Pacific cod

A Pacific cod.

KODIAK — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game designated Kodiak as a nonexclusive registration area for vessels targeting Pacific cod with jig gear as of Thursday.

“It’s because no one’s catching cod,” said ADF&G Kodiak Area Management Area Biologist Nat Nichols. “It’s a new regulation. Last year was the first year we did it.”

According to a ADF&G new release, after June 10, the Kodiak Area may be designated a nonexclusive registration area for vessels targeting Pcod with jig gear if it is determined that the jig gear GHL allocation is not likely to be fully harvested by the

regulatory closure on December 31. 

As of June 11, roughly 694,000 pounds (66%) of Kodiak Area state-waters Pcod jig gear GHL allocation remained unharvested. 

Nichols explained that those jigging for cod are subject to an exclusivity regulation, which means a person has to register to fish in an area and that’s the only spot they can fish. If GHLs go unharvested, ADF&G has several tools it can use to encourage fishing. One of these tools is removing regulations on gear. Another is removing limitations on vessel length.

“The third one I can do is make the exclusivity go away,” Nichols said. “I can say, vessels now outside Kodiak can now come into Kodiak to fish. You’re welcome to come to Kodiak to help out.”

Nichols, however, was confident that the action won’t prompt fishermen to come running. 

“Most jig effort happened in the spring,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a jig landing in June. It doesn’t mean much for anybody, because everybody’s focused on salmon.

“There aren’t boats charging from Sand Point to come and jig for cod.”

The last landing for Pcod in Kodiak occurred May 20. So far this year in Kodiak’s state-water jig fishery, 362,000 pounds of cod have been caught. While that’s far more than last year’s Pcod harvest of 29,000 pounds (on a GHL of 1.8 million), Nichols said it doesn’t represent a comeback for the fishery.

“You can say it’s better than the last two years, but that doesn’t mean it’s good,” he said.

Nichols pointed out that, prior to the collapse of the fishery, a typical harvest was several million pounds. In 2015, for example, fishermen harvested 3.3 million pounds of cod on a 6.79 million pound GHL. 

In a year like that, there may be vessels jigging for cod all year –– but not this year.

“When there’s fish to be had, you’d have five to eight boats working all summer long,” Nichols said. “I’m guessing we’re largely done for the year.”

For more information, contact ADF&G in Kodiak at 486-1840.

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