Sunday brings the start of the Pollock B season, a multimillion-dollar effort by Kodiak’s fishermen and processors.
Newly modified catch quotas mean that effort will be slightly smaller than expected.
Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Service decreased the 2013 Gulf of Alaska pollock catch by almost 4,300 tons. The Pacific Cod quota declined almost 7,700 tons, or 11 percent.
While the 2013 quotas declined, they still represent a jump from 2012 figures, which were lower for both species.
While neither cod nor pollock are being overfished, fisheries scientists constantly revise their fish population estimates and frequently adjust quotas up or down based on new data.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council officially sets quotas in fall, before year-end figures become available. In December, NMFS staff meet to consider those year-end figures and adjust quotas up or down based on new data.
Federal fisheries scientists have enough funding to run trawl surveys only in odd-numbered years, meaning new data must come from better analysis of the 2011 figures or from state surveys.
A preliminary quota adjustment was published Jan. 1 with the start of the new federal waters fishing season, and last week’s announcement confirmed that preliminary adjustment.
According to NMFS documents, the pollock and cod quota drops were based on changes in their estimates of how many fish are in the Gulf of Alaska.
The biggest change occurred with Pacific Cod, where a new estimate predicted more cod in the western Gulf than has been traditionally thought. Scientists now believe the western Gulf has 35 percent of the Gulf’s total cod population, not 32 percent.
That shift means more of an increase in waters traditionally fished by fishermen from Sand Point, and less of an increase for Kodiak fishermen.
In the western Gulf, cod quotas jumped from 21,000 tons in 2012 to 28,280 tons in 2013, a growth of more than 25 percent. In the central Gulf, they rose from 42,705 tons to 49,288 tons, or 14 percent.
Gulf-wide, cod quotas are up from 52,942 tons in 2012 to 80,800 tons this year. Pollock quotas are up from 116,444 tons in 2012 to 121,046 tons this year.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.