Dutch Harbor state-waters cod fishery opens with largest harvest level to date
The state-water cod fishery for pot gear boats of 58 feet or less in the Dutch Harbor Subdistrict opened Thursday, Feb. 1 at noon. Those harvesters have a limit of 60 pots per vessel and a guideline harvest level of a little more than 44 million pounds.
That’s the largest harvest level the fishery has ever seen. Last year’s was the second biggest at just over 38 million pounds.
State fisheries managers said they expect about 20 to 25 boats to register for the fishery. The Dutch Harbor Subdistrict is the largest state managed Pacific cod fishery in Alaska and was founded in 2014.
A smaller state-run cod fishery in the Aleutian Islands is open at the same time. The Aleutian Islands Subdistrict state-waters Pacific cod fishery also opened Feb.1 in all state waters west of 170 degrees. That covers an area from Chuginadak Island, west of Nikolski, out to Attu. The fishery is open to pot gear vessels of 100 feet or less, nonpelagic trawlers and boats using jig gear under 60 feet, as well as longliners of 58 feet or less. They’ll have a total of about 9.6 million pounds to catch. That harvest isn’t allocated by gear type, like in many fisheries, but boats using pot gear that are longer than 60 feet are only allowed up to about 2.4 million pounds, or 25% of the total catch.
Officials say there are no boats registered for the Aleutian Islands Subdistrict fishery yet. And with overall limited processing options, including the winter closure of King Cove’s Peter Pan Seafood plant, state regulators say they expect that fishery to remain open all year.
The start of the Aleutian Islands Subdistrict fishery coincides with the closure of state waters in the parallel federal Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands fishery for all gear types in all state waters west of 170 degrees longitude.
Meanwhile, the under 60-foot sector for the federal Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pacific cod hook-and-line and pot fishery closed Jan. 25. The small boat fleet of 17 vessels reached its quota of around 8.5 million pounds in about three weeks.