Longtime Alaska fisheries writer Laine Welch had an Anchorage Daily News report on what appears to be a catostrophic prediction for the Gulf of Alaska cod fishing catch rate for 2018.
Here’s Welch with more:
Gulf cod catches for 2018 will drop by 80 percent to just under 29 million pounds in federally managed waters, compared to a harvest this year of nearly 142 million pounds. The crash is expected to continue into 2020 or 2021.
Cod catches in the Bering Sea also will decline by 15 percent to 414 million pounds. In all, Alaska produces 12 percent of global cod fish.
The bad news was announced by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which sets the catches for more than 25 species in waters from 3 miles to 200 miles from shore in the Gulf and the Bering Sea.
“It’s almost like a double, triple, quadruple disaster because it’s not just one year,” said Julie Bonney, director of the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank. She added that the cod decline will decrease revenues for fishermen who use longline, pots, jig and trawl gear and will make it more difficult for processors to fill their market demands. It also will be a huge hit to the coffers of local communities, which get a 3 percent tax on all fish landings.
Kodiak fisheries analyst Heather McCarty called the cod crash “devastating” for the short- and long-term.