Pacific Cod: Science to Sustain a Fishery

Pacific Cod: Science to Sustain a Fishery


Fish and chips is actually mostly based
on Paciic cod, at least in our waters. My father owns three boats and
I’m a partner in one of them third-generation. Spent 30 years in the
Bering Sea for the fishing vessel Pegasus. The codfish industry has done
very very well. Pacific cod is the second most
harvested single species fishery second only to walleye pollock. I think a pretty
good average weight of them is we average like 10 to 12 pounds. They’re
really good food fish and they are fast growing and they are highly fecund, one of the most
fecund species in the world millions of eggs produced by a single female in a
year. The head on a cod you know they’re big we call them bucketheads when you
get a big one cuz their head is about the size of a bucket and they got a big old
belly. The range of distribution it’s pretty wide so they can go from Alaskan
waters or the Bering Sea all the way down to northern California but the
majority of the species actually reside in Alaskan waters. When you talk about
how important it is to this community you wouldn’t think it’d be very important
because the Pacific cod we catch in the Bering Sea up in Alaska right well you
know the fishery itself to us you know it can account for half of our year’s
income in two to two-and-a-half months span so it’s very important to us and we
bring our vessels home to Newport and we maintain them here so I’d say it’s also
very important to this community. A really well-managed stock and we see
the benefits of that and sustained high catches over many years. Oh they’re
they’re delicious I mean it’s one of my favorite fish
actually. But cod fish has that hint of fish,
fresh fish and you can almost taste the Bering Sea as you’re eating it.
As far as the amount of data there’s tons of it but in terms of the processes
of life history there are significant gaps. We fish them during the spawning
season you know when they’re all schooled up and so so we really don’t
know where you know where they grow up at. How fast fish grow how variable are
those growth rates and how do the processes by which we collect the data
reflect or not reflect those processes. Two fish that are the same age but
from different parts of the Bering Sea could differ significantly in length. Just
like three different two-year-old children could be very different heights. Imagine having to guess the age of a child based only on their height. Right now
we’re focusing on how to sample this Pacific cod and how to sample it in a
way that we know where the big fish and the old fish are distributed in the
Bering Sea. This is extremely important for the assessment and the management of
the species because the stock assessment that the national marine fishery services
conduct every year is an age specific stock assessment but what we actually
measure through the scientific survey is the size of the fish. It has a barcode
for every single number so you just put the fish on the bar, click the the
barcode for the length, and it’s stored you know electronically so you
can just download the data and it’s ready to go on the computer.
To get the age of this fish we need to extract little ear bones they have
which are called otoliths so we need to open the the skull of
the fish and take this ear bone out so otoliths work kinda like the rings
of a tree approximately every ring or every mark correspond to a year.
So the otoliths of three fish might show they are the same age but the fish
could be very different sizes. This variability becomes a problem for
management when sampling is biased or collecting one size of fish more than
the other sizes of fishes. So the more we can understand the processes of growth
from very early ages up to the ages that we see the better we’ll be able to model
those. So now it’s the time when we have actually good healthy stock to gather
the data that we need in order to preserve the good healthy status of the
species and in order to be able to monitor it in an effective way for many
years to come. There’s not a fisherman out there that wants to catch the last fish
in the Bering Sea or out here. We want it to be sustained.

local_offerevent_note August 30, 2019

account_box Gilbert Heid


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