Management of the Data-Limited Weathervane Scallop Fishery in Alaska

Management of the Data-Limited Weathervane Scallop Fishery in Alaska

Gordon H. Kruse, Jeffrey P. Barnhart, and Gregg E. Rosenkranz

Management of the Data-Limited Weathervane Scallop Fishery in AlaskaThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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Description

The weathervane scallop (Patinopecten caurinus) fishery in Alaska provides a case study of fishery resource management in a data limited situation. The fishery progressed through several developmental phases since its inception in 1967. During the early years, the fishery was virtually unregulated. Harvests declined by the mid 1970s due to localized depletion of large scallops, establishment of closed areas to protect crabs and their habitats, and loss of product markets. Improved stock conditions and favorable seafood prices led to rapid growth of the fishery and concerns for overfishing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Prior to 1993, the fishery was passively managed without a management plan. Since the mid 1990s, the fishery has been managed under state and federal fishery management plans (FMPs) that contain a suite of precautionary management measures including a limited entry program that prevents additional capitalization, conservative area-specific catch quotas to safeguard against recruitment overfishing, gear and crew size restrictions in part to prevent growth overfishing, and strict bycatch controls and area closures to minimize adverse fishing effects on large epifauna (e.g., crabs) and their habitats. A small fleet prosecutes the modern fishery; some vessels operate as a fishing cooperative to optimize harvest allocations among participants and minimize operational costs. A mandatory industry funded onboard observer program collects data for fishery management and assures regulatory compliance. A combination of state, federal, and industry funding supports a small, ongoing research program to address extant data limitations.

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