January 01, 2016

Alaskan Halibut: A Bycatch Trifecta

Madeline June Kass

The bycatch of fish and other marine wildlife poses a serious problem of incredulous proportions. Federal regulators define “bycatch” as the “[d]iscarded catch of any living marine resource, plus unobserved mortality due to a direct encounter with fishing gear.” NOAA FishWatch.gov, http://www.fishwatch.gov/glossary; see also 16 U.S.C. § 1802(2). According to a 2014 Oceana report “global bycatch may amount to 40 percent of the world’s catch, totaling 63 billion pounds per year.” Oceana, Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries 5 (Mar. 2014). Although there remains a degree of uncertainty regarding global bycatch numbers, current estimates represent waste in the order of eight pounds of fish for every person on earth this year. The United States is not immune to the bycatch scourge. Estimates put U.S. fishing discards at between 17 and 22 percent of total catch. Id. at 6.

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