Coming up this week, the pollock abundance is up in the Bering Sea, dive fisheries are starting up in Southeast, and the feds are looking for your help in determining the economic value of fisheries in Southwest. All that, and a bunch of halibut flew from Kodiak to Kotzebue, and boy are their fins tired, coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KFSK’s Joe Viechnicki in Petersburg and KDLG’s Mike Mason in Dillingham.
Two separate abundance surveys of the Bering Sea are indicating a good number of pollock are coming up. The survey results released by NOAA Fisheries indicate a nearly 60-percent increase in walleye pollock biomass.
Jim Ianelli is chief pollock stock assessment scientist at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center at the National Marine Fisheries Service office in Seattle.
“It’s definitely good news. In 2013 we saw a fair number of five-year-old pollock. And those fish continue to be very productive and abundant in our surveys as six-year-olds this summer. And that’s right about the prime age for fisheries and reproduction. So it’s a good sign for the spawning biomass and the fishery.”
The increase in biomass doesn’t necessarily mean a significant increase in the total allowable catch for 2015, because of the 2-million metric ton cap on all groundfish in the Bering Sea.
“Biologically, the harvest could increase based on the productivity of the stock. (But) due to this overarching ecosystem constraint, they won’t go up much beyond what they are this year. But the conditions for fishing should be quite good, and should generally be no conservation concerns in terms of stock size and sustainability.”
However Ianelli said the abundance of pollock could result in less salmon bycatch:
“It’s a high priority to minimize the bycatch of salmon to the extent practicable, and having good abundances of pollock is certainly helpful in making the fishery profitable and still being able to fish in places where there’s less salmon.”
Each year data is collected through NOAA Fisheries’ crab pot survey, which Ianelli says also works well for gathering information on pollock and other ground fish. This year was one where a second survey is also used, measuring abundance in mid-water.
“Every other year we do a pollock survey that’s focused on mid water abundance of fish. And this was one of the years when we had both surveys operating. And they do transects with echo-sounding equipment and they do tows through echo sign to validate what species and what sizes of fish they saw.”
The bottom-trawl survey index for pollock this year was the second highest biomass since surveys began in 1982, and is 55-per cent higher than average. The 2008 component of the pollock population, as seen last year with near-record five-year-old abundance estimates, was a major component along with the 2006 and 2010 year classes, which Ianelli says bodes well for the ecosystem and fishery.
As the Pollock season wraps up in the Bering Sea, the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Tanana Chiefs Conference want immediate action to protect declining Western Alaska wild Chinook Salmon stocks from trawl bycatch. Wednesday they filed a joint petition for emergency regulations with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to crack down on Chinook or king salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea Pollock fishery for the remainder of the 2014 season. KYUK’s Daysha Eaton has more.
More results have come in from on-going studies looking for radiation in different fish from Alaska waters, and they continue to show no evidence of contamination from the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released results from samples of four kinds of important food fish, and none had any trace of Fukushima-related radioisotopes, according to Dr. Ali Hamade of the State Division of Epidemiology.
“None of them have detected any radionuclide that would be associated with any appreciable health risk. Even for those who consume them in huge quantities – we’re talking more than 250 pounds a year – we’re nowhere close to really suspecting any appreciable health risk.”
Previously, negative results were released from tests of sablefish, pollock and halibut in Alaska waters. The results released Thursday were from testing of cod and three species of salmon: kings, chums and reds.
“These analyses target several species of fish, the fish that are for most important for Alaskans. If you look at pollock, that’s important nationwide and globally even, because they go into imitation crab and fish nuggets and whatnot. So it’s not only something Alaskans consume.”
Hamade said the tests FDA scientists use are sensitive enough to be able to tell Fukushima-related radiation, such as iodine-131, cecium-134 or cesium-137, from common background radiation that is naturally present in nature. Continue reading
Responding to direction from the Board of Fisheries, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has moved forward with a new pollock test fishery in Kodiak waters, using seine gear.
At January’s Fish Board meeting here in Kodiak, board members and fishermen expressed interest in a walleye pollock test fishery with seine gear. In an announcement last week, the Kodiak Area Office of Fish and Game announced the test fishery will be conducted prior to June 9th. Given that time frame, interested fishermen need to register with the department by 5 p.m. Friday.
Starting next Monday, the Department will start contacting registered vessel operators to coordinate the test fishing activities.
The announcement adds that operators must obtain a Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission miscellaneous finfish permit card for purse seine gear. Contact the groundfish management biologists at Fish and Game in Kodiak for more information.
The Pollock A season got underway in the Bering Sea on Monday, but what the fishermen haul up will now technically be a cod fish.
That’s because scientists have recently dug deeper back into the Pollock’s family tree and found out that they are more closely related to cod than they knew. In fact, Alaska Pollock are more closely related to Atlantic cod than anything else.
So, NOAA has moved Alaska Pollock from the genus Theragra, back into the genus Gadus, where it was originally assigned back in the day when it was first described scientifically. Alaska pollock now is to be called Gadus chalcogrammus, and it will join Pacific cod, Atlantic cod, and Greenland cod as a true gadid, or true cod.
All cod and the Alaskan Pollock, along with hake, haddock and whiting, were always together in the scientific classification family Gadis, in the order Gadiformes.
Of course, that really won’t make a difference to most people, except maybe fishmongers who want to make sure they’re getting exactly what they ordered.
According to an item on Seafood.com, NOAA did not instigate the change. The new classification was made by the American Fisheries Society in their publication of common and scientific names, and that is the authority used by NOAA.
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Tagged cod, NOAA, pollock