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Arrowtooth Flounder Research

Arrowtooth Flounder
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arrowtooth flounder (35330 bytes)

Arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias) are a relatively large flatfish. At present, data on many basic aspects of arrowtooth flounder life history such as size and age of sexual maturity are lacking. However, spawning fish have been observed from December through February. In Alaska waters, arrowtooth flounder are distributed over the continental shelf through age 4 and then at older ages disperse to occupy both the continental shelf and the slope .

Arrowtooth flounder range from central California to the eastern Bering Sea and currently are the most abundant fish in the Gulf of Alaska. The huge increase in biomass observed in the 1990s resulted from strong year-classes produced in the 1980s. Because of their abundance, arrowtooth flounder are of substantial ecological importance at higher trophic levels in the Gulf of Alaska food web and have been identified as a significant food source for Steller sea lions, occurring in their diet 21%-35% of the time in the area around Kodiak Island. Arrowtooth flounder are also known to be voracious predators of juvenile walleye pollock.

Little effort has been directed to catching arrowtooth flounder due to the poor quality of their flesh. Upon landing, a proteolytic enzyme released from a myxosporean parasite causes softening of the flesh that further limits their marketability. Recently, several food grade additives have been successfully used that inhibit enzymatic breakdown. These discoveries have recently enabled a targeted fishery in the Kodiak Island area for marketable products including surimi and frozen fillets.

During 2012, pollock made up 61.9% of the total groundfish catch off Alaska.  The pollock catch for 2012 was 1,310,330 metric tons (t), up approximately 2% from 2011.

The 2012 catch of flatfish, which includes yellowfin sole, rock sole and arrowtooth flounder, was 321,530 t or 15.2% of the total 2012 Alaska groundfish catch, down about 2% from 2011.

Pacific cod accounted for 329,040 t or 15.5% of the total 2012 Alaska groundfish catch.  The Pacific cod catch was up about 8% from a year earlier.

Other important species (% of total 2012 catch and % change from 2011) are:  Atka mackerel 49,020 t (2.3%, down 8%),
sablefish 13,850 t (0.7%, up 7%), and rockfish 55,450 t (2.6%, up 8%).


Arrowtooth Flounder Publications, Poster Presentations, & Research Activities

(Sources: Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Area: Species Profiles 2001 and the 2005 North Pacific Groundfish Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Reports for 2006.)


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