The Council identified a preliminary preferred alternative for a proposal to allow vessels participating in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Crab Rationalization (CR) Program to partially offload crab harvested and then continue fishing before fully offloading all remaining harvested crab. The Council’s preliminary preferred alternative would remove Federal regulations that prohibit the continuation of a fishing trip subsequent to a partial offload of crab in the CR program. The flexibility afforded under this amendment is not expected to be used often, due to the harvesters’ economic incentives of limiting crab deadloss and conducting efficient deliveries. The intent is to provide operational flexibility for vessel operators to conduct their business in the safest and economically efficient manner and when emergencies or special circumstances arise. The Council chose to move this action forward for Public Review, with the potential to take final action the next time it is scheduled.
In its preliminary preferred alternative, the Council did not include a proposed option which would have required any tank started for offload to be fully offloaded prior to any subsequent fishing. This was not included due to the enforcement challenges and circumstances in which this additional requirement would make the proposed flexibility less effective. However, the document highlighted that harvesters will likely have an incentive to offload full tanks when possible due to a desire to minimize crab deadloss. Moreover, a voluntary separation of catch from different “partial fishing trips” paired with increased communication with ADF&G could aid in some of the data quality challenges that will likely arise if trips are linked together under this flexibility.
Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.