Pot cod fishery closes
Small boat pot cod fishermen are generally happy with the results of the Dutch Harbor state waters Pacific cod fishery, which closed Saturday at 11:59 p.m., April 8, two months after it opened on Feb. 9.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game shellfish biologist Miranda Westphal in Unalaska said Tuesday she was still waiting for information on the final boatload of fish before releasing final catch numbers.
But based on Fish and Game reports, it appears the fishermen came very close to harvesting the full 33.7 million pound quota.
Fishermen were pleased with the performance of the fishery, now in its fourth year.
"We had good weather, and there was abundant fish," said Unalaska's Dustan Dickerson, owner of the vessel Raven Bay. Not only were the fish plentiful, they were also very big, he said, weighing as much as 45 to 50 pounds.
A typical cod weights about 8.5 pounds, and Dickerson said this year he's seen the biggest and most cod in a long time. Fishermen were paid a base price of 34 cents a pound, with bonuses based on the size of the delivery. For every 250 pounds, fishers received an extra half-cent, up to a maximum of 37 cents, he said.
The pot cod fleet delivered to processors including Icicle, Westward, Alyeska and Unisea, he said. The fishing trips lasted between two and three days, two days if the fishing was really good. But no longer than three, in the interest of delivering fish of the highest quality, he said.
'We want to keep a good product great," he said, the fish are kept cool in the holds with temperatures between 33 and 35 degrees, he said.
The Dutch Harbor subdistrict state waters P. cod fishery is limited to pot gear, pots of the same size used for crab, though rigged differently. Pots, he said, are "a very efficient way of catching fish, and you basically have zero bycatch."
Some 24 boats less than 60 feet long participated.
Dickerson said the fleet was spread out from Cape Cheerful to Makushin Bay on Unalaska Island, all the way to Umnak Island, staying within state waters, three miles from shore. One open area where they didn't fish was Unalaska Bay, because there are hardly any Pacific cod in the waters closest to town, he said.
Dickerson said he fishes around Cape Cheerful on Unalaska Island. The south side of Unalaska Island, including Beaver Inlet, is outside of the district and considered part of the Gulf of Alaska
Jim Paulin can be reached at email@example.com