Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod TAC to drop 80%

Total allowable catches (TACs) of Pacific cod in the US Gulf of Alaska will likely fall steeply in 2018 after a 80% reduction has been called for by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC). 

For the gulf TAC, which was set at 64,442 metric tons in 2017, the NPFMC has said should be set at 13,096t in 2018. The final determination rests with the Department of Commerce, which oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but the council's advice is often followed.

In recent weeks, the council, which sets TAC recommendations for the species, had heard from biologists alarmed by research surveys that found steep drops in the gulf Pacific cod biomass. Now instead of the gulf’s 72,272t acceptable biological catch (ABC) first 

predicted for 2018, biologists with the NPFMC cut that prediction to only 18,000t.

As the ABC, the upper limit of the range of a stock that can be fished, guides the TAC, most in industry anticipated steep cuts.

TAC cuts of 16%, putting the 2018 TAC there at 188,136t, were also recommended for the larger Bering Sea Pacific cod fishery. However, the TAC for the Aleutian Islands stayed stable year-on-year at 15,695t.

In 2017, around three-fourths of Alaska's total Pacific cod TAC came from the Bering Sea fishery, another fifth from the gulf and the rest from the Aleutian Islands. 

The Bering Sea pollock TAC will fall 20% from 208,595t in 2017 to 166,228t.

Even before the specter of cuts, Pacific cod prices had been rising. 

In early October the prices for medium-to-large sizes of frozen-at-sea, headed-and-gutted (H&G), J-cut Pacific cod were reportedly around ,500/t into Japan and ,600-,650/t into Europe. The source told Undercurrent that as word got out about the lower ABC, prices rose to ,800/t into Japan.

A buyer in China confirmed this price level, as did a processor in Europe. "I am even being offered higher prices, up to ,000/t," the European buyer told Undercurrent

Atlantic cod prices are also rising. Earlier this month, according to sources on the selling and buying side, deals for 1-2.5 kilogram Atlantic cod H&G have been done at ,850-,900/t.

Quoted from Undercurrentnews.