As Board of Fish testimony continues in Sitka this week, the focus shifts to new rules for rockfish.
The tasty bottom fish have received dramatically more fishing pressure in the past decade as tighter limits on charter halibut and salmon have sent fishermen looking for new options.
Rockfish are a popular option but are especially vulnerable to overfishing.
Beyond tighter limits (see graphic), the board will hear department recommendations to require use of deep water release devices on all charter and perhaps all fishing vessels.
Non pelagic rockfish are especially vulnerable to fatal damage from the pressure changes of being hauled from deep water rapidly.
But biologists say as much as 90 percent of the fish will survive if quickly returned to deep water via a weighted device that carrries the fish deep and releases it there.
In the past the only answer was to keep every Rockfish and then quit fishing as soon as a limit was caught.
Expect deep water release to become the standard for most Alaska anglers fishing for Rockfish.
The board will also consider much tighter restrictions on king salmon fishing through Southeast Alaska again the year, as forecast king returns continue to plummet.
The spring king fishery was shut down entirely in 2017 and it’s almost a sure thing it will be again in 2018.
The meetings are live streamed daily online at the Board website.