The SSC received a report from Jodi Pirtle (NMFS AKR) and Ned Laman (AFSC) on the development of new and revised species distribution models that may provide information to support descriptions and mapping of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) in the Council’s FMPs. The discussion paper and presentation reviewed analyses under development to provide information to stock assessment authors, Plan Teams, the SSC, and the Council to review and potentially revise EFH descriptions in the upcoming 2022 5-year review of EFH. The four in-progress studies are designed to provide information that may allow descriptions of EFH to evolve from the current Level 1 (distribution) to Level 2 (habitat-related densities), or Level 3 (habitat-related growth, reproduction, and survival).
The SSC supports the continued exploration of these approaches and provided specific feedback to the authors. The SSC suggested that fishery-dependent information and local and traditional knowledge may be useful to provide EFH information for seasons, areas, or habitats that are not sampled by fishery-independent surveys. Staff contact is Steve MacLean.