November 2022 Decision Summary Document

November 2-8, 2022 

Council Meeting Decision Summary Documents are highlights of significant decisions made at Council meetings. Fishery policy decisions made by the Council are formally transmitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service 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

Salmon Management

Final Methodology Review

The Council adopted a change in the method used to determine the Sacramento Index (SI) forecast.  Beginning in 2023 the SI forecast will be expressed as the median, rather than as the mean. The change is based on recommendations in reports from the Salmon Technical Team (STT) and the Science and Statistical Committee and detailed in the material provided for the 2022 Salmon Methodology Review. 

The Council approved an adjustment to the data ranges used to forecast effort in commercial and recreational salmon fisheries south of Cape Falcon, OR, as recommended by the STT and provided in their report to the Council.

The Council adopted a change to the Chinook abundance threshold that is used as a management measure to address the effect of Council-area ocean salmon fisheries on the Chinook salmon prey base of Southern Resident Killer Whales that was implemented under Amendment 21 of the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan (FMP).  The change was informed by a technical review of recent updates to models, and the STT provided a report to aid the Council in determining the appropriate numerical value of the threshold.  The threshold continues to be based on the arithmetic mean of the seven years identified in section 6.6.8 of the salmon FMP representing pre-fishing Chinook salmon abundance in the area North of Cape Falcon (1994-1996, 1998-2000, and 2007).  The updated Chinook abundance threshold is 623,000 Chinook.  

2023 Preseason Management Schedule

The Council approved the 2023 salmon management schedule including the tentative dates for public hearings.  The venue for the salmon public hearing in California was changed from Eureka to Santa Rosa. The Council acknowledged the schedule and venues are tentative and changes may occur due to COVID-19 concerns.  

Pacific Halibut Management

2023 Catch Sharing Plan and Annual Regulations – Final Action

The Council adopted changes to the Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) and 2023 annual fishing regulations consistent with the recommendations on recreational fisheries provided by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  The WDFW recommendation included adding Tuesday, May 30 to the proposed season dates for the South Coast subarea (Marine Area 2).

2023 Commercial-Directed Fishery Regulations – Final Action 

The Council adopted a 2023 season structure for the directed commercial fishery consisting of a series of three-day openings, beginning at 8 a.m. on the fourth Tuesday in June and ending at 6 p.m. on the Thursday of that week. Additional three-day openings would occur every other week (or as soon as practicable), Tuesday through Thursday, until the directed fishery allocation is obtained and, if NMFS implements final regulations transitioning management of the directed commercial Pacific halibut fishery from the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) to NMFS, administrative edits to the CSP will be made as needed to reflect the final regulations, consistent with Agenda Item E.2, Supplemental Attachment 1, November 2022.

Habitat Issues

Current Habitat Issues

The Habitat Committee (HC) report summarized several topics, including a request that the Council help the NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program (DSCRTP) and the NOAA Ocean Exploration (OE) Program identify priorities related to potential future Pacific Coast research activities. The Council directed the HC, with input from other Council ABs as appropriate, to develop and communicate research priorities to the DSCRTP and OE Programs, consistent with the Council’s Research and Data Needs document and prior correspondence.  The Council also directed the HC to develop a draft comment letter on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on oil and gas rig decommissioning, and to develop comments on the pending Lower Columbia River Dredge Materials Management Plan once the comment period opens in 2023. 

 Highly Migratory Species Management

International Management Activities

The Council endorsed the recommendations contained in Agenda Item G.2.a, Supplemental HMSAS Report 1 and those made by the Permanent Advisory Committee to the U.S. Section of the Western and Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC). Specifically, the Council recommends the following U.S. positions with regard to WCPFC actions:

  • Adopt the harvest strategy for North Pacific albacore proposed by the WCPFC Northern Committee (NC) at the upcoming 19th Regular Session.
  • Adopt the conservation and management measure for North Pacific swordfish proposed by the NC at the upcoming 19th Regular Session.
  • Work with other nations at the 19th Regular Session to adopt a consistent Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) for North Pacific swordfish covering the area between the equator to 20⁰ N. latitude, which is not covered by the CMM proposed by the NC. The U.S. should express concern about management measures, like the NC proposal, that are not applied throughout a stock’s range, recognizing the need for compatible management between areas under national jurisdiction and the high seas.
  • Use a precautionary approach for managing Pacific bluefin tuna (PBF) with priority focused on rebuilding and a secondary priority to find a more equitable balance of harvest opportunity between the Western Pacific and Eastern Pacific. 
  • Continue to use the WCPFC NC – Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission Joint Working Group (JWG) as the venue for all PBF management decisions.
  • Continue to oppose attempts by other countries to create new exceptions to PBF rebuilding plan catch limits outside of the JWG process.
  • Encourage other countries to conduct stakeholder outreach so that there can be meaningful progress on long-term comprehensive harvest strategy elements (management objectives, performance indicators, reference points, harvest control rules) for PBF in 2023. 
  • Ensure progress on long-term PBF harvest strategy development is a precondition for any discussions on new interim harvest control rules.
  • Request that NMFS continue to update the Council on PBF management strategy evaluation development and provide opportunities for U.S. stakeholder engagement.

The Council also endorsed the following positions with regard to bilateral negotiations over the next fishing regime pursuant to the U.S.-Canada Albacore Treaty in relation to the proposal put forward by Canada:

  • Negotiate towards a final outcome as close to the status quo as possible.
  • Oppose any increase in the number of Canadian vessels authorized to fish in U.S. waters from the current level of 45 vessels.
  • Oppose allowing a buffer of up to 10 feet (3 meters) in overall length when replacing vessels on the list of Canadian vessels authorized to fish in U.S. waters.
  • Support modifications to the requirement to collect and share catch and effort data to ensure the provision of accurate information on fishing activity in the other Party’s exclusive economic zones.

Drift Gillnet Fishery Hard Caps – Final Action

The Council did not take final action and instead narrowed the range of alternatives as follows:

  • Alternative 1: No Action
  • Alternative 2: Rolling two-year hard cap closures
  • Alternative 3 A (modified): The entire fleet ceases fishing for the remainder of the fishing year when a fleetwide cap is reached
  • Alternative 3 B:
    • If a vessel reaches an individual cap, that vessel and all unobservable vessels cease fishing for 30 days if the cap is reached before November 1, or 14 days if the cap is reached between November 1 and January 31.
    • If a vessel exceeds an individual cap, that vessel and all unobservable vessels cease fishing for the remainder of the fishing year.
    • If a fleetwide cap is exceeded, the entire fleet ceases fishing for the remainder of the fishing year.

The alternatives will be evaluated assuming a fleet size of 11 vessels, with four of those assumed to be unobservable.

The Council directed the HMSMT to update the impact analysis using the additional methods for reporting bootstrap simulation results recommended by the SSC. The HMSMT should also prepare analyses addressing the requirements of E.O. 12866 (Regulatory Impact Review) and the Regulatory Flexibility Act so that the Council may make an informed decision on a final preferred alternative with respect to these mandates.

More information on the Council’s proposed action and the original range of alternatives may be found in the preliminary draft analytical document.

Biennial Harvest Specifications and Management Measures – Preliminary

Based on recommendations from the SSC, the Council approved the maximum sustainable yield proxies that NMFS proposed in September (Agenda Item I.4.a, Supplemental NMFS Report 1) for completing status determinations for Eastern Pacific skipjack tuna and North Pacific bluefin tuna as follows:

  • North Pacific bluefin tuna: 1-SPR20% for FMSY and 20%SSB0 for BMSY
  • Skipjack tuna: 30%SSB0 for BMSY and FBTARGET for FMSY, where BTARGET is equal to 30%SSB0

With this action the Council completed its decision-making for the current (2023-2024) biennial management cycle.

Groundfish Management

Trawl Catch Share Program and Inter-Sector Allocation Review – Hearing Schedule 

In the last week of April and first week of May, the Council will be holding a series of hearings on the trawl catch share program and intersector allocation reviews in the following areas: Seattle, Astoria, Newport, Eureka, and San Luis Obispo/Morro Bay.  Additionally, there will be two online hearings, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening. Dates and times for all hearings are to be announced at the March 2023 Council meeting.

Sablefish Gear Switching

The Council modified its range of gear switching alternatives by: 

  • adding elements to Alternative 1 (Gear Specific Quota Shares) that increase types of entities (adding first receivers and fishermen’s collectives) and situations that would qualify for any-gear quota shares (QS); 
  • eliminating Alternative 2 (Gear-Specific Quota Pounds); 
  • revising Alternative 3 (Gear-Switching Permit Endorsements with A Permit-Based Qualifier) by eliminating the first of the qualifying options, eliminating the opportunity for gear-switching vessels to land sablefish without a gear-switching endorsement; creating a new approach for allowing small gear-switching limit overages without incurring a violation; considering a restriction on the number of gear-switching endorsed permits owned; and using the collective approach instead of individual approach for initial allocation; 
  • eliminating Alternative 4 (Gear-Switching Permit Endorsements with A Vessel Based Qualifier); and 
  • adding a new alternative that would issue any-gear QS only to entities that qualify as gear-switching participants (with all others receiving trawl-only QS), using Gear-Switching Endorsement Qualification Option 2 from Alternative 3 as the qualifier.

No action remains as an alternative the Council will be considering.

Methodology Review – Final Fishery Impact Model Topics and Final Assessment Methodologies

The Council adopted the proposed methodology review of a revised sablefish trip limit model in 2023 as recommended by the GMT and SSC

The Council also adopted new rockfish discard mortality rates when using descending devices developed by the GMT and supported by the SSC after their review of the proposed methodology.  Specifically, the adopted discard mortality rates are:

  1. Updated species-specific rates for canary rockfish, cowcod, and yelloweye rockfish, and new species-specific rates for black rockfish;
  2. For all other species, adopt the GMT-recommended guild-based rates for demersal, pelagic, and dwarf rockfishes; and
  3. The GMT-recommended cumulative mortality rate equal to the 80th percentile (i.e., 80 percent of estimated discard mortality rates are equal to or less than this rate based on the GMT’s Bayesian analysis).

The Council also adopted the use of the ODFW video-hydroacoustic survey design-based biomass estimate in the 2023 black rockfish assessment as recommended by the SSC.   

Stock Definitions

The Council adopted the range of alternatives in Table 2 of Attachment 1 with the additions of the new alternative recommended by the SSC for vermilion/sunset rockfish and adding squarespot rockfish to Alternative 1.  The Council requested the analysis evaluate how finer scale harvest control rules and accountability measures can be used under Alternative 1 (coastwide) stock definitions.  The Council is scheduled to adopt preliminary preferred stock definitions for the species listed in Table 2 of Attachment 1 at their March 2023 meeting and final preferred stock definitions at their June 2023 meeting. 

Inseason Adjustments Including Pacific Whiting Set-Asides – Final Action

The Council considered inseason adjustments to groundfish fisheries for the remainder of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. The Council did not recommend any inseason changes for the remainder of 2022, but  recommended the following inseason adjustments to the limited entry fixed gear (LEFG) and open access (OA) fixed gear fisheries be implemented as soon as possible in 2023 as detailed in the GMT report.

Sablefish North of 36° N. lat.

  • LEFG north of 36° N. lat.:  trip limit of 4,500 lbs. per week, not to exceed 9,000 lbs. per two months
  • OA north of  36° N. lat.: trip limit of 3,000 lbs. per week,not to exceed 6,000 lbs. per two months

Canary Rockfish

  • LEFG north and south  of 40° 10′ N. lat.: trip limit of 4,000 lbs. per two months 
  • Open Access north and south of 40° 10′ N. lat.: trip limit of 2,000 lbs. per two months 

Lingcod North of 42° N. lat. 

  • LEFG north of 42° N. lat.: trip limit of 7,000 lbs. per two months 
  • OA north of 42° N. lat.:  trip limit of 3,500 lbs. per month 

2023 Pacific Whiting Set-Aside

The Council recommended a 750 metric ton 2023 Pacific whiting set-aside for research activities and the pink shrimp fishery.

Oregon Recreational Fishery

The Council recommended increasing the long-leader gear fishery daily bag limit from ten (10) to fifteen (15) fish per day in the Oregon recreational fishery.

Electronic Monitoring

The Council adopted the following range of alternatives to modify EM Program regulations:

Modify Federal regulatory language regarding data submission deadlines – applies to all EM Providers:

Alternative 1: Status quo – three weeks to submit feedback to vessels and EM summary report to NMFS

Alternative 2: 60 days to submit feedback to vessels and EM summary report to NMFS

Alternative 3: 90 days to submit feedback to vessels and EM summary report to NMFS

Modify Federal regulatory language regarding logbook submission deadline – applies to all EM Providers 

Alternative 1: Status quo – “Logbook data must be submitted to NMFS within two business days of receipt from the vessel operator.”

Alternative 2: “Logbook data must be submitted to NMFS within seven business days of receipt from the vessel operator.”

Modify Federal regulatory language regarding determining estimates of discards – applies to all EM Providers

Alternative 1: Status quo – Language to remain as “The EM service provider must process vessels’ EM data according to a prescribed coverage level or sampling scheme, as specified by NMFS, and determine an estimate of discards for each trip using standardized estimation methods specified by NMFS. NMFS will maintain manuals for EM data processing protocols on its website.”

Alternative 2: Modify language to be “…EM service provider must process vessels’ EM data and logbooks according to a prescribed review methodology, as specified by NMFS in the EM Manual on its website.” 

The Council directed staff to conduct an analysis of the alternatives and to schedule Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Policy and Technical Advisory Committees meetings in preparation for the March 2023 Council meeting. 

Coastal Pelagic Species Management

National Marine Fisheries Service Report

The Council received an update on Southwest Fisheries Science Center activities, including upcoming workshop and stock assessment plans. The next update from the National Marine Fisheries Service is proposed for April 2023.

Preliminary Review of Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) for 2023

The Council approved three exempted fishing permit (EFP) proposals for public review: two that addressed biological sampling of ongoing EFPs (Agenda Item I.2, Attachment 1 and Agenda Item I.2, Attachment 3), and one that addressed aerial survey point sets (Agenda Item I.2, Attachment 2). The Council is scheduled to make its final EFP recommendations at the April 2023 meeting.

Fishery Management Plan Housekeeping Amendment

The Council adopted the proposed FMP revisions described in Attachment 1 for public review with an additional reference to the anchovy framework in Section 4.6 Harvest Control Rules as described in the Supplemental CPSAS Report 1.  The Council also provided guidance that this item come back in April 2023 for final action.  

Stock Assessment Terms of Reference – Final Action

The Council adopted the final terms of reference for CPS stock assessments for use in 2023-2024 with minor edits as described in Supplemental SSC Report 1.

Stock Assessment Prioritization

The Council discussed the current schedule of stock assessments as proposed by Council Operating Procedure (COP) 9 and described in the Situation Summary and adopted the following as priorities for 2024-2025:

2024

  • Benchmark assessment for Pacific sardine
  • Check in on the Central Subpopulation of Northern Anchovy (as described in COP 9)

2025

  • Catch-only projection for Pacific mackerel
  • Update assessment for Pacific sardine 

Additionally, the Council asked Council staff and the CPSMT to review the errors in COP 9 as described in the Supplemental CPSMT Report 1 and bring back corrections at a future meeting.

Administrative Matters

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) National Policy for Saltwater Recreational Fisheries

The Council reviewed the 2015 National Policy for Saltwater Recreational Fisheries (Policy) and the discussion guide that emerged from the 2022 National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Summit. Council discussion focused on Principles 5 and 6, which emphasize the importance of scientifically sound information and the value of communication and engagement of the recreational community in science and management.  The Council comments to NMFS on the Policy will incorporate the recommendations from the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel and also include considerations for addressing climate change. The Council recommended NMFS update the Policy to acknowledge the challenges associated with competing ocean uses and the importance of marine spatial planning to provide access to quality recreational fishing opportunities. The public can also submit comments on the Policy to NMFS via a public comment portal which is open through December 31, 2022.

Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary Designation

The Council considered a request from the Office of the National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) to develop any fishing regulations the Council deems necessary to implement the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (See correspondence between ONMS and the Council).  Council members did not identify any new fishing regulations that would be necessary, recognizing that all current Federal fishing regulations, including habitat protections, will remain in place if the proposed sanctuary is designated. Council members expressed their appreciation for the ONMS’s ongoing communication and efforts to keep the Council apprised of U.S. West Coast ONMS activities, management plan reviews, and scientific research initiatives.

Marine Planning

The Council received presentations from Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) representatives and from the Director of the West Coast Oceans Alliance (WCOA). The Council endorsed a December 1, 2022 Marine Planning Committee meeting with the purpose of learning more detailed information regarding data inputs, submodels, and weighting factors related to the National Centers for Coast Ocean Science spatial suitability modeling.  After the December 1 meeting, the Marine Planning Committee should determine the need to convey comments to BOEM, which would be in the form of a Quick Response Process comment letter.  

The Council expressed a desire to engage more formally with the WCOA, and asked the Executive Director and Council staff to communicate with WCOA over the winter and to include consideration of a more formal arrangement with WCOA under the March Membership Appointments and Council Operating Procedure agenda item.

Fiscal Matters

The Council adopted a 2023 Provisional Budget of $6,041,021 and recommended a Budget Committee meeting in April or June as appropriate.  The Council also recommended a meeting in 2023 to consider future budget planning alongside the Council Efficiencies topic.

Membership Appointments and Council Operating Procedures (COP)

The Council made the following Advisory Body appointments

  • Dr. Christopher Free to an At-Large position on the Scientific and Statistical Committee
  • Mr. Steve Sohlstrom to the Washington Charter Boat Operator position on the Salmon Advisory Subpanel
  • Ms. Lynn Massey to a West Coast Region position on the Groundfish Management Team, replacing Mr. Daniel Studt
  • Mr. James Phillips to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife position on the Groundfish Management Team, replacing Ms. Caroline McKnight

The Council directed staff to solicit nominations for the Washington Commercial position on the Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel and the Washington Charter Boat Operator position on the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel.

The Council adopted modifications to COP 1 – General Council Meeting Operations that provide flexibility regarding the number of terms allowed for Council Officers and require new Council members to attend at least one Chair’s briefing during their first year of service.