Control date: Limiting participation by American Fisheries Act entities

Date: September 16, 1999

Federal Register summary: “This document announces a control date of September 16, 1999, after which vessels eligible for benefits under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) may be subject to restrictions on participation in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. The intended effect of announcing this control date is to discourage speculative entry into the Pacific coast groundfish fisheries by AFA-qualified vessels while the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) develops recommend-ations to protect the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries from adverse impacts caused by the AFA.”  64 FR 66158, November 24, 1999

Who affected: Catcher vessels in the mothership and shore-based sectors of the Pacific whiting fishery, and all other non-whiting groundfish fisheries in which catch is landed shoreside.

Why: The American Fisheries Act (AFA) reduced harvest capacity in the Alaska pollock fishery by retiring nine Bering Sea catcher/processors. It also redistributed pollock allocations between the inshore and offshore sectors, and defined conditions for creating fishery cooperatives in the pollock fleet. Vessels participating in such cooperatives often have more flexibility in arranging their fishing schedules, and could consider entering additional fisheries.

West Coast fishers and processors were concerned that some AFA-qualified vessels with no (or low) participation in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery would increase their fishing effort in the fishery. Additional effort could worsen existing management problems and erode the effectiveness of future measures. The Council unanimously voted to establish this control date and to develop recommendations to restrict AFA-qualified vessels from participating in the   Pacific Coast groundfish fishery if, between January 1, 1994, and September 16, 1999, the vessel: (1) did not harvest at least 50 metric tons (mt) of Pacific whiting in the mothership sector; (2) did not land at least 50 mt of Pacific whiting in the shore-based sector; or (3) did not land groundfish shoreside in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery (not including fish landed in the Pacific whiting fishery).

What is a control date?

Control dates are published as an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” in the Federal Register.

When the Council begins considering a new limited entry program or the revision of an existing program, it often announces a control date. A control date tells the public that the Council may recommend that activities occurring after that date not count toward qualification for the limited entry program (or modification) being considered. Fishers are not guaranteed future participation, regardless of their date of activity or level of participation in the fishery. Interested parties are urged to contact the Pacific Council office to stay informed of the development of any planned regulations.

Announcement of a control date does not commit the Pacific Council to developing any particular management regime or to use any specific criteria for determining participation in a fishery. The Pacific Council may choose a different control date or a management program that does not make use of such a date. The Pacific Council may also choose to take no further action to modify or control entry or access to the fishery.

Any action by the Pacific Council will be taken pursuant to the requirement for FMP development established under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, may require amendment of the regulations implementing the related FMP, and possibly require amendment of the FMP itself. Such action will entail a proposal for an FMP regulatory amendment with public input and a supporting analysis, NMFS approval, and appropriate rulemaking procedures. These advance notices of proposed rulemakings have been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Summary of control dates in Council managed fisheries