Groundfish harvest specifications and management measures for 2021-2022 (including Amendment 29)

In June 2019 the Council adopted a schedule for developing harvest specifications and management measures for 2021-2022 groundfish fisheries. The process accommodates several steps, including peer review of data and analyses used for management decision-making; preparation of an analytical document as required by law; constituent meetings sponsored by state agencies to solicit public input on preferred management alternatives; and notice and comment rulemaking to implement new biennial regulations. All of these steps need to be timed so that the new regulations can be put in place on January 1, 2021. The Council developed its proposal over its September and November 2019 and April 2020 meetings. It adopted its final preferred alternative at the June 2020 meeting. For information related to the development of these measures visit briefing book pages for these meetings. The Council’s final preferred alternative is summarized below.

Harvest specifications

The Council adopted final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications for stocks and stock complexes by confirming their April 2020 decision for all stocks except shortbelly rockfish.  The Council recommended shortbelly rockfish be designated an Ecosystem Component Species.  The Council also determined there would be a trigger of 2,000 mt of cumulative catch in a calendar year for further Council consideration of shortbelly rockfish impacts.  The stock will continue to be monitored by the GMT and inseason catches will be tracked using the species scorecard.

Management Measures

The Council confirmed their preliminary preferred alternative (PPA) as final preferred alternative (FPA) for routine management measures 2021 and 2022 groundfish fisheries, including the annual catch limit deductions for Tribal, research, recreational, EFP, and incidental open access fisheries, as well as set-asides for the at-sea whiting fisheries, as recommended by the GMT . The Council adopted trip limits for incidentally caught yellowtail rockfish for salmon troll fisheries both north and south of 40° 10’ N. lat. For the salmon troll fishery north of 40° 10’ N. lat., the Council eliminated the salmon to yellowtail ratio requirement and recommended a monthly trip limit of 500 lbs of yellowtail rockfish, with the additional requirement that salmon are included in the landing. For the salmon troll fishery south of 40° 10’ N. lat, the Council adopted their PPA of 1 lb. of yellowtail rockfish per 2 lb. of Chinook salmon landed, with a cumulative monthly limit of 200 lbs. of yellowtail rockfish.

The Council adopted the harvest guidelines and allocations, and established a 50 mt annual catch target for cowcod south of 40° 10’ N. lat., as recommended by the GMT. Further, the Council confirmed their PPA as FPA for the two-year trawl/non-trawl and commercial trip limits for all stocks. As part of the trip limit action item, the Council removed flatfish gear restrictions within the non-trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) south of 42° N. lat and established a 50 lbs per month shortspine thornyhead and 50 lbs. per month longspine thornyhead trip limit north of 34° 27’ N. lat.  The Council also converted the allocations from Amendment 21 formulas for widow rockfish, petrale sole, lingcod south of 40° 10’ N. lat., and the Slope Rockfish Complex, including blackgill rockfish, to new two-year allocations as detailed in the Draft Environmental Assessment.

The Council adopted the recreational management measures recommended by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife .

Additionally, the Council adopted multiple changes to the non-trawl RCA off California for recreational and commercial fisheries.  The recreational management area depth changes to the RCA are as follows:

  • Mendocino Groundfish Management Area (Cape Mendocino to Point Arena): Increase the allowable depth during the open season (May through October) from 20 to 30 fathoms.
  • San Francisco Groundfish Management Area (Point Arena to Pigeon Point): Increase the allowable depth during the open season (April through December) from 40 to 50 fathoms.
  • Southern Groundfish Management Area (Point Conception to the U.S.-Mexico border): Increase the allowable depth during the open season (March through December) from 75 to 100 fathoms.

The changes to the commercial non-trawl RCA depth boundaries are:

  • Implementation of a new management line at 38° 57.5′ N. lat., (Point Arena) for purposes of defining RCA boundaries.
  • In the area between 38° 57.5′ and 34° 27′ N. lat., (Point Arena to Point Conception): increase the depth of the shoreward RCA boundary from 40 to 50 fathoms. [NOTE: The shoreward RCA depth between 40° 10′ N. lat. and 38° 57.5′N. lat. would remain unchanged; at 40 fathoms.]
  • From 34° 27′ N. lat. (Point Conception) to the U.S.-Mexico border: Increase the depth of the shoreward RCA boundary from 75 fathoms to 100 fathoms.

Exempted fishing permits

In a related action, the  Council forwarded six 2021-2022 exempted fishing permits (EFP) applications (Year-round Coastwide Midwater Rockfish; California Department of Fish and Wildlife Recreational Cowcod Sampling in California EFP; Yellowtail Rockfish Jig Fishing off California EFP; Commercial Midwater Hook and Line Rockfish in the Rockfish Conservation Area Off Oregon EFP; Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Enhanced Yelloweye Recreational Fishery Biological Sampling EFP; and the Monterey Regional EFP Targeting Chilipepper Rockfish) to NMFS for implementation, clarifying that the yellowtail rockfish jig fishing EFP should include 100 percent observer coverage.

EFPs are considered as part of the biennial process because catch must be accounted for during the biennial period in relation to annual catch limits.