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Annual Conference on Convention on Pollock Resources
in Central Bering Sea

Representatives from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Poland, Russia, and the United States participated in the Twelfth Annual Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea in Beijing, China, 4-5 September 2007. The purpose of the conference was to make decisions on the conservation and management of pollock resources in the central Bering Sea for 2008. Professor Zhou Yingqi of China presided over the conference.

The Convention was enacted in 1994 to establish an international regime for conservation, management, and optimum utilization of pollock resources in the Convention area. Prior to the Convention, an unregulated pollock fishery developed rapidly in the international waters of the central Bering Sea that peaked at 1.45 million metric tons (t) in 1989. This resource was clearly over-exploited during 1984-1994 and the Parties reached agreement to stop fishing to restore and maintain the pollock resources in the Bering Sea at levels that will permit their maximum sustainable yield.

The directed fishery for pollock in the central Bering Sea has not reopened since enactment of the Convention as the resource has not rebuilt to the target level agreed to by the Parties. In the meantime, the Parties have cooperated on scientific research on the resources, including factors that would affect their population dynamics and recovery of the fisheries. The management decisions for 2008 were based mainly on the U.S. trawl-hydroacoustic survey by the NOAA ship Miller Freeman on the spawning concentrations of pollock in the Bogoslof Island area as a proxy of pollock abundance in the entire Aleutian Basin of the central Bering Sea.

The survey in March 2007 reaffirmed that the pollock resource has remained low in abundance at an estimated 487,000 t for the entire Aleutian Basin. This level of biomass is 29% of the trigger level biomass of 1.67 million t necessary to set an annual harvest level (AHL) according to Annex Part1 (c) of the Convention. Thus, the Parties concluded to set the AHL for 2008 at zero. The Convention also allows for the Parties to conduct trial fishing according to specific rules when the AHL is set at zero. The Republic of Korea expressed that it may be interested in some trial fishing in 2008.

More information about the Convention is available on the AFSC website at

By Loh-Lee Low

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