ADF&G Opens 2020 State-Water Cod Fisheries in Gulf of Alaska with 5.59 Million Pound Harvest Limit
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - December 19, 2019
Despite the complete closure of federal waters in the Gulf of Alaska for 2020, the state announced season dates and Guideline Harvest Levels (GHLs) for five areas in the Gulf yesterday.
The federal fishery was closed earlier this fall due to a steep drop in Pacific cod stocks and recruitment in federal waters, between three and 200-miles offshore. The change in stock status is a climate-driven phenomenon, closely linked to higher temperatures in ocean waters during the 2014-2016 event known as the Blob.
In opening state waters, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said “I recognize the balance between conservation and opportunity to fish. I trust ADF&G to closely monitor and manage each state-waters fishery conservatively to avoid overharvest yet provide our fishermen the opportunity to fish and our coastal communities needed tax revenues.”
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s GHLs were “based on a 35% reduction from the maximum prescribed harvest limits in regulation,” the announcement read.
“This GHL reduction will provide the opportunity for limited fisheries in state waters while recognizing the need for conservative fishery management at current Pacific cod stock levels. The 2020 federal/parallel fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska are closed and 2020 state-waters season opening dates are coordinated with the federal closure to allow for orderly and manageable fisheries,” the notice said.
All Steller sea lion restrictions applicable to state-waters fisheries will be in effect.
The first state-waters Pacific cod fishery will open January 1, 2020 in Kodiak, with a 757,522 pound GHL for jig gear only. On February 24, 2020, Kodiak’s pot season opens for another 757,522 lb. GHL, for a total in the area of 1.52 million pounds GHL, second highest only to the South Alaska Peninsula, further west.
In 2015, Kodiak’s catches were 3.3 mlbs of Pcod on a GHL of 6.79 mlbs. In 2018, only about 30,000 lbs were caught on a GHL of 1.8 mlbs. This year’s catch were a third to a half of the GHL, which was less than the just announced limit for 2020.
January 1, 2020 is also the opening day for jig gear in Cook Inlet, Chignik, and the South Alaska Peninsula. In Cook Inlet, jig vessels have a GHL of 68,177 pounds, with another 386,336 allocated to pot gear starting February 1, 2020. Cook Inlet’s total GHL for state water cod fisheries is 454,513 pounds.
In Chignik, jig boats are allocated a GHL of 106,053 lbs during the first opener, with pot boats going out on March 1 on a 954,478 lb GHL, totalling 1.061 mlbs for that area.
South Alaska Peninsula has a total GHL of 2.125 mlbs, the highest in the Gulf state-waters fishery. Starting with the jig boats in January, a GHL of 318,686 pounds was announced yesterday. On March 1, 2020, the pot boats in the South Peninsula will begin fishing on a 1.806 mlbs GHL in state waters.
Prince William Sound’s state-waters fishery for Pcod starts February 1, 2020 for jig/pot boats and the longline fleet. PWS’s total GHL is 437,425 lbs., significantly down from this year’s GHL of 936,965 lbs. The GHL in the Sound is split 85:15 with longline vessels getting 371,811 lbs and pot/jig vessels getting 65,614 lbs.
Pacific cod fishing is futher restricted in state waters by number of pots and jigging machines on board, and length of vessel.
Partial Deliveries of Crab Approved by Federal Council
Fishermen's News - December 18, 2019
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has approved final action to allow vessels to deliver a partial load of crab and then continue harvesting under the crab rationalization program. The council reasoned during its December meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, that being able to resume fishing after a partial offload could help vessels faced with an advancing ice pack and also allow a vessel to maintain efficiency after delivering designated quota shares to the Pribilof Islands before continuing to fish and completing deliveries in the southern region.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; North Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Cost Recovery Programs
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 12/20/2019
NMFS publishes the individual fishing quota (IFQ) standard prices and fee percentage for cost recovery for the IFQ Program for the halibut and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific (IFQ Program). The fee percentage for 2019 is 3.0 percent. This action is intended to provide holders of halibut and sablefish IFQ permits with the 2019 standard prices and fee percentage to calculate the required payment for IFQ cost recovery fees due by January 31, 2020.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod Management in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 12/20/2019
NMFS issues regulations to implement Amendment 120 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Management Area (BSAI FMP) and Amendment 108 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) (GOA FMP). Amendment 120 and this final rule limit the number of catcher/processors (C/Ps) eligible to operate as motherships receiving and processing Pacific cod from catcher vessels (CVs) directed fishing in the BSAI non-Community Development Quota Program Pacific cod trawl fishery.
Researchers, marine pilots work to prevent vessel strikes from killing Alaska whales
KNBA by Jacob Resneck - December 13, 2019
Over the past decade, federal officials have logged 77 incidents of vessels hitting whales in Alaska waters. About three-quarters of those, were endangered humpbacks. But, it’s not clear why those strikes keep happening. A group of federal researchers and marine pilots have teamed up to combine what scientists know about whale behavior with what marine pilots know about ships.
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