Officials Chart Course to Disaster for Billion-Dollar Fishery

Responding to an announcement from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on the 2010 catch limit of 813,000 million metric tons for the pollock fishery today, George Pletnikoff, Greenpeace senior oceans campaigner in Anchorage, offered the following statement:

"If the pollock fishery is a model of anything, it's a model of unsustainability. Instead of responding to government reports that the pollock population has sunk to an all-time low this year, the Council is charting a course to destruction for the very ecosystems that have sustained whales, seals and entire communities for generations.

"Of the stocks that are managed, two are already closed to fishing and the Gulf of Alaska stock is at record low levels. The eastern Bering sea stock is the only one still capable of supporting a major commercial fishery and action is urgently need to avoid its collapse. Unless this system of fisheries oversight is reformed, the industrial trawlers are going to fish until they take the very last fish from the sea. "

Background: The Alaska pollock is the white fish used in markets worldwide, from everyday fish fingers to fish-fillet sandwiches, and from processed seafood sold as crabmeat to caviar- like delicacies. It is a billion-dollar industry.

This year, NMFS conducted two types of surveys to estimate the health of the pollock population: a bottom trawl survey and an echointegration survey. The bottom trawl survey abundance estimate was the lowest on record, and the biomass estimate was down 23 percent from last year. The echo integration survey results, which better reflect the number of younger fish, also revealed a decline in biomass of eight percent to .916 million metric tons, down from .997 million metric tons the previous year. 

Greenpeace is calling for three crucial actions for Bering Sea pollock management, as follows: (1) substantial reductions in the Total Allowable Catch; (2) suspension of the roe fishery; and (3) establishment of marine reserves.  These measures will help reverse the decline of Bering Sea pollock stocks, reduce bycatch, and reduce impacts on marine mammals. 

Rethinking Sustainability, an in-depth critique of the pollock fishery, is available online at:

www.greenpeaceusa.org/rethinking

Greenpeace's Coral Data for Bering Sea Canyons is available at:

http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press-center/reports4/new-coral-data-for-bering-sea

VVPR info: Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer, Greenpeace, (202) 319- 2493 direct; (202) 680-3798 cell; George Pletnikoff, (907) 306-4155 cell Photos are available at: http://comms.greenpeaceusa.org/20091212_Pollock/ Photo desk contact: Bob Meyers, Senior Photo Editor, (202) 319-2453; bob.meyers@greenpeace

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