May 10, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 19

NMFS monitors Petersburg gillnetters

PETERSBURG (AP) — Observers hired by the National Marine Fisheries Service will monitor commercial fishermen catching salmon with drift gillnets near Petersburg and Wrangell starting next month.

KFSK-FM reports contract observers will use 23-foot boats to follow gillnetters for the season that typically starts mid-June and runs through September.

They'll be watching for interaction between fishermen and marine mammals or seabirds, and observing fishing practices.

Fishermen have concerns. Some fear catch information could be shared by observers with competitors.

The contractor hired is Anchorage-based Saltwater Inc.

Spokeswoman Stacy Buckelew says observers by law can't share information that's confidential or that would represent a conflict of interest.

She says the goal of the observers is to collect data for management without disrupting fishing.

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