In Southeast Alaska the state of Alaska manages a limited-entry sablefish fishery in the inside waters of Chatham Strait, with 78 permit holders permitted to fish the area. The fishery opens August 15 and closes November 15. On September 16, 2014, one month after the Chatham Strait black cod fishery opened, SEASWAP tagged two sperm whales that had been depredating longline fishing gear in southern Chatham Strait, in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. They were identified as GOA-086 and GOA-091. There were 3 whales photo-identified in total during tagging (GOA-023, GOA-086, and GOA-091) and two were the same individuals that had been previously tagged offshore in 2010 and traveled into Chatham in that year as well (GOA-023 and GOA-091). SEASWAP set up a reporting system for fishermen to be alerted to the locations of tagged whales in Chatham Strait in 2014. Tag locations were updated daily on the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) website, and were provided to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) as well as the Petersburg Vessel Owner’s Association (PVOA) daily. In addition, fishermen were provided with a contact number for more frequent updates of whale locations. While one tag stopped transmitting a week after deployment (SWsat27, GOA-091), the second tag has been consistently steady (SWsat26, GOA-086). The whale stayed in Chatham Strait through December, 2014, travelling up into Lynn Canal during November and December. On December 28, 2014 the tagged whale exited Chatham Strait moving south, and began moving south along the continental shelf edge. The tag continued to transmit until February 27, 2015, when the whale was off the coast of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, Mexico.


GOA-086 on 27Feb2015