At this meeting, the Council reviewed the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pacific cod allocation review, and accepted it as complete and final pending the addition, to the extent practicable, of information recommended by the Scientific and Statistical Committee. The review was responsive to NMFS’ Fisheries Allocation Policy Directive, issued in July of 2016, under which the Council is required to conduct a 10-year review of BSAI Pacific cod allocations to ensure that the optimal yield is being achieved under current conditions. The goal of the allocation review was to assist the Council in determining whether or not the development and evaluation of BSAI Pacific cod allocation alternatives are warranted.
Overall, the Council noted that Amendment 85 has provided intended stability for sectors in the BSAI Pacific cod fishery, improved social and economic structures for sectors, and provided entry level and local opportunities for some small vessels, although participation by entry level and small vessels is not uniform across all sectors. Amendment 85 allocations have continued to allow optimal yield to be achieved on a continuing basis, which is a fundamental objective of Amendment 85 and can be extremely challenging given the variable nature of the fishery and balancing of the Council’s Amendment 85 objectives across the nine sectors.
As a follow up to information identified in the Amendment 85 allocation review, the Council requested staff include a description of the process for reallocating inseason among BSAI Pacific cod sectors in the stranded BSAI and GOA Pacific cod discussion paper scheduled for the October Council meeting. In addition, the Council requested staff include the potential impacts on other sectors of the proposed rationalization of the trawl catcher vessel (CV) and pot CV sectors, in the BSAI Pacific cod trawl and pot CV management scoping paper scheduled for the October Council meeting.
As noted by the Council, the BSAI Pacific cod allocation review highlighted ongoing uncertainty experienced by the BSAI hook-and-line/pot less than 60’ CV sector in the federal BSAI Pacific cod fishery, due to its reliance on inseason reallocations, lack of a B-season apportionment, and challenges created by a multi-gear type sector. The Council is considering development of trawl CV and pot CV rationalization programs that could impact harvest patterns and inseason reallocations in the BSAI Pacific cod fishery, and there is some potential these actions could increase uncertainty for the hook-and-line/pot less than 60’ CV sector and reduce fishing access the sector has been historically dependent upon. It is for this reason that the Council has requested that a discussion of these issues be included in the upcoming October scoping paper.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.