocks might be winners, too.
That's my assessment of today's action at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in downtown Anchorage.
On a 9-2 vote, the council passed a plan to minimize the bycatch of bairdi Tanner crabs off the east coast of Kodiak Island.
The council considered simply closing large blocks of water to trawlers, particularly those using bottom-dragging nets that can accidentally catch and kill crab while in pursuit of groundfish.
But for the most part, the trawlers escaped that fate. Instead, the council gave the trawlers a way to keep fishing in most of waters proposed for closure. They can do this by modifying their trawl gear to have less impact on crabs.
These "trawl sweep modifications" reportedly have worked to reduce crab bycatch mortality in the Bering Sea.
Kodiak's trawl fleet as well as the island's major processors all pushed for the modified gear approach, rather than simply booting boats out of crabby areas.
Here's how council members voted on the final motion:
Jim Balsiger, Dave Benson, Cora Campbell, Sam Cotten, John Henderschedt, Dan Hull, Roy Hyder, Eric Olson (chairman), Bill Tweit
Ed Dersham, Duncan Fields
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