Under the cooperative fishery, the rockfish season opened May 1 and continued through November. Most of the catch occurred during the months of May and June, when landings ranged between 1,000 and 2,000 mt per week. That was usually a slack season for processors and corresponded to seasonal peak in unemployment and drops in demand for electricity and water.
The change in season allowed more rockfish to be brought and processed onshore, Bonney said. Local rockfish production jumped 20%, from 15.2 million pounds in 2006 to 18.3 million pounds this year. More work for the local processors saw the unemployment rate in Kodiak during May and June drop from 9.1% and 10.5% last year to 5.7% and 6.2% respectively this year.
Absent the race for fish, processors were allowed to focus on more high-value products. Production of value-added fillets tripled while the amount of lower-priced whole fish production was cut in half and the need to process the lowest-priced product, surimi, was eliminated entirely. The fleet also demonstrated the cooperative fishery could help achieve important conservation goals.
Strict bycatch standards were imposed by the participants; individual fishermen could be held accountable for unacceptable rates and that prompted them to innovate, Bonney said. The result was an almost 50% increase in the catch of rockfish taken by pelagic gear, fewer gear impacts to bottom habitat and more than a 70% reduction in halibut bycatch.
Improved retention and utilization of the harvest was also a goal of the pilot pro
|Contact: Julie Bonney|
Marine Conservation Alliance