At the February 2019 meeting, the Council conducted a public review of the draft Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) that would require full retention of all rockfish species for fixed gear catcher vessels (CVs) in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA). Requiring full retention of rockfish by fixed gear CVs would improve identification of species catch composition when CVs are subject to electronic monitoring, improve data collection by providing more accurate estimates of total catch, reduce incentives to discard rockfish, may reduce waste, reduce overall enforcement burden, and provide more consistency in regulations.
The Council selected a preferred alternative and scheduled final action for the April 2019 meeting. The preferred alternative would require full retention of rockfish species by all fixed gear CVs (hook-and-line, pot, and jig) in the BSAI and GOA. Also included as part of the preferred alternative are two options and a suboption. The first option would require full retention of rockfish even if the rockfish species is on prohibited species status, but would prohibit these retained rockfish from entering commerce. The second option would establish a maximum commerce allowance (MCA) of 10%, 15%, or 20%. At this time, the Council has not selected the preferred value of the MCA. The purpose of the MCA is to constrain vessels from increasing rockfish incidental catch under a full retention regulation, while allowing vessel operators to sell most of the rockfish catch that is truly incidental. The Council also added a new suboption which would allow rockfish catch in excess of the MCA to be processed into fish meal.
The Council further requested staff include in the analysis, to the extent practicable, the following:
- The anticipated poundage of rockfish overage to be delivered by area or by port under all three MCA options.
- Differences in processors’ ability to discard or dispose of rockfish by region, over the MCA.
- Clarification of the management considerations for Demersal Shelf Rockfish east of 144 degrees W. longitude.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.