Black cod season wraps up

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2001

PETERSBURG (AP) -- Alaska's 2001 black cod season wrapped up in mid-November and now state and federal managers will evaluate the fishery to work out the 2002 quota.

IFQ shareholders this year fell short of the 29 million pound allocation, bringing in 26.3 million pounds, or 91 percent of the quota.

The Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea fishermen managed to land just over half of their share of the quota.

Over half of this year's quota was off-loaded at docks in Seward, Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Sitka and Homer.

Phil Smith with the National Marine Fisheries Service, said he believes the black cod IFQ system is working well.

''I think that people are used to the new system. They are comfortable with their markets. We've noticed a large decline in the number of transfers over the last couple of years. So it's getting solid and I think most people think it feels pretty good,'' he said.

Norquest Seafoods Co. President Terry Gardnier said the black cod market is one which has remained stable.

''It's a confined supply, there's not very many substitutes for it so it's been fairly stable market. It's just about the only stable market that I can think of,'' he said.

The state of Alaska also regulates several black cod fisheries.

This season managers of the Chatham fishery dropped the quota by 35 percent because of concerns about over-harvesting the stock.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Tory O'Connell said the catch data is similar to last year with over 98 percent of the quota landed.

''My feeling is that the quota reduction was the right thing to do,'' said O'Connell who is still evaluating the stock assessment data.

O'Connell said this year's catch per unit effort was up just slightly from last year. ''There was a wide variety of fish available for the fleet but they seemed to be distributed sporadically. So people either had good fishing or not.''

The Chatham fishery could be reduced by another 15 percent for the 2002 season.

''At this point I can't say whether its appropriate to again reduce the quota or not. Hopefully by the end of February or beginning of March I'll know better what we're going to do for the next season.''

There has been some worry among Alaska's black cod fleet about the introduction of farmed black cod from British Columbia hitting the market this year. But Petersburg longliner Charlie Christensen isn't too worried about farmed black cod.

''I think the jury is still out on the success of farming black cod,'' he said.

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