Certifier : 
MRAG Americas, Inc.
Certified status : 
Certified
Certified since : 
20 May 2010
Certificate expires : 
29 Oct 2020

About

After World War Two, the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea was fished intensively for various bottom fish species by the Japanese and others. In the 1950s and 1960s, large-scale trawling by foreign fishing vessels occurred throughout the region targeting mainly Pacific Ocean perch, flounders and Pacific cod. Pacific Ocean perch and yellowfin sole stocks were apparently overfished, resulting in a collapse of some stocks that are currently being or have been rebuilt.

The certified flatfish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska target five species: flathead sole, arrowtooth flounder, rex sole, northern rock sole and southern rock sole.

They include both “catcher boats”, of 60-90 feet (~20-30m) that deliver fresh fish to processors on shore, and larger “catcher-processors” of 110-270 (~35-80m) that head, gut and freeze the fish on board. 

As flatfish are bottom dwellers, the boats use bottom trawling. New gear has been introduced to minimize impact on the seabed, and certain sensitive habitats are avoided.

There are strict quotas in place for the various flatfish species the fishery targets as well as bycatch species such as crab and halibut. The fishery has also made improvements such as halibut excluder devices to reduce bycatch.

Arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias) image © Scandinavian Fishing Year Book