2012 in brief
Salmon. The 2012 salmon season was a good one, with California and Oregon fishermen, in particular, benefiting from higher-than-usual salmon abundance for Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook. Strait of Juan de Fuca coho were rebuilt, and a rebuilding plan was adopted for Sacramento River fall Chinook. The Council continued working on an essential fish habitat (EFH) amendment to the salmon fishery management plan, and adopted alternatives for the review. A hatchery program review recommended changes to hatchery practices. A lower Columbia River endangered salmon and steelhead recovery plan was issued.
Groundfish. A review found that the trawl quota share program was meeting many of its objectives. The Council began work on a review of groundfish EFH and adopted phase I of the groundfish EFH report. A workshop was held on reducing barotrauma in rockfish, and the Council began discussing barotrauma mitigation. NMFS allowed a carryover of shorebased groundfish quota from 2011 to 2012. The Council discussed whiting reallocation, electronic monitoring, quota pounds for widow rockfish, trawl gear restrictions, and other topics as part of trawl rationalization trailing actions. A workgroup recommended changes to the biennial groundfish management process. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended mandatory streamer lines for longline vessels to avoid bycatch of birds.
Highly migratory species: The U.S. and Canada failed to agree on an albacore fishing treaty, and scheduled further negotiations. The Council looked into whether changes could be made to the closure dates for or the southern boundary of the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area to enhance fishing opportunity in the California drift gillnet fishery.
Halibut. In response to unusually high harvests of Pacific halibut off Southern Oregon and Northern California, the Council explored how best to incorporate the area south of the Oregon/California border into halibut management. Halibut discards dropped 87 percent in the limited entry bottom trawl fishery, probably as a result of the catch share program and the use of new halibut excluders.
Coastal pelagic species: The Council reaffirmed its commitment to protect unmanaged forage fish, and explored ways to do so.
Habitat: West Coast states geared up to address marine debris from the Japanese tsunami. The Habitat Committee discussed the Comparative Survival Study in the Columbia river. A draft Fishery Ecosystem Plan was approved.
Admin: NMFS announced a proposal to revise National Standard 1 guidelines. The Council staff began planning the Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries 3 conference, to be held in Washington, D.C. in 2013. The Council commented on the REFI Act, a bill to refinance the groundfish buyback loan.
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