Fishery Management Plan and Amendments: Trawl Rationalization (Amendment 20) and Intersector Allocation (Amendment 21) Trailing Actions

At its September 2010 meeting, the Council began a series of trailing actions for the trawl rationalization program and intersector allocation which have continued up through the present.  These trailing actions address issues of concern which were outstanding as of the completion of the Council’s initial work on the program (e.g. rules for the distribution of the quota set aside for the Adaptive Management Program and safe harbors from control rules for risk pools).  The actions also address provisions needed to complete or clarify the final program and new concerns identified during and after program implementation.

Work on a number of trailing actions is in progress or has already been completed.  A summary of the status of these actions is provided below.  (Note: other actions affecting or modifying the trawl rationalization program and intersector allocation may be taken up as part of the groundfish biennial specifications.)

Final Council Action Taken, NMFS Approval and Implementation Pending

Chafing Gear.  At its April 2012 meeting, the Council recommended an alternative that would address industry concerns about the current restrictiveness of the chafing gear regulations for the midwater trawl fishery. The Council reconsidered this issue at its November 2012 meeting, but stayed with the final preferred alternative that it recommended in April 2012. On March 19, 2014, NMFS published the proposed chafing gear rule and announced availability of the Draft Environmental Assessment.  The public comment period on the rule will close April 18, 2014. On April 4, 2014, NMFS published (in the Federal Register) a correction to the proposed chafing gear rule.

Observer/Catch Monitoring Rule. At its April 2012 meeting, the following additional NMFS-proposed trailing actions were approved for implementation.  NMFS published a proposed rule for these actions (public comment deadline ended March 21).

  • Implementation of certification and decertification requirements for observer providers
  • Numerous revisions to details of the observer program provisions
  • Revision to briefing periods in catch monitor certification requirements

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Final Council Action Taken, NMFS Approval and Implementation Delayed

At its September 2011, April 2012, and November 2012 meetings, the Council adopted final recommendations on a number of trailing actions, but implementation has been delayed due to Council and NMFS staff workload related to the reconsideration of the allocations periods for whiting catch shares.

Quota Share/Quota Pound (QS/QP) Control Rules – Safe Harbors for Risk Pools. At its September 2011 meeting, the Council recommended providing risk pools a safe harbor from the QS control rules.  At its September 2013 meeting, the Council agreed that implementation of this recommendation could wait until the five year program review.

Allow Fixed Gear and Trawl Joint Registration. At its April 2012 meeting, the Council recommended allowing a fixed gear permit and a trawl permit to be registered to the same vessel at the same time.  Implementation is expected sometime in 2014.

At-sea Processing of Fixed Gear Sablefish. When it took action on fixed gear and trawl permit stacking, the Council recommended that the opportunity to stack these permits be specified in regulations such that the limited entry fixed gear exception for freezing sablefish would not allow the freezing of sablefish caught under the trawl rationalization program.  Implementation is expected sometime in 2014.

Move the Whiting Season Opening Date.  At its November 2012 meeting, the Council recommended moving the shoreside sector primary whiting season opening date to May 15, starting in 2013.  Implementation is expected by May 2015.

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Council Deliberations In Progress

Electronic Monitoring. Identification of cost efficiencies for the trawl rationalization program continues to be an important Council priority.  In this regard, observer costs and the opportunity for gaining efficiencies through the use of at-sea electronic monitoring has been an area of emphasis.  Moving from 100 percent observer coverage would have a variety of implications for other provisions of the trawl rationalization program.  The Council received a number of presentations on this issue at its April 2012 meeting, including one on an electronic monitoring field study being conducted by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC).  At its November 2012 meeting, the Council decided to hold a workshop on electronic monitoring.  This workshop was held February 25-27, 2013, and an Electronic Monitoring Workshop Report was provided to the Council at it’s April 2013 meeting in Portland, Oregon.  See the Electronic Monitoring webpage for further information on the workhop.  At its April 2013 meeting, the Council adopted a process for proceeding that could result in the implementation of electronic monitoring by 2016.  In June 2013, the Council reviewed a preliminary draft of a whitepaper on performance standards and agreed that it should be rolled into a full scoping document for the Council’s September 2013 meeting.  The Council also appointed a groundfish electronic monitoring (GEM) Policy Advisory Committee (PAC), and a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).  These committees held meetings August 20-21 and October 15-16.  At its November 2013 meeting, the Council adopted alternatives for analysis and decided to consider exempted fishing permits (EFPs) to allow use of electronic monitoring in place of observers on vessels with maximized retention.  The GEMTAC met on January 22-23, 2014 to develop the analysis and provide a preliminary review of the EFPs, which were considered by the Council at its April 2014 meeting.  At its June 2014 meeting the Council will review the electronic monitoring EFPs for final approval and continue the development of a regulatory package on electronic monitoring.  Please see the Council’s “Electronic Monitoring” webpage for further information.

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Council Deliberations Delayed

Action on the following have been delayed due to Council and NMFS staff workload.  Next action on all of these issues is expected at  the June 2014 Council meeting, at which time there will be a general scoping and prioritization session for trawl trailing actions.  This scoping session was originally scheduled for September 2013, but was delayed to allow time for implementation of issues on which the Council has already taken action.

Regulation Review and Gear Issues. The Council is considering whether certain restrictions in the trawl fishery can be alleviated now that the trawl rationalization program provides for individual accountability for catch.  A gear workshop was convened in Portland, Oregon on August 29-30, 2012 to evaluate gear and area of catch regulations which may no longer be needed.  A report on that workshop was provided at the November 2012 Council meeting.

Lender Issues other than Safe Harbors. The Council has not selected a preliminary preferred alternative for other lender issues.  The topics under this category have been narrowed to the question of whether the NMFS QS tracking system should include a capability that would allow the QS owner and lender to attach lender information to the QS account.  In March 2012, the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel recommended no action on this issue.

Reconsideration of the Widow QS Allocation. At its April 2012 meeting, the Council decided to consider reallocation of the widow rockfish QS, now that widow rockfish is rebuilt.  At its June 2012 meeting, the Council decided that for widow rockfish QS, the moratorium on QS trading should be continued until December 31, 2014, or until the widow rockfish reallocation process is complete, whichever comes first.  QS trading has started for all other species, but the QS trading moratorium continues to remain in place for widow rockfish QS.

Whiting Surplus QP Carryover Provision. A workshop was held on November 2, 2012 to explore possibilities for fully implementing whiting surplus carryover in 2013 and a report was presented to the Council at its November meeting.  The Council decided that it will review this issue again when during the 5 year program review, scheduled for 2016.

Non-Whiting Surplus QP Carryover Provision. As part of its action on the 2013-2014 specifications, the Council adopted an interim solution to partially address full implementation of the surplus carryover provision for nonwhiting species.  The Council requested further analysis and development of options to ensure that, in the long term, the surplus carryover provisions can be implemented with greater certainty.

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Issues for Future Scoping

  • Exempt vessels from observer coverage when they are testing trawl gear
  • Add a vessel monitoring system declaration code for “transiting” with gear stowed
  • Consider revisions to weight conversion factors based on new information
  • Take actions to facilitate continuation of surplus QP carryover provision
  • Provide credit for discards of sablefish and lingcod
  • Extension of QP trading into a following year (prior to the issuance of surplus carryover)

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June 2014 Scoping Process, Decision on Adapative Management Program (AMP) Pass-thru and Other Clarifications

At its June 2014 meeting, the Council is scheduled to scope the next round of trawl catch share program trailing actions. This scoping session was originally scheduled for September 2013, but was delayed to allow time for implementation of issues on which the Council has already taken action.  In June 2014, the Council will consider which issues to prioritize for the next round.  Candidates include those issues listed in the above sections on “Council Deliberations Delayed” and “Issues for Future Scoping” as well as other trawl catch share program issues that members of the public may bring forward.  NMFS will also be presenting a slate of potential issues that might be wrapped into a “Trawl Flexibility Rule” (see Agenda Item G.9.b, Supplemental NMFS Report 1 from the September 2013 Council meeting). Those issues selected by the Council would be slated for implementation by the end of 2015.

At this meeting, the Council will also finalize a recommendation on continuation of the AMP pass-thru. Ten percent of the annual distributions of the quota pounds (QP) issued for nonwhiting quota shares (QS) and halibut individual bycatch quota (IBQ) are reserved for the AMP. Currently the QP issued for the AMP QS/IBQ are distributed annually to QS/IBQ holders, in proportion to their QS/IBQ holdings, i.e. “passed thru” based on QS/IBQ percentages. The “pass thru” regulations are scheduled to sunset prior to the distribution for the 2015 fishing year and some Council action is required to provide direction on how the QP will be distributed for 2015. At it’s March 2014 meeting, the Council adopted for analysis the following alternatives:

  1. No Action Alternative: Beginning in 2015, the QP associated with the QS set-aside for AMP purposes will be distributed in accordance with procedures developed under the AMP provisions adopted under Amendment 20.
  2. Action Alternative 1: The AMP QP allocation procedures will be considered as part of the five year review and the pass-through procedure used since 2011 will be continued
    • Suboption A: through 2017.
    • Suboption B: until the implementation of regulations resulting from the 5‑year review.
  3. Action Alternative 2. The pass-through procedures used since 2011 will be continued until procedures are developed as specified in the AMP provisions of Amendment 20.


Also, at its June meeting, the Council will receive an update on implementation of other trailing actions and may provide guidance relative to needs for clarification that become apparent during implementation of its previous actions.

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Trailing Actions Implemented

The following trailing actions were implemented subsequent to the January 11, 2011 start of the trawl rationalization program.

TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED JANUARY 1, 2012

The following were implemented as part of the first Program Improvements and Enhancement Rule (published in the Federal Register, December 1, 2011).  This rule included Amendment 21-1, a modification of the intersector allocation amendment and regulatory amendments pertaining to the trawl rationalization program.

Amendment 21-1

  • clarified that the Amendment 21 allocation percentages supersede the limited entry/open access allocations for certain groundfish species, and
  • revised the amount of bycatch QP that will be issued for the shoreside trawl fishery to cover Pacific halibut mortality, to better match the objective specified in Amendment 21.

Trawl Rationalization Regulatory Amendments.  The regulatory amendments pertaining to the Amendment 20 trawl rationalization program included, but were not limited to:

  • severability of the mothership/catcher vessel endorsement and associated whiting catch history assignments from the limited entry trawl permit,
  • continuation of the AMP QP pass-through, through 2014 of the Shorebased IFQ Program or until an AMP process is established, whichever is earlier,
  • an exemption from the prohibition on processing at sea for qualified participants in the Shorebased IFQ Program,
  • revisions to the observer coverage requirement while a vessel is in port and before the offload is complete,
  • revisions to the electronic fish ticket reporting requirements,
  • revisions to the first receiver site license requirement,
  • further clarification on moving between limited entry and open access fisheries, and
  • a process for end-of-the-year vessel account reconciliation.

These and other included recommendations were adopted by the Council at its June 2011 meeting; the minutes and briefing materials for that meeting include numerous reference documents detailing the issues before the Council and the Council final action on each. The final environmental assessment was published October 2011.

TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED SEPTEMBER 7, 2012

TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED MARCH 28, 2013

Whiting Catch Share Reallocation. At its March, 2012 meeting, the Council considered matters associated with the December 22, 2011 District Court Judge Thelton E. Henderson decision in the case C10-4829-TEH: Pacific Dawn, LLC, et al. v. John Bryson, et al., including the February 21, 2012 Court Order on Remedy (see full March Council meeting reference materials, including public comment at http://www.pcouncil.org/resources/archives/briefing-books/march-2012-briefing-book/#groundfishF8).  This order remanded “for further consideration” the regulations addressing the initial allocation of whiting for the shoreside IFQ and the at-sea mothership fishery. In response, the Council  engaged in a three meeting process (April, June, and September, 2013) for a full reconsideration of its original recommendations for whiting quota allocation.  During that process, the Council also recommended that:

  • the moratorium on QS transferability originally set to expire for all species at the end of 2012 be continued, as necessary, throughout the end of 2013 for all QS of all species, except widow rockfish, for which trading has been extended until December 31, 2014 or until condsideration of widow QS reallocation has been completed (whichever comes first),
  • the provisions to allow mothership catcher vessel endorsements and allocations be separated from the permits, originally scheduled to go into place at the start of 2013, be delayed until September 1, 2013
  • the deadline for those receiving an initial QS allocation in excess of the QS control limits be extended to November 30, 2015, and
  • the dealine for those receiving mothership whiting catch history allocations in excess of the QS control limits was extended to August 31, 2016.

On August 1, 2012, a temporary rule implementing the first of two adjustments was published in the Federal Register (see http://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2012-18780.pdf).

At the completion of its reconsideration, the Council recommended that the original allocations not be changed.  The Council transmitted its final recommendations relative to a possible reallocation of whiting quota shares and catch history assignments on October 30, 2012:

On January 2, 2013 NMFS published a proposed rule on whiting reallocation. On March 28, 2013, NMFS published a final rule implementing the Council recommendations.  On March 29, 2013, a second suit was filed challenging the whiting allocation (Pacific Dawn II).  On December 5, 2013, the court ruled, upholding the final whiting quota allocation recommended by the Council and implemented by NMFS.  On February 3, 2014, the plaintiffs appealed this ruling and on May 13, they filed their opening brief.

TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED December 15, 2013 and January 1, 2014

Program Improvements and Enhancement Rule 2 (PIE 2). On November 15, 2013, NMFS published PIE 2 as a final rule, with the section affecting quota pound transfers to be effective December 15, 2013, and all other sections to be effective January 1, 2014.  PIE 2 included a number of regulatory changes recommended by the Council.  The following NMFS-proposed trailing actions were approved by the Council at its April 2012 meeting and included in PIE 2:

  • Changes to first receiver site license application requirement and reduction of site inspection requirements
  • Removal of the end-of-year ban on quota pound (QP) transfers between vessel accounts
  • Clarification that mothership/catcher vessels with more than one catch history allocation may commit each to a different mothership
  • Change of the term “permit holder” to “vessel owner,” as necessary, to clarify the regulations
  • Clarification of  the process for vessel owners to request a change in vessel ownership through the Fisheries Permit Office

PIE 2 also included additional regulations needed to allow QS trading and other necessary clarifications, as well as the following three Council recommendations.

  • Change of the Opt-out Requirement for QP Deficits lasting more than 30 days, in order to allow vessels to rejoin the fishery after deficits are cleared (adopted by the Council at its April 2012 meeting).
  • Elimination of the required annual filing of a preliminary co-op report in November, leaving in place the requirement that a final report be submitted in March of the following year.  This requirement applies to the whiting mothership and catcher-processor sectors (adopted by the Council at its April 2012 meeting).
  • Modification of the quota share/quota pound (QS/QP) control rules  to clarify the safe harbors for lenders (adopted by the Council at its November 2013 meeting).

NMFS has published a compliance guide for the PIE rule, which is available from the NMFS website:  download the PIE 2 Compliance Guide.

TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED January 10, 2014

Cost Recovery. At its September 2011 meeting, the Council adopted a cost recovery program structure. Download the complete description of the Council’s recommendations on Cost Recovery. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a proposed rule on cost recovery on February 1, 2013 and final rule on December 11, 2013; to be effective January 10, 2014. The Council’s Cost Recovery Committee has been tasked with identifying efficiencies which might reduce costs and fees over the long run, and will be meeting to address this issue in the future. On January 9, 2014, a suit was filed challenging the application of cost recovery to the catcher processor sector of the whiting fishery (Glacier Fish Company LLC vs. Pritzker).

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PFMC
06/03/2014