Healthy stocks boost Bering Sea pollock allocation

Posted: Monday, December 09, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Federal fisheries officials on Sunday boosted the allowable catch of healthy pollock and Pacific cod stocks in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands for 2003.

In the troubled Gulf of Alaska where stocks are down, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council cut the quota.

''The good news for us is the pollock stock is so robust,'' said Brent Paine, spokesman for United Catcher Boats, who was pleased when the regional council approved a plan to boost the allowable catch of pollock from 1,485,000 metric tons to 1,491,760 metric tons.

''That's a lot of fish,'' Paine said. ''Prices have been very good as well.''

The council boosted the allowable Pacific cod catch in the Bering sea and Aleutian Islands from 200,000 metric tons to 207,500 metric tons, and the allowable catch of Atka mackerel from 49,000 metric tons to 60,000 metric tons.

The total amount of 2 million metric tons of groundfish allowed in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands remains constant each year, with federal fisheries officials adjusting the individual quotas of more than a dozen varieties of groundfish.

In the Gulf of Alaska, pollock stocks are depressed.

The council set an allowable catch of 54,350 metric tons of pollock, down from 58,250 a year ago. In the Pacific cod fishery, the council lowered the maximum catch from 44,230 metric tons to 40,540 metric tons.

Jeff Stephan, spokesman for the United Fishermen's Marketing Association at Kodiak, said he felt the council's action was fair. However, he said he was concerned with the amount of Pacific cod taken by the trawl fleet between the two seasons allowed for the central gulf inshore fisheries.

The inshore pot fishery is supposed to get 60 percent of its allocated fish during the A season, which begins Jan. 1, and 40 percent during the B season, which begins Sept. 1.

''When the B season opened for the pot fishery on Sept. 1 (2002), 90 percent of the inshore Pacific cod (allocation) for the central gulf was already taken,'' he said.

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