Thursday, August 21st, 2014
At their June 2014 meeting, the Council adopted final harvest specifications and management measures for 2015-2016 (see Table 1). Harvest specifications for several species increased including petrale sole, sablefish north and south of 36° N. latitude, widow rockfish, and yellowtail rockfish. The Council also updated the cowcod rebuilding plan, establishing a TTARGET of 2020, the median year to rebuild the stock under the preferred status quo harvest rate. The cowcod annual catch limit is 10 mt; however, a 4 mt annual catch target was established.
The Council maintained the status quo Slope Rockfish complexes north and south of 40°10′ N. latitude. A scientific sorting requirement was recommended for rougheye/blackspotted and shortraker rockfish to improve the data used in stock assessments and management.
The Other Fish complex was restructured by designating several species in the groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) as ecosystem component species (EC). EC species are non-target species or non-target stocks, not determined to be subject to overfishing, approaching overfished, or overfished; not likely to become subject to overfishing or overfished, according to the best available information, in the absence of conservation and management measures; and not generally be retained for sale or personal use. If monitoring indicates an increasing trend in catch for an EC species, reclassification and/or appropriate management measures may be considered. The following species were designated as EC species: finescale codling (aka Pacific flatnose), soupfin shark, spotted ratfish, all endemic skates except longnose skate, and all endemic grenadiers. Further, stock-specific harvest specifications were established for spiny dogfish. The Washington, Oregon, and California kelp greenling stocks, the Washington cabezon stock, and leopard shark remain in the Other Fish complex.
The Council also amended the FMP to include default harvest control rules that would be used in future biennia, unless modified by the Council, to establish harvest specifications. During any biennial decision-making process the Council may depart from these default values by deciding to modify the harvest control rule for one or more management unit. Reducing the number of decision points is expected to reduce the amount of Council and committee time spent on harvest specification deliberations. Default harvest control rules also reduce the scope of action and analysis needed for establishing future harvest specifications and increases the probability that future harvest specifications are implemented on January 1.
Notable changes to management measures starting in 2015 include:
- Adjustments to the trawl rockfish conservation area; in the area 40°10′ to 45°46′ N. latitude the boundaries would be 100 fm shoreward and 200 fm modified, year-round.
- Limited entry and open access fixed gear trip limits increases for several species are proposed including those for sablefish, bocaccio, and Shelf Rockfish south of 34°27′ N. latitude. The prohibition on lingcod retention during some periods would also be removed and trip limits increased.
- In the Washington recreational fisheries, season dates for the depth closure in the North Coast (Marine Areas 3 and 4) would be shorter than in 2014. In the South Coast (Marine Area 2), the prohibition on lingcod retention seaward of 30 fathoms in the area south of 46°58′ N. latitude on Fridays and Saturdays from July to August 31 would be removed. In the Columbia River Area (Marine Area 1), the southern boundary for the year-round lingcod closure would be moved three miles north.
- A one-fish canary sub-bag limit is proposed in the Oregon recreational fisheries.
- In the California recreational fisheries, the lingcod bag limit would increase from two to three fish.
The National Marine Fisheries service is expected to publish the proposed rule implementing the Council recommendations this fall.