Snow crab still slow going; Gulf shallow trawlers closed
Other tidbits from the morning staff reports:
Fishing for Bering Sea snow crab is still slowed by ice covering the fishing grounds, with last week’s catch of 2.4 million pounds less than half of the previous week. The staff report from ADF&G stated that 53.44 million pounds of the 88.9 million pound quota has been taken so far, or about 60 percent. Ten vessels have checked out of the fishery and 40 to 50 vessels are currently standing down.
A request was made in January to extend the season-closing date of May 31 because of the ice conditions, though no decision has yet been made on that.
ADF&G biologist Karla Bush told the council that call likely won’t be made until the last couple weeks of May.
Halibut bycatch up in 2012
The central Gulf of Alaska shallow water trawl fishery was shut down March 26 based on halibut bycatch limits, with 389 metric tons of the 450 metric ton allocation taken.
Halibut bycatch by the Gulf bottom trawl fleet is up greatly in 2012 from 2011 so far. Halibut bycatch is estimated at 405 metric tons, compared to 282 metric tons at this same point in 2011.
The Gulf groundfish catch is less though, with 15,500 metric tons taken so far compared to 16,103 metric tons at the same point last year.
Halibut bycatch by the bottom trawl fleet in the Bering Sea is also up, but landings are too.
The bottom trawl fleet in the Bering Sea has taken 625 metric tons of halibut as bycatch compared to 550 metric tons at this point last year, with landings up to 132,641 metric tons in 2012 versus 121,618 metric tons in 2011.
Still, the bycatch is up 13 percent compared to the increase of 9 percent in landings.
Chinook salmon bycatch is also up in the Bering Sea by 18 percent compared to last year.
Through March 17, 6,516 chinooks have been taken by the Bering Sea pollock fleet versus 5,240 in 2011. Landings are also up, but by 5 percent compared to the 18 percent increase in bycatch.
Gulf of Alaska chinook bycatch is down slightly across all fisheries, but has also increased compared to last year in the pollock fishery.
The pollock fleet has taken 3,398 chinooks in the Gulf in 2012 compared to 2,658 in 2011. The total for the Gulf is 3,577 chinooks in 2012 compared to 3,687 in 2011, a decrease of 3 percent.
A cap on chinook bycatch for the pollock fleet will take effect in the C and D seasons this summer and fall. The allocations are 8,929 for the central Gulf and 5,598 in the western Gulf.
Andrew Jensen can be reached at email@example.com.