Last updated on 2 November 2016

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Gadus chalcogrammus

SPECIES NAME(s)

Alaska pollock, Walleye pollock, pollock, Минтай.

COMMON NAMES

Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BS/AI) pollock

A proportion of the total catch taken from this stock (midwater trawl) has been allocated to an MSC certification unit that lumps Eastern Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands stocks together. This fishery was recertified by the Marine Stewardship Council system in December 2010. Click here to link to the MSC fishery page and to learn more about the MSC fishery certification unit.


ANALYSIS

Strengths

The Aleutian Islands pollock fishery is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Since 1999 pollock harvests in the Aleutian Islands area have been far below catch limits, mainly due to regulations that restrict trawling to prevent potential depletion of prey for endangered Steller sea lions. Bycatch of protected species exists (e.g., chinook salmon), but populations are not being threatened by the fishery; species are identified, quantified and monitored. The harvest strategy uses multiple precautionary measures, and stock assessments use many best practices. A Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Aleutian region aims to preserve its unique ecological features.

Weaknesses

Pollock stock structure in the Aleutians is not well understood, and seasonal fluctuation in pollock concentrations elevates the risk of error in setting catch limits. Ecosystem and forage issues raised by some groups need to be more fully addressed. Terminal year estimates of biomass have generally been lower than predicted

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

10

Managers Compliance:

10

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

7.6

Future Health:

10


RECOMMENDATIONS

RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN
  • Monitor the performance of the fishery and its management to ensure the fishery continues to be eligible for condition-free MSC re-certification.

FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

  • Alaska Pollock - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands:

    MSC Recertified

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Aleutian Islands Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) United States Midwater trawls

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 7 July 2014

Strengths

The Aleutian Islands pollock fishery is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Since 1999 pollock harvests in the Aleutian Islands area have been far below catch limits, mainly due to regulations that restrict trawling to prevent potential depletion of prey for endangered Steller sea lions. Bycatch of protected species exists (e.g., chinook salmon), but populations are not being threatened by the fishery; species are identified, quantified and monitored. The harvest strategy uses multiple precautionary measures, and stock assessments use many best practices. A Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Aleutian region aims to preserve its unique ecological features.

Weaknesses

Pollock stock structure in the Aleutians is not well understood, and seasonal fluctuation in pollock concentrations elevates the risk of error in setting catch limits. Ecosystem and forage issues raised by some groups need to be more fully addressed. Terminal year estimates of biomass have generally been lower than predicted

RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 30 October 2018

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • Monitor the performance of the fishery and its management to ensure the fishery continues to be eligible for condition-free MSC re-certification.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 11 February 2014

Assessment models and methods used in this fishery include many best practices. Current assessment model, developed within the NOAA fisheries stock assessment Toolbox model AMAK, is a catch-at-age model with the standard Baranov catch equation. Model assumes a single fishery (including both targeted catch and bycatch from other fisheries) and a single summer bottom trawl survey index of abundance. Catch at age data is from obtained both the survey and the fishery.
The latest assessment (2013) includes some changes from the previous one: inclusion of updated catches and survey data; the use of generalized additive modeling to estimate year specific weight-at-age data (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

There is still considerable uncertainty in the assessment, mainly due to: 1) the unknown interaction between Aleutian stock and the Eastern Bering Sea stock; 2) uncertainties in the recent bottom trawl surveys; ageing errors; among others (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 11 February 2014

Scientific advice for this fishery incorporates multiple precautionary measures that are designed to ensure that the resource is maintained well above critical thresholds. Acceptable biological catch (ABC) levels are advised by the assessment authors based on SSB estimates for the projected year and involving harvest control rules with six tiers, related with degree of information availability (NPFMC, 2014). According to the latest assessment, the maximum permissible ABC for 2014, based on the adjusted F40% of 0.26, is 35,048 t (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

Reference Points

Last updated on 11 Feb 2014

Stock assessment authors calculated female spawning biomass reference points as follows in 2013 (Barbeaux et al., 2013):

Reference PointsEstimate (tonnes)
B100%240,016
B40%96,006
B35%84,006

Available data places the stock in tier 3b, with allowable biological catch (ABC) determined via F40% and the overfishing level (OFL) via F35%. F40% (= max FABC) in 2013 was calculated as 0.26 and F35% (FOFL) as 0.33 (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 11 February 2014

Stock biomass remains slightly below target levels, but overall the stock appears to be doing well. Spawning stock biomass in 2013 was estimated at 77,179 t, slightly below B35%. Fishing mortality remains well below target levels (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

Trends

Last updated on 11 Feb 2014

The fishery started in 1977 and developed rapidly (Rice et al., 2010). Under high fishing pressure during the 1990s, biomass and catches both declined. From over 1,101,600 tonnes in 1984, the total stock biomass (age 2+ fish) apparently bottomed out in 2000 at 156,310 tonnes. Since the 1999-2005 closure of the directed fishery, total stock biomass has been fluctuating around 200,000 tonnes (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

Fishing mortality was high throughout the 1990s, largely supported by the 1978 year class, and peaked in 1995 at F=0.39. It has decreased to very low levels with the closure of the directed fishery and have remained so since then, at around F=0.01, as catches have also remain low (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI)
United States
Midwater trawls
Trends

Catches have been minor since 1999; in the seven years from 1999 through 2006 total harvests ranged from 824 tonnes to 1,829 tonnes (mainly taken as bycatch in other fisheries and during pollock resource surveys). During the years of significant production (1979-1999), most of the catch came from the eastern sub area (Sub area 541), where biomass apparently was greatest. The fishery was closed in 1999-2004 to avoid hypothesized impacts on prey of endangered Steller sea lions. A directed fishery reopened in 2005 with a Total Allowable Catch of 19,000 tonnes, although large areas of the region remained closed to protect Steller sea lions. Vessels failed to find commercial quantities of pollock outside the closed areas, taking less than 200 tonnes. Bycatch rates of Pacific Ocean perch also were high in areas of significant pollock concentration. 

Total catch in the fishery peaked in 1991 and declined sharply through the 1990s. The highest fishing mortality rate on record occurred in 1995, when F = 0.71 and catch/biomass = 0.20.

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 11 February 2014

The fishery is managed by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council through a Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP was implemented in 1982 and is reviewed periodically (NPFMC, 2014). Managers have historically kept the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) at or below scientists’ recommended limit, the ABC. Since 2005 a Congressional mandate has constrained the TAC to the lower of the ABC or 19,000 tonnes and has effectively capped to the TAC to this level each year since then (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

A precautionary control rule determines catch levels and ensures that the stock is unlikely to decrease below the biomass overfishing level (Rice et al., 2010). As pollock was considered a key prey of Stellar Sea lions, directed fishing to Pollock is to be closed if SSB is projected to drop to below B20% in the following year (NPFMC, 2014).

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 11 Feb 2014

Catches have been capped by regulation. Only a limited pollock fishery is expected in 2014, as has occurred since the reopening of the fishery. However there has been a recent large increase in catches due to an increase in effort.

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 7 July 2014

Fishers have shown absolute compliance with catch limits since the fishery reopened in 2005, as catches have remained at 6-13% of established TACs, and even further below ABCs. In 2011, there were no pollock catches in the directed fishery and 1,208 tonnes were harvested as bycatch in other fisheries, much below the set TAC (19,000 tonnes). Total catch in 2012 and 2013 remained well below the TAC (Barbeaux et al., 2013).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 22 July 2014

The current pollock fishery is not thought to constitute an entanglement risk to the northern fur seal Callorhinus ursinus (IUCN red list: “Vulnerable”; Gelatt and Lowry, 2008) or steller sea lions Eumetopias jubatus (IUCN red list: “Near Threatened”; Gelatt and Lowry, 2008). Pollock is also an important prey to both the depleted northern fur seals (NFS), and the western stock of Steller sea lions (SSL), which are designated as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (FWS, 2013). Considerable research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of the EBS pollock fishery on the populations of western stock of Steller sea lions and northern fur seals. In light of no scientific evidence of negative impacts of the pollock fishery on the dynamics of SSL or NFS, it has been concluded in the latest MSC assessment report that the fishery is “unlikely to create unacceptable impacts” on these species (Rice et al., 2013).

The 2010 North Pacific Groundfish Fishery Biological Opinion resulted of the determination of the consistency of the National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA actions with the Endangered Species Act. The conclusions motivated fishing restrictions to minimize the impact of the Pollock fishery (and others) on the Western population of Steller Sea Lion, claiming that the population and the critical habitat could be compromised by fishing operations. These measures were considered to be unjustified by the Center for Independent Experts (Stewart, 2012) – hired by NMFS to guarantee scientific support and robust process decision – and the State of Alaska. Upon decision of the U.S. District Court judge, management measures still in place but an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be published in two years (from late 2012). A new EIS was published in May 2014, and included a number alternative protection measures, and the respective expected environmental, social, and economic effects (NMFS, 2014). As a result, NOAA has recently proposed additional protection measures for the Western population of SSLs; these include fishery closures and catch limits in specific areas, and are aimed to mitigate any potential adverse effects of fishing on the key food resources of SSL populations (namely Pollock, Atka mackerel and Pacific cod) (NOAA, 2014b).

Other Species

Last updated on 22 July 2014

Data on bycatch species was collected during the 1990s, before catch reduced to present levels. Bycatch rates were low, with over 90% of haul weight composed of pollock, and no species accounting for more than 1% of bycatch (AFSC, 2009). Salmon sharks, sleeper sharks, arrowtooth flounder, pelagic forage fish, squid, crabs and shrimp were among species caught by the fishery. More recently, Pacific ocean perch has dominated bycatch (AFSC, 2009).

Two of the Chinook salmon stocks that migrate to Alaskan waters are classified as threatened, and caught as bycatch in this fishery. Pacific halibut, herring, salmon, steelhead trout, red king crab, snow crab and Tanner crab are also captured as bycatch. All these species are considered “prohibited species” and may generally not be retained. Further measures to control bycatch include bycatch limits (an area or fishery is closed if a bycatch limit is attained), gear modifications and season and area closures (NPFMC, 2014). According to the latest MSC surveillance report, available evidence suggests that this fishery is not a threat to protection and recovery of these stocks (Rice et al., 2013).

HABITAT

Last updated on 11 July 2011

The directed fishery operates only pelagic trawl gear so impacts on benthic habitats are expected to be minor. Although contact with hard-bottom habitats would imply damage to pelagic nets, some contact with the seafloor is thought to occur, particularly by footropes, and demersal species are recorded as bycatch. Studies of effects by comparable gear suggest that serious or irreversible harm to benthic habitats is highly unlikely to be occurring (Rice et al., 2010).

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 11 Jul 2011

Trawling is prohibited in the crab and halibut Protection Zone and around Steller sea lion rookeries and the near-shore Bristol Bay and red king crab Savings Area are closed to bottom trawling for most of the year (Rice et al., 2010).

The Aleutian Islands Coral Habitat Protection Areas, the Alaska Seamount Habitat Protection Areas and Bowers Ridge Habitat Conservation Zone were declared in 2005 to be Habitat Area of Particular Concern and measures were introduced to reduce impacts from fishing activities. The Aleutian Islands Habitat Conservation Areas further limited areas where bottom-trawling can be conducted to areas already densely fished. Pelagic trawls are not limited by these closures as long as no bottom contact occurs.

FishSource Scores

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2013 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the F at low biomass as a percentage of the F management target.

The F at low biomass is 0.00 (from management plan). The F management target is 0.330 .

The underlying F at low biomass/F management target for this index is 0.00%.

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Set TAC as a percentage of the ABC.

The Set TAC is 19.0 ('000 t). The ABC is 35.0 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TAC/ABC for this index is 54.2%.

As calculated for 2013 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Catch as a percentage of the Set TAC.

The Catch is 2.95 ('000 t). The Set TAC is 19.0 ('000 t) .

The underlying Catch/Set TAC for this index is 15.5%.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2013 data.

The score is 7.6.

This measures the SSB as a percentage of the 35%B0.

The SSB is 77.2 ('000 t). The 35%B0 is 84.0 ('000 t) .

The underlying SSB/35%B0 for this index is 91.9%.

As calculated for 2013 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the F as a percentage of the F management target.

The F is 0.0250 . The F management target is 0.330 .

The underlying F/F management target for this index is 7.58%.

To see data for biomass, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for fishing mortality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for stock status, please view this site on a desktop.

Download Source Data

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

SELECT MSC

NAME

Alaska Pollock - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

STATUS

MSC Recertified on 14 February 2005

SCORES

Principle Level Scores:

Principle Score
Principle 1 – Target Species 97.5
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 93.0
Principle 3 – Management System 98.4

Certification Type: Platinum

Sources

Credits
  1. Barbeaux, Steve, Ianelli, James and Palsson, Wayne, 2012. Assessment of the Pollock stock in the Aleutian Islands. Ch. Chapter 1A. In: North Pacific Fishery Management Council (ed.) Stock assessment and fishery evaluation report for the groundfish resources of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Region. December 2012. Anchorage. p. 157-234.http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/Docs/2012/AIpollock.pdf
  2. Barbeaux, Steve, Ianelli, James and Palsson, Wayne, 2013. Assessment of the Pollock stock in the Aleutian Islands. Ch. Chapter 1A. In: North Pacific Fishery Management Council (ed.) Stock assessment and fishery evaluation report for the groundfish resources of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Region. December 2013. Anchorage. p. 153-228.http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/Docs/2013/AIpollock.pdf
  3. Barbeaux, Steve, Ianelli, James, Gaichas, Sarah and Wilkins, Mark, 2009. Assessment of the Pollock stock in the Aleutian Islands. Ch. Chapter 1A. In: North Pacific Fishery Management Council (ed.) Stock assessment and fishery evaluation report for the groundfish resources of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Region. December 2009. Anchorage. p. 149-226.http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/refm/docs/2009/AIpollock.pdf
  4. Barbeaux, Steve, Ianelli, James, Gaichas, Sarah and Wilkins, Mark, 2010. Assessment of the Pollock stock in the Aleutian Islands. Ch. Chapter 1A. In: North Pacific Fishery Management Council (ed.) Stock assessment and fishery evaluation report for the groundfish resources of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Region. December 2010. Anchorage. p. 157-234.http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/docs/2010/AIpollock.pdf
  5. Barbeaux, Steve; Ianelli, James; Gaichas, Sarah and Wilkins, Mark, 2011. Chapter 1A: Assessment of the Pollock stock in the Aleutian Islands. In: North Pacific Fishery Management Council (ed.) STOCK ASSESSMENT AND FISHERY EVALUATION REPORT FOR THE GROUNDFISH RESOURCES OF THE BERING SEA AND ALEUTIAN ISLANDS. December 2011. Anchorage. p. 169-258.http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/docs/2011/AIpollock.pdf
  6. Fritz, L., T. Gelatt, J. Bengston, D. Demaster, 2008. Memorandum for North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Survey of adult and juvenile Steller sea lions, June-July 2008: response to the Council’s 19 December 2008 letter to Robert D. Mecum, Acting Administrator, NMFS Alaska Region.http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/protectedresources/stellers/survey/2008survey_council_memo0209.pdf
  7. Gelatt, T. and Lowry, L. (IUCN SSC Pinniped Specialist Group) 2008. Callorhinus ursinus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 14 February 2013.http://www.iucnredlist.org
  8. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 2010. Endangered Species Act – Section 7 Consultation Draft Biological Opinion.http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/stellers/esa/biop/draft/draft0810.pdf
  9. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 2014. Final Environmental Impact Statement for Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures for Groundfish Fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). May 2014. Juneau, Alaska.http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/sslpm/eis/default.htm
  10. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012. Federal Register Vol.77, No. 36, Thursday, February 23, 2012. Rules and Regulations. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Final 2012 and 2013. Harvest Specifications for Groundfish. Final Rule. 77 FR 10669. P. 10669-10690.http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/frules/77fr10669.pdf
  11. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2013. Federal Register Vol.78, No. 2, Thursday, January 3, 2013. Rules and Regulations. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Inseason Adjustment to the 2013 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pollock, Atka Mackerel, and Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts. Temporary Rule. 78 FR 270. p. 270-274.http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/frules/78fr270.pdf
  12. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2014b. Federal Register Vol.79, No. 126, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Proposed Rules. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fisheries Off Alaska. Proposed Rule. 79 FR 375486. p. 37486-37533http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/prules/79fr37486.pdf
  13. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2014. Federal Register Vol.79, No. 42, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Rules and Regulations. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2014 and 2015 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish. Final Rule. 79 FR 12108. p. 12108-12130http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/frules/79fr12108.pdf
  14. North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC). 2014. Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. North Pacific Fishery Management Council. April 2014. 144 pp.http://www.npfmc.org/wp-content/PDFdocuments/fmp/BSAI/BSAIfmp.pdf
  15. Rice, Jake, Bowen, Don, Hanna, Susan and Blyth-Skyrme, Rob, 2012. Second Annual Surveillance Report for the Bering Sea / Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pollock Fishery. Intertek Moody Marine Ltd. July 2012. 41 pp.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/certified/pacific/bsai-pollock/Reassessment-downloads-1/20120725_BSAI_SR.pdf
  16. Rice, Jake, Bowen, Don, Hanna, Susan and Blyth-Skyrme, Rob, 2013. Third Annual Surveillance Report for the Bering Sea / Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pollock Fishery. Intertek Moody Marine Ltd. July 2013. 33 pp.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/pacific/bsai-pollock/Reassessment-downloads-1/20130716_SR_BSAI_POL.pdf
  17. Rice, Jake, Bowen, Don, Hanna, Susan, Blyth-Skyrme, Rob, Knapman, Paul and Hough, Andy, 2010. Public Certification Report for the Bering Sea / Aleutian Islands Pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) Fishery. Moody Marine Ltd. December 2010. 384 pp.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/certified/pacific/bsai-pollock/Reassessment-downloads-1/14.12.2010_BSAI_Pollock_2010_Public_Certification_Report_v2.pdf
  18. US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), 2013. Endangered Species Program. US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) website. last updated: January 10, 2013.http://www.fws.gov/endangered/
  19. "North Pacific Fishery Management Council website":http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/

  20. "Stock Assessment of Aleutian Islands Region Pollock, NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center, November 2006":http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/Stocks/assessments.htm

  21. Working Draft Aleutian Islands Fishery Ecosystem Plan, NPFMC, March 8, 2007.

References

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