The Council took final action to create a Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pacific cod trawl catcher vessel (CV) limited access privilege program (LAPP). After careful consideration of all the information presented, including the analysis, Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and Advisory Panel (AP) recommendations, and public testimony, the Council selected a preferred alternative. Once approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the preferred alternative will allocate quota shares (QS) to groundfish LLP licenses based on the harvest of qualifying trawl CV BSAI Pacific cod catch. The action will also allocate harvest shares to a processor permit based on processing history of qualifying targeted trawl CV BSAI Pacific cod landings. Harvesters and processors will then assign the cooperative quota (CQ) derived from 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 preferred alternative:
- Element 1 – Voluntary harvester cooperative structure formed by holders of qualified trawl CV LLP licenses in association with an eligible licensed processor. Cooperative formation will require a minimum of three LLP licenses with Pacific cod QS to be assigned to the cooperative.
- Element 2 – 1) Option 2.2.2 (2009-2019) qualifying years with one drop year, 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, 3) NMFS will issue CQ to cooperatives by season (Element 2.4), and 4) allocate A and B season BSAI trawl CV Pacific cod only leaving the C season allocation as a limited access trawl fishery (Element 2.5).
- Element 3 – 1) Annual halibut and crab PSC limits available to the BSAI trawl CV Pacific cod sector will be established through the annual specification process, 2) establish a separate halibut PSC limits for the trawl CV and American Fisheries Act (AFA) catcher processor (CP) sectors in the Pacific cod fishery based on historic use of halibut PSC and establish separate crab PSC limits for each of the two sectors in the Pacific cod fishery based on the proportion of BSAI Pacific cod allocated to the two sectors (Option 3.2), 3) reduce the halibut PSC limit apportioned to the trawl CV sector’s cooperative Pacific cod fishery by 25% and reduce the crab PSC limits apportioned to the sector’s cooperative Pacific cod fishery by 35% (Suboption 3.3.1 & 3.3.2), 4) phase in the halibut PSC limit reduction over 2 years (Suboption 3.3.3), 5) establish a separate C season halibut and crab PSC apportionment of 5% of the trawl CV Pacific cod fishery PSC limit before applying PSC limit reductions noted above (Option 3.4), and 6) PSC limits will be apportioned to the cooperatives in proportion to their initial Pacific cod CQ allocation and will be monitored at the cooperative level.
- Element 4 – Option 4.1- revise the GOA groundfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits for all GOA non-exempt AFA CVs and AFA LLP licenses based on Element 2.2.2 (2009-2019) qualifying years. Halibut PSC sideboard limits will be managed as an annual limit. Option 4.2 – 1) prohibit AFA GOA-exempt CVs, non-AFA CVs, and CVs assigned to License limitation Program (LLP) licenses endorsed for less than 60’ length overall with an Aleutian Islands (AI) transferable endorsement from leasing their BSAI Pacific cod CQ as a condition of benefiting from GOA sideboard exemption, 2) vessels assigned to a qualified GOA sideboard exempt LLP license that does not fish in the GOA during the calendar year, expect when fishing under the CGOA Rockfish Program, can lease their BSAI Pacific cod CQ that calendar year, and 3) vessels assigned to qualified GOA exempt LLP licenses with less than 300 mt of average annual qualifying BSAI Pacific cod history to lease their BSAI Pacific cod CQ and benefit from the GOA sideboard exemption (Suboption 4.2.1).
- Element 5 – 1) 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) (Element 5.1), 2) limit directed BSAI Pacific cod that can be delivered by trawl CVs to eligible CPs acting as a mothership. Specifically, the preferred alternative is Option 5.2.1 which allow each eligible CP acting as a mothership to process up to 125% of the eligible CP’s qualifying processing history, and 3) allocate 22.5% of QS to eligible processors (Element 5.4).
- Element 6 – Require cooperatives to reserve 12% of the BSAI A season trawl CV sector CQ as a set-aside for delivery to an AI shoreplant if the community of Adak or Atka file a notice of intent to process that year (Option 6.1). The set-aside will be in effect during the A and B seasons and any remaining portion of the AI CQ reserve will be reallocated to cooperatives in the same proportion as the initial allocation if the intent to process is withdrawn during the A or B seasons. The preferred alternative requires an intercooperative agreement that describes how the set-aside will be administered by the cooperatives to ensure that harvests from the BS and AI CQ reserve do not exceed the minimum set aside, how the cooperatives intend to harvest the set-aside, and how cooperatives would ensure that CVs < 60’ assigned to an LLP license with transferable AI trawl endorsement have the opportunity to harvest 10% of the AI set-aside for delivery to AI shoreplants. A cooperative intending to harvest any amount of the set-aside must provide the cooperative’s plan for coordinating harvest and delivery of the set-aside with an AI shoreplant in the cooperative application.
- Element 7 – Catch histories are attached to trawl CV LLP licenses and are non-severable from the LLP license. For LLP licenses associated with the non-exempt AFA vessels, transfers of QS are authorized for a 90-day period following initial issued QS. The 5% ownership cap from Element 8.1 will apply. Transfers of QS outside the 90-day period due to an operation of law will be permitted.
- Element 8 – Option 8.1 establishes a 5% ownership and use cap using the individual and collective rule with a grandfather provision. Option 8.2 establishes a 5% vessel use cap with a grandfather provision. Option 8.3 establishes a 20% ownership and use cap on processor issued harvest shares using the individually and collective rule and a grandfather provision. Option 8.4 establishes a 20% processing company use cap with a grandfather provision.
- Elements 9 through 13 were selected as part of the preferred alternative.
- Element 14, gear conversion, was not selected as part of the preferred alternative. The Council noted that given the new information about Bristol Bay red king crab and EBS snow crab stocks, the impacts of implementing gear conversion at this time are uncertain.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.