Sustainable management – the Alaska pollock fishery

There are many stocks of Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) in the Pacific, five of which are managed in accordance with the US Groundfish Fishery Management Plans (FMPs). These plans contain expert groups’ recommendations on the precise catch volumes that are sustainable for specific species, and are intended to ensure that fishing activity takes place in accordance with the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) principle. On the average, stocks have now already reached almost 80 per cent of the level required for harvesting at MSY. A moderate level of fishing activity takes place, which means that the quantities of fish being withdrawn from the sea are relatively small, and this level may even be less than is strictly necessary. Nonetheless, fishermen are currently still able to harvest approximately 1.1 million tonnes annually, mainly in the Bering Sea and around the Aleutian Islands. The fishermen use nets that are trawled through the water, not dragged along the sea floor. This does much to conserve bottom-dwelling species. Careful selection of nets with appropriate mesh sizes and other technical measures will also help to substantially reduce bycatch.