Cod catches in the Gulf of Alaska next year will drop by 80 percent to just under 29 million pounds. That compares to a catch this year of nearly 142 million pounds.
The news comes from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council which sets catches in waters from three to 200 miles from shore.
That means state water cod catches also will see a big dip as they are based on the federal rates.
The cod decline is blamed on younger fish not surviving warm ocean temperatures starting in 2014. Steve Barbeaux is with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.
“We had what the oceanographers and the news media have been calling the blob, which is this warm water that was sitting in the Gulf for those three years, and it was different than other years in that it went really deep, but it also lasted throughout the winter. And so what can happen is you can deplete the food source pretty rapidly when the entire ecosystem is ramped up in those warm temperatures.”
Seafood.com reports that fully half of the 24 species tracked in the Gulf have declined since last year.
In the Bering Sea, cod catches also will decline by 15 percent to 414 million pounds.
The catches for most other species, such as Alaska pollock, perch, mackerel, northern rockfish and flounders all increased.
Another bright note: sablefish catches will increase next year in the Gulf and Bering Sea by 15 percent.
In other fish news – there likely will be no fishing for king salmon at the Taku and Stikine Rivers in Southeast next summer. Warmer waters are being blamed for the lowest king returns since the 1970s.
Finally, the catch for Alaska’s largest herring fishery at Togiak next summer is set at just over 24,000 tons (24,042), down about 2,000 tons from 2017. Find Alaska fish catches and more at www.alaskafishradio.com and on Facebook.