Overview of fisheries in the seas of the Russian Far East in February 2008

March 12, 2008 16:20

The bulk of Russian catches in February 2008 was contributed by the stocks of the Sea of Okhotsk. While last year the fishing pressure was concentrated on the Okhotsk pollock Theragra chalcogramma, in February 2008 a group of middle trawlers with five motherships continued expedition fishery of Okhotsk herring harvesting 12,000 tonnes through the month, fishery sources in Vladivostok told www.fishnet-russia.com (https://www.fishnet.ru/).

Provisional catch figures for the Russian Far East Basin in February 2008 and in January-February 2007-2008

Species

Catches in February, ‘000 metric tons

Catches in January-February, ‘000 metric tons

2008

2007

+/-

2008

2007

+/-

Total

231.4

193.4

+38.0

361.5

358.1

+3.4

Of which finfish

Alaska pollock

205.3

178.9

+26.4

291.4

298.0

-6.6

Atka mackerel

2.8

2.8

0

4.3

4.7

-0.4

Cod

4.6

3.4

+1.2

7.5

7.9

-0.4

Flounder

1.4

2.3

-0.9

2.6

4.1

-1.5

Grenadier

0.3

0.6

-0.3

0.5

1.2

-0.7

Halibut

0.5

0.6

-0.1

0.8

1.2

-0.4

Herring

12.3

0.04

+12.2

42.5

26.8

+15.7

Longfin codling Laemonema

0.8

1.5

-0.7

0.8

1.6

-0.8

Ocean perch

0.05

0

+0.05

0.05

0.07

-0.02

Sculpins

0.2

0.2

0

0.3

0.4

- 0.1

Wachna cod

0.2

0.9

-0.7

5.9

8.4

-2.5

Shellfish

Crabs

1.0

0.7

+0.3

1.9

1.4

+0.5

Sea scallops

0.19

0.1

+0.09

0.19

0.1

+0.09

Sea urchins

0.18

0.12

+0.06

0.2

0.2

0

Shrimps

1.2

0.8

+0.4

2.0

1.4

+0.6

Squid

0.09

0.08

+0.01

0.17

0.08

+0.09

The average daily catch rates through the month exceeded the corresponding last year figure by 700 tonnes. Every day the fleet harvested 7700 tonnes, including 6800 tonnes of Alaska pollock, on the average. In January 2008 the Russian fleets were targeting Alaska pollock mostly along the southern coast of West Kamchatka, but already in the first ten days of the month more than one half of the vessels moved to the West Kamchatka subarea. Alaska pollock was harvested at the depths of 230-330 meters in the southern part of the subarea and in the northeastern slopes of the TINRO Deep at the depths of 450-500 meters.

The average daily pollock catches reached 80 tonnes for large trawlers and 35 tonnes for middle trawlers. Catches in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea were lower at 70 and 27 tonnes correspondingly. As compared to last year, the number of vessels participating in the expedition increased by 20, while the TAC was covered only at 43.4% as compared to 46.5% last year.

Take-up of APO quotas as broken down to regions and subareas in January-February 2008 (2007 for comparison)

 

Provinces/Fishing subareas

North Okhotsk subarea

West Kamchatka subarea

Kamchatka Kurile subarea

Primorsky Krai Territory (capital Vladivostok)

10%

44%

90.5%

Khabarovsk Territory

15%

49%

85%

Magadan Oblast

23%

58%

87%

Sakhalin Oblast

30%

51%

72%

Kamchatka Territory

19%

46%

66%

Subarea's total

18.2%

46.7%

77.8%

2007

26%

58%

70%

In general the fishing situation on the APO grounds in 2008 was characterized as satisfactory. Take-up of quotas in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea was ahead of the corresponding result of last year. However, the fishermen did not fully realize a considerable increase of the APO TAC 2008 in the West Kamchatka subarea which had been raised by 139,000 tonnes. As a result, the gap on the last year take-up of the subarea's quotas amounted to 12%. Only by the end of the month the number of vessels operating at the northwest coast of Kamchatka grew by 35 due to the APO quota take-up in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea. In the first days of March the fleet targeting Alaska pollock in the Okhotsk Sea amounted to 160 fishing vessels and 7 motherships. Leading harvesters were vessels coming from Magadan and Sakhalin. Some 20 longliners were targeting cod and halibut with the bycatch of grenadier and skates in the North Okhotsk and West Kamchatka subareas of the Sea of Okhotsk. The fleet's cod harvest through the month amounted to 1700 tonnes with a 10% bycatch of halibut. At the southern coast of West Kamchatka the Russian fishermen were working with trawl and Danish seine gear both in the inshore waters (harvesting 2400 tonnes of various fish species) and beyond the inshore zone (catching ca.500 tonnes all in all). More than 90% of the daily harvest was contributed by Alaska pollock, while the remaining share was represented by cod, wachna cod, flounder and sculpins.

Thus, the Russian scientists were right saying that on the shelf of West Kamchatka Alaska pollock was a priority species for Danish seine fishery and the fishermen would harvest mostly roe Alaska pollock in the Sea of Okhotsk.

In all the three subareas of the Sea of Okhotsk Kamchatka-based trawlers were harvesting halibuts. While in the North Okhotsk subarea halibut accounted for 100% of the harvest, in other subareas trawl catches contained other species along with halibuts. In particular, in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea the bycatch amounted to 14.5%. The trawlers' total harvest of halibut amounted to 360 tonnes through the month.

Apart from finfish operations in the Sea of Okhotsk, three local groups of crabbers conducted successful operations in the sea. More specifically, in the North Okhotsk subarea three crabbers were targeting golden king crab, 3-5 crabbers were hunting for blue and golden king crabs in the West Kamchatka subarea, while in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea 4-6 crabbers were engaged in snow crab bairdi fishery. The total harvest of golden king crab through the month amounted to 100 tonnes, the harvest of blue king crab totaled 220 tonnes and catches of snow crab bairdi amounted to 330 tonnes versus 43 tonnes, 47 tonnes and 395 tonnes correspondingly harvested in February 2007. The total harvest of crab species through the first two months of the current year 2008 exceeded the respective result of 2007 by 500 tonnes.

In early February 2008 in the North Okhotsk subarea the vessels based in Magadan and Kamchatka had a success in deepwater shrimp (Pandalus borealis) fishery harvesting ca. 360 tonnes of the species through the month. Dedicated shrimpers reported daily rates from 3.25 to 5.25 tonnes per vessel on the average and from 700 kilos to 1 tonne per tow. However, in the middle of the closing ten days of the month the ice fields pushed the shrimpers from the area. The vessels switched over to pink shrimp in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea where the fishery of the species was conducted by two Vladivostok-based and one Kamchatka-based vessels. The fishery efficiency in the area was lower with the catch rates per tow fluctuating from 500 to 690 kilos and from 1.6 to 2.6 tonnes per vessel daily.

Fairly good catch rates were reported by a group of vessels targeting deepwater pink shrimp in the Sea of Japan where the total harvest of the species amounted to 560 tonnes. Since the start of the year the harvest of pink shrimp exceeded 2000 tonnes.

Already on 15 February three large vessels targeting Alaska pollock fishery at the shores of East Kamchatka in the Karaginsk subarea had to suspend fishery due to approaching ice fields. The APO harvest in the area amounted to only 1500 tonnes through the period.

Bottom longline gear was used by middle vessels to harvest mixed concentrations of cod and halibut at the eastern shores of Kamchatka and in the West Bering Sea zone. The fishery situation was not always satisfactory due to cyclones and storms impeding stable operations of the fleet. The average daily catch rates fluctuated with a certain recurrence from 5 tonnes in the start of the month gradually increasing to 8 tonnes and falling to 5-6 tonnes to rise again. In the closing days of the month the catch rates per vessel amounted to 1.75 tonnes with the rates per 1 km of line falling from 345 kilos to 80 kilos. The total harvest through the month amounted to 550 tonnes with the share of halibuts amounting to 6%. A fleet of 8-10 middle vessels owned by Kamchatka-based companies was engaged in bottom and pelagic operations in the Petropavlovsk-Komandor subarea. Their average daily catches contained mostly Alaska pollock accounting for 65% of the harvest in the beginning of the month and reaching 90% in the closing days of February. Flounder, cod and Atka mackerel were harvested as bycatch.

The dedicated Atka mackerel fishery was conducted in the North Kurile zone and in the south of the eastern coast of Kamchatka with the total harvest of the species amounting to 2500 tonnes. Squid was harvested sporadically. The vessels owned by companies based in the islands were targeting sea scallops in the North Kuriles, while in the South Kuriles the fishermen were harvesting sea urchins.

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