Appointments | Solicitation for Charter Halibut Management Committee | Charter Halibut Management Measures | Annual CHP Trip Limits | RQE Ownership Caps | Self-Guided Halibut Rental Boats | BSAI Groundfish Harvest Specifications for 2018 and 2019 | GOA Groundfish Harvest Specifications for 2018 and 2019 | Small Sideboards | Bering Sea Pacific cod Trawl CV Participation | GOA Pollock and Pacific Cod Management | Fixed Gear CV Rockfish Retention | Chinook Salmon EFP | Final 2018 Annual Deployment Plan | Staff Tasking | Baker and Wallace Depart | Young Fishermen’s Summit | Council Developing eComment Application | Upcoming Meetings
SSC, AP, Committee Appointments
Scientific and Statistical Committee
The Council approved the following reappointments for a one-year term to the SSC: Dr. Chris Anderson, Dr. Amanda Bishop, Dr. Jennifer Burns, Robert Clark, Dr. Sherri Dressel, Dr. Jason Gasper, Dr. Brad Harris, Dr. Anne Hollowed, Dr. George Hunt, Jr., Dr. Gordon Kruse, Dr. Dayv Lowry, Dr. Ian Stewart, Dr. Franz Mueter, Dr. Terry Quinn, Dr. Katherine Reedy, Alison Whitman, and Dr. Matthew Reimer. The Council also approved the one-year appointments of Ms. Heather Renner (USFWS), Dr. Dana Hanselman (NMFS AFSC), and Dr. Mike Downs (independent). Ms. Renner is based at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Homer where she leads the biological research program for the refuge, and is currently a member of the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan team. Dr. Hanselman is a leading stock assessment scientist at the AFSC’s Auke Bay Laboratory in Juneau and currently co-chairs the BSAI Groundfish Plan team. Dr. Downs’ expertise is in sociology and anthropology, and he has prepared many social impact assessments for Council analyses over the past 25 years.
The Council reappointed Shannon Carroll, Carina Nichols, Ernie Weiss, and Matt Upton to the Advisory Panel for three-year terms. Additionally, three new AP members were appointed for a three-year term: Natasha Hayden of Kodiak; Jim Johnson of Washington; and Anne Vanderhoeven of Washington. The Council also appointed Samantha Weinstein of Juneau to serve for the remaining year of the term vacated by Art Nelson.
The Council appointed Dr. Kresimir Williams (AFSC) to the Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Plan Team. Dr. Williams has worked in the Midwater Assessment and Conservation Engineering Program for 15 years and participated in all aspects of the MACE acoustic-trawl survey effort. The Council made two new appointments to the BSAI Crab Plan Team: Ms. Katie Palof (ADF&G) replaces Ms. Karla Bush; and Mr. Bill Gaeuman (ADF&G) replaces Ms. Laura Slater. Ms. Palof is a Biometrician in Juneau and oversees shellfish survey design, Southeast Alaska crab stock assessments, and is a lead reviewer of the Crab SAFE. Mr. Gaeuman is a Biometrician in Kodiak focusing on BSAI shellfish stocks and statewide scallop biometrics, and is responsible for the Pribilof Island golden king crab stock assessment.
Dave Fraser was appointed to the IFQ Committee to represent the community quota entities. Buck Laukitis was appointed to the Joint Protocol Committee which includes members from the Council and State of Alaska Board of Fisheries.
Solicitation for Charter Halibut Management Committee
The Council is seeking nominations for representatives from Area 2C and Area 3A from smaller communities off the road system to complement representation from larger, road system communities. Nominations are open until February 2, 2018. Please send a letter of interest and brief resume to Steve Maclean.
Charter Halibut Management Measures
The Council reviewed the ADF&G analysis of proposed management measures for charter halibut fisheries in Areas 2C and 3A, and recommended the following management measures for application in 2018:
- If the allocation is 0.69 million pounds: one fish per day with a reverse slot limit U35:O80.
No annual limit.
- If the allocation is below 0.69 million pounds: one fish per day with a reverse slot limit U35:O80. Four-fish annual limit, or if necessary to remain within the allocation, a three-fish annual limit.
- If the allocation is above 0.69 million pounds: one fish per day with a reverse slot limit. Adjust the lower slot limit as allowed to remain within the allocation, upper slot limit remains O80. No annual limit.
- Status quo measures: two-fish daily bag limit, including one fish of any size and 28-inch maximum size limit on one fish. Four-fish annual limit, one trip per Charter Halibut Permit per day, one trip per vessel per day, Wednesdays closed all year, three Tuesdays closed between July 24 and August 7.
- If the allocation is 1.70 million pounds: Status quo measures plus close seven additional Tuesdays as outlined in Table 11 of the ADF&G analysis (June 19 – August 21).
- If the allocation is higher or lower than 1.70 million pounds: increase or decrease Tuesday closures to remain within the allocation, as described in Table 11 in the ADF&G analysis.
These management measures will be proposed to the IPHC at their annual meeting in January 2018. Staff contact is Steve MacLean.
Annual CHP Trip Limits
The Council chose to take no action at this time on a proposal to establish annual charter halibut permit (CHP) trip limit categories. The proposal was suggested because the amount of effort expended in the fishery is one of the contributing factors to the overall charter halibut harvest, and increased effort can contribute to increasingly restrictive management measures. The proposal was an attempt to reduce the level of unused and underutilized (latent) capacity in the halibut charter sector, in order to have more control over the level of effort (in terms of trips or angler-trips taken).
The analysis, public testimony, and further discussion highlighted that the extent of unused and underutilized CHPs makes it difficult to project and ultimately control the level of effort in the fishery. Most of the other factors that influence the amount of effort in the charter halibut sector (e.g., seasonal tourism trends, ocean and weather days, angler demand, etc.) are outside of the Council’s control (expect for annual management measures), and this may impede the use of CHP trip limits as an effective input control.
Although concerns were expressed about increasingly restrictive charter halibut management measures, and charter businesses’ desire for more stability and personalized choice in responding to the factors influencing management measures, Council members noted that this proposed tool might not be responsive to these concerns, and management measures could continue to be restrictive. Particularly at low levels of halibut biomass, even if the action was successful at “freezing” the level of effort in the fishery. Council members stated that they believed the potential benefits would not outweigh the risks and potential inequities that this action would cause. Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.
RQE Ownership Caps
The Council chose to postpone an action that considered increasing the CHP ownership caps for a future recreational quota entity (an RQE). Current Federal regulations limit individuals and entities from holding more than five CHPs (with some exceptions). The proposed action would allow an RQE to purchase and hold up to 30 percent of the CHPs in each Area 2C and Area 3A. The intent behind this action is to allow the RQE to influence effort in the charter halibut fishery by temporarily removing capacity from the charter fleet (through the purchase of CHPs) and selling it back into use in times of high halibut abundance. The Council chose to postpone this action, stating that the creation of RQEs has not yet been approved by the Secretary of Commerce, let alone having an RQE established or funded in either area. One Council member stated that while some support was expressed for this capability, he felt it unwise to dedicate resources to pursuing this change until it was clear that an RQE would be functional. Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.
Self-Guided Halibut Rental Boats
At this meeting, the Council identified a purpose and need statement and directed staff to develop an expanded discussion paper further exploring an unguided rental boat registration requirement. The Council took this action in response to a preliminary discussion paper that identified concerns that the Council would need to address in order to move forward on consideration of a registry for self-guided halibut rental boats in Alaska. The purpose and need statement identifies that the Council is concerned that differences in regulations between the charter and non-charter sectors may result in increased halibut harvest in the non-charter sector, which may negatively impact other sectors. To address this, the Council intends to establish a registration requirement for vessels affiliated with charter operations, remote lodges, or businesses that require annual saltwater fishing guide licenses, and to estimate halibut catch from this segment of the sector. The discussion paper will provide focused consideration of several components of how to design and establish a selective registry, and to whom a registration requirement would apply. Information collected from a registration program may help the Council determine whether additional management measures are necessary for this segment of the fishery. Staff contact is Steve MacLean.
BSAI Groundfish Harvest Specifications for 2018 and 2019
The Council approved the BSAI Groundfish SAFE report and annual catch limits after recommendations from its advisory committees. The SAFE report provides an overview of the assessed stocks as well as a timeline for the assessment frequency for all stocks. Based on consideration of stock prioritization, including assessment methods and data availability, some stocks are assessed on an annual basis while others are assessed less frequently.
The Council also received a report on the Ecosystem Status Report in the Bering Sea as well as results from a survey conducted in the Northern Bering Sea (NBS). Results from the 2017 NBS survey showed a large increase in the biomasses of pollock (1.3 million t) and Pacific cod (288,000 t) as compared with the previous survey in 2010. Length frequencies from the pollock and Pacific cod in the NBS area were comparable with the fish from the Eastern Bering Sea survey in 2017 and raise questions regarding the potential within year population movement of these stocks between the two surveyed areas.
The sum of the biomasses for 2018 represents a 16% decrease from 2017. This is primarily due to declines in EBS pollock and Pacific cod. Nonetheless, the status of the groundfish stocks continues to appear favorable. The abundances of EBS pollock, EBS Pacific cod, sablefish, all rockfishes managed under Tier 3, and all flatfishes managed under Tiers 1 or 3 are projected to be above their target (BMSY or the BMSY proxy of B35%) in 2018.
The sum of the total allowable catches (TACs) for all BSAI groundfish is 2 million t for 2018 and 2019. The TACs were set below the sum of the recommended ABCs. The sum of the recommended ABCs for 2018 and 2019 are 3,766,809 t and 3,578,956 t, respectively. The Council established the annual ABC reserve for three flatfish species, northern rock sole, flathead sole and yellowfin sole. The Council established the entire ABC surplus (the difference between ABC and TAC, by species) as the ABC reserve, which is used to allow for more efficiency inseason in the harvest of these flatfish species. The Council also adopted revised PSC limits for crab stocks, Pacific halibut, and herring, including apportionments where applicable. The herring abundance estimate declined and thus the overall PSC limit (established as 1% of the biomass) for herring declined in 2018 from previous years. The Council also confirmed halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs) for use by in-season management in 2018 and 2019.
The Council also received economic information on the ex-vessel value of the BSAI groundfish fisheries in comparison with previous years. Due to the lagged availability of this information, ex-vessel value is available for 2016. The ex-vessel value in 2016 was $657 million. The 2016 total groundfish catch decreased by 2%, and the total first-wholesale value of groundfish catch increased by 4%, relative to 2015. The Groundfish Economic SAFE report will be reviewed at the February 2018 Council meeting.
The final BSAI groundfish harvest specifications will be published as a final rule in the Federal Register by late February/early March 2018. They will replace the current 2017 harvest specifications that were adopted by the Council in December 2016. Groundfish specifications for 2018-2019 are available on the Council’s website. Staff Contact is Diana Stram.
GOA Groundfish Harvest Specifications for 2018 and 2019
The Council approved the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Groundfish Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) and recommended final harvest specifications for the 2018 and 2019 GOA groundfish fisheries. The 2017 GOA Groundfish SAFE includes stock status updates for all 24 stocks or stock complexes managed through the GOA Groundfish FMP. The Council also reviewed the Ecosystem Considerations chapter of the GOA SAFE which highlighted a return to more typical ocean temperatures in the Gulf in 2017, compared to the previous three years.
Important changes in the Gulf this year included a very large decrease in the abundance of Pacific cod. According to the Pacific cod stock assessment, the strong 2012 year class of cod that was expected to support the fishery for several years was reduced by unusually high natural mortality caused by a variety of ecosystem stressors during the recent (2014-2016) warm period. As a result, the 2018 allowable biological catch (ABC) for Pacific cod (18,000 mt) is reduced by 80% compared to the 2017 ABC (88,342 mt). A one-page flyer showing the TAC amounts by area, fishery, and season is attached here and posted to the Agenda. Additionally, a 20% decrease in pollock ABC was specified for the Gulf in 2018 based on integration of trawl and acoustic survey data in the updated assessment. (Sablefish, which is assessed for the BSAI and GOA combined is reported on in the BSAI groundfish specifications newsletter item).
The sum of the ABCs for all Gulf groundfish stocks in 2018 is 536,921 mt, which is a reduction of 21% compared to the 2017 (667,877 mt) aggregate ABC. The Council approved maximum permissible ABCs for all stocks in the Gulf in 2018, except for Pacific cod, sablefish, and demersal shelf rockfish. ABC less than the maximum permissible is recommended when a stock needs additional conservation considerations. Differences in the 2018 ABCs compared to 2017 vary among GOA stocks with reductions for eleven stocks, increases for ten stocks, and no change for three stocks (percent change in ABC figure).
Percentage change in ABC, 2017-2018
For most stocks, the Council established TACs equal to ABCs. Exceptions, where the TAC is set below ABC, include fisheries where bycatch may be a concern: specifically, shallow water flatfish and flathead sole in Western and Central GOA, arrowtooth flounder (GOA wide), and other rockfish (East Yakutat and Southeast Outside). For Pacific cod, ABC is reduced by 25% in Eastern and Central GOA and by 30% in Western GOA to accommodate State-managed fisheries; and for pollock, ABC is reduced by 2.5% for the State’s Prince William Sound fishery.
Stock Status Summary from the 2017 GOA SAFE report
None of the GOA groundfish stocks are overfished or experiencing overfishing (stock status summary figure). Other than Pacific cod and sablefish, all stocks are projected to be above their biomass targets (BMSY or the BMSY proxy, B35%) in 2018. Estimated female spawning stock biomass (SSB) of Pacific cod (36,209 mt) is 46% below target stock size (67,433 mt) and sablefish SSB (88,928 mt) is 4% below target stock size (98,809 mt). The summed biomass estimates for GOA groundfish in 2018 (5,053,276 mt) represent a 16% decrease from the 2017 aggregate biomass (6,036,346 mt).
Prohibited Species Catch Limits
The Council approved halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, by season and gear sector for 2018 and 2019 and specified apportionments of the hook and line halibut PSC allowance between the hook and line catcher vessel and catcher/processor sectors according to the Pacific cod sector split allocation. The Council also confirmed halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs) for use by in-season management in 2018 and 2019. DMRs were unchanged or decreased for most GOA fisheries, but increased slightly for hook and line catcher vessels and non-pollock, non-rockfish trawl vessels.
Harvest and PSC specifications for the 2018 and 2019 fishing years are posted on the Council’s website.
Staff contact is Jim Armstrong.
At this meeting, the Council reviewed an initial review draft that analyzed a proposed action to revise federal regulations prohibiting directed fishing for species with sideboard limits insufficient to support directed fishing by non-exempt AFA vessels and crab vessels. NMFS would no longer publish these AFA and Crab Rationalization Program sideboard limits in the annual harvest specifications. The proposed action would also remove the sideboard limit on AFA catcher/processors for Central Aleutian Islands Atka mackerel because the sideboard limit under the AFA (11.5%) exceeds the allocation to the trawl limited access sector (10%) that was established by the Amendment 80 Program.
After reviewing the initial draft, the Council released the analysis for public review, once staff incorporates the SSC’s comments to the extent practical. Staff contact is Jon McCracken.
Bering Sea Pacific cod Trawl CV Participation
The Council reviewed a discussion paper that examined participation and effort in the Bering Sea trawl catcher vessel Pacific cod fishery, in response to a potential need to limit entry and participation in the trawl catcher vessel sector and the sector’s delivery of Bering Sea Pacific cod to Amendment 80 catcher/processor vessels acting as motherships. After reviewing the discussion paper, the Council adopted a purpose and need statement and initiated an analysis. The Council is concerned about the recent increases and potential future growth in offshore deliveries of Pacific cod to Amendment 80 vessels or other vessels operating as motherships, and the impacts on shoreside processors, communities, and participating catcher vessels. The Council is also concerned about the high level of latency for the AFA trawl catcher vessel fleet, and the shortening duration of the BSAI trawl catcher vessel Pacific cod fishery, which makes it more difficult to maximize the value of the fishery and is negatively impacting fishery participants.
To address these concerns, the Council has proposed an alternative that would limit Amendment 80 and non-Amendment 80 catcher/processors from acting as a mothership to receive BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod deliveries from trawl catcher vessels unless they have a recent history of such activity, and an alternative that would limit the amount of the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl catcher vessel allocation that can be delivered to Amendment 80 catcher/processors. The Council also included a control date of December 31, 2017 that may be used as a reference date for a future management action to limit catcher/processor vessels acting as motherships in the BSAI trawl catcher vessel Pacific cod fishery.
To address the concerns of vessel latency in the BSAI trawl catcher vessel Pacific cod fishery, the Council has proposed an alternative that would prohibit the use of any License Limitation Program licenses in the BSAI trawl cod fishery unless they have been attributed a directed BSAI trawl Pacific cod landing within a set time period. Staff contact is Jon McCracken.
GOA Pollock and Pacific Cod Management
The Council reviewed four discussion papers on the GOA groundfish fisheries. Two papers assessed trends in the timing of Chinook salmon and halibut bycatch in the Western GOA pollock and Pacific cod trawl fisheries, respectively. Another paper considered the efficacy and indirect effects of reducing the 300,000 lb. trawl trip limit for Western GOA pollock as a bycatch reduction strategy. Yet another paper outlined tools and options available to reduce the amount of GOA Pacific cod B season TAC that is going unharvested. After reviewing these four papers, the Council tasked staff to develop two subsequent discussion papers.
The first paper will evaluate changing the seasonal allocation of pollock TAC across areas 610/620/630/640 (Western GOA to West Yakutat), and Pacific cod TAC across seasons. Options are intended to increase the amount of annual TAC that gets harvested, while providing the fleet with additional flexibility to fish when encounters with prohibited species (Chinook salmon and halibut) are expected to be lower. The NMFS Alaska Region Office will track the development of proposed changes in regard to their potential effect on ESA-listed Steller sea lion stocks.
- TAC for the pollock trawl fishery is currently apportioned equally across four seasons (ABCD), and then apportioned across areas within each season according to estimated biomass distribution. The Council’s options would not change season start/end dates or the process to apportion a season’s TAC across areas. The options include shifting more of the annual TAC to the earlier part of the calendar year (A/B seasons), and/or combining the A/B seasons and the C/D seasons so that the year consists of only two seasonal allocations (Jan. 20 to May 31, and Aug. 25 to Nov. 1). The most dramatic shift under consideration would allocate 60% of the GOA pollock TAC to the A/B season(s) and 40% to the C/D season(s). The Council will also consider increasing the limit on the amount of uncaught TAC that can be rolled over from one season to another (either within the same GOA area or to another area). That limit is currently set at 20% of the seasonal TAC in the area receiving the rollover, but could be increased to 25% or 30%.
- Pacific cod TAC is allocated to A and B seasons at a 60/40 ratio. The TAC for each season is divided among five gear/operational-type sectors in the WGOA and six sectors in the CGOA. The Council will consider shifting B season TAC to the A season, up to a maximum change of 75% for the A season and 25% for the B season. This change would apply to all gear/operational-type sectors in the WGOA and CGOA, but would not change sector-specific allocations.
The second paper will explore options for vessel length-based limits on participation in the Western GOA (Area 610) pollock trawl fishery. Options include a size limit of 58’ LOA, or a sideboard that caps the participation of vessels greater than 58’ at a maximum percentage of the area’s annual TAC. The Council directed staff to provide information that will help define a reasonable range of options for sideboard criteria, including but not limited to historical harvest during a set of years. The paper will address how such an action might impact processors, communities, and vessel-size classes that participate in the 610 pollock fishery.
Staff contact is Sam Cunningham.
Fixed Gear CV Rockfish Retention
After reviewing a discussion paper to consider requiring fixed-gear catcher vessels to retain all rockfish species, the Council adopted a purpose and need statement and initiated an analysis. As noted in the purpose and need statement, requiring full retention of rockfish could improve the identification of species when catcher vessels are subject to electronic monitoring, improve data collection by providing more accurate estimates of catch, and reduce incentives to discard rockfish, reduce waste, reduce overall enforcement burden, and promote more consistent management between State of Alaska and Federal fisheries. The proposed action includes an alternative requiring full retention of rockfish species by all fixed-gear catcher vessels (hook-and-line, pot, and jig) in the BSAI and GOA, and an alternative that would only require full retention of rockfish species by hook-and-line catcher vessels in the GOA. The analysis will also evaluate an option requiring full retention of rockfish even if the species is on PSC status, but would prohibit these retained rockfish from entering commerce. The Council requested that staff consider the following issues as part of the analysis:
- Whether increasing the maximum retainable allowances for rockfish species would reduce the amount of catch that would need to be monitored to ensure that it does not commerce
- The costs and feasibility of processing, handling, and donating rockfish that are retained in excess of an MRA and which cannot enter commerce
- Potential inconsistencies between State and Federal management.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.
Chinook Salmon EFP
NMFS consulted with the Council on an exempted fishing permit (EFP) application to test salmon excluder devices presented by Mr. John Gauvin. This EFP will continue the development and testing of Chinook salmon excluder devices in the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. Setting up the experiment under an EFP allows for more rigorous scientific design through systematic gear trials. Small observed increases in Chinook bycatch rates in the fishery, combined with comparably lower mean escapement rates for Chinook in the Bering Sea (7% to 18%) than in the Gulf (35% to 55%), demonstrated the need for improved excluder devices designed specifically for the Bering Sea fleet. This EFP will:
- Exempt three participating vessels from selected observer requirements;
- Allow an exemption to fish in areas otherwise closed to fishing with trawl gear; and
- Allow groundfish and prohibited species taken during the experiment to not be counted against the annual TAC and PSC limits.
Excluder device in flume tank, courtesy John Gauvin
The Council voiced its support for this continued research on development of excluder devices to reduce salmon bycatch, and recommended the motion that NMFS grant the EFP. The SSC and AP provided specific recommendations for excluder testing and evaluation, and noted that the EFP will result in gear modifications that are more effective and reflective of the fleets’ power capabilities. Council members encourage the collaborative effort of the industry as well as the level of fleet engagement in the project. Upon receipt of the permit, device testing is planned to begin in late winter/early spring of 2018 and will continue through the 2020 season. Staff contact is Sara Cleaver.
Final 2018 Annual Deployment Plan
NMFS reported on the Final 2018 Observer Annual Deployment Plan (ADP), which was released in early December. Although NMFS did not ultimately accept the Council’s ADP recommendations from October where they differed from those of the agency, the outcome is similar to the Council’s intent to allocate more coverage in the hook and line and trawl strata, because of changes between October and December in projected 2018 effort resulting from low GOA cod TACs, and accommodating 141 vessels in the EM strata. In 2018, selection rates will be: 20% for trawl vessels (or 17% for trawl vessels delivering to a tender); 17% for hook-and-line vessels; and 16% for pot vessels (or 17% for pot vessels delivering to a tender). Vessels participating in the EM selection pool will have a 30% selection rate in 2018. The Council remains interested in the development, in 2018, of an observer deployment allocation scheme which provides for minimum selection rates that are specific to gear-type (sometimes referred to as a “gear-specific hurdle approach”). Staff contact is Diana Evans.
In addition to discussing the relative priority and scheduling of previously tasked projects, the Council took the following actions and clarified direction and tasking for its committees:
- Approved a process for regulatory reform review whereby NMFS and Council staff will conduct a preliminary review and report back to the Council in April 2018.
- Discussed the Steller Sea Lion 5 year review, but declined to provide comments during the current public comment period. The Council intends, however, to remain involved as the review proceeds.
- Encouraged further review of the LEO network and citizen science opportunities by authors of the Ecosystem Considerations report, taking into account the SSC comments, and anticipates hearing back on the utility of these opportunities at a future meeting.
- Requested that NOAA Office of Law Enforcement provide finer-scale information on pollock trip limit overages in 2017 at a future meeting.
- Approved the Plan Teams’ intention to hold a public workshop to consider, among other things, appropriate protocols for determining when to set ABC below the maximum permissible. The Council requested a report back on this topic at a future meeting, noting that it may result in changes to the Plan Teams’ Terms of Reference.
- Agreed to report to the IPHC the Council’s action on self-guided halibut rental boats, which is directly responsive to an IPHC proposal that was submitted for the 2018 IPHC annual meeting.
- Directed staff to send letters:
- to the AFSC regarding support for Northern Bering Sea Pacific cod genetic and tagging studies, especially to the extent that this work can affect the 2018 Pacific cod stock assessment;
- to the AFSC supporting additional Northern Bering Sea surveys;
- to the State Department expressing support for the Central Arctic Ocean agreement, and noting how it aligns with the Council’s Arctic FMP; and
- to Sea Grant with feedback on the Council’s interaction with the Young Fishermen’s Summit and further opportunities.
Additionally, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game notified the Council that they intend to investigate an issue raised in a public comment letter relating to latency issues in the scallop fishery, and would report back to the Council, plan team, or Joint Protocol Committee at a future date.
Baker and Wallace Depart
The Council recognized two long-time NMFS participants in the Council process. Farron Wallace is retiring from the SSC, where he has been a member since 2003, including Chair of the SSC for the last three years. Mr. Wallace has led the SSC through some difficult scientific issues and has provided expertise to the SSC on issues ranging from the Observer Program to stock assessments. He will be continuing his work at NMFS on electronic monitoring research and innovation. Rachel Baker has been working in the Council process since 2003, first with the ADFG extended jurisdiction division, and since 2008 with NMFS Sustainable Fisheries. At NMFS, she has been staff expert on allocation management actions, especially for halibut issues including the IFQ program, Charter management, the IPHC process, and most recently the halibut abundance-based management initiative. She is moving to NMFS headquarters, where she will be taking over the Sustainable Fisheries Management and Coordination branch that leads national-level efforts on a range of allocation policies and other management issues. The Council presented both Mr. Wallace and Ms. Baker with plaques thanking them for their service and dedication to the conservation and management of fisheries in the North Pacific.
Young Fishermen’s Summit
The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program hosted its seventh Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit December 6–8 in Anchorage, which overlapped with the Council meeting. The Summit is designed to provide training, information and networking opportunities for commercial fishermen early in their careers, and focuses on building leadership and networking capacity in the Alaska commercial fishing industry. As part of the training, the Summit participants came over and watched the last hour of the Advisory Panel and Council meetings on Thursday, December 7th, followed by a debrief session with Council members and staff, and then a jointly hosted reception which gave further opportunity for participants to interact with staff, members of the Council and Advisory Panel, and industry participants. Additionally, three Summit participants were able to shadow a Council member on Friday morning, to get a perspective of what it is like to be a Council member, and to sit at the table for the morning session. The Council appreciated the enthusiasm and sincerity of the participants, and continues to be interested in encouraging young fishermen to engage in the management process. Staff will explore opportunities with Sea Grant for extending this type of program to other stakeholders in the future, perhaps also through shadowing opportunities with the Advisory Panel.
Council Developing eComment Application
In an effort to streamline the administrative side of the commenting process, Council staff have been working on developing an online eCommenting portal. Instead of emailing the Council with comments, this process will allow the public to submit them through an online form accessible through our website. The commenter can choose an agenda item from a drop-down menu, and either comment directly on the online form, or upload an attachment. Once the comment deadline is closed, comments will be made visible through a permanent link on our website. This process will allow more flexibility to adjust the due date for comments prior to a Council meeting. Watch for the possible debut prior to the February 2018 Council meeting at meetings.npfmc.org!
Meetings that are part of the February Council meeting in Seattle, WA:
- February 5, 2018: IFQ Committee and Legislative Committee
- February 6, 2018: Ecosystem Committee
- February 7, 2018: Ecosystem research workshop
- April 3, 2018 (T): Ecosystem Committee
- May 15, 2018: EM Workgroup or OAC workgroup meeting, AFSC, Seattle, WA
- May 16-17, 2018: OAC meeting, AFSC, Seattle, WA
- Scallop Plan Team (TBD)