Results of Okhotsk pollock fishery as per 31 March 2010

April 9, 2010 16:23

On 31 March 2010 the dedicated pollock fishery in the West Kamchatka subarea and in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea was closed, reports ( with reference to Kamniro.

According to skippers' reports, in the second half of March 2010 the fishing efforts on the Okhotsk grounds grew by 10 in number and amounted to 181 vessels owned by 92 companies based in the Russian Far East. For comparison, in 2009 the fishery was conducted by 172 trawlers.

Despite the rise of the fishing efforts and the number of tows, the total harvest of pollock in the second half of March 2010 appeared to be almost 8000 tonnes down on the first half of the month and amounted to ca.130,100 tonnes. The fleet's daily harvest amounted to ca.8129 tonnes on the average, versus 9193 tonnes in the beginning of the month. The main reason was a certain decline of the catch rates. More specifically, while in the first half of March 2010 the daily catch rates amounted to 67.5 tonnes in the north of the Sea of Okhotsk, in the second half of the month the daily rates amounted to 62.2 tonnes only.

Non-production loss of time jumped by ca.5% which was caused first of all by transshipment delays. Another deterrent could be redistribution of the fleet between the subareas. In particular, by the end of March 2010 the fishery activity rose in the West Kamchatka subarea where the daily catch rates were the lowest for three subareas (namely amounting to 51.5 tonnes).

Unlike previous fifteen days the largest pollock catch on 16-31 March 2010 was recorded in the North Okhotsk subarea (ca.60,700 tonnes). That was mostly thanks to high catches per ship (72 tonnes daily), good quality of raw fish, high roe yield. The total pollock harvest in the subarea as per 31 March 2010 amounted to ca.201,500 tonnes or 51.7% of the TAC. At the same time, the fishing operations in the second half of March 2010, just like in the previous years, was continued along the border with the Kamchatka Kurile subarea and only in the end of the month the fishing scene centered in the Priutaisk area between the 56th and 57th degree North. Taking into account the current development of the hydrological and ice conditions in the north part of the Sea of Okhotsk more typical for "cold years", the period of abundant spawning will shift by 1-1.5 weeks later. Just like last year such development has let the authorities extend the dedicated pollock fishery in the subarea through to 20 April 2010 when the traditional grounds to the north of Kashevarova Bank will get free from ice therefore both the catch results and the TAC's take-up in the North Okhotsk subarea will rise.

In the period under analysis the pollock harvest in the West Kamchatka subarea rose from 19,100 tonnes in the first half of the month to 38,400 tonnes in the second half of the month. The total harvest with all possible fishing gear amounted to 102,000 tonnes or 27.9% of the TAC. Out of the above volume ca.8000 tonnes were harvested on other fish grounds.

In the Kamchatka Kurile subarea the harvest in the course of the second half of March 2010 nearly halved as compared to the first half of the month and amounted to ca.46,000 tonnes. The harvest since the beginning of the year totaled 441,400 tonnes or 173.6% of the TAC. Approximately 37,000 tonnes were harvested with other fishing gear, mostly Danish seines.

By the closure of the A season the total take-up of the TACs in the united West Kamchatka and Kamchatka Kurile subareas amounted to 87.6% (for comparison, in 2009 the figure made 73.6% with the harvest amounting to 391,000 tonnes). At the same time, ca.39,000 tonnes of pollock were left for summer fishery in the inshore waters. Taking into account the above mentioned future catch the pollock TAC's take-up in the united subarea by the B season 2010 will amount to ca.94%.

In the East Sakhalin subarea the pollock fishery has not been conducted so far.

All in all, as per 31 March 2010 in the north of the Sea of Okhotsk the dedicated pollock harvest amounted to ca.699,300 tonnes. Together with the harvest on other fishing grounds the total pollock catch in the Sea of Okhotsk amounted to 744,800 tonnes (73.7% of the TAC). For comparison, the result for the same period last year approximated 551,200 tonnes with the TAC covered at 63.4%.

In the North Okhotsk subarea three fishing areas could be defined: waters between the 52nd and 53rd degrees at the border with the Kamchatka Kurile subarea, the southeast slopes of the TINRO Deep and the northwest slopes of the Lebed Chute. Alaska pollock declared to the south of the 52nd degree North was evidently harvested in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea.

In the West Kamchatka subarea the fleet was working practically everywhere along the prohibition line up to the entry to the Shelikhov Bay, however the fishing scene remained focused between the 54th and 55th degrees North. By the end of the month the fishing area formed stable to the north of the 57th degree. Large trawlers reported daily catches of up to 250 tonnes, the average rates amounting to 69.7 tonnes (71.2 tonnes in the previous period), while maximum catches of middle trawlers reached 88.9 tonnes and the average rates made 23.2 tonnes (down from 25.5 tonnes in the first half of the month).

In the Kamchatka Kurile subarea the bulk of the fleet was working in the waters of the Lebed Bank and Ozernov depths break. The daily catch rates greatly varied from several tons to 263 tonnes and the average result amounted to 89.7 tonnes, approximately on a par with half a month ago (86.4 tonnes). Daily catches of middle trawlers reached 167 tonnes and amounted to 31.6 tonnes on the average.

According to KamchatNIRO fishery research institute, in the North Okhotsk subarea between the 5103 and 5500 degrees North at the depths of 492-695 meters the daily catch rates per vessel varied from 20 to 70 tonnes per day and amounted to ca.44 tonnes per day on the average. The fish length and weight averaged at 47.5cm and 0.814 kilos. The share of females and mature fish correspondingly amounted to 71.5% and 97.9%. The pollock roe yield was equal to 6.8% on the average. The share of spawning females did not exceed 2%. To the north (in the Priutaisk area) at the depths of ca.490 meters the average catch per one hour tow was equal to 55 tonnes. The pollock length changed from 23 to 74 cm with the dominating size reported at 42-45cm. The average length amounted to 43.7cm and weight of 564 kilos. Mature fish was dominated by pollock with gonads at various stages of prespawning maturation. The share of spawning males was ca.10% on the average while such females accounted only for 2.7%.

A similar quantitative and qualitative structure of commercial pollock catches was observed at the same parallel but in the West Kamchatka subarea. The average catch rates in the area amounted to 50 tonnes per one hour tow. The dominating sizes were just the same. The average fish length was 43cm and weight 550g. The share of spawning producers was slightly higher than in the North Okhotsk subarea: males - 13.2% and females - 3.9%. In the beginning of the second half of March 2010 in the West Kamchatka area catches to the north of the 56th degree North showed increased bycatch of juveniles (up to 30%). However, some days later the vessels found differentiated concentrations of spawners which they fished up to the end of the month.

In the subarea No.61.05.4 the catch rates per tow declined as compared to previous week and amounted to ca.16.1 tonnes. Just like earlier, the fishery was based on large pollock of 42-47cm. The average length and weight of seafood were equal to 45.2cm and 711g. The share of females amounted to 67.8% and the share of pollock spawners  totaled 88.4%. The average roe yield was equal to 5.1%. Most of the producers were at the prespawning condition.

On the spawning grounds in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea, according to Danish seiners, the pollock size remained practically unchanged as compared to the first half of March. The bulk of the harvest was contributed by fish 38-45cm with the average size reported at 42.5cm. The average fish weight was 0.62kg, the share of pollock -37cm amounted to 7.6%. The share of pollock spawners amounted to 29.2% of females, 12.6% of males and ca.27% of females already completed spawning.

To summarize it all, the main pollock season in the Sea of Okhotsk in 2010 was conducted with fairly good results. The forecasted scenario came generally true. The remaining time (up to 20 April 2010) in the North Okhotsk subarea was spent to cover the quota remainders with the fishery gradually curtailed. Only those vessels who would then switch to prespawning Okhotsk herring continued operating on the grounds. However, April operations could be highly productive as the concentrations of prespawning pollock in that period of the year were normally fairly strong and the roe yield was high. Especially productive area was located to the north of the Kashevarova Bank. By the end of the season the pollock harvest in the North Okhotsk subarea was forecasted to amount to ca.50,000-70,000 tons.

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