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A pilot program for harvesting Kodiak rockfish
Date:1/31/2008

In 2007, fishing for Pacific Rockfish (Sebastes sp.) took place in the Central Gulf of Alaska under a 5-year pilot program that incorporated fishery cooperatives instead of the usual race for fish. Results after the first year indicate increased retention rates, reduced bycatch of non-target species, and positive economic and other benefits to the Kodiak Island community.

In its first year, the pilot program was successful in slowing the pace of the fishery, improving product quality, reducing bycatch, and giving a boost to the local economy, said Julie Bonney, executive director of the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank and manager of the cooperative fishery. It shifted a significant part of the catch to off-peak months, avoiding conflicts with the salmon season and lowering unemployment on the island.

The Rockfish Pilot Program (RPP) was directed by Congress and developed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council as the first multi-species rationalization program in the North Pacific. The 5-year RPP was limited to trawlers in the Central Gulf of Alaska that target Pacific Ocean Perch (S. alutus), Northern Rockfish (S. polyspinis) and Pelagic Shelf Rockfish, a complex that includes dusky, dark, yellowtail and widow rockfish. Secondary species harvested in the fishery include Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus), Thornyhead Rockfish (Sebastolobus alascanus) and Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria).

In past years, the competitive fishery occurred during the first three weeks of July during which weekly catches peaked at 5,000 metric tons (mt) and delivered just as the processing sector was gearing up for the busy salmon season. A primary objective of the RPP was to help stabilize the residential processing workforce by shifting this harvest to times of the year with low processing volumes such as May and June.

Under the pilot program, the rockfish quota was divided among the participants based on their individual catch history, and
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Contact: Julie Bonney
jbonney@gci.net
907-486-3033
Marine Conservation Alliance
Source:Eurekalert

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