The Alaska pacific cod jig fishery is one of Alaska’s least mentioned fisheries. The fishery is an open fishery meaning you do not need a limited entry permit. I choose to talk about this fishery this week because it is a fishery I am just starting to participate in. The catch method for the jig fishery uses mechanical jigging machines that lower a mainline into the water just above the ocean floor holding 10-15 baited hooks and jigs the lures up and down. A vessel is allowed to carry up to 5 machines. The great thing about this fishery is it is inexpensive to start out commercial fishing in. Each machine costs roughly $2000.00 all set up which is relatively inexpensive in the fishing world. One fisherman I met out of Kodiak was explaining to me that its like predator control near Kodiak. The pacific cod eat the juvenile halibut and crab. At only .40 cents a pound you need to catch a lot to make a living but its a great way to start out. According to ADFG the 2012 limit for pacific cod jigging was 7.84 million pounds. The manufactures of the machines claim they reduce by catch of other fish and sea birds but I haven’t found any studies that support this. On a personal level though I’ve caught a few rockfish and one halibut, other than that just cod.
“The jig fishery, though relatively small, is a key fishery in the GOA, providing entry-level opportunity into area fisheries and contributes to a diversified fishing portfolio for combination fishing vessels throughout GOA coastal Alaskan communities. The Council has also exempted jig gear from the License Limitation Program (LLP) licensing requirements in the Western and Central GOA (Amendment 86, effective April 21, 2011) to potentially increase opportunities for jig vessels. ” (NOAA 2012)
There is not much information out there about this fishery besides regulations and statistics but a great way to learn more is to contact the Alaska Jig Association at firstname.lastname@example.org. When I first heard of this fishery it was through a man I met at the boat harbor and he showed me how to set up my boat and introduced me to the association. Theres a lot of great people there that can help you learn more and how to get started.
Here is an attached link to a video of how the machines work.