Astoria Fisheries Auction

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

GOA Trawl Bycatch Back on NPFMC Agenda

Federal fisheries managers meeting in Kodiak the week of June 6 will take up again the issue of a new management structure in the Gulf of Alaska groundfish trawl fisheries.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is set to hear a discussion paper exploring details of proposed alternatives and to hear public testimony from local stakeholders, but no final action on the selection of a preferred alternative is expected at this meeting.

Final action is not likely until the end of 2017, and then the new plan must go to the US Department of Commerce for approval.

The council’s work plan calls for a review of several topics related to the new management plan. These include measures intended to promote community stability, observer program issues and related vessel costs, proposed season date changes for pollock and Pacific cod, and effects of existing and potentially reduced prohibited species catch limits. The council also directed staff in February to bring back some preliminary analysis of new additions to alternative 3, with particular attention paid to PSC allocation based on “dependency” and participation in an inter-coop agreement.

Alternative 3 would allocate only prohibited species catch quotas to harvester-processor cooperatives, based on equal shares, some measure of dependency on, and engagement in the fishery, or some combination of the two.

The council noted at its February meeting that it would continue to analyze all alternatives and that it planned to review a draft environmental impact statement in late 2016.

Based on public comments and council discussion at the February meeting, staff was also asked to provide for the June meeting additional information on several topics, including how the alternatives might affect the value of an LLP (license limitation program) license, and the likelihood of “new entry” by vessels that are not typically engaged in Gulf of Alaska trawling.

Written comments on this and other topics up for discussion at the June meeting should be emailed to the council via npfmc.comments@noaa.gov by May 31.

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