The Council reviewed the recommendations of the Cook Inlet Salmon Committee regarding an updated staff discussion paper on candidate measures that are being proposed to evaluate alternative management for salmon fisheries in Federal waters of Cook Inlet. The Council directed the Committee to continue developing measures necessary to establish status determination criteria for Cook Inlet salmon stocks. The Council also indicated its intent to have the SSC review the use of escapement-based analyses for status determination criteria and as best scientific information available under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Committee’s report is available on the Council website, as is the Council motion.
The Cook Inlet Salmon Committee held its first meeting on December 4, which was attended by approximately 50 people. The meeting agenda was structured around developing recommendations to the Council for specific Magnuson-Stevens Act provisions under the two alternative management approaches currently being considered by the Council: Alternative 2 – cooperative management with the State of Alaska, and Alternative 3 – fully Federal management. NMFS, ADFG, and Council staff presented an overview of the discussion paper and discussed opportunities for enhancing the evaluation of in-river salmon essential fish habitat (EFH) in the next 5-year EFH update, and challenges associated with joint management of salmon fisheries with the State of Alaska.
- Status determination criteria: The Committee received a staff presentation with an analysis of spawner-recruit relationships for Kenai and Kasilof River sockeye salmon, but was unable to agree on specific management measures. The Committee recommended that further Committee meetings be held to make progress on that issue.
- Bycatch and harvest reporting: Options considered by the Committee were discussed in terms of their relationship to groundfish bycatch retention and associated permitting requirements. The Committee recommended non-retention of groundfish and supported use of eLandings as a reporting mechanism.
- Fishery Impact Statement: Committee members recommended that the Fishery Impact Statement be expanded to reflect concerns about community hardships and concern about uncertainty in the future of the salmon driftnet fisheries in Cook Inlet.
Finally, in recognition that the Cook Inlet Salmon Committee does not currently include representation by the salmon processing sector, the Council is announcing a call for nominations for a processor representative to the Committee. Staff contact is Jim Armstrong.