American Fisheries Act (AFA) Pollock Cooperatives
The American Fisheries Act (AFA), a limited access privilege program, was signed into law in October 1998. The purpose of the AFA was to tighten U.S. ownership standards for U.S. fishing vessels under the Anti-Reflagging Act and to provide the BSAI pollock fleet the opportunity to conduct their fishery in a more rational manner while protecting non-AFA participants in the other fisheries.
The AFA eliminated the race for pollock by creating a framework for the formation of fishing cooperatives, with an excessive share limit of no more than 17.5% of the total pollock-directed fishery allocation per cooperative. It also established provisions for allocations to the CDQ program, fisheries that incidentally catch BS pollock, mandated minimum U.S. vessel ownership requirements, and implemented criteria for eligible catcher/processors, catcher vessels, motherships, and processors. In response to a directive in the AFA, the Council added measures to protect other fisheries from adverse effects arising from the exclusive pollock allocation.
The effects of AFA on the pollock industry were tremendous. Capacity was reduced, efficiency was increased, regulatory bycatch was reduced, a higher portion of the fish was utilized, and higher valued products were produced.
Amendment 80 Program
Amendment 80, implemented in 2008, allocates BSAI yellowfin sole, flathead sole, rock sole, Atka mackerel, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch to the head and gut trawl catcher processor sector, and allows qualified vessels to form cooperatives. The program establishes GOA groundfish sideboard limits for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish, as well as GOA halibut PSC. GOA sideboard restrictions are based on historic participation during 1998-2004. In addition, participation in the GOA flatfish fishery is prohibited for vessels with less than 10 weeks of history in the GOA flatfish fisheries. One vessel is exempt from the GOA halibut PSC sideboard limits, having fished 80% of its weeks in the GOA flatfish fisheries from 2000 through 2003.
Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program
The Rockfish Program allocates harvest privileges to holders of License Limitation Program (LLP) groundfish licenses with a history of Central Gulf of Alaska (GOA) rockfish legal landings in either 2000-2006, or the entry-level trawl fishery in 2007, 2008, or 2009. Primary rockfish species are northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and dusky rockfish. Prior to implementation, the Gulf of Alaska rockfish fisheries opened on January 1st for non-trawl gear participants and on July 1st for trawl gear participants. Both the trawl and non-trawl fisheries were prosecuted from a total allowable catch (TAC) of rockfish species that was not further divided among sectors.
In 2003, the U.S. Congress directed the Secretary of Commerce to establish, in consultation with the NPFMC, a Rockfish Pilot Program (RPP). In 2005, the Council adopted the RPP, under which the TAC was apportioned as exclusive shares to cooperatives formed by individuals holding an LLP license with rockfish QS. Fishing under cooperative management resulted in a slower-paced fishery that allowed harvesters to choose when to fish and provided greater stability for processors by spreading out production over a longer period of time. The original RPP was scheduled to sunset after 2 years, but the 2007 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act extended the term for another five years. Under that extension, the RPP was scheduled to sunset after the 2011 season.
In 2012, NMFS implemented the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program with a sunset date of December 31, 2021. The intent of the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program was to retain the conservation, management, safety, and economic gains created by the Rockfish Pilot Program. Specific elements of the Pilot Program were modified under the Rockfish Program so that the program could be improved.
In March 2021, the Rockfish Program was reauthorized, and the sunset date was removed with the passage of Amendment 111 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Gulf of Alaska, allowing the Program to continue indefinitely.