The Council adopted the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP). The Bering Sea FEP establishes a framework for the Council’s continued progress towards ecosystem-based fishery management (EBFM) of the Bering Sea fisheries, and relies and builds on the Council’s existing processes, advisory groups, and management practice. The Council noted that adoption of the FEP represents a major milestone in what has been a multi-year process to develop this FEP. The FEP builds from the Council’s Ecosystem Vision Statement, adopted in 2014, and is a continued commitment by this Council to use the best science to sustainably manage fisheries using a precautionary, transparent and inclusive process.
The core FEP document that has been adopted identifies management goals and objectives for the FEP and for monitoring of the Bering Sea ecosystem, and describes how the FEP framework will support research projects (Action Modules) to address Council priorities. The FEP offers a framework for strengthening trust, transparency, and a sense of shared investment among managers, scientists and stakeholders. It is intended to be a living document and process.
The Council also adopted the five action modules included in the draft, and initiated action on two of them. Staff will work with the BS FEP Team to bring back workplans for how to manage the workload associated with the initiated modules. The two action modules for the Council to work on are:
- Develop protocols for using Local Knowledge and Traditional Knowledge in management and understanding impacts of Council decisions on subsistence use.
- Evaluate the short- and long-term effects of climate change on fish and fisheries.
In the future, and the Team will prepare workplans to bring back to the Council on the other three approved modules, which are: Assessment/gap analysis of Bering Sea management with EBFM best practices; create a series of interdisciplinary conceptual models for the Bering Sea ecosystem; and align Council priorities with research funding opportunities and track relevant research.
The FEP is a living document and lays out a flexible process that allows the Council to better explain to stakeholders what they are already doing with respect to ecosystem-based fishery management, identifies areas to improve, and provides a reasonable action path to address those areas while still taking into account the practical realities of staff time and other Council priorities. The Council appreciated the productive dialogue and engagement with Bering Sea stakeholders that has occurred during the development of the FEP, especially at the Ecosystem Committee and at the Council’s Ecosystem Workshop in February 2018.
The FEP will be revised to address requested clarifications in response to Council, Ecosystem Committee, and SSC review in December 2018. Moving forward, staff will update and post the document, and convene the FEP Team.
Staff contact is Diana Evans.