Fishery Management Plan and Amendments: Amendment 21-4: (In Development)

Amendment 21-4: (In Development)

NMFS West Coast Region submitted Amendment 21-4 of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for review by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) on August 23, 2019, and the notice of availability and request for comments was published in the Federal Register on August 30, 2019. Amendment 21-4 would change the FMP to specify that canary and widow rockfish will be managed using set-asides for the at-sea whiting fishery (rather than bycatch allocations),  remove from the FMP the fixed formulas used to determine bycatch amounts of Pacific Ocean Perch, darkblotched rockfish and widow rockfish provided for the at-sea whiting sectors, and allow the Council to identify projected at-sea bycatch amounts for these stocks through the biennial harvest specification process. The public comment period on the Notice of Availability will end on October 29, 2019.  The decision date to approve, disapprove, or partially approve Amendment 21-4 is November 28, 2019.

In addition to the change in the FMP, if Amendment 21-4 is approved by the Secretary, regulatory changes will also be required.  These regulatory changes will be implemented through a rule making process.  As the first step in that process, a proposed rule will be published for public review and comment in the next few weeks.  In addition to the changes needed to implement Amendment 21-4, the proposed rule will also cover Council recommendations to adjust the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Catch Share Program in order to to complete outstanding elements of the program, respond to problems identified after program implementation, and modify outdated regulations.  Specifically, the proposed rule will include provisions allowing vessels with quota pound deficits a post-season opportunity to cover those deficits with quota from the previous year, allowing vessels to cover overages in excess of annual vessel quota pound limits after the end of the fishing year, specifying future accumulation limits for catcher-processor permits, and expanding economic data collections.

The decision analysis supporting the Council recommendations and providing related Council rationale is contained in “Amendment 20 Catch Share Review Follow-on Actions–Alternatives and Impact Analysis, Including Amendment 21-4 to the Groundfish FMP) Council Decision Analysis Document.”