June 2024 Decision Summary Document

June 8-13, 2024 

Council Meeting Decision Summary Documents are highlights of significant decisions made at Council meetings. Fishery management decisions made by the Council are formally transmitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as recommendations and are not final until NMFS approval.  Results of agenda items that do not reach a level of highlight significance are typically not described in the Decision Summary Document.  For a more detailed account of Council meeting discussions, see the Council meeting record and transcripts.  

Habitat Issues

Current Habitat Issues

The Council considered Supplemental Habitat Committee (HC) Report 1 and directed the HC to continue tracking the Columbia River Dredge Materials Management Plan and the Hells Canyon Hydropower relicensing process. The HC will provide draft comment letters for Council consideration during the September Council meeting, or via the quick response procedure, as appropriate.

Salmon Management 

Sacramento River Fall Chinook Workgroup—Progress Report

At their June 2023 meeting, the Council formed an ad-hoc Sacramento River Fall Chinook (SRFC) Workgroup and approved draft Terms of Reference (June 2023 Council Meeting, Agenda Item I.1, Supplemental Attachment 3). The Council received their first update from the SRFC workgroup in June 2024 and provided the following guidance:

(1) Future work should reflect that Maximum Sustainable Yield serves as the basis of salmon fishery management (as modified per the National Standard 1 Guidelines to achieve Optimum Yield), and not Maximum Sustainable Production, as described in Agenda Item E.1.a, Supplemental STT Report, June 2024.

(2) Task the workgroup with evaluating the draft cohort reconstruction that is underway for Sacramento fall Chinook and determine if it will provide substantial improvement and accuracy over current forecasting and modeling methodologies.

The Workgroup will meet over the summer and fall to work on the above items, further evaluate the current conservation objective, support the development of stop light tables to inform climate risks, and address other items as outlined in the Terms of Reference.  The Workgroup is scheduled to deliver their next update to the Council in November 2024.

Groundfish Management 

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Coral Research and Restoration Closures—Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Amendment Final Action

The Council selected their final preferred alternative that would create a Groundfish Exclusion Area at Sur Ridge (see Figure 3 of Attachment 1) for commercial groundfish bottom contact gear for the purposes of deep-sea coral restoration and research.  Two other proposed sites at Año Nuevo and Ascension Canyon were not selected. The Council also adopted FMP amendment language and recommended a schedule for the Council to review the progress of the coral restoration and research at 3, 6, and 9 years after implementation. 

Final Stock Assessment Plan and Terms of Reference

The Council adopted a final list of groundfish species to be assessed in 2025 as follows:

Full assessments: sablefish, quillback rockfish off California, rougheye/blackspotted rockfish, yellowtail rockfish (north of 40° 10’ N. lat.), chilipepper rockfish, and redbanded rockfish.

Update assessments: widow rockfish and yelloweye rockfish.

Catch-only projection updates: petrale sole, canary rockfish, shortspine thornyhead, darkblotched rockfish, black rockfish off Oregon, and bocaccio.

The Council adopted a preliminary list of assessment priorities for 2027 as follows:

Full assessments:  Pacific spiny dogfish shark, English sole, cowcod, lingcod, petrale sole, yelloweye rockfish (dependent on outcome of 2025 update), and slope rockfish species (to be determined).

The Council also adopted three Terms of Reference (TOR) recommended by the Scientific and Statistical Committee; for 1) guiding the groundfish stock assessment review process, 2) the groundfish rebuilding analyses, and 3) the groundfish and coastal pelagic species methodology reviews. The Council action requested several clarifying revisions to the TOR for guiding the groundfish stock assessment review process, which will be incorporated in the final version posted to the webpage for groundfish stock assessment documents shortly following the June meeting.

The Council provided guidance to coordinate planning to accommodate the selected species in a schedule for STAR Panels during the 2025 stock assessment cycle.  The resulting plan will be available for review at the September 2024 Council meeting.

Stock Definitions for Species Assessed in 2025 and 2027—Range of Alternatives  

The Council adopted a Purpose and Need Statement for a proposed FMP Amendment to define groundfish stocks for species being assessed in 2025 and potentially assessed in 2027.

“With an Amendment (number TBD) to the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council) Groundfish FMP, the Council intends to identify stocks in need of conservation and management in the FMP, which will enhance the ability to attain sustainability objectives, especially those outlined in National Standard 1 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act as guided by National Standard 3 and informed by National Standard 2. Appropriate specification of stocks in need of conservation and management is a foundational aspect of sustainability, and instrumental in the Council’s ability to attain Optimum Yield objectives. With this Amendment, the Council intends to identify a subset of species, those expected to be assessed soon, within the Groundfish FMP to define stock boundaries for status determination based on key biological, ecological, social, and economic information currently available.”

The following species and stock definitions were adopted as a Range of Alternatives to analyze for the September Council meeting.

Species Alt. 1 Coastwide Alt. 2 State/ Region Alt. 3 North and South of 40° 10’ N. lat. 
Chilipepper rockfish   
English sole   
Redbanded rockfish   
Rougheye/ Blackspotted rockfish   
Widow rockfish   
Yelloweye rockfish  
Yellowtail rockfish   

Fixed Gear Marking and Entanglement Risk Reduction—Final Action

The Council adopted the following as the final preferred alternative for groundfish fixed gear (pot and longline) marking and entanglement risk reductions measures.  These measures would only apply to vessels using pot and longline gear in the limited entry fixed gear, directed open access, and individual fishing quota sectors.

Buoy Marking: Require cattle ear tags with identification information attached to the molded eye of each surface buoy in a gear-specific marking (shape/color)

Line Marking: Require gear-specific line marking as follows:

                Portion of line marked: Vertical line only

Distance of line marked: At least the top 20 fm of the vertical line starting where it attaches to the main buoy closest to the groundline

Method of Marking: Multi-color manufactured line.  Continuous temporary markings in alternating bands of gear-specific colors would be allowed for a transition period

                Transition period: Required transition to manufactured line only in three years

Surface Gear Requirements: Fixed gear vessels may choose to only use surface gear (buoys and flags) on one terminal end of the groundline.

Surface Line Limitation: Limit the amount of surface line permitted for fixed gears to a maximum length of 10 fm.

The Council also recommended changes to the biodegradable escape panel regulations to add clarification to prohibit panel placement at bottom of pot, with exception for slinky pots (which do not have a bottom). Additionally, the Council recommended changing the thread count of the line used to close the biodegradable panel from No. 21 to No. 30 or smaller untreated cotton twine.

Finally, the Council gave guidance to NMFS to develop a best practices guide.

2025-26 Harvest Specifications, Management Measures, and Exempted Fishing Permits—Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Amendment Final Action

The Council adopted final preferred alternatives (FPAs) for the 2025-26 groundfish harvest specifications and management measures, which are summarized below.

California Quillback Rockfish

The California stock of quillback rockfish was determined as overfished by the Secretary of Commerce in December 2023. In March 2024, the Council adopted the California quillback rockfish rebuilding analysis which specified rebuilding parameters, and a rebuilding strategy and plan was adopted at this meeting. The adopted rebuilding plan will apply Alternative 2, the “Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) Rule” harvest specifications for California quillback rockfish as the rebuilding strategy. The ABC rule results in 2025 and 2026 annual catch limits (ACL) of 1.3 mt and 1.5 mt, respectively. The ABC Rule results in a rebuilding target (TTarget) of 2061, with a maximum rebuilding timeline (Tmax) of 2070. The Council also removed this stock from the nearshore rockfish complexes off California and will manage it as an individual stock. The predicted impacts of the ABC rule on California fishing communities and industry are detailed in Agenda Item F.6, Supplemental Revised Attachment 3, June 2024. Management measures to achieve the rebuilding timeline are detailed in Agenda Item F.6, Attachment 2, June 2024. The rebuilding plan parameters were supported by the Groundfish Management Team (GMT) in Agenda Item F.6.a, Supplemental GMT Report 2, June 2024 and the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel (GAP) in Agenda Item F.6.a, Supplemental GAP Report 1, June 2024.

Exempted Fishing Permits (EFP)

The Council recommended two EFPs to NMFS implementation in the 2025-26 biennium. The two EFPs are 1) West Coast Seafood Processors and Oregon Trawl Commission proposal to collect information on bycatch of salmon and other species of concern while conducting a trawl fishery targeting midwater rockfish without existing gear/time/area restrictions; and the 2) California Department of Fish and Wildlife proposal to collect cowcod, yelloweye rockfish, and quillback rockfish from the recreational fishery in California.

Management Measures

The Council largely adopted their preliminary preferred alternative (PPA) as the FPA for routine management measures in the 2025 and 2026 groundfish fisheries as detailed in Appendix 1 Agenda Item F.6.a, Supplemental GMT Report 1, June 2024. The GAP concurred with the GMT as shown in Appendix 1 of Agenda Item F.6.a, Supplemental GAP Report 1, June 2024). These measures are summarized below and follow the structure of the Action Item Checklist (Agenda Item F.6, Attachment 1, June 2024).

The Council adopted updates to Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) waypoints as described in F.5.a, Supplemental CDFW Report 1, April 2024 that will better align coordinates with the depth contours. The Council adopted research and incidental open access set-asides based on an adopted rolling ten-year maximum except for the species noted in Agenda Item F.6.a, Supplemental GMT Report 1, June 2024. No EFP set-asides were adopted. Additionally, a 30 mt set-aside for sablefish north of 36° N. lat. was adopted by the Council for the recreational sector. The PPA Tribal set-asides were adopted as FPA.

Status quo annual catch targets (ACT) for non-trawl and state-specific recreational sectors were adopted for yelloweye rockfish as shown on page 41, Table 7 in Agenda Item F.6, Attachment 2, June 2024). The Council removed the statewide California quillback rockfish ACT, and adopted a recreational ACT for copper rockfish south of 34° 27′ N. lat. of 15.8 mt and 18.0 mt for 2025 and 2026, respectively.

The Council adopted PPA as FPA for all formal, biennial, rebuilding species (yelloweye rockfish), and harvest guidelines/state shares for stocks in complex allocations. The only allocations that changed for the 2025-26 biennium were for widow rockfish and shortspine thornyhead. The non-trawl allocation of widow rockfish decreased from 400 mt to 300 mt, with the remainder to trawl. The shortspine thornyhead allocation modifications are discussed below in the new management measure discussion.

The Council adopted PPA as FPA for at-sea whiting fishery 2025-26 set-asides as detailed in Agenda Item F.6, Attachment 2, June 2024 and summarized on the Action Item Checklist. The Council adopted a suite of trip limit changes as specified in Appendices 2 and 3 of Agenda Item F.6.a, Supplemental GMT Report 1, June 2024. The majority of these changes were converting monthly trip limits to bimonthly trip limits in order to increase consistency across non-trawl sectors. No changes to individual fishing quota trip limits were adopted.

The Council adopted recreational management measures recommended by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

New Management Measures

The Council adopted a suite of new management measures including an amendment to the FMP (F.6, Attachment 6).  The new management measures adopted establish a directed open access permit program, correct electronic monitoring program discard and retention requirements regulations, require recreational anglers to possess a descending device aboard while fishing in Federal waters, modify continuous vessel transit limitations for California recreational vessels in Federal waters, and update the scientific name of Pacific sand lance and common name of Pacific spiny dogfish in Federal regulation. A notable new management measure adopted by the Council modifies the allocation structure of shortspine thornyhead from formal to biennial, removes the management line at 34° 27′ N. lat., establishes a coastwide ACL, and changes the trawl/non-trawl allocation percentages. This new management measure is detailed in Agenda Item F.6, Attachment 2, June 2024, specifically in Section 1.12, page 70 under 9D Shortspine Thornyhead Management Measure Change.

Amendment 33

The Council adopted Amendment 33 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Management Plan (Agenda Item F.6, Attachment 6). This Amendment adds the new section to Chapter 4 and describes the California stock of quillback rockfish and yelloweye rockfish rebuilding plans. It also strikes out shortspine thornyhead north and south of 34° 27′ N. lat. as a formally allocated stock in Chapter 6, Section These changes were necessary to support Council action under this agenda item.

Inseason Management—Final Action

The Council adopted the inseason adjustments to trip limits as recommended in Agenda Item F.7.a, Supplemental GAP Report 1, June 2024 to be implemented as soon as possible. The trip limit adjustments are shown below:

Sablefish north of 36° N. lat.

  • Limited Entry Fixed Gear (LEFG): 7,000 lbs./week, not to exceed 14,000 lbs./2 months
  • Open Access (OA): 3,500 lbs./not to exceed 7,000 lbs./2 months

Widow Rockfish north of 40° 10’ N. lat. 

  • LEFG: 6,000 lbs. every 2/months
  • OA: 3,000 lbs. every 2/months

Yellowtail Rockfish north of 40° 10’ N. lat. 

  • LEFG: 4,500 lbs. per month
  • OA: 2,500 lbs. per month

Highly Migratory Species Management

International Management Activities

The Council made the following recommendations for U.S. government actions related to international HMS management:

North Pacific albacore tuna:

  • Engage early with stakeholders as negotiations for a long-term fishing regime under the U.S.-Canada Albacore Treaty are planned.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) should schedule workshops to foster further discussions with U.S. stakeholders regarding implementation of the harvest strategy, after the International Scientific Committee (ISC)/Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) finalizes its work advising how fishing intensity could be translated to catch/effort management measures under the harvest strategy.

Pacific bluefin tuna:

  • The priorities enumerated by the HMSAS (Agenda Item G.2.a, Supplemental HMSAS Report 1) related to potential catch increases, rebalancing of fishing opportunity between the Western Pacific Ocean and Eastern Pacific Ocean, and prioritizing progress on a long-term harvest strategy should be considered when negotiating changes to conservation measures to be adopted by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission in 2024.
  • Engage with domestic stakeholders on management changes that may flow from the international agreements on Pacific bluefin tuna management.

Exempted Fishing Permits

The Council took final action to recommend that NMFS issue the exempted fishing permits to Mr. Mintz (Attachment 1) and Mr. Langowski (Attachment 2) for each of them to deploy for testing no more than 10 pieces of night-set buoy gear per set. In doing so NMFS should apply terms and conditions comparable to those used for all other night-set buoy gear EFPs issued to date.

Drift Gillnet Bycatch Performance Report

The Council reviewed the drift gillnet bycatch performance report prepared by the HMSMT (Agenda Item G.4.a, Supplemental HMSMT Report 1), noting that none of the thresholds had been exceeded in 2023 and 2024. The Council indicated that it would continue to receive these annual reports until such time as the fishery ceases operating.

Cross Fishery Management Plan (FMP)

Marine Planning

The Council considered Marine Planning Committee (MPC) Report 1, as well as an update from the West Coast Ocean Alliance and a presentation on the NMFS Offshore Wind Energy Strategic Science Plan. The Council endorsed sending three comment letters related to offshore wind (OSW) energy areas off the Oregon Coast: 1) the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Draft Environmental Assessment, 2) BOEM’s Proposed Sale Notice, and 3) Oregon’s consistency review determination. The Council also directed the MPC to explore the Migratory Bird Treaty Act provisions regarding take of sea birds as it relates to OSW energy development, and to invite a presentation from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at the next MPC meeting.

NMFS Regional Equity and Environmental Justice (EEJ) Plan and EEJ Committee—Update

The Council received an update on the development of the Equity and Environmental Justice (EEJ) Regional Implementation Plan, as well as a report on a National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) study titled Equity in the Distribution of Fisheries Management Benefits: Data and Information Availability (2024) (Agenda Item H.2.a, Attachment 1). The Council also received a report from the Equity and Environmental Justice Committee (EEJC). The Council reiterated its guidance to staff that a gap analysis be conducted, as proposed in September 2023 (see September 2023, Agenda Item H.5.b, Supplemental EEJC Report 1). This analysis should review Council processes and products noting where there might be improvements that would address EEJ considerations. The gap analysis will be further informed by the management team and advisory body reports delivered at the June meeting.  The EEJC will meet over the summer and deliver their next report to the Council in September 2024

Coastal Pelagic Species Management

Stock Assessment Terms of Reference and Accepted Practices—Final Action

The Council considered a draft Terms of Reference document and Accepted Practices Guidelines for coastal pelagic species stock assessments.  The Council directed staff to incorporate the suggested edits from Supplemental SSC Report 1 and Supplemental CPSMT Report 1 and approved the documents as final. Updates to the two documents include clarifying expectations for respectful behavior, solidifying the process for obtaining and verifying catch data, and establishing that the documents will be updated as needed, rather than on a fixed schedule. The final versions will be posted to the webpage for CPS stock assessment documents shortly following the June meeting.

Administrative Matters 

Council Operations and Priorities  

The Council provided guidance and benchmarks for improving the efficiency of Council operations while reducing costs, facilitating robust public comment, and strengthening decision-making. The guidance included reducing Council meeting length by at least half a day with corresponding reductions in advisory body meetings, considering more economical meeting locations, remote meetings, and the possibility of a meeting in a coastal fishing community. Strategic scheduling will be implemented by Fishery Management Plan (FMP), for example, highly migratory species topics would be discussed 3 meetings per year, coastal pelagic species 2 meetings per year, groundfish 4 meetings per year with at least one meeting every 2 years remote. Advisory bodies will receive clearer guidance on relevant issues for discussion and the format of advisory body reports will be standardized to include summaries and executive summaries.  The public comment time will be revised to five minutes, with flexibility for the Council Chair or Vice Chair to adjust this time based on the number of participants. Workload and agenda planning will be reduced to twice per year to better align with the Council’s budget process. A streamlined process for exempted fishing permits (EFPs) will be developed, potentially limiting new EFPs to once per year and simplifying renewals. Additionally, in 2025, the Council should discontinue staff and contractor international travel associated with highly migratory species and Pacific halibut management.

At the September Council meeting, staff will bring forward materials under the Fiscal Matters, Council Operating Procedures, and Workload Planning agenda items that incorporate the straightforward changes recommended by the Council in June. The more complex matters, for example, strategic scheduling by FMP, will be discussed at the November Council meeting.

Fiscal Matters

The Council adopted a 2024 Operational budget of $6,564,954 and approved the 2025-2029 Grant Narrative and Budget.  The Council approved convening the Budget Committee in September for the purpose of reviewing and providing recommendations to the Council on the no-cost extension budget and project list, proposed 2025 budget, and reviewing the results of the 2023 audit.

Membership Appointments and Council Operating Procedures—2025-27 Advisory Body Composition and Respectful Workplace Policies  

The Council made the following appointments:

  • Elected Mr. Brad Pettinger to serve as Council Chair and Mr. Pete Hassemer as Council Vice-Chair for the August 11, 2024 to August 10, 2025 term.
  • Appointed Mr. Thompson Banez to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife position on the Groundfish Management Team.
  • Appointed Ms. Lynn Mattes to the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s Management Strategy Evaluation Board.

The Council’s current three-year Advisory Body term ends December 31, 2024.  The Council reviewed the current Advisory Body composition and adopted the following changes for public review. In September 2024, the Council is scheduled to adopt the final composition of term-limited Advisory Body positions for 2025-2027 and will seek nominations. Appointments are scheduled to be made in November 2024.

  • Salmon Advisory Subpanel: Remove the gillnet position and one of the California sport positions originally created for inland fisheries.
  • Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Advisory Subpanel: Revise the description of the Washington commercial seat on the CPS advisory subpanel to be either Washington commercial or Washington processor (Washington commercial/processor). 
  • Groundfish Advisory Subpanel: Revise the current 3 Sport Fisheries At-large positions to be one Washington, one Oregon, and two California Sport Fishery positions.

The Council tasked staff with exploring the role and composition of the Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel, considering the Inflation Reduction Act projects (see Agenda Item G.4, Attachment 3, April 2024). These projects are aligned with the Fishery Ecosystem Plan initiatives and are anticipated to utilize all resources usually allocated for ecosystem projects. Staff will bring forward their recommendations for the Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel at the September Council meeting.

The Council tasked staff with sending a letter to the Office of Protected Resources, nominating the following individuals to serve in the industry seat on the take reduction team under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (see Agenda Item F.1.b, Supplemental NMFS Presentation 1, April 2024 and West Coast Take Reduction Team). Only 2-3 individuals are expected to fill the industry seats. The take reduction team will address 3 strategic marine mammal stocks (i.e., Central America/Southern Mexico humpback whales, Mainland Mexico humpback whales, and Eastern North Pacific blue whales) and 5 commercial fisheries, including Federal sablefish pot, CA Dungeness crab pot, OR Dungeness crab pot, WA Dungeness crab pot, and CA spot prawn pot. Additional fisheries and/or marine mammal stocks may be included in the notice formally establishing the team in 2025. The team is expected to meet in person for several meetings over a six-month period to develop consensus recommendations that achieve the Marine Mammal Protection Act goals.

  • Burkholder, Bernie 
  • Clampitt, Paul 
  • Eder, Bob 
  • Funderberg, Clint 
  • Hartzell, Scott 
  • Ibach, Harrison 
  • Kasheta, Dave 
  • Lapham, Georgon “Poggy” 
  • Lethin, David 
  • Thevik, Larry