Trawl Catch Share Trailing Actions

“Trawl trailing actions” are actions the Council is taking as followups on the trawl catch share (rationalization) program and intersector allocation. They include:

  • program elements that were not completed when the catch share program was put in place in 2011
  • responses to problems that were identified after the catch share program began, and changes to pre-catch-share regulations that are now outdated.
  • other actions (called “follow-on” actions) that were identified during the five-year review of the catch share program, which was completed in late 2017. See the Five Year Review webpage for a list of follow-on actions that the Council prioritized in its completion of the review.

Some of these actions have been completed, and some are still in progress. Other actions that affect the trawl fishery may be taken up as part of the groundfish biennial specifications or omnibus workload prioritization process, which is scheduled for September 2018.

Other Issues Affecting the Trawl Fishery

In June 2016, the Council prioritized all of its potential groundfish action items, including the trawl catch share program trailing actions, as part of its omnibus groundfish prioritization process. For information on other trawl‑related action items, see the list of groundfish workload priorities. For a more complete description of items referenced by number in the groundfish workload planner, see the June 2016 list of “Groundfish Management Measures for Council Consideration.” The next omnibus prioritization will occur in September 2018.

Actions Nearing Completion

Actions in Progress

Actions for Future Scoping (the links below go to a separate page)

Completed Trailing Actions

Final Action Taken, Council Action Rescinded

Actions Nearing Completion

  • Electronic Monitoring.  Finding ways to lower costs associated with the catch share program is a Council priority. The trawl catch share program requires 100% observer coverage, which is expensive for the trawl fleet. As a result, the Council is interested in electronic monitoring as a way to reduce observer costs. In 2014, the Council recommended allowing the use of electronic monitoring on all vessels in the trawl catch share program, and approved exempted fishing permits (EFPs) to test electronic monitoring in the 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 In April 2016 the Council reviewed draft electronic monitoring regulations for vessels targeting whiting and using fixed gear in the trawl catch share fishery and approved these regulations to be put forward by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  The draft regulations were published as a proposed ruleon September 16, 2016; a final rule is expected early in 2018. For bottom trawl and midwater pelagic rockfish trips, it is expected that NMFS will publish a proposed rule sometime in 2018. See the Council’s “Electronic Monitoring” page for more information.
  • Removal of Blackgill in the Slope Complex.Blackgill rockfish south of 40° 10′ N. latitude is currently managed in the Minor Slope Rockfish complex south of 40° 10′ N. latitude. In November 2015, the Council recommended removing blackgill from the minor slope complex and establishing specific harvest specifications and quota shares for blackgill. This was based on a Groundfish Advisory Subpanel report that complications had arisen between the traditional fixed gear fleet and the trawl catch share fleet using fixed gear in the Conception management area. The catch share fleet was increasingly targeting blackgill rockfish. The Council decided that the existing quota share control limit and vessel quota pound annual limits for slope rockfish would apply to blackgill rockfish when it is split from the slope rockfish complex. NMFS planned to publish a proposed rule for this action in the spring of 2018, but the rulemaking has been delayed due to other NMFS workload priorities.
  • Vessel Movement Monitoring. In April 2016, the Council made a suite of recommendations related to vessel movement monitoring. The Vessel Monitoring Public Scoping Document outlines the recommendations in The proposed rule for this package has been delayed due to other NMFS workload priorities.
  • Gear Regulations. In 2016, the Council recommended that trawl gear regulations be updated to reflect the individual accountability provided by the trawl catch share program. Specifically, the Council recommended allowing vessels to carry and use multiple trawl gears types on a single trip (fish caught using different gears must be stowed separately); eliminating minimum mesh size regulations for the codend and body of the net; eliminating restrictions on codends; eliminating chafing gear restrictions; allowing a new haul to be brought onboard and dumped before all catch from previous haul has been stowed; and changing the selective flatfish trawl gear definition and restrictions.
  • The selective flatfish trawl gear definition would be changed to allow the use of four-seam nets. The restriction requiring use of selective flatfish trawl gear shoreward of the Rockfish Conservation Area north of 40o10’ N. latitude would be replaced by a restriction that requires use of small footrope trawl in that area.
  • Fishing in Multiple Management Areas. Also in 2016, the Council added a recommendation to allow a vessel to fish in multiple management areas on the same trip and assign catch to management areas in proportion to the vessel’s effort in each area on that trip. The Council also considered a revised procedure for measuring mesh size in the body of the net. A proposed rule for the full gear package approved by the Council is expected in the summer/fall of 2018.
  • Any Mesh Size. For 2017, NMFS implemented an industry exempted fishing permit (EFP) proposal that allowed participants to use any mesh size and small footrope gear shoreward or the Rockfish Conservation Areas (two of the provisions the Council has recommended as part of the gear rule). This eliminated the selective flatfish requirement that currently applies to the area north of 40o10’ N. latitude. For 2018, the Council has recommended an EFP that includes these provisions as well as others that were included in the Council’s gear rule recommendations (page 2). The 2018 EFP would also allow more extensive use of midwater trawl gear (see “Year-Round Non-Whiting Fishery for Midwater Target Species” below).
  • Set-Asides for the At-sea Whiting Co-ops. In 2016, the Council changed management of the at-sea whiting sector allocations of darkblotched rockfish and Pacific ocean perch (POP) to set-asides, while maintaining the allocation formulas in the groundfish fishery management plan for these two stocks to determine the set-aside amounts (Amendment 21-3). This allows NMFS to close one or both of the Pacific whiting at-sea sectors via automatic action if the species-specific set-aside amounts, plus the available reserve for unforeseen catch events (aka buffer), are expected to be exceeded. The final rule was published on January 8, 2018. As part of the 2019-2020 harvest specifications and management measures, the Council is considering modifications to the automatic action authority established in the final rule (see below).  As part of its follow-on actions, the Council is considering additional changes related to determining the annual set-aside amounts of these species and allocation and management of canary and widow.

Actions in Progress

  • Council deliberationArea Modifications.  The Council is considering trawl RCA modifications concurrently with the essential fish habitat (EFH) review process, including whether to reduce or eliminate the areas closed to bottom trawl gears by the trawl RCA. The Council considered but rejected allowing the use of large footrope gear in nearshore areas shoreward of the current RCAs. In 2015 the Council selected a range of alternatives, which were narrowed in in April 2016. Apreliminary preferred alternative was selected in November 2016, and final Council action is scheduled for April 2018.
  • Discard Survival Credits and Conversion Rates. Annual estimates of groundfish mortality, prepared by the West Coast Groundfish Observer Program, include discard survival credits for sablefish and lingcod. However, within the shorebased IFQ program, total catch, regardless of survival, is debited from vessel quota pound accounts and tracked inseason against the trawl allocation and annual catch limits, and there is no postseason quota pound adjustment to account for discard survival. The Council will consider an IFQ survival credit for discarded lingcod and sablefish as part of its deliberations on the groundfish specifications for the 2019-2020 period and is scheduled to select a preliminary preferred alternative in April 2018 and final in June 2018.
  • Surplus Quota Pounds Carryover for Non-whiting.The trawl IFQ program allows up to 10 percent of a vessel’s quota pounds to be carried from one year to the next, either as a deficit covered with following year quota pounds or an unused surplus which can be fished in the following year. Concern that the surplus carryover provision might be interpreted as violating allowable catch limits has led NMFS to not issue surplus carryover for some species in some years. The Council will consider solutions to this problem as part of deliberations on a multi-year catch policy. The next Council action on these issues is slated for the September 2018 Council meeting.
  • Gear Switching and 36º N. lat. Sablefish Management Line.  The Council has indicated that while it was not ready to move these issues forward at its November 2017 meeting, it also did not want to wait until a problem develops.  The Council requested that additional information be available in March 2018 to help decide how to move forward, and to provide guidance to whatever group will work on these
  • Participation Costs. In June 2017, the Council requested that NMFS address methods for reducing observer and catch monitoring costs and report back to the Council.  That report is expected at the March 2018 Council meeting.