Progress and results of Alaska pollock "A" season in the Sea of Okhotsk

April 18, 2007 12:37

April 2007 was remarkable for closure of Alaska pollock fishery, the main fishing season for the Russian Far East Basin formally closing this year on 10 April 2007.

Stabilization of APO abundance allowed the fishermen to conduct successful operations in winter-spring period in the Sea of Okhotsk. Good catches of large mature Alaska pollock brought fairly good profit to fishing companies and high wages to fishermen.

In 2007 the Basin's fishermen started to harvest Alaska pollock in the Sea of Okhotsk in the first days of January. The fishing fleet was operating in the North Okhotsk subarea at the Kashevarov Bank. Favourable fishery and ice conditions in the area encouraged the fishermen to harvest 60-110 tonnes per large ship and 6-44 tonnes per middle ship. However, already by the middle of the month the area was closed by ice. With the APO harvest amounting to 10,500 tonnes and the share of the TAC exhaustion to 5.8% the vessels had to cease dedicated APO fishery and change the fishing area.

Since 15 January 2007 the dedicated APO fishery was allowed at the western shores of Kamchatka. Most of the fishing vessels were harvesting pollock to the south of the 5230 degree North sometimes moving upwards to the north to the area adjacent to the Kamchatka Kurile subarea. In the second half of January 46 large and 32 middle vessels were operating in the area reporting daily catches of 85.2 and 33.4 tonnes correspondingly. The harvest through the period amounted to ca.53,000 tonnes or 17% of the TAC.

In February the bulk of the vessels kept on targeting APO in the both subareas of the western coast of Kamchatka moving far to the north up to the entrance to the Shelikhov Bay as well as to the west to the 153rd degree East. Fairly good fishery conditions were observed in the area of the Ozernovsk slopes and Lebed Bank as well as in front of the entrance to the Shelikhov Bay. A group of 36 large and 30 middle trawlers operated in the area and the daily harvest of those trawlers amounted to 67 and 29 tonnes correspondingly.

The rates of quota progressing in the Kamchatka subareas of the Sea of Okhotsk were very high and already in the first half of March 2007 the total daily harvest of APO vessels grew from 3800 to 6000 metric tons. By that time exhaustion of commercial catch quotas amounted to 87% in the West Kamchatka subarea and 91% in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea. By the same period 2006 the above shares were 75% and 67% correspondingly.

The fishermen mainly harvested Alaska pollock of 40-41 cm and 580-600 grams, by that time the roe yield amounted to 5-7.7% in the West Kamchatka subarea, 4.3-5.3% in the waters of South Kamchatka, but the share of fish smaller than the allowable size was growing.

In the middle of March 2007 a half of the vessels moved to the North Okhotsk subarea where the fishery conditions were still difficult caused by the current ice conditions. The vessels had to work in immediate proximity to each other, therefore a large number of vessels concentrated on small grounds and each tow was a challenge for fishermen with trawls and other gear breaking up or getting torn every now and then. Southwards storms happening in the Sea of Okhotsk every ten days somewhat improved the ice conditions in the second half of March, which helped to expand the fishing area for APO vessels.

The APO harvest from dedicated operations in the Sea of Okhotsk amounted to 200,600 tonnes through March 2007, the figure including 46.6% contributed by the North Okhotsk subarea.

By the moment of the fishery closure in the waters of Kamchatka, namely by 1 April 2007, the Alaska pollock TAC was covered at 93.9% in the West Kamchatka subarea with the area's harvest of 158,700 metric tons and at 88.4% in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea with the harvest of 128,200 tonnes.

The vessels kept on working in the North Okhotsk subarea until the final day of 9 April. Through the period the APO fishery was conducted by 100 ships all together harvesting 29,700 tonnes.

Take-up of commercial quotas of Alaska pollock in the Sea of Okhotsk by regions

Region

North Okhotsk subarea

West Kamchatka subarea

Kamchatka Kurile subarea

Quota, ‘000 metric tons

Catch, ‘000 metric tons

%

Quota, ‘000 metric tons

Catch, ‘000 metric tons

%

Quota, ‘000 metric tons

Catch, ‘000 metric tons

%

Primorsky Krai

70.27

68.65

97.7

64.32

62.94

99.4

45.43

45.41

99.9

Khabarovsky Krai

14.11

13.03

92.4

11.61

11.17

96.2

10.49

10.49

100

Magadan Oblast

7.5

7.32

97.5

5.59

5.48

98.1

2.69

2.69

100

Sakhalin Oblast

32.34

29.58

91.5

25.15

23.22

92.3

22.62

19.79

87.5

Kamchatka Oblast

41.71

41.66

99.9

39.81

39.02

98.0

33.19

32.83

98.9

Koryak Autonomous Okrug

6.0

5.81

96.8

6.12

6.08

99.3

3.68

3.67

99.1

Chukotka Autonomous Okrug

2.94

2.94

100

2.03

2.03

100

1.86

1.86

100

Saint Petersburg

0.09

-

-

0.43

0.36

85.4

0.38

0.297

77.6

Karelia

0.04

Total

174.98

169.0

96.6

155.05

151.3

97.6

120.39

117.01

97.2

The remaining quotas will be covered as bycatch in mixed bottomfish fishery, herring fishery, longline cod fishery and halibut operations.

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