by Adam Soliman
Bycatch occurs with most fishing practices. Simply put, it is the amount of different types of fish that one catches while attempting to catch a particular type; if you are catching Black Cod and you happen to catch other types of fish, this will be called a bycatch. One of the aims of fisheries management is to reduce bycatch. This can be achieved by adjusting fishing practices (i.e., changing methods to ones that reduce bycatch). One of the main issues with bycatch is that usually a fisher is out fishing one type of fish and possibly holds a quota for that fish only. One way fisheries managers have tried to resolve this issue is to get fishers to report the bycatch, and to lease a quota equivalent of the bycatch. This process usually makes dumping of bycatch an illegal practice.
There is recent news that a non-profit educational organization (which offers luxury eco-cruises in Southeast Alaska) has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court over the new observer program. The claim alleges injury due to the lack of bycatch monitoring of some species, including Halibut and King Salmon. This is an interesting development because it highlights the duties and responsibilities of the government towards stakeholders. The rights and duties of the government and the commercial and recreational users of the resource has always been an unclear area of the law.
One reason for this lack of clarity is that the legal status of the quota allotted is unclear: is it private property rights, ownership, or merely a privilege Different jurisdictions have different answers. The U.S. and Canada consider fisheries quotas as mere privileges, and that the government has the right to revoke them without compensations. However, critics of quotas still doubt whether quota holders have rights against the government. This new legal challenge is interesting in that it has the potential to answer the question as to the duties and responsibilities of the government towards stakeholders.
Link to original article: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/feds-sued-over-not-managing-king-salmon-halibut-bycatch-adequately