Pacific Council News: Winter 2019 Salmon Stories

Preseason Salmon Management Schedule Set; Annual Management Cycle to be Discussed in April

In November the Council adopted a 2020 salmon management schedule, including tentative dates and sites for public hearings. Hearings are planned for March 23 in Westport, Washington and Coos Bay, Oregon, and March 24 in Eureka, California.

The Council also decided to begin considering changes to the annual salmon management cycle. The National Marine Fisheries Service has indicated that it is more challenging every year to get the new regulations in place by the typical May 1 fishery start date. Therefore, NMFS has proposed to shift the start date for the new season from May 1 to mid-May. Fisheries that traditionally started May 1 would be managed “inseason” from the previous season, similar to the way March-April fisheries are currently managed. There would not be delays in fishery openings as a result of the shift. The first year of the new season structure would be 2021.

Changes will be made through an amendment to the salmon fishery management plan. The Council is scheduled to discuss this topic again in April 2020.

Ad Hoc Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup Will Continue to Meet 

In November the Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup provided a report outlining the progress made since the September Council meeting, and tentative dates for future meetings beyond November. The Council directed the Workgroup to continue its task and report back in the Spring of 2020. 

The Workgroup was formed in April 2019 in response to National Marine Fisheries Service’s reinitiation of Endangered Species Act consultation on the effect of Council-area ocean salmon fisheries on Southern Resident killer whales. It was tasked with reassessing the effects of Council-area ocean salmon fisheries on the Chinook salmon prey base of the whales. NMFS has developed a webpage dedicated to the Workgroup which includes meeting schedules, materials shared, and additional information.

Salmon Methodology Review Results Presented

In November the Council approved the updated Fishery Regulation Assessment Model (FRAM) user manual, which will be posted to the Council website in the near future. The Council agreed that moving the salmon management boundary line from latitude 40° 05′ (Horse Mountain, California) five miles north to latitude 40° 10′ could be considered as part of Amendment 20 to the salmon fishery management plan, which focuses on the annual management cycle. That process is scheduled to begin in April 2020.   

A review of the methodology used to develop abundance forecasts for Willapa Bay coho will require additional documentation. A meeting of the STT and SSC Salmon Subcommittee will be held over the winter, and the methodology will be brought to back to the Council for approval at its March 2020 meeting.

After a thorough technical review, the Council agreed that the upper Columbia Summer Chinook model inputs will not require a methodology review, and any needed revisions to the data inputs are expected to be in place in time for the 2020 preseason process.  

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