Refining Management for Prince William Sound Sablefish

Refining Management for Prince William Sound Sablefish

William R. Bechtol and Charlie Trowbridge

Refining Management for Prince William Sound SablefishThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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Sablefish is one of the most economically important resources in waters of the Gulf of Alaska. Prior to 1984, annual sablefish harvests from waters of state jurisdiction in Prince William Sound (PWS), Alaska, were less than 10 metric tons (t). As market demand increased, this fishery developed with a 12-month season but few management guidelines. More restrictive management measures were implemented as competition within the state-managed fishery increased due to improved product value and access limitation in adjacent federal waters. Initial measures included development of a harvest guideline based on a yield-per-recruit model using production data extrapolated from sablefish fisheries in Southeast Alaska. Fishery management continued to develop through state access limitation and into a quota share system wherein permit holders are allocated shares of the harvest guideline. Shares are equal within each of four vessel size classes, but differ among size classes. Due to the lack of stock assessment data, these management changes have been used as fishing effort controls to achieve a static annual harvest level. Recently, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game implemented a fishery-independent survey as an index to monitor changes in the PWS sablefish population. Future efforts will explore the utility of the survey to amend the harvest guideline. The development of the PWS sablefish fishery provides a case study of the evolution of data-limited management options for the harvest of a common property resource by a local, shore-based fleet.

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