Alaska fishing groups and Tribes applaud Rep. Peltola’s introduction of bycatch reduction and bottom trawl definitions bills


May 22, 2024

Alaska fishing groups and Tribes applaud Rep. Peltola’s introduction of bycatch reduction and bottom trawl definitions bills

ANCHORAGE, AK—Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, today introduced a pair of bills responding to Alaskans’ deep concerns about the impacts of federally managed industrial trawl fisheries on the lives, cultures and livelihoods of Alaskans. The Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, Native Peoples Action, SalmonState, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, The Boat Company, Bear Trail Lodge, B&J Sporting Goods and DeepStrike Sportfishing all applaud Rep. Peltola’s leadership and action and look forward to working with Congress to pass these bills into law. Immediate action is imperative in order to turn the tide on dwindling numbers of Alaska’s most valuable and iconic fish species.

The bills are:

The Bottom Trawl Clarity Act. This bill would require clearer definitions to the terms “substantial” versus “limited” bottom contact and require the designation of Bottom Trawl Zones, identifying the areas where any trawl gear that scrapes the seafloor is allowed. This is necessary because recent studies have shown that “midwater” trawl gear actually drags the bottom up to 100% of the time.

Bycatch Reduction and Mitigation Act. This bill would help fund projects and activities that aim to reduce bycatch through NOAA’s Bycatch Reduction and Engineering Program.

These bills represent a substantive response to the growing chorus of Alaskans calling for reform of federal fisheries management off Alaska’s coast. Across the political spectrum, Alaskans are concerned about the waste of marine resources known as bycatch, as well as the unequal application of restrictions and closures, which have been enforced against customary and traditional harvesters, small boat commercial operations, charter boats and resident sport anglers, but not trawlers. In fact a recent poll shows that two-thirds of Alaskans support an outright ban of trawling in the federal waters off Alaska’s coast.

“Subsistence and commercial fisheries throughout Western Alaska have been shuttered in recent years. With record-low escapements and few (if any) opportunities for Indigenous and rural fishing families to harvest salmon, there is nothing more that our communities can sacrifice to protect salmon,” said Kevin Whitworth, Executive Director of the Kuskokwim Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “It is high time some conservation measures are taken in fisheries occurring in the ocean space as well. I am thankful that Rep. Peltola has taken action to balance the scales here.”

“As Alaska’s largest dedicated fishing tackle and bait shop, we’ve become an unofficial conversation hub on the subject of trawl and the state of our fisheries across Alaska. We regularly hear firsthand accounts of frustration, astonishment, and expressions of dismay over our deeply alarming and rapidly declining crab and salmon populations. The overwhelming consensus being, ‘Something must be done about trawlers,’ said Troy Arnold, Owner of B&J Sporting Goods. “We’re pleased to see that Alaskan voices on this critical state issue are being heard and responded to. We appreciate the work Representative Mary Peltola is doing to address our collective concerns by putting these bills forward. We look forward to continued momentum on this important subject and welcome positive, solutions minded and action-oriented change.”

“These bills indicate that Representative Peltola is hearing the voices of Alaskans from across the political spectrum demanding the government rein in the incredible waste of marine life associated with trawling in the waters off of Alaska,” said SalmonState Executive Director, Tim Bristol. “We understand these pieces of legislation are the first steps towards reforming the way we manage federal waters off of Alaska and we hope to see similar action from Alaska’s senators soon.”

“For years now, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has siphoned off the time and energy of many hundreds of Alaskans for little positive benefit. We sign up to testify at council meetings. We wait for hours — sometimes days — for our turn to speak. When we are finally allotted our three to five minutes, we tell the Council our stories: of families who are struggling in small remote communities, or driven out by the lack of job opportunity, access to fisheries, available affordable food, and ability to practice traditional ways of life,” said Amy Sparck, Executive Director at Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association. “With mere decades under official fisheries management, compared to over 10,000 years of sustainable fishing in our indigenous communities, our rivers are now in “crisis management” with zero opportunity for salmon for Alaskans. Balance must be restored and we are grateful to Representative Peltola for this legislation, which takes the brave first steps to do just that.”

“Federal trawl fisheries in Alaska’s waters have had detrimental impact on our communities and the families that rely upon a healthy ecosystem to practice a way of life that remains central to who we are as Indigenous people,” said Laureli Ivanoff, Executive Director for Native Peoples Action. “Reform and solutions are essential to honor the species that have experienced significant decline in the decades since commercial trawling began in our ocean waters. This legislation, proposed by Representative Peltola, finally acknowledges the decades of work and requests of a great many Alaska Native and tribal leaders who have called for meaningful change in the trawl fishery.”

“Baasee’ (thank you) Representative Mary Sattler Peltola for taking a strong position and creating the path forward for bycatch mitigation efforts, ocean protection and reduction of habitat degradation by bottom trawlers!” said Brooke Woods of Rampart, a community on the upper Yukon River. “I value the holistic approach to maintain a pristine and healthy ecosystem for many fisheries and fisherpeople. Again, thank you for listening to Alaskans!”

“In all the regulatory processes the decisions are being made based on economic value.Whereas, to the people who depend on them, salmon are considered invaluable. Not only does salmon provide a nutritional value, but it is ingrained in our culture and livelihood. This far exceeds the Western economic value and needs to be placed at the forefront of the decision-making process when regulations are put in place. We thank Representative Peltola for making this a priority,” said Serena Fitka, Executive Director of the Yukon Drainage Fisheries Association.

“For generations in Bristol Bay we have watched commercial fishermen, subsistence fishermen and sports fishermen enjoy incredible success in our king salmon fisheries. In recent years, however, the fishery has fallen into a state of utter hopelessness. We no longer have a directed commercial fishery, subsistence users have reported not being able to get the kings they need, and sport fish limits have been slashed — or they’ve have had total closures imposed, creating devastating economic and social hardships for all users,” said Nanci Morris Lyon, owner of Bear Trail Lodge in King Salmon, Alaska. “We have asked for stronger enforcement for any and all bycatch to be imposed and finally, Representative Peltola has put forward legislative solutions that will do just that.”

“The Boat Company is one of numerous small businesses that depend on Alaska’s fisheries. Guests aboard our boats love sport fishing for halibut and salmon, and prefer high quality local seafood caught by Alaska’s small boat commercial fishing fleets,” said Hunter McIntosh, CEO/President of The Boat Company. “Alaska fishermen of all types are facing restrictions to conserve salmon, halibut and crab while trawlers continue to waste our fish and shellfish as bycatch. These are welcome and long overdue changes proposed by Rep. Peltola and we are grateful to see them.”

“These bills Representative Peltola has introduced let Alaskans know that she is listening and responding to our concerns, and that she will work with fishermen and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to rebuild stocks, protect habitat, and safeguard our fishing communities. Alaska fishermen are fortunate to have Representative Peltola in our corner, working hard for the long-term,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.


Kevin Whitworth, Executive Director, Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission,, (907) 574-0388

Linda Behnken, Executive Director, ALFA,, (907) 738-3615

Tim Bristol, Executive Director, SalmonState,, (907) 321-3291

Nancy Morris Lyon, Owner, Bear Trail Lodge, (907) 246-2327

Amy Sparck, Executive Director, Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association,, (907) 279-6519

Brooke Woods, Tribal Member, Rampart Village, (907) 371-8929

Serena Fitka, Executive Director, Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association,, (907) 272-3141

Troy Arnold, Owner of B&J Sporting Goods (907) 274-6113

Hunter McIntosh CEO/President the Boat Company (202) 468-8055

Laureli Ivanoff, Executive Director, Native Peoples Action,

Scroll to Top