Pollock Biomass Increases More Than Catch Limit

Lauren Rosenthal/KUCB

Even though there’s plenty of pollock in the water, the Bering Sea’s biggest fishery won’t get too much bigger in 2015. 

There will be 1.31 million metric tons of pollock up for harvest next year. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved that limit at a meeting in Anchorage this weekend. It’s a three percent increase over the current allocation.

It would have been safe to bump that even higher. Research has shown that the biomass of pollock in the Bering Sea is growing. But the council had to balance that against a range of fisheries — and keep the total harvest under 2 million metric tons.

There will be major boosts: The amount of Atka mackerel that’s up for grabs in the western Aleutian Islands next year will be ten times greater than in 2014. The catch limit for octopus is also set to increase.

But there will be far less flatfish available next year, and the Pacific cod limit will drop by about 7,000 metric tons.

Pollock is in high demand overseas, but Alaska is not the only supplier. And it’s not the only fishery that’s set to grow next year. Russia has approved a ten percent increase in pollock catch in the Sea of Okhotsk. That harvest is certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council — just like Alaska’s.

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