2018 Assessment of the Pacific Cod Stock in the Eastern Bering Sea
Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) is a transoceanic species, ranging from Santa Monica Bay, California, northward along the North American coast; across the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea north to Norton Sound; and southward along the Asian coast from the Gulf of Anadyr to the northern Yellow Sea; and occurring at depths from shoreline to 500 m (Ketchen 1961, Bakkala et al. 1984). The southern limit of the species’ distribution is about 34° N latitude, with a northern limit of about 65° N latitude (Lauth 2011). Pacific cod is distributed widely over the eastern Bering Sea (EBS) as well as in the Aleutian Islands (AI) area. Tagging studies (e.g., Shimada and Kimura 1994) have demonstrated significant migration both within and between the EBS, AI, and Gulf of Alaska (GOA). However, recent research indicates the existence of discrete stocks in the EBS and AI (Canino et al. 2005, Cunningham et al. 2009, Canino et al. 2010, Spies 2012). Research conducted in 2018 indicates that the genetic samples from the NBS survey in 2017 are very similar to those from the EBS survey area, and quite distinct from samples collected in the Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska (Spies et al., in prep.).
Although the resource in the combined EBS and AI (BSAI) region had been managed as a single unit from 1977 through 2013, separate harvest specifications have been set for the two areas since the 2014 season.
Pacific cod are not known to exhibit any special life history characteristics that would require it to be assessed or managed differently from other groundfish stocks in the BSAI.