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History of Alaska pollock fishery

Pollock fishery history

 Pollock fishery in the Sea of Okhotsk originated from 1962. It developed rapidly and in ten years amount of annual pollock catch exceeded one million tons. The key fishery area located in the waters near western coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, where pollock fishery was actively developed both by Russian and Japanese fishermen. Maximum pollock catch near of 1.3 million tons was reached in the period 1974-1975s. In 1977 Japanese fishery was terminated due to establishment of 200 mile exclusive economic zones and amounts of pollock catch began to decrease.

Since 1984 the pollock fishery actively grew in the north-western area of the Sea of Okhotsk, and since 1991 foreign vessels started to catch in the Central enclave (outside 200 miles from the exclusive economic zone). At that time, trawlers from Poland, China, Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia harvested in the Central enclave. In the middle of 1990-s, annual pollock landings in the north-western area of the Sea of Okhotsk reached 2 million tons.  In 1995 with the conclusion of bilateral agreements between Russia and the foreign countries harvesting Pollock in the Central enclave, any foreign fishery was stopped in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Generally, amount of pollock catch in the Sea of Okhotsk increased up to 1.6-1.7 million tons per year in 1980s-1990s, and historical catch of 2 million tons was registered in 1996. Thereafter, catches of pollock began to decrease, and by 2002 it reached the level at approximately 500 thousand tons. 

 Alaska Pollock catches in the Sea of Okhotsk in 1962-2011, thousands MT

 The Russian specialized pollock fishery in the Bering Sea originated from the beginning of 1970s. Pollock was generally caught in Karaginsky Bay and Olyutorsky Bay, and in 1977, after 200 miles exclusive economic zones establishment, the fishery extended within the whole shelf of the Bering Sea from Ozernoy Gulf to the US economic zone border. Pollock catch peak was registered in 1988, when Russian and US total catches of pollock exceeded 4 million tons, and one-third of that amount was taken in the USSR waters.

 In 1993, in compliance with the International Convention on pollock stock preservation in the Bering Sea, moratorium on pollock fishery was imposed in the central area of the Bering Sea, which is effective to the present day. Total catches in the Bering Sea settled at the amount of 1.5-2.0 million tons per year.

 High catches of pollock were registered from 1976 to 1994 in the western shelf of the Bering Sea (Russian zone). During that period approximate annual pollock catch amounted to 273 thousand tons while maximum annual catch reached 549 thousand tons. After that, in 1990-s Pollock catches in the Bering Sea started to decrease due to decline of fish stock both in the Russian and US waters.

 Nowadays, the Navarinsky fishing area, as before, is the second harvest area Alaska pollock in the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone. In the period from 1985 to 1992, pollock catch in the Navarinsky area varied from 178 to 852 thousand tons.

Alaska Pollock catches in the Bering Sea (Russian and US zones) in 1970-2011,   thousands MT

  In 1970s and in the first half of 1980s, at the Russian fishery Alaska pollock was generally captured by medium-tonnage trawlers (RS-300 type) using bottom trawls and by large trawlers. In 1990s the fleet was gradually replaced by modern heavy-tonnage trawlers such as large freezing and processing trawlers (BATM), medium-tonnage trawlers of STR-530 type.