Groundfish: Trawl Rationalization (Amendment 20) and Intersector Allocation (Amendment 21) Trailing Actions and Five-Year Review
- Trawl Catch Share Program Five-Year Review
- Trawl Quota Program Workshop
- Final Council Action Taken, NMFS Approval and Implementation Pending
- Final Council Action Taken, NMFS Approval and Implementation on Hold
- Council Deliberations In Progress
- Longer Term Planning
- Issues for Future Scoping
- Other Issues Affecting the Trawl Fishery
- Completed Trailing Actions
At its September 2010 meeting, the Council began a series of trailing actions for the trawl rationalization program and intersector allocation amendments which have continued up through the present. These trailing actions:
- complete elements of the program that were outstanding at the time of its implementation in 2011 (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);
- respond to problems with the program that have been identified post implementation (e.g. effective implementation of quota pound QP carry over provisions); and
- modify pre-trawl rationalization regulations which were outdated by the trawl rationalization program (e.g. elimination of certain gear restrictions based on individual accountability and 100 percent at-sea monitoring of catch).
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 or omnibus process—see Agenda Item J.1, September 2014 and the omnibus agenda item in the briefing book for the June 2016 Council meeting).
Trawl Catch Share Program Five-Year Review
At its June 2016 meeting, the Council will address plans for the Magunson‑Stevens Act required review of the trawl catch share program. In January 2016, the Council sent a comment letter on an initial draft of NMFS draft guidance for reviews of catch share programs. The next iteration of this guidance is expected to be presented at the June 2016 Council meeting (see briefing book materials for the June meeting – available on or around June 9, 2016).
Trawl Quota Program Workshop
A Pacific Coast Groundfish Quota Program Workshop was held February 16-18, 2016, in Portland Oregon. The workshop brought together working fishermen, vessel owners, processors, managers and others to discuss the current state of the trawl fishery and explore needed improvements. Workshop sponsors included the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and various interest groups. A report on this workshop is scheduled for presentation under the catch share program five-year review agenda item at the June 2016 Council meeting (see briefing book materials for the June meeting – available on or around June 9, 2016).
Final Council Action Taken, NMFS Approval and Implementation Pending
Electronic Monitoring. Identification of cost efficiencies for the trawl rationalization program continue 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 (EM) has been an area of emphasis. 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. The Council has recommended that exempted fishing permits (EFPs) for EM go forward to inform the finalization of the EM policy in regulation. EFPs were approved for the 2015 and 2016 fisheries. At its November 2015 meeting, the Council concurred with expanding the number of participants in the EFP for bottom trawl and midwater pelagic rockfish trips. At its March 2016 meeting, the Council recommended extending this EFP into the 2017-2018 management cycle. At its April 2016 meeting, the Council reviewed draft EM regulations for vessels targeting whiting and using fixed gear in the trawl catch share fishery and approved these regulations to be put forward by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as a proposed rule for implementation by January 1, 2017. For bottom trawl and midwater pelagic rockfish trips, implementation of EM regulations is expected sometime in 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. NMFS is expected to publish a proposed rule this spring. If NMFS approves the Council recommendation, implementation is expected by 2017.
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. NMFS is expected to publish a proposed rule this spring. If NMFS approves the Council recommendation, implementation is expected by 2017.
Update eTicket for Web-based Submissions. Regulations will be updated to reflect the new process for submitting eTickets through internet‑based platforms. NMFS is expected to publish a proposed rule this spring. If NMFS approves the Council recommendation, implementation is expected by 2017.
Widow Rockfish QS Reallocation and Divestiture Deadlines. Under Amendment 20, overfished species, such as widow rockfish, were allocated to permit holders based on the quota share (QS) allocation of the target species with which the overfished species are incidentally caught. Amendment 20 states that for overfished species, the QS allocations will be reconsidered when the species becomes rebuilt. Widow rockfish is now rebuilt, and at its November 2014 meeting the Council adopted a range of alternatives for the reallocation of widow rockfish QS. At its April 2015 meeting, the Council approved a reallocation of widow rockfish QS among those who initially received QS. The allocation formula selected (a midpoint between Alternatives 2a and 2b in the draft environmental assessment) approximates the allocation formula used for species that were not overfished when the program was initially implemented. It includes an equal allocation component, allocations based on 1994-2002 widow landing history for nonwhiting trips, and allocations proportional to individual whiting QS allocations. A moratorium on the trading of widow QS will remain in place until the reallocation is implemented (including the resolution of appeals). Once trading commences, any entity receiving widow QS in excess of the widow QS control limit will have approximately one year to divest themselves down to that limit. Additionally, if the widow QS reallocation pushes an entity over the aggregate non-whiting control limit, it will have the same period to divest down to that limit. With respect to the QS control limits for all other species and the aggregate nonwhiting QS control limit, divestiture down to those limits was required by the November 30, 2015 deadline already in regulation. If NMFS approves the Council’s recommendation, implementation is expected prior to the distribution of quota pounds for the 2017 fishery.
Removal of Blackgill in the Slope Complex. Blackgill rockfish south of 40° 10′ N. latitude is currently 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, the condition of the blackgill rockfish stock was assessed, and starting in 2013-2014, a harvest guideline was established equal to the 40-10 adjusted annual catch limits (ACLs) calculated for the stock (106 mt and 110 mt for 2013 and 2014, respectively). At its June 2014 meeting, the Council’s Groundfish Advisory Subpanel (GAP) informed the Council that complications had arisen between the traditional fixed-gear fleet (limited entry fixed gear and open access) and the trawl IFQ fleet using fixed gear in the Conception management area, due to increased targeting of blackgill by the IFQ fleet. At its November 2015 meeting, the Council recommended its final preferred alternative on this issue: removal of blackgill from the minor slope complex (i.e. establish stock specific harvest specifications and QS for blackgill). Additionally, the Council decided that the existing QS control limit and vessel QP usage caps for slope rockfish would apply to blackgill rockfish when it is split from the slope rockfish complex. If NMFS approves the recommendation, implementation is tentatively scheduled for January 1, 2018.
Vessel Movement Monitoring. At it’s April 2016 meeting, the Council took final action on a package of recommendations related to the monitoring of vessel movements. The package, includes:
- providing fishermen a choice between increasing their vessel’s satellite vessel monitoring system (VMS) ping rate, using electronic discard monitoring in conjunction with their VMS unit, or the use of an enhanced VMS unit that includes a data logger;
- allowing 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;
- creating a declaration for testing gear that would allow vessels under such declaration to have gear deployed without an observer on board; and
- adding a provision to allow a vessel on a trawl sector IFQ trip to move pot gear across management lines without returning it to shore.
The Council also recommended that NMFS revise the definition of continuous transit in the groundfish regulations. Additional description of the adopted options is provided in the Vessel Monitoring Public Scoping Document (Agenda Item D.2, Attachment 1, April 2016).
Gear Regulations. At its March 2016 meeting, the Council took final action on seven of eight issues in a trawl gear regulatory package but still has one left to resolve. For more information see this topic under “Council Deliberations in Progress”.
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. Risk pools can generally be described as groups of QS owners that band together to pool their QS of overfished species. At its September 2013 meeting, the Council agreed that implementation of this recommendation could wait until after the five year program review.
Area Modifications. The Council is considering trawl RCA modifications concurrently with the essential fish habitat amendment (EFH) process. This package includes consideration of whether or not to reduce or eliminate the areas closed to trawl gears by the trawl RCA. Early in the process, the Council considered but rejected the option of allowing the use of large footrope gear in nearshore areas, shoreward of the current RCAs. The Council selected a range of alternatives at its September 2015 meeting and narrowed the range of alternatives at its April 2016 meeting. Selection of a preliminary preferred alternative is scheduled for the September 2016 Council meeting, and final Council action is scheduled for March 2017.
Gear Regulations. At its March 2016 meeting, the Council recommended that trawl gear regulations be updated to reflect the individual accountability provided by the trawl catch share program but deferred action on one issue until its June 2016 meeting. Specifically, the Council recommended: allowing vessels to carry and use multiple trawl gears types on a single trip (fish caught using different gears must be stowed separately); eliminating minimum mesh size regulations for the codend and body of the net; eliminating restrictions on codends; eliminating chafing gear restrictions; allowing a new haul to be brought onboard and dumped before all catch from previous haul has been stowed; and changing the selective flatfish trawl gear definition and restrictions. The selective flatfish trawl gear definition would be changed to allow the use of four seams nets and the restriction that requires use of selective flatfish trawl gear shoreward of the RCA in the area north of 40o 10’ N. latitude would be replaced by a restriction that requires use of small footrope trawl in that area. At its June 2016 meeting, the Council will consider whether to allow vessels to fish in more than one management area on the same trip. The Council also considered recommending a revised procedure for measuring mesh size in the body of the net but that issue will not move forward since the mesh size regulation will be eliminated. Four initially included issues were eliminated from the package early on in order not to cause a delay in the 2017 target date for implementation: allowing the targeting of whiting with non-midwater gear, eliminating the distinction between midwater whiting and midwater nonwhiting trips, eliminating the distinction between midwater and bottom trawl gear; and allowing the use of midwater trawl gear to target nonwhiting within the rockfish conservation areas south of 40o 10’ N. latitude. These issues will be included for consideration in the upcoming omnibus prioritization process and are listed below under “Issues for Future Scoping.” NMFS will be publishing a proposed rule for this package and, if it is approved, implementation is expected by early 2017.
Provide for Bycatch Needs of At-Sea Sectors. The at-sea sector co-ops (motheship and catch processor) are allocated amounts of canary rockfish, darkblotched rockfish, Pacific Ocean perch and widow rockfish to cover their bycatch while targeting whiting. Particularly in recent years, these bycatch allocations have constrained the fishing activity of these sectors. The Council is considering ways to alleviate that constraint during its deliberation on the 2017-2018 groundfish specifications and will also take that issue up as a separate agenda item at its June 2016 meeting. Initially (at its November 2015 and March 2016 meetings), the Council considered a solution for the mothership sector that would have allowed participants in the mothership (MS) sector to use shorebased QP for mothership deliveries of the allocated bycatch species. The total QP that could be transferred to the MS sector would be limited. At its June 2016 meeting the Council will consider modifying the within trawl Amendment 21 allocations for darkblotched and POP for 2017-2018 and also a management approach that would change the catch control mechanism for darkblotched and POP from formal at-sea sector allocations to set-asides. Set-asides are not formal allocations but they are amounts which are not available to the other fisheries during the fishing year. Set-asides are not managed inseason unless there is a risk that all sectors combined will exceed a conservation limit for the species, there are unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or other conservation concerns. Set asides may be adjusted through the biennial specifications and management measures process as necessary.
Surplus QP Carryover for Whiting. Resolve long-term surplus QP carryover provision for whiting to ensure surplus carryover can occur each year – whiting carryover is scheduled to be addressed after the trawl catch share program review.
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 or through EFPs. Prioritization of these items will occur through the biennial groundfish omnibus prioritization process. The next cycle for that process starts at the June 2016 Council meeting (see briefing book materials for the June meeting – available on or around June 9, 2016).
Sablefish Weight Conversions. Consider revisions to weight conversion factors and conversion for new product forms based on new information.
Size Endorsements. Consider eliminating limited entry permit size endorsements.
Record Keeping. Revise and clarify regulations requiring record availability and retention for three years.
Year-Round Whiting Fishery. Consider a year-round whiting opening for all trawl sectors (shorebased, mothership, and catcher-processor).
Surplus QP Carryover for Nonwhiting. Resolve long-term surplus QP carryover provision for nonwhiting species to ensure surplus carryover can occur each year.
Trawl IFQ Carryover When Management Units Change. Consider adding provisions to 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. This issue was identified with the recent geographic subdivision of lingcod and relates to 50 CFR 660.140(c)(3)(vii).
Allow Trading of Previous Year Quota Pounds in Current Year. Consider allowing the trading of QP issued for a previous year 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. Consider providing 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. Consider adding provisions for first receivers 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 a permit onboard the vessel.
Develop Criteria for Distributing Adaptive Management Program QP. Consider a formula for the distribution of QP issued for QS held for the adaptive management program (AMP). 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 the 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 recommended that this pass-through continue until after the upcoming catch share program review.
Allow Between Sector Transfers of Unneeded Overfished Species. Consider allowing the inseason transfer of choke species between trawl sectors but do not consider changes to any of the existing sector 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 among the trawl sectors to ensure attainments of optimum yield for all target species. The item “Provide for Bycatch Needs of At-Sea Sectors” is a narrower version of this policy issue.
Elimination of the Prohibition on Whiting At-sea Processing South of 42o N. Lat. This issue arose in the context of the need to avoid bycatch. The issue might be explored through an EFP or through regulatory action.
Use of Midwater Trawl to Target Nonwhiting Year Round in RCAs and EFH Areas North of 40o 10’ N. lat. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has suggested that the best route for consideration of this issue would be first as an EFP (see item #12 in Agenda Item D.1.a, NMFS Report 3, June 2015). The EFP would be used to collect information that could then be used to support an analysis of a possible regulatory change. During its next EFP cycle, the Council may consider issuing EFPs to allow this activity. The Council may also consider prioritizing this issue for regulatory action during the omnibus process. In the north, midwater trawl gear may be used within the RCAs once the whiting fishery is open. This opportunity is not provided in the south. Use of midwater trawl to target nonwhiting within the RCAs south of 40o 10’ N. latitude is included in the following item.
Additional Gear Issues. At its September 2015, meeting the Council endorsed a GAP report that included a number of items for the gear regulatory package. Four of the issues covered by that report (by the section on review of existing regulations) could not be moved forward in the gear package without causing a delay in that package. Those three issues will need to be prioritized through the omnibus process for scoping at a later time and are as follows:
- Allow the targeting of whiting with non-midwater trawl gear.
- Eliminate the distinction between midwater whiting and midwater nonwhiting trips.
- Eliminate the distinction between midwater and bottom trawl gear.
- Allow the use of midwater trawl gear to target nonwhiting within the RCAs south of 40o10’ N. latitude.
The last of these may be another issue that is best explored first through EFPs in order to collect information to support analysis of a regulatory change.
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, as part of its omnibus groundfish prioritization process. For information on other trawl‑related action items, see the most recent list of groundfish workload priorities posted as a briefing book attachment under the most recent “Future Council Meeting and Agenda Workload Planning” agenda item (for past meetings, look to the version of the groundfish workload priorities posted as a supplemental attachment). For a more complete description of items referenced by number in the groundfish workload planner, see the September 2014 list of “Groundfish Management Measures for Council Consideration” (Agenda Item J.1.a, Attachment 1, September 2014). The next omnibus prioritization will occur at the June 2016 Council meeting (see briefing book materials for the June meeting – available on or around June 9, 2016).
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 1 to September 15. This rule corrects an error in the regulations to make them consistent with the groundfish FMP. The date by which NMFS will mail notices for QS permit and account renewal will be September 15 (consistent with the September 15, 2015 date for renewing groundfish limited entry permits, as specified in the groundfish FMP). The final rule on this action was published on 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 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 consideration of widow QS reallocation has been completed (whichever comes first),
- the provisions to allow mothership catcher vessel endorsements and allocations to 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 deadline 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:
- Transmittal Letter, October 30, 2012
- Statement of Council Rationale
- Preliminary Draft Environmental Assessment
- Council Proposed Regulations
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. A hearing on this appeal has been scheduled for May 10, 2016.
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 QP 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 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, and
- 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 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 National Marine Fisheries Service (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 assigned responsibility for identifying efficiencies which might reduce costs and fees to its Cost Recovery Committee. 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).
TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED DECEMBER 2, 2014
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 and reaffirmed its decision at its November 2012 meeting. 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. On December 2, 2014, NMFS published in the Federal Register the final rule that modifies the existing chafing gear regulations for midwater trawl gear. This rule was effective January 1, 2015.
TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED DECEMBER 17, 2014
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) were set to expire at the end of 2014 (for further description of the AMP see “Develop Criteria for Distributing Adaptive Management Program QP”). The Council recommended a rule to continue that pass through until after the trawl catch share program review, which has been scheduled to commence in June 2016. The proposed rule implementing this extension published on October 10, 2014. The final rule published December 17, 2014.
TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED APRIL 9, 2015
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 for the area north of 40o 30’ N. latitude. NMFS published a final environmental assessment for this action in March 2015, and a final rule on April 9, 2015, effective May 9, 2015.
TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED APRIL 21, 2015
Observer/Catch Monitoring Rule. At its April 2012 meeting, the following additional NMFS-proposed trailing actions were approved for implementation.
- 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
NMFS published a final rule for these actions on April 21, 2015, effective May 21, 2015.
TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED NOVEMBER 4, 2015
Quota Share Divestiture Rules. By November 30, 2015, everyone who controls trawl QS was required to be within the QS control limits (including the aggregate nonwhiting QS control limit) with respect to all of their holdings—except for widow rockfish QS, which continues to be under a transfer moratorium. At its April 2015 meeting, the Council recommended that a provision be added to allow individuals to abandon QS, rather than transferring it to another party. This abandonment option would be available only up until November 15, 2015. The Council considered but chose not to recommend a delay in the existing divestiture deadline for the aggregate nonwhiting QS control limit. Additionally, at its November 2014 and April 2015 meetings, the Council concurred with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposals to clarify the protocols that would be applied to bring someone controlling QS into compliance with the QS control limits in the event that they had not voluntarily complied by the November 30, 2015 deadline. These clarifications apply to complex situations, such as those that occur when an individual owns QS in more than one QS account or when an individual is over the aggregate nonwhiting control limit. A proposed rule for these recommendations was published on September 2, 2015, and the public comment deadline for the rule was October 2, 2015. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on November 9, 2015, with an effective date of November 4, 2016.
TRAILING ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED DECEMBER 14, 2015
Whiting and Midwater Trawl Cleanup Rule. Elements for a Whiting and Midwater Trawl Cleanup Rule were reviewed by the Council at its March and November 2014 meeting. The proposed rule included the following with respect to vessels on Pacific whiting individual fish quota (IFQ) trips:
- An allowance for prohibited and protected species to be retained until landing on “maximized retention” trips.
- Disposition procedures for prohibited species landed at IFQ first receivers on “maximized retention” trips consistent with the groundfish and salmon fishery management plans (FMPs).
- Disposition procedures for protected species landed at IFQ first receivers on “maximized retention” trips, consistent with the 2012 biological opinions (BOs).
- A requirement that in order for a landing to be considered a whiting landing it must be composed of 50% or more Pacific whiting by weight.
Additionally, accompanying changes applicable to all midwater trawling would include: changes in the declarations required for use of midwater trawl gear and explicit specification of currently implicit allowances for the use of midwater gear to target other groundfish within the rockfish conservation area (RCA) north of 40o 10’ N. latitude after the start date for the shorebased IFQ Pacific whiting fishery—consistent with the intent of Amendment 20. Needs for a number of other regulatory clarifications and consistencies are also identified and covered in the rule. The proposed rule was published on August 27, 2015 and the public comment deadline was September 28. The final rule was published on December 14, 2015, with an effective date of January 13, 2016.