For the first time, the federal government has closed the cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska for the 2020 season. The reason: Low stock.
The Blob, a marine heatwave that hit the Gulf in 2014 is taking the blunt of the blame. Ocean temperatures rose 4-5 degrees, with some areas of the Gulf rising by 7 degrees. The increase in water temperature killed off young cod.
Cod usually return to the fishery after three years or more. They can live up to 14 years, and tend to reach a weight of 12 pounds.
After the heatwave, cod numbers crashed from 113,830 metric tons in 2014 to 46,080 in 2017. The numbers have been dropping ever since.
The closing will have a huge effect on the winter economies of places like Homer and Kodiak. Prior to The Blob, the fishery was a $50 million industry for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
Unfortunately, the blob’s sequel looks to be heading back to Alaskan waters. As of September 2019, the water temp of Blob 2 was only two degrees shy of the original.