Monday, December 15th, 2014
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) adopted changes to the 2015 Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) for Area 2A and annual fishery regulations at the November 2014 Council meeting in Costa Mesa, California. The Council recommendations for the 2015 CSP and regulations are described below.
The Council recommended changes to the non-Indian allocations for the 2015 Pacific Halibut CSP for Area 2A in response to new information indicating a higher abundance of Pacific halibut and greater fishery participation in northern California than when the CSP was originally adopted. The recommended allocations are as follows: Washington sport (35.6 percent), Oregon sport (29.7 percent), California sport (4 percent), and non-Indian commercial fisheries (30.7 percent).
Columbia River Subarea Allocations
The Council recommended changes to the Oregon contribution to the Columbia River subarea allocation such that the Oregon contribution would be equal to 2.3 percent of the Oregon sport quota. The nearshore area allocation is recommended to be 500 pounds of the total Columbia River subarea allocation. The Columbia River subarea allocation less the nearshore area allocation (500 pounds) should be managed to one season by removing the early (80 percent) and late (20 percent) season subarea allocations. The start date for the Columbia River subarea and the nearshore area remains as specified in the 2014 CSP.
Central Oregon Coast Subarea Allocation
The Council recommended increasing the spring all-depth allocation to 63 percent of the Central Oregon Coast subarea allocation.
Southern Oregon Subarea Allocation
The Council recommended increasing the Southern Oregon subarea allocation to 4 percent of the Oregon Sport allocation, less the Oregon contribution to the Columbia River subarea.
Groundfish Retention in the Columbia River and Oregon Central Coast Subareas
The Council also recommended revising the groundfish retention allowances during the all-depth Pacific halibut fisheries in the Columbia River and Oregon Central Coast subareas. During the all-depth days, all flatfish species, in addition to Pacific cod and sablefish, may be retained when Pacific halibut are onboard.
California Subarea Allocation and Management
Starting in 2015, the California subarea is allocated 4 percent of the non-Indian allocation. The Council adopted the inseason monitoring and management strategy described by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW, see Agenda Item G.1.b, Supplemental CDFW Report 2, November 2014). Specifically, the structuring objective for this subarea is to provide recreational fishing opportunity seven days per week, from May 1 until the date determined inseason when the quota is projected to be taken, or until October 31, whichever is earlier. Additional closed periods during this season, such as closed weeks or months and including a later opening date, may be established preseason by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) based on the subarea quota and projected catch. Based on the subarea quota, and considering stakeholder input, CDFW will provide recommendations to NMFS each year as soon as possible following the determination of the Area 2A total allowable catch on the opening date and other closure dates, such as closed weeks or months that would apply during the fishing season that year. Closure of the fishery or other inseason adjustments will be made by NMFS via an update to the recreational halibut hotline.
The Council also adopted the NMFS-recommended clarifications (Agenda Item G.1.b, NMFS Report 3, November 2014), which include amending the language for the directed commercial fishery to allow earlier transfer of unused quota to the salmon troll fishery and updating all references to reflect the establishment of the West Coast Region.
The Council understands that NMFS requested the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) add CDFW to the definition of “authorized officer” in the IPHC regulations. This change was recommended by the Council to allow CDFW staff to enforce Pacific halibut regulations.