Fish Radio
Lost sablefish pots in PWS could snag longliners
April 17, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Lost pots in Prince William Sound could be a hazard to fishermen. More after this –

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 A mile long string of 29 sablefish pots was lost last month in Prince William Sound after being run over by tugs towing barges at Knight Island Passage.

“It appears that some tug boats passed back and forth across where the gear was set, so it’s lost and we have no idea where it is”. 

Maria Wessel is a groundfish biologist at the Fish and Game office in Cordova. A state research vessel  has done several swipes of the grounds to no avail.  The pots were part of an ongoing tagging study started in 2011 to track the movement of the Sound’s sablefish.

“It’s a movement study – we’re trying to see how well our population is mixed with the population in the wider Gulf of Alaska.” 

Both ends of the gear were anchored with 400 fathoms of buoy line, with sets of three buoys each. Wessel called it an unusual loss.

“It was an unusual event to lose this gear. It’s buoyed on both ends and unusual to lose both buoys and not be able to retrieve it. It does happen”.  

Prince William Sound ‘s sablefish fishery has been limited entry since 1996 and has 59 participants who share a static 242,000 pound harvest.

Wessel says the lost gear pose no threat to navigation, but sablefish longliners could snag some pots.

“There is a potential hazard of longline gear getting hung up on this lost pot gear and we wanted guys to be aware that is there.”  7

She says the lost gear poses no threat to the 53 shrimpers out on the grounds.

 “Highly unlikely- that sablefish pots were set in about 1200 feet of water so it’s far deepr than a fisherman targeting spot shrimp would be fishing.” 9

Anyone encountering the lost pots should contact the Fish and Game office at Cordova.

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