Archive for May, 2019

NOAA General Counsel seeking comments on Penalty Policy by June 3, 2019

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announces the availability of draft revisions to NOAA’s Policy for the Assessment of Civil Administrative Penalties and Permit Sanctions (Penalty Policy) for public review and comment.

The draft revisions to the Penalty Policy will remain available for public review until June 3, 2019. To ensure that comments will be considered, NOAA must receive written comments by June 3, 2019.

Please see the Federal Register notice dated May 2, 2019 to view the draft Penalty Policy and to view instructions on how to comment.

For further information, please contact NOAA staff member Meggan Engelke-Ros at 301-427-2202.

 

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Materials available for the May 29, 2019 Ad Hoc Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Policy and Technical Advisory Committees webinar

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

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Agenda available for the May 30-31, 2019 Ad Hoc Climate and Communities Core Team meeting in Portland, OR

Friday, May 24th, 2019

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Materials available for the May 22, 2019 Ad Hoc Ecosystem Workgroup webinar

Monday, May 20th, 2019

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Agenda available for the May 23-24, 2019 Ad Hoc Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup meeting

Friday, May 17th, 2019

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Scientific and Statistical Committee’s Economics Subcommittee to Hold Webinar Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council) Scientific and Statistical Committee’s Economics Subcommittee (Economics Subcommittee) will hold a webinar on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, which is open to the public.  The webinar will begin at 1 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) and is expected to end at 4 p.m. or when business for the day is complete. The primary purpose of the meeting is to review new analyses of economic impacts associated with alternatives in three draft rebuilding plans for Queets River, Snohomish River, and Strait of Juan de Fuca Coho.  The SSC Economics Subcommittee members’ role will be development of recommendations and a report for consideration by the SSC and Pacific Council at the June 2019 meeting in San Diego, California.

Webinar Agenda

To Attend the Webinar

  1. Join the meeting by visiting this link:
    http://www.gotomeeting.com/online/webinar/join-webinar
  2. Enter the Webinar ID: 800-770-499
  3. Please enter your name and email address (required)

AFTER logging in to the webinar, please:

  1. Dial this TOLL number +1 (562) 247-8321 (not a toll-free number)
  2. Enter the Attendee phone audio access code 176-615-134
  3. Enter your audio phone PIN (shown after joining the webinar)

NOTE: We have disabled Mic/Speakers as on option and require all participants to use a telephone or cell phone to participate.

Technical Information

System Requirements

  • PC-based attendees: Required: Windows® 7, Vista, or XP
  • Mac®-based attendees: Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer
  • Mobile attendees: Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet (See the GoToMeeting Webinar Apps)

Public Listening Station

A public listening station will also be provided at the Council office.

Pacific Fishery Management Council
7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101
Portland, OR 97220-1384
503-820-2280
Driving Directions

Additional information

This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at 503-820-2411 at least ten days prior to the meeting date. If you have additional questions regarding the webinar, please contact Mr. John DeVore at 503-820-2413 or Ms. Robin Ehlke at 503-820-2410; toll free 1-866-806-7204.

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June 19-25, 2019 Council Meeting Information (Meeting Notice, Detailed Agenda; E-Portal)

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

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Highly Migratory Species Management Team to Hold Webinar June 6, 2019

Monday, May 13th, 2019

The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council) Highly Migratory Species Management Team (HMSMT) will hold a webinar, which is open to the public.  The webinar will be held on Thursday, June 6, 2019  from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight  Time, or when business for the day is completed.

Webinar Agenda

Purpose of the Webinar

The primary purpose of this HMSMT webinar is to prepare for the June 2019 Pacific Council meeting. The HMS topics on the Pacific Council’s June agenda are: 1) National Marine Fisheries Report, 2) International Management Recommendations, 3) Yellowfin Tuna Overfishing Response, 4) Drift Gillnet Fishery Performance Metrics Review, 5) Review and Recommendations on Exempted Fishing Permit Applications, and 6) Review of Deep-Set Buoy Gear Authorization Analyses. The HMSMT may also discuss other items related to HMS management and administrative Pacific Council agenda items.  A detailed agenda for the webinar will be available on the Pacific Council’s website prior to the meeting.  No management actions will be decided by the HMSMT.

To Attend the Webinar

  1. Join the meeting by visiting this link:
    http://www.gotomeeting.com/webinar/join-webinar
  2. Enter the Webinar ID: 544-381-883
  3. Please enter your name and email address (required)
  4. You must use your telephone for the audio portion of the meeting by dialing this TOLL number +1 (562) 247-8321 (not a toll-free number)
  5. Then enter the Attendee phone audio access code 835-605-745
  6. Then enter your audio phone pin (shown after joining the webinar)

Technical Information

System Requirements

  • PC-based attendees: Required: Windows® 10, 8, 7, Vista, or XP
  • Mac®-based attendees: Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer
  • Mobile attendees: Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet (See the GoToMeeting Webinar Apps)

You may send an email to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt or contact him at 503-820-2280, extension 411 for technical assistance.

Public Listening Station

A public listening station will also be provided at the Council office.

Pacific Fishery Management Council
7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101
Portland, OR 97220-1384
503-820-2280
Driving Directions

Additional information

Public comments during the webinar will be received from attendees at the discretion of the HMSMT chair.

This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at 503-280-2411 at least ten days prior to the meeting date.

If you have additional questions regarding the HMSMT webinar, please contact Dr. Kit Dahl at 503-820-2422; toll free 1-866-806-7204, extension 422.

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Pacific Council News Spring 2019 Groundfish Stories

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Changes to groundfish essential fish habitat, Rockfish Conservation Areas approved

In March the Council approved sending groundfish fishery management plan Amendment 28 for Secretarial review. Amendment 28 incorporates changes to groundfish essential fish habitat, trawl rockfish conservation areas, deepwater bottom contact gear closures, and other groundfish fishery and habitat protections. The Council also amended a previous motion to align the Arago Reef eastern boundary with the state waters boundary, and asked the Project Team to consider how best to survey interested persons to gather “lessons learned” and recommendations for future groundfish essential fish habitat reviews.

In addition, the Council approved a new Council Operating Procedure 22 (COP 22), which describes how essential fish habitat reviews for all fishery management plans will be conducted. Final approval of COP 22 is scheduled for this September after advisory body review.

Council makes inseason adjustments, discusses quota carryover, lingcod, blackcod, exempted fishing permit

In March, the Council directed the Groundfish Management Team (GMT) to examine adjustments to commercial non-trawl fixed trip limits for minor nearshore rockfish species, excluding black rockfish, in California; and recreational bag limits for canary and black rockfish. The GMT found that trip limits could be increased for the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries.

The GMT also examined proposed bag limit changes to canary and black rockfish recreational bag limits, and found that it was unlikely that increasing the sub-bag limit by one fish for each species would result in harvest guidelines being exceeded.

As a result, the Council recommended the following inseason adjustments for the remainder of the current 2019/2020 biennium:

California commercial limited-entry fixed-gear and open access nearshore rockfish fisheries:

  • For 42° 00’ N. lat. to 40° 10’ N. lat., increase the minor nearshore rockfish (other than black rockfish) sub-limit to 1,500 lbs per two months as soon as possible.
  • For 40° 10’ N. lat. to the Mexico Border, increase the deeper nearshore rockfish trip-limit to 1,200 lbs per two months beginning with trip Period 3 (May-June). Period two (March-April) will remain closed.

California recreational fisheries:

  • Increase the California canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) sub-bag limit from two to three fish within the overall 10-fish bag limit as soon as possible.
  • Increase the California black rockfish (Sebastes melanops) sub-bag limit from three to four fish within the overall 10-fish bag limit as soon as possible.

Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota Surplus Carryover

In April, the Council recommended that NMFS issue the maximum amount of carryover quota pounds into the shorebased individual fishing quota program for 2019 for all eligible species. This is usually done in March, but due to the partial government shutdown, NMFS was unable to finalize the data needed to evaluate the remaining 2018 surplus.

Up to 10 percent of the used and unused quota pounds in a vessel’s account may be carried over from one year to the next. However, NMFS will not issue surplus carryover quota pounds for species that have annual catch limits established equal to their acceptable biological catches.

Platt/Emley Exempted Fishing Permit

The applicant of the Platt-Emley exempted fishing permit (EFP) notified NMFS that the EFP was missing the requested 1.5 mt of lingcod for south of 40° 10′ N. lat. The Council reviewed the issue and recommended that one metric ton of lingcod be reallocated to the EFP from the south of 40° 10′ N. lat. research set-aside and 0.5 mt from the Incidental Open Access sector, totaling 1.5 mt annually for 2019 and 2020.

Lingcod

The Council reviewed updated projections for lingcod south of 40° 10′ N. lat. The findings showed increasing commercial limited entry fixed gear and open access trip limits, as well as recreational bag limits, could be adjusted for this area.

For lingcod south of 40° 10′ N. lat., the Council adopted the following adjustments to commercial and recreational fisheries for the remainder of 2019 and 2020. The Council recommended these adjustments go into effect by June 1:

  • Increase lingcod trip limits for the limited entry fishery south of 40° 10’ N. lat. to 1,200 lbs per two-month trip period for the remainder of 2019 and 2020.
  • Increase lingcod trip limits for the open access fishery south of 40° 10’ N. lat. to 500 lbs per month for the remainder of 2019 and 2020.

For the recreational fishery south of 40° 10′ N. lat., the recreational bag limit was increased to two lingcod for the remainder of 2019 and 2020, effective June 1.

Blackgill Rockfish

The GMT investigated the possibility of increasing limited entry fixed gear and open access trip limits for blackgill rockfish. Their analysis showed increasing trip limits would provide more opportunity to the fleet. Therefore, the Council adopted new blackgill trip limits for the two fisheries south of 40° 10′ N. lat. In the limited entry fixed gear fishery, limits were increased to 4,000 lbs./2 months, and in the open access fishery to 800 lbs./ 2 months.

Council adopts preferred alternative for seabird mitigation measures

In April the Council adopted its preliminary preferred alternative responding to the 2017 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion (BiOp) on short-tailed albatross take in commercial groundfish longline fisheries.

Under the preliminary preferred alternative, non-tribal commercial vessels that are 26 feet and longer and use bottom longline gear to catch groundfish in Federal waters would be required to either use streamer lines according to the Alaska streamer line specifications or to deploy gear at night. (This includes vessels fishing in the limited entry and open access fixed gear fisheries or those fishing with longline gear under the gear switching provisions of shorebased individual fishing quota program.) This action would extend the current requirement for vessels 55 feet and longer to smaller vessels, although night setting would be a new option available to the larger vessels as well. The requirement for larger vessels was implemented in 2015 based on a 2012 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service BiOp.

Commercial groundfish longline vessels would be exempt from these requirements when fishing south of 36° N. lat. Vessels using floated mainline gear, if not using streamer lines that are at least 300 feet in length, could only deploy gear between one hour after local sunset and one hour before local sunrise.

For vessels between 26 and 55 feet, the use of streamer lines would be discretionary during a Small Craft Wind Advisory (sustained winds or frequent gusts ranging between 25 and 33 knots), or more severe weather conditions. This sets a different, lower threshold for discretionary use compared to the current requirement for larger vessels.

The Council is slated to adopt its final preferred alternative in June. NMFS intends to finalize regulations implementing these requirements by the beginning of 2020.

Council adopts alternatives for salmon mitigation measures in groundfish fishery

In April the Council adopted a range of alternatives to address the 2017 NMFS Biological Opinion to mitigate salmonid interactions in the groundfish fishery.

The BiOp assessed the continued impact of groundfish fisheries on seven listed Chinook salmon and four coho salmon evolutionary significant units (ESU) and concluded that they were not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of these ESUs.

The BiOp required 25 actions that the Council and/or NMFS must comply with within three years to avoid reinitiation. The Council successfully addressed a number of these terms and conditions as part of the 2019-2020 groundfish harvest specifications and management measures; however, two terms and conditions remained outstanding and required Council action.

One of the measures relates to the “reserve” of 3,500 Chinook. The Reserve would be available only as an emergency measure in case of unexpected high bycatch levels, and would be accessed only when a sector (whiting or non-whiting) exceeds its Chinook salmon bycatch guideline. It is not meant to be accessed as part of normal operations and reconsultation will be initiated if the reserve is accessed in three out of any five years. A sector may only access the reserve if the Council or NMFS has taken action to minimize Chinook salmon bycatch in that sector prior to reaching its Chinook salmon bycatch guideline.

The second measure required the Council to reexamine current salmon-bycatch mitigation measures. The Council examined block area closures, net types, and current industry-designed rules used by the whiting fleet to minimize Chinook bycatch. The range of alternatives [includes an analysis of] these measures, including an extension of any block area closure seaward to the western boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone instead of the 250-fathom waypoint line.

Blackgill rockfish remains in Slope Rockfish complex

The Council will not remove blackgill rockfish from the Slope Rockfish complex south of 40° 10’ N. lat., as originally planned, given improved blackgill rockfish stock status and potential impacts to the trawl fishery.

Amendment 26 to the groundfish fishery management plan considered that action, in addition to changing the trawl/non-trawl allocations of blackgill rockfish and the remaining species in the southern Slope Rockfish complex.

At Council direction, the Groundfish Management Team explored higher non-trawl trip limits in April to provide greater access to blackgill rockfish (see article, inseason adjustments). Further, the Council discussed removing the formal trawl/non-trawl allocations for the southern Slope Rockfish complex from the fishery management plan and making biennial allocations in the 2021-2022 biennial specifications process.

NMFS reports on trawl catch share cost recovery program

Each year (usually in April) the Council receives a report from NMFS on the trawl catch share program cost recovery, which charges fees to industry to pay for administrative costs. The report covers costs and fee collections from the previous year along with fee rates for the current year.

Constituents have generally expressed a desire for more detail in these cost recovery reports, and Council and NMFS staff and industry representatives have met to discuss ways to increase transparency. In response to this year’s substantially improved report, the Council asked that NMFS explore ways to reduce observer and catch monitor costs, that Council analytical documents include an assessment of impacts of cost recovery prior to any future management actions affecting the trawl catch share fishery, and that NMFS continue to hold meetings with industry to evaluate the costs of the catch share program and make recommendations on where efficiencies can benefit both the fishing industry and NMFS.

New approach to prioritizing groundfish management takes shape

Groundfish management measures will be prioritized using a new process in the future. Rather than prioritizing actions every two years, there will now be a separate agenda item on new management measures at most meetings, under which staff will report on progress and the public may present new candidate measures.

This spring the Council identified several new management measures as top priorities for Council attention as soon as time becomes available. The items include non-trawl rockfish conservation area modifications, trawl/non-trawl Amendment 21 allocations, mothership sector utilization, and moving the midwater jig exempted fishing permit into regulation to allow its use within the non-trawl rockfish conservation area.

Groundfish shorts

Whiting stock healthy: A 2019 Pacific whiting assessment has indicated the stock is healthy at 64.1 percent of its unfished spawning biomass, which is slightly lower than estimated last year. The stock has remained at a relatively high abundance since 2013 due to the strength of large 2010 and 2014 cohorts. The 2019 coastwide total allowable catch of 597,500 mt is the same as in 2017 and 2018, resulting in an allocation of 441,433 mt for U.S. fisheries.

New sigma methodology: The Council has adopted new sigma values for groundfish and coastal pelagic species stocks recommended by the Scientific and Statistical Committee, including updated baseline sigma values and an increase in sigma due to stock assessment age. Sigma, coupled with the overfishing probability (P*), is used to determine acceptable biological catch buffers for these species. The sigma value addresses scientific uncertainty in estimating the overfishing limit, and varies by the uncertainty associated with the stock category and the age of the stock assessment.

Other science improvements: The Council accepted the recommendations of the Scientific and Statistical Committee and the Groundfish Management Team on science and methodology improvements that will inform future Council groundfish management decisions. The recommendations related to a “rockfish steepness prior” (recruitment productivity) to be used in 2019 stock assessments, a revised Accepted Practices Guidelines for Groundfish Stock Assessments document, which details accepted practices for conducting groundfish stock assessments this year, and additional sigma recommendations for determining the uncertainty in estimating overfishing limits using assessment projections older than ten years (see above). The 2009 greenstriped rockfish assessment is one of the rare cases where such a sigma consideration may apply.

Enhanced” VMS systems not allowed: “Non-type-approved” vessel monitoring system units will not be allowed in West Coast fisheries, based on a Council decision in April. In 2016, the Council recommended NMFS allow vessels to use less expensive “enhanced” VMS units that are not on the official list of NMFS-approved units. However, NMFS stated in April that the option to use enhanced VMS would increase agency costs to develop and maintain a new VMS program. Specifically, NMFS would need to establish a redundant infrastructure to accommodate both approved and non-approved units. NMFS will report in June on potential cost reductions in the VMS program.

The Council recommended that NMFS implement other measures and alternatives, including an increase in the VMS reporting rate from 1 to 4 times per hour, with some exceptions. Other measures allow vessels to change their fishery declarations while at sea, and allow pot gear vessels to move fishing gear to other management areas before returning to port to deliver their catch. See the NMFS report here.


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Pacific Council News Spring 2019 Salmon Stories

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Salmon seasons set for 2019

In April the Council adopted ocean salmon season recommendations that provide recreational and commercial opportunities for most of the west coast, and achieve conservation goals for the numerous individual salmon stocks on the West Coast. A large increase in hatchery coho over last year will provide a welcome increase in both recreational and commercial fishing opportunities in Oregon and Washington. See the Council-adopted management measures for 2019 ocean salmon fisheries (Salmon Preseason Report III).

National Marine Fisheries Service reinitiates consultation on southern resident killer whales

NMFS announced plans in March to reinitiate Endangered Species Act consultation on the impact of Council-managed fisheries on southern resident killer whales. In April, the Council formed an advisory group, the Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup, to help NMFS reassess the effects of Council-area ocean salmon fisheries on the Chinook salmon prey base of the whales. The Council endorsed a draft terms of reference and timeline to accomplish this task, as well as a list of participants. The workgroup, which meets for the first time in late May, will focus solely on Council-area ocean salmon fisheries. Its tasks are scheduled to be completed by November 2019 so that in the event that any needed changes are recommended, NMFS can review them in time for 2020 salmon management.

Council rebuilding plans for Klamath, Sacramento fall Chinook

In April, the Council adopted the salmon rebuilding plans for Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River fall Chinook as drafts for public review (Agenda Item F.5). In June 2019, final action is scheduled for these two plans, and adoption of drafts for public review are scheduled for Queets, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Snohomish coho.

Three coho stocks (Strait of Juan de Fuca coho, Queets River coho, and Snohomish River coho) and two Chinook stocks (Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook) were declared overfished last June. A rebuilding plan for each of these stocks must be proposed for Council consideration within one year, and developed and implemented within two years.

The Salmon Technical Team has worked collaboratively with tribal, state, and Federal entities to produce rebuilding plans for each of the five stocks. The plans will also go through the Federal notice and comment rule-making process, and will require an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act. Council staff and NMFS have been coordinating efforts to streamline the processes.

Salmon methodology review topics considered

In April, five potential salmon methodology review topics were identified for potential review.  The list will be refined and considered for adoption in September, so that any analytical work can be completed in time for the November Council meeting, when the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will conduct a full review of any proposed changes.

Of the five topics identified, the first three were “carry-overs” from 2018, and two new topics were added to the list.

  • Complete the documentation of the development of the new Chinook Fishery Regulation Assessment Model (FRAM) base period including algorithms, and review and update the FRAM documentation and user manual that is currently on the Council website (assigned to the Model Evaluation Workgroup [MEW]).
  • Develop a framework for evaluating post-season metrics of model performance for FRAM (assigned to MEW).
  • Conduct the technical analysis needed to inform a change of the salmon management boundary line from latitude 40° 05’ (Horse Mountain, California) five miles north to latitude 40° 10’ (assigned to the Salmon Technical Team [STT]).
  • Examine the data and models used to forecast impacts on Columbia River summer Chinook to determine whether a change in methodology is warranted (assigned to MEW).
  • Provide documentation of the abundance forecast approach used for Willapa Bay natural coho (assigned to STT).

The STT and SSC Salmon Subcommittee will hold a joint work session in October 2019 to address these matters.


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