Habitat and communities blog

March 3-9, 2020 Council meeting information (Rohnert Park, CA)

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

The Pacific Fishery Management Council and its advisory bodies will meet March 3-9, 2020 at the following location:

DoubleTree by Hilton Sonoma
One Doubletree Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Phone: 707-584-5466

Agenda and meeting notice

The detailed agenda and meeting notice that includes logistic information will be posted to our website as it becomes available. If you would like a notification when the finalized agenda and meeting notice are posted and are not already on our electronic mailing list, please subscribe to the PFMC List-Server today.

In the interim, you may download the DRAFT Proposed Council Meeting Agenda, March 3-9, 2020 in Rohnert Park, California (v. 01/07/2020; 3:33 pm). Please note,  agenda items are subject to change at any time and are not reliable for planning attendance or participation. Days may be adjusted or added depending on Council workload, facilities availability, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Briefing book public comment deadlines (E-
Portal)

  • Deadlines for submitting public comments will be posted to our site as well as sent via e-mail announcement.  If you would like to be notified when the e-portal is open to submit public comments and are not already on our electronic mailing list, please subscribe to the PFMC List-Server today.

How to Submit PowerPoint Presentations or Videos

If your comments contain a PowerPoint presentation or video, such PowerPoints and videos need to be turned in no later than 5 pm the day before the corresponding agenda item is scheduled on the Council’s agenda. PowerPoints and videos must be sent to: Kris.Kleinschmidt@noaa.gov. Please see the Protocol Policy on submitting electronic slide presentation materials at the Council meetings for full direction, expectations, and equipment available for use during presentations.

 

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Pacific Council News: Winter 2019: Habitat

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Habitat Report

An irrigation canal distributing water to farms in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Photo: Richard Thornton/Shutterstock

In November, the Habitat Committee (HC) discussed the Central Valley Project Biological Opinion, Klamath dam removal, the proposed Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas project, salmon reintroduction, offshore wind energy, and critical habitat designations for Southern Resident killer whales and humpback whales.

Central Valley BiOp

The final biological opinion (BiOp) for the long-term operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project was released on October 21, and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is now conducting an analysis of the project’s impacts to essential fish habitat (EFH).

The HC drew the Council’s attention to several changes to the expected effects of project operations on salmon populations. First, the BiOp concludes that the project will not jeopardize the survival of winter run Chinook, spring run Chinook, summer steelhead, or Southern Resident killer whales. However, elsewhere it states, “reductions in the survival and productivity of all [Central Valley] Chinook salmon populations (including fall-run and late fall-run Chinook salmon) are expected to occur throughout the proposed action area, and the greatest effects will occur during the drier water years when effects of the proposed action are most pronounced.” (NMFS BiOp, page 683).

The HC identified several issues in the proposed action, including cold water storage in Lake Shasta, pumping in the delta, and temperature management, that could significantly impact the survival and populations of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmon that constrain Council-managed fisheries, as well as the status and designated EFH of species harvested by Council-managed fisheries.

Based on the HC report, the Council plans to send a letter to NMFS Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver and West Coast Regional Manager Barry Thom, as well as the Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, highlighting these concerns about the BiOp and the impacts of the project on EFH and Council-managed and constraining species. The letter will be posted on the Council website when it becomes available.

Klamath Dam Removal

Federal and state biologists (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NMFS, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) met recently to discuss issues related to the removal of the four lower Klamath River dams, their associated infrastructure, and the Iron Gate Hatchery. They identified factors that will directly affect fall Chinook and coho salmon production, field methodologies, abundance estimates, and harvest.

Upon removal of all four dams, fish will freely disperse into hundreds of miles of streams. This will require that new data collection strategies be developed to estimate escapement well before 2021, when the dams are slated for demolition. Water quality issues adjacent to the dam, which were also identified as a consequence of demolition, will need to be addressed, and salmon spawning habitat in many miles of rivers and tributaries above the dams will require restoration or enhancement after the dams are removed. The STT and HC are scheduled to consider these issues at their March meetings.

Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal and Pipeline Project

In September, the Council approved letters commenting on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) of the Jordan Cove Energy Project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released the final EIS for the project on November 15th with a 30-day comment period. A Council comment letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will be posted on the Council website in the near future.

Columbia River System Operation Plan Draft Environmental Impact Schedule

The draft EIS of the Columbia River hydropower system operations should be available for comment in February 2020. The alternatives under consideration have been released to the public. Fish passage, spill, and dam breaching are among the issues considered in the alternatives. The HC will discuss the draft EIS at its March or April meetings, and will likely draft a comment letter for the Council at that time.

Salmon Reintroduction Upstream of Chief Joseph/Grand Coulee Dams

Casey Baldwin, Research Scientist with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, briefed the HC on a proposal for the reintroduction of anadromous fish upstream of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams. The project is being conducted by the Upper Columbia United Tribes with support from the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and others.

The project’s Phase 1 Report included habitat modeling for the U.S. portion of the blocked area covering 355 miles of Chinook habitat. If fish are re-established above the dams, the upstream extent of essential fish habitat could be greatly increased.

Phase 2 of the project will investigate options for efficient and cost-effective passage of adults across Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams, such as trucking fish or using “salmon cannons” to essentially shoot fish over the dams and into the reservoir. Reintroduction is expected to occur in phases. Ceremonial releases of summer Chinook salmon were conducted in 2019, while large “experimental pilot” releases may not happen for several more years. Reintroduction on a grand scale, with bypass facilities and supporting hatchery programs, depends on successful feasibility tests in Phase 2, as well as funding. For more details, see the project’s Frequently Asked Questions.

A presentation on this project is currently scheduled for the April Council meeting.

Responsible Offshore Development Alliance

Annie Hawkins, the Executive Director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), spoke to the HC during a webinar in October. RODA has been active in tracking wind energy on the East Coast and is now adding West Coast members. The organization, formed in 2018, includes many sectors and stems from a common concern around the impacts of offshore energy to fisheries, as well as an extraordinarily fast pace of offshore wind development and leasing. Fishing industry leaders believe that the National Environmental Policy Act process used by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) needs to be updated to reflect the potential impacts of offshore wind energy projects. The HC plans to coordinate with RODA to keep track of offshore energy projects, which may affect both the habitat of, and fisheries access to, Council-managed species.

Proposed Critical Habitat Expansion for Southern Resident Killer Whales

The HC received briefings from Lynne Barre and Penny Ruvelas (NMFS Protected Species Division) on the proposed expansion of critical habitat for Southern Resident killer whales. NMFS is seeking comments on the geographic areas and boundaries and potential impacts of designation on existing uses, among other things. The comment period closes December 18.

Critical habitat for Southern Resident killer whales was designated in 2006 for most of the U.S. waters of the Salish Sea (the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound and waters around the San Juan Islands). The proposed expansion extends from the U.S.-Canada border south to Point Sur, CA, between the 6 meter (20 ft) and 200 meter (656 ft) depth contours.

As required under the Endangered Species Act, NMFS identified habitat features that are essential to the whales’ conservation: prey (quality, quantity, availability), water quality, and passage.

NMFS does not expect the critical habitat consultation to result in conservation measures beyond what would be needed to protect the whales themselves (as opposed to the whales’ prey). Impacts to Council-managed fisheries are likely to be limited to the administrative aspects of reinitiating consultation. However, the critical habitat designation could be used by the Council in its dealings with other agencies to emphasize the impacts of activities that affect both salmon and killer whales.

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation for Humpback Whales

In addition to Southern Resident killer whales, NMFS is also proposing to designate critical habitat for certain “distinct population segments” of humpback whales. Both the Mexico and Central America population segments forage off the U.S. West Coast, where critical habitat is now proposed. NMFS identified prey (krill, sardine, herring, anchovy) as the essential feature of critical habitat that is necessary for the conservation of the species.

NMFS expects that the critical habitat analysis is not likely to require changes in fisheries management. However, it is possible that  analyses of the effects of the coastal pelagic species fishery on the whales may be necessary.

Given this designation, the Council will be able to cite the need for abundant coastal pelagic and krill species as additional justification for comments on non-fishing actions that adversely affect essential fish habitat.

The public comment deadline for this proposal is December 9.

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November 2019 Decision Summary Document available online

Monday, November 25th, 2019

The Pacific Fishery Management Council met November 15-20, 2019 in Costa Mesa, California. The November 2019 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document contains the highlights of significant decisions made at that meeting. Results of agenda items that do not reach a level of highlight significance are typically not described in the Decision Summary Document.

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PRELIMINARY DRAFT NOVEMBER 2019 MOTIONS IN WRITING

Friday, November 15th, 2019

Council meeting at the time of the Council vote and often use expedited language and references without the benefit of any final editing or proofing. They may use short-hand language or abbreviations that may not be clear without the context of verbal comments and clarifications made during their development at the meeting, or may contain inadvertent transposition errors. They have not been approved by the Council to represent the final official record of Council action. The final official record will be posted on the Council website after the Council approves the full meeting record at a future Council meeting.

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November 2019 PFMC Meeting Fast Facts

Monday, October 28th, 2019

The November 14-20, 2019 Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting “Fast Facts” are available. Fast Facts are answers to FAQs that can help you get oriented for the upcoming meeting.

November 14-20, 2019 PFMC Meeting Fast Facts

If you have additional questions regarding the November 14-20, 2019 Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting:

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November 2019 Briefing Book available online

Friday, October 25th, 2019

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NMFS publishes proposed “List of Fisheries for 2020”; requests comments by November 11, 2019

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its proposed List of Fisheries (LOF) for 2020, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The proposed LOF for 2020 reflects new information on interactions between commercial fisheries and marine mammals. NMFS must classify each commercial fishery on the LOF into one of three categories under the MMPA based upon the level of mortality and serious injury of marine mammals that occurs incidental to each fishery. The classification of a fishery on the LOF determines whether participants in that fishery are subject to certain provisions of the MMPA, such as registration, observer coverage, and take reduction plan requirements.

Please see the Federal Register notice dated October 10, 2019 to view the proposed rule, and for instructions on how to comment. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by November 11, 2019.

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Agenda and Meeting Notice for November 14-20 Council Meeting now available

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

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Habitat Committee to meet via webinar on October 30

Friday, October 4th, 2019

The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council) Habitat Committee will hold a meeting via webinar, which is open to the public. The webinar will be held Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and will end at noon on the same day. Public comments during the webinar will be received from attendees at the discretion of the Habitat Committee Chair.

Meeting Topics

Major topics include but are not limited to habitat-related topics, including letters for Pacific Council approval on the Central Valley Project and Klamath dam removal, the Jordan Cove Liquified Natural Gas project, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management activities, a brief planning discussion regarding southern resident killer whale habitat, and other matters.

The group may also address one or more of the Pacific Council’s scheduled administrative matters, legislative matters, ecosystem topics, groundfish topics, and future workload planning.

To Attend the Webinar

  1. Join the meeting by visiting this link:
    https://www.gotomeeting.com
  2. Click “Join” at the top right corner of page
  3. Enter the Webinar ID: 536-450-845
  4. Please enter your name and email address (required)
  5. You must use your telephone for the audio portion of the meeting by dialing this TOLL number +1 (224) 501-3412 (not a toll-free number)
  6. Then enter the Attendee phone audio access code 536-450-845
  7. Then enter your audio phone pin (shown after joining the webinar)

NOTE: We have disabled Mic/Speakers as on option and require all participants to use a telephone or cell phone to participate.

Technical Information

System Requirements

  • PC-based attendees: Required: Windows® 10, 8, 7, Vista, or XP
  • Mac®-based attendees: Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer
  • Mobile attendees: Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet (See the GoToMeeting Webinar Apps)

You may send an email to Mr.Kris Kleinschmidt or contact him at 503-820-2280, extension 411 for technical assistance.

Public Listening Station

A public listening station will also be provided at the Council office.

Pacific Fishery Management Council
7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101
Portland, OR 97220-1384
503-820-2280
Driving Directions

Additional Information

This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at 503-820-2411 at least ten days prior to the meeting date.

If you have additional questions regarding the webinar, please contact Ms. Jennifer Gilden at 503-820-2418; toll-free 1-866-806-7204.

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November 2019 Council Meeting

Saturday, September 21st, 2019

The Pacific Fishery Management Council and its advisory bodies met November 14-20, 2019 at the following location:

Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa
3050 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: 714-540-7000

MP3 and WAV files (meeting recordings)

Decision summary document

Briefing book

Fast facts

Agenda and meeting notice

Briefing book public comment deadlines (E-
Portal)

Visit the November 2019 Council Meeting E-portal to submit your written comment. Select the agenda item you are interested in commenting on and either enter your comments in the text box, or upload a file containing your comments in .pdf format.

  • Public Comments received between 10/03/19 and 10/17/19, 5:00 pm Pacific Time will be posted with the Advanced Briefing Book.
  • Comments received after 10/17/19 will be posted Supplementally upon review.  The comment window closes on 11/4/19 at 5 pm.
  • You will only be allowed to submit one public comment for each period (Advanced, Supplemental, in person at the meeting).

If you have additional questions regarding the Pacific Fishery Management Council E-Portal for
Public Comment:

How to Submit PowerPoint Presentations or Videos

If your comments contain a PowerPoint presentation or video, such PowerPoints and videos need to be turned in no later than 5 pm the day before the corresponding agenda item is scheduled on the Council’s agenda. PowerPoints and videos must be sent to: Kris.Kleinschmidt@noaa.gov. Please see the Protocol Policy on submitting electronic slide presentation materials at the Council meetings for full direction, expectations, and equipment available for use during presentations.

 

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