The big increase in quota for the small boat state-waters Pacific cod fishery is attracting "quite a bit more" fishing boats to the Unalaska/Dutch Harbor area, according to groundfish biologist Justin Leon, of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska.
The quota is nearly twice as large, at 35 million pounds, up from 18 million pounds last year, fished with metal pots by 23 boats with a maximum length of 58 feet, up from 14 vessels last year, Leon said.
The increase is a result of last year's action by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, which increased the harvest level from 3 to 6.4 percent of the combined Bering Sea state and federal waters quota, he said. The bigger quota is pointing toward a longer season ending in late April, or even May, Leon said, noting that last year's fishing season was shorter, and closed on March 31. The fleet had caught around 18 million pounds as of March 21, just over half the quota.