Revitalizing the Pacific Cod trawl fishery: NOAA’s innovative program

NOAA Fisheries has announced Amendment 122 within the BSAI Management Area Groundfish Fishery Management Plan for Pacific Cod.
Pacific Cod: Photo by: NOAA.
Pacific Cod: Photo by: NOAA.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA Fisheries) has announced the release of a conclusive regulation for activating a novel program known as Amendment 122 within the BSAI Management Area Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. This program would aim to improve the management of the Pacific cod trawl fishery in the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Management Area through innovative measures.

The decline of the Pacific cod population in the BSAI area in recent years has resulted in a shorter fishing season. This not only translates to a problem for the fish species but also to decreased economic benefits for all stakeholders involved, from vessels to processors to local communities.

Therefore, with this measure, NOAA Fisheries intends to rejuvenate the cod trawl fishery. The program will go into effect on September 7, 2023, and fishing operations under the newly established Pacific Cod Trawl Cooperative Program (PCTC) will begin on January 20, 2024. Notably, this initiative marks the first catch-share program to be implemented in Alaska since 2012.

A program that seeks to balance environmental and economic concerns

How this will be accomplished through the allocation of catch shares. Thus, Pacific cod catch quotas would be awarded to qualified participants, including License Limitation Program (LLP) licensees and processors of demersal fish that meet the necessary criteria.

Given this context, and to guarantee efficient resource management, participants have to establish cooperatives. These cooperatives will work together to manage the harvesting task of the allocated quota. Through this approach, they reduce bycatch, enhance the fishery's value, and secure the ongoing involvement of the communities.

Furthermore, the program quota allocation is based on historical participation and legal landings associated with qualified LLPs. Each cooperative will receive a specific quota permit, which will dictate their annual Pacific cod catch limits.

In order to enhance compliance and oversight, the organization will actively enforce catch monitoring, reporting, and observer programs. A fact that balances economic interests with environmental concerns, ensuring the longevity of the Pacific cod trawl fishery for generations.

About NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), under the U.S. Department of Commerce, has a well-defined mission encompassing the understanding and prediction of climate, weather, ocean, and coastal changes. They strive to share this knowledge with others while conserving and managing coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

Concretely, NOAA Fisheries dedicates itself to safeguarding the nation's ocean resources and habitats. Through sound science and ecosystem-based management, they prioritize productive fisheries, safe seafood, protected resource recovery, and healthy ecosystems.

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