November 2020 Decision Summary Document

November 13, 16-20, 2020

Council Meeting Decision Summary Documents are highlights of significant decisions made at Council meetings.  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 or the Council newsletter.

Habitat Issues

Current Habitat Issues

The Council directed staff to develop a comment letter to the Department of Commerce on its proposal for Aquaculture Opportunity Areas and seek Council approval through the Quick Response procedure.

Pacific Halibut Management

2021 Catch Sharing Plan and Annual Regulations – Final Action

The Council adopted final changes to the 2021 Catch Sharing Plan and annual fishing regulations consistent with the recommendations on recreational fisheries provided by California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, including the recommendation for use of longleader gear on the same trip during all-depth halibut fishing in Oregon.

Transition of Area 2A Fishery Management – Final Action

The Council adopted the following final preferred alternatives, as described in the Updated Range of Alternatives, to transfer management of the Area 2A directed halibut fishery from the International Pacific Halibut Commission to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Council:

4.1.2 Alternative 2: Consider the directed fishery framework during the Catch Sharing Plan process in September and November; include any guidance for vessel limits and inseason changes for NMFS implementation.

4.2.1 Alternative 2: Issue permits for all Area 2A halibut fisheries: commercial-directed, incidental salmon troll, incidental sablefish, and recreational charter halibut fisheries.

4.2.2 Alternative 2: Allow NMFS to determine the appropriate application deadlines for all commercial halibut applications, set to accommodate Council meetings and NMFS processing time.

4.2.5 Alternative 1: Status quo (revised). Require proof of permit to be onboard fishing vessel and made readily available upon request, regardless of the type of permit (e.g., paper or electronic). NMFS to provide access to permit in a printable format or send paper copy directly to the participant.

Non-Indian Commercial-Directed Fishery Regulations for 2021

The Council recommended a season structure for the 2021 Area 2A non-tribal directed halibut fishery that includes a 58-hour fishing period beginning at 8 AM on Tuesday June 22 and ending at 6 PM on Thursday, June 24.  If the halibut limit has not been attained in the first period, an additional 58-hour fishing period will be announced beginning Tuesday, July 6 and ending at 6 PM July 8, two weeks after the first period. Fishing period openings will continue in this manner until the halibut limit for the Area 2A non-treaty directed commercial fishery is taken or November 15, whichever comes first. This recommendation will be forwarded to the International Pacific Halibut Commission for consideration.

 Salmon Management 

2021 Preseason Management Schedule

The Council approved the 2021 salmon management schedule including the tentative dates and locations for public hearings.  However, it is anticipated that all of the meetings and hearings will be conducted by webinar.

Southern Resident Killer Whale Endangered Species Act Consultation – Final Action 

The Council adopted a final preferred alternative to address the effect of Council-area ocean salmon fisheries on the Chinook salmon prey base of Southern Resident Killer Whales.

The Council adopted the arithmetic mean of the seven lowest years of pre-fishing Chinook salmon abundance in the area North of Cape Falcon (1994-1996, 1998-2000, and 2007, currently estimated at 966,000) as a management threshold.   

When a year’s preseason abundance projection falls below the established threshold, the following management actions will be implemented through annual regulations:

  • Reduce quotas for non-treaty fisheries North of Falcon to not exceed the value generated by a regression analysis of historic time-step 1 Chinook abundance and non-treaty Chinook quotas.
  • No more than 50 percent of the non-treaty commercial troll Chinook salmon quota will be assigned to the spring (May-June) period.
  • Close the expanded area of the Columbia River control zone as described to salmon retention from the start of non-treaty ocean salmon fisheries until June 15.
  • Close the Grays Harbor control zone to salmon retention from the start of non-treaty ocean salmon fisheries until June 15.
  • Delay the start of the commercial troll fishery between Cape Falcon and the Oregon/California border until April 1.
  • Close the Oregon and California waters of the Klamath Management Zone to commercial and recreational salmon fisheries from October 1 through March 31 of the following year.
  • Increase the duration of the Klamath Control Zone area expansion beginning September 1 through March 31 of the following year.
  • Close commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the Monterey management area from October 1 through March 31 of the following year.

The Council also scheduled future consideration of recommendations to re-evaluate conservation objectives for  Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook and to develop an age-structured stock assessment for Sacramento River fall Chinook, when feasible.

Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast Coho Endangered Species Act (ESA) Consultation 

The Council reviewed an update on progress towards developing a new harvest control rule for Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho stocks listed under the ESA, including a summary of available data, a description of the proposed risk assessment methods, and a review of a preliminary range of harvest control rules.  The Council commended the efforts to date and requested that future work consider environmental variables as harvest control rules are further developed.  The Council will receive an update at its April 2021 meeting and is scheduled to adopt a range of alternatives at its June 2021 meeting.

Groundfish Management 

Gear Switching for Sablefish in the Trawl Catch Share Fishery

The Council decided to defer selection of a range of action alternatives to limit gear switching in the shorebased trawl IFQ program and instead,  asked for analysis to help identify a maximum level of gear switching that would be allowed.  That analysis will evaluate gear switching levels of zero (no gear switching), 12 percent, 20 percent, 33 percent, and the continuation of unrestricted gear switching.  The Council is tentatively scheduled to identify a maximum gear switching level at its April 2021 meeting before evaluating action alternatives that would limit the fishery to that maximum and select a range of alternatives at the June 2021 Council meeting.  

NMFS Report on Groundfish (Cost Recovery Related Issues)

The Council received a report from NMFS that included a statement of its intent to proceed with a modification to cost recovery regulations to specify that cost recovery from the at-sea fleet would be based on whiting catch, rather than all species delivered.  The Council will make a final recommendation on this change under the cost recovery agenda item at its April 2021 meetings.  Also related to cost recovery, at its March 2021 meeting the Council will consider prioritizing its Cost Recovery Committee to work with NMFS in evaluating the implementation of the cost recovery program.

Inseason Adjustments for 2020 and 2021 Including Pacific Whiting Set-Asides for 2021 – Final Action

The Council considered inseason adjustments to the 2020 and 2021 groundfish management measures. The Council did not recommend any changes for the remainder of 2020, but adopted the following inseason adjustments for 2021:

  • Sablefish north of 36° North latitude (N. lat.) daily trip limit
    • Limited Entry Fixed Gear (LEFG): No adjustment
    • Open Access (OA): 600 lbs / day, or 1 landing per week of up to 2,000 lbs, not to exceed 4,000 lbs /2 months
  • Sablefish south of 36° N. lat. daily trip limit
    • LEFG: 2,500 lbs per week
    • OA: 2,000 lbs. per week, not to exceed 6,000 lbs / 2 months
  • Lingcod south of 40° 10′ N. lat. trip limits in 2021:
    • LEFG at 1,600 lbs / 2 months
    • OA at 700 lbs / month
  • Shortspine and longspine thornyhead south of 34° 27′ N. lat. in 2021:
    • OA daily trip limit of 100 lbs / day and not more than 1,000 lbs / 2 months

Additionally, the Council recommended reducing the 2021 Pacific whiting set-aside for research activities and the pink shrimp fishery from 1,500 mt to 750 mt.

Sablefish Management Strategy Evaluation Update 

The Council received a briefing on an international initiative to develop a spatially explicit management strategy evaluation (MSE) of sablefish across its range in the Northeast Pacific.  The Council recommended a workshop in the spring of 2021 engaging west coast stakeholders to determine alternative management strategies and management performance metrics to be analyzed in the MSE.  The Council recommended a future workshop be planned to engage stakeholders from all the jurisdictions that manage sablefish from Alaska, British Columbia, and the west coast to better understand how regional management strategies informed by regional assessments affect the stock throughout its range. 

Assessment Methodology Review – Final Action 

The Council adopted the length-based assessment methods and language in the Terms of Reference for Groundfish and Coastal Pelagic Species Stock Assessment Review Process for 2021-2022 pertaining to length-based assessments endorsed by the Scientific and Statistical Committee.  These methods are anticipated to be used to assess spiny dogfish, copper rockfish, quillback rockfish, and squarespot rockfish in 2021.

Coastal Pelagic Species Management

Preliminary Review of New Exempted Fishing Permits for 2021 

The Council approved three exempted fishing permit (EFP) proposals for public review: two that addressed biological sampling of ongoing EFPs, and one that addressed aerial survey point sets. The Council is scheduled to make its final EFP recommendations at the April 2021 meeting. 

Methodology Review Topic Selection 

The Council directed Council staff to review Council Operating Procedure 26 on CPS methodology reviews, to discuss targeted process improvements with other relevant advisory bodies, and to provide suggested revisions for consideration at the April 2021 Council meeting.

Comments on Court Ordered Rulemaking on Harvest Specifications for the Central Subpopulation of Northern Anchovy 

The Council was briefed on the proposed rule for harvest levels on the central subpopulation of northern anchovy. The publication date of the proposed rule did not allow for adequate review by the Council and its Advisory Bodies; therefore, the Council declined to submit comments to NMFS during the public comment period. 

Highly Migratory Species Management

NMFS Report

The Council was briefed by NMFS on several aspects of its final preferred alternative (FPA) for the deep-set buoy gear limited entry program that require clarification. The Council tasked the Highly Migratory Species Management Team (HMSMT), in consultation with the HMS Advisory Subpanel (HMSAS), with investigating these issues and identifying options to revise these elements for implementation. The Council would consider modifications to its FPA at its March 2021 meeting.

Recommend International Management Activities

The Council recommended a trip limit regime for Pacific bluefin tuna (PBF) fisheries premised on the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission adopting a resolution setting a 425 mt PBF catch limit for the U.S. in 2021. The current pre-trip notification requirement would be eliminated while the current requirement that electronic fish tickets be submitted within 24-hours of the landing would be maintained. Trip limits would be as follows:

Set an Initial trip limit of 20 mt 

  • During the first quarter (January 1 – March 31) – The catch limit is reduced to 15 mt when annual landings reach 250 mt. The trip limit is then reduced to 2 mt when annual landings reach 325 mt.
  • During the second quarter (April 1 – June 30) – The catch limit is reduced to 15 mt when annual landings reach 275 mt. The trip limit is then reduced to 2 mt when annual landings reach 350 mt.
  • During the third quarter (July 1 – September 30) – The catch limit is reduced to 15 mt when annual landings reach 300 mt. The trip limit is then reduced to 2 mt when annual landings reach 375 mt.
  • During the fourth quarter (October 1 – December 31) – The catch limit is reduced to 15 mt when annual landings reach 325 mt. The trip limit is then reduced to 2 mt when annual landings reach 375 mt.

Biennial Harvest Specifications and Management Measures

The Council directed its SSC to work with NMFS, and in consultation with IATTC scientific staff, to review stock status determination criteria (SDC) proxies for Eastern Pacific Ocean yellowfin and bigeye tunas and make recommendations for the Council to consider in March 2021. Over the long term the SSC could recommend standardized methods for identifying SDC for stock assessments that use a probabilistic framework, as is the case with the two aforementioned stocks. 

Drift Gillnet Fishery Hard Caps Update

The Council received a report from NMFS on implementation of hard cap regulations for the California large mesh drift gillnet fishery. It tasked the HMSMT and HMSAS with developing potential options for clarifying the Purpose and Need for this action and to develop alternative hard cap approaches that address NMFS’ concerns regarding potential negative economic impacts. Any such alternatives must still meet the Council’s goal to incentivize fishing behavior that minimizes bycatch.  The Council will consider these issues at its June 2021 meeting.

Administrative Matters

Legislative Matters

The Council directed staff to track the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act and any related executive orders issued by the Biden Administration, in preparation for responding to any forthcoming requests for Council comment.

Fiscal Matters 

The Council approved a 2021 Provisional Budget of $5,006,455 for use beginning January 1, and recommended tentatively scheduling a Budget Committee meeting in April 2021. 

Membership Appointments and Council Operating Procedures

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) appointed Mr. Lyle Enriquez as a Council designee for the agency.

The Council directed Council staff to send a letter to the Secretary of State to request the Presidential appointment of Ms. Christa Svensson as the Council’s Appointed Commissioner to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) replacing Ms. Dorothy Lowman who plans to resign her appointment following the WCPFC annual meeting in December.  

The Council appointed Ms. Heather Hall as an alternate representative to the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC).

The Council made the following appointments to advisory bodies.

Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel

  • Ms. Anna Weinstein was appointed to the conservation position on the Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel formerly held by Ms. Gillian Lyons.

Groundfish Management Team

  • Ms. Gretchen Hanshew and Mr. Daniel Studt were appointed to the two NMFS West Coast Region positions formerly held by Ms. Abigail Harley and Ms. Karen Palmigiano,
  • Ms. Katherine Pierson was appointed to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife position formerly held by Mr. Patrick Mirick, and
  • Dr. Chantel Wetzel was appointed to the vacant Northwest Fisheries Science Center position.

Groundfish Endangered Species Workgroup

  • Mr. Scott Benson was appointed to the Sea Turtle Taxa position formerly held by Dr. Tomo Eguchi, and
  • Ms. Lynn Mattes was appointed to the vacant Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife position in addition to her continuing service on the GMT.

Ad Hoc Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Committees

  • In consultation with the Council, Chair Gorelnik appointed Mr. Andrew Torres to replace Mr. Brian Corrigan as the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement representative on the Technical Advisory Committee and appointed Mr. Mike Orcutt of Archipelago to replace Mr. Howard McElderry on the Policy Advisory Committee.

Additionally, the Council tasked Council staff with reviewing the Council Operating Procedures pertaining to exempted fishing permit and methodology reviews and to evaluate a proposal for a new advisory body focused on marine planning and offshore development issues.