Pollock 'A' Season Starts Amid Federal Shutdown

Jan 21, 2019

Processors inspect pollock at UniSea's Unalaska plant.
Credit Sarah Hansen/KUCB

Pollock "A" season began Sunday at noon.

This year the total allowable catch is 1.397 million metric tons up from last year’s 1.364 million metric tons.

The partial federal government shutdown has caused some hiccups for the fishery, but it still started as scheduled Sunday.

Mayor Frank Kelty said Juneau has two regular fish managers on the job, but local National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) offices like Unalaska's are closed.

"How are two people going to be able to track all the fixed gear stuff that started Jan. 1 and all the trawl sectors starting January 20?" Kelty said. "I'm a little concerned how they're going to manage and track all that information and what information is going to be available to the public because they're going to be so busy."

The NMFS did not respond to requests for comment by air deadline.

UniSea CEO Tom Enlow said one outstanding issue for the pollock fishery is observer debriefings.

Enlow said regulations require observers returning from trips participate in a debriefing before an observer can go out to sea. If the shutdown continues, Enlow said "this could be a problem for some vessels and at-sea participants."

Under regulation fisherman have until June 10 at noon to catch their quota. At that point, the fishery will close and pollock "B" season will begin.