At this meeting, the Council made an initial review of an analysis of management measures to limit access for trawl catcher vessels targeting Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) trawl limited access (TLA) yellowfin sole for delivery of the catch to a mothership or catcher processor. The management measures under consideration also include an option to remove the limited access provisions for all trawl catcher vessels during period of high total allowable catch assigned to the BSAI TLA yellowfin sole fishery.
Since the implementation of the TLA 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 TLA yellowfin sole fishery. In 2015, vessels entered the TLA yellowfin sole fishery that had no previous participation. Historic participants are concerned about the impact of these new participants of their access to the TLA yellowfin sole fishery.
At the February 2016 meeting, the Council indicated that limiting access for catcher vessels in the offshore portion of the BSAI TLA yellowfin sole fishery could have three primary benefits: 1) ensure that the limited access fishery continues to provide benefits to historic participants, 2) mitigate the risk that a “race for fish” could develop; and 3) maintain the consistently low rates of halibut bycatch in this fishery.
After reviewing the initial review draft and listening to public testimony, the Council provided some clarification in the proposed management measure and added two new options for consideration. The Council clarified that eligibility to participate in the offshore BSAI TLA yellowfin sole fishery for catcher vessels will be attached to the license limitation program (LLP) license assigned to the vessel that made at least one trip target in the fishery. If the catcher vessels have more than one LLP assigned to the vessel, the vessel owner must specify which license to attached the eligibility.
The first option the Council added expanded the years for eligibility consideration to include 2016. The Council also adjusted the existing threshold option by adding 30,000 mt for consideration. Finally, the Council added a new threshold option that allows non-qualified catcher vessels to target TLA yellowfin sole and deliver to a mothership or catcher processor only for the portion of the yellowfin sole TAC assigned to the BSAI TLA fishery that is greater than or equal to the threshold amount selected by the Council (see final motion for specific threshold suboptions). In addition, the non-qualified catcher vessels would be limited on the amount of halibut PSC assigned to the BSAI TLA yellowfin sole fishery they could utilize. The amount of halibut PSC for the non-qualified catcher vessels would be based on the proportional share of BSAI TLA yellowfin sole that would be available for the non-qualified catcher vessels. Staff contact is Jon McCracken.