Bycatch and Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) in Groundfish and Shellfish Fisheries

What is Bycatch? Fishermen participating in fisheries off Alaska sometimes catch and discard fish they do not want, cannot sell, or are not allowed to keep.  These unwanted fish are collectively known as bycatch. Fishery interactions that result in mortality or injury of marine mammals and seabirds are also a bycatch concern. Bycatch can be a more or less complex issue based on the location and type of fishery.  For more information on the range of bycatch issues in the Nation’s fisheries see the NOAA National bycatch web page.   

What is the Management Role of NOAA Fisheries and the Alaska Region in Minimizing Bycatch? The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) requires that bycatch be minimized to the extent practicable.  NOAA Fisheries is committed to implementing conservation and management measures for living marine resources that will minimize, to the extent practicable, bycatch and the mortality of bycatch that cannot be avoided. For more information on NOAA’s National bycatch programs, see the NOAA Fisheries National Bycatch Strategy. See links below for Alaska Region bycatch programs.

What is Prohibited Species Catch (PSC)? In the Alaska Region, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) and NOAA Fisheries have adopted measures to limit the catch of species taken incidentally in groundfish fisheries.  Certain species are designated as “prohibited species” in the fishery management plans because they are the target of other, fully utilized domestic fisheries.  Prohibited species include Pacific halibut, Pacific herring, Pacific salmon, steelhead trout, king crab, and Tanner crab.