Aleutian Islands Pacific cod harvest level down 42 percent

Pacific Cod.
Pacific Cod.

Last week Alaska Fish and Game set the Pacific cod guideline harvest level (GHL) for the fishing season that began on Jan. 1.

Dutch Harbor Fish and Game biologist Justin Leon says the 2016 numbers are a big change from last year.

“We’ve just released this coming year’s GHL for the harvest that’s going to be allowed for the Aleutian Islands Subdistrict, and that is going to be 10,476,259 pounds. It’s down 42 percent from last year,” Leon said.

Why such a huge drop?

“That’s because the [Alaska] Board [of Fisheries] changed some things in order to align us better with the federal side of things, specifically last year we took three percent of what was allowed in the federal Bering Sea-Aleutian Islands area,” Leon explained. “This year, what we’ve done is taken 27 percent from just the Aleutian Islands part of that area. And that’s how we’ve come up with that.”

One new change in the regulations for the upcoming season concerns registering. In mid-December, the Division of Commercial Fisheries issued an emergency order authorizing parallel groundfish fisheries in state waters. The order applies to the Kodiak, Chignik, South Alaska Peninsula and the Bering Sea-Aleutian Islands area.

“Long story short. Parallel fishery – they no longer need to register. And that’s something the fishermen are just going to want to know in general,” Leon said. “So that is a reg [ulation] change, to fish the parallel Pacific cod fishery now you don’t need to register.”

Another big change this year, Leon says, is the consolidation of fishing seasons.

“Before we had an A and a B season. And now it’s all just one season that’s fished until all of our allowed amount is caught,” he said.