Randy Rice, technical director with ASMI, made the announcement on Jan 20, saying that the state’s flatfish industry had worked tirelessly for years to reduce sea floor contact and improve habitat conservation.
Fleet fishing for Alaska flatfish pioneered the development of the innovative Bering Sea flatfish trawl gear, which elevates gear off the sea floor, reducing contact by 90 percent, Rice said. “We couldn’t be more pleased that their efforts of continuous improvement have now earned them RFM certification,” he said.
Jason Anderson, manager of the Seattle-based Alaska Seafood Cooperative, said that the Alaska flatfish fishery has worked hard to responsibly harvest its catch in a way that is collaborative and protects the ecosystem. “We are very proud to join the ranks of the other RFM certified fisheries from Alaska,” he said.
On its website, www.alaskaseafoodcooperative.org, the coop speaks to its participation in the federal catch share program that allocates fixed amounts of Pacific cod, yellowfin sole, rock sole, Pacific ocean perch and Atka mackerel to the coop.
“In return the fleet agreed to increase the amount of fish we retain, to reduce bycatch and to promote sustainable fishing practices,” the coop said. “By ending the race for fish and working cooperatively, the fleet now harvests more fish with fewer tows by targeting areas of high abundance. Our retention rates have increased, our bycatch rates have fallen, and the increased flow of product into the market has been good for everybody.”
The flatfish fishery is conducted in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska. The RFM certified Alaska flatfish catch is comprised of yellowfin sole, northern rock sole, southern rock sole, flathead sole, rex sole, Kamchatka flounder, arrowtooth flounder, Alaska plaice and Greenland turbot.