Dropping pots through the ice for king crab in Norton Sound                       Credit:  CSM Photos/Juneau

 

Hundreds more boats will be out on the water this month when halibut and herring fisheries get added to the mix.

They will join a patchwork of fleets that have been targeting pollock, cod and other whitefish since the start of the year in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.

The snow crab fishery is winding down there, as the first Tanner crab fishery in decades gets underway at Prince William Sound.

And the year’s first red king crab fishery kicked off at Norton Sound on March 3.

The winter king salmon in Southeast closes to trollers earlier this year on March 15 to help conserve dwindling stocks. That fishery usually stays open through April.

Herring should be showing up at Sitka Sound, typically from mid to late March. The catch forecast at Sitka is just over 11-thousand tons (11,128), down from nearly 15-thousand tons (14,649) last year.

As for halibut, the Pacific fishery is scheduled to open on March 24 but there’s no word yet on how much fish can be caught.

You’ll recall that U.S. and Canadian Commissioners could not agree on apportioning the stock . Heather McCarty is a fishery policy adviser –

The Canadians refused to agree to the US commissioners’ recommendations because they don’t agree with the way the coastline stock is apportioned among the management areas. They don’t agree with the process and haven’t for a number of years. So they refused to vote for the US areas that were recommended by our commissioners. The US commissioners refused to vote for the one management area off Canada because they believed it was too high from a conservation standpoint.

The impasse moved the halibut catch decisions to the desks of federal agencies in Washington DC.

The 2018 Pacific halibut catches are expected to decline in all regions. For Alaska, a projected halibut catch of around 20.5 million pounds would be a drop of two million pounds statewide.

Finally – The state Board of Fisheries is wrapping up its meeting cycle through March 9 in Anchorage. The focus is on statewide Dungeness crab, shrimp and miscellaneous shellfish.

The Fish Board also has a call out for proposals for its upcoming cycle on fisheries at Bristol Bay, the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim, Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands. The proposal deadline is April 10.

 

            Here are the 2018 suggested catches in millions of pounds compared to last year —

 

Area 2017 (m lb) 2018 (m lb) % of change
2A

WA/OR/CA

1.33 1.19 -10.5%
2B

Canada

7.45 6.32 -15.2%
2C

Southeast AK

5.25 4.45 -15.2%
3A

Central Gulf

10 9.45 -5.5%
3B

Western Gulf

3.14 2.62 -16.6%
4A

Aleutians/Bering Sea

1.39 1.37 -1.4%
4B

Aleutians/Bering Sea

1.14 1.05 -7.9%
4CDE

Bering Sea

1.7 1.58 -7.1
TOTAL 31.4 28.03 -10.7%

Chart courtesy of Alaska Boats and Permits, Homer

 

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