Federal fisheries panel to set 2002 groundfish quotas

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) - Groundfish quotas for 2002 are likely to be up for the eastern Bering Sea and down for the Gulf of Alaska, based on stock assessments being considered this week by federal fisheries officials.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting Wednesday through Monday in Anchorage, will tackle quotas for the multimillion dollar groundfish industry.

The council will also consider steps toward privatizing crab fisheries, amendments to the proposed halibut subsistence program and changes to the community development quota programs.

With stocks down in the Gulf of Alaska, a council plan team recommends lowering the pollock quota to 58,250 metric tons, down from 105,810 metric tons a year ago, said Jane DiCosimo, a fisheries biologist with the council. For Pacific cod, the recommendation is for 57,600 metric tons, down from 67,800 metric tons in 2001, she said.

Prospects are brighter for the eastern Bering Sea, with recommendations of a total allowable catch of 2.11 million metric tons of pollock, up from 1.84 metric tons a year ago.

The cod quota recommendation for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands is 223,000 metric tons, up from 188,000 last year, DiCosimo said.

For the Aleutians, the plan team recommended a status quo of 23,800 metric tons of pollock, DiCosimo said.

The council is expected to take final action on a regulatory amendment governing halibut community development quota fisheries along the coast of western Alaska, and in the adjacent area to the west in the Bering Sea.

The council also will review work to date on the complex crab rationalization program. Council staff noted in a memorandum that Congress may need to modify its moratorium on individual fishing quota programs before the council can submit either an individual fishing quota or cooperative alternative to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

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