2013 Assessment of the Atka Mackerel Stock in the Bering Sea in the Aleutian Islands

April 22, 2013

Atka mackerel are a substrate-spawning fish with male parental care. Single or multiple clumps of adhesive eggs are laid on rocky substrates in individual male territories within nesting colonies where males brood eggs for a protracted period. Nesting colonies are widespread across the continental shelf of the Aleutian Islands and western GOA down to bottom depths of 144 m (Lauth et al. 2007b). Historical data from ichthyoplankton tows done on the outer shelf and slope off Kodiak Island in the 1970’s and 1980’s (Kendall and Dunn 1985) suggest that nesting colonies may have existed at one time in the central Gulf of Alaska. Possible factors limiting the upper and lower depth limit of Atka mackerel nesting habitat include insufficient light penetration and the deleterious effects of unsuitable water temperatures, wave surge, or high densities of kelp and green sea urchins (Gorbunova 1962, Lauth et al. 2007b, Zolotov 1993).