Funds applied to reduce Pacific Coast groundfish buyback loan

NOAA Fisheries will be applying $5.9 million (allocated by the Office of Management and Budget) to reduce the outstanding principal to the Pacific Coast trawl groundfish buyback loan as of January 14, 2020.

This action comes after tireless effort on the part of West Coast groundfish fishery representatives, particularly Heather Mann of the Midwater Trawlers Cooperative. The funds effectively remove the interest charged during the 2003-2005 time period.

After the Secretary of Commerce declared the West Coast groundfish fishery an economic disaster in 2000, Congress authorized a $46 million buyout to retire one-third of the fishing fleet to reduce overcapacity. Ninety-one groundfish trawl vessels and permits, and 121 state permits for Dungeness crab and pink shrimp, were removed through this program. Approximately $36 million was provided in the form of a Federal loan that the remaining fishing vessels agreed to repay with a five percent fee on ex­vessel revenue over a 30-year term. Of this, the trawl groundfish fishery was expected to pay $28.4 million.

Due to delays by National Marine Fisheries Service in developing repayment regulations, over $4 million in interest accrued before repayment even started. That interest has grown over time, untli the industry owed approximately $6 million more than it would if repayment had started immediately.

As of June 2020, the groundfish trawl fleet had paid back $39.6 million towards its portion of the loan – $11 million more than that sector’s initial responsibility. Despite this, they still owed more than $22 million. This has been a considerable and unjust hardship for the members of the Pacific groundfish trawl fishery.

The REFI Act, which would have refinanced the loan and lowered the burden on the trawl fleet, was signed into law in 2014, but was never implemented. It is likely that some groundfish fishery participants went out of business due to the unintended burden of the buyback loan and failure to enact REFI. The immediate relief is $5.9 million to reduce the outstanding balance to approximately $13.5 million.  The loan is now expected to be paid off by 2028 and the current actions will save an additional $5 million, bringing the total benefit to the trawl industry to approximately $11 million in savings.

NMFS announces notice of intent to prepare an EIS for HMS exempted fishing permit to fish with longline gear in the West Coast exclusive economic zone; public comment to be accepted by webinar

On August 10, 2020, NMFS announced its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, to analyze the potential short- and long-term impacts of the proposed action to issue an Exempted Fishing Permit, on the human (biological, physical, social, and economic) environment. This notice of intent to prepare an EIS invites interested parties to provide comments on alternatives to be considered in an EIS, potential terms and conditions to minimize adverse effects to the environment, and to identify potential issues, concerns, and any reasonable additional alternatives that should be considered.

NMFS is accepting written comments on the scope of the analysis through September 9, 2020. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on September 9, 2020. Public comments will also be accepted during a webinar scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. PDT, August 27, 2020. Please notify Amber Rhodes, NMFS, 562-980-3231, Amber.Rhodes@noaa.gov or Lyle Enriquez, NMFS, 562-980-4025, Lyle.Enriquez@noaa.gov. if you plan to attend the webinar or if you have additional questions. Instructions for connecting or calling into the webinar will be posted at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/​west-coast/​laws-and-policies/​west-coast-region-national-environmental-policy-act-documents.

Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Scientific and Statistical Committee to hold online meeting September 4 & 8, 2020

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Request for nominations for a commercial fishery vacancy on the Habitat Committee

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) is requesting nominations of qualified candidates to fill one commercial fishery position on its Habitat Committee (HC).  The successful candidate will serve out the remainder of the 2019-2021 Council advisory body term. To ensure consideration, nominations should be received at the Council office no later than 5 p.m. Pacific time, Monday, August 31, 2020.

The HC is charged with facilitating coordinated action on important habitat issues, working with key agency and public representatives to develop strategies to resolve habitat problems, recommending actions to achieve the Council’s habitat objectives, and assisting with actions which help meet the Essential Fish Habitat mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The HC consists of 16 members representing State and Federal agencies, California and Northwest Tribes, recreational and commercial fishing industries, and conservation interests. The successful candidate should have interest in habitat issues and/or expertise in strategic planning, experience with commercial fisheries, and sufficient knowledge of West Coast commercial fishing operations to represent varied industry perspectives.

Consult Council Operating Procedure 6 for additional information regarding HC composition and function.

Meeting frequency, travel expenses and stipends

The HC generally meets five times per year, generally in one- or two-day meetings in conjunction with each Council meeting (March, April, June, September, and November).  HC members may also be asked to participate in meetings or workshops outside of Council meetings in support of habitat-related matters, as needed.

Advisory body members who are not Federal employees are reimbursed for travel, meal, and lodging expenses incurred while attending official meetings at the request of the Council as per the Council’s Travel Rules.  Subject to appropriations, limited stipends may also be available to advisory body members who are not employees of a Federal, state, or tribal marine fishery management agency.

Nomination procedures

To submit a nomination and supporting documents, please fill out the Council’s online Advisory Body Nomination Form.  The completed form will provide contact information and a brief summary of the nominee’s qualifications.  The form provides an opportunity to upload supporting documents such as a nomination letter, curriculum vitae, etc.

Individuals may nominate themselves or be nominated by other individuals or organizations.  The vacant positions are for the remainder of the three-year term that began on January 1, 2019 and will end December 31, 2021.  The Council will review the nominations and may fill one or both positions at the September 2020 Council meeting.  To ensure consideration, nominations should be received at the Council office no later than 5 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday, August 31, 2020.

For additional information on the HC or the nomination process, please contact Jennifer Gilden or Mike Burner, Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, Oregon 97220-1384; telephone:  503-820-2280.

National Archives and Records Administration notice of availability of proposed records schedules and request for comments (electronic monitoring)

NOAA Fisheries is working with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to establish a new retention schedule for the raw imagery and other data collected by Electronic Monitoring systems. This NOAA Fisheries website provides background information, the proposed rule, the link to the NARA website, and the instructions on how to comment. Public comments are due to NARA by September 4, 2020.  Please note, this rule-making differs from the NMFS, West Coast Region’s Electronic Monitoring Program EM data retention policy.

Council Member Dashboard

September 2020 Council Meeting page

Council stream:

As a Council member you will receive an email invitation with a unique-to-you URL to join the meeting. This will join you to the Council stream as a Panelist with the ability to un-mute your mic, raise your hand, etc.

Each day of the meeting you will want to join using that link.

*TIP: Copy the hyperlink to your calendar for the duration of the meeting for even quicker access vs. looking for the email each morning.

Advisory Body Meetings:

The Advisory body meetings will start Tuesday September 8th.

Chair’s Briefing:

Scheduled for Thursday, September 10th at 4pm

Closed Session:

Scheduled for Friday, September 11th at 8am

Tips, tricks, and troubleshooting:

I can only join the meeting via telephone only. What do I do?

STEP 1:

Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location) into the meeting using one of the phone numbers below:
+1(623)4049000 (US West)
+1(650)2424929
+1(720)9027700 (US Central)
+1(312)2630281
+1(469)4450100 (US South)
+1(470)8692200 (US East)
+1(646)3573664
+1(773)2319226 (US North)

STEP 2:

Follow the instructions on the phone, and enter the appropriate Meeting ID:

  • Council stream Meeting ID: 149 930 0361
  • Chairs Briefing Meeting ID: 149 538 5539
  • Closed Session Meeting ID: 148 557 9837

STEP 3:

  • In advance of the meeting (if you can) or once connected to the audio, please email Patricia Crouse, Kris Kleinschmidt, or Sandra Krause and let us know your name, and the associated telephone number you are dialing in from. By default the RingCentral system will mask your number except the area code and last three digits. Once we can identify your number, we will rename you on the attendee list seen by other Council members.
  • We also utilize Google Docs to share the images/documents on the screen. PowerPoints can be found on the Briefing Book page, and we also have a YouTube Live stream available for seeing what is being shown on the screen (applies to Council stream only).
  • To manually mute / un-mute your phone if you are not using a smartphone or office phone with a physical mute button, you can enter: *6 (star + six) and the RingCentral system will mute you. Entering *6 again will un-mute your phone.

Check list before the meeting starts

  • Ensure you have a strong internet connection.
  • Wear a headset.
  • Familiarize yourself with where the mute and hand raise buttons are (you must open the participant list to gain access to the hand raise button, and the mute button is also located there as well as in the lower left corner of the app).
  • Remember to self-mute when not speaking, and to lower your hand once your question has been answered.

Troubleshooting audio

  • If you have a strong internet connection, we suggest connecting via computer audio for best results. This will utilize your computer’s built in mic and speakers, or the headset you are using. If you have a desktop computer without a microphone, you must have a headset to speak. Alternatively, you can switch to telephone audio.
  • If you are having audio issues where the RingCentral app doesn’t recognize a microphone, check your Privacy settings within Windows or Mac OS. In some cases you’ll need to allow microphone access to applications.
  • If you have a poor internet connection we suggest connecting to the meeting on your computer, but opting to use telephone for the audio portion.