Pollock population lower than expected
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday released the results of its 2009 bottom trawl and mid-water acoustic surveys of Bering Sea pollock, and the news isn’t good.
The surveys found that the pollock population is “low” and that the number of incoming young fish may be down.
“The pollock spawning biomass was well above average for a decade starting in 1993 but has since declined to below target levels,” said Doug DeMaster, director of NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center. “Fewer young fish entered the population between 2001 and 2005. The new data confirm this pattern and will provide additional information on the numbers of new fish entering the fishable population.”
The survey results were presented to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Groundfish Plan Team at its meeting in Seattle last week. The council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee will use the survey results to recommend an acceptable biological catch at its December meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. The Council’s Advisory Panel will then recommend a total allowable catch.
Last year’s pollock spawning biomass was at its lowest level since 1980. As a result, NOAA set the 2009 Bering Sea pollock quota at 815,000 metric tons, down 19 percent from the 2008 quota and 46 percent from the 2006 quota.
DeMaster emphasized that the decline in the pollock spawning biomass is a cyclical fluctuation and not a result of overfishing.
Greenpeace disagrees. Following the release of the survey results, the environmental activist organization is expected to ramp up its campaign demanding an end to overfishing of Alaska pollock, the world’s largest whitefish fishery.