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News Line: Alaska pollock quota cut 18.5 percent

Greenpeace ad campaign alleges overfishing

Alaska's pollock quota was slashed for the second
    consecutive year. - Photo by Steven Hedlund
- James Wright
January 01, 2009

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council in December cut the 2009 Alaska pollock quota for the second consecutive year. The council's 11 members unanimously voted for an 18.5 percent cut to a total of 815,000 metric tons (see Top Species, p. 22).

The reduction, which came one year after a 28 percent cut, was expected and supported by government scientists who say the stock is healthy. But environmental groups contend fishing has depleted the resource, leaving the marine ecosystem and fishing communities in harm's way.

Before the council's decision, Greenpeace aired TV ads in Alaska and Seattle calling for an end to overfishing of Alaska pollock. The spot featured a fisherman dressed in yellow slickers carrying a sign that reads, "Unemployed. They over-fished pollock."

Phil Kline, senior oceans campaigner for Greenpeace and a commercial fisherman of 29 years, said the quota should have been cut by an additional 50 percent.

"Now is the time to back off the fishery," he says. "It's about protecting not just pollock but the function of the ecosystem and the people who depend on it."

Kline adds the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands pollock fisheries do not deserve to be certified as sustainable and well managed by the Marine Stewardship Council of London; those fisheries were certified in 2005.

"Commercial seafood buyers and consumers around the world who rely on MSC to provide assurance that they are sourcing sustainably caught seafood should be confident that the Alaska pollock fishery continues to be certified to the MSC's widely accepted and rigorous scientific standard," the MSC says.

Alaska pollock ranked No. 4 on the National Fisheries Institute's Top 10 list of the most popular seafood species consumed in the United States in 2007 at 1.73 pounds per capita. - James Wright


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