Catches for next year will be revealed in early December for Alaska’s largest fisheries, and forecasts for 2018 salmon continue to trickle in.
Scientists for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which manage fisheries from three to 200 miles offshore, recently posted updated catch recommendations for the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
Seafood.com reports that the best news is big numbers for sablefish, or black cod, stemming from a 2014 year class hailed as the highest ever seen. The survey data also showed potential for two or more years beyond that of exceptionally strong recruitment called “ten times higher than average.” That’s expected to boost upcoming catches above this year’s nearly 29 million pounds.
Factored into the catch quotas are the takes by Orcas and sperm whales estimated at more than one million pounds of sablefish each year.
Alaska pollock stocks in the Bering Sea look healthy but catches could be down slightly next year due to a slight dip in numbers. Alaska produced over three billion pounds of pollock this year.
Scientists speculate there could be a shift in fish distribution moving to northern reaches of the Bering Sea. There might be trouble ahead: relatively few one-year-old pollock showed up in this year’s survey. Pollock enter the fishery at around three years old.
Switching to salmon: latest releases from Fish and Game call for a pink salmon catch to Southeast Alaska next summer of 23 million fish, below the 10 year average of 38 million but very close to the average even-year harvest since 1960.
A source of uncertainty, manager said, is the abnormally warm waters in the Gulf from 2013 through much of 2016. Pink salmon set to return in 2018 may have experienced reduced survival.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the outlook for cod catches. In a word: grim.