Fishing for cod began on January 1 in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.
Fishery managers made an unusual move in sending out an alert regarding the 80 percent decline in Gulf cod catches. It gives regional catch breakdowns to help fishermen plan their strategies for an opener that could last just a few weeks. Typically, cod fishing has several openers throughout the entire year. (See separate posting)
Also starting January 1 – Black rockfish is the species du jour for boats using jig gear around Akutan, Unalaska and Western sections of the Aleutian Islands. Fishermen can take 90,000 pounds there.
Southeast gets a larger catch for black rockfish at 325,000 pounds. Panhandle jig and hand troll fishermen also have a harvest for ling cod at just under one million pounds, same as last year.
Kodiak is gearing up for its first Tanner crab fishery on January 15. More boats are expected to participate due to the cod crash and the 400,000 pound quota is likely to go fast.
Alaska’s biggest fishery, pollock, will open on the 20th in the Gulf and Bering Sea.
A 7 million pound pollock fishery at Prince William Sound also will open and the call is out for a trawl vessel to conduct a test fishery starting on the 12th. The minimum bid is 30-cents a pound and must be received by Fish and Game at Homer by January 10.
Bering Sea crabbers will be back out on the water this month targeting snow crab and Tanners.
Back in Southeast, a Tanner and golden king crab fishery will open concurrently on February 10. The initial opener will be for at least six days and then evaluated based on the number of pots dropped in the fishery.
Salmon trollers are still out on the water targeting winter kings. A closing date for the fishery will be set at the January Board Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting in Sitka.
At that marathon meeting from January 11-23, the board will consider 153 proposals regarding Southeast and Yakutat fish and shellfish issues for commercial, subsistence, sport and personal users.
Finally, the catches for this year’s halibut fishery will be announced at the International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting which runs from Jan. 22-26 in Portland, Oregon.
Commissioners also will address 16 management change proposals.
The halibut catches will be announced on the final day of the meeting and the halibut fishery will open in early March.