Council HMS activities

The Council made the following HMS-related decisions in 2020.

November

Briefing book

Council decisions on HMS

September

Briefing book

Council decisions on HMS

Exempted Fishing Permits

The Council reviewed 20 EFP applications to use standard and linked DSBG and recommended 19 in part or whole for issuance. Four applications proposed using DSBG at night, but the Council did not recommend additional night fishing until data from the one previously-approved EFP becomes available in 2021. The Council did recommend that the previously-approved night fishing EFP be allowed to be fished on another vessel owned by the applicant, but not on both vessels simultaneously.  The Council recommended that NMFS prioritize these applications for EFP issuance over previously-approved applicants who have not completed the process for obtaining their permits.

The Council also recommended NMFS modify the Terms and Conditions for all DSBG and night-set buoy gear (NSBG) EFPs (new and existing) to include a mandatory lost gear reporting requirement and clear marking of gear to distinguish between DSBG and NSBG.

Biennial Harvest Specifications and Management Measures–Preliminary

The Council requested its SSC review proxy values selected by NMFS to make status determinations for Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) bigeye and yellowfin tuna pending Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) adoption of its new benchmark stock assessments for these stocks in advance of the November Council meeting.

Without IATTC action, NMFS would be unable to implement domestic measures to address the stock status of Pacific bluefin and EPO yellowfin under the Tuna Conventions Act and the Council would then consider its obligations pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) Section 304(i), when a stock “is overfished or approaching a condition of being overfished due to excessive international fishing pressure, and for which there are no management measures to end overfishing under an international agreement to which the United States is a party.” This could include implementing domestic catch limits “taking into account the relative impact of vessels of other nations and vessels of the United States.” As a precaution, the Council directed the Highly Migratory Species Management Team, in coordination with the Highly Migratory Species Advisory Subpanel, to examine options for taking action under the MSA and report to the Council at its November 2020 meeting.

Essential Fish Habitat Review

The Council considered the highly migratory species essential fish habitat review Phase 1 report, and approved moving forward with Phase 2, in which modifications to highly migratory species essential fish habitat will be considered.  The Council will consider a Phase 2 scope of work and Fishery Management Plan amendment process at its March 2021 meeting.

June

Briefing book

Council decisions on HMS

International Management Activities

The Council made the following recommendations on management of HMS in international forums:

  • Mr. David Hogan, Department of State representative on the Council, discussed the formation of a working group composed of stakeholders to advise U.S. Government negotiators on port access and other matters under the U.S. Canada Albacore Treaty. The Council supports the formation of this group, emphasizing that it should fairly represent the interests of harvesters, processors, and other industry interests.
  • Should negotiation of a successor to Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Resolution C-18-01 (Measures for the Conservation and Management of Pacific Bluefin Tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, 2019 and 2020) involve increases in catch limits and national allocations, the U.S. should seek a more equitable allocation between the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Western and Central Pacific Ocean than the current approximately 25 percent/75 percent split, and between the U.S. and Mexico of the EPO allocation.
  • In negotiating a successor to IATTC Resolution C-17-02 on tropical tunas (i.e., yellowfin, bigeye, and skipjack tuna), which expires at the end of the 2020 calendar year, the U.S. should protect the interests of domestic harvesters.
  • The Council encourages National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to work with the IATTC Scientific Advisory Committee and Commission science staff to prioritize assessing the striped marlin stocks within the IATTC Convention Area.

March

Briefing book

Council decisions on HMS

Review of Essential Fish Habitat – Scoping

The Council adopted the action plan for review of highly migratory species essential fish habitat provisions, recognizing that the timeline in the action plan may require adjustment. 

International Management Activities

The Council discussed with David Hogan, Department of State representative, issues raised by the Highly Migratory Species Advisory Subpanel pertaining to negotiations on the next fishing regime under the U.S.-Canada Albacore Treaty.

Drift Gillnet Fishery Hard Caps Update

The Council requested that National Marine Fisheries Service report back in September on comments received on the final rule implementing hard caps, the details of the economic analysis that was the basis of it withdrawing the proposed rule, and a range of viable measures the Council could consider in a future rulemaking process.