Adopt for public review: Changes to the halibut catch sharing plan

The Council adopted the following proposed changes for public review to the 2014 Pacific halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) and annual regulations. The Council is expected to take final action on these proposals at their November meeting in Costa Mesa, California. Public comment on the proposals can be emailed to pfmc.comments@noaa.gov by October 9, 2013 for inclusion in the advance Briefing Book for November.  The proposed changes include:

Washington North Coast Subarea

  1. Revise the CSP language to more clearly describe the management closure and remove the provision for a nearshore fishery when there is not enough quota for another off-shore fishing day.
  2. Revise the days of the week that the fishery is open so that the fishery is open on Saturdays only after the first week of fishing, which maintains the status quo open days per week of Thursday and Saturday.

Columbia River Subarea (Washington and Oregon)

  1. Revise the days of the week that the season is open from Friday through Sunday to Thursday through Sunday. Changing the days of the week that the fishery is open would also require changing the early season opening date from the first Friday in May to the first Thursday in May.  The late season opening date would change from the first Friday in August to the first Thursday in August.
  2. Revise the subarea allocation such that 1,500 pounds or 10 percent of the subarea allocation, whichever is less, is set aside for a nearshore fishery in the area shoreward of either 30 or 40 fathoms with the remaining allocation divided such that 80 percent is reserved for the early season and 20 percent is reserved for the late season.
  3. Revise the bottomfish restrictions in this subarea such that lingcod retention would be allowed when halibut are onboard according to one of the following three options:
    1. Allow lingcod retention when halibut are on board on Thursdays through Sundays from the first Thursday in May until the first Thursday in August or, until 80 percent of the subarea allocation is taken whichever occurs first, in the area seaward of 30 fathoms.
    2. Allow lingcod retention when halibut are on board seven days per week in the area shoreward of 30 fathoms.
    3. Allow lingcod retention throughout the entire halibut season.

Oregon Central Coast Subarea

General

Current language in the CSP, requires the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to sponsor an annual public workshop shortly after the International Pacific Halibut Commission annual meeting to develop recommendations on the open dates for each season.  Due to the advances in technology (e.g., online surveys) and lack of participation in the public workshops, the Council proposes to modify the CSP language to provide flexibility in method by which input is solicited.

Nearshore Fishery

  1. Revise the open days of the week and the opening date
    1. Status Quo (no action):  open May 1, three days per week, Thursday-Saturday until the earlier of quota attainment or October 31
    2. Open June 1, seven days per week until the earlier of quota attainment or October 31
    3. Open after the spring all-depth season concludes, seven days per week until the earlier of quota attainment or October 31

Spring and Summer All-Depth Seasons

  1. Status quo (no action):  if the Area 2A TAC is < 700,000 pounds the spring (only) all-depth season begins on the second Thursday in May
  2. If the Area 2A TAC is < 700,000 pounds the spring (only) all-depth season begins on the first Thursday in June

South of Humbug Mountain (Oregon and California)

The Council recommends adding for public review a new subarea management line in the CSP at the Oregon/California border (42° N. latitude).  Under this option, a separate California subarea would be created with its own CSP allocation equal to 1 percent of the non-tribal allocation.  Details on the alternative management measures for the Oregon and California components are described below.

Oregon

The Council recommends two options for public review for managing the Oregon portion between Humbug Mountain and the Oregon/California border that would remain in the event a new subarea management line is implemented at the Oregon/California border:

  1. Subsume the Oregon area into the Central Oregon Coast Subarea. Under this option, the area between Humbug Mountain and the Oregon/California border would be subject to the regulations in the Central Oregon Coast Subarea.
  2. Establish a new Southern Oregon Subarea with its own CSP allocation equal to 2 percent of the Oregon recreational allocation.  The new Southern Oregon Subarea allocation could be created from either:
    1. Eliminating the Central Coast Summer All-Depth Fishery. The remaining 23 percent would be allocated to the Central Coast Nearshore Fishery.
    2. Reducing the Central Coast Spring All-Depth Fishery allocation. The Central Coast Spring All-Depth Fishery would then receive 61 percent of the area allocation, with the Nearshore and Summer All-Depth Fishery allocations remaining at 12 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

California

Due to the inability to monitor the catch in this area inseason, a fixed season would be established preseason by NMFS based on projected 2014 seasonal catch.  No inseason adjustments would be made, and estimates of actual catch will be made post season.

The alternative season dates adopted for public review for the California subarea are

  1. May 1 through July 15, and from September 1 through October 31
  2. May 1 through July 31, and from September 1 through October 31

Additional restrictions may include prohibiting retention of salmon on a trip where Pacific halibut are retained, or restricting the days of the week when the fishery is open. Under the days of the week option, the open days would be

  1. Tuesday through Saturday or
  2. Wednesday through Saturday

The daily bag limit would continue to be one halibut per person, with no size limit.