October 23, 2013
ANCHORAGE — Alaska’s Board of Fisheries left the Cook Inlet Pacific cod fishery unchanged, although other areas of the state will see increased state waters harvest in the future.
The board unanimously voted against motions that would have increased the fishery limits in Cook Inlet and allowed longline gear after significant public testimony at its statewide Pacific cod meeting this weekend.
The South Alaska Peninsula will see an increased limit, however, and the board created a new state waters Pacific cod fishery in the Bering Sea.
The state manages fisheries from Alaska’s coast to three miles from shore, as well as in rivers and lakes, while the federal government is responsible for management from 3 to 200 miles offshore. The state manages both a guideline harvest level fishery, which the catch increase addresses, and a parallel fishery, which operates in state waters but generally follows the federal regulations.
The board is responsible for making certain fisheries management policy decisions for the state, including setting seasons, bag limits, methods and means for fisheries, and making allocation decisions. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is responsible for day-to-day fisheries management, based on the direction provided by the board.
Fish and Game’s Jan Rumble said the Cook Inlet fishery has hit record catch and participation levels in recent years, but has not yet reached the guideline harvest in any year, with about 4.4 million pounds taken in 2011, and 4.2 million in 2012.
The proposal considered for Cook Inlet could have increased the state waters Pacific cod fishery there by taking a larger percentage of the acceptable biological catch, or ABC, for the state. That would have reduced the available catch in the federal waters fishery.