Before we get to 2015, it’s important to take one final look at 2014.
And there’s one thing in the world of Prince William Sound groundfish that stands out - sablefish. Last year saw the lowest harvest and lowest catch-per-unit effort in the history of the fishery. It’s been in a general decline since 2000.
“You know, our sablefish fishery is a limited entry fishery here in the sound. And, we’ve had a static guideline harvest level for a number of years now at 242,000 pounds,” says Maria Wessel, assistant area management biologist based in Cordova.
She says it’s hard to tease out what is a result of lower biomass and what is a result of lower interest.
“A lot of this sablefish, a lot of black cod in Prince William Sound is fished in conjunction with halibut IFQ," says Wessel. "So, when a permit holder finishes up their halibut IFQ and they don't have anything left, quite often they’ll make the decision not to go out after black cod because they don’t want to discard their halibut. So, there’s a number of factors. We’re not entirely sure what’s going on but we would definitely like to be proactive about it.”
Wessel says one factor in the uncertainty is that ADF&G doesn’t do a fishery-independent survey in the area. So, biologists are now looking to other similar fisheries for ideas.
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