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 that 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 closed 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, 2014).

  • 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

Change the Shorebased Whiting Season Opening Date.  At its November 2012 meeting, the Council recommended moving the shorebased sector primary whiting season opening date to May 15.  Implementation is expected by May 2015.

Continue Adaptive Management Program Pass-through. The current pass through of the quota pounds (QP) allocated for the quota share (QS) set aside for the adaptive management program (AMP) (10% of the nonwhiting QS) is set to expire at the end of 2014 (for further description of the AMP see “Develop Criteria for Distributing Adaptive Management Program QP” below).  The Council has recommended a rule to continue that pass through until after the trawl catch share program review, which has been scheduled to commence in November 2016.  Implementation of the extension is expected before the end of 2014.

Whiting Cleanup Rule. The cleanup rule is expected to define a whiting trip as any trip with more than 50 percent whiting by weight (consistent with Amendment 20), provide rules for the disposition of prohibited species retained in the maximized retention fishery, and restrict the use of midwater gear in the RCAs to the area north of 40°10’.  Implementation is expected by May 2015.

Electronic Monitoring Exempted Fishing Permits. The Council has recommended issuance of EFPs to allow applicants to use electronic monitoring technologies in place of carrying observers.  This issue is discussed further below in the section on “Electronic Monitoring.”  Issuance of EFPs is expected for the 2015 fishing year.  Please see the Council’s “EM FPA, and Terms and Conditions” webpage for further information.

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.  At its June 2014 meeting the Council approved electronic monitoring EFPs for various segments of fleet participating in the trawl catch share program and at its September 2014 meeting the Council recommended regulatory action to allow the use of EM on all vessels participating in the trawl catch share program.  These regulations are expected to be implemented for whiting vessels by 2016, at the earliest, and for other vessels by 2017, at the earliest.  Please see the Council’s “Electronic Monitoring” webpage for further information.

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 in the spring of 2016.

At-sea Processing of Fixed Gear Sablefish. When it took action on fixed gear and trawl permit stacking (joint registration), the Council recommended that the opportunity for joint registration 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 the spring of 2016.

Update eTicket for Web-based Submissions. Regulations will be updated to reflect the new process for submitting eTickets through internet‑based platforms.  Implementation is expected by April, 1, 2016.

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Final Council Action Taken, NMFS Approval and Implementation on Hold

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.

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Council deliberationCouncil Deliberations In Progress

Widow Rockfish QS Reallocation.  Under Amendment 20, overfished species, such as widow rockfish, were allocated to permit holders based on the QS allocation of the target species with which widow rockfish is incidentally caught.  Amendment 20 states that for overfished species the QS reallocations will be reconsidered when overfished species become rebuilt.  Widow rockfish is now rebuilt and at its November 2014 meeting the Council will begin consideration of a revision to the widow rockfish QS allocations.  A moratorium on the trading of QS remains in place until these deliberations are completed.

Divestiture Deadline Delay and Forced Divestiture. Along with consideration of the widow rockfish QS reallocation, the Council will be considering whether to recommend delaying the November 30, 2015 deadline for those who control QS to divest down to the QS control limits, including the aggregate non-whiting QS limit.  There are at least two factors contributing to this consideration: the moratorium on widow QS trading and the effects that a widow QS reallocation would have on QS owners aggregate holdings.  In addition to determining whether or not there will be a delay in the divestiture, the Council will also be asked to comment on NMFS plans to impose forced divesture—which would only occur if someone fails to divest down to the control limits by the deadline.

Vessel Movement Monitoring. The Council will be considering a package of actions related to the monitoring of vessel movements.  Among these is whether or not to allow vessels declared into the whiting mothership fishery to change their declaration at-sea in order to switch into the shorebased IFQ fishery without first returning to shore; and the provision of a declaration for testing gear that would allow vessels under such declaration to have gear deployed without an observer on board.  A listing of all issues to be included in this package is provided in Agenda Item I.6.a, Supplemental Joint Council/NMFS Staff Report, from the September 2014 Council meeting.  The Council is scheduled to first take up this package at its April 2015 meeting.

Area Modifications. The Council will be considering a package of actions related to area management modifications concurrently with the essential fish habitat amendment (EFH) process.  This package would include consideration of whether or not to: allow vessels to fish in more than one area; allow a year-round midwater non-whiting fishery in the RCA; allow midwater gear to be used in all groundfish EFH conservation areas; eliminate the selective flatfish gear requirement in place shoreward of the RCA; and create a 60-mile Bank RCA to conserve cowcod (an area along the US/Mexico border).  The Council is scheduled to first take up this package at its April 2015 meeting.

Gear Regulation Updates. The Council will be considering a package of actions related to updating gear regulations to take into account the flexibility provided by the trawl catch share program.  This package would include consideration of whether or not to: allow the carrying and/or use of multiple gears types on a single trip; eliminate codend, chafing gear, and selective flatfish trawl gear requirements and restrictions (large and small footrope distinctions would remain); and eliminate or reduce the minimum mesh size requirement, eliminate the two seam net requirement to facilitate use of rockfish excluders.  The Council is scheduled to first take up this package at its September 2015 meeting.

Reconsider Blackgill Allocation. Blackgill rockfish south of 40°10′ N. latitude was managed in the Minor Slope Rockfish Complex south of 40°10′ N. latitude. Amendment 21 allocated Minor Slope Rockfish Complex south of 40°10′ N. latitude 63 percent to trawl and 37 percent to non-trawl based on landings data from 2003-2005 for the complex.  In 2011, blackgill rockfish was assessed and starting in 2013-2014 a harvest guideline was established equal to the 40-10 adjusted ACLs calculated for the stock (106 mt and 110 mt, respectively).  The Council’s Groundfish Advisory Subpanel (GAP) informed the Council that complications have arisen between the traditional non-trawl fixed-gear fleet and the IFQ fixed-gear fleet in the Conception management area due to increased targeting of blackgill by the IFQ fleet.  At its November 2014 meeting, the Council will consider whether to proceed with reconsideration of a blackgill allocation at this time.

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Longer-Term Planning

Elimination of the Prohibition on Whiting At-sea Processing South of 42o N. Lat. During it’s next EFP cycle, the Council may consider issuing EFPs to allow this activity.

Trawl Catch Share Program Review. The Council decided that it will commence its first review of the catch share program in November 2016.

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Issues for Future Scoping

The following items have not been prioritized for work at this time but may be taken up after items on the current workload list are addressed.

Sablefish Weight Conversions. Consider revisions to weight conversion factors and conversion for new product forms based on new information.

Size Endorsements. Eliminate limited entry permit size endorsements.

Record Keeping. Revision and clarification of regulations requiring record availability and retention for three years.

Surplus QP Carry-over. Resolve long-term surplus QP carryover provision to ensure surplus carryover can occur each year (whiting and non-whiting) – whiting is scheduled to be addressed after the trawl catch share program review.  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.

Trawl IFQ Carryover When Management Units Change. The regulations do not cover how carryover should be handled when there is a reallocation as a result of changes in management areas (area subdivision, combination, or line movement) or subdivision of a species group that cause shifts in the distribution of QS.  This issue was identified with the recent geographic subdivision of lingcod and relates to 660.140(c)(3)(vii).

Allow Trading of Previous Year Quota Pounds in Current Year.  It has been proposed that the trading of QP issued for a previous year be allowed to occur in the current year up until the last landings data for the previous year is in the catch and QP accounting system.  This would allow greater flexibility for the fleet as a whole to use unused QP from a previous year to cover catch in that year.

Discard Survival Credit for Lingcod and Sablefish. There has been a request for the consideration of an IFQ survival credit for discarded lingcod and sablefish, and particularly for the discard of small sized lingcod—for which discard is currently required.

Require Posting of First Receiver Site Licenses. This would be similar to existing requirements at 660.12(d)(1) and 660.25(b)(1)(iii) that require vessels registered to limited entry permits to carry valid permit onboard the vessel.

Develop Criteria for Distributing Adaptive Management Program QP.  Under the Amendment 20 trawl rationalization program, the shoreside IFQ program includes a set aside of 10 percent of the nonwhiting QS (including halibut individual bycatch quota, IBQ) for an Adaptive Management Program (AMP).  The AMP QP, issued each year for those QS, are to be distributed to address the following objectives: community stability; processor stability; conservation; unintended/unforeseen consequences of IFQ management; and facilitating new entrants.  However, to date, the QP associated with this program have been passed through to QS holders on a pro rata basis in proportion to their QS holdings.  The Council has recommned that this pass-through continue until after the upcoming catch share program review.

Allow Between Sector Transfers of Unneeded Overfished Species. This consideration would be specific to the within trawl use of choke species and is not intended to include discussion or promote changes to any of the existing allocations.  Choke species are species for which limited quota availability constrains the harvest of other species in a multispecies fishery.  The question is whether choke species can be better utilized and/or shared within the trawl sectors to ensure attainments of optimum yield for all target species.  The item “Allow Between Sector Transfer of Rockfish QP from IFQ to MS” is a narrower version of this policy issue.

Allow Between Sector Transfer of Rockfish QP from IFQ to MS. This measure would allow participants in the MS sector access to quota pounds (QP) in their shorebased IFQ accounts for four rockfish species (canary, darkblotched, widow and POP).  The total QP that could be transferred to the MS sector would be limited.

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Other Issues Affecting the Trawl Fishery

This page of the Council website is dedicated to those trailing actions which are follow-ons to the trawl catch share program implemented through Amendments 20 and 21 to the groundfish FMP.  At its September 2014 meeting, the Council prioritized all of its potential groundfish action items, including the trawl catch share program trailing actions. The following are a list of the additional trawl fishery related issues prioritized at that time.  For further details on these issues see Agenda item J.1.a, Attachment 1 from that meeting.  Further deliberations have been scheduled on the following items directly affecting the trawl fishery.

  • Amendment 25: Comprehensive Ecosystem Based Amendment (next Council deliberations March 2015)
  • Rebuilding Revision Rules (Signal vs. Noise) (next Council deliberations during 2017-2018 biennial specifications process)
  • Revise Regulations on At-Sea and Shoreside Flow Scales (next Council deliberations September 2015 – review shoreside regulations)
  • Management Model Review and Refinement (next Council deliberations during 2017-2018 biennial specifications process)
  • Evaluate Nearshore Management Approaches, Including Deferral to the States (next deliberations June 2016, by an ad hoc committee)

The following items affecting the trawl fishery were discussed at the September 2014 but not scheduled for follow on deliberations.  They may be prioritized for action at some time in the future.

  • Further Consideration for Reorganizing Stock Complexes
  • Groundfish Conservation Areas for Rougheye Rockfish
  • Seabird Avoidance Devices for Vessels less than 55 feet (affects vessels using longline gear in the trawl IFQ fishery)
  • Further Consideration of Ecosystem Component Species
  • Analysis of a A Multi-year Average Catch Policy
  • Move the Seaward Non-Trawl RCA Line Closer to Shore for Pot Vessels (Including Those Which Gear Switch in the Trawl Catch Share Program)

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Completed Trailing Actions

The following trailing actions were implemented after 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

Change of renewal dates from September 1st to September 15th.

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
10/27/2014