Appointments and Committee Changes | U.S. Coast Guard Changes | Salmon FMP | Charter Halibut Permit (CHP) Renewal | Mixing of Guided and Unguided Halibut | Salmon Bycatch | GOA Chinook PSC | Cooperative Reports | Halibut Retention in Pots | BSAI Halibut Abundance-based Management of PSC Limits | Staff Tasking | Regulatory Reform | Research Priorities | Northern Edge 2017 Report | Charter Halibut Economic Data | Community Engagement and Outreach | NIOSH Report | Upcoming Meetings
Appointments and Committee Changes
Four new members were appointed to the Social Science Planning Team: Sally Bibb (NMFS Regional Office) to replace Rachel Baker; Mike Fey (AKFIN); Dr. Mike Downs (SSC member); and Dr. Elizabeth Figus (Council staff).
The Chair also appointed new industry and Electronic Monitoring (EM) provider members to the EM Workgroup, as its focus changes from fixed gear to a trawl EM development. Agency representation on the Workgroup remains unchanged. The Workgroup will hold a joint meeting with old and new industry and EM provider members on May 15th as a transition.
Finally, Council member Steve Marx (Oregon DFW) will replace departing Capt. Stephen White (USCG) as co-Chair of the Enforcement Committee, with Will Ellis (NOAA OLE).
Staff contact is Diana Evans.
U.S. Coast Guard Changes
Captain Stephen White is undergoing a change of command and this was his last meeting as a Council member representing the United States Coast Guard. Captain White has contributed to Council discussions on a variety of issues and has participated and chaired the Council’s Enforcement Committee. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.
The Council reviewed proposals that stakeholders submitted in response to an October 2017 call for public comment on measures to manage the commercial salmon fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) adjacent to Cook Inlet. The Council is amending the FMP in order to incorporate the Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishery in the EEZ, currently managed entirely by the State of Alaska, into the Federal Salmon FMP.
The Council also reviewed NOAA General Counsel guidance on the geographic scope of federal authority under the Salmon FMP, specifically to the questions below:
- Did the Ninth Circuit in UCIDA v. NMFS hold that the Council and NMFS must prepare an FMP amendment that includes salmon fisheries conducted within State waters of Cook Inlet?
- Does the Magnuson-Stevens Act authorize and require the Council to prepare an FMP amendment that includes salmon fisheries occurring within State waters of Cook Inlet?
According to General Counsel, the answer to both questions is “No”. A rationale for that answer is provided in a memo to the Council provided at the April meeting.
A further letter to the Council addressed the question of whether or not it is necessary to include in the FMP the salmon sport fishery that occurs in the EEZ waters of Upper Cook Inlet. The answer to this question was left for the Council to determine at a later date.
Finally, the Council is initiating a CALL FOR NOMINATIONS for membership on the Cook Inlet Salmon Committee. The Committee’s primary function will be to (1) review and provide comments on specific, Council-identified issues; (2) develop options for fishery management measures for specific, Council-identified management needs, and (3) provide perspectives on potential social and economic impacts of proposed fishery management measures. The Council will accept nominations and applications for membership on the Committee until noon (Alaska time), June 1, 2018. If interested, please send a letter of interest and brief resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to:
North Pacific Fishery Management Council
605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306
Anchorage, Alaska 99501-2252
If you have previously applied to be on the Committee, your application is on file with us and YOU DO NOT HAVE TO RE-APPLY.
After reviewing the nominations, the Council Chair will appoint members to the Committee to achieve a representative group of stakeholders to accomplish the Committee’s purpose and scope of work. The Council Chair will also appoint a Council member to serve as the Committee Chair. The first Committee meeting is likely to be scheduled for the fall of 2018.
The motion is available here. Staff contact is Jim Armstrong.
The Council reviewed the 2018 Alaska weathervane scallop SAFE report that was prepared by the Scallop Plan Team. The Council set scallop ABC at 1.161 million pounds of shucked scallop meats, a level equivalent to 90% of the OFL (1.29 million pounds), which is consistent with the ABC control rule under the Scallop FMP. Scallop OFL and ABC are specified for all waters off Alaska, and guideline harvest levels (GHLs) are established by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for each of the State’s various scallop registration areas and districts.
Total scallop harvest off Alaska in the 2016/17 season was 233,003 lb (117 t) of shucked meats, which is 20% of specified ABC (1.161 million lb; 527 t). Area-specific harvest limits were met in a little over half of the fishing areas, specifically the Yakutat, Prince William Sound, Kodiak Shelikof, Kodiak Southwest, Unimak Bight, and Bering Sea Districts. Areas that were abandoned by the fleet before the GHL was harvested included District 16, Cook Inlet, Kodiak Northeast, and Dutch Harbor. The preliminary total catch estimate for the 2017/18 season is 238,710 lb (119 t) of shucked meats. This is 20.6% of the ABC specified for 2017/18 (1.161 million lb; 527 t). While overall declines have occurred in statewide scallop harvest over the past seven years, revenue has been stable. The stock status of Alaska weathervane scallops is not viewed as a conservation concern since scallops are distributed in many areas that have been closed to fishing to protect crab populations and in areas not defined as commercial beds.
An overview of the updated fishery economics appendix to the 2018 Scallop SAFE was presented to the Council. The update included statewide scallop harvest statistics from 1967-2017. It was noted that while price per pound is currently at a high point ($12.53), catch in pounds of meats is near a low in the time trend and has declined steadily since the early-1990s.
An analysis of the number of vessels that could break even from a cost perspective under various price and landing scenarios was also presented. Under current price-per-pound and harvest, the fishery could support slightly more than 3 boats. There are currently two vessels participating in the fishery, and it is uncertain whether a third will fish in 2018. It is likely that fleet consolidation has resulted in a more efficient fleet with lower operating costs, greater average crew wages, and improved returns. Low harvest levels, even with high prices, however, are likely preventing new entrants to the State waters fishery.
Finally, Federal scallop permit history and current activity was presented based on information publicly available from State and Federal sources. Ownership attribution shows that the greatest level of cumulative ownership shares is equivalent to 1.1 LLPs. LLP ownership under the FMP is limited to no more than two LLPs by one person.
The Council appreciated the expansion of economic information in the 2018 SAFE and looks forward to regular updates and additions to the break-even analysis, as well as permitting dynamics, and the potential for new entrants to the scallop fishery.
The motion can be viewed here. Staff contact is Jim Armstrong.
Charter Halibut Permit (CHP) Renewal
The Council took final action on an issue that would create an annual renewal process for charter halibut permits (CHPs) in IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A. This application process would require CHP holders (including Community Quota Entities and U.S. Military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation groups) to submit CHP number, CHP holder name, address, phone number and/or email address, as well as any updates to the CHP ownership structure. The application would also include a question asking whether financial compensation was received from use of a CHP in the preceding year.
The intent of this renewal process is to provide more complete and useful information to evaluate whether changes to the CHP Program are necessary as a result of changes in ownership and participation of CHPs, to facilitate retirement of non-transferable permits when ownership changes, and improve the ability of enforcement agents to ensure valid permits are being used.
The CHP renewal application will not be required until the action is approved by the Secretary of Commerce, and the appropriate capacity for collecting this type of information has been implemented.
The motion is available here. Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.
Mixing of Guided and Unguided Halibut
In February 2017, the Council initiated an analysis for limiting the simultaneous possession of guided halibut with unguided halibut in IPHC Areas 2C and 3A in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action was undertaken by the Council because different regulations apply to guided and unguided (i.e., charter and non-charter) halibut fishing trips, which presents difficulties for accountability and enforcement. At the April 2018 meeting, the Council selected a modified Alternative 3 as its preferred alternative. Under Alternative 3, if guided and unguided halibut are onboard the fishing vessel at the same time, the stricter IPHC annual management measures for guided sport fishing would apply to all halibut anglers on board the fishing vessel.
The Council selected Alternative 3 because it provides some flexibility for charter operations to mitigate impacts of stricter guided restrictions, while also to improving accountability and enforcement by providing regulations that are clear and concise. When both guided and unguided halibut is onboard, vessels must comply with guided sport fishing regulations for bag and possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements. The Council did not, however, require compliance with three other regulatory requirements that apply to guided anglers: day-of-the-week closures, recording harvest in a saltwater logbook, and annual limits. The Council did not include these additional regulations for unguided anglers because of their implementation difficulties, enforcement challenges, and the potential for financial harm to multi-day fishing vessels.
You can view the motion here. Staff contact is Jon McCracken.
The Council received a series of reports on the stock of origin of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch taken incidentally in selected BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries, the relative adult equivalence and impact rate to streams of origin of Chinook bycatch in the Bering Sea, reports from the Bering Sea pollock industry on their efforts to avoid chum and Chinook by sector in the Bering Sea, as well as an update on efforts by SeaShare to distribute bycaught fish for hunger relief. Following the reports, the Council established a Salmon Stock Composition Workgroup comprised of staff from AFSC, ADF&G, Council/SSC, and NMFS Alaska Region. This group is tasked to hold a public workshop to best facilitate industry feedback on the use of salmon genetics in bycatch avoidance efforts by the fleet, and other analytical efforts to assist in minimizing bycatch. The report from the workshop will be presented next April when salmon bycatch issues are annually scheduled for review at the Council. A summary of the reports follows. Staff contact is Diana Stram.
Salmon bycatch genetics
Genetics reports on stock of origin of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch were provided for the 2016 groundfish fisheries including: the Bering Sea pollock fishery, the GOA pollock fishery, GOA rockfish (and arrowtooth) CV trawl fishery, and the GOA non-pollock CP trawl fisheries. As with previous years, Bering Sea pollock fishery samples were dominated by the Coastal Western Alaska stock grouping (34%) with a large contribution also from the British Columbia region (29%). Some variability in stock composition groupings is seen between A and B seasons. Chum salmon in the Bering Sea continues to be dominated by Asian-origin stocks. Spatial and temporal sampling efforts continue to provide additional detail within season on the locations of western Alaskan chum stocks. In the GOA, Chinook samples continue to be dominated by the West Coast U.S. followed by British Columbia stock compositions (64% and 27%, respectively). As with previous years, chum salmon samples in the GOA continue to be dominated by the eastern GOA/Pacific Northwest stock grouping. These reports are available as NOAA technical memos on the Council’s website.
Salmon Adult Equivalency (AEQ) update
An updated analysis of Chinook salmon adult equivalency (AEQ) was provided to estimate the relative number of salmon caught annually as bycatch that would otherwise be returning to river systems. Chinook salmon bycatch and length composition data from the pollock fishery were converted to age composition estimates using the strata configurations and available age data from the previous analyses. These estimates were then applied to a model to arrive at adult equivalency (AEQ) estimates and then applied to the latest available genetics data to estimate AEQ to regional origins. Finally, these estimates were compared with the recent run-size estimates provided by ADF&G. Results indicate that the ratio of AEQ relative to regional run strengths for coastal west Alaska and Yukon river stocks remains low (<2% of run sizes) since implementation of new management measures under Amendments 91 (2011) and 110 (2016).
Chinook salmon Incentive Plan Agreements annual reports
Under regulations to implement the Amendment 91 Bering Sea Chinook salmon bycatch management program, annual reports are required of each IPA entity and provided to the Council at this meeting. The three IPA entities report annually on the efficacy of bycatch reduction measures. The reports include but are not limited to the following:
- Incentive measures in effect in the previous year;
- How incentive measures affected individual vessels;
- How incentive measures affected salmon savings beyond current levels;
- Transfer information between vessels as well as entities
Regulations promulgated under Amendment 110 incorporated reporting on chum salmon bycatch into the IPAs as well, and the reports also include a description of how chum salmon is managed under each of the three IPAs. The IPA reports are posted on the Council’s website.
SeaShare program update
SeaShare provided a presentation to the Council on participation in and donations to the Prohibited Species Donation Program, whereby bycaught salmon and halibut in BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries may be reclaimed and distributed to hunger-relief programs. This program has been in operation since 1993 and has expanded to include donations of target fish species in addition to donated prohibited species. In 2017, SeaShare donated over 363,000 pounds of fish in Alaska. The annual report from the program is available on the Council’s agenda here.
GOA Chinook PSC
The Council has indefinitely postponed any further action on modifications to the Chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for GOA trawl catcher vessels in non-pollock fisheries. The action could have either increased limits or added flexibility in the form of annual rollovers of unused PSC for trawl vessels targeting Pacific cod, rockfish, and flatfish in the Central and Western GOA. The alternatives that were under consideration had been developed as a revisitation of whether the existing PSC limits appropriately balance management objectives in light of the best and most recently available information. More information on the region of origin for Chinook PSC taken in this fishery has become available since the Council set the fishery’s PSC limit in 2013 (implemented in 2015). The fishery’s Chinook PSC predominately come from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, and to a lesser extent from Southeast Alaska and the Northwest GOA (Cook Inlet, Kodiak, and the eastern Aleutians). After reviewing alternatives in both February and April, the Council determined that modifying the limit was not appropriate at this time due to concerns about the status of Chinook salmon stocks that are known to occur as bycatch in the GOA non-pollock trawl fishery. The Council also noted the possibility that Federal actions relating to Chinook salmon removals could create an unintended interference with the decadal renegotiation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the U.S. and Canada, which are currently ongoing.
The Council did not identify a future time at which this action should be revisited, noting that the timing and direction of trends in affected Chinook salmon stocks cannot be anticipated. The Council did, however, signal its intent to monitor both the status of Chinook salmon stocks and the performance of the PSC-limited GOA trawl catcher vessel sector. The Council will receive a report on Chinook stock status throughout the Pacific coast and on GOA trawl harvest and participation. The report will be made after 2018 fisheries occur, and after the Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiation has been resolved.
Motion is available here. Staff contact is Sam Cunningham.
At the April meeting, the Council reviewed cooperative reports for the American Fisheries Act Program, Amendment 80 Program, Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program, and BSAI Crab Rationalization Program. As part of these programs, cooperatives have been required or requested to provide an annual written report detailing the use of the cooperative quota or addressing other specific areas of Council interest. The written reports and the voluntary presentations (available under Agenda Item C7) are a resource for the Council to track the effectiveness of the cooperatives and whether the cooperative programs are meeting their intended goals. The reports and presentations also facilitate feedback from cooperative managers to the Council on successes of the program and areas of the program that may need adjustment.
The Council expressed their appreciation to the cooperative managers that provided presentations, and those managers that took the initiative to provide a more thorough and comprehensive report and presentation. The Council encourages all cooperative managers to continue providing comprehensive written reports and voluntary presentations even when questions are few since all reports and presentations are important to the Council as a resource. The Council also underscored the importance of written reports and presentations to those cooperatives in the crab program that chose not to submit a report. The lack of written crab program reports makes it difficult for the Council to measure the success of the crab program and whether the goals of the crab program are being met.
The Council made no requests for additional information to be included in the cooperative reports. Copies of the cooperative reports are available on the Council website. Staff contacts are Jon McCracken and Sarah Marrinan.
Halibut Retention in Pots
After reviewing the initial review analysis for halibut retention in sablefish pots in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI), the Council revised its purpose and need statement and revised the action alternative to expand the scope of action. The action considered by the Council at this April meeting proposed an opportunity to retain halibut in sablefish pots in the BSAI, if the participants have both the halibut and sablefish quota available for the appropriate regulatory area. After hearing public testimony on stakeholder interest and intent for this opportunity, the Council expanded the action to allow increased flexibility for fishery participants to more effectively harvest halibut with pot gear without a requirement to concurrently possess sablefish IFQ/CDQ. The new purpose and need statement addresses issues arising from whale depredation in both the sablefish pot fishery as well as in the sablefish and halibut hook-and-line fisheries. Noting that the IPHC recently revised its regulations to allow halibut retention in pot gear and that halibut retention is currently allowed in the GOA, the Council seeks to better align federal retention regulations with the IPHC.
Given this expanded scope, the Council requested another initial review which analyzes the new action alternative and potential impacts. This action alternative contains two new elements: 1) to require an escapement mechanism in the mesh panels of pots, and 2) to establish regulations that would allow NMFS to close IFQ fishing for halibut if an OFL is approached. These elements are in addition to the existing elements which address gear retrieval, an exemption to the 9-inch maximum width of tunnel opening, and VMS/logbook requirements. The analysis will also explore potential management measures to reduce gear conflict related to the use, storage, retrieval and gear loss of pots; implications of this action on the Pacific cod, crab, or other groundfish fisheries; whether definitions for IFQ/CDQ fishing or additional regulations to account for IFQ/CDQ fishing with pot gear are needed; and conservation concerns related to Pribilof Islands Blue King Crab and the Pribilof Islands Habitat Conservation Zone.
The full motion is available here. Staff contact is Sara Cleaver.
BSAI Halibut Abundance-based Management of PSC Limits
After review of a staff discussion paper, the Council drafted a suite of alternatives to establish abundance-based halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, for preliminary analysis. The discussion paper synthesized staff work on ABM control rules and their relative performance compared to Council objectives, using the Council’s draft suite of October 2017 elements and options to develop “strawman ABMs” (example ABM alternatives) based on various combinations of trawl and setline survey indices of halibut abundance. The paper also evaluated how different control rules function, the relative features of different control rules, and tradeoffs among control rules with respect to setting PSC limits for BSAI groundfish fisheries (by gear type), through a preliminary analysis of the example ABMs using both historical data and hypothetical scenarios illustrating contrasting halibut abundance trends. After extensive discussion of the relative features of control rules and specific elements and options, the Council drafted a suite of five alternatives for preliminary analysis by the interagency staff workgroup:
- Alternative 1: Status quo (current fixed PSC limits and allocations)
- Alternative 2: Index PSC by gear type. Index trawl PSC to EBS trawl survey biomass. Index longline PSC to IPHC setline survey in 4ABCDE biomass.
- Alternatives 3 and 4: Index PSC by gear type. Index trawl gear PSC and fixed gear PSC to both EBS trawl survey biomass (primary index for trawl, secondary index for longline) and IPHC setline survey in 4ABCDE biomass (primary index for longline, secondary index for trawl). Alternatives 2 and 3 differ in the methodology by which the PSC is adjusted to the secondary index.
- Alternative 5: Index fixed gear PSC to both EBS trawl survey biomass and IPHC setline survey in 4ABCDE biomass using a look-up table which combines information from both surveys in establishing a PSC limit.
Each of these alternatives contains elements and options for establishing the responsiveness of the PSC limit to changes in abundance, and the starting point, ceiling and floors for the PSC limit. The Council requested that staff also evaluate a series of items including the time series for the indices used, the relative values selected for ‘high, medium, and low’ stock status in Alternatives 3 and 4, analysis of a range of fixed PSC limits to contrast with PSC limits indexed to abundance, and use of a 3-5 year rolling average on PSC limits. The complete motion is available here. The Council acknowledged that the development of alternatives for this action will be an iterative process, and that it is likely that alternatives will be adjusted further at the next review of the analysis.
One such iterative adjustment could be the inclusion of a performance standard to directly address the O26 component of the bycatch, and implications for the directed halibut fishery in the Bering Sea. The Council did not include this provision in the alternative set at this time, but requested a discussion paper that would bring forward data on relative O26:U26 proportions of halibut bycatch by weight, numbers, and gear type, as well as discussion of potential anomalies and bias in the data due both to sampling changes by the Observer Program in recent years as well as differences in sampling resulting from the practices of deck-sorting and use of halibut excluders. The paper should also develop some options for performance standards that are consistent with potential data limitations and have the ability to achieve the objectives of the overall action.
The Council has requested that the SSC review a report from the workgroup in June which outlines the methodological approach for the analysis. This would include the approach to analyze the biological and economic impacts of the current range of alternatives, given the complexity of the range of elements and options. Should O26 data be available in time for consideration by the workgroup, the discussion paper on O26 bycatch by sector, and proposed performance standard options, will also be available for the June meeting.
The Council received a scoping report from NMFS, as it has been determined that preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) may be required for this action because abundance-based halibut PSC limits may have effects on target and bycatch species and their users that are uncertain or unknown and may result in significant impacts on the human environment not previously analyzed. This report summarizes the comments received during the December 12, 2017, to February 16, 2018, scoping period for the BSAI Halibut Abundance-Based PSC EIS. The purpose of this report is to inform the Council and the public of the results of scoping and to assist in the development of the range of alternatives for analysis in the draft EIS.
Staff contact is Diana Stram.
In addition to discussing the relative priority and scheduling of previously tasked projects, the Council took the following actions and clarified direction and tasking for its committees:
- Initiated an analysis to adjust regulations implementing the Aleutian Islands Pacific cod set aside for catcher vessels delivering to shore-based processors in Aleutian Islands communities (implemented under BSAI Groundfish Amendment 113). A discussion of the tradeoffs and benefits of combining this action interacts with the BSAI Pacific cod trawl CV analysis will be provided to the Council in June 2018. The analysis will also include a description of the 2018 BSAI CV trawl fishery and how it was or was not consistent with the intent of Amendment 113.
- Received a report from the Pacific Northwest Crab Industry Advisory Committee (PNCIAC) and initiated two discussion papers for the BSAI crab fisheries, to evaluate the steps necessary to implement an electronic logbook, and to consider allowing partial deliveries of all BSAI crab program species.
- Initiated a discussion paper to describe the Economic Data Report requirements for all programs, how the collected data are used, and estimates for the cost associated with complying with EDR requirements.
- Initiated a discussion paper to consider modifying the requirement to retain small sablefish in the Alaska IFQ longline and pot fisheries.
- Directed staff to submit comments to NMFS on the draft policy on using Best Scientific Information Available as recommended by the Council’s SSC.
- Reviewed a staff discussion paper on the Council’s community outreach efforts and began planning for the appointment of an outreach or community engagement committee to meet in the fall.
- Reviewed and approved a proposal for the process for determining five-year research priorities in 2018 which will be undertaken at the June 2018 meeting.
- Requested staff develop a one-page framework of data needed for the Catch Sharing Plan allocation review scheduled for 2021 so that any needed research can be prioritized as appropriate. This framework will be considered in the assessment of research priorities at the June meeting.
- Directed staff to post guidance documents on the Council website with respect to the operational procedures of Council committees and submitting written comments to the Council or its committees.
- Proposed holding a Joint Protocol Committee meeting with Board of Fish representatives, tentatively on October 19th in Anchorage, AK, to discuss Pacific cod and Salmon FMP issues.
Motions are posted on the Council website through the Agenda. Staff contact is Diana Evans.
The Regulatory Reform agenda and requirements in Executive Order (E.O.) 13771 and E.O. 13777 require NMFS, as part of the Department of Commerce, to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding repeal, replacement, or modification, consistent with applicable law. As the fishery management plans and associated regulations for the conservation and management of the federally managed fisheries off Alaska were developed by the Council, NMFS requested that the Council assist in review of these regulations and provide recommendations to NMFS. To facilitate the review, NMFS prepared a discussion paper that provides information about the regulations under the Council’s authority, existing regulatory review processes (through the Council process and those conducted separately at the regional office), and some recommended regulatory revisions that have been identified through these processes.
The Council reviewed the discussion paper, and by extension the regulations under its authority, at the April 2018 meeting. Through the Council process, regulations are continuously reviewed and revised to reflect current conservation and management needs, as reflected in the Council’s current list of ongoing projects, some of which include components that reduce the burden of existing regulations. The Council also supports NMFS continuing to remove recordkeeping and reporting requirements that are no longer necessary, and to simplify or reduce the burden of existing requirements.
Staff contact is Diana Evans.
Every year, the SSC and Council review five-year research priorities. This is an obligation under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and publication of Council research needs informs research and funding entities about potential research opportunities. Following annual review at the June 2017 meeting, the Council expressed a desire to streamline its annual review process. In April 2018, the SSC and Council reviewed and endorsed a proposal on how to improve the process for 2018, which is scheduled to occur at the June meeting in Kodiak.
For 2018, the Council’s Plan Teams and SSC will continue to review and update, as needed, the priority designation and research status for all listed research items, as well as potentially adding or eliminating research items. Following that step, items in the “Critical” and “Strategic” categories will be set aside for this year. Items in the “Urgent” and “Important” categories will then be reviewed by the Plan Teams with the goal of identifying a small number of projects (3-5 per Plan Team) that the Teams consider to be the highest priority this year. At the June 2018 Council meeting, the SSC will consider the Plan Team recommendations, along with other “urgent” and “important” research priorities that have not been reviewed by the Plan Teams (for example, relating to the halibut fishery or seabird avoidance research priorities). The SSC will then compile a “top ten” list (the number ten is not set in stone) based on Plan Team recommendations, with a rationale for each research priority so that the Council review can achieve greater focus and depth. After Council review, the entire list of research priorities, with the top priorities highlighted, will be communicated to the usual research/funding entities and the Secretary of Commerce.
Staff contact is Jim Armstrong.
Northern Edge 2017 Report
John Mosher and Andrea Balla-Holden from the U.S. Navy provided an after-action presentation on Northern Edge 2017 joint training exercise that was completed May 1-12, 2017, in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). The Council had previously received a presentation from the Alaska Command and the U.S. Navy explaining plans for the Northern Edge 2017 joint training exercise in the GOA in February 2017. During the earlier presentation, a few concerns were raised by stakeholders regarding potential environmental impacts of the training exercise, and the Council requested the Navy provide a follow-up presentation regarding the Northern Edge 2017 after completion of the exercise. The Council also requested confirmation that the organizational plan and level of activity as presented during the February 2017 Council meeting was followed, and if not, how it may have differed.
In reporting on the 2017 exercise, it was noted that the exercise was primarily conducted further offshore within the permitted training area, and that protective measures and mitigation techniques were successfully used, for example, on Portlock Bank and to protect North Pacific Right whales. The presentation also noted that the usage of training ordnances and sonar was very minimal relative to the amount authorized, minimizing the impacts of the exercise on the environment. The Council appreciated the presentation and looks forward to interaction with the Navy on future Northern Edge exercises.
Charter Halibut Economic Data
The Council requested that staff develop a brief framework on economic data needs for the upcoming 2021 Halibut Catch Sharing Plan allocation review. The framework will be available for review and approval by the Council at the June 2018 meeting. It is anticipated that data gaps would inform the Council’s research priorities regarding research projects necessary to obtain data for the allocation review. Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.
Community Engagement and Outreach
In response to public testimony in February and April, and a staff discussion paper on the Council’s approach to outreach in recent years, the Council expressed interest in creating a community engagement and outreach committee. The Council will further discuss the purpose and scope of such a committee at the June 2018 meeting.
The discussion paper that the Council reviewed during B reports briefly outlined the activities of the Council’s Rural Outreach Committee, which was extant from 2009–2011. The ROC was established to provide guidance to the Council on ways to improve communication between the Council and rural communities for Council actions that may affect communities in rural Alaska. The three-tiered method suggested by the ROC, and which has been applied during the last ten years, includes direct mailings, statewide teleconference presentations, and direct presentations to US Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Advisory Councils and other regional meetings. These methods have been successfully employed for several Council projects since 2011, most recently in March 2018, with positive feedback from the Regional Advisory Councils and communities.
With the Council’s recent engagement in more programmatic initiatives such as the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan and abundance-based bycatch management, members of the public have requested that the Council reconsider their engagement with rural Alaskan and Alaska Native communities to foster direct two-way communications on relevant Council activities. During Staff Tasking, members of the public requested that the Council consider reconvening the Rural Outreach Committee with an expanded role or establishing an ad-hoc committee specifically tasked with soliciting and considering community engagement strategies. There was also a request to ask communities directly for input on how they would like to engage in the Council process.
The Council expressed interest both in creating a committee and in thinking about how to solicit input from communities about engagement. Council members noted that it is important that the process is transparent, and that information shared with a Committee is also available to Council members. They also discussed how to solicit input while also setting appropriate expectations. Ultimately, the Council indicated that it would consider a scope of work for a committee at the June meeting, and tasked staff to develop ideas for a draft solicitation announcement for a request for proposals from the public on ways to effectively engage rural and Alaska Native communities during the Council process, for review in June. If the establishment of a committee is approved by the Council in June, the Council would issue a call for nominations for Committee representation, with plans for the Committee to meet in Fall 2018. Staff contact is Steve MacLean.
At the April Council meeting, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provided a presentation on safety and health in Alaska’s Commercial fishing and seafood processing industry. Information from the presentation showed Alaska commercial fishing fatalities declining faster than US commercial fishing fatalities. The presentation also included information on surviving fishing vessel sinkings and information on new research of non-fatal injuries and illnesses in Alaska seafood processing industry. Results from the new research indicated that hazards to target for prevention of injury and illness include the following:
- Overexertion from lifting and lowering
- Struck by equipment and falling boxes
- Slips, trips, and falls
- And caught in machinery
- Overexertion from lifting, lowering, pushing, and pulling
- Struck by trays, fish (fresh/frozen), and boxes/bags
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Repetitive motion
For more information on NIOSH, see their fishing website. Staff contact is Jon McCracken.
Here is the revised Three-Meeting Outlook resulting from this Council meeting.
- Fishing Families Workshop, May 7, 5:15-7:15 pm Birch/Willow Room, Anchorage Hilton
- Crab Plan Team meeting, May 8-10, Anchorage, AK
- Social Science Planning Team meeting, May 8-9, Anchorage, AK
- OAC Subgroup teleconference, May 11, 9am-12pm
- EM Workgroup meeting, May 15, AFSC, Seattle, WA
- Observer Advisory Committee, May 16-17, AFSC, Seattle, WA
- Ecosystem Committee, June 5, 9am-5pm (T), Kodiak, AK
- Enforcement Committee, June 5, 1-4 pm, Kodiak, AK
- IFQ Outreach meeting, June 5, 5-6:30pm, Kodiak, AK
- BSAI Assessment Modeling Workshop, June 27-28, AFSC, Seattle, WA
- Ecosystem Committee meeting – BS FEP review, July 24, Anchorage, AK