Unsustainable Catch Limits for Pollock Fishery Threaten Alaskan Ecosystems
Officials Chart Course to Disaster for Billion-Dollar Fishery
Responding to an announcement from the North Pacific Fishery Management Service on the 2010 catch limit of 813,000 million metric tons for the pollock fishery Dec. 12, George Pletnikoff, Greenpeace senior oceans campaigner in Anchorage, offered the following statement:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska--"If the pollock fishery is a model of anything, it's a model of unsustainability. Instead of responding to government reports that the pollock population has sunk to an all-time low this year, the Council is charting a course to destruction for the very ecosystems that have sustained whales, seals and entire communities for generations.
"Of the stocks that are managed, two are already closed to fishing and the Gulf of Alaska stock is at record low levels. The eastern Bering sea stock is the only one still capable of supporting a major commercial fishery and action is urgently needed to avoid its collapse. Unless this system of fisheries oversight is reformed, the industrial trawlers are going to fish until they have taken the very last fish from the sea."
Background: The Alaska pollock is the white fish used in markets worldwide, from everyday fish fingers to fish-fillet sandwiches, and from processed seafood sold as crabmeat to caviar-like delicacies, it is a billion-dollar industry.
According tothe Dec. 12 North Pacific Fishery Management Service meeting, between 400-800 million metric tons of pollock are missing or unaccounted for.
Greenpeace is calling for three crucial actions for Bering Sea pollock management, as follows:
(1) substantial reductions in the Total Allowable Catch;
(2) suspension of the roe fishery; and
(3) establishment of marine reserves.
These measures will help reverse the decline of Bering Sea pollock stocks, reduce bycatch, and reduce impacts on marine mammals.