Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The state’s Board of Fisheries sat down to work in Anchorage Sunday afternoon. The panel hears staff reports and public testimony on all proposals this session prior to deliberating changes in the Cook Inlet, Kodiak and Chignik finfish fisheries. A number of proposals on this session’s agenda deal with the rules governing the Pacific Cod fishery in state waters in the Chignik area, which is located on the southern shore of the Alaska Peninsula. Richard Sharp, the mayor of the city of Chignik, says that many proposals submitted by the city and by the Chignik Marketing Association are aimed at bringing the city increased fish processing earnings. Several proposals would have the Board of Fish okay a reduction in the percentage of Pacific cod allowed to fishermen using jig gear, while increasing the pot fishery share in the cod quota. Sharp says about a million pounds of cod is going unharvested, because no jig fishermen are registering for the jig fishery in Chignik.
The city has also requested that the jig allocation for Pacific cod rollover to all legal gear types by March 21 if no vessels using jigging machines have registered. Other proposals would limit the number of hooks used in jig gear.
Jig fishing gear uses horizontal hooked lines for harvesting cod.
Darius Kasperzak, a Kodiak jig fisherman, has been fishing Pacific cod for a dozen years. He says the jig fishery is the last open access fishery left.
Since Chignik is a super exclusive zone, vessels registered elsewhere cannot fish Chignik waters. Kasperzak fishes elsewhere, although he says the lack of jiggers in Chignik is driven by a lack of buyers there.
Mayor Sharp says lost harvest opportunity in Chignik state waters occurs when no one fishes the ten percent jig gear allocation for Pacific cod. He says the fishery would be better served if the unused quota was rolled over early enough in the season to be targeted by other gear types.
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