Groundfish blog

September 2014 Council Decision Summary Document Online

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

The Pacific Fishery Management Council met September 12-17, 2014 in Spokane, Washington. The September 2014 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document summarizes the decisions made during that meeting.

Final Preferred Alternatives for an Electronic Monitoring Program for the Pacific Coast Limited Entry Trawl Groundfish Fishery Catch Shares Program

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

At the September 2014 Council meeting in Spokane, WA, the Council selected their final preferred alternatives for an electronic monitoring program for the Pacific coast limited entry trawl groundfish fishery catch shares program. See the “Fishery specific tables that show the Council’s final preferred alternatives” (PDF format). More detail regarding the Council’s decision will be provided in the near future on the Council’s website.

The Council also provided guidance to NMFS regarding preservation of the IFQ Program goals and the development performance standards when developing regulations to implement an EM Program. In order to preserve the conservation and accountability aspects of the IFQ Program, the EM Program must accurately capture discard events (i.e., whether discard has occurred), amount of discard (i.e., volume in weight and size of individual fish), disposition of discard (i.e., if we are to consider providing survivability credit for released fish, such as halibut), and do so even for rare events (e.g., catch and discard of rebuilding rockfish, by species).

In developing performance standards and accountability measures, the Council recommends NMFS consider the economic incentives to misreport or underreport catches and mortalities of overfished rockfish and Pacific halibut.

Individual accountability in the fisheries will hold only so far as monitoring programs are able to counteract these incentives. As such, having adequate enforcement to ensure compliance with the EM Program with strong consequences in place for violations are keys to success.

Performance standards examples are listed below:

  1. Require recording of discards in logbooks with estimated weights given for each species for each haul or set;
  2. Require a minimum of 30% video review during times of gear retrieval and 30% of video review of the remainder of the trip; compare to logbook entries for logbook certification;
  3. Logbook certification is achieved if video review determines that logbook amounts are within 20% accuracy of video review, by species;
  4. If logbook amounts do not meet 20% accuracy standard, then a 100% video review is triggered at vessel account holder expense and vessel cannot commence another fishing trip until video has been reviewed and vessel account has been debited;
  5. If the 100% video review is triggered more than twice within a six-month time period, then 100% video review is in effect for all fishing trips for the six months following the commencement of fishing activity, again at the vessel account holder’s expense.

Groundfish Stock Assessment and Fishery Evalution (SAFE) document available

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

The Status of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE), dated August 2014 is now available on the Council’s website. Please visit the Groundfish SAFE document webpage to download the document.

September 2014 Briefing Book Available Online

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The Briefing Book for the September 2014 Council meeting has been posted to the Council’s website on the “Briefing Book” webpage. The Briefing Book contains “situation summaries” (brief summaries that provide background for each agenda item), reports and materials for each agenda item, and written public comment. Advisory body and committee agendas and memos are also available.

NMFS Publishes Proposed “List of Fisheries for 2015″

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its proposed List of Fisheries (LOF) for 2015, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The proposed LOF for 2015 reflects new information on interactions between commercial fisheries and marine mammals. NMFS must classify each commercial fishery on the LOF into one of three categories under the MMPA based upon the level of mortality and serious injury of marine mammals that occurs incidental to each fishery. The classification of a fishery on the LOF determines whether participants in that fishery are subject to certain provisions of the MMPA, such as registration, observer coverage, and take reduction plan requirements.

Please see the Federal Register dated August 25, 2014 to view the proposed rule, and for instructions on how to comment. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by September 24, 2014.

2015-2016 Harvest Specifications and Management Measures, including Amendment 24

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.

Council announces availability of its final report for the Pacific Coast Groundfish Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Permit Stacking (Catch Shares) Program Review

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The Council approved the final report at its June 2014 meeting after reviewing an earlier draft in April. The review documents the conditions which led to the full implementation of the sablefish permit stacking program in 2002 and assesses the achievement of the Council’s objectives for the program. The assessment indicates a generally successful program in achieving those objectives.

NOAA requests comments on a proposal to update the Federal list of fisheries for West Coast states

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

NOAA Fisheries proposes to update the Federal list of authorized fisheries and gear issued under section 305(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (“List of Fisheries”). The List of Fisheries includes a description of fisheries that operate in the U.S. West Coast Exclusive Economic Zone, the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s geographic area of authority. This action is necessary because the current list is outdated and either includes several fisheries that no longer occur, or does not include fisheries that do occur, within the U.S. West Coast EEZ. The intended effect of this rule is to bring the list up to date with current West Coast fisheries and fishery management plans.

Please see the Federal Register notice dated August 7, 2014 to read the proposed rule and instructions on how to comment. Comments on this proposed rule must be received on or before September 8, 2014.

For further information, please contact:
Ms. Yvonne deReynier, 206-526-6129; (fax) 206-526-6736;
Mr. Joshua Lindsay, 562-980-4034; 562-980-4047

Public Comment Deadlines for the September 2014 Briefing Book

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Public Comment Deadline – September 2014 Advance Briefing Book

Public comment materials received BY 11:59 pm, August 15, 2014, will be mailed to Council members and appropriate advisory bodies prior to the September meeting. This is known as the “Advance Briefing Book Deadline.”

Supplemental Public Comment Deadline

Public comments or materials received at the Council office after August 15, but BY 11:59 pm, September 3 will be included in the supplemental materials distributed to the Council on the first day of the September meeting. This is known as the “Supplemental Public Comment Deadline.”

See the Council’s Briefing Book Public Comment Deadlines webpage for complete details on how to submit comments.

June 2014 Council Decision Summary Document Online

Monday, June 30th, 2014

The Pacific Fishery Management Council met June 20-25, 2014 in Garden Grove, California. The June 2014 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document summarizes the decisions made during that meeting.