Pollock industry weathers low quotas

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage, Alaska, this week set the 2011 total allowable catch (TAC) for Bering Sea pollock at 1.25 million metric tons, up 54 percent from this year’s TAC.

The council acted on advice from federal scientists who reported last month that the Bering Sea pollock biomass has rebounded significantly.

For Alaska’s pollock fishery, which has endured two consecutive years of quota cuts, the news was much welcomed. This year’s 813,000-metric-ton TAC was the lowest in 32 years, as the fishery yielded almost 1.5 million metric tons annually between 2002 and 2006.

“The Marine Conservation Alliance fully supports the council’s recommendations,” said Frank Kelty, the Juneau, Alaska, organization’s president. “For more than 30 years, strict annual catch limits for the federal fisheries off the coast of Alaska have protected our clear, pristine waters and abundant ecosystem, which continues to feed tens of millions of people throughout the world.”

The council also set TACs for other key Alaska groundfish species, including Pacific cod, yellowfin sole and arrowtooth flounder. The 2011 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) cod TAC was also increased to 227,950 metric tons, up from 168,780 metric tons in 2010.

However, the 2011 BSAI yellowfin sole TAC was reduced to 196,000 metric tons, compared to 219,000 metric tons this year, while the 2011 BSAI arrowtooth flounder TAC was slashed to 25,900 metric tons, compared to 75,000 metric tons in 2010.

The TACs are now waiting approval from U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

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