Non-trawl Rockfish Conservation Area modifications

Action status

  • Implemented
  • Undergoing NMFS Review
  • Approved by Council
  • Under development by the Council

In April 2021 the Council initiated the process to consider modifying the non-trawl rockfish conservation area (NT-RCA) to reflect the current status of groundfish populations and industry needs. 

The (NT-RCA) is a contiguous area closure specific to the groundfish non-trawl sector that extends the length of the West Coast and is bounded by specific latitude and longitude coordinates that approximate depth contours.1 The origins of the NT-RCA can be traced back to 2002 and when first implemented, area closures were part of a suite of conservation measures intended to minimize mortality of overfished stocks to achieve rebuilding goals but now that all but one groundfish species has been rebuilt.

At their April 2021 meeting, the Council scoped this action, adopted a draft purpose and need for public review, and directed development of a range of alternatives. This range will be constructed based on direction of the Council as described in theĀ April Decision Document. The purpose and need statement adopted by the Council is:

The purpose of these proposed actions is to provide access to additional areas that are currently closed to groundfish fishing inside the Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA). The Non-Trawl sector is presently unable to access many species of shelf rockfish where they are most abundant. The actions are needed to provide increased attainment of available healthy shelf rockfish species that largely reside inside the Non-Trawl RCA, thereby increasing their utilization and economic value of the groundfish fishery. The actions are also needed to help diversify fishing strategies in light of restrictive salmon and crab opportunities, provide more stable, year-round fishing opportunity, and expand opportunities to supply seafood, while bringing financial benefit to fishermen, communities, and the infrastructures they support. The additional access might be provided by 1) moving the existing Non-Trawl RCA boundaries, and/or 2) allowing groundfish fishing inside the Non-Trawl RCA using only select gears that minimize bottom contact.