Current sea cucumber management practices in Alaska have provided sustainable harvests and consistent quality. Divers rotate their effort between 16 harvest areas, some of which are divided into more than 20 subâareas in an effort to maintain sustainability throughout the fishing grounds. In southeast Alaska, each fishing area is run on a three year rotation and harvested at a rate of 6 percent a year (B. Meredith pers. comm.). In any given area that is open for harvest, approximately 18% of the surveyed biomass is removed after which the area will remain closed for the next two years. The Alaskan fishery also closes down during the spawning season (Ruccio and Jackson 2002). Finally, harvest divers can only obtain permits for sea urchins or for sea cucumbers but not both (Bruckner 2006).
In Washington State, the fishery for this species is a year-round dive operation. From 1971 to 1986, the fishery was opened in all areas. However, following signs of overfishing, the Washington State Department of Fisheries implemented a rotational harvest from 1987 to 1992 (Bradbury 1994). Now, the experimental trawl fishery is closed during softâshell Dungeness crab period and in shrimp areas. For each fished area, the quota is determined using surplus production models and estimates of biomass from catch-effort data, video surveys, and dive surveys. The current management in Washington includes spatial closures, licensing of collectors and an annual quota. Seven area closures for the dive fishery have been established in the current management plan and trawling is prohibited in shrimp areas. Other regulations for trawlers include no fishing in waters less that 20m deep. Divers in Washington need to submit their logbooks every month with data on date, depth, location and amount of captures (Bruckner 2006).
In Oregon, the fishery for this species is conducted by divers. Harvest by trawl required an experimental gear permit until 2003. At present a permit is no longer required (McCrae 1994). In California, both this species and P. parvimensis are harvested. A special permit was required for sea cucumber harvest in 1992â1993. Separate permits for each gear type and a limit on the total number of permit were implemented in 1997. There are no restrictions on catch (Rogers-Bennett and Ono 2001, Schroeter et al. 2001). Bruckner (2005) adds that a maximum of 111 dive permits and 36 trawl permits were issued in 1997, and this declined to 95 divers and 24 trawl permits in 2004. There are no restrictions on catch but trawling is prohibited in some conservation areas and along the shore of most islands (Bruckner 2005).
In British Columbia (Canada), the annual fishery for this species lasts for about three weeks in October, when muscle weight is greatest and the animals have reabsorbed their internal organs (DFO 2002). The commercial fishery is a small limitedâentry (i.e. 85 licences) dive fishery that is managed by individual quota (DFO 2002). Of the 85 licences delivered in 2003 in British Columbia, 15 belonged to native peoples. Quotas are calculated by multiplying estimates of shoreline length, sea cucumber density, individual weight and harvest rate (DFO 2002). Only 25% of the coast is open to the commercial fishery. Up to an additional 25% may be used to conduct research, and the remaining 50 % is closed to harvesting until biologically-based management is possible. Abundance surveys and experimental fisheries are being conducted to estimate biomass and evaluate exploitation rate options (DFO, 2002). All landings are monitored by an independent industry-funded firm, dockside landings are only at designated ports, and licence holders pay a fee (Bruckner 2006).
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