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New Rule for Pacific Cod Cooperatives

Aug 16, 2023 | Fisheries, Government, News

Bottom trawl catch.

NOAA Fisheries

A new federal rule implements a program meant to improve management of the Pacific cod trawl fishery, one of the most abundant and valuable groundfish harvested off Alaska’s coast.

Pacific Cod Trawl Cooperative

NOAA Fisheries issued Amendment 122 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Management Area. The rule allocates Pacific cod harvest quota shares to qualifying groundfish License Limitation Program (LLP) license holders and qualifying processors. It requires participants to form cooperatives to harvest the quota. This is the first catch share program implemented in Alaska since 2012.

Over the last several years, total allowable catch for Pacific cod in the BSAI management area has steadily decreased. The pace of the trawl catcher vessel fishery has contributed to an increasingly shorter season. This has decreased the value of the fishery and negatively affected all fishery participants (vessels, motherships, shoreside processors, and communities).

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July 2024

There are four stocks of Pacific cod: Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Gulf of Alaska, and Pacific coast. Predominant gear types that are used for harvesting Pacific cod include trawl gear, longline (or hook-and-line), and pots.

Pacific cod is the second largest commercial groundfish catch off Alaska. In 2021, commercial harvest of Pacific cod totaled 330.4 million pounds, worth $86.5 million. The Pacific cod fisheries off Alaska are managed by both NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Amendment 122 regulations take effect on September 7, 2023. Fishing under the Pacific cod Trawl Cooperative (PCTC) program is scheduled to start on January 20, 2024. Pacific cod trawl harvest is apportioned by seasons: January 20 to April 1 (A season), April 1 to June 10 (B season), and June 10 to November 1 (C season). The program allocates only A and B season trawl catcher vessel sector.

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Starting in 2024, fishermen must have quota share and join a cooperative to participate in the A and B seasons of the BSAI trawl catcher-vessel Pacific cod fishery. The program assigns quota share to LLP licenses for Pacific cod based on legal landing associated with a qualified LLP. The amount of quota share that NOAA Fisheries issues is determined by the historical participation of harvesters as well as processors.

NOAA Fisheries sent letters to eligible participants which included each eligible participant’s official record. Due to the timing of the publication of the final rule, for 2023 only, NOAA Fisheries will allow each cooperative to submit their inter-cooperative agreement by December 31, 2023. Beginning in 2024, cooperatives must submit their inter-cooperative agreement by November 1 with the annual cooperative application.

The PCTC joins other cooperative-based programs in Alaska, such as the Crab Rationalization program, Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish program, and Amendment 80 program. Generally, cooperative structures allow for more flexibility for participants, with more efficient coordination of fishing operations, potential to reduce operational expenses, and increased quality and revenue from the product.

Alaska Business Magazine July 2024 cover
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July 2024
Welcome to the 2024 Best of Alaska Business special section! For the ninth time we invited our readers to tell us which Alaska businesses they love the most, this year in forty-four categories. Throughout the month of March, you told us who should be featured in these pages, and we're thrilled to be able to publish the results.
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