January 20, 2022

What "A" Season Means to Wild Alaska Pollock Industry Leaders as Fleet Heads Out to Sea


The new year also means the start of fishing for the Wild Alaska Pollock industry as they head out today, January 20th, for their “A” Season.

But what does that mean, exactly? Well, the Alaska Pollock fishing year was broken up into two seasons, the “A” and the “B” season to limit the amount of fishing during that time of year when the fish are spawning to ensure adequate reproduction.

The start date to the “A” season is January 20 and it concludes on April 30, although fishing is usually completed well before that date. The “B” season starts on June 10 and concludes October 31. The reason for the gap between the two seasons is to allow the fish to recover from the spawning season and feed and put on flesh weight—all in the name of conserving this precious natural resource and ensuring its long-term viability and sustainability; something the industry is incredibly committed to.

Speaking of sustainability, fishing efficiency, also known as Catch Per Unit of Effort (CPUE) during the “A” season, when Wild Alaska Pollock are highly concentrated (they’re a “schooling fish”) while spawning, is among the highest in the world. It is not unusual for a fishing vessel to fill its net with 80 tons of fish in a matter of minutes—meaning that vessel is using less of every input to harvest the fish—a big factor in Wild Alaska Pollock’s incredibly low footprint and a big reason why it’s one of the most sustainable proteins on the planet. Bar none.

A season is also when the fishery harvests its roe and processes a lot of delicious surimi seafood. Toward the end of the prior calendar year, Wild Alaska Pollock migrate from their feeding grounds to the north to an area near Dutch Harbor and Akutan, Alaska where the shore-based processors are located, making trip times for vessels delivering to those processors very short and ensuring high quality roe, fillets and surimi.

But beyond those fun-facts, Wild Alaska Pollock means a whole lot to all connected to the fishery—especially the fishermen. Here are just a few thoughts on what the start of A season means to some of our industry leaders.

 

“The Pollock A Season is always the most exciting time of the year for the UniSea family. It represents a fresh start and an opportunity for our Alaskan Team to execute the plan to produce the highest quality pollock products possible, resulting in a feeling of pride and satisfaction as we know that the eventual consumer will be treated to the most sustainable and environmentally friendly protein in the world.”

- Tom Enlow, UniSea

 

“For me, A season is where things start again, where the slate is clean, and where the engines of the pollock business begin to roar anew. It’s also when you get the early feel for what the resource and markets will look like for the year ahead and when roe value adds to the till.”

- John Woodruff, OBI Seafoods

 

“Our catcher and processing crews are looking forward to getting back on the water and getting to work. This year a smaller quota and Covid creates challenges. In the seafood industry we take these challenges on and continue to overcome like we always have.”

- Mark Franklin, Golden Alaska

 

“To me the A-season always signifies a new beginning. New Year is not just about celebrations and resolutions; it is more than what meets the eye. Turning the calendar also symbolizes the beginning of an exciting new fishing year. We never quite know what to expect of mother nature, it is always with excitement and anticipation we send our vessels and crews north to fish the last frontier once again. I know our fishermen and women can’t wait to get back out and do what they do best. We can’t wait to engage with our customers worldwide and get started with delivering the highest quality, sustainable Wild Alaska Pollock in the world. I, as well as others have so much to be proud of being a part of this amazing and dynamic industry.”

- Rasmus Soerensen, American Seafoods

 

“A season for me represents hope: hope for a safe and healthy harvest, hope for new opportunities to put this delicious and nutritious fish in front of more consumers as new exciting menu items or new product innovations, and hope that our messages connect even more consumers to the most perfect whitefish in the world: Wild Alaska Pollock.”

- Craig Morris, Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, GAPP


So here’s to a great start of “A” season—good luck and godspeed to the fishermen and all the crew headed out today!

 

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