The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting in Seattle through Feb. 11, is scheduled to take final action on grenadier management.
As background for that decision, the council will discuss an analysis of alternatives to manage three species of grenadiers: giant, Pacific and popeye grenadiers. This action would amend the fishery management plans for groundfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska to include grenadiers in the plans as either “in the fishery” or as an “ecosystem component.”
The purpose of this action would be to improve reporting and catch accounting of grenadiers in order to provide additional protection for grenadiers from potential adverse effects of groundfish fisheries off Alaska.
The public review draft of the environmental assessment/regulatory impact review/initial regulatory flexibility analysis prompted comment from the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, which notes grenadiers are not currently managed, so there are no quotas set and catch is not reported. This has become a cause for concern, particularly to some conservation groups advocating for more active management, ALFA said.
Given the abundance of grenadiers, the lack of interest in a directed grenadier fishery, but the importance of monitoring harvest, the council has identified the “ecosystem component” designation as its preferred alternative.
If the “ecosystem component” alternative were adopted, this would mean record-keeping requirements would increase, but quotas would not be set. If the “in the fishery” alternative were adopted, quotas and overfishing levels would be established.
Also among agenda is a discussion paper on Bering Sea halibut mortality, which will be discussed to determine whether an amendment is warranted to reduce halibut bycatch in some parts of the Bering Sea. ALPA notes that in Area 4CDE of the Bring Sea the halibut bycatch is four times the directed fishery catch limit. ALPA said it would push for aggressive action to reduce bycatch and protect the rebuilding potential of this halibut stock.