Fishery Management:

Market Impacts of the American Fisheries Act on the Production of Pollock Fillets

RCED-99-196: Published: Jun 30, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1999.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the American Fisheries Act, focusing on whether the act had negatively affected the market for pollock fillets, including any reduction in their supply.

GAO noted that: (1) for the January to late March 1999 fishing season, the U.S. production of Bering Sea pollock fillets increased 13 percent, from 33.9 million pounds during the comparable 1998-fishing season to 38.2 million pounds in 1999; (2) the increase is attributable to three main factors; (3) demand for the fillets increased as worldwide groundfish supplies and Russian production of pollock fillets declined; (4) reflecting this increased demand, pollock fillet prices increased by as much as 74 percent in the past year, providing an incentive to produce more fillets; (5) the formation of a fishing cooperative, provided for in the act, guaranteed the cooperative's members a certain amount of fish and effectively ended their race for fish; (6) with the end of the race for fish, cooperative members were able to shift production from surimi, which is faster to produce, to the slower but more profitable production of fillets; (7) although demand for pollock fillets continues to be high, several other factors, such as where pollock fishing will be allowed in the two remaining 1999 pollock fishing seasons, could affect future production and prices; and (8) despite a recent decline in pollock, the fishery is considered to be healthy and in no immediate danger of being overfished.

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