Rockfish GHL exceeded in Prince William Sound

State fisheries officials say that despite their management efforts commercial harvesters exceeded the Prince William Sound guideline harvest level (GHL) for rockfish during the 2023 season. 

Aaron Poetter, groundfish management coordinator in Juneau for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), said in a statement issued on Monday by ADF&G that in an effort to stay within the annual Prince William Sound rockfish GHL that the department reduced rockfish bycatch limits and did not open the parallel Pacific cod season for Prince William Sound. 

The amount of overfishing on rockfish in this area was not specified. 

Under the state’s rockfish management plan for Prince William Sound the annual GHL is 150,000 pounds. The plan also requires full retention of all rockfish caught when participating in a directed groundfish or halibut fishery in this management area. 

Poetter noted that ADF&G has growing concerns about the status of rockfish stocks in Prince William Sound and is seeking assistance from participants in the halibut longline fishery to set gear away from aggregates of rockfish. The department is considering pursuit of additional regulatory management measures to control rockfish bycatch. 

Voluntary measures taken to aid in the conservation of rockfish are greatly appreciated, and may have a positive effect on future opportunities, he said.