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Alaska's pollock fishery season officially under way

Margaret BaumanThe Cordova Times

Groundfish fisheries for the pollock A season got under way on Jan. 20 with a quota of about 1.258 million metric tons, up slightly from a year ago, with no announced base prices on the multi-million dollar fishery.

Frank Kelty, resource analyst for the city of Unalaska, estimated on Jan. 22 that the municipality would reap about $5.5 million overall for the A and B seasons of the pollock fishery.

Combined local and state fish tax revenues make up about 20 percent of the city of Unalaska's budget, with pollock taxes comprising about 45 -50 percent of that total. Other municipal revenue sources include sales, real and property taxes.

Given that the quota is slightly higher this year, plus the roll-over of pollock quota from Adak into other Bering Sea fisheries because of Steller sea lion restrictions, if the ex-vessel value of the pollock goes down a little, revenues will still look close to what they were a year ago, Kelty predicted.

The value of the pollock A season (about 40 percent of the quota) is about $165 million, which the value of B season pollock fishery, about 60 percent of the quota, is lower because there is no roe involved.

Demand for pollock ranges from pollock fillets for domestic and European markets to surimi for purchasers in domestic, European, Japanese and other Asian markets.

Weatherwise, the pollock A season got off to a good start, with relatively mild conditions. Temperatures were hovering in the 30s, with light winds and a strong chance of rain by week's end.

This article originally appeared in The Cordova Times and is reprinted here with permission.