State Announces Pacific Cod Harvest Level for 2014

The state announced the 2014 guideline harvest levels for Pacific cod in the state-waters fisheries this week.

There will be about 17.86 million pounds of cod available for harvest, both in the Aleutian Islands state-waters fishery and in the new Dutch Harbor subdistrict.

In the Aleutians district, that’s about 12 percent less than last year’s harvest level.

The Aleutian district is divided into A and B season. A season will run Jan. 1 through June 9. Seventy percent of the harvest is reserved for A season — about 12.5 million pounds. The remaining 30 percent is for B season. That’s about 5.3 million pounds.

Fish not caught in A season will also roll over to B season — up to 70 percent of the total harvest level.

It’ll be the first year for the Dutch Harbor subdistrict, in waters a little less than 100 miles north of Unalaska. State groundfish management biologist Chuck Trebesch says the new subdistrict is an exclusive fishery for boats under 60 feet that are fishing with pot gear.

Vessels can only fish in one exclusive state-waters fishery at a time. The other exclusive fisheries near the Dutch Harbor subdistrict are Kodiak and the South Alaska Peninsula. Fishing in the new subdistrict wouldn’t shut a vessel out of the Aleutians fishery, or any other non-exlusive or federal fishery.

Trebesch says the Dutch Harbor fishery will open a week after the parallel federal fishing season ends. That’s the federal hook-and-line season for vessels under 60 feet. Trebesch estimates it’ll hit its quota in February or March. Then the Dutch Harbor subdistrict can open, with all of its harvest available immediately.

Trebesch says he has “high hopes” for the new fishery. He says he expects five to 15 boats to participate.