Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pacific Cod Pot Gear Harvests Closed in Western GOA

Federal fisheries officials have issued a temporary rule putting a halt to the harvest of Pacific cod by vessels using pot gear in the western Gulf of Alaska.

The ruling, published on February 21 in the Federal Register, is effective through June 10.

NMFS determined that such action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of this year’s Pacific cod total allowable catch allocated to pot gear in the western regulatory area of the Gulf.

NFMS manages the groundfish fishery in the Gulf’s exclusive economic zone under the fishery management plan for groundfish in the Gulf prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. This year’s A season allocation for Pacific cod taken by vessels using pot gear in the western gulf was 4,854 metric tons.

Alaska Region of NMFS determined that the A season allowance for Pacific cod in the western gulf would be reached soon, and moved to establish a directed fishing allowance of 4,844 metric tons, setting aside the remaining 10 metric tons as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries.

The Federal Register announcement notes that the acting assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries found good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice, as it would have prevented NMFS from responding to the most recent harvest data in a timely fashion.

In Alaska’s Prince William Sound, meanwhile, the Pacific cod state waters fishery will open on Feb. 24, with a guideline harvest of 4,338,141 pounds, down from 4,841,902 pounds in 2016.

The GHL includes 15 percent, or 650,721 pounds for the combined pot and jig gear, and 85 percent, or 3.7 million pounds, for longline gear.

The Prince William Sound Area E parallel Pacific cod season closes at noon Feb. 23, coinciding with the National Marine Fisheries Service closure of the Pacific cod pot gear sector in the Central Gulf of Alaska.

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