At this meeting, the Council took final action to limit access for trawl catcher vessels targeting Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) trawl limited access sector (TLAS) yellowfin sole for delivery of its catch to a mothership or catcher processor. Specifically, the Council is recommending that a catcher vessel may target the BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole fishery and delivery its catch to a mothership or catcher/processor only if that catcher vessel is assigned an LLP that is credited with at least one trip target landing in the BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole fishery made to a mothership or catcher/processor in any year (Suboption 1.1.1) between 2008-2015 (Option 1.1) as its preferred alternative.
Since the implementation of the TLAS yellowfin sole fishery in 2008, American Fisheries Act (AFA) and non-AFA catcher vessels, AFA catcher processors, floating processors, and Amendment 80 motherships have participated in the TLAS yellowfin sole fishery. In 2015, vessels entered the TLAS yellowfin sole fishery that had no previous participation. Historic participants are concerned about the impact of these new participants of their access to the TLAS yellowfin sole fishery.
The intent of the Council’s recommendation is to address the recent increase in participation in the BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole fishery by reducing fishing pressure in this fishery, which could lengthen the season and reduce halibut PSC. In addition, the Council’s recommendation balances the need to limit entry to control the race for fish in the BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole fishery with the needs of more recent participants in the fishery by continuing to provide opportunities for AFA catcher processors and catcher vessels, and non-AFA catcher vessels, all while limiting the potential spillover effects in other fisheries.
On separate but related issue, during staff tasking, the Council requested an annual report from the AFA and Amendment 80 sectors regarding the formation of a voluntary cooperative or other measures taken to reduce bycatch in the BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole fishery.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.