The bulk of Alaska’s fish catches come from waters from three to 200 miles offshore with oversight by federal fishery managers.
Their advisory arm for Alaska is the North Pacific Fishery Management Council who reviews stock assessments for groundfish each October and sets catches for the coming year in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.
The preliminary numbers revealed at its meeting that’s just wrapping up in Anchorage showed ups and downs for the major fisheries, and a big boost for sablefish.
If the proposed catches get the go ahead, SeafoodNews.com reports the Bering Sea pollock TAC, or Total Allowable Catch, will increase slightly to nearly 1.4 million metric tons, or more than three billion pounds of pollock.
For Pacific cod, the Bering Sea catch is recommended to be reduced to 350 million pounds, a drop of 64 million pounds from this year.
But Undercurrent News reports that the Bering Sea cod numbers could change due to big differences between the survey numbers in southeastern and northern waters, where more fish are migrating.
The survey models showed cod stocks dropped 21 percent in the southern areas but increased by 95 percent in the northern Bering Sea.
For the Gulf of Alaska, proposed pollock catches show a 34 percent drop, which equates to a take of about 228 million pounds.
For cod in the Gulf, the 2019 catch is likely to be down 5.5 percent to just over 27 million pounds, a drop of 1.6 million pounds.
One of the brightest findings is for Gulf of Alaska sablefish, or black cod. Those stocks are continuing an upward trend seen over several years. The preliminary sablefish catch for 2019 was boosted by 40 percent to nearly 36 million pounds.
The North Pacific Council will make its final decisions on 2019 groundfish catches in early December.