At this meeting, the Council conducted an initial review of an analysis for a Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pacific cod trawl catcher vessel (CV) limited access privilege program (LAPP). After reviewing the analysis, the Advisory Panel’s recommendation, and listening to public testimony, the Council modified the purpose and need statement to include minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable and adjusted several of the elements and options under consideration for a June 2021 initial review analysis. A summary of those adjustments 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. This would yield an exclusive harvest privilege allocation for use in a BSAI trawl CV Pacific cod catch share program cooperatives. 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, providing for the sustained participation of fishery-dependent communities, and ensuring the sustainability and viability of the resource. The analysis was made available to the Council and the public in October 2020.
Summary of adjustments to the elements and options under consideration:
- Element 1 – removed Option 1.1 from consideration, which required the AFA and non-AFA cooperative formation structure.
- Element 2 – 1) Clarified that catch history to determine allocations will not be considered beyond December 31, 2019. 2) Included an option to establish a minimum threshold percentage of 0.25%-1% for LLP license eligibility. 3) Clarified that AI transferable endorsements can also receive QS.
- Element 3 – 1) Modified the element to apportion halibut and crab PSC to the trawl CV sector, while also maintaining an option to leave crab PSC at the trawl limited access sector level. 2) Expanded the PSC reduction for the trawl CV sector to 35 percent. 3) Moved language from Element 9 that apportions PSC to the cooperative level to Element 3.
- Element 4 – 1) Adjusted Option 4.1 to calculate GOA sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs based on all non-exempt AFA CVs (qualified and non-qualified). 2) In Option 4.2, combined both AFA exempt CVs and non-AFA CVs from leasing their BSAI Pacific cod CQ as a condition being exempt from GOA sideboard limits. Cooperatives would be required to monitor and enforce the sideboard exemption. 3) Adjusted Suboption 4.2.1 to authorize leasing of BSAI Pacific cod CQ for AFA GOA exempt and non-AFA CVs while maintaining their GOA sideboard exemption if their CQ was less than 200 mt, 400 mt, or 600 mt. 4) Removed Option 4.3 from consideration since non-AFA CVs were included in Option 4.2.
- Element 5 – 1) Option 5.2 would set individual processing limits for qualified C/P acting as a mothership in the BSAI trawl CV sector. The individual mothership processing limits would be based on the C/P’s individual processing history in the fishery or harvest history of LLP licenses that are at least 75% owned by the firm that owns the qualified C/P. 2) Option 5.3 would establish limits on the number of trawl CVs that may deliver to C/Ps qualified to act as a mothership. Qualified CVs would be allowed to deliver all of the CQ derived from their LLPs to the C/P. The Council stated its intent to develop other eligibility criteria for CVs to deliver offshore processors at a future meeting. 3) Option 5.4 would establish a limit on the use of harvest shares issued to processors, based on the amount that the vessel’s LLP would have brought into the cooperative absent any processor issued harvest shares.
- Element 6 – 1) Changes would allow Adak or Atka to withdraw its intent to operate notice and release the set-aside requirement (Option 6.1) or allow for the reallocation of CQ to qualified LLP license holders. 2) Option 6.2 adds the option to allocate 10% of the annual sector allocation to AI shoreplants or the community representative. 3) Option 6.2 would also establish a percentage (50%, 25%, or 10%) of an AI shoreplant allocation that must be harvested by AI trawl CVs less than 60’ LOA and delivered to the AI shoreplant.
- Element 7 – 1) Included a suboption to authorized holders of eligible LLP licenses that authorize non-exempt AFA CVs the ability to transfer QS between LLP licenses to accommodate private lease agreements during the qualifying period. The window for transferring QS is 90 days from the publishing of the Final Rule. 2) As part of Element 7.2, the Council clarified that processor permits credited from this program can only be transfer to another processor and shoreside processor permits can only be transferred to another shoreside processors that holds an FPP. QS for these processor permits is non-severable except in the case of a transfer to another eligible processor results in exceeding the use cap under Option 8.3. The portion of QS over the use cap can be severed from permit and transferred to another eligible processor permit.
- Element 8 – 1) Option 8.1 establishes a range of harvester issued cooperative share owners and use caps to consider at 5% – 10%. 2) Option 8.2 establishes a range of vessel use caps to consider at 3% – 5% and provides for a grandfather provision. 3) Option 8.3 establishes a range of ownership and use caps on processor issued harvest shares of 15% – 20%. 4) Option 8.4 establishes a range of processing facility use caps of 20%-30%.
- Element 9 – Clarified vessels that are not designated on a trawl CV qualified LLP license are not eligible to join a cooperative unless participating under the gear conversion (Element 14).
- Element 10 – No changes.
- Element 11 – Clarified that the element is not intended to modify the observer coverage exception provided for CVs delivering unsorted codends to a mothership.
- Element 12 – No changes.
- Element 13 – No changes.
- Element 14 – 1) It stated that gear conversion only applies to the seasons covered by the PCTC and the season dates would be based on the start and end dates for the trawl fishery; PSC use would be deducted from the PSC allocated to the cooperative; NMFS will develop monitoring and enforcement provisions necessary to track quota, harvest, PSC, use caps, etc. 2) The Council discussed its intent regarding the vessels that would be allowed to harvest Pacific cod using gear conversion. Based on that discussion, staff will analyze allowing only qualified trawl CVs to harvest Pacific cod CQ with pot gear and analyze allowing both qualified trawl CVs and pot CVs that are not assigned to an LLP that holds PCTC CQ to harvest Pacific cod CQ as allowed by cooperative members that hold qualified LLPs for the PCTC.
The Council also requested that staff include an expanded discussion of reallocations and impacts to other sectors in the June 2021 initial review analysis. The final Council motion is posted. Staff contact is Jon McCracken.