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Fishing Communities

The AFSC Community Profiles Project team has completed a preliminary rough draft of profiles for 116 communities in Alaska. The communities were selected on the basis of processing locations, vessel ownership, and vessels home ports. Recently obtained data on permit ownership and crew member licenses will add more communities to the list in the next draft.

The 5-page profiles for each community follow the same general outline:

  • People and Place (Location, Demographics, History).
  • Infrastructure (Current Economy, Governance, Facilities).
  • Involvement in North Pacific Fisheries (Commercial Fishing, Recreational Fishing, Subsistence Fishing).

Communities outside of Alaska that are involved in North Pacific fisheries will be profiled this fall and winter. The preliminary list of these locations includes approximately 70 communities in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. The AFSC Community Profiles Project is part of a national effort to compile baseline social information on fishing communities.

Dr. Sepez continued to participate as a member the Magnuson Stevens Act Fishing Communities national working group and prepared the discussion paper “Defining and Designating National Standard 8 Fishing Communities.”

Our Living Oceans

The next edition of “Our Living Oceans” will focus on the economic performance of U.S. fisheries. Program staff prepared the draft section for Alaska fisheries which highlights the groundfish fisheries. The section states the fishery management and development policies for the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries have been successful in several ways.

First, the groundfish stocks, which include walleye pollock, Pacific cod, sablefish, rockfish, flatfish, and Atka mackerel, generally are in a healthy condition. All Alaska groundfish stocks have fluctuated in abundance over the years, but no widespread trend toward decline is evident. None are overfished, and overfishing is not occurring. This is in part the result of efforts to set conservative quotas and prevent them from being exceeded. For example, in 2002 the total groundfish harvest in the BSAI and GOA groundfish fishery (2.10 million t) was only about 59% of the acceptable biological catch (3.58 million t) and was about 94% of the total allowable catch (2.24 million t).

Second, the domestic groundfish fishery off Alaska has become the dominant Alaska fishery and a sustainable fishery in terms of total catch, exvessel revenue, seafood processing revenue, and seafood exports and it has become an important segment of the U.S. fishing industry. In the 1980s, joint-venture and domestic fisheries rapidly replaced the foreign fisheries that had accounted for more than 90% of the Alaska groundfish catch; and then the domestic fisheries displaced the joint-venture fisheries. In joint-venture fisheries, domestic fishing vessels delivered groundfish catch directly to foreign processing vessels on the fishing grounds. The last foreign and joint-venture groundfish fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska occurred in 1986 and 1990, respectively.

Third, there has been substantial success in addressing the problems of bycatch and excess fishing capacity.

Data Requests

Data were summarized and provided to assist the Council, NMFS and the industry in doing the following: 1) preparing the groundfish PSEIS; 2) addressing Steller sea lions protection issues; 3) developing and analyzing Improved Retention/Improved Utilization (IR/IU) alternatives for the BSAI groundfish fishery; 4) addressing bycatch issues; and 5) addressing potential legislation to modify the American Fisheries Act (AFA).

By Joe Terry.

Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea

Representatives of the United States, Russia, Japan, and Korea met in Portland, Oregon, on 15-18 September 2003, for the 8th Annual Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea. The People’s Republic of China (China) and Poland did not send delegates to the meeting. The major functions of the annual conference are to establish an allowable commercial harvest level (AHL) for pollock in the central Bering Sea for the following year, establish an annual individual national pollock quota (INQ) for each Party, establish a Plan of Work for the Science and Technology Committee, and adopt appropriate pollock conservation and management measures for the Convention area.

The best available information in 2003 to estimate the biomass in the Aleutian Basin indirectly was obtained from a midwater echo integration-trawl survey of the Bogoslof Island pollock spawning stock conducted by the United States using the NOAA ship Miller Freeman in March 2003. U.S. scientists estimated the pollock biomass for this area to be 198,000 t—the lowest biomass on record.

The Parties agreed to establish an intermediary step of determining the allowable biological catch (ABC) of pollock in the Convention area, prior to determining an AHL. They determined that the NPFMC method for setting the ABC was appropriate for this purpose, based on the U.S. Bogoslof Island pollock spawning stock survey results. As a result, Parties set the ABC for the Convention area in 2004 at 2,401 t. Japan and Korea recommended that the ABC be set as the AHL for 2004. However, due to the extremely low biomass level of the Aleutian Basin pollock stock, the United States and Russia recommended that the AHL be set at zero. When Parties fail to reach consensus on the AHL, it is determined by a fall-back formula in Part 1 of the Annex to the Convention. Pursuant to this formula, the AHL was set at zero for 2004 and consequently the INQ was also set at zero. The year 2004 will mark the 11th anniversary of a moratorium on commercial pollock fishing in the central Bering Sea. Japan offered to host the 9th Annual Conference of the Parties in Tokyo tentatively the week of 14 September 2004.

By Loh-Lee Low


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