Is the second largest fishery in Alaska. It accounts for 11 percent of Alaska’s total catches and is worth nearly $180 million dollars to fishermen. Since January 1, only a handful of boats have attempted the doom and gloom fishery in the Gulf. The talk of the dock is it will be a short season because of the smaller quotas; boats are fishing farther than ever and finding fewer fish.
“In the traditional depths that we normally fish them nobody was home.”
Last fall fishermen said the fish they did catch were large in size, but low counts of fish. This could be an indication that younger cod did not survive the warmer waters in the Gulf that scientists recorded.
“Two years ago we were seeing a fair amount of smaller fish, but this year we had bigger fish with a 7.5lb to 7.8-pound average throughout the fall, but our behavior changed. Because in the traditional depths and traditional edges where we normally fish there were no fish, so that pushed us way up inside the bays to basically scoop up the homesteaders.”
Recent numbers show that 10 percent of the Gulf harvest had been delivered with low effort, but with a price rumored at $0.50 cents at the dock. In the Bering Sea, cod stocks are stronger with about 40 pot and longline boats on the water.
“What’s going on in the Bering Sea is totally different than what is going on in the Gulf of Alaska. We are seeing the fish in our fishery.”
“Out west cod is coming in. From what it sounds like guys may have three or four more trips, so fishing is obviously good. There are a lot more boats so it’s going to go pretty quick.”
“Guys are definitely going to have to be willing to pick their boat up and drive west. Because there is opportunity west for cod fish.”
Fishermen share their expectations for this cod season and future seasons.
“It won’t be any different it will just be shorter. Last year we fished from December to April, it was a long season. This one could be pretty fast and furious. I am thinking federal pot cod will be caught within three weeks and the state water pot quota won’t last a month.”
“Cod fishermen in the Gulf of Alaska are going to have to expect at minimum two years at least to three lean years.”
“It may just be a few lean years. We will have to pick up as much long line quota as we can, maybe extend the tender contracts, or try and do whatever we can to maintain what we’ve been doing; but I think we will be well under what we have been bringing in for at least a few years here.”
“It is going to be quite a big deal to a bunch of us. I’m guessing we will be looking for stuff to do by the end of February at the latest.”
Other fishing opportunities in the Gulf include Rockfish, the Tanner crab fishery that opens today, and trawling for groundfish opens on the 20th.
Thanks to the assist of KBBI in Homer. Find links to these stories and more at alaskafishradio.com.