Pollock ‘A’ season starts amid federal shutdown

Workers inspect pollock offloaded at at a processing plant on Unalaska, in the Aleutian Islands. (Photo by 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.

Unalaska 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 KUCB’s 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.

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Zoe Sobel is a reporter with Alaska's Energy Desk based in Unalaska. As a high schooler in Portland, Maine, Zoë Sobel got her first taste of public radio at NPR’s easternmost station. From there, she moved to Boston where she studied at Wellesley College and worked at WBUR, covering sports for Only A Game and the trial of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

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