At this meeting, the Council conducted a second initial review of an analysis for a Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pacific cod trawl catcher vessel (CV) limited access program (LAPP). After reviewing the analysis, the SSC and Advisory Panel recommendations, and listening to public testimony, the Council recommended releasing the analysis for final action during the October 2021 meeting after addressing comments from the SSC to the extent practicable. The Council selected a preliminary preferred alternative (PPA) and adjusted several of the elements and options. A summary of those adjustments and the PPA is provided below.
The proposed program considers allocations of quota shares (QS) to groundfish LLP licenses based on the harvest of targeted BSAI Pacific cod during the qualifying years. The action also considers allocating harvest shares to a processor permit based on processing history of BSAI Pacific cod during the qualifying years. Harvesters and processors could then assign the QS to cooperatives on an annual basis as an exclusive harvest privilege allocation.
The purpose of this action is to improve the prosecution of the fishery with the intent of promoting safety and stability in the harvesting and processing sectors, increasing the value of the fishery, minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable, providing for the sustained participation of fishery-dependent communities, and ensuring the sustainability and viability of the resource.
The following is a summary of the PPA as well as major adjustments to the elements and options made at the October meeting:
- Element 1 – Selected as part of the PPA: The Council adjusted the PPA option to require a minimum of three LLP licenses for cooperative formation rather than a minimum of three unique LLP license holders to form a cooperative.
- Element 2 – Selected as part of the PPA: 1) Options 2.2.2 (2009-2019) qualifying years, 2) in the case of stacked LLP licenses (Option 2.3.2) that authorized qualifying catch history when no agreement is provided by the vessel owner/license holders at the time of application, qualifying catch history would be assigned to an LLP license by the owner of the vessel that made the catch, and when only one of the LLP licenses authorized the catch, that qualifying catch history would be assigned to the LLP license that authorized the catch, 3) Element 2.5 which would allocate A and B season BSAI trawl CV Pacific cod only leaving the C season allocation as a limited access trawl fishery.
- Element 3 – Selected as a part of the PPA: Establish a separate halibut BSAI PSC limit for the trawl CV Pacific cod sector based on historic use of halibut and establish a separate crab BSAI PSC limits based on the proportion of BSAI Pacific cod allocated to the trawl CV sector and the AFA CP sector. Also included in the PPA is a 25% reduction of halibut PSC and a 35% reduction of crab PSC applied to the PSC limits established for the trawl CV sector. The Council added Element 3.4 and selected it as a PPA, which would establish a separate C season halibut and crab PSC apportion (5-15%) before applying PSC limit reductions. The Council added Suboption 3.3.3 that would phase in PSC limit reductions over 3 years but that option was not selected as part of the PPA. Finally, Council added language that clearly indicates how PSC limits are transferable between cooperatives, which was selected as a PPA.
- Element 4 – Selected as a PPA which includes Option 4.1 and Option 4.2. Option 4.1 was adjusted to only modify the AFA non-exempt CV GOA groundfish sideboard limits based on Element 2.2.2 (2009-2019) qualifying years. AFA GOA halibut PSC sideboard limits for the AFA non-exempt CVs would remain unchanged. Option 4.2 was adjusted to authorize leasing of BSAI Pacific cod QS for vessels assigned to a qualified GOA exempt LLP license that do not fish in the GOA, expect when fishing under the CGOA Rockfish Program, during the calendar year. Finally, the Council included Suboption 4.2.1 in its PPA, but did not select an average annual qualifying amount of BSAI Pacific cod history at this time.
- Element 5 – Selected as part of the PPA: 1) all of Element 5.1 which states that all processors with an eligible FPP or FFP are eligible to process BSAI Pacific cod under this program (subject to eligibility requirements under BSAI FMP Amendment 120), 2) Element 5.2 which would limit directed BSAI Pacific cod that can be delivered by trawl CVs to eligible CPs acting as a mothership. The Council did not select, at this time, the basis (to calculate the percentage) of the limitation, 3) Element 5.4 which would allocate harvest shares to eligible processors, but the Council did not select a percentage option at this time. The Council also modified Element 5 by adding: 1) revised option 5.2.1 to add 125% of processing history cap, and 2) added option 5.2.2 to allow each eligible CP acting as a mothership to process up to its processing history during the qualifying years, 3) another option for trawl CVs to qualify for delivering to the offshore sector based on either 90% or 75% or more of the quota arising from the history of the eligible LLP license having been delivered offshore during the qualifying years in Element 2.2, and 4) language stating processors that are no longer active (no longer hold an FPP) would not be issued harvest shares. The processing history associated with these processors would be deducted from the total amount of eligible processing history.
- Element 6 – Selected as part of the PPA is Option 6.1, which would require cooperatives reserve a 10% set-aside for delivery to an AI shoreplant if the community of Adak or Atka file a notice of intent to process. The Council clarified through new language that the set-aside is in effect only during the A season and any remaining portion of that set-aside will be reallocated to cooperatives in the same proportion as the initial allocation. Also included as part of the PPA, the Council added new language requiring cooperatives to establish intercooperative agreement that describes how either Option 6.1 (set aside) or Option 6.2 (shore plant allocation) will be administered by the cooperatives to ensure that harvests in the BS do not exceed the minimum set aside or shore plant allocation amounts. Although not part of the PPA, the Council also added language that the intercooperative agreement must also establish how cooperatives would ensure that CVs < 60’ assigned to an LLP license with transferable AI trawl endorsement have the opportunity to harvest a percentage of the AI set-aside for delivery to AI shoreplants.
- Element 7 – Selected as part of the PPA.
- Element 8 – Selected as part of the PPA are the following: 1) Option 8.1 establishes a 5% hold and use cap using an individual and collective rule with a grandfather provision. 2) Option 8.2 establishes a 4% vessel use cap with a grandfather provision. 3) Option 8.3 establishes a 15% ownership and use cap on processor issued harvest shares using an individually and collective rule and a grandfather provision. 4) Option 8.4 establishes a 20% processing facility use cap with a grandfather provision.
- Element 9 – Selected as part of the PPA. The Council clarified that a cooperative is formed by holders of qualified LLP licenses with trawl CV Pacific cod QS, and LLP licenses may be assigned to only one cooperative. The Council also added language that a list of CVs, including pot gear vessels if Element 14 is selected that are eligible to harvest cooperative CQ, must be identified in the annual cooperative application.
- Element 10 – Selected as part of the PPA.
- Element 11 – Selected as part of the PPA.
- Element 12 – Selected as part of the PPA
- Element 13 – Selected as part of the PPA
- Element 14 – Selected as part of the PPA. The Council clarified that CVs using pot gear are associated with a cooperative and are not members of the cooperative, and pot CVs harvesting CQ would be subject to 100% observer coverage.
The Council also requested that staff adjust the strawman alternatives to include Option 2.4 (blend option) and Option 5.4.2 (10%) and 5.4.5 (25%) in the October 2021 final action analysis. The final Council motion is posted. Staff contact is Jon McCracken.