The Bering Sea pollock B season is limping to a close.
As of Saturday, 77,000 metric tons of fish remain unharvested with just a few weeks to go. That’s about 10 percent of what the fleet’s allowed to take this fall. Effort has dropped substantially according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration, and many crews have already packed up and flown home — even if they still have fish on the table.
Camilo Neto is the captain of the Starward, and his crew left the island on Tuesday. He says that with the sluggish pace of fishing, the low price, and the high cost of fuel, it just wasn’t profitable to ride out the rest of the season. He adds that the fleet has also been hampered by chinook salmon bycatch, something that hasn’t been a problem in shorter seasons.
As of October 15, about 19,000 chinook salmon had been taken as bycatch. That’s well below the 60,000-fish hard cap that would trigger a shutdown of the fishery. But some vessels have gotten close to their base caps, which has put them on edge for the coming A season.
Additionally, the pollock fleet has taken over 175,000 chum salmon – fourteen times what they took last year.
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