New proposed rules for the groundfish fishery—comment deadlines October 29 and November 12

Amendment 21-4 and Catch Share Review follow-on actions (Comment deadline October 29)

The proposed rule for Amendment 21-4 to the groundfish fishery management plan (FMP) and other Council regulatory recommendations following from completion of the first five-year program review (follow-on actions) published in the Federal Register on October 10.  The comment period will end on October 29, 2019.

The portions of the proposed rule related to Amendment 21-4 would convert bycatch allocations of canary and widow rockfish to set-asides in the at-sea whiting fishery, remove fixed formulas used to determine bycatch amounts of Pacific Ocean Perch, darkblotched rockfish and widow rockfish in the at-sea whiting sectors, and allow the Council to determine bycatch amounts for these stocks through the biennial harvest specification process.  As a reminder, the Notice of Availability for Amendment 21-4 published in the Federal Register on August 30, 2019.  The public comment period on the Notice of Availability will also end on October 29, 2019, the same day as the comment period end date for the proposed rule.  The decision date to approve, disapprove, or partially approve Amendment 21-4 is November 28, 2019.

The proposed rule also includes follow-on action regulatory changes that would provide increased opportunity to trade individual fishing quota, accumulation limits for catcher-processor permits, and expand economic data collections.

Vessel movement and monitoring (Comment deadline November 12)

The rule proposes revisions to reporting and monitoring provisions for vessels participating in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery. The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on October 10, 2019.  The comment period will end on November 12, 2019.

This proposed action would increase monitoring effectiveness and operational efficiency by:

  • increasing the position transmission rate for certain vessels using NMFS type-approved vessel monitoring system units, including limited entry groundfish vessels, open access vessels using non-groundfish trawl gear (ridgeback prawn, California halibut, and sea cucumber trawl), and any vessels that use open access gear targeting groundfish or that have groundfish bycatch (salmon troll, prawn trap, Dungeness crab, halibut longline, California halibut line gear, and sheephead trap);
  • allowing midwater trawl vessels participating in the Pacific whiting fishery to change their landing declarations while at sea;
  • exempting groundfish trawl vessels from observer coverage while testing authorized fishing gear; and
  • allowing shorebased Individual Fishing Quota fixed gear vessels to deploy pot gear in one management area while retrieving gear from another management area on a single trip.