The Pacific Fishery Management Council's Role in Salmon Fisheries

CED-79-4: Published: Nov 9, 1978. Publicly Released: Nov 9, 1978.

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Because of concerns about overfishing, the Fishery Conservation and Management Act extended U.S. jurisdiction to 200 miles off its coasts and imposed on fishermen responsibilities for conserving and using fishery resources within the 200-mile zone. The act established eight regional fishery management councils to perform certain duties, including preparing management plans. The 1977 and 1978 plans developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council have objectives of maintaining optimum spawning stock escapements, helping fulfill Indian treaty obligations, and providing all ocean and inland water fisheries the continuing opportunity to harvest salmon. The act requires an increase in the use of economic, social, and ecological factors in the plans in addition to traditional biological considerations.

Concerns have been expressed over data used to support Council decisions. Some fisheries officials stated that the Council failed to obtain sufficient social and economic data for the 1977 and 1978 ocean salmon plans. Estimates based on a computer model were that Washington fishermen's net annual salmon catches would increase by 800,000 pounds but that the catch of commercial troll salmon fisheries off the coast of Washington would decrease by up to 1,700,000 pounds. Because of the lack of reliable economic data, the monetary impact of regulatory controls on commercial troll fishermen could not be determined. Concern was also expressed over the adequacy of fishing industry representation on the Council and the Council's consideration of Indian treaty fishing rights. Council officials recognized deficiencies in the database, and several research studies are underway to provide additional information for developing a comprehensive salmon plan for the 1980 fishing season.

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