The Central Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Rockfish Program will sunset on December 31, 2021. If the Council does not take action to recommend the continuation of the current CGOA Rockfish Program management structure or a modified management program for the CGOA rockfish fisheries, these fisheries will revert back to the License Limitation Program (LLP) management structure, and harvesters, processors and communities may lose the benefits that have been realized through the Rockfish Program. If the current program or a modified version of the program is to continue, the Council must develop an amendment to the GOA groundfish Fishery Management Plan. In order for a final rule to be implemented by October 2021 and avoid confusion in the management of these fisheries, staff recommend the Council aim to take final action by April 2020.
Therefore, at this meeting the Council established a purpose and need statement and adopted two alternatives for considerations: 1) no action (meaning the management would revert back to the LLP) and 2) reauthorize the Rockfish Program with the existing management framework. Alternative 2 also includes consideration of minor changes recommended by NMFS (Items 1 through 5 on page 6 of the discussion paper) and includes the following amendments for consideration:
- Modify or remove the sunset date
- Consider options to reallocate unharvested Rockfish Program Pacific cod to the fixed gear fishery after the Rockfish season is over
- Exempt crab program sideboard limits for vessels when fishing in the Rockfish Program
- Require annual NMFS cost recovery report
In addition, the paper will include harvesting trends in the entry-level fixed gear fishery, information about how the current three-day stand down requirement applies to vessels when transiting from the BSAI to the GOA to participate in the Rockfish Program, and information about the rockfish harvesting patterns related to different levels of quota holdings.
Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.