Groundfish FMP Amendment 20: Trawl rationalization (IFQs and co-ops)

Trawl rationalization

Trawl rationalization involved two closely related decisions: the creating the management system used to rationalize the trawl fishery (Amendment 20) and determining the proportion of the available catch that would be allocated to the trawl fishery for most, but not all quota species (Amendment 21). Amendment 20, discussed here, implemented individual fishing quotas for the shoreside trawl fishery, and harvester co-ops for the at-sea whiting sectors.

The Council submitted its final recommendations on Amendments 20 and 21 to the Secretary of Commerce on May 7, 2010. NMFS subsequently approved the bulk of Amendments 20 and 21. The final regulations were published in the Federal Register on October 1, 2010 (the initial allocation rule). A proposed rule for a separate set of regulations required for implementation (the components rule) was finalized inn December 2010 and implemented on January 11, 2011. Since then, the Council has made several adjustments to the trawl catch share program.

Five-year review of the trawl catch share program (2017)

As required by law, the Council reviewed the trawl catch share program and intersector allocations five years after their implementation.

Catch share program modifications

This section documents actions under consideration and implemented that substantially modify the function of the trawl catch share program, implemented through Amendment 20 (which established the limited access privilege program) and Amendment 21 (which established the intersector allocations needed to support the program).  There are three categories of such actions: trailing actions, follow-on actions, and other actions.

In 2010, the Council began a series of trailing actions for the trawl catch share and intersector allocation amendments.  These actions finalize parts of the program that were incomplete in 2011, respond to problems that were identified as the program was put in place, and modify old regulations that were made obsolete by the trawl rationalization program (changes made possible due to the accountability provided by catch shares and needed to take full advantage of the flexibility catch shares are intended to provide).

In addition to trailing actions, as part of the first full catch share program review (the five year review), the Council considered a number of actions based on issues of concern identified during the review process (see Section 5.0 of the review document, completed in November 2017).  These actions have been termed catch share review “follow-on actions”.

Finally, the Council has taken other actions significantly affecting the catch share program that are neither trailing actions nor actions following on from the first catch share review.

The Council prioritizes all its potential groundfish action items, including the those modifying the trawl catch share program, as part of its groundfish new management measure prioritization process.

Action related to modification of the Amendment 20 catch share program and the supporting Amendment 20 intersector allocation amendment are grouped below according to type and implementation status.

In process trailing actions


In process follow-on actions

In process other actions

Completed trailing actions

Below is a list of all trailing actions completed and implemented.  Some of the actions have been incorporated into other regulatory packages that are provided in the below list: 

Completed follow-on actions

At its November 2018 meeting the Council finalized recommendations on a number of follow-on actions which were implemented as part of the regulations implementing Amendment 21-4, effective January 2020.  Those actions included

  • For the at-sea fishery manage canary and widow rockfish as set asides and remove at-sea sector canary rockfish, darkblotched rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and widow rockfish allocation formulas from the FMP.
  • Eliminate the September 1 expiration date for QP not transferred from QS Accounts by that date.
  • Allow vessels to cover their entire deficits after the end of the year (unrestricted by the annual vessel QP limits).
  • Allow the post season trading of QP remaining in vessel accounts at the end of the year, in order to cover previous years deficits.
  • Establish a 5 catcher-processor permit control limit that will go into effect in the event that a catcher-processor co-op fails to form and the sector converts to an IFQ program.
  • Collect detailed ownership information for the catcher processor sector.
  • Collect QS ownership data from all QS account owners.

Completed other actions

Rejected trailing actions

The Council considered but rejected:

As part of its gear rule the Council recommended that selective flatfish trawl gear be allowed shoreward of the RCA/100 fm line between 40° 10′ and 42° N. lat.  NMFS did not approve that part of the gear rule package.  However, the item remains as a possible trailing action.

Rejected other actions

Possible trailing actions not yet developed

The following items may be taken up by the Council after items on the current workload list are addressed or through exempted fishing permits.

Size endorsements. Consider eliminating limited entry permit size endorsements.

Trawl IFQ carryover when management units change. Consider adding provisions to cover how carryover should be handled when there is a reallocation as a result of changes in management areas (area subdivision, combination, or line movement) or subdivision of a species group. This issue was identified when lingcod was geographically subdivided.

Develop criteria for distributing adaptive management program quota pounds. Consider a formula for the distribution of quota pounds issued for quota shares held for the adaptive management program. Under the Amendment 20 trawl rationalization program, the shoreside IFQ program includes a set‑aside of 10 percent of the non-whiting quota shares (including halibut individual bycatch quota) for the adaptive management program. The quota pounds are to be distributed to address needs related to community stability, processor stability, conservation, unintended/unforeseen consequences of IFQ management, and facilitating new entrants. However, to date, the quota pounds associated with this program have been passed through to quota share holders on a pro rata basis in proportion to their quota share holdings. 

Eliminate the prohibition on whiting at-sea processing south of 42o N. Lat. This issue arose in the context of the need to avoid bycatch. The issue might be explored through an EFP or through regulatory action.  At its September 2020 meeting, the Council considered this issue as part of a package of alternatives intended to improve attainment of mothership sector allocations.  However, The Council delayed further consideration of at-sea processing south of 42° N. lat. due to the potential impact on salmonids and other managed species, but may consider an exempted fishing permit as part of the 2023-2024 biennial management measure process.

Year-round all depth non-whiting fishery for midwater target species. Consider whether to allow year-round, coastwide, midwater targeting of non-whiting species. Under current regulations, the only way a midwater trawler can target pelagic rockfish north of 40o 10’ N. latitude (inside and outside the Rockfish Conservation Areas, or RCAs) is during the whiting season. In December 2017, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a biological opinion for the groundfish fishery requiring that prior to allowing the use of midwater trawl gear outside of the whiting season EFPs be used to collect information on potential impacts to threatened and endangered salmon species.  The Council has recommended that EFPs be issued for 2017 through 2021.   The most recent of the EFPs:

  • Allow vessels to fish in all areas with midwater gear outside the primary season.
  • Allow participants to use midwater gear in the RCA closures off Washinton and within and shoreward of the RCA/100 fm line south of 40° 10′ N. lat. at all times of year.
  • Allow vessels to use selective flatfish trawl (SFFT) shoreward of the RCA/100 fm line between 40° 10′ and 42° N. lat.

Removal of Selective Flatfish Trawl (SFFT) requirement between 40° 10′ and 42° N. lat.  The Council’s gear rule recommended a number of actions including that SFFT gear be allowed shoreward of the RCA/100 fm line between 40° 10′ and 42° N. lat.  This action was disapproved by NMFS because of unknown potential impacts to ESA listed salmon species.  The EFPs in the previous paragraph on a year-round non-whiting fishery also cover the collection of data for this potential regulatory change.

Participation Costs.   In June 2017, the Council requested that NMFS address possible methods for reducing observer and catch monitoring costs and report back to the Council. A report was provided in March 2018.