Pacific Whiting Utilization in the At-Sea Sectors

Action status

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

In 2016, during public meetings to discuss the Council’s 5-year Catch Shares Review process (Agenda Item F.6.c. Supplemental CAB Report, November 2016), issues were identified regarding the whiting sectors, and particularly the Mothership (MS) sector. However, during the development of the follow-on actions, the Council’s ad hoc Community Advisory Board (CAB) did not prioritize alternatives related to this issue (Agenda Item F.2.c, Supplemental CAB Report, June 2017).  In September 2018 though, the Arctic Storm Management Group provided a public comment letter to the Council for discussion and consideration proposing to increase the processing cap of 45 percent within the follow-on actions package (Agenda Item I.7.b, Supplemental Public Comment 1, September 2018). At that meeting, the Council decided not to include the request in among the issues that it addressed but asked the industry to provide some solutions to continue the discussion in the future.

In October 2018, MS industry members held a sector-wide meeting in Portland, OR to discuss solutions. This information was provided to the Council and its advisory bodies in November 2018 to highlight the industry’s concerns as well as provide a fuller suite of potential management measures that may help address the broader issue of underutilization of the MS sector allocation (Agenda Item G.4.b., Supplemental Public Comment 2, November 2018). The Council’s advisory bodies did not prioritize these issues under the Council’s groundfish workload & new management measures process (Agenda Item G.4.a, Supplemental GAP Report 1, November 2018, Agenda Item G.4.a, Supplemental GMT Report 2, November 2018) on future agendas. Instead, they decided to examine all groundfish issues in March 2019 to decide what issues should move forward for further discussion and possible action. During the March 2019 meeting, the Council heard from the industry regarding MS sector utilization proposals (Agenda Item G.4., Public Comment, March 2019) and discussed the Agenda Item G.4.a., Supplemental GAP Report, March 2019 and Agenda Item G.4.a, Supplemental GMT Report 4, March 2019 reports. The Council prioritized the MS utilization issues and in November 2019, directed industry to develop the scope of action and draft purpose and need (P&N) statement for the MS sector utilization item during the GAP’s March and April 2020 meetings. At its April 2020 meeting, the Council requested the GAP submit an informational report on these items for June.

In September 2020, based on Informational Report 4, June 2020, Council and NMFS staff submitted a scoping paper (Agenda Item D.2., Attachment 3, September 2020) in the advanced briefing book outlining some questions for consideration. The GMT provided a preliminary look at the data, thoughts on potential causes of under attainment, and regulatory issues (Agenda Item G.2.a, Supplemental GMT Report 3, September 2020). After considering the information provided, the Council adopted a purpose and need statement for public review and continued to scope the following issues:

  1. Primary whiting season start date (which could apply to other whiting sectors),
  2. Processor obligation deadline,
  3. MS processor cap, and
  4. MS/CP permit transfers. 

The Council considered a request to allow processing south of 42° N. lat. in the at-sea sectors as a part of this action; however, due to potential interactions with salmon, the Council decided to consider the action at a later time and encouraged the industry to test the idea through future exempted fishing permit experiments.  

At the March 2021 meeting, the Council adopted a range of alternatives (ROA) for public review (See March 2021 Decision Summary).

At the September 2021 Council meeting the Council selected the following preliminary preferred alternatives (PPA) and confirmed these alternatives as final preferred alternatives in March 2022.

1.     Whiting Season Start Date (for all whiting sectors): Move the whiting season start date from May 15th to May 1st.  Move all administrative deadlines associated with the season start date to 45 days prior to May 1st.

2.     Mothership Processor Obligation: Remove mothership processor obligation from regulation.

3.    Mothership Processor Cap: Remove mothership processor cap of 45 percent from regulation.

4.    Mothership Processor & Catcher-Processor Permit Transfer: A vessel can be registered to a mothership permit and a catcher-processor permit in the same calendar year. A vessel could have unlimited transfers.

The proposed rule (87 FR 55979) for these regulatory changes was issued on September 13, 2022 and the final rule (87 FR 77000) was issued on December 16, 2022 with changes effective January 17, 2023.

Final Analytical Document