O’Hara Corporation’s Commitment to Sustainability
O’Hara Corporation is deeply committed to the sustainability of the Alaskan flatfish fishery. Working with our competitors, the government and the scientific community, we are able to continue our pursuit of a more responsible fishery. As one of the founding companies of the Groundfish Forum and Alaskan Seafood Co-op, we are actively involved in the development of new fishing techniques and gear that allows us to reduce naturally occurring bycatch, reduce our impact on the seafloor and increase retention.
O’Hara Corporation is responsible for its own target catch and bycatch allocations. If our total allocation is reached for any species our vessels must stop fishing. This provides a strong incentive for our Captains to keep bycatch low and fish in a responsible manner.
Two federal fisheries observers work onboard each of our vessels throughout the fishing season. They collect scientific information that is used to monitor catch levels and protect fisheries resources.
In 2010, we obtained MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certification for many of the fisheries in which we participate. Flathead sole, yellowfin sole, northern rock sole, arrowtooth flounder, kamchatka flounder and Alaska plaice are all MSC certified. For more information, see the MSC website on the Alaskan Flatfish fishery.
The implementation of Amendment-80 effectively ended the “race for fish,” increased our retention (95% of fish caught, are kept) and significantly reduced the amount of naturally occurring bycatch. This act created a catch-share program that allocates a quota to each vessel for the year. Quotas may be shared or sold but the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) from the Bering Sea must not be exceeded.
Fish stocks are maintained by setting the TAC at or below the Allowable Biological Catch (ABC), or amount of fish that could be harvested to continue a sustainable fishery.
In cooperation with the Alaskan Seafood Co-op and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), O’Hara Corporation implemented the latest in towing technology reducing the impact on the seafloor.
- Raised Trawl Sweeps: Spaced ninety feet apart, lightweight round disks raise the trawl sweeps off the seafloor greatly reducing the amount of gear that touches the bottom by 90%.
- Mid-Water Trawl Doors: Changing the outdated practice of letting the doors drag through the mud, our new doors ride in the mid-water reducing bottom contact.