Pacific Council News Summer 2019: Coastal Pelagic Species

Coastal pelagic species shorts

Proposed sardine rules: On July 1, NMFS published harvest specifications and management measures for the 2019-2020 Pacific sardine fishing year based on Council recommendations at the April 2019 meeting. The biomass estimate of 27,547 metric tons (mt) places sardine in the “overfished” category, meaning the Council and NMFS must develop a rebuilding plan within two years after the “overfished” declaration is published by NMFS (July 9, 2019). This is the fifth year biomass was below the 150,000 mt cutoff value, meaning that directed commercial fishing will remain closed for the fifth straight year. The live bait fishery will be allowed to target sardines until 2,500 mt have been landed, at which point a 1-mt landing cap will apply. Once the annual catch target of 4,000 mt is attained, all fisheries will be limited to a 1-mt incidental landing allowance.  

Category change: The “active” and “monitored” categories currently used in the Coastal Pelagic Species Management Plan will be eliminated and replaced with individual descriptions of the management approach for each stock, as directed by the Council in June. The Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team and Council staff are expected to produce a draft revised fishery management plan for consideration at the June 2020 Council meeting.

New prioritization process: A new process for prioritizing coastal pelagic species stock assessments will begin in November 2020, to inform stock assessment priorities beginning in 2022. This biennial process will allow for revisions in intervening years based on new information, and will help with data review and research planning. Pacific sardine will undergo a benchmark assessment in 2020, and the central subpopulation of northern anchovy will be assessed in 2021.

Central Subpopulation of Northern Anchovy harvest specifications:  On May 31, NMFS published a final rule establishing a new overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, and annual catch limit for the central subpopulation of northern anchovy. The finalized reference points include an overfishing limit of 94,290 mt, and an annual catch limit of 23,573 mt (down from the 25,000 mt in recent years). The harvest specifications are effective July 1 for the remainder of the January 1 through December 31 fishing year.

Final action on Pacific mackerel assessment, harvest specifications, and management

In June the Council adopted the 2019 Pacific mackerel stock assessment, reference points and management measures for 2019-2020 and the 2020-2021 fisheries. These include the specifications  in the table below, and the following management measures: if the directed fishery reaches the annual catch target, it will close and shift to an incidental-only fishery for the remainder of the fishing year, with a 45 percent incidental landing allowance when Pacific mackerel are landed with other coastal pelagic species (CPS); in non-CPS fisheries, up to 3 mt of Pacific mackerel per landing may be landed.  

Proposed 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 Pacific Mackerel Harvest Specifications

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