ASMI Defends, Clarifies Pollock Quota Cut
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in a press release today defended the North Pacific Management Fisheries Management Council’s vote Saturday to cut the 2009 Bering Sea pollock quota by 18.5 percent, to 815,000 metric tons.
ASMI reiterated that Alaska pollock, like all fish species, undergo cyclical variations in population, and federal scientists had predicted this year’s biomass decline due to low numbers of pollock reaching maturity between 2000 and 2005. However, a strong class of young pollock from 2006 is expected to increase the biomass in 2009, said ASMI.
“We manage Alaska’s fisheries with a steadfast commitment to science. That’s affirmed by the council’s recent action regarding the Alaska pollock harvest,” said Doug Mecum, director of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Alaska office.
The 815,000-metric-ton Bering Sea pollock quota would be the lowest in more than three decades and is a 45 percent drop from a peak of nearly 1.5 million metric tons in 2004.
Eco-activist group Greenpeace immediately condemned the council’s decision, which is still subject to federal approval.
“The decision is a poor one due to the importance of these fish as a food source for everything from whales and fur seals to endangered Steller sea lions. There is a lot more at stake here than just pollock,” said George Pletnikoff, Greenpeace oceans campaigner.
“So much pollock has been mined from the ocean that the entire ecosystem has been restructured,” Pletnikoff added. “Even with that knowledge, along with all the other indicators of species declines, the council is establishing a catch limit for pollock nearly double the amount that is sustainable.”