PWS weathervane scallop fishery remains closed

ADF&G surveys show abundance continues to decline

Commercial fisheries for weathervane scallop open on July 1 in Yakutat, Kodiak, the Alaska Peninsula, Dutch Harbor and Bristol Bay, while the Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet areas are closed for the 2020-21 season.

The last weathervane scallop opener in Prince William Sound was in 2018, in the West Kayak subsection, with a guideline harvest level of 6,300 pounds. During that fishery 19 Tanner crab were caught as bycatch, compared to 180 Tanner crab in the 2017/18 fishery. That subsection was closed for the 2019-20 season. The East Kayak section has been closed since 2012.

ADF&G surveys conducted in the East Kayak subsection in 2018 showed the area at its lowest level in the history of the survey and the West Kayak subsection survey in 2019 showed that subsection had declined significantly since the last survey in 2016.

Cook Inlet areas were also closed for weathervane scallop fisheries in 2018 and 2019.

Guideline harvest levels laid out by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game allow for shucked meat harvests of 145,000 pounds in Yakutat, 105,000 pounds in Kodiak waters, 15,000 pounds in the Alaska Peninsula, 7,500 pounds in Bristol Bay and 5,000 pounds in Dutch Harbor.

Bycatch limits in the waters of Bristol Bay-Bering Sea are 65,000 Tanner crab and 500 king crab, ADF&G biologists said.

Bycatch limits on Tanner crab in Kodiak fisheries include 20,000 Tanner crab and 25 king crab in the Shelikof District; 17,500 Tanner crab and 25 king crab in the Southwest District; and 9,000 Tanner crab and 25 king crab in the Northeast and Southeast districts.

For the Alaska Peninsula, a total of 7,500 Tanner crab and 50 king crab are allowed as bycatch, while in the Bering Sea waters off Dutch Harbor the crab bycatch limit is 5,000 Tanner crab and 10 king crab.

State fisheries biologists said they will assess in-season fishery performance as measured by catch per unit effort and monitor crab bycatch. Poor fishery performance or excessive crab bycatch may result in area, or partial area, closures prior to achieving the full guideline harvest level, they said.

Area specific scallop fishery, survey, and stock status information is presented in the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report for the Scallop Fishery of the Coast of Alaska (April 2020) published by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) which may be found at npfmc.org/wp-content/PDFdocuments/resources/SAFE/ScallopSAFE/ScallopSAFE2020.pdf.