At this meeting, the Council reviewed a report from the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) Team, and endorsed draft workplans and established taskforces for the two Action Modules that the Council has initiated:
- Evaluating effects of climate change on fish, fisheries, and the Bering Sea ecosystem, and develop management considerations
- Develop Protocols for Local Knowledge, Traditional Knowledge, and subsistence.
The Council adopted the Bering Sea FEP in December 2018. The Bering Sea FEP establishes a framework for the Council’s continued progress towards ecosystem-based fishery management (EBFM) of the Bering Sea fisheries, and describes how the FEP framework will support research projects (Action Modules) to address Council priorities. The Council views the FEP as a tool to promote ecosystem science, provide a systematic approach to identifying ecosystem considerations and priorities, enhance ecosystem considerations as they are incorporated into Council decisions, and provide a flexible, adaptive platform to address management and conservation needs in the face of climate and ecosystem change.
The FEP Team, which is an interagency group of Council, NMFS, and other Federal, State and IPHC staff, has transitioned from its development role to an ongoing role maintaining the FEP and managing Action Modules, providing strategic guidance on the Bering Sea ecosystem, and supporting outreach and communication on the FEP and the Bering Sea ecosystem as relates to the Council’s fishery management role. The Council approved the BS FEP Team’s proposed Terms of Reference, and encouraged the Team to continue with the work outlined in the FEP Team report, including development of an Ecosystem Health Report and outreach efforts such as Bering Sea FEP storymaps.
The Council also endorsed the Team’s draft Action Module workplans in principle, as revised in response to Council, Ecosystem Committee, and SSC comments in June 2019. Similarly, the Council established a taskforce for each action module, to be appointed by the Council Chair following a call for nominations. In particular, the Council clarified that these Action Modules are intended to have a specific focus on producing workproducts within a 2-3 year timeframe. Any output of the FEP and the Action Modules is intended to be informative and relevant to the Council but not prescriptive, and any recommendations that come from the Action Modules will be reviewed and considered by the Council through the normal process.
The intent of the Climate Change Module is described in the workplan, and is intended to synthesize climate impacts from ongoing research efforts, and ensure that climate resiliency evaluation of Bering Sea fisheries and their management are designed to provide relevant information to the Council. The taskforce for this module should be approximately 10 people, to include diverse knowledge holders and have an interdisciplinary focus. For the LK/TK/Subsistence module, the intent is to create a clear set of directions for the Council regarding best practices for solicitation and consideration of local knowledge and traditional knowledge, and how impacts to subsistence are understood and incorporated into analyses. The intent is not data collection but rather best practice protocols that can be applied to improve ongoing Council decision making. The taskforce for this module is recommended to be slightly larger, up to 15 people, with approximately equal representation of LK, TK, and subsistence expertise, and drawing both from experts and knowledge bearers.
Staff contact is Diana Evans.